Category Archives: Sex And Relationships

5 Tips for Better Married Sex

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestTumblrShare

Becoming a sex educator didn’t prepare me for the challenges of married sex, but here’s what I learned along the way.

M:F couple2By Jeana Jorgensen

Around the same time I graduated with a Ph.D. and started to pursue a career as a part-time academic and part-time sex educator, I got married.

I’d heard about how marriage can change a relationship, and I was confident that with my budding sex ed knowledge set and tool kit, I could handle it. After all, I was going to major sex education conferences like Woodhull and AASECT, networking with the stars of our field, voraciously reading books, taking workshops (like the SAR, or Sexual Attitude Reassessment), writing for sites like MySexProfessor and Kinkly, and stuffing as much sexuality knowledge into my head as I could. What could go wrong with this plan?Plenty, as it turns out. I was so focused on acquiring sex facts and tips that I forgot to take into account my own needs, and the needs of my partner, in our marriage. I forgot about how much of a toll major life transitions – and concurrent ones at that – could take on a person’s sex life. Plus, I wasn’t really prepared for how much intertwining my life with another person’s would change how we interacted, which in turn impacted my ideas and expectations around sex. The good news is that we put in the work, and I was able to use my sex ed skills to level up my married sex. Here’s how I did it.

 

Complete Article HERE!

The Role and Value of the Friend with Benefits for Gay Men

By Ken Howard, LCSW

vintage tenderness

Recently, some clients in my psychotherapy practice, which for 22 years has focused on the mental health and well-being of adult gay men, have been discussing the role and value of a “fuck buddy” in their lives.  While all sexual topics (even in our “modern” age) seem to come fraught with controversy these days (and we’ll see what y’all have to say about this one), the topic of the “fuck buddy” (sometimes, but not always, used interchangeably with “friend with benefits”), is especially controversial, with one camp saying it’s a great idea and others being appalled at the concept.

Always one to listen and learn from the thoughts, philosophies, and feelings of my clients, I heard some interesting things from one particular client recently, who gave me permission to share his arguments publicly (though the details are changed for confidentiality reasons).

“Cody” is a Southern Boy in his early 30’s who has been in a relationship for 6 years and lives in North Carolina (we work via Skype, and it’s really a life-coaching relationship, since I’m only licensed in California to practice psychotherapy).  His partner, “Matt”, also early 30’s, got accepted and now attends a very prestigious law school program in New England, the chance of a lifetime.  Cody co-runs a small business which is rapidly growing into a larger one, and moving with Matt to his new city would have been a very difficult proposition; he did not want to leave a very good job, especially not temporarily when Matt could end up in a law firm anywhere in the country.  Cody and Matt plan to get married immediately after Matt’s law school graduation, and they’ve already planned much of what they want in their wedding.

Cody can afford to visit Matt at regular intervals throughout the year, and they communicate (even “sexy talk”) via Skype almost nightly.  But their relationship still feels the sting of “long distance”, leaving both guys frequently horny and lonely.

To solve this, they agreed to have an open relationship, and some of the terms and ground rules of handling that were worked out in joint sessions with me on Skype (as I always recommend gay couples do; it’s too complex and full of pitfalls to handle it all without support).  I’ve coached both Matt and Cody separately as well, as each has had a need for support for very specific occupational and personal goals.  One of what I call the “external resources” that this situation needed, as both guys agreed, is that each wanted a “fuck buddy” who would stand in for their partner at certain times (mostly sexual, but for some social companionship locally, too).  Matt is still looking for his, but he’s meeting new guys at school and in his college city, especially via Grindr, Scruff, and Meetup.com groups.  The first guy he met didn’t work out well for Cody, but he found a second one that he likes.

