SIGHS & moans.  By Ralph Greco

SIGHS & moans. By Ralph Greco

. 20 min read

SIGHS & Moans: A Six-Part Series on Love, Sex & Kink from a Kink Expert. By Ralph Greco, Jr.

A column on love, sex, and kink in relationships from the host of the podcast Licking Non-Vanilla, who has spent a lot of time contemplating all of it in his sixty years of being alive. {Scroll down to start from the beginning.}

Part 6: Call Me Daddy (or Mommy): What Does Roleplay Mean, And How To Play With It?

In the 6th installment of his series, writer Ralph Greco gives tips for approaching roleplaying safely.

According to the Urban Dictionary, roleplaying is “acting out a fantasy while engaging in sexual activity…this may include dressing up for the roles, using props and/or creating or finding the right setting.”

Just think of the potential for you and your lover if you get into this! Dressing up in some sexy costume, adopting an accent, or even a fantasy scenario where you two go out for the evening, enter some local bar, and play that you’ve only met for the first time. What you can do with roleplaying skirts across a veritable plethora of options.  

But taking a little trip into this kind of fun is not without its risks.

How To Begin
If you and your partner have never tried roleplay or have only tickled across it a few times, it’s best to ease yourselves into simple scenarios and quickly adopted roles (assuming, of course, you’ve had a nice long talk about what you both want and do not want from roleplaying) initially. The Stanislavski acting method will probably not serve you well in your first few tries, and if you are inclined to slip into a costume or two, keep them easy to take on and off, at least until you two have a handful of role-plays under your belt.

You also might want to try not going too far afield of who you are. Sure, roleplay is, by its very nature, that which we get into to take us away from who we are. But for the first few times, if you or your partner are inclined to a little cross-dressing, maybe you shouldn’t try putting on that complicated garter-stocking and corslet, or she might avoid trying to get herself into the full firefighter’s suit.

Also, keep the play far from the hard and true power differences of your usual dynamic. Yes, this might be the opportunity you have been hoping for, where your partner plays librarian to your student with overdue books. But if you are hoping he/she/they might enact some sexy comeuppance on your person (and by “person” we mean a right spanking), if your partner has never been dominant in bed, in your initial roleplays, you’d be better served easing yourself into attitudes foreign to you both.

What Did You Call Me?
Remember, you are playing here. Indeed, if either of you says or does something the other bristles against, stop what you are doing and reassess. No one should ever do anything that makes them uncomfortable, even if they see their partner enjoying themselves.

This said, there are plenty of instances during a roleplay where words are said that, in any other situation, could either be taken as insulting or just downright icky. But in heightened bed-play a “mommy,” or a “daddy,” a “bad boy,” or “naughty girl,” even some downright derogatory remarks might fit the moment, bubble forth organically, and not mean anything more than what they did at the time they were spoken. This is especially true for lovers engaging in age-play, where one person acts an age much older or younger than they are, might coo in baby talk or with some grumbling “old” voice.

And isn’t it true that even when not roleplaying, we have all said, done, and promised a whole bunch of naughty little bon mots when we’ve been horny?

Playing at Something Else Or Switching
Changing horses in midstream, even if you are not playing horse jockey and sexy stable hand, can give even the most experienced role-players whiplash. As is valid during all of this kind of sex fun, and really should be true of all of your lives together, you should communicate when either or both of you want to try a different roleplay or maybe even switch roles.

All warnings aside, roleplay is also a chance to have a lot of fun, and not just with the performances and characters. If your first steps work out well, you have a blast with your roleplay by shopping for clothes, toys, or even planning a getaway with you, your lover, and your other selves.

Part 5: Yes, You Can Go Home Again, But Should You?: Living With Your New (or Even Long-Time) Lover's Sexual Past

In the 5th installment of his series, writer Ralph Greco explores the perils of digging deep into your lover’s past.

Sorry, but all that fun sex you and your partner are having is likely not the first time for either of you. Even if you married four-score-and-a-bunch-of-years-ago, there was most likely some hanky-panky your lover got into before you met.

Not that their past matters or is any of your business, but so many of us begin down that path of: "Who was this person with before me?" or "How skilled was he/she/them?" and can’t then avoid considering or asking questions.

So, how do we deal with our lover's sexual past?

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You…If You Let It

The less we know about something we want to really know, the more we will pepper in details of our imagining trying to know it. And when it comes to what we might conjure over our lover's sexual past, these details can be doozies! Take some of what you have experienced, a little bit from the porn scenes you watch, and some assumptions, and boy, you could have a field day thinking up all kinds of bed-rocking scenarios only somebody in their 20's could be limber enough to manage.

