Sex and Dating During Coronavirus

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– From Masks to Kissing, a Guide to Your Risks

By Carly Severn

Let’s get this straight: during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no “safe way” to have sex with someone you don’t live with.

But humans are humans, and we know some folks will still make the choice to get physically intimate with other people, despite the presence of a highly contagious disease in our midst. So we asked for your anonymous questions, and created this guide to sex and dating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Because there’s no 100%-safe way to date or have sex outside your household right now, you’ll see the super-unsexy — yet super-important — phrase “harm reduction strategies” throughout this guide. That’s because when it comes to engaging in social and physical intimacy, it’s all about weighing your risk factors, assessing them against the risk factors of the person (or people) you’d like to have sex with and doing everything you can to further reduce the potential harm.

We’ve consulted with these sex and health experts:

  • Stephanie Cohen, medical director of San Francisco City Clinic
  • Nenna Joiner, owner of Oakland sex store Feelmore and former adult filmmaker
  • Julia Feldman, Bay Area sex educator and consultant at Giving the Talk
  • What bodily fluids can carry COVID-19?

    So many aspects of the coronavirus remain mysterious to scientists, and that includes the full scope of COVID-19’s relationship with sex. But here’s what we do know.

    If someone has COVID-19, they can transmit the virus via particles in:

    • Their saliva
    • Their mucus
    • Their breath

    The coronavirus has also been found in the semen and feces of people with COVID-19. It hasn’t been found in vaginal fluid.

    Can COVID-19 be spread through sex, whether vaginal or anal? The scientific community actually doesn’t know for sure yet. What we do know is that “sex is the definition of close contact,” as Stephanie Cohen puts it. So if you’re close enough to get physically intimate with someone with COVID-19, you’re definitely close enough to have a high risk of being infected via those particles they’re exhaling.

    How dangerous is kissing?

    Kissing someone outside of your household is one of the most risky things you can do right now, Cohen says, because of how much exchange of saliva it involves.

    For this reason, she says, kissing might actually present a higher risk of transmission than vaginal or anal sex. And anything that increases your respiration and your respiratory rate “will likely result in the release of more respiratory droplets,” thus increasing the risk of transmission — think heavy breathing.

    Are certain types of sex riskier?

    Because the coronavirus has been found in feces — and because gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea can occur sometimes with COVID-19 infection — Cohen says there’s a likely chance that anal sex or oral-anal contact would pose more of a transmission risk than other forms of sex such as penile-vaginal contact, for example.

    That said, medical professionals just don’t know for sure. COVID-19 transmission risk would also be impacted by a number of other factors, such as the degree of face-to-face contact and how infectious the person with COVID-19 is at the time of the sexual encounter. Right now, there just isn’t enough data to be definitive, Cohen says — so it’s all about assessing those various risk indicators we do know about.

    If I do have sex, what are some things I can do to reduce my risk of catching COVID-19?

    If you’re utterly determined to have sex outside of your household right now, these precautions represent harm reduction strategies:

    • Wearing a mask: Remember, a mask protects the other person in how it limits the spread of your respiratory droplets. For masks to truly reduce the risks of either sexual partner getting COVID-19, both people would have to wear a mask: a mutual masking, if you will. “It might not be a strategy that works for everyone,” Cohen says, “but certainly I think it’s one that could reduce risk.” Remember though: as Nenna Joiner reminds us, masks are like condoms in the sense that you “still need to know how to put [them] on correctly.”
    • Choosing positions that minimize face-to-face contact: Spooning sex, doggy-style, reverse-cowboy/cowgirl/cowperson — consider agreeing to stick to sexual arrangements that keep your faces far apart, and ideally with one person faced completely away from the other. (It’s a bit of a spontaneity-killer, yes, but it’s a good idea to agree to this one before you start having sex, to avoid ‘the heat of the moment’ making the decisions for you.)
    • Remember cleanliness: “Washing up really well, both before and after sex” is another way sexual partners can potentially reduce their risk to each other, Cohen says. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have soap and water on hand, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub your hands together until they feel dry. Don’t use sanitizer anywhere intimate — it will really irritate that delicate skin. If you have someone else’s bodily fluids on your body, be sure to wash them off thoroughly. You cannot “absorb” the coronavirus through your skin, but you might touch your skin and then touch your face. If you’re using sex toys, wash those with soap and warm water.
    • Using condoms and other barriers: Wearing a condom during sex will decrease your exposure to saliva or feces. For oral sex, using a condom or dental dam similarly provides a barrier. This is especially important for any anal contact.
    • Keep it quick: Minimizing the length of a sexual encounter is a harm reduction strategy in how it’s reducing the amount of time you’re potentially being exposed to the virus.
    • Consider things that don’t exchange fluids: Mutual masturbation could be considered a harm reduction strategy, Cohen says. But don’t forget that if you’re simultaneously making out, “that could actually be higher risk than a quick session of oral sex,” she says.

    And remember: Don’t forget to practice the safe sex you usually would before the pandemic.

    With all this in mind, we’ll say it again: right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no way of having sex with someone outside your household that carries zero risk of transmitting or obtaining the virus.

    “Everyone’s looking for a magic loophole,” acknowledges Julia Feldman, “and it doesn’t really exist.”

    And here’s another tricky thing. Even if you and your partner agree to abide by all of the above harm reduction strategies in the cold light of day, things can shift in the heat of the moment. Previously agreed-upon plans can fall apart when inhibitions are lowered and you’re turned on, especially if alcohol is involved — and in these circumstances “you’re less likely to use your prefrontal cortex to really analyze the risk involved in the situation,” Feldman stresses. “Especially if you haven’t had sex in a long time and you’re very excited to do it.”

    So if you’re concerned that your safety boundaries might be in any way reduced or made negotiable during sex… back away, and prioritize your health.

OK… I had sex anyway. How long should I wait to get a COVID-19 test?

If you aren’t sure whether your sexual partner had COVID-19, the best time to get tested for the coronavirus would be between five and 14 days after the encounter, says Stephanie Cohen.

That’s because the median average time from exposure to coronavirus symptom onset is five days — so testing any earlier than that might not yield an accurate result — but the incubation period (the amount of time you can be infected before showing symptoms) is up to 14 days.

Is isolating for 14 days between sexual partners a good idea?

Here’s the idea: you have sex with someone, and then wait for 14 days to see if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you don’t, you’re good to move on to a new partner safe in the knowledge you don’t have the disease and aren’t passing it on — right?

Not quite.

“It’s a good strategy; it’s a harm reduction strategy,” Cohen says, but “it’s not a zero-risk strategy.” That’s because of the large numbers of people who get COVID-19 but never show any symptoms.

What about sex with more than one person?

Having multiple people that you have sex with is a definite risk factor for transmitting COVID-19. These kinds of overlapping sexual relationships with different people — going back and forth between people, basically — is called “concurrency” in the sexual health world, and it’s something experts say will heighten your risk of spreading the disease.

“To minimize that concurrency,” Cohen says, “decrease the network size — which decreases the spread of coronavirus.” Basically, consider reducing the number of people you’re having sex with during the pandemic.

Where does that leave you if you practice polyamory, which is all about having multiple sexual relationships?

Nenna Joiner says that yes, some folks are deciding to take a break from polyamorous intimacy during the pandemic owing to the heightened risks of having different partners right now. But other poly people are choosing to isolate together “as a poly family,” they say, and agreeing to only have sex “within that sphere of people.” Ultimately, it’s about finding the solution that works best for your health, and that of others.

What about group sex?

If group sex (having sex with multiple people at the same time) was your thing before the pandemic, Stephanie Cohen has a message for you: “The fewer people, the better.”

That’s because with every additional person in a situation — social or sexual — you’re adding a potential COVID-19 case, whether they know they have it or not. In a group sex situation, that person is then potentially transmitting the coronavirus to multiple people at one time — who could then go on to infect others, who then go on to… you get the picture.

If you do continue to choose group sex, New York City’s public health department advises you to “Go with a consistent sex partner” in such a situation, and “pick larger, more open, and well-ventilated spaces.”

What about sex workers? How can they make it work right now?

Is there a way to safely engage in sex work in the midst of a pandemic?

It’s “a profession that certainly carries risk,” Cohen stresses, due to the amount of close physical contact involved. In addition to the other strategies discussed here, some additional harm reduction strategies sex workers might consider are to limit the number of clients they see during the pandemic, to opt for a smaller circle of regular clients and “more spacing out in-between partners.”

Who is ‘safe’ to date right now?

As if finding a match with someone you’re emotional and physically compatible with in all the expected ways wasn’t fraught enough — you now have the coronavirus risk compatibility to consider, too.

This is, Feldman admits, “a really unfortunate layer to add to dating.”

Get ready for some frank communication with partners, both current and potential ones, about your circumstances and behaviors around contact with other people. How many people are they seeing, socially or sexually? How does their daily life look in terms of interactions with other people? Are they an essential worker? If so, what kind of traffic does their place of work experience?

In a nutshell, this is not the time for mystery — and in many ways, you’ll have to be your own contact tracer, says Nenna Joiner.

How much do I need to talk about COVID-19 with potential partners?

Open, honest communication about your health has never been more crucial than right now. And, as Julia Feldman notes, if you’re getting sexually intimate with somebody, you should already be talking to that person about your health and sexual health status. COVID-19 is now another communicable disease for you and your sexual partner(s) to be discussing, without holding anything back. (Remember though: somebody can have the coronavirus and have zero symptoms. Just because somebody thinks they don’t have COVID-19 doesn’t mean they are definitely COVID-19-free.)

Starting these conversations can feel tricky, especially with someone you barely know, so Feldman advises you initiate the conversation by leading with your own experience — a time you were concerned you might have been at risk for contracting COVID-19, perhaps, or a recent decision to seek out a test for the disease. Leading with your own vulnerability, she says, can really open up a conversation without putting your prospective partner on the spot. You don’t want them to feel grilled, or accused. “That definitely doesn’t set the mood, and it doesn’t build trust,” Feldman says.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, people are trying to figure out how to get all of their needs met as safely as possible,” reminds Feldman. “That’s a lot to navigate! This is brand new stuff. We are going to be messy.”

In being thoughtful though, don’t forget to acknowledge your own boundaries — and forget about anyone who doesn’t respect them, especially during a pandemic.

Being an advocate for your own safety — and working to limit community transmission of the coronavirus — means not letting any potential partners pressure you into meeting up in person, or engaging in any sexual contact you don’t want to have.

I live with other people. What do they need to know about my dating and sex life?

If you’re sharing your living situation with roommates or family, sorry: your business is now their business, especially if their own health places them in a vulnerable category.

That means you should be as transparent as possible with the people you live with about your relationship(s), and the types of activities and the type of risks that you’re involved in, Feldman says.

The first step in navigating this should be talking with the person you’re dating or having sex with, to establish their level of risk. You need to work out the potential COVID-19 risk their behavior and circumstances pose not just to you, but therefore to the people you cohabit with.

You should be prepared to discuss how you propose to minimize your roommates’ risk, whether that’s avoiding shared spaces in your home, relentless sanitizing of your living environment — or whether your cohabitees are prepared to not do this and accept the heightened risk, and the potential consequences of that.

Basically, get used to communicating because “you need to have some very frank conversations about how you’re going to try to keep everyone safe, and prioritize everyone’s health and well-being,” Feldman says. It’s that big a deal that ultimately, Cohen says, your roommates or family “should have veto power in terms of you engaging in risky behavior and bringing it back to them.”

Is ‘distanced sex’ a thing?

Totally, says Joiner: social distancing and forgoing physical touch does not have to be a barrier to sexual intimacy. Sex toys which use Bluetooth connectivity can be used or worn by one partner and activated remotely by their partner from six feet or more away, without any physical contact. If you want to increase that distance, Joiner says you could use these kinds of toys in conjunction with phone sex, or voyeurism.

It might sound impersonal, but Joiner says distanced products actually require just as much effort and communication, if not more.

“You’ve got to turn on a person to make them feel confident and comfortable and warm like you’re there,” they say. (Joiner’s pro tip: If you’re purchasing this kind of remote toy for the first time, try it out solo first to really get to grips with it — and minimize any awkwardness when you come to use it with your partner.)