Cody is a smart guy and spoke clearly about how his fuck buddy, “Chris”, has been ideal.  They get along and have fun, including sex, but Chris has recently gotten out of a 3-year relationship and is not looking for anything serious – the perfect candidate for Cody.vintage311.jpg

What Cody related about Chris includes some in the following list, and others I’ve added based on other conversations with clients and personal friends.  Here are some of the special advantages about the role and value of a fuck buddy:

  1.  It is not an avoidance of relationships – Contrary to some critics, having a fuck buddy is not the indulgence of some intimacy-avoidant, emotionally-stunted, horn-dog selfish clod.  It is a different type of sexual and emotional relationship, perhaps based more on fondness than on love, or perhaps a “love” that is more fraternal.
  2.  It can be the combination of sexuality and camaraderie without the components of long-term romance and domesticity – For some people, such as those with long-distance partners, having a fuck buddy means having some in-person companionship for local outings and recreation, and even sexual expression, but without the commitment and domestic component of a partner/spouse relationship.  It’s “relationship lite”.
  3.  Can be a coping strategy for long-distance relationships – Long-distance relationships can be a result of work projects (even overseas), which I see in my practice in Los Angeles for people away on TV or film set locations, or the result of school/training programs, health care treatment, caring for a distant relative’s health or settling their estate, or military deployment.  Open negotiation of the ground rules during the absence is better than unilaterally violating a monogamy agreement without discussion, or abstaining and resenting the physical/emotional harm that can come with deprivation.
  4.  Can be a bridge between class or cultural issues that really might get in the way of a primary relationship – For some fuck buddies, there can be issues of class or culture that might make having a long-term relationship untenable or very difficult (think Sybil and Tom on “Downton Abbey”).
  5.  Is a collaborative way to get needs met that have inherent limitations; is an exchange of favors – So many human interactions involve a negotiated exchange of favors based on mutual needs, and each fuck buddy relationship has unique parameters that make it work.
  6.  Is not for everyone, but it CAN BE for some people; it’s ok to embrace it as much as it is to reject it soundly – Sexual self-empowerment means saying yes when you want to say yes, and no when you want to say no.  If you want to say yes to a fuck buddy relationship with another consenting adult, as an autonomous adult with control and dominion over your own body, you get to make that choice (although if you have a primary partner, this must be a very frank discussion in order to avoid a ton of hurt, resentment, misunderstanding, abandonment, and even rage). love music
  7.  Supports a global benevolent idea of brotherhood – As a child of the 60’s, I grew up with “make love, not war”.  The Dalai Lama recently said something about if every child grew up meditating for 20 minutes a day, war could be eliminated in a generation.  With so many – countless – examples of how men kill each other in gang violence, war, violent crime, and so on, in such adversarial relationships, having a fuck buddy can be an example of benevolence, non-violence, and camaraderie in the Brotherhood of Man.  This is all part of the solution, not the problem.
  8.  It’s practice later on for a “real” commitment, in incremental gain/baby steps – I still maintain that I prepared for my long-term relationship with my husband (who is wonderful, by the way; I never miss a chance to say that) by previously living alone with my cat for a number of years after college first.  After years of living with roommates or alone, having a pet really was dress rehearsal for attending to, caring for, and sharing with a human adult partner (now spouse) in a domestic setting.  Having a fuck buddy might not be a “deep” commitment in romance and domesticity, but it can be a way of exploring relating to another person that is somewhere between being single and being partnered.  For some people, these incremental steps help build their confidence to tolerate a commitment and equip them for a long-term relationship with mutual responsibility.