In our fear of the unknown, we try to know. And in this trying, we damn well let our imaginations run wild. The problem is, unless we ask (and we will get into this in a bit), we can never know--and what we don’t know hurts us. We take to "awfulizing" (a term from noted psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis) -- investing the negative into that which we anticipate or worry over, and in a sexual connotation, this awfulizing assures you that your lover’s had bigger and better, and that their past lovers were all that much more experimental (which translates to “more exciting”).

But mainly, that they’re much more sexually experienced than you and, therefore, you would be an inadequate lover.

Too Many Time Triggers To Trigger You

Once the idea stakes its claim in your brain, it takes an awful lot of discipline to keep yourself from interrogating your partner about their past. But maybe you're not all to blame here.

These days we pretty much find a way to travel back in time at every turn. Facebook,, so many online portals allow anybody to go searching their glory days and for the past lover they made them with. But very little good ever comes from traipsing back into our intimate past. The internet is littered with too many long-term relationships that have ended because one partner or another risks hooking up decades later with their high school sweetheart via the ubiquitous “friend request.”

We are now so used to delving deep into what “was” we all have no filter for doing so. But just because you can do something (in this case, start interrogating your partner about their sexual past) doesn't mean you should.

If You've Asked The Question, You Might Have Already Lost Them

No matter how you couch it, hint at it, dance around with some clever semantics, sooner or later (and it's usually sooner), your lover will realize you are acting the part of a sexual Columbo. And once they realize you are mining for answers about their sexual pasts, unless they have no problem telling you about it (and for some couples, a little tipping through the tulips of one another's past liaisons act as a form of foreplay), your partner will start to resent you asking.

This need-to-know will come across as you being weak and scared of who you are now and what you can bring to the bed. This need-to-know can become quite bothersome, all but driving a wedge between you and the partner in question. And this need-to-know, sometimes, becomes all that a couple ever speaks about or tries to avoid.

So, avoid it.

Let's face it, even if you get to know all you want to know about your lover's sexual past, you can't change it or compete with it. It all happened before you; live with it. They’re with you now. Take comfort in that fact and let the rest go…or…make the both of you crazy with your questions and worry.

Part 4: Crowd or Company: Skirting The Mathematical Intricacies Of The Classic Ménage à Trois

In the 4th installment of his series, writer Ralph Greco helps you determine if beginning a third person into the bedroom is the right choice for you and your partner.

Sure, things seemed so easy for old Jack Tripper. Falling into a swinging ‘70s pad with two beautiful women; what could have been better? But the reality of trying to negotiate three people into even the most cursory of intimacies, attempting to slip another lover into your sexual activities with a spouse, or maybe introducing an occasional third into the sexcapades you have been newly maneuvering with that new friend/partner/lover you've found post your divorce, won't be easy. The old ménage à tickle presents mathematical intricacies and expectations you could never imagine.
Sure, everybody likes a little new spice thrown their sex life from time to time, but really, is the ménage à trois right for you and yours?

Address The Big Questions

Before you approach a third party, you best hold a few summit meetings with your partner. First and foremost, make sure s/he/they consents to the concept of a threesome. Then, belabor the point, approach all doubts, fears, and even hopes, have they any. But make sure your partner is into it.

Next, find out what you (hey, you brought it up, so sorry, but you have to go first) are looking to get out of the experience. And find out what your lover might hope for.

It's equally important to discuss limits, what you and your partner will—and will not do—with/around/to a third party. Sure, having another person in your bed theoretically makes you cock-of-the-walk (figuratively speaking here only), but how does s/he/they feel about another lover being there? And even if your partner likes (or allows) the whole idea, are there some firm limits of what your partner actively does and does not want, for themselves and for you?

And don't be surprised, especially if the idea of a threesome is yours alone if your partner wants to know the answer to the biggest question of all: So, why are we doing this?

Who Will Be Your Third?

Even if the ménage à trois is your idea alone, who you pick as your third is not your decision to make alone unless your partner requests that you pick someone without them.

So, who should you pick, stranger or friend? Both present specific problems.

Inviting a friend to bed with you means that you'll enjoy a pre-vetted lover between the sheets, somebody you could always share a knowing wink with or another go-round with when you and your partner are feeling randy. The risk you run here is possibly losing a friendship when things rise to a physical level that’s never before existed. It's surely happened plenty of times where one or more of the people in the threesome suddenly see something in one another they want to explore deeper because of the intimacy suddenly opened.

