What It’s Like to Reclaim Your Sex Life After Sexual Assault

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Survivors share their stories.

By Zahra Barnes

When she was 16, Lindsay Marie Gibson was raped. After her assault, life continued, as it does. Years later, in college, she met the man who would become her husband. She fell in love. They got married. Life was good. Yet her assault from years before still wreaked havoc, here and there. If Lindsay, now 34, didn’t flinch when her husband reached for her hand, it was only because she didn’t realize he was touching her in the first place. Her mind-body disconnect, which had come about as what she calls a “self-protection” of sorts after she was raped, was that powerful.

Many people struggle to feel connected with their bodies after experiencing an assault.

Lindsay is not the only survivor to unintentionally rely on this coping mechanism in the aftermath of sexual assault. “It sounds odd, but sexual abuse actually makes you forget that your body is yours and not property or an object,” Lauren*, 26, a survivor who often thought of herself as a “body-less soul” after her rape, tells SELF. “The minute you realize your body is indeed your own, you are instantly reminded that it was forcefully taken from you

This physical numbness stems from an emotional one, and it’s a natural impulse after undergoing something as horrendous as rape. But it is also an intimidating force blocking many survivors from what they say is one of the most empowering parts of reclaiming their lives after rape: Enjoying sex again, or for the first time ever

The yawning chasm between mind and body can make it impossible to fully connect with another person, says Lindsay, who was only able to fall in love with her husband mentally at first: “In my head, I knew I loved him, but I couldn’t feel it in my body.”

Integrating the mind and body is essential for a happy, healthy sex life after assault.

“There needs to be integration,” Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist who has counseled survivors at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “The trauma happened in the past, and a new, healthy, sexual self is moving into future, but it’s all the same person—one body, one mind.”

The goal, says Richmond, is for the survivor to process the trauma so it does not affect her daily life, without compartmentalizing what happened to her to the point of suppression. Attempting to completely stanch the flow of painful memories can contribute to that mind-body disconnect, as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Unpacking that trauma in a healthy way is what helps survivors enjoy many facets of life—including sex, Indira Henard, M.S.W, executive director of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “Each survivor is different, and it’s a lifelong journey,” she says.

Survivors must navigate various obstacles on the journey towards integration.

For starters, they often struggle with feeling comfortable around men. “If I saw a man in an elevator, I would turn and run the other way,” Lindsay says. “I was fighting anxiety through all my dates—I would sit and stare as they talked, but my head was going, Run, run, run. Get away from this guy.”

When a survivor does eventually wrangle that anxious impulse and start dating someone, she’ll likely disclose what happened at some point. At first, sharing details about her rape would often send men “running for the hills,” Anna*, 36, tells SELF. Now she is in a wonderful relationship with a man who responded to her story with kindness.

Even once a survivor is ready to have sex, issues like anxiety and PTSD can still rear their ugly heads. “When you’re having flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about your assault or rape, it’s very, very difficult to want to have sex,” says Lauren, who has PTSD. “Or worse, if you are having sex when these things arise, sex can become scary and intimidating, not to mention triggering.”

Avoiding triggers after sexual assault can feel like a minefield.

For Jess*, 24, a nickname her attacker called her is now off-limits. When dating after her rape, hearing the nickname during sex could prompt her to “100 percent flip out and start crying,” she tells SELF.

And after being raped from behind, Anna has drawn a line at certain kinds of touch with her husband. “Sometimes, as much as he wants to touch that area, it’s just too much,” she says.

That decision brings Anna a measure of relief while also prompting guilt at times, which experts say is normal but unwarranted. No matter what a trigger is, having one doesn’t mean you’re weak or wrong—it means you’re human, says Richmond.

To manage triggers, assault survivors must regain control over their sex lives, which often includes absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.

In order to heal, it’s vital to set sexual boundaries and hammer out a definition of consent and what is or isn’t OK between two people, says Henard: “Survivors have a right to ask for consent and negotiate what that looks like for them.”

This requires survivors to let themselves off the hook, which many have trouble doing due to persistent feelings of shame, says Richmond.

“It’s about recognizing that you did not do anything wrong, that there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this, and that you are not alone,” says Henard. Richmond adds, “I don’t care if you were sitting naked on a street corner. The only reason you were raped is that you were in the presence of a rapist.”

“When you realize it’s not your fault, it’s kind of like a weight is lifted off of you,” Jennifer*, 44, tells SELF. That self-acceptance often gives survivors the feeling that it’s OK to articulate what they need in order to feel in control of their sexual destinies.

Once survivors have established boundaries, they’re one step closer to truly connecting with someone else, which is an integral part of moving forward.

“This is what so much of my therapeutic practice is about: being able to authentically connect with another human being without going into the shame, guilt, and anger brought up during and after sexual assault,” says Richmond. “There might be some bumps in the road, but when the partner can continue to offer security and safety, it’s an amazing thing

Jennifer recalls how comfortable she felt when she first met her now-fiancé. “He was very compassionate, and he was very patient,” she says. Her fiancé—whom she describes as very focused on helping her to associate sex with good feelings instead of bad ones—is the first person she’s been able to get fully naked in front of since her rape. “I’ve always been very self-conscious of my body, but I don’t feel that way with him,” she says. Now, sex feels freer and is without the tense fight-or-flight mode that marked other encounters after her rape.

For Lindsay, something about her husband’s energy quieted the alarms that would clang whenever she was around men. “The first time he looked at me, I didn’t feel like I needed to run,” she says. “For the first time ever, in my head, I was able to have peace.”

And, of course, pleasure plays a crucial role in this equation.

The best-case scenario, says Richmond, is that a survivor isn’t thinking about the assault when she’s having sex. Instead, the hope is that she feels safe, secure, connected, and is feeling pleasure. But that’s easier said than done

“I got to a point where I was able to be intimate, but I didn’t feel passion,” Lindsay says. “I knew in my head he was safe…I just kind of wanted to get through it and wanted him to be satisfied because I love him.”

Jess would similarly go through the motions, humming songs or making grocery lists in her head to get through sex

But eventually, many survivors realize they deserve pleasure, too, and that seeking it out is essential for healing. “I found the only way to truly move on was to be vocal and to speak up for myself,” Lauren says. Sometimes, she needs to halt all sexual activity. “Other times, I just need a second to re-ground myself and allow my body to remember its present circumstance and realize it is not in danger,” she says.

Having good sex is more than a marker of healing—it’s a liberating step in the process.

Some time after her assault, when Lauren felt ready, she dove eagerly into sexual exploration with her then-boyfriend. “Learning what my body loves and wants has been an exciting journey and one that is incredibly empowering,” she says

But after they broke up, the uncertain world of dating pushed her into more exploration than was ultimately right for her. “I decided to—no strings attached—explore sex just for sex,” she says. “The experience I gained was not worth the emotional toll. I realized sex cannot be, at least for me, something [frivolous] without thought and true emotional connection.”

Now, Lauren is in a happy marriage with a great sex life. “My partner encourages me to be vocal, and we spend a lot of time communicating our needs, our wants, and our thoughts and desires about sex,” she says. “Finding out just how sexually compatible we are has been amazing.”

After some time in therapy, Jess gave herself a mission similar to Lauren’s: “My goal was to have as much sex as possible [with my boyfriend] until I felt normal.”

It helped her make leaps and bounds in her recovery. “I can do everything that might be illegal in some states and countries, and I’m fine with that!” she says. “I feel like my body is special now—there’s no one who can tell me otherwise.”

Sometimes therapy, yoga, or even a tragedy is what helps survivors move forward.

