Lately I feel like I haven’t really spent the day well if someone doesn’t mention the weather. It’s as if the bitter wind chill exists merely to remind everyone living in the Twin Cities just how perpetual the winter is here in Minnesota. And, collectively, we bundle up. Pull on our boots. Judge if it’s warm enough to ditch at least one layer. Try not to slip on whatever slush remains after the plow rolls through. Rush from heated building to heated building.
Times like these exaggerate the dichotomy of hot and cold, a dichotomy that plays out physically as much as it does in our wardrobes. While I’m sure there’s a science to why temperature affects us, I’ve impatiently skipped over it to be fascinated by just how we respond to hot and cold. We embody the two, and the curious way we do so can be readily seen in our interactions with sex and romance.
Proximity, for example, is the primary area where temperature affects sex and romance. Whether brought together by affection, lust or necessity, there can be something wonderful about the sensation of warmth from someone right next to you. Lots of ink has been spilled about this moment of shared warmth, and while it may be cheesy to mention, I’ve always been partial to the little, cliché things in life. A hand in your hand, cold feet pushed against your calf, a warm body curled up close on a crowded couch: these are all moments that are very physical and very visceral. While the sensation of touch can be attributed to framing the intimacy, I would argue that there is also something to be said about the warmth at play that can heighten the experience.
Granted, that isn’t always a good thing, because a heightened experience doesn’t necessarily mean a pleasant one. Holding hands for too long can make your hands all sweaty and gross, especially if one or everyone involved has clammy hands. If you’re sensitive enough, another person’s body heat can throw off your sleeping rhythm. And in the sticky summer months that I both wish for and dread, being that close can be downright uncomfortable, made worse if you don’t have air conditioning or a fan.
And on that note, the temperature of a room can be just as important to navigating sex and romance as proximity. A room can be: hot from the weather, cold from the weather, hot from heating, cold from air conditioning, chilled from a breeze, and it goes on. Some people prefer sauna-levels of heat when they have sex or cuddle, while others would be suffocated by it. Others might enjoy lying under piles of blankets in a colder room. A warm room with a fan directed at a bed can create an interesting set of sensations that is completely different than a warm room without a fan. It’s an often overlooked aspect and sometimes outside of our control; nevertheless, room temperature adds the potential for a lot of subtle variation that could be rather pleasant to experiment with.
Although seemingly unrelated, room temperature can play a role in how you and your partners play with sex toys. Different materials hold heat in different ways, many wooden toys keep pretty consistently to room temperature, while metal can hold the heat or cold of a room or a hand. Like with most things, understanding how your toys work in different scenarios takes repeated use and sometimes some getting used to, but I am sure that the rewards would be worth the exploration.
With enough experimentation, you and your partners might find that you really enjoy using temperature in a deliberate way, and maybe want to take it in a direction, which just happens to conveniently transitions into my next topic: hot and cold kinks.
While there are innumerable ways to express these kinks, two of the most widely discussed are candle wax for hot and ice cubes for cold. These two kinks are sensation-based with pain elements, and they play with the way our bodies’ reactions in very concentrated ways that can be fun for you and your partners.
But as with any new kink, I would suggest doing research beforehand to know what to expect, what the risks are, and what tools/toys you will need. Candles, for example, come in various mixtures that burn at different temperatures, and it is vital to know what type of candle you are using to drastically reduce the likelihood of a burn, rash or blister. Do not spring these kinks on your partners: discussion and even testing them out in a controlled, non-sexual setting is key to enjoying them later.
Even if you ultimately choose not to try using candle wax or ice cubes, I would still encourage taking the time to think deliberately about the way you engage with temperature and sex and romance. And as you move forward, just be sure that you keep in mind comfort and safety levels of all participants, and that you are careful about the technical demands of your room. So while it is tempting to open the windows right now to test out how you and your partners react to cold, I would hold off on that in the dorms as a precaution against freezing pipes. (Consider it a noble sacrifice made to the greater good of your floor.)