6 Questions to Ask Before Sex

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By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Despite how we see it portrayed in the media, sex is a very personal act – with both emotional and physical consequences. So, it’s extremely important that you approach it with the serious thought that it deserves. This includes asking yourself and your partner some key questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Does having sex fit with my core values? At a very basic level, it helps to be clear about the extent of emotional intimacy and commitment you believe there should be in a relationship before having sex.

There is also the question of whether being physically intimate with a particular person fits with your morals or values. If either you or your potential sexual partner is in a committed relationship with someone else, pause before acting on your desires. There are also other situations worth thinking twice about, such as sleeping with your boss. So whatever your circumstance, consider the problems you might be creating by acting on your passions.

Is this person a wise choice for me? Even if you are incredibly attracted to someone or they look great on paper, you may know in your heart that they are not right for you. Or, you may have some nagging doubts. Maybe they treat you poorly, are insensitive to others (even while they idolize you), struggle with an anger or alcohol problem, or raise concerns in some other way. In all of these situations, you may want to, at least temporarily, override your libido. When you have sex with someone, you are bringing that person more into your life and heart – a choice you may live to regret. 

Is the timing right? Sex can increase emotional closeness, so if you’re not ready to get closer, you may want to hold off. For instance, if you have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, having sex too soon could interfere with developing what could have been a good match. Similarly, acting on sexual attraction before getting to know someone might feel good in the moment, but also create problems in developing a deeper connection.

3 Questions to Ask Your Partner

What are we to each other? You want to know whether you are on the same page so that you don’t set yourself up for heartache. To clarify your situation, you might directly ask about whether they are single or romantically involved with someone else; and whether they are looking for a fling or a committed relationship.

When were you last tested for STDs and HIV? This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but you need to be sure that you’re safe from these potentially serious health risks before you move forward.

What will we use for birth control? Whatever you decide to use, make an informed choice to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy or disease.

These questions are just a start. From there you might want to get to know each other better, deepening your emotional and sexual intimacy. But these basic questions are an essential starting point for any new sexual relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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Rev up your libido to the *most* satisfying heights

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By Jessica Estrada

Since everyone is different, there’s obviously no norm for sex-drive intensity. What is normal, however, is for your libido to fluctuate, says Emily Morse, sex expert and host of the Sex With Emily podcast. So, if you’re currently going through a dry spell of your own making, there’s no need to be alarmed—it happens!

Still, the sich can be über-frustrating, especially if your partner is ready to go at all times despite knocking boots being the last thing on your mind. To help you get your mojo back, here, Morse shares seven ways to seriously rev up your libido.

1. Seek a professional opinion (seriously)

As a first point of entry, Morse suggests checking in with your doctor because a low libido can be a symptom or a side effect of a number of different medical conditions: unbalanced hormone levels, medications you’re taking, depression, anxiety, thyroid imbalances, or arthritis. So, to be safe, go see your MD for a chat and potentially some tests.

2. Reconnect with your body

If your health checks out, the issue is may skew more psychological. “Women get aroused through thoughts,” Morse says. “If your brain is not onboard for sex, then your body is not going to follow.”

One solution? Get down with yourself (yes, that means masturbating). Doing so will help you reconnect with your body again, and it will help keep sex at top of mind. Think of it like exercise—or any other healthy habit for that matter: the more you get your sweat on, the more and more your body starts to crave it.

3. Give your relationship with sex a tough audit

A stagnant sex drive might not actually have to do with your libido at all: It could be about your relationship with your significant other. If you’re constantly fighting, or you’re growing apart for one reason or another, of course it’ll affect what’s happening (or not happening, in this case) between the sheets.

“Whatever challenges you’re having with your partner outside the bedroom are going to absolutely impact your relationship when you’re inside of the bedroom,” Morse says. She recommends taking an honest look at your relationship and focusing on fixing the non-sex-related  issues. It’s totally possible these resolutions could reignite that bedroom fire.

4. Stop being samey in the bedroom

Your libido might have taken a nosedive simply because you’re bored of the type of sex you’ve been having. Hey, you might even get sick of avocado toast (which has itself been tied to a revved up sex drive, BTW) if you have it every. single. day. So, consider changing things up a bit. “Variety is the spice of your sex life,” Morse says. “It’s the novelty and the newness that enhances intimacy and will make you want to connect.”

So try out new positions. Buy some toys. Do the deed in a surprising location. Do whatever you have to do to make things fun and interesting again. 

5. Implement a healthy lifestyle

If you’re not feeling so hot, of course you’re not going to be in the mood for love making, Morse says. That’s exactly why implementing healthy habits that make you feel sexy inside and out are an important part of maintaining a fired-up sexual appetite. Consider incorporating some libido-boosting foods into your diet, like avocado and honey and penciling in workouts that will help supercharge your love life.

6. Do your kegels

Not only do kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (which can translate to better orgasms—score!), they also force you to connect with yourself and your lady parts. And again, the more you think sexy thoughts, the more and more you’ll want to get it on.

