The Bored Sex

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Women, more than men, tend to feel stultified by long-term exclusivity—despite having been taught that they were designed for it.

The “distracted boyfriend” meme gets reversed.

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Andrew Gotzis, a Manhattan psychiatrist with an extensive psychotherapy practice, has been treating a straight couple, whom we’ll call Jane and John, for several years. They have sex about three times a week, which might strike many as enviable, considering that John and Jane—who are in their 40s—have been together for nearly two decades. Based on numbers alone, one might wonder why they need couples counseling at all.

But only one of them is happy with the state of play. And it isn’t Jane.

“The problem is not that they are functionally unable to have sex, or to have orgasms. Or frequency. It’s that the sex they’re having isn’t what she wants,” Gotzis told me in a recent phone conversation. And like other straight women he sees, “she’s confused and demoralized by it. She thinks there’s something wrong with her.” John, meanwhile, feels criticized and inadequate. Mostly he can’t understand why, if his wife is having sex with him and having orgasms, she wants more. Or different.

Despite “fears of seeming sex addicted, unfaithful, or whorish” (Gotzis doesn’t like these terms, but they speak to his patient’s anxieties, he explained), Jane has tried to tell John, in therapy and outside of it, what she’s after. She wants to want John and be wanted by him in that can’t-get-enough-of-each-other-way experts call “limerence”—the initial period of a relationship when it’s all new and hot. Jane has bought lingerie and booked hotel stays. She has suggested more radical-seeming potential fixes, too, like opening up the marriage.

Jane’s perseverance might make her a lot of things: an idealist, a dreamer, a canny sexual strategist, even—again channeling typical anxieties—unrealistic, selfish, or entitled. But her sexual struggles in a long-term relationship, orgasms and frequency of sex notwithstanding, make her something else again: normal. Although most people in sexual partnerships end up facing the conundrum biologists call “habituation to a stimulus” over time, a growing body of research suggests that heterosexual women, in the aggregate, are likely to face this problem earlier in the relationship than men. And that disparity tends not to even out over time. In general, men can manage wanting what they already have, while women struggle with it.

Marta Meana of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas spelled it out simply in an interview with me at the annual Society for Sex Therapy and Research conference in 2017. “Long-term relationships are tough on desire, and particularly on female desire,” she said. I was startled by her assertion, which contradicted just about everything I’d internalized over the years about who and how women are sexually. Somehow I, along with nearly everyone else I knew, was stuck on the idea that women are in it for the cuddles as much as the orgasms, and—besides—actually require emotional connection and familiarity to thrive sexually, whereas men chafe against the strictures of monogamy.

But Meana discovered that “institutionalization of the relationship, overfamiliarity, and desexualization of roles” in a long-term heterosexual partnership mess with female passion especially—a conclusion that’s consistent with other recent studies.

“Moving In With Your Boyfriend Can Kill Your Sex Drive” was how Newsweek distilled a 2017 study of more than 11,500 British adults aged 16 to 74. It found that for “women only, lack of interest in sex was higher among those in a relationship of over one year in duration,” and that “women living with a partner were more likely to lack interest in sex than those in other relationship categories.” A 2012 study of 170 men and women aged 18 to 25 who were in relationships of up to nine years similarly found that women’s sexual desire, but not men’s, “was significantly and negatively predicted by relationship duration after controlling for age, relationship satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction.” Two oft-cited German longitudinal studies, published in 2002 and 2006, show female desire dropping dramatically over 90 months, while men’s holds relatively steady. (Tellingly, women who didn’t live with their partners were spared this amusement-park-ride-like drop—perhaps because they were making an end run around overfamiliarity.) And a Finnish seven-year study of more than 2,100 women, published in 2016, revealed that women’s sexual desire varied depending on relationship status: Those in the same relationship over the study period reported less desire, arousal, and satisfaction. Annika Gunst, one of the study’s co-authors, told me that she and her colleagues initially suspected this might be related to having kids. But when the researchers controlled for that variable, it turned out to have no impact.

Many women want monogamy. It’s a cozy arrangement, and one our culture endorses, to put it mildly. But wanting monogamy isn’t the same as feeling desire in a long-term monogamous partnership. The psychiatrist and sexual-health practitioner Elisabeth Gordon told me that in her clinical experience, as in the data, women disproportionately present with lower sexual desire than their male partners of a year or more, and in the longer term as well. “The complaint has historically been attributed to a lower baseline libido for women, but that explanation conveniently ignores that women regularly start relationships equally as excited for sex.” Women in long-term, committed heterosexual partnerships might think they’ve “gone off” sex—but it’s more that they’ve gone off the same sex with the same person over and over.

What does it all mean for Jane and the other straight women who feel stultified by long-term exclusivity, in spite of having been taught that they were designed for it and are naturally inclined toward it? What are we to make of the possibility that women, far from anxious guardians of monogamy, might on the whole be more like its victims?

“When couples want to remain in a monogamous relationship, a key component of treatment … is to help couples add novelty,” Gordon advised. Tammy Nelson, a sex therapist and the author of The New Monogamy and When You’re the One Who Cheats, concurs: “Women are the primary consumers of sex-related technology and lubricants, massage oil, and lingerie, not men.”

Of course, as Jane’s example shows, lingerie might not do the trick. Nelson explains that if “their initial tries don’t work, [women] will many times shut down totally or turn outward to an affair or an online ‘friend,’ creating … a flirty texting or social-media relationship.” When I asked Gotzis where he thinks John and Jane are headed, he told me he is not sure that they will stay together. In an upending of the basic narrative about the roles that men and women play in a relationship, it would be Jane’s thirst for adventure and Jane’s struggles with exclusivity that tear them apart. Sure, women cheating is nothing new—it’s the stuff of Shakespeare and the blues. But refracted through data and anecdotal evidence, Jane seems less exceptional and more an Everywoman, and female sexual boredom could almost pass for the new beige.

It’s not uncommon for women to let their straight partners play in a “monogamy gray zone,” to give guys access to tensional outlets that allow them to cheat without really cheating. “Happy ending” massages, oral sex at bachelor parties, lap dances, escorts at conferences … influenced by ubiquitous pop-cultural cues, many people believe that men need these opportunities for recreational “sorta sex” because “it’s how men are.” It’s how women are, too, it seems.

Women cannot be pigeonholed; the glory of human sexuality is its variation and flexibility. So when we speak of desire in the future, we should acknowledge that the fairer sex thirsts for the frisson of an encounter with someone or something new as much as, if not more, than men do—and that they could benefit from a gray-zone hall pass, too.

Complete Article HERE!

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Age Doesn’t Determine Whether A Person Is Ready For Sex.

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Here’s What Does!

By Nichole Fratangelo

First-time sex has a lot of logistics attached to it—like where it happened, when it happened, and who it happened with. For most of us, it’s the “when” that holds a ton of weight. As a society, we tend to place so much importance on how old we were when we first shared that intimate moment with someone else. We rarely even consider if we were mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to do it. Now, new research shows your age really isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to sexual readiness; there’s much more in-depth criteria that includes physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being.

A study published in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health questioned 2,825 people between ages 17 and 24 about their first sexual experience, including the nature of their relationship with the person they had their first sex with, both of their ages, and how much sexual experience their partner had. The researchers also asked about their socioeconomic status, their education level, family structure, ethnicity, and how and when they’d been taught about sex.

What does it mean to be “ready” for sex?

Rather than focusing on age as a key factor, the researchers used four distinct points to gauge how ready each person was based on the World Health Organization’s standards for sexual health. WHO defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality,” which includes a “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

Only those who met all four criteria were considered “sexually competent”—that is, ready to have sex—at the time they first did it.