I know I am ‘my own safest partner.’ How can I make the most of that?

Nenna Joiner reminds that some people might actually welcome the break from active dating that COVID-19 enforces. Some people with anxiety can often find the machinery of dating — conversation, sex with someone new — stressful and anxiety-provoking. If that’s you, Joiner says to take advantage of this “buffer,” to get some respite. They also want to remind you that not everyone in the world is into self-pleasure — and if that’s you, that’s totally fine.

If limiting your physical intimacy with others is something you’re committed to, you may be considering acquiring sex toys to concentrate on your personal pleasure instead. Joiner says many sex shops, including their own, offer online chat services, where you can consult with an expert about exactly what you’re looking for. Joiner says some of Feelmore’s live chats can get “crazy,” so don’t worry about being frank with the professionals. Online deliveries or courier services are also available in many stores, to enable you to maintain social distancing.

Joiner’s entry-level advice with your purchases: “Stay on the lower end (on price), figure your body out for yourself and then progress from there.”

What about taking everything online?

If you decide to take your sex life fully online to eliminate any close contact or in-person elements, New York City’s public health experts advise that if you normally meet your sexual partners online (or make a living on the internet), “video dates, sexting, subscription-based fan platforms, sexy ‘Zoom parties’ or chat rooms may be options for you.”

If you choose this option, don’t forget to keep your environments clean in a way you would if someone else was present, and disinfect any keyboards and touch screens you’re using that you share with other other people.

Also, don’t let the possibilities of the internet (and let’s face it, lockdown-induced frustrations) override your normal judgment around your online privacy and personal safety. Especially when it comes to sending nudes or other intimate material to someone you don’t know and trust.

How can I ‘have’ intimacy if it’s not safe to touch someone right now?

Don’t be deterred or dismayed by how new all this feels either, Joiner says. The pandemic means many of us have had to learn new ways of living in general, and these adaptations to our sexual lives are in many ways “an opportunity to create a new life sexually for ourselves as well,” they say.

Joiner believes that this might even be a spur to regain intimacy for many people, because of the extra imagination and effort required. It’s a chance, they say, to make sure that you’re really focusing on your own emotional needs.

Julia Feldman advises that this is also a potential moment to redefine what intimacy means for you, beyond mere physical touch: “We can’t say that intimacy is dead!” she says. “It just has to function slightly differently.”

I live with my partner but we’re not having much sex. Help!

It’s not just single folks who aren’t necessarily having the quantity or quality of physical contact they’d prefer during quarantine. For a couple who lives together, even a previously harmonious relationship can be severely tested by 24/7 cohabitation during COVID-19 — and result in a drop in intimacy.

It’s all about switching up your timing to reinvigorate a dynamic, Joiner says. They recommend taking separate breaks outside of your shared accommodation — like a solo lunch break at the park — but also occasionally meeting up in a fresh setting that’s not where you live together. Joiner recommends trying a joint picnic, or a driving date — shared experiences that “will actually lead you to have to know why you’re in a relationship with your partner, and then to lead towards more intimacy, which leads to more sex.”

Don’t forget the power of dressing up slightly too, Joiner says, who warns against “the rut of seeing each other in certain clothes” (e.g. your work-from-home sweats.)

Even making a little effort for regular activities can go a long way, they say. “Like my partner: Yesterday we went to church online, and she puts on a dress. I’m like, ‘shit!'”

My live-in partner is really bad at social distancing, and I’m worried to kiss or have sex with them. What can I do?

If you’re covering your face in public and maintaining social distance, but your partner doesn’t, they’re not only heightening their own risk of contracting COVID-19 but bringing their risk home to you. How can you have that conversation in a way that makes change?

In a sense, this conversation is an extension of the dialogues you and your partner have already (hopefully!) had about trust and fidelity of all kinds within your relationship, and the things that matter to you, whether that’s strict monogamy or communication around other partnerships you may have. Agreeing to even be in a relationship is about declaring an intent to care for that other person’s wellbeing and safety in certain regards, and any breach of that — like bringing home a risk of COVID-19 without discussion — represents a decision to disregard that agreement.

So if you’re in this situation, try explicitly framing this with your partner as a fidelity issue, Feldman recommends: “We made a commitment to protect each other through the good and bad, and right now this is pretty bad.”

She advises aiming to come to a reaffirmed agreement with your partner about “what level of risk you’re both willing to take on, and to really sign onto that.” Then, if there’s still a breach, you really need to talk about respect within your relationship, and whether you’re both really committed to each other.

When opening up these dialogues with your partner, Feldman also advises emphasizing that these are not “normal times,” and this is not forever. These restrictions and limitations for which you’re advocating on the grounds of your shared health — and the trust in your relationship — are temporary. “You’re not saying your husband can never, for example, go play poker with the guys ever again, or whatever it is that he wants to do.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to deal with relationship anxiety

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Relationship anxiety reportedly affects 1 in 5 people, but is it normal?

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Relationships with others are essential to our physical and mental wellbeing. They can be a source of great pleasure and support for some, however for others, they can trigger feelings of anxiety and cause a great deal of distress.

What is relationship anxiety?

Relationship anxiety or relationship-based anxiety, refers to anxiety that arises in intimate relationships. It is not a recognised, diagnosable condition and as such there are no guidelines for how to treat it, however it is a reportedly common problem predicted to affect approximately 1 in 5 people.

There are many reasons why someone might feel anxious about their relationships. They might fear being abandoned or rejected or worry that their feelings are not reciprocated. Some may worry that their partner will be unfaithful or that the relationship will not last. Others may have fears about being sexually intimate with a partner or committing to another person and missing out on other options in life.

Relationship anxiety is a reportedly common problem predicted to affect approximately 1 in 5 people.

Anxiety and dating

Feelings of anxiety are especially common at the beginning of a relationship or when dating. Before the relationship is fully established, uncertainty around how the other person feels or the status of the relationship, can be difficult to tolerate. Many people fear judgement or rejection from others to such an extent that the resulting anxiety effects dating performance e.g. feeling so self-conscious that it is hard to make eye contact or maintain a conversation. This fear can be so great in some people that, despite wanting to be in a relationship, they avoid dating altogether.



Anxiety and sex

Anxiety can affect both the sex life and physical intimacy of a relationship. Anxiety can effect our libido or sex drive for a number of reasons and it can also make having sex difficult, or impossible, on a physical level. This can cause further anxiety and create a negative cycle. The worrying thoughts and tension we experience when feeling anxious can make it hard to relax enough to be able to enjoy sex or be present enough to be physically intimate with another person. Sex-related fears e.g. fears over appearance, performance or being vulnerable with another person can also make having sex and connecting physically very difficult for some people, and lead to it’s complete avoidance for others.

Why we feel anxious in relationships

The tendency to feel anxious about relationships is often a result of the attachment patterns we experienced with our parents or caregivers when we were young. These influence how we understand our needs and go about getting them met. If we experienced anxious-type attachment patterns, we are more likely to experience higher levels of relationship anxiety.

Low self-esteem and a long-standing negative view of yourself can also contribute to feelings of anxiety in a relationship. If you have beliefs that you are not good enough or don’t have as much to offer in a relationship as other people then you will likely think that this is what your partner thinks about you as well.

Low self-esteem and a long-standing negative view of yourself can contribute to feelings of anxiety in a relationship.

Previous romantic relationships will also effect how we view our present ones. When we form relationships, we place a great deal of trust in someone else which can lead us to feel exposed and vulnerable. If a past partner was unfaithful, ended the relationship suddenly or was dishonest then you may grow to expect this from future partners.

The relationship itself can also cause you to feel anxious. It would be natural to experience anxiety if your partner was secretive, critical, controlling or abusive. If your partner is threatening or abusive, details of organisations that can support you can be found at the bottom of the page.



Signs of relationship anxiety

It is normal for most people to experience some level of unease or worry about their relationship at times, however for others this is more intense and enduring. The following are signs that you may be experiencing relationship anxiety:

  1. You frequently worry about what you mean to your partner, what your partner is doing when you are not around and whether your relationship will work out.
  2. You worry that your partners feelings for you have changed if you haven’t heard from them in a while.
  3. You blow situations out of proportion, easily feeling hurt or angry at minor issues.
  4. You don’t trust your partner and are hyper vigilant for signs that they have been unfaithful, dishonest or will leave you.
  5. You experience frequent symptoms of anxiety when thinking about your relationship e.g. tension, sweatiness, difficulty concentrating.
  6. You frequently check up on your partner e.g. checking their emails or text messages to try and find out what they have been up to.
  7. You frequently ask your partner for reassurance about their feelings towards you.
  8. You go out of your way to please your partner, at the expense of your own needs.
  9. You don’t express your feelings or opinions and don’t feel like you are able to be yourself when you’re with your partner.
  10. You make critical comments to your partner or are demanding and controlling.
  11. You are aloof, distant or guarded with your partner, withholding parts of yourself from them.
  12. You are clingy and always want to be around your partner.
  13. You are reluctant to be in a serious relationship or commit to your partner fully as you are scared that it won’t work out and that you will be hurt, disappointed or betrayed.
  14. You test your partner’s feelings for you e.g. by pushing them away to see how much they will fight for you (which is then taken as a sign of their feelings).
  15. You sabotage the relationship e.g. secretly meeting up with an ‘ex’ in an attempt to feel more in control.

How relationship anxiety affects you and your relationship

If relationship anxiety is not remedied, you might find that your anxious thoughts become more and more frequent. This can cause further anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and depression in the long run. Relationship anxiety may impact on your partner and relationship as well. It can result in you keeping your partner at arms length or even ending the relationship altogether. It can also be played out through being confrontational and controlling or passive and needy. Our behaviours impact on how others feel and therefore respond to us. In some cases, relationship anxiety can create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the behaviours that you display as a result of your fears, themselves cause the negative outcome that you feared.

If anxiety about your relationship becomes excessive, impacts on your relationship or affects your quality of life then it might be time to do something about it.



Tips for overcoming relationship anxiety

1. Manage the way you think

Recognising the thoughts you have that are causing your anxiety is important. This may be negative thoughts that you have about yourself and your worth or a tendency to “mind read” or make assumptions about what others are thinking. Make sure that the perspective you have is based on the ‘facts’ or reality of the situation rather than interpretations you have made based on habitual thinking patterns and past experiences.

Relationship anxiety is often the result of excessive worrying. We tend to worry in response to situations where the outcome is uncertain. In order to give us a sense of control, the mind focuses on the potential negative outcomes that ‘could’ happen. Mindfulness practices can help us to recognise this tendency of the mind. By noticing our thoughts and feelings with an attitude of curiosity and acceptance, we can watch them come and go whilst giving up any attempts to prepare for, or control, what happens in the future. This allows us to experience life without getting caught up in past stories of pain, or imagined future worries.

A short course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can help you to develop a more balanced perspective of yourself, improve your self-esteem and learn how to view your relationship more realistically which, in turn, will help you manage how you feel.

2. Manage the things you do

The things that we do also effects the anxiety that we feel. When you feel anxious, you may feel compelled to seek reassurance or check up on your partner. Whilst this may help you feel better temporarily, in the long-run it will keep you feeling anxious and may even effect your relationship. Managing the negative thoughts that you have that are creating your anxiety, whilst avoiding acting out of anxiety, will lead to longer-lasting and positive change.

Clearly communicating with your partner can also help you to manage relationship anxiety and strengthen your relationship, as it will give you the both the opportunity to express how you feel and what you need from each other. It might be tempting to avoid talking about difficult issues, however these generally don’t tend to disappear, and can cause resentments to build up.

Some people who experience relationship anxiety can get so caught up in their anxious thoughts that other areas of life get forgotten. Make sure that you schedule time, each day, to do the things that you need to do to feel good about yourself. Continuing with your own hobbies and interests, maintaining other relationships and doing the things that are important to you will help you feel good about yourself and better able to manage feelings of anxiety.