  9.  Self-empowering sexually, trying different things without feeling “embarrassed” with a partner; exploring one’s own body and likes/dislikes of sensation – While communicating with a primary partner is essential to a good sex life, having a fuck buddy can be an opportunity to explore your sexual interests and fantasies in a lower-stakes situation.  Some people who are shy about telling their partner their sexual fantasies, especially the kinkier ones, might be more uninhibited with a lower-stakes fuck buddy.  It really “shouldn’t” work that way, but it does, and we have to deal in reality.  By being free to explore in a certain “sexual laboratory” situation, you can identify your likes and dislikes and not have to switch to “who’s-cooking-dinner” mode right after.
  10.  Can bridge differences in sexual orientations – While I don’t really respect closeted men as much as those brave gay men who have the courage to come out regardless of the circumstances (living in the Bible Belt, for example), having a fuck buddy can be a way for a man who is “straight” publicly or bisexual to get the “other half” of his sexual and even social needs met.  This is particularly controversial, but all gay men have some idea about this.  Many men can be ambivalent or conflicted about how they identify sexually.  Some might feel a pressure to conform to heterosexual norms, others might quite selfishly want to ride the coat-tails of heterosexual privilege and have their, uh, “cake”, too (albeit at the risk of exploiting or using the gay buddy, but this is better if it’s an honest discussion of what the deal is).  The fuck buddy relationship can also help a conflicted guy move closer down the spectrum to living as an “out” gay man, but in a gentle and gradual process that feels right for him. Bert&Ernie
  11.  Can help other specific situations – The fuck buddy relationship can be a resource for a gay man in early recovery from crystal meth, who is used to the “party-and-play” (PNP) scene, to practice having sober sex with a no-judgment, experimental, low-stakes, fail-safe atmosphere.  I have worked with many guys in my practice who need this kind of opportunity, because learning to have sober sex again is really a skill in recovery that you (usually) can’t get in a CMA meeting!  The fuck buddy relationship can also help someone with a disability or injury to be sexual again in their own way, even if they don’t have a primary relationship yet.  This can a certain “rehabilitation” that a licensed Physical Therapist certainly can’t provide.  This can be for guys who have been injured in a vehicle, sports, or industrial accident, or as a combat veteran who uses prosthetics.
  12.  Can allow for specific sexual interests (BDSM, fetishes) to be fulfilled  — There are times when everything else in a relationship is great – the emotional, the sexual, and the domestic – but certain sexual interests go unfulfilled.  Having a fuck buddy who provides a certain “outsourced” activity, such as BDSM or other kink play, can be a way for that partner to be fulfilled without burdening his partner to do something he really doesn’t like.  I’ve seen that in my practice several times, and it can be a “win-win” solution to the dilemma; everybody’s happy.
  13.  Can be a way to manage sexual incompatibilities – The fuck buddy relationship can also “outsource” situations where the couple gets along fine in most ways, but perhaps a strict top is partnered to a versatile bottom.  For the versatile bottom to be able to top once in a while might require a fuck buddy who is happy to oblige.  This can also be the case when a partner is fulfilled in every way in the relationship except perhaps wanting to fulfill his “size queen” interests.  Outsourcing this to a well-endowed fuck buddy occasionally can fulfil the desire and then get back to regular domestic/sexual life.  This prevents frustrations from building and can resolve tension or even unspoken resentments in a relationship.
  14.  Last, Cody says that having experiences with outside buddies, rather than undermining his relationship with Matt, actually strengthens it because he “sees what’s out there” and learns to appreciate the relief when he’s finally back to see Matt because “everyone else is just not Matt”.  When they are together again after an absence, it’s all the sweeter to revisit the familiarity and intimacy they have built for years, and they never take each other for granted.

