How to start role-play with your partner and a few ideas to get you there


Even if you’re the most apprehensive showperson in town.

We can’t all be Lisa Rinna. The 58-year-old Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star always puts on a show, and diehard viewers know that doesn’t end at the bedroom door. No, no, no, honey, she is a showgirl through and through.

We don’t all possess the same sass, pizzazz or unshakeable confidence, though, and one place these attributes can come in handy is in the bedroom, specifically when it comes to role-playing. Role-play – a role-play that features ‘a strong erotic element’ – is meant to add spice to our sex life.

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I might be in the minority here, but without those aforementioned theatrical skills and drama classes, the thought leaves me shaking in my boots; it’s the ultimate vulnerability. Interested to find out more and learn how even an over-analyser like myself can give it a go, I reached out to pleasure coach, facilitator and author, Euphemia Russell, for some tips.

Why is it worth investigating role-play with our partner/s?

As a pleasure coach, Euphemia is a strong believer in exploring one’s pleasure (they’ve even written a book all about it, titled Slow Pleasure). Beyond simply genitals and orgasms, pleasure is a full embodiment, connecting us to our senses, desires and needs.

So, why give role-play a go? “It can be fun and playful! It can allow us to cultivate a way of being [what] we want more of in our life or don’t receive in everyday dynamics; we can play with power,” she tells me.

Importantly, Euphemia notes that although role-play is seen as a sure-fire way to “spice it up” (often the first example we think of to add some zest), it doesn’t resonate with everyone. “[T]une into your needs and wants and see if it resonates. Explore the idea, and ask yourself ‘what if I did ___’ and tune into how it feels in your body.” If it’s a go, maybe it’s time to delve in.

How can we overcome the fear of ‘putting on a show’?

Even in a private setting, the idea of dramatising and breaking out of my cynical being is intimidating. Like, the kind of situation that leaves a balloon in your chest – it just won’t pop.

Euphemia shares their thoughts. “Performativity can offer each of us perils and possibilities. It can allow us to get out of a fixed way we believe we are and how we want to express our desire, and [also] be witnessed in our myriad of identities and selves. However, it can also feel performative and not authentic.”

In Euphemia’s work, they note that our ideas about pleasure are so often socialised. We inhale these learnings from the world around us, so “it is complicated to know what are our authentic desires and what are shaped by society”.

If the fear stems from breaking out of our authentic selves, or a lack of this solo understanding, they recommend doing a little taster – just by yourself. “Perform that role alone for 5 mins and see how it feels before being observed by others,” says Euphemia. The experts always say it starts from within.

How do we get started?

The first step is to initiate the conversation with your partner/s. “Ask your lovers and partners what current fantasies they have and share your own (if you know) and follow the tidbit to see if there’s a particular role/person that could bring a fantasy to life.” Maybe you will learn something new about them; perhaps a certain idea will tickle your fancy.

In terms of specific ideas, Euphemia encourages us to steer away from the typical tropes and roles. After all, if we’re investigating our individual state of pleasure, why copy what the world always shows us? And perhaps this is also a source of fear when it comes to role-playing – the worry that we won’t live up the scenarios we’ve seen play out on the screen, in porn, television and film.

To this, Euphemia has some very straightforward advice: “Look beyond the doctor [and] teacher [role-plays] (and please don’t do the police person). This can be embodying a way of being or a person, not just costumes of particular archetypes and tropes.”

So explore what feels right. No two of us are the same and no two relationships are the same. So – surprise, surprise – the way role-play unfolds in each situation is unique. Somehow, that thought is comforting.

When we break free of the stereotypes and the classic ‘sexy’ roles, it becomes about us and not the rest of the world. We’re free to explore the direction our pleasure takes. I can’t help but wonder, though – who does Lisa Rinna embody?

Slow Pleasure by Euphemia Russell, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $22.99, is available for pre-order now.

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