Around the rim

A reader sent me an email on Twitter last month, asking me about rimming.

(For those of you who don't know what rimming is, it involves oral-anal play. Rimming occurs when one person licks, tongues or eats out the other person's asshole. It's also called a rim job, analingus, or tossing salad. The act can be used as foreplay before sex or by itself. There is a misperception that oral-anal play is just for gay men. That's just not true. Rimming is anyone who enjoys anal play irrespective of sexual orientation.)

Here are my two (or 200) cents about rimming:

1. Does your partner want you to lick his or her ass? I don't think that's a given since I know quite a few friends of mine — men and women — don't enjoy anal play at all. Treat rimming much like anal sex and evaluate on a partner-by-partner basis. The majority of my ex-boyfriends have (thankfully) loved anal sex as much as I do, but only one of them wanted me to give him a rim job. There's not necessarily a correlation between whether a guy wants to have anal sex with a woman and whether a guy wants to be on the receiving end of oral-anal play.

2. So…how do you find out if your significant other is interested in rimming? Communication! I never recommend going into any type of anal play blindly since not everyone enjoys that. Pick a time to broach the subject when there is no expectation of sex. Openly talk about likes, dislikes and concerns.

a. How do you or does he/she feel about fingering the anus? If you are or your partner is open to that, how much of a finger feels pleasurable? Sometimes a little goes a long way. Does saliva provide enough lubrication or do you need to use lube for finger-anal play?

b. How about licking? How much tongue is too much? Does it feel comfortable to have some or all of the tongue inside the anus or is just the outside better? (Some of this is trial and error when you are in the moment, but it helps to talk about the act in advance.)

c. Is your partner open to using anal toys? Is there an interest in having a finger lead to a tongue and then lead to a bead or butt play? What are the limits?

d. If you are a man trying to gauge if your woman is interested in having anal sex, it's helpful to talk about what she does or doesn't feel comfortable with. Does she view fingers and a rim job as part of the process to become more acclimated to anal play or does she view those acts as unrelated from anal sex?

e. Are there health concerns here? Make sure that your partner has gone to the bathroom and fully cleaned out his or her system before you head in that direction. (That seems like Rim Job or Anal 101 to me.)

But, there's another, far more serious layer here. There is a risk of hepatitis from rimming. Are you and our partner exclusive? Do you want to get tested for hepatitis, other STDs and parasites before you explore the fine art of salad tossing? Will you be using a condom before you engage in rimming?

Since it's worth noting, yes, you can just let your fingers do the walking or tongue do the talking when you are engaging in hand or oral play. (I actually didn't know how much I enjoyed rimming until a one-night stand with Dominican Boy .) If you care about the person you are with, though, I think that communicating in advance strengthens both your emotional connection with your significant other and the pleasure during the act itself.

3. Now, what if you like to receive a rim job, but don't want to give one to your partner? (That was the second question that my friend on Twitter asked of me.) A few clichés come to mind:

Tit for tat;
What's good for the goose is good for the gander;
Giving is better than receiving; and
You gotta suck it up.

I realize that none of those are particularly eloquent, but I think you get my point. I believe in reciprocity in the bedroom. It doesn't need to be 50-50, but if you want to receive something in the bedroom, it's only fair that you also give.

Think about what doesn't appeal to you about the act and try to remedy the situation. Maybe you first try licking your partner's ass in the shower after you've made sure the area is clean? Or, you could start with a finger before you move on to the tongue? You also don't need to stick your whole tongue inside of your significant other's anus. You can start with just the tip and ease both of you into the act. For those who like anal play, using the tongue on the outside of the anus — back and forth like a paintbrush or in a clockwise motion — can be extremely pleasurable.

You might also want to see if your partner would be open to using a toy in lieu of or before your tongue. Would you feel more relaxed doing it if you've already gotten off or had a glass of wine first? Or, can you please yourself with one hand or a small toy while licking your partner's ass?

Once you do bring your mouth down to the anus, don't do so begrudgingly. If you focus on the negative, it will be less enjoyable for both you and your significant other. Try a few mind over matter tricks. Remind yourself that you enjoy pleasing your partner. Feel sexy because you are doing something that turns him or her on. You might also feel differently if you try to give someone you love a rim job versus engaging in oral-anal play with someone with whom you are in a more casual relationship.

You might enjoy rimming. You might not. But, keep communicating with your partner and experimenting in whatever ways makes you both feel comfortable!

PS Part II to this post about what to do when you are engaging in oral-anal play coming soon.

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