Inviting a stranger to bed, you avoid all the icky 'What does this now mean?' weirdness that can be born when people who are already close become even more intimate. But, then again, making it with that sexy, sultry stranger you met drinking at the beach bar, as hot as that might sound in theory, still means that the person you are inviting into your bedroom, not to mention specific body parts of you and your partner, is someone neither of you knows.

You could always call in or visit a professional, a person not connected to you or your partner in any way, and someone who knows how to particularly act in this situation to what is needed. For this, though, you might need to travel to Nevada or Amsterdam.
Know When to Fold Em…

Even if all the stars align correctly, you and your partner agree on a third, who that third will be, and what everyone will be doing, for some sustaining the thrill of the first ménage à trois is hard.

Some may find that this really isn’t for them and yes, there may be regrets.

On the other side of things, many couples report–no matter how sexually gratifying–that the experience itself prompted significant growth within the relationship by opening a wider dialogue about their sex life and a better understanding of their partner moving forward.

As the old adage goes, you’ll never know until you try.

Part 3: When the Lid Scrapes Off Of Old Pandora’s Toy Box

In his third installment of his column on love, sex and kink, Ralph Greco advises on how to handle it when your lover doesn't react well to your fantasy.

Introducing a Fantasy To Your Lover That Doesn’t Go So Great

Paraphrasing the old saying “The best-laid plans…don’t always get you laid”; when it comes to the delicate dance of our bedroom escapades, sometimes things move swimmingly. Other times, even with a long-term partner, one or both of you might just be a little “off” for the evening.

The dance can even be more delicate when trying to make a fantasy real.

Even when you have downloaded the exact dialogue for your role play, bought the high-end Swiss chocolate sauce, finally found a WW1 French commandant uniform on eBay that fits you like a glove, there are a bunch of hurdles one can experience when plucking a fantasy from one’s head and trying to make it real. So, what do we do when we introduce a little off-center playtime and things do not go exactly how we Imagined? Do we just ignore that chalk-on-blackboard “squeech!” when the old lid off of our Pandora’s toybox slides a little too far off its mark? Do we have to throw the baby out with bathwater if we introduce a fantasy to our lover and the fantasy all but fails?

Here are some tips:


I encouraged you to share your fantasies and even suggested the best ways to do it, but still, communication after the fact, especially with our most intimate, will serve us well.  

This particular elephant curling up under your sheets will grow to quite the sizeable old pachyderm if you fail to chuck some peanuts in its maw. Don’t let the hiccup of a moment become bigger than it need to be. Often what goes wrong in enacting a fantasy is something as simple as a momentary misunderstanding where to place what limb or a playful word taken the wrong way, especially if what you are presenting to a lover is far afield from anything either of you has ever tried.

Especially when introducing something new into the bedroom, a little preamble, in the way of maybe showing your partner some porn with your fantasy front and center or bringing up your idea well before you try it, can make the idea easier to unroll, as it were, when the time comes.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Just because some sexual romp didn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it will fail the next. A little extra English on the ball for your next time up an at-bat, a few minor adjustments, or maybe just a more liberal application of lube, and you could find yourself well in sync for another go around.

Sex is one of those activities that we never care if practice makes perfect because the practice can be so much fun.

Great Expectations Lead To…

Fantasies lay pristine in our minds; proceed with the best lighting; all participants acting and saying exactly what they should say at the exact right moments: the silk ties never cutting into your flesh; nobody having to run to the bathroom. Real-life, though, intrudes on our XXX scenes and slightly-to-the-left naughty scenarios.

None of us live in a PornHub loop. The more you expect here, the further from reality your fantasy (and they are supposed to be far from reality, that’s why they are called “fantasies”) will fall from your expectations. Just remember, the longer you may have been considering (“considering” = masturbating over) something, the more import you put into it. You’ve built it up, and again, built it up perfectly. This alone could lead to unrealistic expectations and tripping down that great chasm between what you wanted and what really happened.

Go With The Flow

Things might start as you plan/want, but suddenly your partner takes the fantasy down a different path, you two find yourself switching roles (if your fantasy involves role-play); an adult toy you’ve brought to bed with you might suddenly serve a whole other purpose than you intended. This doesn’t mean your fantasy has stalled, that all bets are off, that you’ve failed to execute.

Your lover is going to have their own reactions, good or bad, cold or scalding hot, to what you are presenting. It’s best to go with the flow--or at least be open to horses changing course mid-field, as it were.