And since kegels are so easy to do inconspicuously (doing mine now at my work desk!), it’s hard to find a reason not to abide by Morse’s prescribed two-a-day regimen. Just squeeze the muscles in your nether region, as if you’re trying to hold your pee, for five seconds. Then release and repeat for an effect of having things tightened up down there. Wondering how you’re possibly going to remember to do your kegels twice a day? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

7. Engage your senses

Another way to help you get your groove back is to entice your five senses, because when you do this, “you’re no longer in your head and automatically you feel very in touch with your body,” Morse says. So the next time you plan on getting lucky, create a full-on sensory experience.

Set the scene. Put some jasmine essential oil in your aromatherapy diffuser. Play some Marvin Gaye. Bust out the coconut whipped cream. Yes, it sounds totally cliché, but what do you have to lose other than another sexless night? 

Complete Article HERE!

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The pansexual revolution…

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How sexual fluidity became mainstream

Rigid definitions of sexuality are on the way out, as a younger generation embraces a ‘never say never’ approach to sex and gender

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Nick Meadowcroft-Lunn has a girlfriend, whom he has been seeing for three years. Jezz Palmer has a girlfriend, too, and they have been together for five. You might assume therefore that Nick is straight and Jezz is gay; or, if not, that both must be bisexual. But you would be wrong.

“I always describe my sexuality as: ‘If you’ve got nice hair and pretty eyes, I’m down for it,’” explains Jezz, a 26-year-old editor working in historical publishing. “It’s not that gender doesn’t matter, because it can be important, but it’s a bit of an afterthought. It’s just like: ‘Oh, hello.’” For a while, she wasn’t sure what to call this, but eight years ago she settled on “pansexual” as the closest word. “It took me a while to figure it out. [The TV series] Torchwood was about the only thing I’d heard of. I was talking about maybe being pansexual and someone said: ‘Oh, like Captain Jack in Torchwood.’”

Nick, a 22-year-old physics and philosophy masters student at the University of York, initially thought he was bisexual as a teenager, but also now feels “pansexual” better fits his view that attraction isn’t really about gender. “I just find characteristics generally about people attractive. Pan is simply easier to understand, and much closer to the truth for me. It’s not specific to any gender.” He often explains it, he says, by talking about height: a bi person might find tall guys attractive, and short girls. But he tends to fancy tall people, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Last year, “pansexual” briefly became the online dictionary Merriam-Webster’s most searched word of the day after the singer Janelle Monáe defined herself as a pansexual and “queer-ass motherfucker”. The Panic at the Disco frontman Brendan Urie and the singer Miley Cyrus both also identify as pan, with Urie explaining that, to him, it means: “I really don’t care … If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place.” The singer Demi Lovato, meanwhile, identifies as “sexually fluid”, or “having a shifting gender preference”, while other labels for being neither exclusively straight nor gay include “heteroflexible” and “questioning”.

For bisexual activists who have long felt erased from the picture, many of these new identities can sound suspiciously like elaborate ways to avoid the word “bisexual”. But Meg-John Barker, psychology lecturer and author of The Psychology of Sex, argues that, while “bisexual” is a useful and widely understood umbrella term for being attracted to more than either gender, labels such as “pansexual” do capture a specific sense that fancying someone isn’t just about gender. And if all this seems confusing, the all-purpose “queer” is increasingly used to mean anything other than plain-vanilla 100% straight, a visibly expanding category.

Pansexual performer Demi Lovato (left) live in Lisbon.

When YouGov asked people to place themselves on a sliding scale where zero equals exclusively straight and six equals exclusively gay, more than a quarter of Britons polled identified as something other than 100% heterosexual. But strikingly, 54% of people aged 18 to 24 did. That arguably makes them the most sexually liberated, least socially repressed group of adults in British history.

Baby boomers saw homosexuality decriminalised, if not destigmatised. Their children grew up with Brookside’s celebrated lesbian kiss and the scrapping of Section 28. But it is their grandchildren who have grown up taking the idea of gay rights almost for granted. “The working assumption is that’s because we have progressed as a society in the last 30 years. We’ve become much more accepting and that’s allowed people to explore their sexuality,” says Paul Twycock of the LGBT rights group Stonewall.

And yet, for all that, heterosexuality is hardly dead yet. According to the Office for National Statistics, 93.2% of Britons still call themselves heterosexual, although that figure is down slightly from 94.4% in 2012. So how did YouGov get its headline-grabbing figures? It changed the question, which turns out to change the answer significantly.

It is well over half a century since Alfred Kinsey, who was himself bisexual, published his conclusion: “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual … The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats.” His successors are still arguing over whether the godfather of research into human sexuality was broadly right to describe it as a sliding scale with numerous stopping points along the way, or whether that is overly simplistic. But in popularising the idea that same-sex attraction was far more common than acknowledged, Kinsey’s work was a landmark moment for gay rights nonetheless.

When YouGov asked its respondents whether they were straight, gay, bisexual or something else, 89% identified as heterosexual and 6% as gay. But when asked to place themselves on the Kinsey scale, that fell to 72% straight and 4% gay. The more choices people are given, the more shades of grey they acknowledge. But does that mean heterosexuality is genuinely rarer than we think, or is sexuality more multifaceted than was previously accepted?