There are disadvantages, too, of cavorting with fuck buddies which have been discussed elsewhere.  Sexual conservatives (which can include plenty of therapists, even gay ones) would deplore the very concept of the fuck buddy as “deviating” too far from socially-expected relationship norms, particularly heterocentric ones.  But like most controversial topics, listening to both sides of a debate can entice you to clarify your feelings on the subject.  You have a right to your own feelings, even if they differ from your peers.  Only you have dominion over your own body and what is, and is not, done with it/to it.  Sexual self-empowerment means taking all these questions about sex and relationships, and deciding what works – and what doesn’t – specifically for you, based on your values and your own rather hard-wired preferences and proclivities.

Complete Article HERE!

Couples All Get Bored With Sex. What Should We Be Doing About It?

By Mélanie Berliet

bored-couple-checking-their-phones

My mission in picking up Babeland’s “vibe panty” (a pair of black satin underwear with a remote-controlled vibrator sewn into the crotch) is simple: at a little past the two-year dating mark, I want to tackle the threat of sexual staleness, proactively.

It’s no secret that we’re programmed to crave sexual newness – in fact, it stimulates our brains in much the same way narcotics do, by triggering the release of dopamine. Unfortunately, novelty, by definition, cannot last—especially when it comes to building a long-term monogamous relationship.Evolutionary biologists have established that at some point, nearly all couples transition from “passionate love” to the more mundane phase of “companionate love.” In other words: we lose interest.

Hence the endless lists of ways couples can spice things up in the bedroom, not to mention an army of people eager to participate in studies aimed at finding the antidote to waning lust.

Still, the question remains: now that we’re more enlightened about sex and intimacy, shouldn’t we be fighting sexual apathy before it starts? We go to the doctor and the dentist for regular checkups and we apply skin cream to ward off wrinkles, so why not treat our libidos the same way?

With this goal in mind, I took to the most logical place to learn about how to proactively manage your lust-levels: the Internet. Danielle Tate, Founder of MissNowMrs.com, suggests that every couple can benefit from “a little boost in the bedroom.” Addressing her recently married readership, Tate advises mimicking a favorite steamy movie scene, surprising one’s partner at the office in nothing but a raincoat, or wearing a wig to “feel like a totally different woman.”

This take-charge attitude is echoed in the Sex & Romance forum of The Nest, another website geared toward newlyweds. About the prospect of passion fading, user Apollo11235 says, “I think sex/excitement is easier to keep up with than it is to fix once it’s broken.” Creativity is key, according to TarponMonoxide, who believes there are “tons of things” to do and recommends discussing the topic with your partner.

I figured there was only upside to introducing a sex toy at a time when we were still hot for each other. Sure enough, playing with the vibe panty during a romantic dinner led to great sex infused with new vigor.

Granted, by morning, I worried that we’d just wasted a new trick we might actually need one day.

bored gay couple

Which brings up the question: by attacking the issue before it shows up organically, do we risk exhausting the remedies?

Part of me now wishes I’d had the foresight of Jared Kuhn, a 35-year-old in construction management, who encouraged his girlfriend to shelve the “blow job-enhancing pussy pocket” she came home with one year into marriage “until it could really serve its purpose.”

“Why fight a war that hasn’t started?” asks Marcy Walker, a 27-year-old grad student who believes the power of suggestion might trigger diminishing desire in advance of its due date.

Sex Educator Cory Silverberg doesn’t think so, since “we all have depths of eroticism we haven’t even begun to explore.” Instead, he argues that the pressure pop culture places on us “to have mind-blowing sex all the time”—a marketable notion from which the magazine, sex toy, and porn industries all profit handsomely—is the problem.

Francesca Thurman, a 29-year-old barista/struggling artist, learned this the hard way. Intimidated by a “How good is your sex life?” survey she read in a magazine, Thurman convinced her fiancé to engage in an elaborate role-playing game. The role-play they chose was based on a graphic novel they both love, so they were hyper-accurate in costuming, props and “necessary” decor accents (think Comicon level commitment).

“We exhausted ourselves and our bank account setting up this ridiculous scenario,” said Thurman, who has since banned lady mag questionnaires and “premature effort” in the bedroom.

Silverberg warns that those baited into “trying to maintain a particular level of sexual interest” can harm their relationship, since “having amazing sex” can start to feel like a job. Indeed, it seems counterproductive to fret over sex, which is an activity that’s always better when we’re relaxed.bored-couple

While it may be frustrating that the very things we do to prolong passion could lead to its demise, the idea does make sense in the context of what it means to be in love.

According to Psychologist Esther Perel, “the very ingredients that nurture love are the things that stifle desire,” and we yearn for both. The “crisis of desire” so many couples experience—and the onset of which so many fear, whether advertisers are to blame or not—is rooted in our ongoing attempt to reconcile competing needs: for security and predictability, and for surprise and adventure. To counteract this inherent conflict, according to Perel, we must cultivate our erotic intelligence by tapping into the imagination.