“The concept of ‘sexual competence’ represents an alternative approach to timing of first sexual intercourse, considering the contextual attributes of the event, rather than simply age at occurrence,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “This departs from the traditional framing of all sexual activity among teenagers as problematic, and recognises that young age alone does not threaten sexual health, any more than older age safeguards it.”

Here are the four main criteria:

1. Contraceptive use

Are you using birth control of some sort? A person who isn’t willing and prepared to use contraception during sex is not mature enough to be having sex. That’s why researchers included it as such a major point, especially for those doing it for the first time. Of those surveyed, most people did use reliable contraception, but around one in 10 did not.

2. Autonomy

Are you having sex because you truly want to do it, or does it have to do with peer pressure or drunkenness? Sex should always be on your own accord and not because it’s something everyone else around you is doing.

3. Consent

Here’s a crucial one: Did both parties verbally and physically agree to have sex? If not, neither party was ready to do the deed—one person was forced into it and experienced sexual assault, and the other person assaulted someone, which is the furthest thing from sexual competence. The researchers excluded instances of forced sex from their study, but they noted that almost one in five women had reported not being in charge of the decision to have sex for the first time.

4. The “right” timing

Do you feel like this is the “right time”? Participants reported whether they personally felt like they’d picked the appropriate time in their lives to start having sex. Though the study didn’t specify, there are many personal reasons why it is or isn’t a good time to start having sex; they weren’t ready to have sex—you might be struggling with stress or insecurity and don’t want to complicate it by introducing intimacy in your life, or you might be very erotically charged and have a lot of free time, so why not? Other factors like finding a partner they feel attracted to and comfortable with could factor into this question.

More women than men felt their first sexual experience did not happen at the right time—40 percent versus 27 percent, respectively. This was the most commonly reported negative feature of first-time sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Psychological Benefits of Sex Toys

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There is no doubt that sex is great. However, it can use something to make it more passionate and wild from time to time. The best thing to achieve that is to find the right “hardware” for your games and let it all play out really really well.

Besides making sex better, sex toys can bring many different benefits to the table, or into the bed, however you like it (this is a judgment-free zone). But among all the physical benefits, there are some psychological ones, too.

Eliminating shyness

Some people are shy about their sexual lives or talking about sex in general. What is more, at the very mention of sex toys even they can get all giggly and blood rushes to their cheeks like they are teens again. However, what not many of us know is that if you get over it and talk about sex toys, you can actually feel more confident to talk about sex.

Sex toys are not a taboo anymore and everyone uses them; either with their partners or by themselves. So, if you are able to talk about them in any way, be sure you will be more free to talk about sex with your partner, for example. You will eliminate that shyness, guilt or embarrassment you might be feeling, and your sex life will get better and more satisfactory in no time.

“Cure” for sexual dysfunction

There are both men and women who can have sexual dysfunction, and sex toys are something that can aid in that. For example, there are women who suffer from anorgasmia, which means they can hardly reach orgasms while having sex. That is why vibrators and relaxing sex toys, are recommended. As far as men are concerned, a helping hand of sex toys can make them climax without having to get an erection. There is no harm in trying kinky toys like Hustler Hollywood has, for example, and giving it a shot.

Plus, if you manage to finally get that orgasm, there is no doubt that your confidence will rise. Another positive thing is that they will take the pressure off of you because you won’t be overthinking what you’re doing in bed. You just need to relax and let the toys do their thing. And, at the end, you will feel confident about your relationship, things will get back on track sex-wise and you will relieve stress!

Great sex equals a great relationship

You might have that spark with your partner, but things are bound to get boring sometimes. That is why you need to communicate. Surprisingly or not, sex toys will lead to better communication with your partner. Even a simple visit to the sex shop with your partner will make you communicate better. You do need to be open about what you want, like and dislike, so it is a great way to get to know each other better.

Furthermore, you will learn how to “navigate” your partner better. Without the toys, you might feel shy about telling him “a bit to the left” or her “to use less teeth”, but with sex toys, things can change. If you’re using vibrators you will be more relaxed and open about where he or she needs to go in order to hit the spot. Plus, some toys can reach places no man or woman has ever touched.

According to Bustle, you can say that sex toys can improve your honesty and communication because they will spark the conversation and make your relationship even better.

They just make you feel good

The mental benefits of using sex toys are almost the same as the benefits of sex. But double the dosage! Sex boosts your confidence, but with the use of sex toys, you are even more confident because you managed to go pass that stigma and taboo.

Sex leads to increased intimacy, love and trust in a relationship, but with the toys, you two can get even closer. This is because your aforementioned communication is better, you made that special bond when buying sex toys and you learned new things about each other and your bodies. Plus, a lot of oxytocin is released after each passionate, sweaty and successful round in the bed, which only leads to stronger relationships and more respect towards each other.

After all this, we can say for sure that sex toys are beneficial. Forget about all that kink-shaming and go a little wild. Your relationship can use a little something new and fun, and your partner will be happy about it, too! Not to forget about that confidence boost and more happiness in your lives. So, take your partner’s hand, find the toys you both like and go on an adventure of kinky fantasies and plenty of fun.

Complete Article HERE!

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Couples Who Do THIS Have Better Sex

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By Georgina Berbari

It’s no secret that there’s enjoyment in feeling desired. In fact, a new study just revealed that how much you think your partner loves your body can have a significant effect on your sexual satisfaction—even more than your own appreciation for your body.

The study, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, studied 244 women between ages 18 and 30, all of whom were in a committed relationship for three months or longer and sexually active within the last month. (Most of the women were white and straight.) The scientists assessed the participants’ own body appreciation by asking them to rate how much they related to statements like “I respect my body” and “I feel good about my body.” The women were also asked to complete the survey from their partner’s perspective, to assess their perceived view of their partner’s appreciation of their body (i.e., “My partner feels good about my own body”).

The researchers also asked questions about the women’s sexual functioning in the past four weeks, which includes how often they felt sexual desire, their level of arousal, lubrication, number of orgasms, sexual satisfaction, and pain during sex. Finally, women also reported their overall relationship satisfaction, including how pleasant, positive, satisfied, and valued they felt.

The findings showed the more you think your partner appreciates your body, the better your sex life tends to be—that is, more desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasms—and the more satisfied with your relationship you are.

There was also a significant relationship between how much women appreciated their own body and how much they thought their partner appreciated it. In other words, having a more positive body image was associated with your partner loving your body more too. Interestingly, however, a woman’s own body image was much less of a predictor of her sexual functioning than how she perceived her partner’s view of her body. That suggests that there’s an element of being seen as attractive that’s uniquely important when it comes to having a satisfying sex life.

In the paper, the researchers theorize that this need to be seen as desirable and worthy might have to do with trust: When we’re having sex, we’re incredibly vulnerable—literally, we’re baring it all. So when we know our partner recognizes and even takes pleasure in our bare bodies, we feel more secure, confident, and able to let loose and enjoy ourselves.

Of course, the point here isn’t that we should all care a ton about what other people think about our bodies. When you’re confident in your own body, you’ll inevitably enjoy sex more because you feel less self-conscious and more inhibited.

“Our internal experience is mirrored back to us in our relationships,” marriage and family therapist Shelly Bullard tells mbg. “Therefore, the best thing you can always do is find love within. When in doubt, love yourself.” The same goes for body image—as you cultivate more and more love for your own body, there’s no doubt that you’ll see that body love radiating from your partner.

“As I began to feel full, beautiful, and magnificent internally, I experienced others feeling these things for me in a greater way than ever before,” Bullard writes.

In short, having the sense that your partner is obsessed with your body undoubtedly leads to great sex, and treating yourself with that unconditional adoration and acceptance is a great place to start. Of course, being comfortable and accepting of all aspects of your body is a journey—that you and your partner are both likely on. So, don’t be shy when it comes to being vocal about how much you’re sexually attracted to each other. Neither of you are mind-readers, and creating a healthy, open dialogue will have wonderful effects on both your sex life and your overall confidence.