Although not for everyone, many survivors cite therapy as a crucial part of the equation. It helped Lindsay cut her panic attacks down from five to six per day to maybe five per month, and Jennifer and her fiancé sometimes go to couple’s therapy to figure out the best way to approach her lingering anxiety and trust issues

Lindsay has also found solace in trauma yoga, which helped her reconnect her mind and body. Part of this involved a focus on clearing negative energy from parts of her body, like her ribcage and neck, that had ached since the rape due to injuries she sustained during the assault. “Once I became aware that’s what my body was holding, I haven’t had a problem since,” she says. The yoga also encouraged her to sit with her pain instead of trying to deny it.

But what helped Lindsay truly mend her mind-body disconnect was actually another tragedy—the pain she endured after a stillbirth of a much-wanted son. “Losing him burst me open,” she says. The visceral pain made it impossible to suppress her feelings. “My body was trying to go back into denial, but this time it was different—I couldn’t deny the fact that I loved him,” says Lindsay, who wrote about the transformative experience in Just Be: How My Stillborn Son Taught Me to Surrender. “I was actually healing for the first time.”

Now, thanks to that combination of factors, Lindsay’s sex life has changed dramatically for the better. “I’m able to be present and let go, and I can feel my desire for [my husband], which is a completely new thing.”

If you’re on this journey, remember: It’s a work in progress, but healing is indeed possible.

<It’s normal to grapple with mixed feelings about sex and sexuality after an assault. “I want to feel like a sexy person, and I want to feel like I can be more vocal about what I like and what I enjoy,” says Anna. “But at the same time, is that me being like the men that attacked me, in a sense? I know it may sound silly, but I don’t want to be that aggressive person

Confronting these feelings is part and parcel of working through the aftershocks of sexual assault. It sounds like an unfathomable burden, but survivors consistently rise to meet the occasion.

“Survivors are the strongest people I’ve ever met,” says Richmond. “Almost across the board, these people come out with more strength, more empathy, and more insight into the human condition.”

Although Anna says reclaiming her life is something she’s “still struggling with,” she’s determined to keep at it. “We have three children. I want them to know their mama is strong, resilient. There can be love, and a family, and more to life than [my assault].”

That focus on a better future, many survivors say, is part of what helps them form bonds with potential partners with whom they can have healthy relationships—and repair their relationships with themselves. “There is hope,” says Lindsay. “The physical pain, the emotional pain—all that stuff is passing clouds. Joy is the sky. It’s always there

Names have been changed.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). More resources are available online from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. To find a sexual assault service provider near you, visit RAINN.

Complete Article HERE!

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If You Get Super Anxious About Sleeping With Someone New, Read This

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[F]irsts tend to come with a lot of anxiety. While there’s some expectation when it comes to driving your first car or having your first kiss, there’s nothing like the pressure and the build up of sleeping with someone new. Nerves are normal. Whether it’s a casual fling or someone you could get serious with, the following reminders should help to calm your fears.

1. Tell all the insecurities you have about your body to go to hell. There’s nothing quite as panic-producing like knowing a guy is going to see you naked for the first time. Suddenly you recall every single moment in your life you felt pudgy or like your boobs were too small. Memories of that time that kid in third-grade said you had a boney butt come rushing back without warning, and you start to worry that this new guy won’t like what he sees. Well, he’s a guy, so he probably will. Plus, it’s not like you’ve been wearing a cloak this whole time, so I’m pretty sure he has a good idea of what your body looks like.

2. Think about the situation in the most logical way possible. Try to take emotion out of everything if you can. Understand that sex is just sex, and you can have a good time if you stop worrying so much about the future or what will happen when it’s over. Get over the fear of what he or people might think, and be a badass who just does what she wants.

3. Forget about what he’s getting out of it and on focus on what you are. Guys don’t have to be the only gender who enjoys a good booty call. Stop worrying about how he feels about the situation (and if you really don’t know, just ask), and start focusing on what you want out if it.

4. Remember you have a right to be selfish. Do not feel any obligation to cater to what he wants to do just because it’s the first time. Speak up and tell him what you want. Sex is supposed to be a mutually beneficial act, so make sure you’re getting some benefits, girl.

5. Pay attention to little hints that he just wants to sleep with you. While there are scumbags out there, the majority of men aren’t good at leading women on. Women are just really good at hearing what we want to hear, so get your head out of the clouds and open yourself up to the idea that he just might really want to sleep with you. If you still want to go through with it, then you’ll be in the right mindset.

6. Stop being paranoid that he won’t call after. I’m not saying he will because he could be giving you all the signs that he won’t, but you need to understand that you’ll be okay no matter what happens. You won’t be able to enjoy any part of sex if you’re worried about him running the moment it’s over. If you let loose and just have fun, you’re likely to be fine with either outcome because it doesn’t change the way you feel about yourself.

7. Remind yourself of what a badass you are. Sex has a funny way of making us super vulnerable, and when we have it with someone we want to get closer to, it makes us feel even more exposed. The whole “what if we have sex and he doesn’t want to see me anymore?” question will keep you up at night if you let it, but this whole idea that you need a guy to want to marry you after you do the deed is something that’s been ingrained in our female brains for centuries. The truth is, you don’t. When you stop expecting these grandiose things from people, you’ll start to enjoy the little stuff more. Know your standards, don’t be naive, and remember that no matter what, you’re still the boss.

8. Remind yourself that he probably doesn’t feel the need to have this inner pep talk. The sad, stupid part about all of this is that most guys don’t feel this crazy pressure to be liked after sex. Sure, they probably have some thoughts of not wanting to be bad at it, but unless they really like you, they’re just pumped they get to do it. Remembering that might help you realize that it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

9. Do something prior that makes you feel really sexy. Stop waiting for a guy to make you feel hot and do it yourself. Whether it’s getting dressed up or putting on a certain kind of perfume, figure out what it is that makes you feel like a sexy beast and go do it.

10. Have fun. Once you’ve made the mental decision that you want to have sex with this person, you need to tell yourself that the work is over. You’re not going to ponder or worry about it anymore. So get out of your head and have some fun.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Be A Good Partner To A Survivor Of Sexual Assault

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

January 20, 2018 San Francisco / CA / USA – “Me too” sign raised high by a Women’s March participant; the City Hall building in the background.

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[T]he #MeToo movement has banded survivors of sexual assault together and forced a challenging discussion about how women and girls are treated in our society. But one of the toughest conversations still rarely seems to happen: how do you treat a romantic partner who is a survivor of sexual assault?

One in six women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, so it is likely you may have dated, or are dating, a survivor. Still, few people, outside of trained professionals, are receiving an education about how to sensitively help their partners through the healing process.

“I think it can help to just normalize that [sexual assault] is something many people have experienced,” Laura Palumbo, the communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), told A Plus.

The NSVRC, which provides resources and tools for people trying to prevent sexual violence and to help those living in the aftermath of it, also touches on best practices for being a partner to a survivor. Palumbo explained that for survivors of sexual assault, male of female, deciding whether to tell your partner is one of the hardest things to do.

Survivors may fear being criticized for their stories, or simply not being believed. They may also find it difficult to find the right time to confide in a partner, especially if it is a new relationship.

“It’s something that takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability to share,” Palumbo said. “That’s something for someone on the receiving end to consider: how you respond to someone who shares their experience of sexual assault makes a huge impact in how comfortable they are and their perceptions of whether or not you’re a safe person to talk about this with.”

The first step, Palumbo said, is simply believing what your partner is telling you. Do your best to make it clear that you trust their story, that you believe the assault happened, and that you know it wasn’t their fault.

“They may not want to talk about it in great detail either, and those are all normal ways for a survivor to feel,” Palumbo said. “You should follow their cue about what they are comfortable sharing and not press them for any more info or detail than what they have felt comfortable sharing already.”