According to one US study, half of male college students and eight out of 10 female ones have fantasised about someone of the same sex. (Evidence is divided on whether women are more sexually fluid than men or just more willing to admit it.) More than a quarter of British 25- to 39-year-olds told YouGov they had had some kind of same-sex experience. But Generation Z are not necessarily having more adventurous sex than anyone else; they are more inclined to what might be called a “never say never” approach, with a quarter of those identifying as straight saying they couldn’t rule out a gay relationship if the right person came along.

“This suggests that being attracted to more than one gender is becoming a majority, not a minority, position,” says Barker. “But wider culture is taking a long time to catch up to that fact, still tending to assume that people are either straight or gay, and presenting non-binary attraction as confused, a phase, or somehow suspicious.” The gradual easing of those assumptions, however, has implications for more than one generation.

Andrea Hewitt has known since her schooldays that she was attracted to girls. But growing up in the US south in the 1970s, she didn’t dare think too hard about what that meant. “I didn’t really know any gay people until I was an adult. I didn’t understand a lot of the feelings I was having, so I put them on a shelf,” she recalls. “It just wasn’t an option. Nobody spoke of it.”

So, she duly got married and had two children; when that marriage broke down, she married again. It was only after her older daughter left for college that she finally plucked up courage to come out as lesbian and ask for a divorce.

Hewitt’s children and her wider family were supportive, but it was, she says, an isolating time. “I Googled ‘coming out’, but it was all geared towards teenagers coming out to their parents, and here I was a 40-year-old woman with two kids. I truly thought I was the only person who had ever done this.” It was only when she started her blog, A Late Life Lesbian Story, that she realised she was very far from alone.

Two years ago, the author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed she had left her husband Jose Nunes – the man she described travelling halfway round the world to meet in her bestseller Eat Pray Love – for a female friend, Rayya Elias. The British retail expert Mary Portas famously fell in love with the fashion writer Melanie Rickey after an amicable divorce from the father of her two children. Hewitt now runs a Facebook group for women coming out in later life with more than 1,100 members worldwide; while some identify as lesbians, others prefer not to define their sexuality or swear they were straight until the moment they fell for a woman. But one common thread, says Hewitt, is having parked their own lives on a back burner while they were raising children. “I’d say a lot of the people in my group have a very similar personality type. We’re mothers, we’re fixers, we’re problem-solvers; we want to focus on everything but ourselves. It isn’t until you have time to do some self-reflection that you go: ‘Wait a minute, what about me?’”

Hewitt, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her partner Rachel, says she cannot be sure that if she had been born two decades later she would have identified as lesbian from the start. But while some of her Facebook group wish they had had the courage to do so years earlier, she cautions against assuming that the marriages of women who come out later must have been a sham all along. “You can only know what you know when you know it. You can’t go back and judge your past self on thoughts you didn’t have.”

Changing social attitudes are clearly enabling some older people to explore feelings repressed for decades. But coming out in middle age does not necessarily imply a life spent in the closet, according to Barker, who points to the US psychologist Lisa Diamond’s landmark study following 79 non-heterosexual women for 10 years. The women originally identified as either lesbian, bisexual or preferring not to put a label on their sexuality. Over time, two-thirds of their sexual identities shifted, and a third changed more than once; overall the most common identity adopted was “unlabelled”, and more women moved towards identifying as bi or unlabelled than away from it.

Yet, as Hewitt points out, the idea that sexuality can change across the course of a life is threatening for some. “If you allow for the possibility that people can change their sexuality, what’s to say your wife couldn’t do that, or you couldn’t?” Some of the later-life lesbians she knows were asked when they were going to “change back” to being straight, while one of her own friends suggested that perhaps she hadn’t just met the right man yet.

And if it is difficult for seemingly straight people to come out as bi, then it is perhaps even more controversial for gay people to do so. If sexuality really is fluid, then it might logically be expected to flow both ways; yet in practice it is not always easy for members of a historically oppressed group to admit to sleeping with the perceived enemy.

The idea that sexual identity is set in stone has been useful in some ways to the gay community, especially in tackling the offensive idea that homosexuality might somehow be “cured”. Parents struggling to deal with their children coming out are often encouraged to accept that sexual preference is just something we are all born with, as immutable as race or age and just as deserving of protection from discrimination. So, what if it isn’t as fixed as we thought?

In the US, Diamond’s work has been used by campaigners against same-sex marriage, who argue that it shows some gay people can change their minds – even though Diamond has stressed the changes she saw were involuntary and sometimes against the women’s wishes. Meanwhile, even pointing out that having visible bi role models in public life can help teenagers to come to terms with their own bisexuality risks being twisted into an argument that kids are only choosing it because it is fashionable.

But the pressure to argue for gay rights on the grounds of fixed identities has, Barker argues, led to some inconvenient truths being swept under the carpet. “Part of the reason bisexuality and sexual fluidity are so erased and rejected is because they’re seen as muddying the water.” When Antoni Porowski of the TV show Queer Eye, which involves a panel of gay men making over a generally hapless straight one, came out as sexually fluid, he was accused on social media of being a traitor and a fake, despite having been with his boyfriend for seven years.