3. Manage physical symptoms of anxiety

General anxiety management techniques can also help you to feel more balanced and calm which, in turn, will help you to think more clearly and positively. Taking regular time out to relax and exercise, getting enough sleep, listening to relaxation exercises or guided meditations, practising yoga, keeping a journal and eating regular, balanced meals can all help the body and mind to feel calmer.

Links to further support:

If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and finding it hard to cope with this on your own, a short course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can help you to understand the origins of your anxiety and make the changes you need to overcome it, once and for all. Your GP will be able to refer you to a local therapy service or you can find details of private therapists near you here.

If your anxiety is impacting on your relationship, relationship therapy with your partner may help. You can find more information about relationship therapy here.

Complete Article HERE!

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How and when to have sex for the first time after giving birth

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  • Doctors suggest waiting four to six weeks after giving birth to have sex again, but new parents shouldn’t feel pressured if they aren’t ready.
  • When they are, it helps to ease back into the experience with self-pleasure and oral sex. Going on dates or spending quality time with your partner before sex can also help boost intimacy in the bedroom.
  • During sex, focus on enjoying yourselves rather than going in with the goal of orgasm, which can add to feelings of pressure and frustration.

When you first bring your newborn home, sex may be the last thing on your mind. But once you get settled in with your new bundle, you and your partner may start to think about being physically intimate again.There’s no set amount of time a new parent should wait before getting back into the bedroom, but according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, doctors often suggest a period of four to six weeks after giving birth. During that time, a new parent who recently gave birth may experience fatigue, vaginal dryness, pain, or low sex drive, according to the Mayo Clinic. And if you experienced a vaginal tear during the birth that required stitches, doctors suggest waiting until the area is completely healed to prevent pain or re-injury.

If you don’t feel ready at the six-week mark, that’s OK too.

“I think that we as a culture expect new parents to get right back into their pre-pregnancy routines, but there is no going back — a completely new routine must be figured out, and that routine is likely going to change from month to month when a newborn is changing so rapidly,” Sofia Jawed-Wessel, an assistant professor in the School of Health and Kinesiology at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, told Self.

But when you are ready, there are a few steps you can take to have the most comfortable and enjoyable experience possible.

According to Christine Leistner, a relationship health scientist and assistant professor at California State University – Chico, easing into sex with masturbation, finding ways to be intimate outside of the bedroom, and overcommunicating with your partner during sex can help after birth.

Start with masturbation

Before getting intimate through partnered sex, Leistner suggested taking a solo approach.

“I would say don’t go from zero to 60. Start with masturbation,” Leistner told Insider.

At any stage in life, self-pleasure can help a person feel more connected to their body, and that’s especially important after you’ve gone through hormonal changes that come with being pregnant and giving birth.

In fact, a June 2012 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found women gravitated towards self-pleasure or oral sex after giving birth, rather than going straight for penetrative intercourse.

Rebuild intimacy in your relationship before having sex

The same study authors found that how women felt sexually, and how they perceived their partner to feel sexually, were more important factors in their post-partum sexual satisfaction than physical factors like breastfeeding or vaginal trauma.

The findings suggest rebuilding an intimate connection with your partner can help make your post-baby sex more fulfilling, and Leistner suggested taking the time to do so outside of the bedroom.

“Talking it through, going slow, and doing other things that are pleasurable besides sex,” can help Leistner said, like going on a date could boost your feelings of connectedness.

When you feel supported and in tune with your partner in other aspects of your life, that will translate to feeling connected and comfortable with them during sex.

Take your time and overcommunicate with your partner

  • When you and your partner decide to have penetrative sex again, it’s important to discuss your needs and expectations to ensure the experience is pleasurable to both of you.”Both partners need to be open with each other about their fears, concerns, and desires in the face of a changing sexual relationship as to avoid any misunderstandings,” Dr. Jennifer Conti, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University, told Self.In addition to offering each other verbal support through compliments, saying “I love you,” or reiterating how excited you are to be intimate together beforehand, it’s also important to set boundaries in case the sex becomes painful or uncomfortable, Jawed-Wessel said.She added that going into the experience with the goal to feel connected and enjoy yourselves, rather than the goal of orgasm, can also help take the pressure off.

    “If penetration is causing pain [and/or] anxiety, take it off the table entirely and explore each other’s pleasure in different ways that don’t include penetration,” Jawed-Wessel said.

    Lastly, being prepared with lube can help ease potential physical discomfort from vaginal dryness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex in quarantine?

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Expert advises BDSM during coronavirus pandemic

Grab your 6-foot paddle and throw on your gas mask

By Ana Valens

As some U.S. states ramp up their (premature) reopening process, quarantine horniness is reaching a climax. But sex-havers have a question for the sexperts: How can you fuck as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic?

One sex therapist has an answer: BDSM.

“Get really educated about kinky sex,” sex therapist Rae McDaniel told the Chicago Tribune. And for the newly kinky, McDaniel stresses BDSM isn’t just about sadomasochism and domination and submission. Consider, for instance, blindfolds and feathers.

“Kink or sensation play means taking into account all of your sensations and really amplifying those,” McDaniel said, including “sensory deprivation, which is very sexy and has been happening for a long time.”

McDaniel’s advice comes from a larger primer by the Chicago Tribune on sex during the coronavirus pandemic and navigating its risks. Kissing, for example, can be a high-risk activity during foreplay. Instead, McDaniel suggests massages, cuddling with faces apart, dirty talk, sexting, and the lewdest of all: holding hands.

They also advise people with more than one sexual partner to be fully open and honest about their sexual interactions with others. Communicating your sex life with others may sound TMI, but it’s all about providing your partner with enough information for informed consent.

“I think folks in the polyamorous community might have a leg up on more monogamous folks these days because they’re used to over-communication about consent and safer sex practices,” McDaniel said. “I think it’s the same principle for dating in the time of COVID. Any sort of romantic, or sexual, or even proximity connection should be disclosed to the other people in your life so that they have the opportunity to determine their own risk comfort level.”

As for sex itself, McDaniel recommends positions that aren’t face-to-face, such as anal sex or doggy style. You can also minimize contact between bodily fluids by altogether avoiding genital penetration, such as fingering your partner or giving them a handjob. And, of course, dental dams and condoms are always worth having around to prevent coronavirus transmission and STIs.

But you really shouldn’t have sex with people outside of your quarantine pod. Public health expert and former FDA official Dr. Charlene Brown said sex should still be off the table with strangers and roommates, as there’s a high chance of being infected with COVID-19 even if you’re hooking up with someone you live with.

“If just being within six feet of one another and breathing is enough to transmit the virus, imagine how much the risks are multiplied during proximity of any form of physical sex,” Brown told the Tribune. “Thinking about catching a virus the entire time you’re being intimate with someone doesn’t sound too sexy to me.”

Then again, bugchasing is a thing, and rumors about “coronavirus parties” have circled across the internet for the past few weeks. So as sound as Brown’s advice may be, the people will do as they do.

But if you want to have sex and don’t want COVID-19, Brown has one piece of advice: disinfect everything. And by everything, she means everything.

“If you have sex despite the COVID-19 risks, disinfect everything: sex toys, countertops, bed frames, bathroom, or anything else that you and your partner might have come into contact with before, during and after sex,” Chicago Tribune reports. “After sex, Brown says to wash your bedding and clothes too. She recommends quarantining and considering COVID-19 testing.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Polyamorous Relationships

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– A Definition of Polyamory, How It Works And Why It’s Not All About Sex

Polyamory is also known as ‘consensual non-monogamy’

By

Storybooks, fairytales and the media have hardwired many of us into believing we will eventually meet ‘The One’ – the person we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives.

You may think that the idea of a soulmate is unrealistic, believe that you will encounter several Ones in your life or find the idea of needing a signifiant other at all rather insulting (‘so what, we’re incomplete if we choose to be on our own?’).

Polyamorous relationships are a further rejection of the monogamous relationship convention. Polyamory allows for you to be in consenting relationships with more than one person, concurrently.

Sounds complicated? Perfect? Confusing? A recipe for disaster? How a polyamorous relationship works might sound complex at first, but it’s often misunderstood.

Though the concept has been around for centuries, polyamory has come further into the forefront of people’s consciousness in recent years. From TV shows like House of Cards to celebrities admitting that they’re in open relationships, polyamory – otherwise known as ‘consensual non-monogamy’ (CNM) – is very much in the cultural ether.

But how common is polyamory?

A January 2020 YouGov poll found that approximately one-third of US adults (based on a group of 1,300 people) say that their ideal relationship is non-monogamous to some degree. However, only about five per cent of Americans currently live a non-monogamous lifestyle.

Many of us might like the sound of a polyamorous relationship in theory, but how does it work in practise?

Here’s everything you need to know about polyamory and what it means to be in a polyamorous relationship:

What is polyamory?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the term as: ‘The state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time’.

While technically correct, sex and polyamory educators argue that this definition ignores a vital component: consent.

‘Polyamory is an ethically, honestly, and consensually driven relationship structure that allows us to engage in many loving relationships,’ sex-positivity educator, Lateef Taylor, told Shape last year. ‘The consent component here is vital.’

This means that people in a polyamorous relationship should be aware of and agree to the relationship’s dynamics, emotions and needs, from the outset and again every time the dynamic changes. Essentially, there shouldn’t be any ‘I’m just nipping out for a few hours’ secrets among those involved.

The Macmillan dictionary describes the term ‘polyamory’ more accurately, noting: ‘Having more than one serious, sexual-emotional relationship at the same time.’

Polyamory is also known as ‘consensual non-monogamy’, as explained by Dr Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door, to Psychology Today in 2018.

‘Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) with emotionally intimate relationships among multiple people that can also be sexual and/or romantic partners,’ she stated.

The state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time

She explains that polyamory encompasses open relationships (where you agree you can have sex with anyone you want, but probably won’t report back to your partner about the experience every time), to solo polyamory, where you identify as polyamorous, but are not currently in multiple relationships.

Charyn Pfeuffer, 47, from Seattle and author of has dated both monogamously and non-monogamously over the years.

‘I’ve found that having the space to explore various relationship models with freedom and openness works best for me,’ Pfeuffer tells ELLE UK. ‘I’m pansexual and attracted to all sexes and gender identities, so it’s impossible for me to confine love, attraction, and intimacy to a neat and tidy labeled box.’

Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a branch of polyamory that Pfeuffer has practised.

KTP is a dynamic in which partners and ‘metamours’ (a partner’s partner) all know each other, and, in theory, would feel comfortable meeting up together. For Pfeuffer, her experience of this type of relationship turned into a MFF (male-female-female) triad, which involved her dating a married couple, individually and together, for a year.

The author explains that given her huge capacity to love and care for others, non-monogamy (specifically polyamory) allows her to tear down the social constructs we’ve been taught, and allows her to love multiple partners with total transparency.

‘Polyamory isn’t for everyone; ditto for monogamy,’ Pfeuffer continues, noting that there are rarely alternatives considered, nor the idea that one can choose to design their own relationship. ‘Like any relationship, it’s a commitment (but with multiple partners) and requires constant work.’

Is polyamory a new concept?

‘Free love’ or non-monogamy has been practised for millions of years, with anthropologists arguing that polyamory was common among hunter-gather societies.

As psychologist and author Christopher Ryan previously stated: ‘These overlapping, intersecting sexual relationships strengthened group cohesion and could offer a measure of security in an uncertain world.’

And as early as the 1800s, several groups in America – such as Mormons – practised a multiple partner relationship style.

As a concept, polyamory is currently in its third wave of obscure popularity, according to Dr Sheff.

‘During the first wave, utopians, feminists, and anarchists advocated consensual non-monogamy as a cure for everything from capitalist oppression to men’s tyrannical ownership of women,’ she argues.

The second wave began with the “free love” portion of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, flourishing among hippies, swingers, and disco dancers. The third and current wave, largest by far, started with the spread of Internet communication.’

Where does the term ‘polyamorous’ come from?

The word ‘polyamorous’ is a blend of ‘poly’ (from the Greek phrase meaning ‘more than one’) and ‘amor’ (the Latin word for ‘love’), according to the Macmillan Dictionary.

The term ‘polyamory’ is believed to have been officially coined and popularised by US poet Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart in 1990, in an article entitled A Bouquet of Lovers.