If you’re in a new relationship, Palumbo says there are no tried-and-true telltale signs that a partner may have been the victim of an assault in the past. Some victims may have visceral reactions to scenes of sexual assault in movies or on television, but plenty of people who aren’t survivors have those reactions, too. The key is doing your best to pick up on certain signals that may repeat themselves, and adjusting your behavior accordingly. If a partner has a strong negative reaction like that to a scene of sexual violence, you should normalize the reaction and make it clear you noticed it — and then do your best to communicate to your partner that you’re happy to avoid that kind of content in the future.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)

Ultimately, being a supportive partner is about listening with care and focus. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape says you should avoid threatening the suspect who may have hurt your partner, maintain confidentiality no matter what, and — if the survivor hasn’t yet already — encourage them to seek counseling.

“The other step we can’t emphasize enough is really just about being a good listener,” Palumbo said. “What a good listener means in this context is just listening actively and listening to what your loved one is sharing without thinking about how you’re going to respond to them, if you’re going to be able to say the right thing or if you are going to have advice, because they really don’t need to hear that from you.”

There is no one way to approach this conversation, but the NSVRC’s guidelines provide a general rulebook. Palumbo says it’s also important to consider the misconceptions and stereotypes about sexual assault survivors and move past them, focusing on the individual you’re in a relationship with. Because of these misconceptions, many people believe survivors of sexual violence don’t want touch or physical contact and end up being less sexual. On the contrary, research shows that’s not the case. While some survivors do withdraw from sexual activity, most “continue to be sexual beings,” Palumbo said.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

“People who experience sexual violence are just like the rest of us in terms of having different sexual preferences and needs and their level of sex and frequency,” she added.

One way to be sure about what your partner is comfortable with is asking for consent to physical touch, particularly during conversations about the their past assault.

“There are going to be times where they may be really receptive to being asked for physical support, such as a hug or other physical intimacy, and there are going to be other times where that is not their preference,” Palumbo said. “By asking and always checking in with the person and being aware of their needs, you can make sure you’re respecting their preferences and re-establishing their preferences of security, safety and control.”

Finally, Palumbo said, be aware that a lot of survivors remain sex positive after their assaults. Some are into consensual alternative forms of sexuality like BDSM, others are comedians who joke about their experiences on stage, and some remain angry or upset about their experience for a long time. Some studies have found that certain rape survivors even have sexual fantasies about rape later in life.

All of these, Palumbo said, are normal and common reactions.

“Survivors are, even after they experienced some form of sexual harm, still going to move forward in their life as a human being,” Palumbo said. “There really is no script. That is something that comes up when a person is talking about their values or expectations for a relationship.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Nienke Helder designs therapy tools for women recovering from sexual trauma

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Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Nienke Helder has created a set of sensory objects that can be used to rehabilitate women affected by sexual abuse.

Presented at this year’s Dutch Design Week, Sexual Healing is designed to help women who are suffering from trauma-induced sexual problems, such as pelvic muscle blockage.

According to the designer, current treatment available often focuses on a clinical perspective – putting too much emphasis on physical issues, rather than the psychological aspects of trauma.

From her own experience, Helder recognised the frustration this can cause, which prompted her to develop an alternative therapy which focuses more on the emotional aspects of sexual trauma.

“I was really frustrated with the way we treat these kinds of issues. In my opinion, the treatments that I got only made it worse,” she told Dezeen.

“It was totally taking me away from the sexual context; it became really clinical. It was so focused on this end goal of penetration that I totally lost all fun in my sexuality.”

The designer worked with medical experts and women in recovery to develop a set of five objects which invite users to discover their own sexual pleasure.

The objects encourage women to explore what feels good to them, which in turn, relieves fear and pain, and help them regain a sense of security about their bodies.

The first object is an ergonomically shaped mirror that lights up.

“Research shows that if you look at your own vulva, it increases your body positivity a lot. But if you have a trauma, it can really be confronting to look at your own body,” Helder said.

She made the mirror in such a way that it only shows exactly what you hold in front of it, allowing users to take their time and slowly start exploring their own bodies.

The second object is a brush made from horsehair, which is meant to help users become comfortable with being touched again. It also enables them to invite their partner to the healing process.

“If you have a trauma, it can be really difficult to talk about it. But by giving someone an object and making them part of the therapy, it opens a lot of doors for conversation,” Helder explains.

Two of the objects focus on biofeedback and are designed to help the user detect if they are feeling tense or stressed.

“Trauma creates certain reflexes in your body that comes from your subconscious mind,” the designer said. “To break that cycle, you need to rationally understand what is causing these processes in order to overcome them emotionally.”

One is a sensor that is meant to be placed on the abdomen. The device lights-up when the user’s breathing becomes tense, functioning as a signal to relax again.

A second is an object that measures the pressure in pelvic floor muscles. If the user tenses up, the device starts to vibrate, signalling the need to relax.

The final object is a kimono made of silk jersey, which emphasises the need to feel warm and relaxed in the bedroom.

“I made it because the bedroom is one of the coldest rooms in the house,” said the designer. “As I mentioned in my project video, it is important to keep your socks on when having sex because women could not have an orgasm when they have cold feet.”


 
Mental health is becoming an increasingly explored topic in design, particularly among graduates.

At last year’s Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show, designer Nicolette Bodewes presented a tactile toolkit designed to be used in psychotherapy sessions, while Yi-Fei Chen channelled her personal struggle with speaking her mind into a gun that fires her tears.

Helder’s Sexual Healing project was presented at this year’s Design Academy Eindhoven‘s graduate show as part of the annual Dutch Design Week event, which took place from 21 until 29 October 2017.

Complete Article HERE!

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What happens when you find the idea of sex daunting

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Some people find physical intimacy difficult – here’s what to do

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[W]e’ve all been there, feeling shy, bashful or even self-conscious due to a sexual encounter. But for some men and women, the idea of sex can be so daunting they’ll avoid it altogether.

Tara*, a 42-year-old who married young and divorced in her 30s, found herself a ‘practical virgin’ on the dating scene after finding herself single. For years, she avoided dating out of fear that she would eventually have to have sex.

“I simply couldn’t imagine stripping naked in front of a total stranger. I’d be too embarrassed,” Tara says. “My body was okay the last time I was dating, but now I’m older and I’ve had two children.”

Lacking the confidence in bed

Tara isn’t alone in finding the thought of sex incredibly intimidating. Whether it’s due to a bad experience in the past, body confidence issues, sexual dysfunction or anticipation about future sexual encounters, this is a common issue that many of us face.

According to Krystal Woodbridge, a psychosexual therapist at the College of Sexual Relationship Therapists (COSRT), finding sex intimidating can be centred around body image issues, especially for women, and how they perceive their partner wants them to look.

“Many women also don’t have the confidence to initiate sex,” says Krystal. “It’s quite common, particularly for women who struggle in this area, that they haven’t actually explored their own body through things like masturbation or understood their own sexual fantasies, sexual desires or urges.”

Many men feel that they need to perform and this constant worry over their ability in bed can lead to performance anxiety. “Men often feel like they need to act in a certain way, maintain an erection and take charge of the situation – and for some men this can be really intimidating.”

Very often people who suffer with a sexual issue, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vaginismus or low sexual desire, will also have problems with sexual confidence.

“Often these issues can put people off getting into a new relationship because when it comes to initiating sex, which would be something they normally do, they hold back because they don’t want their partner to know that there’s some kind of sexual problem,” says Krystal.

6 ways to overcome your sexual fear

Feeling unconfident and daunted by sex can be overcome. We spoke to Tracey Cox, sex and relationships expert about what you can do to turn this around.