Just don’t exert too much effort, because when it comes to your sex life, the hardest working might not be the most successful.

Complete Article HERE!

A Politically Incorrect Guide To What ‘Good Sex’ Means For Women

By Anonymous

In the interest of honesty, I’m going to be discussing these issues from the perspective of a straight woman, because I am one. I hope that there will be a non-straight woman out there to follow this article up with thoughts about what pleases them, but I just can’t speak for them. So let’s do this.

man:woman love

It often feels like women are expected to give some extremely technical answer when it comes to what we like — that we have a body that’s more like a piece of software, and it’s all about entering the right code and getting the right result. But the truth is, as different as we all are, the answer is very general. Like anyone else, women like to have orgasms. Women like to feel wanted and cared for and paid attention to. On a more technical level, women like a man who knows how to use his hands, tongue, and penis (often in combinations) to the point of orgasm.

But women don’t always need to have an orgasm. While there are a lot of women who can achieve orgasm, and do it multiple times in one sexual encounter, that doesn’t mean that every woman needs to have one to enjoy sex. There are a lot of girls who feel the pressure to “perform” in relationships because the guy will get weird and down on himself if she doesn’t come screaming. There are many times that I personally have not reached orgasm during sex, but still totally enjoyed the experience. I know that I’m not exceptional in that regard, and it doesn’t mean that the guy isn’t talented.

Now, I know that this shouldn’t be politically incorrect, but somehow it’s become a taboo thing to say because we’re all supposed to be “liberated” women who can engage in just as much casual sex as a guy, and don’t need to attach strings to them emotionally to make them worth it. This is bullshit. I can only go off the girls I know and the sex I’ve had, but I have found in my experience that 90 percent of the time, women need some kind of emotional connection with the guy in order to really enjoy sex. It’s not that the act of sex doesn’t feel good, it’s a combination of a) not knowing someone well enough to feel comfortable explaining what you actually need to get off and b) wanting more out of a sexual encounter than just “put the penis in the vagina, say thank you, leave, perhaps send a muffin basket.” There is a lot of media directed at women that emphasizes the idea that we should and even COULD embrace being “sluts” or have sex “like a guy,” but most girls I know can’t relate to this. For a lot of us, a real connection is synonymous with a decent sexual experience.

But even when you are with someone you know, trust, and are very attracted to, that doesn’t mean that the orgasms are just going to start flying fast and loose. First of all, men need to get over their fear of toys. There are some girls who will always need a vibrator during sex if they want to orgasm, and there’s nothing “wrong” with them. There are other women who enjoy using one from time to time because it makes for a face-melting, unlike-anything-else-you’ve-experienced-in-your-life orgasm when combined with the right guy and the right moves, and they should not feel weird about it. There are women who like using any range of toys that involve the butt, and they are no less wife-able. Guys have this weird paranoia that any toy that comes into the bedroom is going to question their masculinity or “replace” him, but this is absurd. The toy is not in place of him, it’s not a supplement because he inherently isn’t good enough. It has nothing to do with him, and we should let go of the idea that everything regarding a woman’s sexuality does. You have to embrace whatever things enhance sex for you, otherwise you’ll always end up frustrated and not enjoying yourself.

Another thing that has become strangely incorrect to say, even though we all know it’s true, is that a lot of women really like rough sex. It doesn’t mean that they are having rape fantasies every time they close their eyes, but the “no means no” talk definitely doesn’t always apply in the confines of a lot of relationships. We’ve become absolutist about what it means to have consenting or even “feminist” sex (ugh), but a lot of women I know could not be more turned off by the idea of a guy asking politely before doing everything. Obviously this is something that a couple has to establish beforehand, but you are naive if you say that people don’t give off body signals that say more than their words do in the bedroom. A lot of women have said “no” to their boyfriends but leaned into him slightly because they want to be “taken,” and that doesn’t mean he did anything wrong. For many people, politics in the bedroom just aren’t sexy. It’s not how their sexual encounters function on a regular basis. If you’re really that worried about it, get a safe word like an adult.