So, you tried something new and it didn’t turn out to be a tiptoe-through-the-tulips of sexual fulfillment, for either you, your partner, or you both. This can happen when you try something new: The old arrow doesn’t exactly hit the bullseye. But what they say about other “hard things” is equally true here. What’s important is not just how it went, but how you and yours respond to how it went (“responding” meaning “communicating” with each other, most importantly in this context). Consider how everyone is doing after you try what you try, and if appropriate, even tickle in some humor about it all. Even if the attempt really wasn’t all either of you expected, try and focus on those moments that did work for you, and explore why they did. And mostly thank your partner for being game enough to give what you were wanting a try and remember, that this is play and play, even when it's not the best game in town, is still good.

“Ok, So I Had This Idea We Might Turn the Bedroom Into a 19th Century One-Room School House and You Can Dress Up In”…

The second part in Ralph Greco's series Sighs & Moans, a column on love, sex and kink from a kink expert, where he suggests way to introduce your fantasy to your partner.

How to introduce your fantasy to your partner.

So, you are entertaining some thoughts that have led you on some late-night Internet searches, stuff you have been thinking about even when rolling around in bed with your lover? Stuff that you really can’t get out of your head? What should you do with these fantasies? If you have been with a partner for a bit or might like to show off your adventurous spirit with somebody new, is it safe to spill the beans on your naughty inner-most thoughts? Out your fantasy, as it were, and make it a reality?

In the end, how does one introduce their fantasy to a partner? Here are some thoughts:

The Irony of Familiarity

Ironically, those closest to us, a spouse or even a friends-with-bene’s partner, could be the hardest to tell your fantasy to. Set against your usual manner of making love, suddenly revealing some sexual desire you have kept hidden from your partner or opening your imagination enough for them to take a peek inside, ironically can be scarier the closer you are to someone.  You have lots to lose if somebody you really care for is taken aback by your desire to play naked fireman or house inspector, or by you revealing your clutching fascination with your lover’s sneakers.  After all, if they don’t take too well to your “can’t-un-ring-a-bell” moment, it’s going to hurt.

So, don’t be surprised that you become tongue-tied when it comes to revealing a fantasy to someone you love and trust above all others.

But muster your courage and proceed. The best part of mining a deep intimacy with someone is knowing that this person, out of all people, has your back.  Accepts you.  Appreciates and respects your act of vulnerability and trust.  And really, if this is someone you’ve known for years, they may have suspected a thing or two about your naughty little noggin anyway.

Hell, you’d be damned surprised (and eager) to learn what’s in theirs, wouldn’t you?!

How to Spill the Beans

Although it might seem like the best time to talk about sex is when having sex, for revealing a fantasy for the first time, it’s probably best instead that you and your partner have your wits about you. So, what are some of the best (safest ways) to tell your lover your fantasy? Some suggestions:

  • If you and your partner are inclined to watch porn together or even talk about the porn you both might be watching solo, maybe slip in a description of a scene, even if it's just your fantasy and not something you ever watched.
  • Take the onus off of you for the moment (hell, this fantasy is about you, you will be the center of attention soon enough) by asking your partner, in the multitude of ways that you can: “Hey, is there anything you have never tried you might want to get into?” Or, if this is a new partner, prod them lightly about the wildest, funnest, most enjoyable things from their sexual past. There is nothing sexier than showing interest. Besides, this simple inquiry could open up a whole evening of tit-for-tat revealing. And wouldn’t it be something if both of you had the same fantasy? Kismet!
  • You could simply bring a toy, an article of clothing, hell, even a book to bed. So much can hint at your lusty hidden thoughts.
  • You might attend a local “munch” (get-togethers of like-minded kinky people, “lifestylers,” as well as novices, who gather at some location like a restaurant or bar, to socialize and break bread, not to play simply…just yet). Even in these unusual social times, munches still happen, or they occur digitally even, and you might be able to introduce your lover to people and ideas that lean in your fantasy direction.

Feeling awkward or shy about revealing your fantasy, even to someone you love and know well, is expected. You are turning your head to one side, letting gooey naughty stuff spill out of your ear, into your mouth, to hopefully see your fantasy bounce positively across your fourposter. Sharing this intimacy--making yourself vulnerable--empowers you to be your most authentic self and the choice to be honest with yourself and your partner (and they being honest with us) brings couples closer.

And growing close to someone, especially with someone over the long term, is certainly one of the reasons we have sex in the first place, right?

How To Stop Worrying About What Your Fantasies “Mean” and Start Loving Your Sexual Imagination.

A new column on love, sex, and kink in relationships from the host of the podcast Licking Non-Vanilla, who has spent a lot of time contemplating all of it in his sixty years of being alive.