1. Only have sex when you’re ready

“Forget any preconceived notions you have about having to climb into bed on date three. Have sex when you feel ready – when you know, trust and feel comfortable enough to sleep with them. Also remember, unless you’re planning on dating an 18-year-old supermodel, your new lover’s body isn’t going to be perfect either. While you’re frantically sucking in your stomach or worrying about how big your bum is, he’s nervous about the light hitting that not-so-well-concealed bald spot or wondering if the arms you’re grabbing on to aren’t as muscular as your ex’s.”

2. Think back to when you were a teenager and take your cue from there

“Start off slowly with foreplay. When you both really like each other, and are both nervous, this is the sexual equivalent of getting into the freezing swimming pool slowly rather than diving in at the deep end. The thought of having full sex after a few foreplay sessions together will feel a lot less scary.”

3. Stick to the basics at first

“Another big concern for people who find sex intimidating is: what if I don’t know what to do? Aren’t people doing stuff in bed I don’t know about? Both sexes worry about this one – and unnecessarily.
The way we meet people to have sex with might have completely changed
but once you’re having it, it’s pretty much the same scenario. After all, there are only so many physical sex acts you can perform and most people stick to the basics first time around. Requests for ‘kinky stuff’, if it’s going to happen, tend to happen a few months in so you’re safe for now. If they do suggest something you’re not comfortable with, simply say ‘I don’t think I’m ready for that now. Can we stick to basics until we know each other better?’.”

4. Explore your body with some solo sex

“If you’re not already doing this, start having some solo sex sessions to get your body used to the feeling of orgasm – perhaps by experimenting with sex toys. There are some good beginners’ toys you can try here. The more you explore your body and know what feels good and what doesn’t, the more confident you’ll be in bed with someone else. Sex toys are a great way to discover how your body works and what it responds to, making you sexually happier and more confident.”

5. Get your attitude right

“Sex isn’t an exam. You’re not going to be graded pass or fail (and if it feels like you are, you’re with the wrong person). So, stop stressing and thinking: ‘this has got to be perfect’. Perfect sex happens to people in movies; normal people muddle through the first time.”

6. Don’t be scared to dim the lights

“Lighting is crucial – especially if you’re body conscious. Don’t be scared to say what you need. If you want it really dark for
the first time, say so. You can start turning up the dimmer switch when your confidence increases.”

Complete Article HERE!

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For Veterans, Trauma Of War Can Persist In Struggles With Sexual Intimacy

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U.S. Marines march in the annual Veterans Day Parade along Fifth Avenue in 2014 in New York City.

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[M]uch has been said about the physical and psychological injuries of war, like traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. But what we talk about less is how these conditions affect the sexual relationships of service members after they return from combat.

Since 2000, service members who were deployed received at least 138,000 diagnoses of PTSD. More than 350,000 have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000. Evidence suggests the numbers are actually higher because many don’t seek treatment.

These conditions cause their own sexual side effects, such as emotional numbness, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. And the long list of medications used to treat PTSD, TBI and other medical conditions can worsen those side effects.

‘He would sleep for days’

Chuck and Liz Rotenberry of Baltimore struggled with their own challenges when Chuck returned from Afghanistan in 2011. He’s a former Marine gunnery sergeant who trained military working dogs. He left active duty in 2012.

For Liz and Chuck, sex had never been a problem. They’ve been married for 14 years and they’re still very much in love. Liz says she fell for Chuck in high school. He was that guy who could always make her laugh, who always had a one-liner ready and never seemed sad.

But when Chuck returned from Afghanistan, their relationship would soon face its greatest challenge. Baby No. 4 was just two weeks away; for sure, it was a chaotic time. But Liz noticed pretty quickly, something was terribly wrong with her husband.

“I wouldn’t be able to find him in the house and he wouldn’t be outside, and I’d find him in a separate bedroom just crying,” Liz says. “He would sleep for days. He would have a hoodie on and be just tucked away in the bed, and he wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. He would have migraines that were so debilitating that it kept him in the bed.”

When Chuck was in Afghanistan, an IED — improvised explosive device — exploded 3 feet behind him. Shrapnel lodged into his neck and back.

It would take three years for someone at the Department of Veterans Affairs to explicitly lay out for Liz that Chuck had developed severe post-traumatic stress and suffered a traumatic brain injury — and that she would need to be his caregiver.

The Marine self-image

During that three-year period, there were times Chuck estimates he was taking 15 to 16 different medications twice a day.

Sex was usually the furthest thing from his mind.

“I didn’t think about it. I wanted to be with Liz, I wanted to be near her,” he says. “When the desire was there, it was unique. It was rare, as opposed to the way it was before. And a lot of times, with the mountains of medication I was on, you know, in my head [it was] all systems go, but that message didn’t go anywhere else.”

Liz noticed that Chuck stopped initiating physical affection.

“The thought of him reaching out to me to give me a hug wasn’t existent. It was like I had to give him the hug. I now had to step in and show him love,” she says.

Sometimes months would go by before they would have sex.

“It started off as being pretty embarrassing, pretty emasculating,” Chuck says. “It was like, ‘Really? This too doesn’t work?’ You blame it on, ‘Oh, it’s just the medication,’ or ‘You’re tired,’ or whatever initially, and you don’t realize it’s stress or my brain just doesn’t work like it used to.”

Liz and Chuck had never really talked about sex in any serious way before. So they kept avoiding the conversation — until this year. That’s when Chuck finally asked his primary care provider for help. The doctor prescribed four doses of Viagra a month. Liz and Chuck say the medication has improved things substantially — though they joke about how few doses the VA allots them every month.

But asking for just those four doses took Chuck three or four visits to the doctor before he could work up the nerve. He says it can be especially hard for a Marine to admit he’s having problems with sex because it contradicts a self-image so many Marines have.

“You know, as a Marine, you can do anything. You believe you can do anything, you’ve been trained to do nearly anything,” he says. “You’re physically fit. You’re mentally sound. Those are just the basics about being a Marine.”

If he has any advice for a Marine going through the same thing he and his wife are facing, he says you need to talk about it. Bring it up with your spouse. Bring it up with your doctors.

“Marines always jokingly hand out straws. You got to suck it up. You got to do what you need to do to get it done,” Chuck says. “It’s just a different mission. … Don’t let your pride ruin what you worked so hard for.”

 Complete Article HERE!

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The Dreaded Lesbian Bed Death

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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

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Shaming Men Doesn’t Build Healthy Sexuality

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By David J Ley Ph.D

StandingNudeMaleTorso

Male sexuality is intensely under attack, in the increasingly vitriolic social dialogue related to pornography. Though women watch and make pornography, most of the current debates focus on aspects of masculine sexual behaviors. These behaviors include masturbation, use of pornography, prostitutes or sexual entertainment like strip clubs. Promiscuity, sex without commitment, and use of sex to manage stress or tension are all things that are frequently a part of male sexuality, whether we like it or not. But, male sexuality is not a disease, not a public health crisis, it is not evil, and it does not overpower men’s lives or choices. Shaming men for these behaviors isolates men, and ignores powerful, important and healthy aspects of masculinity.

There is a common perception of male sexuality as intrinsi­cally selfish, overly focused on “scoring” and sexual conquests, on anonymous, “soulless” sex, and on the outward manifestations of virility.  But there are other, oft neglected sides of male eroticism. Straight men are far more focused upon women’s needs, and upon closeness with women, than we give them credit for. Nancy Friday wrote that “Men’s love of women is often greater than their love of self.” Men give up friends and male camaraderie and accept a life of economic support of women, even leading up to an earlier death, all in order to be with women. More than half of all men describe that their best sexual encounters came when they “gave a woman physical pleasure beyond her dreams.” Men redi­rect their selfishness away from their own satisfaction, and toward a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, by giving sexual satisfaction. Male sexuality often involves an intense focus on the needs of their partners, and men gain great pleasure, even a strong sense of manliness, from giving their lover sexual pleasure.