Complete Article HERE!

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Is THIS Why You’re Struggling With Arousal?

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By Tiffany Lashai Curtis

Somewhere in all of the many messages that we’ve received about sex, many of us came to accept the idea that when a penis is erect or when a vagina is wet, it means a person is primed and ready for sex. This isn’t always the case, and yet our cultural discourse around sex and arousal has led us to incorrectly assume that a person’s physical response to sexual stimulation is always aligned with their level of desire.

In reality, there are many times when desire and physical arousal don’t match. In fact, physical arousal (genital response) is distinct from subjective arousal (active mental engagement in sex), and the lingering confusion about this distinction can contribute to many people’s insecurity or concern within their own sex lives and—at worst—can blur the meaning of true consent.

There’s a name for when physical and subjective arousal are mismatched: arousal non-concordance.

What is arousal non-concordance?

It’s a serious-sounding name for a pretty common phenomenon that most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives. If you’ve ever had a sexual experience in which you felt really turned on but had difficulty getting wet or erect or if you’ve had the opposite happen, where your body responded to a sexual stimulus but your mind was saying no, then you’ve experienced arousal non-concordance.

“Arousal concordance and non-concordance describe the simultaneous physical manifestation (or lack thereof) of a mental and emotional state of arousal,” physician and sexuality counselor Dr. Kanisha Hall tells mindbodygreen.

Simply put, arousal non-concordance can occur when the brain and the body are out of sync. While there is no official test to measure one’s levels of arousal concordance or non-concordance, researchers have asked participants to watch porn clips or view nude photographs while their vaginal pulse rate or the size of their erections were monitored (physical arousal) and then rate their level of desire (subjective arousal). The existing overlap between participants’ physical and subjective arousal is what is used as a marker of concordance.

Some people are more likely to experience arousal non-concordance than others. Dr. Hall says women may be more likely than men to experience it, which may have to do with the way female pleasure has been socially stigmatized, devalued, and construed as “mysterious,” creating more barriers to sexual satisfaction both physically and mentally.

Dr. Hall also noted that “stress, hormone imbalance, physical or mental disability, or a history of trauma may present a roadblock.”

Dealing with arousal non-concordance.

It’s easy to see why experiencing mismatched arousal can be extremely frustrating. “An individual may feel like their body is betraying them,” Dr. Hall says. “Others report feelings of inadequacy and dysfunction. These feelings bring stress to a person’s daily life and relationships. Also, you must realize the partner is usually bothered as well because they feel lacking in their ability to arouse and stimulate.”

Understanding arousal non-concordance and how we experience it can remind us that we are not damaged or weird if we don’t want to get busy all the time, if we become physically aroused in nonsexual situations, or if we don’t always respond positively to sexual touch even from a partner who we love or a person we find super attractive. By taking the time to note those moments when we aren’t experiencing arousal fully or when we experience unwanted arousal, we can become more attuned to how our bodies and minds react to certain kinds of stimulation and be more assertive about asking for what we want when we want it—and drawing boundaries when we don’t. Importantly, understanding that physical arousal alone does not and cannot take the place of clear and enthusiastic verbal consent is absolutely necessary to address our society’s ongoing culture of sexual assault.

We can also begin to figure out what really turns us on or off and open up the conversation with our partners. If you find that your mental desire for sex is present but that your body doesn’t get the memo when it’s time to get naked, getting reacquainted with things like lubricant (lots of it), clitoral stimulation, and taking the time to think about what kinds of touch or sensations you like and don’t like can make a huge difference. “Self-care and masturbation are great tools for assessing physical responses to stimuli,” Dr. Hall says.

If you experience physical arousal more than mental arousal, implementing something like a meditation practice or assessing what triggers your responsive desire can help your subjective arousal catch up to your physical response to sexual stimuli—if that’s what you want. Otherwise, you can at least begin to accept that your body’s biological responses are simply natural—nothing to feel shame or frustration about, as long as those responses aren’t interfering with your daily life.

If your experiences of non-concordance are due to trauma or if everyday sexual experiences do bring up emotional or physical pain, often it’s a good time to seek out professional help from a sexual health expert, whether that’s your gynecologist, another kind of sexologist or sexual health practitioner, or even a body worker who can help you process what you’re experiencing.

Whichever route you choose, know that arousal non-concordance is a normal experience and can be managed once you become aware of what’s happening.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Much Sex Is “Normal” In A Relationship?

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BY Cory Stieg

So sorry to disappoint anyone who’s thirsty for this information, but there really isn’t a “normal” amount of sex to have when you’re in a relationship, because there’s no such thing as “normal” — especially when it comes to relationships.

A handful of studies have examined how often people have sex based on their age, and determined that younger people (technically around 18-29 years old) tend to have sex four or more times per week, which is more than older age groups. But that doesn’t mean that more is better. A large 2015 study showed that couples who have sex once a week are the happiest, and other studies confirmed that even if couples have sex more frequently, it doesn’t increase their happiness. So, what we can glean is that there’s really no such thing as a “normal” amount, because everyone is different. And yet, so many people stress out about how much sex they’re supposed to be having.

This tension can be attributed to the fact that most of us have grown up with messages about “what makes a relationship good,” says Myisha Battle, a certified sex coach in San Francisco. “The problem is that sometimes ‘healthy’ is interpreted as having lots of sex,” she says. Humans are curious creatures by nature, so if you hear that someone else is having more sex than you are, you assume that means they’re “better” than you, she says.

So many people get caught up in making sure that they’re having sex “right,” says Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, a psychotherapist in New York City. “And really, there is no ‘right.'” The only important factor that you need to be concerned about is how often you want to have sex with your partner, she says. For some people, that might be tricky to articulate, too, because we have so many preconceived notions about what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s worthwhile to work on telling your partner what you need, because communication is key.

Once you and your partner are on the same page about how often you want to have sex, then remember that the number will change along with your relationship, Battle says. “We can become a bit nostalgic for the beginnings of relationships where sex might have been more frequent,” she says. “Developing acceptance of the ebb and flow of sex within your relationship can be more satisfying in the long run.” Nothing is set in stone, in other words.

Finally, if there is a big “desire discrepancy” between you and your partner’s ideal sexual frequency, or even between you and a friend, it’s not the end of the world. “It helps to focus on finding a partner who prioritizes sex in a similar way to you and communicating with them when things may have gone off course,” Battle says. And that, like all things in relationships, can take time.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Is Polyamory and How Does It Work?

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Polyamory has steadily moved from the margins to mainstream society over the past couple of decades. The rise of the internet has helped this scattered, taboo community connect, grow, and educate others. Personally, nearly six years in this community has provided a wealth of knowledge, but for now, let’s stick to the basics: What is (and isn’t) polyamory and how does it work?

Ethical Non-Monogamy

This umbrella term encompasses everything from polyamory to that conversation you have with your new Tinder beau-ty call about not being exclusive. Generally, however, people throw this term around when their relationships are on the casual end of the spectrum. Ethical non-monogamy is the practice of having multiple romantic/sexual partners who know about each other.

Polygamy and polyandry — usually ostracized from the main community due to consent and agency issues — are cultural forms of these relationships where one person acts as a vertex to many other partners who are bound to them by marriage. Vertices aren’t always bad; they occur as vees (only two partners) and are accepted in other relationship structures. The difference lies in how the wives and husbands of these relationships are not allowed the same freedom to explore beyond the vertex partner.

Open Relationships

Many people get their feet wet with ethical non-monogamy by opening up their relationships so one or both partners date or have sex with other people. Swinging technically falls into this category but is strictly sexual and its own vibrant community altogether. An open relationship tends to have the most rules in order to preserve the core relationship. Rules can range from not sleeping with friends to restricting queer/pansexual/bisexual people to only dating people of their gender.