Kate Harrad is a bi activist and editor of Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain, a collection of essays exploring all forms of bisexuality. One of the recurring themes in the book is, she says, people describing going to an LGB group or bar for the first time “and being rejected by the gay and lesbian people they met because they ‘weren’t really queer’ or ‘hadn’t made a choice yet’ or because they were seen as innately faithful and untrustworthy. Imagine finally getting up the courage to go to a place you think will accept you and instead experiencing hostility or scorn, or disbelief that your sexuality even exists. It’s no wonder bi people have worse mental health than any other orientation.”

Bisexual people are also less likely than gay ones to be out at work, which Harrad argues is not surprising: “Bisexuality is heavily associated with explicit sexuality, for a lot of people even more than gayness is. So people feel entitled to ask weirdly intrusive questions, like how many people you’re sleeping with, or to assume that you’re interested in them sexually.”

That may go double for pansexuals. As Palmer puts it, there is often a knee-jerk assumption that they are all out swinging from chandeliers when “half the time you’re spending Saturday nights watching documentaries in your pyjamas”. When bi or pan people settle into long-term relationships, that can prompt hurtful assumptions that they have either finally “picked a side” or else may secretly hanker after whichever gender they are not currently with. “There’s this whole thing coming from the LGBT community: ‘Oh, you’re dating a girl, you must be gay,’” says Palmer. “But I’ve also had a partner’s parents saying: ‘Aren’t you scared Jezz is going to run off with a man?’ as if you’re always wanting what you can’t have, when it doesn’t really feel that way.”

Yet as Generation Z grow older, and become the dominant cultural influence, their belief that, as Meadowcroft-Lunn puts it, “people have the right to identify however they choose” is only likely to become more mainstream. Could we eventually reach a point where heterosexuality, or at least the uncompromising version at one end of the Kinsey scale, is no longer considered the norm and “coming out” as anything else is practically superfluous? “It’s still true that over 90% of the country identifies as straight, so I don’t want to overstate this,” says Harrad. “It’s more that awareness-raising is a virtuous circle – the more you know about minority sexualities and the more people you meet who identify as one of them, the less it feels like a big deal. And in an ideal world, why wouldn’t it be?”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have Sex in the Shower:

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A Safety Guide for Even the Clumsiest People

 

Shower sex can be hot and steamy, but it can also be dangerous. Here are some tips and positions to help you avoid unnecessary trips to the ER.

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Shower sex is the stuff that Hollywood love-making magic is made of. In real life, though, it’s more complicated than you might think — meaning, no showing off your yoga moves to your partner in the shower because we don’t want you to end up in the ER. When it comes to sex acts and positions, shower sex proves that there’s more to sex than just penetration. For example, you’re unlikely to slip if you’re on your knees, and since you’re already in the shower it’s super easy to get clean when you’re done.

You’ll have to think about barriers and not just condoms and dental dams, but also things like nonslip shower mats that can help ensure you have a much safer time while getting it on. Additionally, there are lubes that can help to make penetrative shower sex more enjoyable. That’s just the beginning of what’s good about shower sex — when you know how to do it right, it can be really amazing. Allure spoke to sex experts about the safest and steamiest (horrible pun intended) ways to have shower sex.

Which sex positions work best in the shower?

Those with nicer showers simply have an unfair advantage in the shower sex game, at least when it comes to space and positions. (Sigh — the one percent wins yet again.) If your shower has room for a chair, a bench, or has railings to hold onto, you’re far more likely to enjoy shower sex, as you have an array of seated positions available, such as cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, and seated oral sex.

To prevent a potentially painful spill, somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond encourages using a railing to hold onto if you’re going to be lifting legs up or trying any positions that require balance. “People get really injured from slipping and falling,” says Richmond. “A mat or some kind of rail to hold onto is always helpful.” While installing a rail is more time-consuming, you can grab a nonslip mat from Amazon for $10.

However, that doesn’t mean that those of us with small showers can’t have a great time, too. The safest standing position in the shower is from behind, as you can leave both legs planted. “Unless you have safety rails installed, keep both feet on the ground if you’re using a standing position,” says sexologist Timaree Schmit.

And who says there needs to be any penetration involved? Oral shower sex can be super hot, too, not to mention a little simpler for the accident-prone. (Just be careful that you don’t choke on shower water.) There’s also nipple pinching, neck kisses, shoulder massages, and any other fun you can imagine.

What precautions should I take with using condoms in the shower?

While shower sex using condoms isn’t impossible, it’s not always the easiest — or the most fool-proof. “Have condoms or other barriers readily accessible, but be mindful that oil-based products degrade latex so consider what other soaps and lotions are on your hands,” explains Schmit. If you’re in a fluid-bonded relationship (meaning you have both been tested and have agreed to have sex sans condoms), shower sex comes with less stress.

Someone once told me in high school that you could have sex in the water and not get pregnant because the water would wash all the sperm away. Seriously. If you have heard any such rumor, don’t believe it; it’s dangerous fake news. “Don’t think because you’re submerged in water and you’re getting washed off that you can’t get pregnant or get an STI; you absolutely can get those,” says Richmond. If you’re not in a fluid-bonded relationship and feel apprehensive about the reliability of condoms in the shower, you can always move things to the bedroom after enjoying some bath-centric foreplay.

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

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Here’s What Does!