In 1999, she was allegedly asked by the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary to provide a definition, reports the Dictionary.

At the time, the wordsmith defined polyamory as: ‘The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.’

Is polyamory just for people who are obsessed with sex?

In much the same way as many other relationships, polyamory encompasses more than just the physical. A healthy relationship – be it monogamous or poly – requires trust, communication, consent and respect.

Pfeuffer has been in two dozen or so non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships and has previously said that while being ‘poly’ requires openness, ‘it’s not a free-for-all f*ckfest’.

For me, it’s about cultivating meaningful, ongoing relationships with the potential for falling in love,’ she told Glamour in 2018.

‘Polyamory requires a huge amount of emotional vulnerability to figure out who I am and what I want from different relationships,’ she explains to us.

‘Ditto for communication and Google calendar skills. My relationships ebb and flow, and there’s a safe space to renegotiate relationships agreements to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.’

Polyamory isn’t for everyone; ditto for monogamy

Pfeuffer states that there no one, universally right way to do polyamory.

Does polyamory require set rules?

The boundaries of all polyamorous relationships can be different, like they are in other types of unions.

Dedeker Winston, co-host of the Multiamory podcast and author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory, currently has two partners who she’s been in relationship with for seven and four years, respectively.

‘I haven’t had any kind of “rule setting” conversation with either of my partners,’ says Winston. ‘But we have, over the course of the relationship, figured out mutual best practices that make sense.’

Practices include communicating honestly, being proactive in talking about sexual health and having regular relationship check-ins to make sure everyone is feeling fulfilled.

‘I like to turn more towards figuring out my personal boundaries and coming up with best practices with each partner,’ Winston, who is also a relationship coach, continues. ‘In my work with clients, I see restrictive rules often fail miserably as many people find themselves agreeing to rules that they can’t abide by once they are actually exploring multiple relationships.’

She argues that this often leads to rules-lawyering or finding loopholes, and Winston says that polyamory can be complex depending on the personalities and rules that may be involved. Jealousy still exists, but Winston believes the good outweighs the bad.

‘I can say hands down that I’ve experienced more joy, trust, compassion, growth, and moments of tenderness than I ever did in monogamous relationships in my past,’ she notes.

Which celebrities have been in polyamorous relationships?

Actress Bella Thorne, activist Bethany Meyers, her husband actor Nico Tortorella, and writer Jessamyn Stanley have previously identified as polyamorous.

In a saved Instagram Story last year, Stanley wrote: ‘Polyamory gets confused with wanting to have sex or needing to have sex with a lot of different people, which is really not what it’s about.’

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have previously commented on the openness involved in their relationship, but have not specifically identified as being polyamorous.

In 2013, Jada Pinkett-Smith told HuffPost Live that her husband ‘is his own man’ and ‘can do whatever’ he wants.

After receiving backlash for her comments, the actress addressed her thoughts on Facebook that year, writing: ‘Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should “behave”?’

‘Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so [sic],’ Pinkett Smith continued, referring to her relationship as a ‘grown’ one as opposed to ‘open relationship’.

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What TV series and films show polyamorous relationships?

Louis Theroux’s Altered States: Love Without Limits might be the most famous exploration of the subject on television to date.

A description of the 2018 BBC Two programme online reads: ‘[Theroux] discovers that for many, more partners means more love and more happiness.’

Spike Lee’s 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It and the 2018 BBC drama Wanderlust also reference the relationship type (both available to watch on Netflix).

Pfeuffer notes that shows like You Me Her, Unicornland, the fourth season of House of Cards, and Cartoon Network’s series Steven Universe (which broke ground for LGBTQ+ visibility in children’s shows) explore what life is like beyond traditional monogamy well.

There are hundreds of relationship variations within polyamory, yet media narratives tend to drive some recurring stereotypes,’ Winston tells ELLE UK.

Is polyamory only for couples adding a third party?

Dedeker explains that people often make the assumption that polyamory is something that couples do, rather than something that individuals do.

‘This means that many people assume that one of my two partners is the “real” partner, and my other partner must just be for fun,’ she says.

Recalling her own experience of the misunderstanding of polyamory, she adds: ‘Someone even went so far as to ask me, “If one of your partners had to die, which one would you choose?”

‘That kind of disgusting questioning is something we would never ask someone of their children, their parents, their siblings, friends, etc. But our monogamy-dominant cultural narratives lead many people to believe that you can only really care about one person romantically.’

Is polyamory the same as an open relationship?

Not necessarily, although both are considered non-monogamous.

According to the Handbook of the Sociology of Sexualities, an open relationship is typically defined as having sexual intercourse with others (other than one’s partner/spouse) but that those sexual encounters don’t develop into relationships. Meanwhile, polyamory involves having multiple relationships. Love and emotional connections are the driving forces in the latter.

In 2018, Renee Divine, L.M.F.T., a sex and relationships therapist in Minneapolis, clarified the difference to Women’s Health, noting: ‘An open relationship is one where one or both partners have a desire for sexual relationships outside of each other, and polyamory is about having intimate, loving relationships with multiple people.’

What’s the difference between polyamory and polygamy?

Technically, polyamory means multiple loves and polygamy means multiple spouses.

Dr Sheff explaine: ‘Polygamy is almost universally heterosexual, and only one person has multiple spouses of a different gender. The most common form of polygamy by far is polygyny, a marriage in which one man marries multiple women.’

This is most commonly found in the Mormon fundamentalist community.

The Channel 4 2017 documentary Three Wives, One Husband introduces viewers to Enoch Foster of the Rockland Range – a remote community of committed polygamists in Utah. At the time, the show explored how Foster had fathered 16 children with his two wives, who ‘took turns’ getting pregnant, and how he was beginning to court the family’s nanny.

Polyamory means multiple loves and polygamy means multiple spouses

Polygamy has been around ever since people created marriage,’ noted Dr Sheff. ‘Notable men like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon from the Torah/Old Testament had multiple wives and did a lot of begetting with them all.’

Do polyamorists have their own pride flag?

Yes. In 2014, the first poly pride flag is believed to have been created by a man known as Jim Evans, with three horizontal coloured strips – blue, red and black.

Though widely unwritten about, the polyamory pride flag is available to buy on the UK Flag Shop.

What is a ‘polyactivist’?

Polyamory is not a legally protected status, like being heterosexual or homosexual is.

Several individuals have stated that you can lose your job for being polyamorous and courts can use it against you in child custody proceedings.

Being polyamorous in particular, or otherwise consensually non-monogamous, is not a protected status,’ polyamorist writer Amy Gahran told Insider last year.

‘It is something you can get fired for. It is something that can jeopardise child custody arrangements, it can complicate divorce proceedings, it can complicate people’s ability to get access to jobs or education.’

Polyactivists are trying to change this, explained Dr Sheff.

‘In an attempt to document the discrimination against people in consensually non-monogamous (or kinky) relationships, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has initiated the Narrative Project,’ she noted.

The coalition collects self-reported stories of discrimination (and consent violations) that have affected people in polyamorous, open, and other CNM relationships.

Is polyamory a sexual orientation?

Polyamory is not currently recognised as a sexual orientation, and some polyamorists wouldn’t consider it as such.

But Ann Tweedy, a professor at the Hamline University School of Law, argued in the 2011 University of Cincinnati Law Review that polyamory fits the legal definition of a sexual orientation.

Given that polyamory is a sexual orientation for some, Tweedy believes it should be protected under employment discrimination statues, which she feels currently rely on a narrow interpretation of sexual orientation incongruent with the sex and gender diversity of modern society.

‘Polyamory appears to be at least moderately embedded as an identity,’ Tweedy wrote. ‘Because polyamorists face considerable discrimination, and because non-monogamy is an organising principle of inequality in [many Western’] cultures.’

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Be Supportive When a Friend Comes Out to You

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Don’t try to set them up with the only other queer person you know, who they have absolutely nothing in common with.

by Rachel Miller

At the end of a Pride month in which a lot of people are newly thinking about how to be a good ally, it’s a great occasion to think about how to be an ally to the queer folks in your life year-round—starting with the moment they tell you they are queer.

First, it’s important to know that there’s no singular “coming out” with regard to sexuality—it’s something that those of us who choose to come out have to do over and over again. As Tom Vellner wrote in a BuzzFeed essay, “It isn’t a one-step process. I don’t have to sit down at my kitchen table with every new person I meet, like I did with my parents—knees weak, palms sweaty, mom’s spaghetti (wait…)—and explain to them that, yes, I’m queer and, no, it won’t change anything between us. But as long as I exist in a heteronormative world, where the presumption is that I must have a girlfriend because I’m a man, I’ll never stop coming out. It happens whenever I meet a new coworker, whenever I see a new doctor, whenever I talk to a friend of a friend at a party.”

Because coming out happens in so many small, often mundane ways, there’s no single response that’ll work for every situation. Tearfully replying, “I just want you to know how much I love you!!!” isn’t going to be appropriate if you’re, say, working the cash register at Bath & Body Works and a customer mentions the candle she’s buying is for her wife. And a peppy “Cool, got it!” probably isn’t the move when your best friend since childhood sits you down to tell you they are queer. Ultimately, you should try to mirror and respond to the specific individual’s emotional intensity, and to let your established relationship guide you.

When it comes to the more emotional, capital-C–capital-O Coming Out situations, aim to affirm and honor your friend.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Recognize the importance of this moment, and how vulnerable they are being with you by saying something like, “Thank you so much for trusting me with this” or “I feel honored that you chose to share this with me.”
  • Say “I think this is really great!” or something else really affirming that communicates that what they are telling you is fundamentally good. And remember to smile.
  • If you’re close, it’s OK to ask gentle, non-probing questions—e.g., “I have to admit that I actually don’t know what pansexual means; I can look it up, of course, but I’d love to know what it means to you, if you’re up for sharing.” (Just avoid nosy questions about their body and/or sex.)
  • Maybe say, “Is there anything you’d like to do to celebrate?” Recognizing this milestone—whether that’s via drinks, going shopping for a new outfit, getting a tattoo or piercing or haircut, or having a party—lets them know that you are aware of what a big moment this is, and is a way to honor what they’ve just shared.
  • It’s really important to let people share their stories on their own terms, and to not accidentally out a friend, even if it’s an attempt to normalize what they’ve told you. On the other hand, they might actually prefer if you share the information with other people in your circle so they don’t have to have really intense coming out conversations with everyone they’ve ever met. The best way to know what they want is to have a conversation about it. So if they haven’t told you how public this information is, you could say something like, “Just to make sure we’re on the same page, can I ask you if other folks in your life know?”
  • If you’re not sure what to do next, go with “How can I best support you right now?” It’s really OK to not know exactly what to do or say for a friend, and to simply ask them what they need from you in this moment.

In any coming out conversation—whether it’s intense or fairly casual—what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • “I’m not surprised” or “I always knew.” It’s not about you right now!!! Also, it doesn’t feel good to know that other people knew something about you that you didn’t know about yourself, or to learn that the thing you were working so hard to hide was actually obvious to everyone around you. (If the person asks if you knew, you can say something honest but gentle like, “I thought that could maybe be the case, but I wasn’t really sure!”)
  • “It’s no big deal!” This kind of response is often well-meaning, but can trivialize a person’s lived experience, or gloss over the fact that they just shared something that is a big deal to them. (In the newest installment of ¡Hola Papi!, JP Brammer gave advice to a reader who was hurt by their loved ones’ neutral reaction to coming out; it’s a good reminder that your friend might be expecting a little more fanfare, or at least something beyond just tolerance.)
  • “I love you anyway!” Again, well-intentioned, but it inadvertently communicates that you are doing them a favor, and care about them despite their sexuality.
  • “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!!!” Trust that they had their reasons for telling you when they did. And, again, this isn’t about you.

Be sure to keep showing up for them after that initial conversation, too.