Too many rules can put pressure on the core relationship and often ignore the sexual and emotional agency of any third parties. Some of these open couples go “unicorn hunting” for those open to threesomes and completely close off the possibility of romantic attachment. Some people don’t mind, but the couples often position unicorns as disposable beings.

However, sometimes these “pairings” can blossom into polyfidelitous relationships. Polyfidelity occurs when multiple people decide to be in an exclusive relationship with each other, most commonly in the form of triads (three partners) or quads (four people). But the more the merrier!

Polyamory

Finally, you have “many loves” (the Latin translation of polyamory). Polyamory tends to focus more on romantic relationships, but it can include casual partners. The main schools of polyamory are hierarchical, anarchic, egalitarian, and solo-polyamory.

Hierarchical polyamory assigns ranks to different partners: primary, secondary, and tertiary. There’s typically only one primary and this relationship tends to include many financial and social entanglements. Secondary relationships are essentially evolved situationships where the partners are beyond casual. Sometimes they can be as romantic as a primary … without the same access. Tertiary relationships are casual and usually physically-based. Another partner type is a comet, which can fit any of these descriptions, where the couple spends long periods of time apart.

Criticism of hierarchical poly structures rests mostly on the power the primary partner holds over time, resources, and particularly, vetoes. A primary can veto aspects of or even entire relationships their partner holds. This power can lead to secondaries and tertiaries feeling neglected. Sounds like a glorified open relationship, no?

In response, anarchic and egalitarian systems aim to challenge these emotional limitations. Relationship anarchy dismantles all hierarchies in platonic, sexual, and romantic relationships. It’s the least possessive relationship structure since all parties are completely autonomous and do not restrict each other. Anecdotally, however, straight men often use the term to avoid commitment.

Egalitarian and/or non-hierarchical polyamory is similar to relationship anarchy. These structures don’t fold platonic relationships into the anarchic ethos, aren’t usually as anti-heteronormativity, and can be conventionally couple-centric.

Finally, solo-polyamory occurs when someone views themselves as their primary. External relationships can have hierarchies or not (usually the latter), but commonly, there is no desire to cohabitate, merge finances, etc. with any partners.

Partner’s partners, known as metamours, help form a network known as a polycule. Metamours can have little to no contact or develop friendships and even romantic/sexual relationships with each other. No matter how involved the members are in each other’s lives, everyone should have a sense of at least who their metamours. It’s a marker of good communication throughout the polycule and a deterrent to jealousy.

What About Jealousy?

Jealousy still happens, especially at first. Jealousy in the early stages of polyamory can be a remnant of the possessiveness of monogamy.

Unlearning societal norms, learning about yourself, and fostering open communication can help uncover boundaries while also pushing them. Sometimes, genuine neglect occurs as partners figure out how to navigate polyamory, but you can only correct this by talking to each other.

Once you’re a poly veteran, jealousy doesn’t completely release you, but it’s more likely to be defined by an insecurity. Paraphrasing musician, activist, and general badass Kiran Gandhi, jealousy is a sign to your brain that you’re missing something in your life and a call to action to obtain it.

Usually, polyamorous relationships are full of compersion — the joy of knowing that someone else makes a partner happy. Because happiness isn’t meant to be exclusive; it’s always better when shared.

For an even deeper primer on ethical non-monogamy, snag a copy of The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual desire can spark a real connection

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Sex helps initiate romantic relationships between potential partners, a new study finds.

“Sex may set the stage for deepening the emotional connection between strangers,” says lead author Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. “This holds true for both men and women. Sex motivates human beings to connect, regardless of gender.”

The study, which appears in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, was limited to heterosexual relationships. According to Birnbaum, some believe that men are more likely than women to initiate relationships when sexually aroused, but when one focuses on more subtle relationship-initiating strategies, such as providing help, this pattern does not hold true: in fact, both men and women try to connect with potential partners when sexually aroused.

In four interrelated studies, participants met a new acquaintance of the opposite sex in a face-to-face encounter. The researchers demonstrate that sexual desire triggers behaviors that can promote emotional bonding during these encounters.

“Although sexual urges and emotional attachments are distinct feelings, evolutionary and social processes likely have rendered humans particularly prone to becoming romantically attached to partners to whom they are sexually attracted,” says coauthor Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

An attractive stranger

In the first study, the researchers looked at whether sexual desire for a new acquaintance would be associated with non-verbal cues signaling relationship interest. These so-called immediacy behaviors are displayed in the synchronization of movements, close physical proximity, and frequent eye contact with a study insider who worked with the scientists. The study participants, all of whom identified as single in addition to heterosexual, were recruited at a university in central Israel.

Study 1 included 36 women and 22 men who lip-synched to pre-recorded music with an attractive, opposite-sex study insider. Afterwards, participants rated their desire for the insider, whom they believed to be another participant. The scientists found that the greater the participant’s desire for the insider, the greater their immediacy behaviors towards, and synchronization with, the insider.

Study 2 replicated the finding with 38 women and 42 men who were asked to slow dance with an attractive, opposite-sex insider, whom they believed to be a study participant. Again, the researchers found a direct association between synchronization of body movement and desire for the insider.

Study 3 included 42 women and 42 men and established a causal connection between activating the sexual behavior system and behaviors that help initiate relationships. In order to activate the sexual system, the researchers used a subliminal priming technique in which they flashed an erotic, non-pornographic image for 30 milliseconds on a screen, which participants were not aware of seeing.

Next, participants interacted with a second study participant—essentially a potential partner—discussing interpersonal dilemmas while on camera. Afterwards judges rated the participants’ behaviors that conveyed responsiveness and caring. The scientists found the activation of the sexual system also resulted in behaviors that suggested caring about a potential partner’s well-being—an established signal for interest in a relationship.

Study 4 included 50 women and 50 men. Half the group watched an erotic, non-pornographic video scene from the movie The Boy Next Door. The other half watched a neutral video of rainforests in South America.

Next, study participants were assigned an attractive opposite-sex insider and told to complete a verbal reasoning task. The insider pretended to get stuck on the third question and asked the participant for help. The researchers found that those participants who had watched the erotic movie scene were quicker to help, invested more time, and were perceived as more helpful, than the neutral video control group.

Bonding for baby’s sake?

What then could explain the role of sex in fostering partnerships? Human sexual behavior evolved to ensure reproduction. As such, sex and producing offspring don’t depend on forming an attachment between partners. However, the prolonged helplessness of human children promoted the development of mechanisms that keep sexual partners bonded to each other so that they can jointly care for their offspring, says Birnbaum. “Throughout human history, parents’ bonding greatly increased the children’s survival chances,” she says.

Prior neuroimaging research has shown that similar brain regions (the caudate, insula, and putamen) are activated when a person experiences either sexual desire or romantic love. The researchers surmise that this pattern hints at a neurological pathway that causes sexual activation—the neural processes that underlie a sexual response—to affect emotional bonding.

They conclude that experiencing sexual desire between previously unacquainted strangers may help facilitate behaviors that cultivate personal closeness and bonding.

“Sexual desire may play a causally important role in the development of relationships,” says Birnbaum. “It’s the magnetism that holds partners together long enough for an attachment bond to form.”

Support for the research came from the Binational Science Foundation (BSF).

Complete Article HERE!

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Kinky Sex and Fetishes:

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How to Talk to Your Partner About Them

It’s normal to want to try new things in bed, but communicating those desires can feel wholly unnatural. These tips can help.

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Chances are, you’ve fantasized about having kinky sex. Most people have, according to sex researchers and people who say words. It’s also likely that more people have enjoyed what might be considered “fringe” activities in the bedroom than we would likely assume. So, the window of what constitutes “normal” sexual behavior is expanding. But not everyone has jumped onboard. Although, maybe they should. Studies show that novelty is a major contributor to sexual satisfaction, especially in the context of a long-term relationship. And, honestly, kinks and fetishes are nothing to be ashamed of.