In fact, men’s desire to sexually satisfy their partners comes at the price of their own satisfaction. When a man is unable to make his partner orgasm, many men report incredible frustration, disappointment, and self-doubt. Women even complain that men put so much pressure and intent upon helping the woman achieve orgasm that the act ceases to be pleasurable and starts to feel more like childbirth. In such cases, women fake orgasms, not for themselves, but to satisfy their partner’s needs. Until a woman has an orgasm, a man doesn’t think he’s done his job, and his masculinity hangs in the balance.

Franz_Von_Stuck_-_SisyphusMen are taught from a young age that they must be sexually competent and sexually powerful with exaggerated and impossible ideals. Surveys of sex in America find that, compared to women, men are far more insecure and anxious about their sexual performance. Nearly 30 percent of men fear that they ejaculate too soon, most men sometimes experience erectile dysfunction connected to anxiety, and one man in every six reports significant worries about his sexual abilities to satisfy his partner. These are huge burdens that men carry, and are just one reason why many men pursue other forms of sex such as masturbation to pornography.

Compared to women, men actually experience greater pain and psychological disruption from the ups and downs of romantic relationships. Not only do the negative aspects of a romantic relationship hurt men more than women, but the positive aspects and benefits of that relationship have greater impact upon the man than the woman. Because women are better able to access outside support from friends and family, they often fare better than men. Men are often isolated and burdened with the expectation that they shouldn’t feel pain, or if they do, they must suffer alone.

For men, physical affection and sex is one of the main ways we feel loved, accepted, and regarded. For many men, it is only through physical love that we can voice tenderness and express our desire for togetherness and physical bonding. Only in sex can we let down boundaries and drop our armor enough to be emotionally vulnerable.

Sex plays a greater role in the lives of men as a form of acceptance and mutual regard than it does for women. Women touch each other all the time, with hugs, holding hands, closer body contact, and smaller “personal space.” Men shake hands. Really good friends might, at best, punch each other in a loving way, do a careful “man hug,” or even swat each other’s buttocks, if it’s during an approved masculine sporting event. (Many homosexual men experience this differently, when they come out and are part of the LGBTQ community) So the body-to-body contact that sex offers feeds an appetite, a craving, one that is often starved near to death in men.

Male sexuality is portrayed as something that men must guard against, and describe it as though it is a demonic force, lurking within our souls, which must be constrained, feared and even rejected. Men are portrayed as powerless to control themselves, in the face of sexual arousal that is too strong. Men are painted as weak, harmed and warped by sexual experiences such as pornography. As a result, men are told to be ashamed of the sexual desires that society has called unhealthy, and told to forego those condemned sexual interests. But an essential part of man is lost when we encourage men to split them­selves from their sexuality.

Unfortunately, as we teach men to be men, to understand, accept, and express their masculinity, we rarely attend adequately to the loving, nurturing, and amo­rous side of men. The most positive way that society and media currently portray male sexuality is when it is depicted as bumbling and stupid-making, a force that turns men into fools, easily led by our penises. But more often, male sexuality is depicted as a force that hovers just on the edge of rape, rage and destruction.

What is necessary for a healthy man, for complete masculinity, is the in­tegration, consolidation, and incorporation of ALL the varied aspects of our sexuality. When we try to externalize our desires for love and sex, excising them from ourselves as something external and dangerous, we run the real risk of creat­ing men without compassion, without tenderness, and without the ability to nurture. It is easy to suggest that what we are trying to excise are the base, primitive parts of men’s eroticism, those desires to rape, dominate, and sat­isfy oneself selfishly. But in truth, those desires, as frightening as they can be, are integrally linked to male emotional desires for safety, acceptance, protection of others, and belonging.

A_ShipwreckThose things that make men admired and respected—their strength, courage, independence, and assertiveness—are the same things which contribute to the differences in male and female sexuality. By condemning these characteristics, we run the real and frightening risk of abolishing qualities that are essential to healthy masculinity.

A healthy sexual male is one who accepts and understands his erotic and sexual desires, along with his drive for success, dominance (and often submission as well) and excellence. Healthy sexual choices come from internal acceptance and awareness, not rejection and shame. Research has shown that all men have the ability to exercise control over their levels of sexual arousal and sexual behavior, but no men can fully suppress their sexual desire. Healthy men can be men who go to strip clubs, visit prostitutes and watch pornography. They are men who make conscious sexual choices, accepting the consequences of their actions.

Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent and pleasure. Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status or sexual orientation. The Religious Institute

We need to begin encouraging personal integrity, responsibility, self-awareness and respect, both for oneself and one’s sexual partner(s). This is, I think, the goal for all men – to make their sexual choices an integrated part of who they are, and the kind of man they desire to be. Unfortunately, as long as we continue to shame and condemn men in general, and specific sexual acts, we are merely isolating men. Further, we are exacerbating the problem, because removing porn or shaming men for their desires or fantasies, does not teach men how to be a sexually healthy man.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men and Affection: Three Practices to Raise Boys Unafraid to Love

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Your boys are watching and learning from your examples.

boys

By Dwayne D Hayes

When I was twenty-one I spent two months living in London with a group of young people from around the world as part of a summer mission project. It was a great opportunity to meet people from various countries and to learn more about the world. I was part of a small team that included men and women from Germany, Finland, South Africa, Jordan, Brazil, and several others countries.

One afternoon Kamal, a young Jordanian, and I went to meet some others in Hyde Park. Along the way, he grabbed my hand as we walked side-by-side. I quickly removed my hand from his grasp and Kamal kindly explained that it was common for Arab men to hold hands as a sign of friendship and affection. But it was a sign of friendship and affection that I was not comfortable with, not mature enough for and, though he repeated this several times over the summer, I always let go of his hand as quickly as possible.

As a boy, I loved to hold my younger brother’s hand. He was my best friend and, though he was 001only eighteen months younger, feeling his soft little hand in mine made me feel good, and protective. That tenderness quickly moved into aggression and we would wrestle, punch, and kick each other. Yes, often in fun. But seldom have we, after our early years, expressed our affection for each other in a physical way (with the exception of a bro-hug).

Now, over twenty years after Kamal reached for my hand, my son is in kindergarten and I love to watch him interact with his male friends. They hug each other, can often be found with hands on each other’s face or in hair, rest their heads on each other when they talk and, yes, even hold hands.

Logan clearly loves his male buddies.

When and why do we stop expressing affection for our male friends? As adults, this extends beyond the physical. I can do “bro hugs” easily but find it difficult to speak if I try to tell a male friend how much I appreciate him.

002For boys as they age there is the pressure to avoid being a “sissy”. Girls, we’re told (and shown) are emotional, weak, and cry. If you’re like a girl you must be gay. And sadly, of course, for many people that is still unacceptable.

It is this pressure that quenches some of the natural physical affection that boys express for each other when they are young and we learn to express our affection violently, through punches, teasing, and other forms of verbal abuse.

It saddens me to think it will happen to my son.

So, what can we do to help our sons express affection for their male friends? The following three practices can help our sons learn to be unafraid about showing affection.

1. Watch our words.

Don’t speak in demeaning terms about girls, crying, homosexuals, or the expression of emotion. Don’t react negatively when our sons share their affection in a physical way.

2.  Demonstrate appropriate physical touch with your male friends.

Hug your best buds, shake hands and stand with your arm around your friends. And tell them how important they are to you. Avoid confusing affection with violence or verbal attacks. There are various ways to express affection. Make a practice of demonstrating them in front of your son.