Talking to you is likely just one step in a bigger process; here are some things to keep in mind going forward:

  • Follow their lead. If they call themselves a lesbian, use the term lesbian; if they say gay, go with gay. (And don’t whisper it like it’s something shameful; say it.) If they refer to the person they are dating as their partner instead of their boyfriend, say partner instead of boyfriend. (And don’t call their partner “your buddy” or “your roommate.”)
  • Support their efforts to make more queer friends. Yes, that might mean sometimes you won’t be invited to join a group activity, but try not to take it personally—it’s really, really not.
  • If you’ve said or done anti-LGBTQ things in front of your friend in the past, seriously consider apologizing. Don’t make your guilt a Huge Thing for them to manage—they shouldn’t end up comforting you here—or pressure them to accept your apology, but it’s worth owning up to your shortcomings as a friend in this moment. You might say something like, “I also wanted to say I’m sorry for the comments I made about [_So-and-So bringing a same-sex date to prom/gay marriage/homosexuality being a sin_]. I’m sure that really hurt for you to hear, and made you feel less safe around me. I know it was wrong of me, and I’m so sorry.” If you said things or held beliefs that were particularly harmful, you might also say, “Here’s what I’m doing to educate myself on this topic, so I can be a better [_f__riend/sibling/ally_] going forward.”
  • Continue to be supportive and affirming. A friend of mine just sent her newly-out niece a Pride care package, which I thought was really thoughtful and cute. This could also look like trying to get to know the person they are dating, or joining your school’s PFLAG group… or simply not pretending this conversation never happened (which happens more than you might think).
  • Look out for them. Systemic, pervasive oppression means that LGBTQ people are at higher risk of mental health conditions, suicidality, intimate partner violence, and police violence. Just because you accept your friend doesn’t mean that their family or employer or the world at large does, so keep an eye out for signs that they aren’t doing well.
  • Avoid referring to them as your “gay best friend.” You can just say “best friend.” And know that having a queer friend doesn’t give you license to start making jokes about LGBTQ people, or about your friend.
  • Don’t try to set them up with the only other queer person you know, who they have absolutely nothing in common with.
  • Remember to see your friend’s whole self. Being queer is one facet of a person’s identity, but it’s not their entire personality.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men are still having more orgasms than women

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One in 20 women have never orgasmed with a sexual partner

By Almara Abgarian

If you thought the orgasm gap was a thing of the past, we are sadly here to tell you that this is not the case.

A new study from the sex toy company Lelo has revealed that men are still climaxing more often than women during sex, 66% compared to 43% respectively.

What’s more, almost one in 20 women have never orgasmed with a sexual partner.

The findings, which have been released for National Orgasm Day (that’s today) are the result of a survey with 4,000 heterosexual female and male participants from across the UK.

To make matters worse, not only do women climax less, but it appears many of their male partners are unaware that this is even happening, with majority of participants in relationships saying their partner orgasms 60% of the time.

This is still quite a low figure – but this could partially be due to some women not being physically able to climate during sex, rather than lack of trying by their partner.

More likely however, this is due to the orgasm gap.

What is the orgasm gap?

‘The orgasm gap refers to the stats that show that in heterosexual sexual experiences men orgasm more than women,’ explains Kate Moyle, sex and relationships expert at Lelo.

‘We also see that this gap doesn’t exist when women are having sexual experiences with women, which suggests that the gap is gendered.’

Kate explains that this is due to a variety of factors, such as lack of education, cultural differences and the fact that many people focus on intercourse to reach climax, where majority of women require clitoral stimulation to get off.

But why is the clitoris so often forgotten or ignored?

‘This is reinforced by what we see represented in many forms of sex online and in the media, where women appear to be orgasming from penetrative sex with little or no arousal,’ she says.

‘Commonly we also split up foreplay and sex, which puts the focus on “sex” as the main event, when if we reframe and think of it all as sex where the goal is pleasure then the clitoris, which is the main source of female pleasure with 8000 nerve endings would get more attention.

‘It’s not all about taking the focus off penetration, but ensuring that people are aware then when women are aroused, the clitoris becomes erect like the penis, and this means the internal structure can be stimulated and can create pleasurable sensations through intercourses, but arousal and being turned on is the key.’

‘The side effect of this lack of sex education is few of us feel confident with sexual communication, and being open about what feels good for us, and this is one of the key routes to creating change.’

Additional research by Lelo revealed three in 10 people fake their orgasms on a regular basis, with women more likely to do so, according to the study.

And only a third of those surveyed have spoken to their partner about their orgasms, or rather lack of orgasms – with men (73%) more likely to raise the issue, compared to women (56%).

If you’re missing out on orgasms, it’s time to speak up.

Complete Article HERE!

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There’s A Link Between Gratitude & Better Sex

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By Kelly Gonsalves

Gratitude practices are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Research continues to unearth more and more benefits of gratitude, from relieving stress to improving sleep. The latest addition to the list? Better sex among couples.

A recent study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal found that the more people experience and receive gratitude in their relationships, the more likely they are to be invested in their partner’s sexual pleasure—leading to more mutual sexual satisfaction overall.

What makes us motivated to meet each other’s needs?

A team of researchers wanted to see if gratitude could improve something called sexual communal strength, which is the degree to which a person is motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs. People high in sexual communal strength genuinely care about their partner’s pleasure and meeting their partner’s needs, and past research has shown folks with higher sexual communal strength tend to have happier relationships and more sexually satisfying ones. Some studies have even found people with higher sexual communal strength tend to have more sexual desire in general and an easier time getting aroused.

So, how do you increase this coveted quality of sexual communal strength? The researchers’ theory: more gratitude.

The team—including psychologists Ashlyn Brady, Levi R. Baker, Amy Muise, and Emily Impett—tested this theory out over the course of three separate studies.

In one study, the researchers surveyed 185 people in relationships about their sexual communal strength, their experiences of gratitude toward their partner, and the expressions of gratitude they received from their partner. Lo and behold, people who’d had more gratitude in the relationship (both felt and received) tended to have more sexual communal strength.

In another study, they had 118 couples track these gratitude experiences and their levels of sexual communal strength over the course of three months. As the researchers periodically checked in with the couples, they found both experiencing and receiving gratitude was associated with improvements in sexual communal strength over time.

In a third study, they wanted to see if gratitude would cause an increase in sexual communal strength (as opposed to just correlation). So they asked 203 people in relationships to journal about one of four things: a recent experience of having gratitude for their partner, a recent experience of receiving gratitude from their partner, a recent enjoyable experience that had nothing to do with their partner, or a recent neutral experience related to their partner. After the writing exercise, everybody was surveyed about their sexual communal strength—and once again, those who’d journaled about a gratitude experience (whether giving or receiving) reported higher communal strength than the folks who journaled about other things.

If gratitude helps boost sexual communal strength, and sexual communal strength boosts both partners’ sexual satisfaction, then it’s reasonable to assume gratitude could be a key ingredient to mutually satisfying sex in a relationship.

“Gratitude is a positively valenced emotion that arises in response to the recognition that another person has been beneficial or valuable to them,” Brady and her colleagues write in the paper on their findings. “Gratitude functions to motivate people to maintain relationships with valuable others. The current studies extend this growing body of literature to the sexual domain by revealing that gratitude similarly motivates people to meet their partner’s sexual needs.”

The takeaway? Couples working on improving their sex life might benefit from adopting a regular gratitude practice, including both individually journaling about why they’re grateful for each other and sharing that appreciation for each other openly. (Now, of course, this only works if this gratitude is authentic and without ulterior motives. And likewise, our motivation to support each other’s pleasure must come out of authentic enthusiasm and not pressure.)

When we’re grateful for our relationship, we’re naturally more enthusiastic about doing all the things that keep it healthy and strong—such as having a good sex life. We pay more attention to our partner’s sexual needs and care more about meeting them, and we find ourselves feeling more sexually fulfilled in the process.

Complete Article HERE!

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How prison and police discrimination affect Black sexual minority men’s health

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Incarceration and police discrimination may contribute to HIV, depression and anxiety among Black gay, bisexual and other sexual minority men, according to a Rutgers led study.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, examined associations between incarceration, and law enforcement discrimination and recent arrest with Black sexual mens’ psychological distress, risk for HIV and willingness to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

“Evidence suggests Black sexual minority men in the United States may face some of the highest rates of policing and incarceration in the world,” said lead author, Devin English, assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Despite this, research examining the health impacts of the U.S. carceral system rarely focuses on their experiences. This study helps to address this gap.”

“We examined how incarceration and police discrimination, which have roots in enforcing White supremacy and societal heterosexism, are associated with some of the most pressing health crises among Black sexual minority men like depression, anxiety, and HIV,” English added.

The researchers surveyed 1,172 Black, gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men over the age of 16 from across the U.S. who reported behaviors that increased their risk for HIV over the previous six months. Participants reported on their incarceration history, experiences of police and law enforcement discrimination, anxiety and depression, sexual behavior, and willingness to take PrEP.

They found that 43 percent of study participants reported police discrimination within the previous year, which was most frequent among those with a history of incarceration. Respondents who faced high levels of police discrimination within the previous year also tended to show high levels of psychological distress and HIV risk, and a low willingness to take PrEP compared with their peers. The study also found that respondents who were previously incarcerated or recently arrested had a heightened HIV risk and lower willingness to take PrEP.

“These findings transcend individual-level only explanations to offer structural-level insights about how we think about Black sexual minority men’s HIV risk,” says co-author Lisa Bowleg, professor of psychology at The George Washington University. “The study rightly directs attention to the structural intersectional discrimination that negatively affects Black sexual minority men’s health.”

The article states that the findings support the need for anti-racist and anti-heterosexist advocacy and interventions focused on reducing discrimination in U.S. society, and the carceral system specifically.

“Despite experiencing a disproportionate burden of violence and discrimination at the hands of the police, and extremely high carceral rates, Black queer men are largely invisible in discourse on anti-Black policing and ,” says co-author Joseph Carter, doctoral student of health psychology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. “Our study provides empirical support for the intersectional health impacts of police and carceral that have been systemically perpetrated onto Black queer men.”

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15 porn sites for adults who fantasize about roleplaying

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In need of roleplay inspo? These fantasy porn sites should do the trick.

By Beck Diaz

At some point in our sexual lives, we all stumble across fantasy porn or adult roleplay and decide that pretending to be someone else in bed sounds pretty damn hot. Coming fresh off a three-month-long quarantine, a spicy little switch-up in the bedroom might do us all some good.

It’s one thing to fantasize about being locked up with your partner for an extended amount of time with nothing to do except explore each other’s bodies and minds, but actually being locked up with them and catching them doing normal human things like picking their nose and struggle to put on a shirt is a whole other ballgame. Thankfully, we live in an era where missionary as the standard is still pretty amazing but can get old quickly if you have a lot of it. Now, we’re not gonna sit here and tell you how to have sex, cause that’s just rude. But if you’ve been feeling that familiar twinge of boredom that comes with routine and at this point, a too-close-for-comfort living situation, read on for the basic bedroom cure-all: role-playing.

What is sexual roleplay?

Sex therapy specialist Caitlyn Caracciolo defined roleplaying as “Acting out of your own fantasies or a partner’s, which tends to happen when one feels very safe and secure within a relationship. Roleplaying can be an excellent indicator of feeling emotionally and physically safe with a sexual partner.”

When it comes to sexual roleplaying with a partner or someone you trust, you can forget your preconceived notions of corny acting and cringy porn scripts. When you truly let yourself go by giving in to your sexual inhibitions, a whole new world of possibilities seem to open up in front of you. While sex often seems to be all about reaching climax, roleplaying is all about stimulation, both mentally and physically. Adult roleplaying allows you to play out the fantasy that seems to get you off every time, switch up the power dynamics in the bedroom, and even act out that steamy scenario with someone you trust that you might have been afraid or ashamed to do otherwise. These scenarios are all run-of-the-mill practices discovered and explored through sexual roleplaying!

How to roleplay in the bedroom

If you’re a roleplaying beginner and are wondering where to start, we have a few tips for you. First, take some time for yourself to figure out what it is that really turns you on. Don’t shy away from the taboo stuff, as roleplaying should be a safe space where you and your partner can explore those kinds of fantasies freely and safely!

After you’ve decided on a (or a couple of) scenes you’d like to try, discuss them in detail with your partner. As with everything else in a relationship, communication is key. So even though this might not be your typical dinner date conversation, it’s important to establish boundaries, consent, and an aftercare routine for those of you with more intense fantasies.