Of course, there are a lot of opportunities to fail in the quest to become a sexual adventurer. Deliveries can go awry. Desires can be miscommunicated. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of ways trying to introduce something new can dissolve into an embarrassing misadventure. Yeah, talking to your partner about sex can be weird. Still, it’s important to try. Listed below, we bring you a few different ways to kick off the conversation.

Start Small

So you want to try something new during sex. Maybe you’ve been thinking of bringing some BDSM, one of the most common fetishes, into the bedroom. Our advice is to start small. Remember, the acronym covers a lot of territory. It’s probably better to err on the lighter side of the spectrum before throwing on the gimp suit. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid accessories all together during the introductory phase. Instead, try talking to your partner about some light spanking, hair pulling, or maybe some edge play before diving into deeper waters.

Watch Some Erotic Films Together

We’ve said it before: if those who can’t do, teach, then those who can’t say, show. If you don’t have the words to communicate a certain sexual interest, then don’t worry. There is most certainly a video out there able to demonstrate your desires. As Rule 34 of the Internet states, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” The professionals have a way of making things look more appealing. Just keep in mind that it’s not realistic.

Read Some Erotic Literature

Ok, so porn might not be for everyone (although, research statistics would suggest that those who don’t care for the medium fall within a decreasing minority). Fortunately, there’s a slightly less explicit option out there to entertain, and it comes in the form of words. Erotic literature has become an increasingly popular genre over the past couple of years, with websites popping up all over the place designed to host this kind of content. Try combing through the selection. Find a passage that speaks to you, and your kink. Now go ahead and share it with your partner.

Go to a Sex Shop Together

Not everything has to have a specific aim and purpose. Entertaining more nonchalant activities can also help get the erotic wheels rolling. Try hitting up a sex shop with your partner. It’s a low-stakes way to become familiar with what’s out there. Sometimes, the best kind of inspiration comes when we aren’t looking for it.

Let Pop Culture Guide You

Maybe these explicitly sexual options aren’t for you. Don’t worry; there are, in fact, some PG approaches to talking about R-rated activities. All you have to do is put on some TV. Want to put pegging on the radar? Just tune into Broad City for a brief introduction. Interested in analingus? The cast of Girls has got your back. Into a good spanking? Check out Secretary. Seriously, there’s so much out there.

Amp Up Your Sext Game

Millennials have been accused of prioritizing digital communication over in-person encounters. And while that may come back to bite us in some ways, it does provide us with a skill set we can use to combat anxieties over speaking about sex, IRL. Chances are you text your partner throughout the day. Try introducing a little spice into the routine. You never know when a sexy message will spiral into a more substantial dialogue.

Complete Article HERE!

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The sex trends experts predict will be huge in 2019

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By Ellen Scott

You might not think that sex has trends.

Sex is sex, right? There can’t be that much you can change about it.

But sex trends do indeed exist, whether in terms of the tech we’re using to get off, the type of relationships we have, or our views of sexual acts.

The good news is that as long as you’re having consensual fun, it really doesn’t matter if you stay ahead of the curve.

If you are keen on being at the cutting edge of sexual stuff, though, you’re in luck, as sex toy brand Lelo has just released their predictions for the top sex trends of 2019.

Just do everything on the list then pat yourself on the back for being the trendiest, sexiest person ever. Congrats.

Open relationships and polyamory

Of course, polyamory is not a new concept. But thanks to documentaries (oh hey, Louis Theroux), celebs and influencers sharing stories of how polyamory and open relationships can work, the idea of non-monogamy is becoming more widely accepted.

Think of how BDSM was pushed on to everyone’s radar by Fifty Shades Of Grey. The same sort of thing is happening with polyamory.

Sex dolls

Not the ones you’re imagining, blow up ones with holes for mouths.

We’re talking fancy sex dolls made to feel and look incredibly lifelike, made with silicone and internal skeletons for a more human feel.

Artificial Intelligence

With the rise of household devices such as Alexa and Google Home, it’s no surprise we’ll start using artificial intelligence in the bedroom, too.

This can range from vibrators that collect your data and adjust to give you an orgasm every time to sex robots who respond to dirty talk and adjust their personalities to fit your desires.

Yes, the techphobes among us will be freaked out, but 2019 will be a cool year when it comes to seeing how far we can take sex tech.

Being single

Blame Ariana Grande.

Lelo reckons that in 2019 we’ll see more women remaining happily single later into their lives, with no desire to get into relationships.

Self-dating will be on the rise, as will treating yourself to all the toys you could ever want to provide satisfaction solo.

Male pleasure

Will 2019 be the year we finally accept that men can enjoy sex toys too?

The sex toy market will launch a bunch of new male sex toys this year, including prostate massagers and masturbation sleeves, which will hopefully normalise something that’s, well, very normal: using tools to masturbate more effectively.

New sensations

Vibration is great, but Lelo says 2019 will see the rise of newer, fresher ways to stimulate pleasure.

The brand’s Sona sex toy, released in 2018, uses sonic waves to stimulate the clitoris, to drive pleasure much deeper in the body.

You’ll also spot more toys that use pulsing or suction.

Complete Article HERE!

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Recovering the Beauty of Sex

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By Joseph A. Barisas and William F. Long

Last week, a group of students hosted Harvard Sex Week, a series of widely-publicized events with titles ranging from “Hit Me Baby One More Time: BDSM in the Dorm Room” and “Bloody Good! An Intro to Period Sex” to “One is Not Enough: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, & Polyamory.” The Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Foundation shared the distinction of sponsoring these talks with, among others, various retailers of exotic sex toys, lubricants, and condoms.

Over our years at Harvard, we’ve seen our fair share of the extreme and the avant-garde, but this year’s programming managed to shock even us. The idea that a week including BDSM and polyamory could possibly contribute anything to a healthy understanding of sex struck us as entirely backward. Why has our dialogue about sex, something which should be considered intimate and reverent and profound, become simply an outlet for our unrestrained desires and debased passions?

The answer, we suspect, likely has something to do with the fact that Harvard teaches us from our very first week on campus an oversimplified attitude towards sex that we might call the “consensual” philosophy of sex. Each year during Opening Days, freshmen sit through a mandatory theatrical production called “Speak About It” in which, over an hour of sexual reenactments, they learn that as long as they have “consent,” they are free to engage in whatever with whomever they please. What matters is not the act consented to, but the consent itself. While consent is obviously essential to the very nature of sex, there is so much more to it than just a verbal assent extracted from the other party in order to do whatever one desires.

Because there are no other normative guidelines on what true and good sex is, this ambivalence inevitably reduces sex, one of the most powerful and meaningful components of the human experience, to what many young people invariably want it to be: a purely physical act whose primary function is to produce pleasure and satisfy passions. It matters not with whom one engages in it, neither the duration or depth of that relationship, nor yet the further continuance of the relationship. To speak of its emotional and spiritual aspects feels awkward and anachronistic, and discussion of its procreative nature, arguably the most essential characteristic of sex, is avoided like the plague.

But the consequences of this cheapened, hollowed-out view of sex are heartbreaking. They can be seen in a culture of one-night-stands and hook-ups, fueled by alcohol, often ending in indifference and, occasionally, emotional trauma. Young men and women learn to see one another as means to gratification and not ends in themselves, infinitely valuable and unique. A woman who had suffered the emotional toll of being ghosted once too many times asked in a New York Times column whether by consenting to hook-up culture, she had also consented to its premise of detachment and self-centeredness. When we lower our standards of acceptable sexual behavior to merely what is legal, we should not be surprised to see our personal standards of sexual morality drop and unbridled license expand to fill the void.