By Nichole Fratangelo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the four main criteria:

1. Contraceptive use

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

2. Autonomy

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

3. Consent

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

4. The “right” timing

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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The Psychological Benefits of Sex Toys

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

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

Eliminating shyness

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

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

“Cure” for sexual dysfunction

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

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

Great sex equals a great relationship

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

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

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

They just make you feel good

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Set aside time for sex’

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– how to get better at long-term relationships

By Miranda Christophers with

As a counsellor I say to my clients: ‘You need to invest as much energy and time in your relationship as you would for work, studies, children or friends’

It’s not inevitable that the romance will die in a long-term relationship, but things do change. When you first meet someone, you focus on them entirely, want to spend all your time with them and have a lot of sex. That crazy, romantic love settles down within six months to two years. Other things get in the way, such as work and children. And unexpected challenges, such as bereavements or financial pressures, can test a relationship.

You need to focus on keeping your relationship alive. As a counsellor, I always say to my clients: “You need to invest as much energy and time in your relationship as you do for anything else, whether it’s your work, studies, children or friends.”

Schedule time together, for just the two of you. That might be date nights or weekends away, or it might be creating new interests together, such as rock climbing or going to gigs. A shared calendar is a good idea, so you are aware of the other person’s schedule. And be considerate. If you’re going out with friends after work, send your partner a message and let them know. It shows you’re thinking of them.

Think about how you’re communicating with your partner. Does your partner often misunderstand what you’re saying? Do you tend to leave issues unresolved? Unresolved issues have a tendency to mount up. Something that might not have started as a massive problem – your partner’s chronic lateness, say – can become one if you don’t discuss it.

If you still end up arguing, try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Most of us find that extremely hard.

Ask your partner what makes them feel loved. Is it you cleaning their car? Taking the kids to the park on a Sunday so they can have a lie-in? Do it for them. Often, people need to hear verbal expressions of love. Tell them that you love them, unprompted. Give them a hug or bring them a cup of coffee. Little things like that make a huge difference.

You should never try to change your partner’s personality, because it was that personality that you fell in love with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t identify behaviours you don’t like. For example, if they are very impatient and always interrupt you when you’re speaking, tell them: “When you interrupt me, it makes me feel as if what I’m saying isn’t important.” You can’t knock the impatience entirely out of their personality, but you can work on the interrupting.

Try to recognise the positive things your partner does. You can fall into the habit of expecting them to be good to you, and complaining when they’re not perfect. Take stock of the nice things they do.

The main things that kill relationships are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Defensiveness is often a response to previous criticism, so when you’re communicating with your partner, be very careful that they don’t feel that you’re attacking their character. And vice versa: if your partner is annoyed at you for something you have done, try to hear what they are saying.

Although communication is key, sometimes you need to bite your tongue. Perhaps the way your partner makes the bed really annoys you. Is there something wrong with the bed or is it that you have a way of doing things that you prefer? Even if you don’t like how they have made the bed, they have made an effort to do it, so say thanks.

Most people hate to schedule sex, but spontaneity doesn’t always work. In the same way that you set aside time for the gym or hobbies, set aside time for sex – or, if that makes you uncomfortable, some form of physical intimacy. Say: “On Wednesday night we’re going to get into bed together and just be close, even if it’s only kissing, cuddling or massaging each other.” That can lessen the pressure to perform.

And if you’re having sexual difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction, get some professional help. Don’t think that going to a hotel for a dirty weekend will be a quick fix. If your sex life is basically good and you want to spice it up a little, then a hotel is great. But if you have got issues around sex, or more broadly in your relationship, a dirty weekend won’t help, because you need to work on those issues first.

If you’re thinking: “I’d like to have sex with other people,” think about how you can bring those desires into the relationship. It might be that there are certain things you would like to try, but don’t feel comfortable raising with your partner. Now is the time to say: “What about trying this?”

When your life is busy, and you have got burdens and commitments such as kids or elderly parents, it’s easy to put your relationship on the backburner. But that’s a mistake; it needs to be a priority. Because if your relationship is good, other things become more manageable. There is someone who has got your back, and will support you. It makes life that little bit easier.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 New Year’s Resolutions For Exploring Your Sexuality In 2019

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They Will Make You Feel Empowered AF

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After the shimmery dresses come off and the Champagne hangover comes on, you may find yourself looking at your “resolutions” as a means to doubt how amazing you are. So, I’m going to cut to the chase: You’re beautiful and amazing and your weight, your clothes, and your skincare routine don’t need to change. But if you’re feeling stuck in a sexy rut, manifesting some New Year’s resolutions for exploring your sexuality in 2019, can be a fun and empowering way to feel more in tune with your body.

At it’s best New Year’s can be an empowering time to set intentions for the future and cultivate gratitude for the past. Taking a moment to focus on all you’ve made it through in the past year can propel you take the next 12 months head on. Whether you’re single, dating, or on a self-inflicted six month vow of celibacy, exploring your own sexuality can be a cool way to learn about your body, it can also be really fun. Of course, when trying new things, you may find out the stuff you’re not into. And if something’s not floating your sexual boat, you never need to push your boundaries, no matter the month.

Here are nine resolutions aimed at feeling in tune with your sexy side in 2019.

1 I will take time to day dream about what I want.

Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re into because we’ve never thought enough about it. Take some time to fanaticize and daydream about your desires. Think about what makes you feel sexy, and ways you can bring those feelings into the bedroom.