Obviously, we’re all human, and we all have feelings. Knowing that roleplaying should be a practice that comes without judgment doesn’t make it immune to some potential awkwardness, especially for beginners! Understanding that when it finally comes time to realize these fantasies laughing and feeling a little silly is not only OK, but it can be a big help when you’re first crossing the roleplaying threshold. If you’re super worked up about staying in character or even just trying to be overly sexy, you might miss out on the magic that organic and free roleplaying can bring. The key is to let your imagination run wild. You’re in for a night (or afternoon) to remember!

Where to find fantasy porn and adult roleplaying videos

If you need some roleplaying ideas, or just get off on fantasy porn, parody films and adult roleplaying videos, we’ve listed your best options below.

Pornhub

Let’s be real: with over 42 billion site visits in 2019, 90% of you porn viewers out there have probably reached orgasm on Pornhub at least once. You’re familiar with the layout and product offering, and you might be happy with it, but what if there was a way to get a lot more out of the experience? That’s what Pornhub Premium reaches for, and in my opinion, achieves. The best selling point right now is the site’s free trial membership (with the option to add Brazzers access for $1 per day). The homepage’s thumbnails offer sneak previews of thousands of HD, full-length videos from renowned studios like Vixen, Team Skeet, Nubile Films, Hentai.xxx, and more. On top of that, you’ll get access to Pornhub’s library of 30,000 full-length original films. Offering the widest variety of porn on the internet, its premium subscription does not disappoint.

YouPorn

What YouPorn does really well is organizing its collection of fantasy role-play porn. You’ll have no trouble sorting through the site’s categories, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the variety of unique titles. As for its content, you have the option to view clips, full-length films, live cams, and live sex in its tabs. Enjoy access to hundreds of channels like broke amateurs and bratty sis, as well as the site’s many featured and familiar performers. All videos are uploaded in HD and are available to download. In terms of free amateur facial porn sites, YouPorn has definitely mastered the subtleties of delivering a great experience during each visit.

Sci-Fi Dream Girls

We’re proud to include the only fembot site on this list: Sci-Fi Dream Girls. You might have seen this studio as an add-on channel on bigger porn sites, or even scored a clip of a clip from a popular free porn site, but rest assured, you’ve only grazed the tip of the surface of what this site offers. If you’ve never had the pleasure of viewing any of Sci-Fi Dream Girls content, or if this is your first time hearing about it, I’m sure you’re the envy of quite a few people right now. Experiencing the web’s only fembot video site is something that Sci-Fi lovers everywhere wish they could do for the first time all over again. The site boasts over 35 videos and clips of android women all catering to your specific technological sexual proclivity. What this site does well is deliver an interesting series of storylines that all tie together while spanning several hard-hitting categories like lesbian fembots, muscular fembots, real dolls, and even humans having sex with robots. While the site layout seems a little outdated and can be slightly confusing to navigate, the content is truly out of this world!

Bellesa

This one is for the porn connoisseurs who’ve been searching for roleplaying sex videos that looks…well, real! If the usual scripted sex scene just isn’t cutting it anymore, Bellesa Films is tailor-made for you. The site’s original videos and full-length films are shot by women for women and focus on female pleasure. Get ready for a lot of steamy action with a much sweeter delivery. No more obviously fake O’s or foreplay that makes you cringe. Bellesa Films brings the tension and passion with every scene, leaving you sweaty and breathless after. The site boasts top categories such as female orgasms, couples, group sex, fingering, and ass play. But for more specific videos (like fantasy roleplay sex) you’re better off searching by keyword. One visit to Bellesa, and you’ll never look back.

Adult Time

Winner of over 34 awards in 2020, including Paysite of the Year from XBIZ, Adult Time is quickly becoming one of the top mega-sites around. With over 100 channels, 50,000 episodes, five new releases per day, and a mix of original and curated content, Adult Time is almost too much porn. Spanning full-length movies to themed scenes, Adult Time offers a little bit of everything, so you’ll have no problem finding what you crave. Adult Time’s award-winning original content is augmented by scenes from Vivid, Girlsway, Burning Angel, and other top companies. It even features an incredibly diverse range of performers. Adult Time is one of the best deals in porn.

Digital Playground

At first glance, Digital Playground is a no-brainer for work fantasy porn. With thousands of scenes ranging from today to the mid-90s, Digital Playground’s library is hard to beat. If you’re into mainstream porn its mix of wild threesomes, lesbian scenes, and fantasy hookups is world-class. A new movie featuring five scenes is uploaded every month, along with a three scene web series. Few sites give you this many new and classic porn stars, from Adriana Chechik to Jesse Jane. The only downside is the incredible $20 extra per month it charges for downloads.

Burning Angel

This site is completely dedicated to alternative style and tattooed models and was founded by performer Joanna Angel. Inside, you’ll find all the tattooed goths, punks, emos, skaters, and more participating in all the roleplaying porn and sexual acts you love to see. If you’re familiar with the major porn streaming service AdultTime, then you’ll be happy to know that it acquired the Burning Angel studio, so along with your Burning Angel membership you’ll have access to all 55,000+ videos in the AdultTime library. The Burning Angel site alone, however, is home to over 2000 videos and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2020 winner for best action/thriller and best comedy sex scene. It also offers over 70 categories and over 100 models and pornstars including the likes of Abella Danger, Bree Daniels, and more. If you’ve been looking for true alt porn, what better place to look then the site that ushered in the movement!

House of Taboo

House of Taboo is the king of all things kink, fetish, and roleplay sex videos. The site is a refreshing one in a surprising way. There are no options to filter via category, or model specs; however, you can filter by recently uploaded, most popular, featured videos, and trending. What I love about this feature is that it really solidifies the site’s brand. There are no separate categories or delineating filters because it is a kink/fetish site, so that’s all the content you’ll get. For those that might be a little less excited about that than I am, it warrants mentioning that there is an advanced search bar if you’re really in the mood for watching a specific kink or fetish.

Because this site is so great at its craft, and uploads happen quite frequently, it is one of the only sites to offer a lifetime membership. I would recommend taking advantage of the three day trial at 33 cents a day to determine if this is the site for you. If quality kink is your thing, and you’re tired of searching daily for the perfect videos to satisfy your hunger, House of Taboo is the place you should call home.

Kink.com

Adult roleplay porn lovers rejoice! This site will be your new go-to for all things sticky, fetish, and kink. This is the first of sites on the list to offer the option to filter by sexual orientation before you even enter the site, with the options to choose either straight, gay, or both. As you might have assumed from the name, Kink.com specializes in videos with hardcore sex, kinks, and fetishes. It hosts content from 30+ popular studios, totaling over 12,000 videos on the site. The most impressive thing about the videos, however, is that they all run at least 45 minutes long, with most running feature-length. It’s not normal to have that many videos available of that length if you think about it–it almost doubles the number of videos since you’re probably not going to watch a full-length film every time you go on the site. As well as providing an extensive library of content, Kink.com offers a cam site, VR site, and shop where you can purchase lingerie and toys ranging in value. This is truly your one-stop-shop for all things kink and fetish.

Sssh.com

Sssh.com is the longest running roleplay porn site for women and for good reason! Its films are ethically produced, sex positive, and put focus on female pleasure (not just male!). The site’s original movies have also been the recipients of several prestigious film awards, so it seems like every feature in this site is a huge draw. Although Sssh doesn’t allow non-members to browse the video selection offered, the slideshow on the homepage will give you an idea of what can be expected when you sign up for a membership. Sssh’s exclusive original movies, performers, and erotic photo galleries have garnered enough attention to make this site too juicy to overlook.

Wicked Pictures

For nearly 30 years Wicked Pictures has been one of the biggest names in fantasy roleplay sex. While still active in retail, the company’s website is an incredible resource for fans. Featuring over 5,500 scenes and 1,000 full movies, the sheer amount of content available is stunning. Beyond its incredible original hardcore scenes, Wicked is one of the few porn sites with educational content with classes in everything from fellatio to BDSM for Beginners. Wicked is an incredible deal, starting at just $19.99 for streaming.

PinkLabel.TV

PinkLabel has established itself as one of the heavy hitters in amateur roleplay porn videos. Created by the director and founder of Pink and White Productions, Shine Houston, the site hosts over 50 different indie porn studios (including Erica Lust, Pink and White Productions, and many more). PinkLabel’s communities are comprised of queer, trans, POC, seniors, and people with disabilities. The people behind the site understand porn markets go beyond the stereotypes and do their part in showcasing underrepresented groups in the adult film industry.

This ethical hosting site offers a premium membership featuring a curated collection of hundreds of titles, unlimited access to the films, and a permanent streaming library. All memberships help support PinkLabel’s own featured independent directors and studios. So if you’re looking to whet your appetite with various high-quality films showcasing diversity in porn made by and for minorities in the industry, PinkLabel is your best bet.

Crash Pad Series

From Shine Houston comes the Crash Pad Series, based on Houston’s cult classic original film The Crash Pad. This series follows the original plot with all episodes based in a San Francisco apartment that’s dedicated to hosting queer sex events. In my opinion, the best feature of this site is the content. In terms of diversity and real sex, you can’t do better than the Crash Pad series. The models are natural beauties in all shapes and sizes from all backgrounds, sexual identities, orientations, and races. To top it all off, the chemistry is so intense it almost feels like an out of body experience. There are over 300 episodes in the series and each episode contains its own behind the scenes footage. Members also have access to the library of feature-length films, including the original CrashPad movie that inspired the series.

In an unprecedented move, Crash Pad Series features a “hide” toggle, so before you go sifting through all the glorious porn, you can choose to filter and hide videos that contain scenes with ejaculation, consensual rough sex (including choking, flogging, spitting, slapping, etc.), fisting, BDSManal play (anal penetration, rimming, butt plugs, etc.), strap-ons and wearable vibrators.

Sex Art

SexArt is unique in the sense that this site has so many avenues of exploration. Not only does it host amazing full-length soft porn films, but SexArt also hosts live cam streams, chats, and a blog for people looking to up their knowledge of all things sexual. SexArt produces films that are sensual beyond belief and exclusive to this site. Expect plot-heavy films, high-quality sets, and explosive on-screen chemistry. With multiple weekly updates in an already large collection of videos, you’ll never be without new content. Signing up with only your email address will award you with daily updates and featured model bios and the ability to view three films for free! Premium memberships grant you access to live cams, the blog, and the gallery images on the site.

Sex Babes VR

Sex Babes VR’s biggest selling point is the sheer number of up and coming performers it features and its growing category of POV roleplay porn. Every time you log on it feels like you’re discovering someone new. It adds to the fantasy when it’s not someone famous. It helps make up for the generic plots of their otherwise incredibly hot scenes. In particular, Sex Babes VR shine with their immersive camera angles. Memberships come with around 300 VR scenes with a new one added every week.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Quarantine Helped Me Overcome Stigmas Surrounding Queer Dating

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By Meggie Gates

I’ve been out since I was 19, and insecure since the day I was born. I’ve shied away from intimacy my entire life, something psychologists label “avoidant attachment” and my mother calls “frustrating.” I am 26, I do not like to be touched, and incidences of sexual assault have only heightened that feeling, narrowing an already limited number of partners I’ve had in the past. I’m sex positive, I support whatever anyone else does sexually, but I can’t go about the act without some wine notched under my belt, something I consider leveling my anxiety and something my therapist describes as “bad.” I rarely know how to approach casual sex. How the heck do I fit in to In a community where sex is constantly, seemingly, on the table?

I live in Chicago, and in Boystown, there is a sign—an advertisement for a dating app with two shirtless, hunky gay men rubbing bodies in boxer briefs. In Wrigleyville, there is a friend—a person regaling hookups on Grindr every time I see them, years of casual lovers. In the queer community, there is commercialization—the kind we celebrate with plenty of skin showing at Pride festivals come June. Condoms are handed out and dental dams are distributed. It is good, safe, serves to destigmatize, and celebrates what years of hate has told us not to embrace. It is beautiful and poetic and deserved of that celebration, but it is not me.