A sexual ethic that bases its standards solely on what is allowed teaches students that they are being moral by merely staying within the bounds of the law. A robust ethic has positive rather than solely negative norms. Students learn implicitly a definition of sex as allowance, where anything not prohibited is good, instead of realizing that boundaries and reason help make sex the entirely unique and wonderful thing it is. Paradoxically, this prohibitive ethic in which we are currently immersed destroys the possibility of allowing people to see sex as a good and honorable and beautiful thing.

One of the self-proclaimed objectives of Sex Week was to “connect diverse individuals and communities both within and beyond Harvard,” and the group that runs it aims to “open up campus dialogue.” This is an aspiration we can certainly agree with, and we want to begin engaging in this dialogue by rejecting the premise that the ethic of “consent” is sufficient to create a culture of sex that truly empowers and connects.

Couldn’t we all agree that true sex requires genuine care for the other party and to have their best interest at heart? The moment we impose this reasonable requirement, we recategorize a wide swath of sexual behavior — drunken one-night-stands for instance — as instead a sort of glorified mutual masturbation. As we continue to positively construct sex by considering its many natural and valuable facets, we begin to elevate its dignity and purpose and reestablish a philosophy of sexual ethics that we believe benefits everyone. At the Harvard College Anscombe Society, we believe among other things that true sex should be a total and unreserved giving of oneself to another, physically, emotionally, psychologically, biologically, and spiritually. Its primary function is unitive, tying two people in an indissoluble bond, and procreative, wherein the love shared between the two manifests itself in the miracle of human life.

Only when we take every aspect of sex seriously and consider it in its proper framing, can we recover its natural beauty and value. Admittedly, constructing a full alternative vision of sex is not something that can be easily done in an op-ed, and the Anscombe Society — through meetings and public talks, including one with world-renowned moral philosopher Dr. Janet E. Smith this week — hopes to continue this ongoing dialogue about true love.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Ways to Be More Sexual…

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Even When You’re Not in Bed

By Amy Stanton & Catherine Connors

Getting in touch with your erotic self can help you feel more authentic, and confident too.

This may seem counterintuitive in a culture that celebrates the Kardashians and made 50 Shades of Grey a bestseller, but female sexual power has always been controversial.

Women who own their erotic power have, for pretty much all of human history, been seen as dangerous and disruptive. (Who is Eve, after all, if not a brazen woman who tempts an otherwise innocent man? And she, apparently, caused humanity to be kicked out of paradise as a result!) History and theology are full of tales of women whose sexual power caused the downfall of nations and peoples. From the Hindus’ Mohini to the Greeks’ Sirens to the Old Testament’s Jezebel, Delilah, and Salome to Stormy Daniels—sexually confident women have been long characterized as capital-T Trouble.

It’s not hard to figure out why: women’s sexual power has long been directly associated with men’s sexual weakness. Delilah’s cutting of Samson’s hair is a figurative castration: a sexually powerful woman can rob a man of his strength and will and render him vulnerable. Other cultures viewed a man’s falling under the influence of a woman as so disempowering that it could only be the work of demons or other supernatural forces. And we all know the tragedy of the cuckold (who persists to the present day in the idea of the “cuck”): sexually duped by a woman, the cuckolded man can’t know who his real children are, and so is effectively impotent. (That this became the basis for The Maury Povich Show is arguably a compounded tragedy.)

The idea that women shouldn’t be sexually empowered runs so deep that we often don’t realize how much it influences us. Take the notion of the “slut” and the double standard it purveys. According to author and journalist Peggy Orenstein, “A sexually active girl [or woman] is a slut while a similar boy [man] is a player.” Apart from “player,” we don’t really have words to describe the sexually active boy or man. Girls and women are called “sluts,” “whores,” “slags,” “slatterns,” and (for older women) “cougars,” to name a few. And although we shame unabashedly sexual women (think of how much vitriol gets aimed at Kim Kardashian), we also vilify the so-called prude who suppresses her sexuality. To say that these double standards and contradictions create a confusing landscape for girls and women is an understatement.

It’s not only confusing… it’s also a dangerous landscape. In the era of #metoo, #BelieveHer, and #WhyIDidntReport, we are more aware than ever that our confidence—sexual or otherwise—won’t protect us from the risk of assault. And even though we know that the arguments about constraining women’s sexual freedom for our own protection are completely bogus–even dangerous—it’s hard to not absorb the chill of those messages. So how do we claim and own our sexual power? How can we use it in a way that promotes our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being?

We think the starting point is to get in touch with your erotic self. Explore your sexual identity so that you can get to know it better. As Amy discusses in our book, The Feminine Revolution, one of the ways she does this is by embracing her love of lingerie—a love that started for her, because it made her feel great and then if men appreciate it, even better. For Catherine it’s been a process of embracing sensuality in all its forms—not just sexual—and getting to know what moves and inspires her senses. For you, it could be something completely different—what matters is only that you get started. Ask yourself, What makes me feel good? What makes me feel sexually and sensually gratified—and confident? And consider trying a few of these tricks:

Practice the skill of erotic observation

Explore what it feels like to “love” a sunset or the curve of smoke above a fire—and cultivate connection to beauty everywhere you find it. Your erotic self is defined by its connection to beauty and spirit in all forms, so being in touch with your erotic—and, by extension, sexual—power requires practicing appreciation of those things outside the sphere of sex and romance.

Use your senses

Sexuality is a power of the mind, but also, of course, of the body, and so the practiced exercise of sexual power requires connection to the senses. But this isn’t restricted to the sexual experiences of the senses—on the contrary, honing your senses more broadly can only enhance more, um, specific sensual experiences. Pay attention to what delights your senses. Is it the taste of fine wine or great chocolate? Is it the warmth of crackling fires, the feel of wind in your hair, the tingling of your muscles after a run? Do more of that. Find more of that.

Own your physicality

The way you sit, the way you walk—every movement plays into your sexual power. How can this work to your advantage? How can you express yourself intentionally through your movement? Pilates is a great way to get really specific with your various body parts and learn how to move and control them. Dance allows you to free and express yourself. Bring attention to how you’re walking down the street and how you feel.

Experiment

Try different ways of expressing and feeling your sensuality and sexuality. See how it feels. Play with it—visit extremes and fantasies. What feels right? Perhaps you’ll find you’ve been playing it too safe, and there’s room to indulge. Or maybe you’ll find that you want to dial it back. No matter what, the result is clarity and power.

Find inspiration in others

Look to sexual/sensual/erotic role models as a way to find your own approach to sexuality. Consider people across the gender spectrum: Whom do you find sexy? Why? What about that person is sexually or erotically compelling? Is it his or her physical beauty or sense of style, intelligence, or charisma? Understanding what we find erotic—what we desire—can help us find our own sexual being.

As we explore our femininity, our feminine power and, as part of that, our sexuality and sexual power, let’s not forget it’s a journey. A journey of freeing ourselves, learning what makes us feel our best and most confident and moving towards true authenticity. Towards a better world for us and for those around us.

Complete Article HERE!

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A strong libido and bored by monogamy:

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the truth about women and sex

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When a heterosexual couple marries, who’s likely to get bored of sex first? The answer might surprise you…

What do you know about female sexuality? Whatever it is, chances are, says Wednesday Martin, it’s all wrong. “Most of what we’ve been taught by science about female sexuality is untrue,” she says. “Starting with two basic assertions: that men have a stronger libido than women, and that men struggle with monogamy more than women do.”

Martin pulls no punches. Her bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue cast her as an anthropologist observing the habits of her Upper East Side neighbours. She claimed among other shockers that privileged stay-at-home mothers were sometimes given a financial “wife bonus” based on their domestic and social performance. The book caused a furore, and is currently being developed as a TV series, with Martin as exec producer. Her new book, out this week, should be equally provocative. Entitled Untrue, it questions much that we thought we knew about women’s sexuality.