Even though lots of folks won’t admit to masturbating, we know a lot of people do. It’s healthy. It’s fun. It’s a great way to spend a few minutes not watching another round of Seinfeld reruns.

It’s the same with our sexual fantasies.

We are all pretty much having them, they’re healthy and a great distraction from real life. As we wrote about in The Crush Letter No 8 “The Power of the Erotic Imagination,” the renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel calls fantasies the “essence of creativity and vitality, and a necessity for feeling truly alive.”

At any rate, you won’t be able to stop your sexual fantasies from coming, so don’t even try. Nor should you. They are normal mind-movie candy all adults enjoy, to a greater or lesser extent, close or far away from one’s real life, sparking high to the front of one’s brain, or slowly idling on one’s kinky back burner, depending on a great many factors.

As you well know, we don’t only fantasize about sex, we imagine possible future work scenarios, or revise past ones. But our sexual fantasies, involving our libido and brain, are some of the more powerful and prevalent fantasies we have.

But what do fantasies mean (if anything at all) and should we worry about it if the ungovernable stories in our heads don’t reflect the values we hold in “real” life?

What Our Fantasies Mean

Who can say what’s going on in that weird little organ you call a brain? The human mind is ever exploratory, creative, and sparking. Good, dirty imagining is what is happening when you fantasize. Maybe your fantasies are telling you about a sexual experience you may want to try. But not necessarily. It’s just as true that we fantasize about things we would never, ever want to be or have to happen in real life. Like being a prostitute or a pimp, having a UPS delivery man or a construction worker, or donning a French maid’s uniform, to name just a few common ones. Just because you fantasize about it, doesn’t mean you really want to do it or be it or try it.

Every day fantasies for many of us involve things we would consider taboo in our real lives.  And that’s okay. Not only is it okay, but it’s also a good thing. Our brains are like an escape valve, a distraction, and creative, unfettered ways to process things. The more we try to control them (if we even could) the less freedom your imagination has to roam. Roaming is the work of your imagination— in other words, it is what it is there for and what it is meant to do.

And since you can’t stop those mind tickles from coming, you should stop worrying over what you are thinking about. Yet we do. Both men and women, for instance, worry about what are called “power fantasies.” In my work teaching and writing about kink I encounter a lot of people whose fantasies involve scenarios where one partner imagines themselves in a particularly submissive role—a servant, or just tied up or spanked submissively. Being ‘taken’ (in any way one wants to define that word) against one’s will is another very popular power fantasy. The classic “rape fantasy” is an offshoot of this, and not uncommon.

According to Donald Strassberg’s 1998 study “Force in Women’s Sexual Fantasies” over fifty percent of sexually active women who participated in his study admitted imagining some variation of “force” fantasies. And as the popularity of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey showed us, within the realm of fantasy, even the most liberated of us enjoy the idea, if not the actual act, of being ‘forced.’ For those who identify as female, particularly from certain conservative cultures, “force” fantasies can assuage how an otherwise modest or nervous lover might feel over sex (you know how terrible most cultures have been historical to women who even show the slightest inclination of liking sex). In power fantasies, a person fantasizing about being forced might simply get aroused by feeling so attractive that their lover absolutely must have them. And anyone whose “day” job involves exercising a lot of power and control may sometimes like the idea of being taken against their will sexually. They like to imagine a moment when someone else is in charge. Consider the character Chuck Rhoades from Billions as a possible example of this.

Anyone whose identity is cisgendered can come up against the same “what does it all mean” concerns and considerations if they discover themselves entertaining homoerotic fantasies. Do they really want to have a same-sex encounter, might they be gay even? But there is a multitude of reasons why we fantasize about what we do, without necessarily wanting to make that fantasy real.

Really, though, we don’t always know the reason for our fantasies. And perhaps the attempt to “reason” with our fantasies, or extract a reason for (or out of) them is fruitless, or at the very least unnecessary. It might be better to just let the erotic imagination spin on its own, doing its job without restraint. What your fantasies signify more than anything else is that you are human. That you have an active imagination, a healthy sex drive, a natural curiosity. All good things. So relax, banish any discomfort (or shame) and enjoy them fully. That’s what they’re there for. Really.

Ralph Greco, Jr. is the devilishly clever nom de plume of Ralph Greco. Ralph is a 60-year-old professional writer in both the adult space and mainstream market. He is also an ASCAP licensed songwriter, published playwright, and kink class teacher at sex conventions across the U.S. And like everybody else, Ralph is the co-host of a podcast, Licking Non-Vanilla, with fellow erotic writer/teacher, M. Christian.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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