The perceived stereotype of casual sex in the queer community can make some hesitant to date. The questions of casual sex looms overhead in the queer community and that stereotype can affect many people’s approaches to exploring their sexual identity. The pressure sex puts on the queer community can be isolating for some. Worse, it can feel invalidating. In their article “Mr. Right Now: Temporality of Relationship Formation on Gay Mobile Apps,” professors Tien Yeo and Tsz Fung write about the pressure queer people can feel to compromise sex for love.

“For those seeking more durable relationships, tensions arising from the specific temporality of app use that privileges casual sex but which also maximizes the pool of potential partners versus the temporal norms prescribing friendship and long-term romantic relationships become a major source of frustration,” write Yeo and Fung. “Ultimately, these tensions resulted in users conform to routine patterns of interactions, developing alternative modes of interactions on apps that decelerate relationship development, or (temporarily) deleting the apps.”

For people who buy into hypersexualized LGBTQ+ media representation, the anxiety and doubt surrounding conversations on sexuality can feel like another reason not to pursue meaningful connections. In a society focused on hook-up culture, it’s hard trusting someone will have the patience to get to know me. The conversation of how good you are at sex circles the internet; the question of how queer you are hinging on past relationships focused on binary. Sitting across from women on a first date, anxiety constantly creeps up, making me wonder how the night will end.

Quarantine has changed the game for dating across the board. People must decide whether someone is worth putting their life (and the lives of others) at risk. Zoom dates can be awkward, uncomfortable, and the lack of intimacy can be hard. Building a relationship over FaceTime is seemingly impossible. But, strangely, this is the first time I’ve felt truly comfortable approaching dating in years. Why? Because without the expectation of kissing or sex following a date, I’m confident having conversations I’d usually never have regarding my sexuality and gender. It finally feels like dating in a way that’s truer to myself.

Without the expectation of kissing or sex following a date, I’m confident having conversations I’d usually never have regarding my sexuality and gender. It finally feels like dating in a way that’s truer to myself.

I met Ana through Hinge two months ago, another app in a sea of apps geared toward dating. From our first date, I let her know of the anxieties I foster when it comes to queer dating. I ask if my slowness warming up to intimacy makes a difference to her, if my lack of history with people of the same sex erases me in her mind as legitimately queer. She responds surprised, shocked I’d even ask. “Your past doesn’t matter and if someone makes you feel bad for that, you’re better off without them,” she says. “The queer community isn’t a contest.”

It’s no secret gay love has, and still is, stigmatized in many parts of the worldReligionrace, gender, and class all play a part in the need for people to hide their sexuality for different reasons. Being ostracized, ridiculed, or neglected creates a desire for many queer people to feel loved and attractive, resulting in fast connections of momentary fulfillment. Casual sex has many benefits for those who enjoy it. You can share a strong connection with someone for a passing period and go your own way, no strings attached at the end of the night. For me, the anxiety of waking up to someone I barely know overshadows all pleasure. I feel I’m missing out on my 20s as I watch friends stumble out of bars with others. This is what TV said adulthood would be like, but it’s never been that way for me. I miss all the nuance of feeling fun and alive in a city because I’m too focused on my shoes whenever someone asks for my number.

I walk through an obsolete Boystown recounting memories of all the love Saturday nights once held. The avenue is painted with the past of people who carried themselves over the rainbow boulevard looking for a home in someone else, a late-night rendezvous heading out of Berlin hand-in-hand. I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss Red Bull vodka shots at midnight and making out with strangers whose names I don’t remember; how a photo strip of a girl in passing isn’t poetry that spans the lengths of years.

Relationships take a toll and farther into heartbreak we get, the easier it is to run at the sight of something new. Flings that are fleeting outweigh tangling yourself in something messy and complicated. Dating hardly takes off for me because I’m too stressed about the motions, if I’ll be critiqued for the physical instead of the emotional. Now, there’s nothing but time to explore one another as the world around us stops shifting. After two months talking, Ana and I finally met. My family encourages me because they “like her” and think she’s “a good match for me.” We’re slow and have found a rhythm that suits us, one grown from patience and time.

For once, I’m trying to walk rather than run.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 LGBTQ sex facts you probably didn’t learn in high school sex ed class

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Comprehensive sex education in the US has been a point of contention for decades, with former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders even being asked to resign from her post in 1991 for endorsing sex education and masturbation.

While some states have moved away from an abstinence-only curriculum, only 29 states mandate some kind of sex education curriculum. And the problem of proper sex education is even worse for LGBTQ teens. 

According to Dr. Sara C. Flowers, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, only 9 states and the District of Columbia include LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in their curriculum.

“Queer young people are often left out of the conversation altogether,” Flowers told Insider. “This can result in a lot of misinformation about their identities, bodies, and health — leaving them without the skills or resources they need to have healthy relationships or safe sex, if and when they make that decision.”  

Gina Desiderio, director of communications for The Health Teen Network, told Insider that not only does this do a disservice to LGBTQ youth, it actually worsens their mental health. 

“Research shows that LGBTQ+ young people report disproportionate experiences of depression, bullying, and feelings of unsafety at school — and these experiences are even more common among LGBTQ+ youth of color,” Desiderio said. “However, queer youth that do receive inclusive sex education are less likely to feel unsafe and report lower levels of victimization because of their identity.” 

Insider compiled a list of the most critical queer sex education facts left out of the classroom. 

Some people using hormones aren’t sure what protection to use, but there are some creative solutions.

Barriers like condoms are not just used to prevent pregnancy. They serve an important role in preventing the spread of STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.

According to Flowers, they should be used regardless of you or your partner’s genitalia. However, oftentimes condoms are framed as the only option. Dental damns, latex gloves, and other alternatives can better suit the needs of different people.

“If you or your partner has an enlarged clitoris from taking testosterone, you can create a barrier method using a latex glove by cutting off the fingers and placing it over the clitoris, or by cutting the glove or a condom into a dental dam that leaves extra space in the thumb for the clitoris,” Flowers said.

Even if you’re performing non-penetrative sex, these kinds of barriers should be used.

Use barriers on your sex toys as well.

Barriers are important even if you’re using a sex toy on a partner.

If you use sex toys on multiple people (like yourself and your partner), putting a condom on them can help keep everyone involved safe.

“Condoms can also be used on sex toys to reduce the chance of passing STIs between partners,” Flowers said.

You can still get pregnant even if you or your partner are taking gender-affirming hormones.

Sometimes, trans and non-binary people undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), and take gender-affirming hormones like estrogen and testosterone. 

While these hormones change the body, affect fertility and even eliminate periods for some, they are not a form of birth control. People on HRT can still get pregnant or impregnate another person. 

“People taking gender-affirming hormones like testosterone and estrogen can still become involved in a pregnancy,” Flowers said. “To prevent pregnancy, consider non-hormonal birth control options, including the copper IUD or barrier methods like external or internal condoms, which still work while taking gender-affirming hormones.”

‘Losing your virginity’ isn’t necessarily penetration between a penis and a vagina — it can look like many things.

Oftentimes, sex and losing your virginity is framed as having penetrative sex between cisgender man with a penis and cisgender woman with a vagina.

But sex and losing your virginity can look like a variety of ways for people and certainly doesn’t have to involve penetration.

In addition to penetrative sex being centered, sex in many sex ed classes is oftentimes from as a means to an end to have a child. Not only does this undermine the importance of pleasure in cisgender heterosexual sex, it completely erases many queer people who cannot have sex that results in a pregnancy.

“Too often, sex education casts all adolescent sexual activity in the narrowest, most sex-negative of lights: potentially dangerous at best, and catastrophic at worst,” Desiderio told Insider. “This failure to integrate sex positivity matters to queer and straight, cisgender young people alike.”

Desiderio told Insider instead educators should be openly talking about pleasure in the context of sex.

“Having frank, open conversations about sexual pleasure acknowledges people have sex for reasons other than reproduction, affirming the identities of LGBTQ+ people too often erased by curricula infatuated with the nitty-gritty details of when sperm meets egg,” Desiderio said.

It’s important to be aware that homophobia and transphobia can drive low self-esteem. And that can affect relationships.

According to Flowers, dating violence is oftentimes mentioned in the context of cisgender and straight relationships, but it’s crucial for LGBTQ youth to understand dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender identity, presentation, or sexual orientation.

In fact, because LGBTQ people are at risk of being rejected by their family and facing homophobia or transphobia in their day to day life, they are more at risk of falling into toxic relationships.

“LGBTQ+ young people deserve sex education that helps them learn how to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, teaches them about consent, and lets them know they deserve to be supported if they are in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship,” Flowers told Insider.

These are some good techniques to consider when coming out to your family.

While the decision to come out differs from person to person, having the proper language to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity is necessary for a young LGBTQ person to talk to their family.

“Including tips for coming out about gender identity or sexual orientation in classroom instruction is one way to de-center heteronormative relationships and ensure all young people are getting what they need from sex education,” Flowers said. 

Here are some tips Flowers suggested that can make you feel more comfortable and prepared:

  • Choose a private location
  • Plan what you’re going to say ahead of time
  • Prepare for questions about your sexuality or gender identity

Pay attention to politics. Race, gender, ability, and class all affect your access to sexual health.

The way we have sex, and access sexual healthcare, can be greatly impacted by our gender, sexuality, or race. For example, HIV/AIDs still disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx queer men in the United States.

That’s why it’s important to understand the challenges you personally face in life, beyond in the bedroom, according to Desiderio.

“These factors combined affect the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming youth, as evidenced by high rates of attempted and completed suicide, unplanned pregnancies, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection diagnoses,” Desiderio said.

At school, Desiderio says, there should be open discussions about each child’s identity, so they can be prepared for oppression and the barriers they may face in life.

“Institutions organized for the dominant population too often marginalize, ignore, or erase the LGBTQ+ experience and queer sex,” Desiderio said. “Young people face vast systemic inequities and structural barriers to ensuring their health; affirming, inclusive sex education is one way we can support and empower young people to thrive.”

Complete Article HERE!

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12 Video Chat Sex Tips From Women In Long Distance Relationships

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Thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, pretty much everything you used to do in person—work, happy hour, doc appointments, weddings—have all moved to Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facetime. But sex? Yep. That too.

Katie, 29, a New York-based publicist is one of the unlucky lovebirds who has unexpectedly found herself in a LDR. “Pre-quarantine, my boyfriend and I probably had sex five or six times a week, and surprisingly the pandemic hasn’t changed how often we’re having sex, just how we have sex,” she says. “And I’ve gotta admit, video sex is way more intimate and fun than I thought it would be.”

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“COVID-19 pandemic or not, video sex with a partner can be totally hot,” says Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, professor of human sexuality at New York University and resident sexpert for sex-toy brand LELO. Think about it, you’re basically creating a personal porno just for your partner. “But unlike porn, video sex is a two-way street—you’re able to watch and hear your partner while they watch and hear you.” Hot, right?

But video chat sex can feel super awk at first, and there’s indeed an art to it. Here are tips from Katie and other women about how to make “special” video calls even better.

How to have video sex you actually enjoy:

1. Pick your platform wisely.

Before you even think about getting busy on camera, do a little research about the platform you’re thinking about using. Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp, for instance, all have explicit rules against nudity and sexually explicit material. Sorry to break it to ya.

What platforms are video-sex kosher? At the time of publication, FaceTime and Telegram have no explicit rules against it.

2. Only do it with partners you trust…like, a lot.

About to accept a video call? Do a gut check. “Screenshots are absolutely a thing, so if any part of you feels like this person might take screenshots without your consent, opt out,” says Carly, 32, New York-based founder of Dildo or Dildon’t. Even if it’s been over a month since you’ve last got laid, no case of quarantine randies is worth some jerk having your nudes without consent or knowledge.

3. Schedule it in advance.

Feeling a little ‘LOL WHAT ARE DAYS?.’ Scheduling your sesh in advance just as you would for an IRL meet-up can help, says Maile, 30, a New York-based operations manager. “Scheduling video sex with my new boo helps make my days feel a little less monotonous, and it actually gives me something to look forward to.”