Her starting-point is that research into human sexuality has been, historically, overwhelmingly male-centric; “notable sexologists”, starting with Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) are mostly male. You have to scroll through another 25, including Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, before you arrive at a female name: Mary Calderone (1904-1998), who championed sex education. And even in the subsequent 30 names there are only five women, including both Virginia Johnson (partner of the famous, and male, William Masters), and Shere Hite.

All these men made certain assumptions about women’s sexuality. It’s no surprise that it was Hite who revolutionised thinking on female orgasm, arguing that it was not “dysfunctional” to fail to climax during intercourse. Crucial, too, says Martin, has been the work of Rosemary Basson, who realised that spontaneous desire, the kind sexologists had measured for years, was only one type of relevant desire, and that responsive or triggered sexual response is much more important for women. Measured on that scale it turns out that women are, in fact, every bit as sexually arousable as men.

New findings showed that women reported similar intensities of desire and arousal to men, and “a real shift in thinking” about females and monogamy. “We were taught that men were the ones who needed variety, but the exact opposite turns out to be the case,” says Martin. “Overfamiliarisation with a partner and desexualisation kills women’s libido. We used to think it’s only men who became sexually bored after marriage; turns out that’s not true. It’s when women get married that it’s detrimental to their libido.”

Martin isn’t here to talk about her own relationship, but for the record she’s 53, has been married for 18 years, still lives in New York, and has two sons aged 17 and 10 who are, predictably enough, “mortified” at what their mother writes about. She hopes her work will help validate the feelings of the next generation of young women: “It’s not about giving them permission to ‘cheat’, not even giving them permission to refuse monogamy, but I hope it does give them permission to feel normal if they don’t like monogamy,” she says. Because that’s the central fallacy: the belief that monogamy is harder for men than for women. In fact, argues Martin, the exact opposite is the case. “Women crave novelty and variety and adventure at least as much as men, and maybe more.” She talks me through what she says is the classic pathway for women when they marry or commit to one heterosexual partner long-term (the research has so far concentrated on heterosexual couples; more work is needed on gay women’s sex lives). “A couple live together, their libidos are matched, and they have a lot of sex. But after a year, two years, maybe three years, what tends to happen is that the woman’s desire drops more quickly than the man’s. At that point the woman thinks, ‘I don’t like sex any more.’ But what, in fact, is happening is that she is having a hard time with monogamy; because women get bored with one partner more quickly than men do.”

So women are socialised to believe that they’ve gone off sex, when in fact they’re craving variety. Instead of being the brake on passion, says Martin, the female half of the long-term partnership is the key to a more adventurous and exciting sex life. What it’s all about, she explains, is the existence of the only entirely pleasure-seeking organ in the human repertoire, the clitoris. For her portrait, she wears a necklace shaped like one. “Women evolved to seek out pleasure, women are multiply orgasmic, women’s biology sets them up to seek out pleasure,” says Martin. “The clitoris has a very important back story about female human sex which is that our sex evolved for the purpose of adventure.”

Another element in the mix, she says, was the finding that a third of women who are having an extramarital relationship say their marriage or long-term partnership is happy or very happy. “So we need to understand that women aren’t just seeking variety because they’re unhappy, they’re seeking it because they need variety and novelty,” she says.

What does all this mean, in a practical sense, for our sex lives? Martin doesn’t like the word “cheating” – she prefers to use the term “step out” – and that’s what some women decide to do. But it’s not the only solution. “There are many women who are suffering but don’t want to leave their relationship or to step out, and they’ve not yet discovered vibrators,” says Martin. “I can’t tell you how many women have told me they never had a vibrator – there’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. And there are all these new vibrators out there – and anything new you can introduce will make a big difference to your sex life.” Another way forward can be for a couple to open up their relationship in some way, and invite someone else in. And she has other ideas up her sleeve that seem a lot less risqué, like going on a zip wire, taking up dance lessons or going scuba diving together. Why does that help? “Research on the neurochemicals has found that our sexual desire is triggered when we do something new with a long-term partner. A thrilling activity is ideal: it can give you a wash of hormones that makes you feel new to each other again.”

Indeed, part of the narrative seems to be that men are too quick to settle for “the usual” (which makes sense now we know they’re not the ones who are bored); but opening up the conversation about what else they could try can relight the fuse. The trick here, counsels Martin, is for them to keep on and on asking. “Men really caring about what women want sexually makes a huge difference. You might need to have the conversation over and over, and women might keep saying they’re happy with things as they are – but keep asking, and eventually women will open up about their sexual fantasies. We find that their menus are more varied than men’s. Men are shocked, but also gratified and thrilled, when they find out how sexually exciting we can be when we get past the inhibitions that have been socialised into us.”

Paradoxically, there’s been a parallel shift in attitudes towards extramarital affairs and divorce alongside the growing studies into women’s sexuality. Martin quotes the US statistics: in 1976, fewer than half of well-educated Americans thought having an affair was always wrong; by 2013, that figure was 91%. “We’ve become a lot less tolerant of infidelity in recent years,” says Martin. “And meanwhile divorce has become much more common: a large number of people in the 1970s who thought affairs were OK, thought divorce was wrong.”

So at the precise moment science reveals women have the bigger “need” to be sexually adventurous, society clamps down on infidelity. And that, says Martin, is hugely significant. “The way we feel about women who refuse monogamy is an important metric for how we feel about equality.” She’s talking, she says, about women who openly refuse monogamy by being polyamorous. The overwhelming story we buy into, after all, is that men who “cheat” are just “men being men”; women who “step out” are far more likely to be criticised and shamed. Ultimately, though, they’re challenging something very deep in society’s expectations of them – and perhaps their stance is the most radical female stance of all.

Complete Article HERE!

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I’ll Have What She’s Having: Books for Better Sex and Better Relationships

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By Judith Newman

Having recently found myself single again, I approached the latest crop of books on sex and relationships with more than scholarly interest. Anything new happen while I’ve been on ice for the past 25 years? Let’s find out.

If you’ve ever had a sexual fantasy and thought, “Oh God, what’s wrong with me?” a quick read of TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life (Da Capo, $27) might ease your mind. Sure, maybe I’d had some odd thoughts, but did I have vomerophilia, the condition of being sexually aroused by vomit? No, I did not. Nor do I want to be a human cow, which means — well, look it up. So, all in all, I’m vanilla (which is both an expression and part of the buffet of sexual food fantasies).

Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, surveyed almost 4,000 Americans of various religions, ethnic groups and economic backgrounds to see what races our motors. Group sex is by far the most common fantasy, followed closely by receiving or inflicting pain. (You didn’t think those millions of copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” were all bought by the same randy gal, right?) There were many startling findings, at least to me. For example, men and women aren’t wildly different in their fantasy lives, although women are more fluid in their sexuality and care more than men about where the sexual act takes place (presumably in the room with the best lighting and window treatments).

I was less surprised to learn that people who identify as either Republican or Democrat really are different in their fantasy lives. Republicans are publicly more conservative in their tastes, but in their private lives are more likely than Democrats to crave taboo situations like exhibitionism, voyeurism and fetishism. American political affiliations have implications for body features too. “I found that among men and women, both gay and straight,” Lehmiller writes, “Republicans were more likely to fantasize about larger penises than Democrats.” He speculates that they’re more likely to see the penis as a symbol of power or toughness. I can’t possibly imagine how he could come to this conclusion.

Lehmiller isn’t just putting out a compendium of our raciest thoughts; he tries to explain what those thoughts do for the health of our psyches. And he believes they do a great deal. We need our fantasies both for ourselves and, often, to share with our partners, even when it’s uncomfortable. He gives concrete advice on how to do this without making them feel threatened.

Incidentally, not all fantasies are about being transgressive. Many people simply dream of sex with a loved one, often an absent loved one. The teenager who masturbated to the fantasy of making love to his ex-girlfriend, ending with him cooking her a romantic dinner … well, I almost cried. (And wondered whom I could fix him up with.)