3. Express physical affection for your father and/or male siblings.

I kiss my father on the cheek when I see him. I do this not only to show my love for him but also because I want my son to always kiss me and not be afraid to show affection for me.

◊♦◊

Did you see the film Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts? I don’t remember much about the film, but what I do remember is Felipe, the character played by Javier Bardem, a Brazilian divorcé, whose college-age son visits. Felipe kisses his adult son on the lips and openly weeps when his son departs the country.

Rarely do you see an American father express this type of affection for his son. I was a new father when I saw the movie and thought: that is exactly how I will be when my son is older.

Every night, before I go to bed, I silently enter my son’s room (he is approaching six now) and kiss him and whisper that I love him.

I know, soon enough, he will likely ask me to end this nightly show of affection.

But he’s a deep sleeper. Don’t tell him and I just might get away with it until he goes away to college.

Complete Article HERE!

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Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch

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Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.

Touch Isolation

By Mark Green

“Boys imitate what they see. If what they see is emotional distance, guardedness, and coldness between men they will grow up to imitate that behavior…What do boys learn when they do not see men with close friendships, where there are no visible models of intimacy in a man’s life beyond his spouse?” -Kindlon and Thompson, Raising Cain
(With thanks to BRETT & KATE MCKAY)

Recently I wrote an article titled The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer in which I asked people to consider the following:

American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives. I’ll call it touch isolation. Homophobic social stigmas, the  long-standing challenges of rampant sexual abuse, and a society steeped in a generations old puritanical mistrust of physical pleasure have created an isolating trap in which American men can go for days or weeks at a time without touching another human being. The implications of touch isolation for men’s health and happiness are huge.

Gentle platonic touch is central to the early development of infants. It continues to play an important role throughout men and women’s lives in terms of our development, health and emotional well being, right into old age. When I talk about gentle platonic touch, I’m not talking about a pat on the back, or a handshake, but instead contact that is lasting and meant to provide connection and comfort. Think, leaning on someone for a few minutes, holding hands, rubbing their back or sitting close together not out of necessity but out of choice.

Yet, culturally, gentle platonic touch is the one thing we suppress culturally in men and it starts when they are very young boys.

Touch Isolation2While babies and toddlers are held, cuddled, and encouraged to practice gentle touch during their first years of their lives, that contact often drops off for boys when they cease to be toddlers. Boys are encouraged to “shake it off” and “be tough” when they are hurt. Along with the introduction of this “get tough” narrative, boys find that their options for gentle platonic touch simply fade away. Mothers and fathers often back off from holding or cuddling their young boys. Boys who seek physical holding as comfort when hurt are stigmatized as cry babies.

By the time they are approaching puberty, many boys have learned to touch only in aggressive ways through rough housing or team sports. And if they do seek gentle touch in their lives, it is expected to take place in the exclusive and highly sexualized context of dating. This puts massive amounts of pressure on young girls; young girls who are unlikely to be able to shoulder such a burden. Because of the lack of alternative outlets for touch, the touch depravation faced by young boys who are unable to find a girlfriend is overwhelming. And what about boys who are gay? In a nutshell, we leave children in their early teens to undo a lifetime of touch aversion and physical isolation. The emotional impact of coming of age in our touch-averse, homophobic culture is terribly damaging. It’s no wonder our young people face a epidemic of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, rape, drug and alcohol abuse.

In America in particular, if a young man attempts gentle platonic contact with another young man, he faces a very real risk of homophobic backlash either by that person or by those who witness the contact. This is, in part, because we frame all contact by men as being intentionally sexual until proven otherwise. Couple this with the homophobia that runs rampant in our culture, and you get a recipe for increased touch isolation that damages the lives of the vast majority of men.

And if you think men have always been hands-off with each other, have a look at an amazing collection of historic photos compiled by Brett and Kate McKay for an article they titled: Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection. It’s a remarkable look at male camaraderie as expressed though physical touch in photos dating back to the earliest days of photography.

The McKays note in their article the following observation:

But at the turn of the 20th century, … Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized — decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against. As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century.

Spend some time looking at these remarkable images.  You’ll get a visceral sense of what has been lost to men.

These days, put ten people in the room when two men touch a moment too long, and someone will make a mean joke, express distaste, or even pick a fight. And its just as likely to be a woman as to be a man who enforces the homophobic/touch averse stigma. The enforcement of touch prohibition between men can be as subtle as a raised eyebrow or as punitive as a fist fight and you never know where it will come from or how quickly it will escalate.

And yet, we know that touch between men or women is proven to be a source of comfort, connection and self-esteem. But while women are allowed much more public contact, men are not. Because how we allow men to perform masculinity is actually very restrictive. Charlie Glickman writes quite eloquently about this in his article, Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box. Read it. It’s a real eye opener.

“As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society.”

Male touch isolation is one of many powerful reasons why I support gay marriage initiatives. The sooner being gay is completely normalized, the sooner homophobic prohibitions against touch will be taken off straight men. As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society. The result has been a generation of American men who do not hug each other, do not hold hands and can not sit close together without the homophobic litmus test kicking in.

The lack of touch in men’s lives results in a higher likelihood of depression, alcoholism, mental and physical illness. Put simply, touch isolation is making men’s lives less healthy and more lonely.

Recently, when visiting my 87 year-old father for a few days, I made a point to touch him more. To make contact. To express my affection, not just by flying a thousand miles for a visit but to touch the man once I got there. It may seem simple, but choosing to do so is not always a simple thing. It can raise a lifetime of internal voices, many of which speak of loss and missed opportunities. But I hugged him. I put my arm around him as we shared a cigar and cocktails. I touched him whenever I walked past his chair. Each evening, we would watch a movie. As part of that nightly ritual, I would sit in the floor, take off his shoes and socks and rub his bare feet for while. It is something I will remember when he is gone. Something I did right. Something that said to him, I love you. Spoken on the same deep touch levels by which he connected with me when I was a toddler sitting next to him, his strong arm around me as I watched the late show fifty years ago.

This touch thing is so crucial. I kiss and hug my son constantly. He sits with me and on me. I make a point of connecting with him physically whenever I greet him. The physical connection I have with him has been transformative in my life teaching me about my value as a human being and a father.

We need to empower men to touch. We need to fix our sexually repressed/obsessed American culture and put an end to distorted and hateful parts of our culture that allow homophobic people to police all men everywhere down to the very tips of our fingertips.

It’s too late in my life for the impact of these stigmas to be fully undone, but I have great hope for my son. When we collectively normalize gay life and relationships, my son, whatever his sexual orientation turns out to be, will be free to express platonic affection for others, be they men or women, in any way he sees fit. The rabid homophobes who have preached hate in America for far too long will finally be silenced, and men will be free to reach out and touch each other without fear of being labeled as somehow less of a man.

It’s a dream for a better America I can already see coming true.

Complete Article HERE!

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Fear, Rage And Lust, A Volatile Concoction

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It’s not often that I receive a message from someone that chills me to the bone. But what you are about to read does precisely that. Sadly, my correspondent chooses to remain anonymous, so I can’t address him directly or personally. But, with a little luck, this very unhappy person will return to my site and find the heartfelt response I’ve prepared for him. If not, I fear the worst will happen.