2 I will get it on with myself.

Knowing what physically feels good for your body may mean some self-discovery. Taking time to touch different parts of yourself, in sexual and non-sexual ways can be a great way to sense how and where you like to be touched.

3 I will not be ashamed to read or watch sexual media.

There’s no shame in reading about sexuality, erotica, or even wanting to watch sexual material. If you have questions, urges, or know some things that pique your interest, reading articles or watching videos can be informative and sexy.

4 I will journal.

Journaling about the best sex you’ve had or things you want to try can help you remember what has worked in the past. Having yourself literally sit and write can be a structured way to really dig into your sexy side while strengthening your ability to articulate your desires.

5 I will talk about sex.

Opening up a dialogue with the people you’re sleeping with or even with friends you feel comfy sharing with can be a great way to understand other people’s perspectives and feel validated in your desires. Hearing that others have shared your experiences or desires, even swapping tips and advice can make you feel less alone, and give you some sexy inspiration.

6 I want to take some (healthy) risks.

If you’ve always wanted to go to a bar by yourself, or try having sex wearing a blindfold, the New Year can be a time to roll the dice (within reason.) Of course, your well-being is the most important thing and if something is way out of your comfort-zone or kinda dangerous, there’s no need to feel pressure to perform. But if there’s something fun you’ve always wanted to try, like a new move or a new naughty night club, Jan. 1 may give you the boost you need.

7 I will do more of what feels good.

There is nothing wrong with having a plan or knowing what works. If you’ve found what works for you, it’s also awesome to continue to do that. Routine doesn’t need to be boring. Knowing what makes your sex good and enjoyable sex and doing more of that, is a great way to go into the new year.

8 I will pump myself up.

Your biggest cheerleader should be yourself. Whether it’s looking at your body in the mirror and saying positive affirmations to singing Cardi B songs or spending a little more money on a haircut, doing more of what makes you feel sexy, and puts you in the mood is a great way to explore your body and sexuality.

9 I will cut myself some serious slack.

If you’ve farted during sex, if you’ve tried to sexy talk and ended up laughing, if you’ve set up a sex swing and landed butt first on the floor — you don’t need to feel ashamed. It’s OK for sex to be funny, for it to be awkward, silly, or gooey and romantic. You don’t need to be a ballerina sex-kitten with grace, perfect hair, and no bodily functions. Remembering you cut yourself some slack in the streets and in the sheets can keep you feeling strong and good about trying new things and feeling what works.

As we look to the New Year, may we relinquish all the bad dates, idiot people, and terrible sex we dealt with in the past 12 months. Having empowering resolutions about exploring your body and your sexuality can help when manifesting our future plans. Feeling yourself and knowing what you’re into can really help the New Year come in with a bang.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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So You Want More Sex but Don’t Want to Hurt Your Partner’s Feelings…

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By Courtney Kocak

If you’ve been in a sexually intimate relationship for longer than a year, chances are you’ve experienced being in the mood when your partner isn’t—or vice versa. Having unequal libidos, at least occasionally, is a super-common long-term relationship issue.

My boyfriend and I just celebrated our two-year anniversary. It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in by far, and I love him to pieces, but there’s no doubt about it: Sex columns (and columnists) imitate life. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw.

So I reached out to a few of my favorite sexperts for their advice on how to solve this common quandary. How do you ask for more sex… without hurting your partner’s feelings?

1. Talk about it.

“First of all, stop worrying about hurting your lover’s feelings when asking for more sex,” says certified sexologist and couples’ counselor Anka Radakovich. While it’s important to be kind to your partner while discussing any sensitive topic (more on this in a minute), mismatched sexual desire is a common problem with couples, especially in long-term relationships where needs and desires can change over time. Radakovich stresses that the important thing is to talk about it. “Never be afraid or ashamed of discussing sex with the person you’re having sex with!”

Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, agrees that communicating your desires and preferences is key. “Relationships are full of compromises, and your sex life is no different,” she points out. “In fact, many couples aren’t on the same sex schedule, but there’s no reason you can’t let it be known that it’s important to you.”

Radakovich warns that failing to address it will only breed resentment, which happens to be one of the biggest relationship killers out there. Who knows, your partner might tell you that they are completely stressed by a work situation or confess that they’ve been dealing with another issue that you didn’t even know about—the only way to find out is to talk about it.

2. Have the convo IRL, if possible.

“As uncomfortable as it may be, having a face-to-face conversation with your partner is the best way to go,” says sex researcher and neuroscientist Debra W. Soh, Ph.D. “Delivery is everything,” she says, noting that it’s a good idea to introduce the subject when neither of you is feeling rushed.

Radakovich agrees “Bring up the subject when both of you are relaxed and happy,” she says. “Or take a tip from the swinger crowd: Give them a nice back massage. Swingers know how to relax people… including other people’s wives,” she jokes. But it’s a seriously good tip! “A massage will relax anyone, creates intimacy, and the next thing you know, they might be down—or up!—for some long-awaited sex.”

3. Give the good news first.

This one’s extra important: You don’t want to put your partner on the defensive. To this end, Soh suggests starting off on a positive note by talking about what you like about your sex life. Besides, conjuring up some erotic memories might be just what the doctor ordered to help get your partner in the mood.