It may be preferable to regard HOW TO KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE FROM SUCKING: The Keys to Keep Your Wedlock Out of Deadlock (Diversion, $22.99) as a book of comedy rather than self-help because the married authors, Greg Behrendt (who wrote “She’s Just Not That Into You”) and Amiira Ruotola, are very funny people who are more at home with punch lines and movie scenes than helpful advice. The key to a good marriage is in the setup, they say, using a regrettable metaphor: the planting of flowers of goodness that will get you through the weeds of badness. “The practice, not the goal, is to learn how to love each other even when you struggle to like each other.” O.K., fine. But before we get to this common-sense conclusion, we need a weedwacker to get through a lot of dopey ideas. Should we really get married because it makes it harder to walk away? Do we all need a movie “trailer moment” of a marriage proposal so our mates won’t resent us in the future? Not merging your finances is a recipe for disaster? (I’d argue that more often it’s the exact opposite.)

The best reason to read “How to Keep Your Marriage From Sucking” isn’t the advice but the fabulous cautionary tales from the marriages of the authors’ friends. Here’s a valuable lesson: If you’re a would-be groom, don’t enthusiastically spell out “Will you marry me?” in s’mores right outside your tent while on a romantic camping trip. Adorable to wake up to, theoretically — and in reality an invitation to marauding raccoons, who bit the future groom on the hand when he tried to rescue the ring he’d set next to his culinary masterpiece. Well, that’s one way to make memories.

My aunt — and probably yours too — had a favorite expression when my cousins and I would gas on and on about some new love interest: “You think you discovered sex?” I was reminded of Aunt Alberta while reading GIRL BONER: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment (Amberjack, $24.99). Its author, the sexuality podcaster August McLaughlin, writes as if she discovered sex, and she really wants to share the news. Her book is terrifically encouraging, if not exactly filled with surprises. Masturbation, good! Fat-shaming, bad! “Embracing our sexuality and capacity for pleasure can be as crucial to living a full, healthy life as eating a balanced diet, breathing well and getting sufficient nightly sleep.” True words, those.

McLaughlin has written a thorough primer on everything from sex toys to bondage to “no means no,” intended for young women readers who might be new to the idea that they deserve, and own, their personal pleasure. I just wish it weren’t written with a level of preciousness that made me want to scream my literary safe word. “In the mirror I could see my vaginal lips bulging outward, like fiery rosebuds blooming.” “Make sure your nipples get some TLC. … Because, delicious!” I don’t know what a chapter that involves her family’s history of sexual abuse should be called, but I can promise you it’s not “Porn Perks, Problems and the Penises in Between.”

The book I least looked forward to reading — because I thought it would be gloomy — turned out to be the best of the bunch. IF YOU’RE IN MY OFFICE, IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE: A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Staying Together (Holt, $26) has the best description of the institution: “Divorce is, at best, a knife fight in a closet. And the kids are in the closet with you. … And the lights are off.”

Fifty-six percent of all American marriages end in divorce — and the divorce lawyer James J. Sexton claims he wrote this book to help you beat the odds. So he’ll teach you what his years of observing warring couples have taught him. It turns out to be a lot, starting with: You need to stay interesting to your mate, which generally involves staying interesting to yourself. Lose your identity in marriage, and you’re likely to lose the marriage.

It’s not novel to tell people that they need to know how to communicate better, but Sexton’s advice is both spot on and very specific — and he sugarcoats nothing. (Including himself: He too is divorced.) He points out, for example, that what we all like to think of as constructive criticism of our mate is actually just criticism. He’s a big believer in training people through redirection and praise for even tiny changes, kind of like throwing bushels of “Whoosa Good Boy!” at your dog. And this guy is nothing if not a realist. Holding sex back as punishment is counterproductive, but suddenly becoming way more affectionate and enthusiastic when your mate does something right: That’s the way to go.

The book is riddled with jaw-dropping stories about people’s insane behavior when things go wrong. Sexton is a very hard guy to shock. This is his interior monologue when a new client says, ‘You’re not going to believe what I’m going to tell you.” “Really? Because unless you’re a nun” and you’re sleeping with “your cousin while married to a hit man for the Russian mob who has liquidated all of their drug money and converted it into Nigerian currency that you’ve transferred to your tattooed bisexual lover who happens to be a sitting judge, you’re not making a blip on my shock radar.” Sexton has seen some stuff. There are not one but two chapters on what he calls “nanny fascination,” which sounds about right to me. In fact, if I were advertising the book rather than reviewing it, this would be the headline.

Of course, I was nosily waiting to find out what happened in Sexton’s own marriage. We never learn. But perhaps there’s a hint in his unequivocal advice about Facebook: Leave it. Or, as he titles his chapter on the perils of social media: “If We Were Designing an Infidelity-Generating Machine, It Would Be Facebook.” Who would have guessed that the person who gives the best advice about marriage was the guy responsible for getting you out of yours?

Complete Article HERE!

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Questions you should ask before you get into a new relationship

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By Simone Paget

When I was younger, attraction, desire, love and sex were all tangled together in one big elastic band ball of feelings. I equated physical attraction with romantic love and found the two nearly indistinguishable. If I was attracted to someone, I’d immediately make it my goal to date them, often sacrificing my heart and mental well-being in the process. As a result, I frequently found myself in relationships (or if we’re being completely honest, “situationships”) with people who weren’t necessarily good for me.

I imagine my younger self scoffing at the way I manage my love life as a thirty-something single woman. I’ve dated a lot over the past few years (and even met some really wonderful people), but it takes a lot for me to want to enter into a serious relationship with someone. I’ve seen what happens when you throw caution to the wind and I’m not interested in repeating old mistakes.

“Getting back into the swerve of dating can be tough, especially coming out of a long-term relationship. It can be so easy to start a relationship into the first person you meet or heck, even match with on a dating app. But without knowing someone well, jumping into a relationship too early can spell disaster,” says author and life coach, Carole Ann Rice.

Instead, here’s a few things you should ask when considering a new relationship.

1. Are there any deal-breakers?

When I was nineteen, I went out with a guy who revealed he had a history with substance abuse and a criminal record within the first few minutes of our initial date. Despite the din of warning bells, we dated for two years.

I used to see dealbreakers as “negotiables” — things that might change if I just loved the person enough. However, some deal-breakers are just that. As Rice notes, “if you know what your deal-breakers are, such as marriage, kids, location, etc., you should find this out early on. Sketching out your expectations of your partner (and, in turn, yourself) will build a lot of transparency and trust. It’s important to know that if you aren’t willing to change something, and they aren’t either, it won’t work at all.”

 

2. Are you comparing them to past relationships?

As you may have surmised from the story above, my dating past is colourful. It’s easy for me to compare past relationships to new ones. But as Rice reminds us, it’s important that we give the other person the benefit of the doubt — at least at first. “A new relationship is best started with a blank slate – don’t tarnish them with your old thoughts and bad expectations,” says Rice. If you have emotional baggage, confront it and find a way to leave it behind.

3. Do you share the same values and lifestyle?

This, more than anything is something that I overlooked when I was younger.

As Rice suggests, “assessing how well your values and interests align should be done so early on, to avoid wasting time. If you and your new beau have extreme differences, and neither of you are willing to budge, it’s not going to work. For example, if they live and breathe football, taking up most weekends – is that something you can deal with?”

4. How do they talk about their past?

Have they ever been in a serious relationship before? How did it end? I’m less interested in the nitty, gritty of what they did with whom, but rather the wisdom they’ve garnered in the process. Whether it’s a past romance, career or family relationship,” Rice says, “be sure to let them explain their past – being mature about how the person describes their dating history is a large indicator of how they can perform in the future. Maturity is also a great sign that they’re emotionally ready to begin another relationship.”

Complete Article HERE!

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