But the biggest problem generally stems from the fact that guys think they know about women, but most of the time, they really don’t. It’s no secret that porn has ruined men’s vision of what women enjoy during sex, but the problem is that, when they finally get around to having sex, girls are often really bad about telling them what they need to do. (We are betraying each other when we don’t educate men, let’s not do this anymore.) I have been with men who had all the swagger of a true casanova, because they were packing an above-average unit and were pretty good looking — and they were TERRIBLE. They thought that their looks and their dick were enough to get them an A+ in the sex department, as long as they just went really hard and slapped your ass every once in a while. In my experience, uncircumcised dudes have been better off the bat because they are more naturally sensitive and relate to the sometimes-unpleasant intensity that a clit can experience. They know that harder does not always equal better, and that soft, rhythmic motions can often be the key to a mind-blowing orgasm. But there are cut dudes who get it, too. They’ve just been taught right.

The best thing you can teach a guy, if you only impart one piece of advice before passing him off, is that if something is working — DON’T STOP IT. There is nothing worse than guys who get the perfect stroke going and then suddenly change paces or decide to start doing something crazy in an effort to show off. You can craft the perfect man in bed, and will have the kind of sex that makes monogamy seem like something to look forward to and not something that will bore you to tears, but it takes work.

If we can remember these things, and learn to laugh at ourselves (weird things will happen during sex, and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t just roll with the punches), we can have some good sex. But first we really need to know what ‘good sex’ means for women, and it’s something that takes a while to learn. But don’t worry, I believe in you!

Complete Article HERE!

The Dreaded Lesbian Bed Death

Name: Karen
Gender: Female
Age: 36
Location: Portland
I have a really big problem. I can’t keep a girlfriend because once I’m in a committed relationship I lose my desire for sex. I don’t mean it slacks off; it just totally stops. I’ve always been this way. I can have casual sex with women, but when things get serious sex goes out the window. This has been the demise of every relationship I’ve ever had. I’m currently dating this really great woman, but I’m afraid my problem will drive her away too. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening?

Whoops, looks like another case of dreaded LBD…Lesbian Bed Death.

Lesbian Bed Death

Ya know it’s pretty common for lovers in long-term relationships to gradually lose interest in sex with each other. But lesbiterians are particularly susceptible to this malady. Some couples, but lesbians in particular, end all sexual expression between them; yet stay very committed and loving toward each other. Thus the somewhat humorous term, “lesbian bed death.”

You Karen, apparently suffer from a particularly nasty case of LBD. May I ask, is this an issue for you because, and only because, it kills off all your relationships way too soon? Or are you concerned about this because you yourself are uneasy about the complete cessation of sex once you nest? The reason I ask is, if your only reason for changing is to please someone else, even someone you like a lot, the likelihood that you’ll actually change is considerably less than if you yourself desire a change.

Let’s say you really want to change for yourself, but you just don’t know how. I’d advise working with a sex positive therapist. If you and I were working together, for example, I’d want to get to the bottom of what triggers your attitude shift toward sex when you nest. Is there some disconnect for you between sex and intimacy? If there is a disconnect for you, you’re not alone. People with self-esteem issues, or body issues, people with extreme scruples about sex, the kind that translates into guilt and shame often have a similar disconnect. And gay and lesbian people who have not resolved their internalized homophobia will frequently have a sex and intimacy rift.

Lesbian Bed Death2

Sound familiar? I would guess so. Reversing this is unhappy trend is not an insurmountable task. But it will take a concerted effort to heal the rift that you may have between your sexual expression and intimacy needs.

You say you’re met this really great woman and you want this relationship to last. FANTASTIC! Is it safe to assume that she has a healthier appreciation of sex then you? If she does, I suggest you engage her in your healing process. However, you gotta be totally up front with her about your past pattern of disconnect. Marshal her sex-positive energy to help you resolve your issues. She will need a heads-up on the impending sex shut down so she can help you resist it. With her help, the two of you could move through this.

Good luck