4. Speak for yourself.

Soh also recommends using “I” statements as another anti-defensive measure and all-around good relationship practice to get into so that your partner doesn’t feel like you are placing blame on them.

“My No. 1 tip when it comes to talking about sex in general without hurting your partner’s feelings is to make sure you’re not putting them on the defensive by blaming them,” Morse says. “Rather than saying, ‘You never want to have sex,’ or ‘We never have sex,’ lead with why you feel like having more sex would be beneficial for both of you.”

When your interests are aligned, you’re definitely more likely to get an outcome that both of you are psyched about—and then you can build a habit or routine based on that positive feedback loop.

5. Ask about your partner’s preferences.

Finding that alignment can come from discovering what would enhance your partner’s experience, Morse says.

“If your partner never seems in the mood, ask them what makes them feel sexy, what times of day they prefer to have sex, or which ways they would like you to initiate,” she says. “Even if it comes down to setting the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning or setting up sex dates, at least you’re working toward a more satisfying, sexier solution.”

6. Be specific about your wants.

Because clarity is crucial when you’re trying to suss out relationship discrepancies, Soh encourages you to be as specific as possible about exactly what kind of sex you want to be having—and how often.

“Sex is such a huge part of our lives, and it’s important to feel fulfilled,” she reminds us. “If it isn’t a topic you usually talk about, doing so will hopefully open up the dialogue so that your partner will feel comfortable telling you about any concerns they have too.”

7. Find a win-win solution.

Ultimately, Morse advises sex-thirsting partners to proceed with a spirit of empathy and cooperation. “Tell them how much you love feeling close and intimate with them and how you could work together to make sure you’re both getting your needs met.”

This advice reminded me of the wisdom How to Keep Your Marriage From Sucking author Amiira Ruotola dropped on a recent episode of my podcast, “At the end of the day, it’s not like one of you gets to win. You either both win or you both lose.”

So use these tips to talk to your partner about how to achieve a sex life that works for you both… I know I will.

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Men, like women, can have post-sex blues

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By Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

After sex, men can sometimes experience a myriad of confusing negative feelings, a phenomenon called post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which can interfere with relationships, researchers say.

The research team analyzed responses from over 1,200 men to an anonymous international online survey that asked whether they had ever experienced symptoms of PCD, which can include tearfulness, sadness or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sex.

The men, aged between 18 and 81 years, were primarily in Australia and the U.S., but the sample also included men in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and 72 other countries.

The study team, led by Joel Maczkowiack, a master’s student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, found that 41 percent of the men reported having experienced PCD in their lifetime, with 20 percent saying they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Between 3 percent and 4 percent of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

“I would like to think that this study will help males (and females) reflect on their experience of sex, as well as encourage communication between partners about their experience,” Maczkowiack told Reuters Health by email.

“In addition, we hope that this type of research will help people whose experience of sex is dysphoric (or dysphoric at times) to know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. In this sense, we hope this study normalizes a variety of human experiences following sex,” he said.

Past research has found that PCD is common among women. This is the first time it has been documented in men, Maczkowiack said.

PCD can occur despite satisfying and enjoyable sex. One man in the study reported that PCD made him feel “self-loathing.” Another reported, “I feel a lot of shame.” One participant said, “I usually have crying fits and full on depressive episodes following coitus that leave my significant other worried . . . .”

The study, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that PCD may be related to previous and current psychological distress and past abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported by the men both before and after age 16, researchers found. Sexual abuse in childhood was reported by 12.7 percent of the men and sexual abuse in adulthood was reported by 3.5 percent of the men. Their most common reported mental health concern was depression (36.9 percent), followed by anxiety (32.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (3 percent).

Current psychological distress was the strongest variable associated with lifetime and four-week PCD. Higher levels of psychological distress were more strongly associated with PCD.

The data for this study was collected from February to June 2017 and drawn from a larger questionnaire that examined the post-coital experience of men and women.

“While this research is interesting, the study of PCD needs psychometrically valid instruments, said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

The study used a few questions to measure PCD, but there is ambiguity in those items, Reid said in a phone interview. “They lack precision and there was no specificity about frequency in responses as to exactly how often was ‘a little’ or ‘some of the time’,” he noted.

“Future studies of PCD need to utilize qualitative approaches where participants are interviewed about their PCD experiences so we can further understand this phenomenon, why people might experience it, the extent to which it is causing individuals psychological distress, and whether it is negatively impacting their romantic relationship,” Reid added.

One of limitations of the study was that the men self-reported their emotional response to previous sexual experiences. “This information can be difficult for participants to recall,” Maczkowiack, said.

“The findings of this study could influence marital therapy by normalizing different responses. In addition, it may open up communication between partners,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s how marijuana use affects sex drive

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by Philip Perry

Do you and your lover sometimes have a glass of wine or two to help set the mood? Alcohol, while it can soften inhibitions, may also cause trouble when it comes time to perform, especially for men. Some turn to cannabis as an alternative. Unfortunately, research on how marijuana affects sexual performance is conflicting.