Plus, she says planning ahead gives her at least a few hours to figure out what lingerie she’s going to wear underneath her clothes, what toys she wants to have fully charged (important!), what lube she wants ready for use, and *exactly* where she’ll set up her camera (see below).

4. Figure out where you’ll set up the camera.

Your first instinct might just be to hold the phone. But getting freaky (read: orgasming) over video is way easier when you have both your hands to, ahem, aid in arousal.

Find a place to prop your phone up so that the lighting is in front of (not behind!) you, suggests Carly. “You also want the camera to be slightly higher up than you are,” she says. She invested in the GripTight Gorilla stand (shown here) so that she can set her phone up at an optimal height/place in the bedroom or bathroom or living room (hate to say it, but the best lighting may actually not be in the bedroom).

But if you don’t want to splurge on some video sex-cessories, Maile says, “I’ve been propping my phone up against a stack of books on my bedside table and it works just fine.”

5. Limit distractions.

Generally speaking, it’s rude as hell to check your cell or email when you’re out with your boo. But when you’re both (partially or fully) naked?? Well, *leaves meeting*.

Put your phone in do not disturb mode and disable your Slack and email notifications. “It can be hard enough to establish intimacy via video, so the last thing I want is a work email to interrupt the moment,” says Sarah Sloane, a sex educator who’s been coaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001.

6. Treat it like a date.

Don’t feel like you need to be naked, sprawled, and ready the second you answer the call. If you’re feeling romantic, make a whole damn date night out of it like Maile and her S.O. do.

“I may be living in a world of back-to-back meetings. But these video sessions aren’t that—these video sessions are what we’re resorting to in place of in-person date and romps,” she says.

So, she gets dressed up (lingerie underneath, of course), lights candles, cleans the apartment, breaks out a bottle of wine, and makes a fancy dinner. “We like to start with a drink, maybe some food, talk about our days, and when the mood veers toward the sensual or sexual, we let it,” she says. Modern romance!

7. Or have a quickie.

If you’re like Sloane and only have time for (or simply prefer) quickies, you’ve got another option: lean into sex-texting as foreplay. “We’re both working, so we like to sext all day long to build up the anticipation. Then, when we’re both unbearably horny and have a few minutes, we’ll hop on [camera] and get off together real quick,” she says.

8. If you’re nervous, say so!

Spoiler alert: These are unprecedented times that we’re livin’ in, and we’re all just trying to find ways to get our skin hunger met and feel a little less socially distant. So chances are your partner is just as new to this as you are.

“Telling my partner that I was nervous but excited helped me relax,” says new video sex aficionado, Angelica*, 31, a Texas-based accountant. “It turned out they were also nervous, which helped take some of the pressure off.”

9. Pull out the pleasure products.

The Womanizer may be your go-to, but Carly recommends bringing in toys that are way more ~visual~ than that. “You don’t want a toy that you just plop onto your bits, you want a toy that helps you put on a show.” Her suggestion? Opt for a thrusting vibrator like the Fun Factory Stronic G or Calexotics Shameless Tease. “I like to position them between my legs, then angle the camera down so my partner can see them rocking.”

Finger vibrators like the Dame Fin or Unbound Palma are good options too because your partner can still see your bits—and how you like to stroke yourself—even with the toy in the frame.

Oh, and take a tip from Sloane and ask if your partner has any sex toys that will really turn them off. You’re doing this together, remember?

10. Use lube.

Even if you don’t usually use lube during IRL sex, without your Babe’s hand and mouth in the mix helping to warm you up (or tbh, your go-to porno), it may take you a little longer to self-lubricate. And that’s where lube comes in. “Not only will the lube cut down on the friction, but it’s also visually sexy because it makes you look wet and slick on camera,” says Carly.

11. Make some noise.

It might sound a little “duh,” but when you’re video-sexing, in addition to not getting to touch your partner, you don’t get to smell or taste them. That’s why hamming up the audio component is a must. “All my partner gets is the sight and sound of me, so I really ramp up the dirty talk, moaning, and heavy breathing,” says Sloane.

If you’re feeling nervous about dirty talking, that’s A-OK, too. Katie doesn’t dirty talk at all, and she still has what she calls “orgasmic video sex.” “Instead of trying to say something more wild than I would if we were offline, I just let whatever moans and sounds that would happen naturally, happen,” she says.

12. Have fun!

“If there’s a silver lining in any of this,” says Kate, “it’s that it’s given my partner and me some more time to experiment with what feels good for both of us, have some seriously hot fun, and practice communicating our sexual wants and needs.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Free BDSM porn film from Erika Lust will teach you so much about fetish and kink

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As well as being realllllly hot, it tackles some of the most common miscoceptions about BDSM.

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Indie porn director Erika Lust is best known for her ethical production processes and feminist erotic films. From VR porn allowing people to live out their sex party fantasies, to this free porn she released which was shot by the actors in lockdown (and even her free adult sex education videos), she is always challenging what mainstream (read: largely unethical) porn sites are doing.

And she’s just released a new film that we can all watch for free – this time, it’s exploring BDSM and fetish through a mini series of short films. Titled ‘Safe Word’, the series will examine common misconceptions and myths about kink and educate BDSM beginners. And as well as teaching us all some important BDSM truths, it’s super hot masturbatory material, of course.

Starring Mona Wales and Mickey Mod, ‘Safe Word’ follows Mona’s character Christie as she explores BDSM for the first time after meeting her new neighbour Mickey, a well known adult actor. After witnessing him dominating a blindfolded woman in his apartment one night, Christie enlists the help of Madama Opal to explore on her own.

The series will follow Christie as she experiences voyeurism, solo play, a fetish session and a BDSM party. Be prepared to have your preconceptions about BDSM proven wrong, and to be shown just how sexy communication, consent and respecting someone’s boundaries can be.

“BDSM still has a stigma attached to it and its explorers in our mainstream culture,” Erika explains. “People who enjoy kinks are often seen as perverse, mentally sick, or victims of past trauma. However, when referring to BDSM we are mainly talking about a healthy, sexy culture of communication and awareness in sex.

“Whether you’re into it or not, I believe it can be a powerful learning tool for everyone on how to discuss boundaries beforehand as well as to stay in tune with each other during any other type of sexual relationship.”

Once you’ve devoured episode one, you’ll be able to watch the remaining episodes at LustCinema as they’re released every Friday until July 10.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 ways to boost your sex drive

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  • You can increase your sex drive by reducing stress levels, gaining a better understanding of what turns you on, letting go of performance anxiety, and reducing negative anticipation among other methods.
  • Getting enough sleep could also increase your desire for sex since sleep quality can influence libido.
  • You could also try talking to a therapist since this can help you address issues like shame surrounding sex, body image, or trauma.
  • Media and societal norms lead people to believe that they should be ready to have sex at any given moment. While this is the experience of some people, it certainly isn’t the case for everybody.If you’re looking to increase your sex drive, there are a few things you can do to boost your desire. Here is what the research says.

    There is no such this as a normal sex drive

    Everyone’s libido is different, and the same person’s sex drive might fluctuate over time, depending on circumstances. This is normal. According to sexologist and sexuality counselor Jess O’Reilly, Human Sexuality PhD and host of the Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast, there’s no universal standard or rule of thumb when it comes to sexual desire.

    “Low desire is only a problem if you deem it one or you find it distressful. Some people want sex several times per day and others don’t want it at all, and all experiences can be perfectly healthy,” says O’Reilly.

    However, if you do find your lack of sexual desire distressing and you want to be more interested in sex, O’Reilly recommends looking at whether your libido is low due to lifestyle or relational factors, which could range from trouble communicating with eachother, lacking emotional connection, or dealing with existing conflicts such as fighting over money or kids.

    Reduce stress levels

    Stress can cause various physical symptoms including a lower libido. 

    O’Reilly says your levels of cortisol — commonly referred to as the stress hormone — rise when you’re stressed out, and this can interfere with your sexual desire and arousal. A 2018 survey conducted by the BBC found that 45% of respondents said that stress negatively affected their sex drive.

    However, learning to reduce or manage stress can be difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support, whether it’s from your partner or a therapist. You can also try stress-relieving activities, such as meditation or exercise. Mindfulness has also proven to help improve sexual desire and sexual functioning, especially in women.

    Understand arousal and learn what turns you on

    For many people, the desire for sex isn’t there 24/7. “Desire does not always occur spontaneously. Most people need to get aroused first, and then they might experience desire. If you sit around waiting for sexual desire to occur on its own, it simply may not happen,” says O’Reilly.

    There are plenty of ways you can ramp up arousal, and thus, desire. Try some of the following:

    • Fantasizing
    • Sexting
    • Watching porn
    • Reading erotic stories
    • Touching yourself
    • Experimenting with sex toys
    • Having your partner kiss and touch you without the expectation of sex
    • Listening to erotica
    • Enjoying music that feels sexual to you

    Get creative and experiment with what turns you on most and increases your desire. O’Reilly says that once you’re aroused, it’s much more likely that desire for sex will follow.

    Expanding your definition of what sex means can also be helpful. If you are not excited by the type of sex you have been engaged in, trying something new can be exciting.

    Let go of performance anxiety

    Performance anxiety, pressure, and stress surrounding sex is likely to curb your arousal and your desire. “Pressure is the antithesis to pleasure, so if you feel pressure to have sex in a certain way, look a certain way, have an orgasm, get hard, get wet, make specific sounds or want sex with a specific frequency, you may find that you lose interest altogether,” says O’Reilly.

    Take time out to really get to know yourself sexually. O’Reilly says that spending time better understanding your body’s unique responses through masturbation can help you to be more at ease when you’re with a partner. She also highly recommends using mindfulness during masturbation, and mindfulness in general, which will result in benefits in partnered sex.

    Practicing mindfulness has been studied with great results in regards to libido. A 2014 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy examined 117 women who struggled with low desire. After mindfulness training, there was a significant decrease in “sex-related distress.”

    With practice, mindfulness can help you stay in the moment, enjoy pleasure, and let performance anxiety roll off your back. Talking to a therapist or opening up to your partner about your performance anxiety can also be helpful.

    Get enough sleep

    Sleep affects many aspects of your health and behavior, including your sex drive. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lack of quality sleep is correlated to low libido, as well as difficulty orgasming in women.

    O’Reilly says exhaustion can lead to lack of desire for sex.In this case, you should be prioritizing sleep over sex. Once you take care of your sleep habits, you may notice a difference in your libido, according to O’Reilly.

    Address relationship dissatisfaction

    When you’re in a relationship and you’re experiencing issues with your partner, it’s likely that those problems will spill over into the bedroom and leave one or both of you less likely to want sex.

    “If you’re harboring resentment, dealing with a partner who doesn’t want to engage, struggling with ongoing conflict, recovering from hurt and trauma, it’s unlikely that you’ll want sex spontaneously,” says O’Reilly.

    It’s best to work on these issues with your partner rather than sweep them under the rug and hope they go away. O’Reilly suggests talking about underlying sources or tension, and being open about issues. You can do this alone with your partner or with the help of a couples’ therapist.

    Reduce Negative Anticipation

    You might not be looking forward to sex if you are worried about potential or actual negative consequences.

    If you don’t want to get pregnant or are worried about STIs, use barrier methods such as condoms and hormonal birth control. Be sure to have conversations with any partner about your comforts and concerns.

    Some people also experience unwanted pain with sex. This is not something to be excited about. Ask your doctor about any pain or discomfort you experience.

    If you regularly have issues with reliable erections and control over orgasms, you might be worried about sex being pleasurable for you and your partner. Make an appointment with a urologist if you have any issues with erections or orgasms.

    Talk to a therapist

    Talking to a general therapist or a sex therapist can help you deal with underlying psychological reasons that you might be experiencing low sex drive. O’Reilly says this can be particularly helpful if you’re dealing with shame surrounding sex, body image, or trauma.

    There is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about regarding sex or seeking therapy to help with your sex life. This can be a way to examine the sources of your distress. If there is an underlying psychological cause, then simply trying to boost your libido probably won’t help. You need to address the fundamental issue at hand, first.

    Try out these tips to give your libido a boost and you’ll be on your way to wanting – and enjoying – sex again.

Complete Article HERE!

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