 

I was raised to believe that fornication would ruin my future marriage, and I believed it. But as time went on, and had trouble attracting women since I had social phobia, I noticed that no one else was waiting until marriage. I felt angry, as if I had been betrayed and left behind. As I get older, the possibility of finding a “pure” woman my age dwindles (I’m almost 30 now). I’m still a virgin myself, and fear having sex with a woman my age because she might judge my inexperience and clumsiness. I also fear that she would compare me with other men. I’m now an atheist, and I know these doctrines are wrong, but I can’t stop feeling jealous and depressed knowing that women my age have all loved other men by now, and I’ll probably never be anyone’s first. Is there treatment for this? Or even a name for this condition?

My friend, thank you for reaching out to me. I only wish you had done so in a way that I could communicate directly and personally to you. I will do my level best to be as kind as I can while I address your many-layered problem. But if I wind up being sharp with you, it’s only because I believe the situation demands that I not soft-pedal my advice to you. So here goes.ShameHands

You, sir, are in critical condition! Yes, there is a treatment for what you have and yes, there’s also the name for what you have. You suffer from acute misogyny. And my treatment recommendations are as follows.

You need to be in the care of a skilled professional, one who understands both your religious background and your current sexual malaise. I could be that person for you, but I won’t take on that responsibility through an anonymous exchange like what we’re doing here. Be a man, stand up, identify yourself, and own your shit. This will be your first step toward healing the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed.

I can’t help but make the comparison between your message to me and those chilling videos made by the UC Santa Barbara shooter before he went on his rampage some weeks ago. Like you, he was motivated by his intense misogyny and his sense of entitlement to sex. And it scares the bejesus out of me that I have you within reach, all lustful and enraged, yet I am unable to help you personally.

RageI want to first address your religious upbringing. And I think I’m qualified to do this because I was a Catholic priest for 20 years, many years ago. As you now can see for yourself you were duped. The fundamentalism you were fed as a youngster has made you into a bit of a monster. It has made you sick with rage and lust and it has also made you as vengeful as the God of the Hebrew Testament. Surely you can see that nothing good can come from this volatile combination.

I call your condition misogyny because your lust and rage is directed toward woman. Somehow you got it in your head that you are entitled to some pussy and that pussy had better be virginal pussy to boot. And if you don’t get what you think is rightfully yours, because this is the birthright of all men, there is gonna be hell to pay.

Listen up, buckaroo; you are not entitled to anything sexual, no one is. You are particularly not entitled to pussy. And plank_in_eyewhoever told you that you are or suggested that you have something coming to you simply because you’re swinging some pipe between your legs is as big a fool as you are for believing that shit. I’m also pretty certain that you got this message right along with your religious indoctrination, which makes it all the more insidious. The curious thing is, I can’t tell if your fundamentalism is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. And, in the end, I don’t suppose it make much difference. But I am willing to wager every cent I have that it is one of those three. I say that because monotheistic fundamentalism is at its core, misogynistic. The acolytes of the male god of these three traditions have enshrined the male privilege and women have been paying the price for that bullshit for millennia. It has got to stop!

When men, like you, get it in your head that one woman in particular, or all women in general, have deprived you of what is rightly yours, you know someone is gonna get hurt and hurt badly. Curiously, you don’t take yourself to task for your social phobia and awkwardness even though you acknowledge that these are precisely the things that get in the way of you making yourself attractive to the women you desire. Rather, it is somehow the fault of women because they won’t look beyond your loutishness to see the sweet guy beneath your caustic exterior. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be a man.

perception-of-fundamentalismI’m sure glad you identified how fear and bitterness has crippled you. You are afraid that women will judge your inexperience and clumsiness and compare you with their other lovers. Welcome to the real world, my friend. We all make judgments; we all make comparisons. Just look at all the judgments you are making about women. Shame on you for trying to point out the speck in someone else’s eye while you have a plank in your own.

Instead of humbling yourself and asking for the help you need to overcome your social and sexual awkwardness, you project hate and show absolutely no compassion toward the very women who are in the ideal position to help you. What does that say about you?

This lethal concoction of hate, shame, fear, and a sense of sexual inadequacy is what perpetuate the rape culture that plagues our society. You sir, are the problem! And until you acknowledge the fact that you are the agent of your own frustration, and get your shit together, all the women around you should be afraid for their virtue as well as their life.

Another telltale sign of this facacta religious fundamentalism that has poisoned your psyche is your preoccupation with the virginity of your perspective mate. So you want someone “pure,” a woman unsullied by another man, huh? Well then here’s a tip. That kind of purity, if there is indeed such at thing, is reserved for someone equally pure; and I don’t mean sexually inexperienced. You should be pure of heart. And there is nothing pure about your heart. Your rage, shame, and lust defile you and make you base. You are, to use religious language, unclean.Love-Lust

It never ceases to amaze me that people, like you, think sex sullies a person. And yet you crave the very sex that will make you and your prospective partner impure. Believe me when I tell you this; even if you enter a marriage with a virgin, as a virgin, just like religious fundamentalists prescribe, you will come away from your first sexual encounter feeling as defiled as you know your wife will be. That’s because your sexuality is based in shame. Your vocabulary betrays you. No wonder even religious fundamentalist women keep their distance from you. You are like a suicide bomber’s vest, ready to detonate.

One more thing, you are definitely not an atheist. And no amount of you saying that you are will make it so. What you are is a disgruntled religious fundamentalist. I mean I completely understand why you are livid. You’ve been consistently lied to about sex and you never learned anything about love. Besides atheists don’t need any more angry doctrinaire lugheads, like you. They have plenty of those already. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell religious fundamentalists apart from atheistic fundamentalists these days. Everyone is so fuckin’ pissed off all the time.

misogynyHere’s my prescription for getting better. Start working with someone who will help you shed the terrors of your religious upbringing and who will show you the way to embrace a more caring and loving God? I think we both know that you will always be a theist; luckily you get to decide what kind of god will be your god.

Start working with someone who will help you heal the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed. This will make you a happier person, a better person too. You will, in time, learn that sexuality is gift, not a weapon and certainly not an entitlement. You might even learn how to approach women as your equal, to honor them, not denigrate them. And if you give this therapy the time and effort it deserves you will no longer be jealous and depressed. And hell, you might even get laid.

Good luck

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Sobriety & Sex

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Name: Gregg
Gender: Male
Age: 40
Location: Seattle
Since getting sober now almost 8 years ago I am very tense about sex and I feel as though I have lost my mojo. I am unable to relax and be intimate with a man and I am thinking I need an intimacy coach or sex coach, or something. Perhaps someone with tantra training who can help me find a comfort level with my body again and being touched and touching another.

Hey, thanks for your interesting question. Sadly, yours is not an uncommon concern. In fact, I just finished an 8-week group for men in recovery who were dealing with similar intimacy issues. A lot of the work we did together was helping one another reestablish a sense of trust.

legs & bootsSo many of us gay men start out our sexual lives with alcohol and/or drugs to help us overcome our inhibitions as well as a means of dulling some of the anti-gay messaging that comes to us from the world around us. Sometimes, the substances take hold of us and instead of we being in control the substances are in control. There was one guy in the group I just mentioned who is in his 5o’s, and he confessed to the group that before he got clean and sober, a couple years ago, he had never had sex sober. And he had been sexually active since his early twenties.

Substance abuse can rob us of more than just our dignity. It often effects our sexual response cycle in ways that diminish our ability to enjoy our sexuality. Men often report erection problems and women report arousal phase problems when they come off booze and or drugs. This, as you suggest, impacts on our comfort level in all intimate situations. If our parts aren’t working like we would want them to, we’d rather avoid intimate contact rather than be embarrassed. So, in other words, when we rid ourselves of the substances that once enabled us, we often need to relearn how to be ourselves, particularly in intimate situations.

Learning to trust others enough to open ourselves to others, even with our “brokenness,” is the key to regaining our sense of sexual self. We need to learn how to overcome our shame, which often gets in the way of reaching out to others. And if some of our shame is unresolved internalized homophobia, well then, we really have some work to do.tit bite

I think you’ve hit upon the perfect solution to your pressing problem. Working with a sex coach or intimacy coach is definitely one way to go. For those challenged, as you are, verbal therapy is great. But there is no substitute for actual hands-on therapy.

I know several people who have been helped by a surrogate partner or a sexual healer. I applaud you for thinking so creatively. Of course, finding the right person to work with will be a challenge. And I should mention that other helping professionals, even some sexologists, do not always look upon these kinds of interventions as legitimate. That’s a pity, but what are ya gonna do.

As you know, there are loads of sex workers out there. Unfortunately, very few have the training needed to provide surrogate partner therapy, or understand the delicate issues that a trained sexual healer must deal with. I hope you find what you are looking for.

If you need someone to discuss this with further, give me a shout. You’ll find my contact information on either the ABOUT page or the THERAPY AVAILABLE page in the header above.

Good luck

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It’s a small world after all

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Name: ali
Gender:
Age: 25
Location: canada
my girlfriend dont waana get maried to me beacuse she is afraid of sex , she hates sex because she think its a disguesting thing like sucking fingering n etc what am i suppose to do i love her how i satisfy her dat we have to marry???

Why would you want to marry a chick that doesn’t like sex as much as you do? That just seems crazy to me. If you think you’re gonna win her over and change her mind about sex by marrying her, that’s even crazier. Loving someone is not enough to overcome this kind of sex aversion. If she’s unwilling to see a therapist to help her through her distaste of sex, then I’d say it was time for you to find another potential bride.

misunderstanding

 

Name: Randy
Gender:
Age: 24
Location: Florida
Is it possible that anal sex can result in increased flatulence?

Ahhh yeah! Think of your ass as a cylinder and your partner’s cock as a piston. All this slamming in and out forces air up your bum. And what happens to that trapped air after (and sometimes even during) the fuck fest? You got it…farts for days. It’s no big thing, all bottoms get fuck-farts. The same is true for women — her pussy is the cylinder and her partner’s cock is the piston. All this slamming in and out forces air into her cooch, producing the very familiar pussy-fart.

Name: Jonathan
Gender: Male
Age:
Location: UK
Hello, please could you tell me if there is a way to increase the size of my testicles permanently, I do shoot a good amount of cum but they are small in the hand and look small in underwear and swim trunks, have you any advice on what I could try,

Hold on there, big fella. What are you tellin’ me? Do you want to increase the size of your balls (testicles), or the size of your sack (scrotum)? You can do the later, but not the former. If you are past puberty, your balls are the size they are gonna be, there’s no increasing them. Your sack, on the other hand can be stretched to increase its size. Will that satisfy you? If so, read this: …don’t let me get too deep. If not, you’re out of luck, darlin’!

Oh, and by the way, the “good amount of cum” you mention, most of that, 70% of it, is not sperm, the reproductive cells produced in your balls. Most of your semen is a mixture of fluids produced in your seminal vesicles, prostate, and bulbourethral glands.

Good luck.

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You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’…

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Name: James
Gender: Male
Age: 45
Location: Canada
During my teenage years I had a few girlfriends and enjoyed having sex with them. There were never any problems. However at around age 20 while still in College I began to experience sexual dysfunction with my partners after the second or third time we would have intercourse. The symptoms were, I’d be horny, have a good erection but a few minutes into intercourse my penis would start to feel numb and I either would not be able to have an orgasm or I would lose my erection. I would also start to feel sexually repulsed by my partner. This pattern continued for the next 15 years as a single man. I thought I was simply easily sexually bored and dealt with the problem by breaking off the relationship as soon as the sexual dysfunction would start and move on to someone new. One night stands and new partners were never a problem. It just happened after we would have a few dates. It also happened when I met my future wife. It didn’t seem to bother her that much although she thought it might be a good idea to make an appointment to see the Doctor about it. After we were married we basically stopped having sex (we weren’t having much to begin with) because it just proved too stressful, humiliating and it had no payoff for me. I started seeing therapists and for the next 8 years I went through 7 different therapists including marital counselors, sex therapists and psychiatrists. Now I have been married almost 15 years and the marriage has been sexless. My wife doesn’t like it but has made her peace with it. I can masturbate with no problems at all and have been told by doctors there is nothing physically wrong with me. But none of the therapists were able to pinpoint what was causing my sexual problem. I have had a few sexual encounters outside my marriage over the years and the sex was great, no problems at all. Mind you none of these “affairs” lasted very long, a half dozen sexual encounters at most. Any ideas what might be causing this inability to ejaculate and inability to keep an erection plus the feeling of sexual revulsion with a partner after two or three sexual encounters?

YIKES, James, you just recounted 25 years of deep seeded psychological problems and you expect me to make an insightful comment in the precious little time I can afford any one of my correspondent. That’s a pretty tall order; don’t you think?

Ok, for all it’s worth, here goes. My guess is that you don’t have a sexual dysfunction at all. But you do have a huge rift between your sexual life and your intimate life. And this expresses itself in the ways you outlined above.

Many people who have difficulty with intimacy can still perform sexually pretty much like everyone else. Obviously the performance thing is not dependent on the intimacy thing. In these cases, sex is rarely more than a mechanical bodily function — get it up, get it on, get it off, the end. The hard part comes when these people try to ground these mechanics in a healthy emotional context.

The fact that you can’t bone the same person more then a couple of times without revulsion, and that you can only tolerate your long-suffering wife if your marriage remains sexless; tells me you need to investigate why you can’t connect sexual expression with intimacy. You exhibit all the classic signs of a sexual dysfunction, but they’re only symptomatic of a much more profound disability. And you’ll never get to the bottom of dysfunctions until you get to the root of your intimacy issue.

When I see a person, like you, in my therapy practice, I try to help my client overcome his/her rift by encouraging him/her to gradually increase the amount of intimacy he is comfortable with every sexual encounter. It’s a simple behavior modification technique. It often is very successful, but most of my clients are highly motivated to heal the fracture in their life. Also, they don’t have a 25-year history of this to overcome.

You on the other hand, don’t seem to be particularly motivated. I can see that you’re curious about your sexual problems, but you’re not making that all important connection between your bodily functions and your emotion capacity. There’s a blockage there that is so ingrained it would be very difficult to undo. It could happen, but you’d have to be very passionate about making it happen and then stick with the therapeutic intervention till there was a breakthrough. This no doubt would involve reversing a lifetime of selfishness and egotism. And I see no evidence that you have that kind of moxy.

Good luck

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

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The Summer Solstice 2012 Q&A Show — Podcast #337 — 06/18/12

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[Look for the podcast play button below.]

Hey sex fans,

Happy Solstice everyone! Well, actually solstice isn’t until Wednesday, but who’s quibbling. Damn, this year is flying by. It seems like it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were welcoming spring. And, guess what? I just did the math; this is my 6th Summer Solstice podcast. Holy COW!

In honor of this milestone I have a delectable Q&A show in store for you today. We will be hearing a bunch of very interesting questions from the sexually worrisome, each will surely amaze and entertain. And I think we’ll have just enough time to do some SEX SCIENCE too. Stick around, sex fans, this is gonna be great!

  • William is using AndroGel for low “T”. Will it get his dick to grow?
  • Craig was snooping in his wife’s gym bag and found something interesting.
  • Chris and I have a lengthy exchange about his deep-seeded sexual conflicts.
  • Paula asks for my advice about purchasing a prostate massager for her hubby.
  • Gerard has blood in his semen.
  • Jenny asks if all fetuses start out as female. This triggers a SEX SCIENCE tutorial.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Review.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

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