Some studies say it inhibits capability while other say it enhances it. A new, large-scale study finds that marijuana use increases the sex drive and probably doesn’t inhibit performance. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Cannabis has been thought an aphrodisiac in the folk medicine traditions of many cultures throughout history. Today, a small but growing segment in the West are using it to help enhance their sex lives. One California woman is even selling “Sexxpot,” a low-THC variety (the psychoactive component) said to increase female sexual desire and pleasure.

As for men, though online forums and advice columns praise it as a “natural Viagra,” some studies have found that cannabis may actually inhibit performance. Previous work has also suggested that chronic use inhibits sex drive. A 2009 study found that everyday use may make it difficult for some men to achieve orgasm. While a 2011 review concluded that chronic use may lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

This new study however seems to undermine the case for inhibited performance or libido. Stanford researchers analyzed the responses of 50,000 Americans who took part in the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. They looked at the years between 2002 and 2015. Each participant was between ages 25 and 45. The average age for both men and women was actually 29.5.

Respondents indicated how often they smoke marijuana, either monthly, weekly, or daily, and how many times they had sex in the last 12 months. Assistant professor of urology Michael Eisenberg, MD, was the senior author. “Marijuana use is very common,” he said. “But its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way.”

“What we found,” Eisenberg said “was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they’re having sex maybe 20 more times.” Women who didn’t smoke pot had sex an average of 6 times per month. While those who were daily users did it 7.1 times per month. With men, non-potheads had sex 5.6 times per month, while daily users did it 6.9 times per month.

According to Eisenberg, “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” Researchers called it a “dose-dependent relationship.”

The more people used marijuana, the more sex they had. These findings also alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding performance inhibition. “Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance,” Eisenberg said. “If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency.”

There are of course, some caveats. For couples who are trying to have children, several studies have found that chronic pot use can cause a man’s sperm count to plummet. Toking just once a week can sink the number of swimmers a man has by about a third. There’s also still a lingering fear among some experts that chronic use can lead to ED.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Smoking marijuana doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be having more sex. There may be another factor or factors that are influencing the two. For instance, those drawn to marijuana may also be less inhibited or thrill-seekers, who are naturally more inclined to seek out sexual encounters.

Eisenberg says he thinks marijuana’s positive correlation with intercourse isn’t just a tendency among the less-inhibited. He points out that the number of sexual encounters rose steadily with increased use. If these findings prove correct, certain synthesized cannabinoids or elements in marijuana, may someday be used as a medical treatment, to foster libidinous feelings in those who find that their desire has waned. Eisenberg cautions, “We don’t want people to smoke to improve sexual function.” But he admits, “it probably doesn’t hurt things.”

To learn how a segment of young women using marijuana to improve their sex lives, click here:

Complete Article HERE!

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It’s time to reimagine consent in our romantic lives

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Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? What if we thought of it in terms of attention?

‘New ways of consent can re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.’

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Since the short story Cat Person was published in the New Yorker late last year, my friends and I have spent a lot of time talking about bad sex. If consent is a spectrum with an enthusiastic, joyful yes at one end and sexual assault at the other, bad sex lives in the middle. There are lots of reasons why so many women have had so much bad sex: an impulse to please, the shame or discomfort of acknowledging your own needs, a misplaced hope that if you just go along with it, a bad experience might eventually get better. We are women in our twenties and thirties and forties and the question underlying these conversations is the same for each of us: what is the value of my desires?

We’re getting better at talking about consent when it comes to sex. The #metoo movement has encouraged people of all genders to really imagine what an enthusiastic, joyful yes can look like—and to understand how prioritizing mutual pleasure makes sex better for everyone. But we’re missing an opportunity to consider how these more sophisticated ways of practicing consent might re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.

One way I’ve tried to reimagine consent in my romantic life is by creating a relationship contract with my partner. It’s not a legal contract and there are no penalties when one of us doesn’t do what we’ve agreed to. It’s really an opportunity for the two of us to sit down together and discuss our expectations about everything from chores to date nights to sex. When I first wrote about our contract, I was surprised by the strong responses it elicited. Some people – often young straight women – loved the idea. Others accused my partner and me of being “robots” or “unromantic nerds.” But these readers are missing the point: being heard is the most romantic thing I can imagine.

Of course these critiques sound a lot like the complaints of those who think talking about sex beforehand – and actually asking the person you’re with if they’re into whatever you’re doing—ruins the experience. At the heart of these accusations of “ruining romance” is the notion that you shouldn’t voice your needs or desires: mutual understanding should happen all on its own—in sex and in love.

When I was young, I assumed that once I found the right person, I wouldn’t have to ask for anything—he would just understand me. I probably don’t need to say that this approach didn’t serve me well. For one thing, the assumption that the right person would know what I wanted – intuitively, telepathically – prevented me from ever bothering to figure it out for myself. In this fairy tale model of consent, mutual understanding requires nothing more than the machinations of fate to bring partners together. This promise of being uniquely and perfectly understood is seductive—and it’s baked into our language: the right person “completes you”; they are “the one,” or “your other half,” or your “soulmate.”

There’s some interesting research on “implicit theories of relationships” – which is really an academic way of describing the metaphors we use to think about love. One study found that those who thought of love as “perfect unity between two halves” (an idea as old as Plato) were less satisfied with their relationship after a conflict than those who framed love as “a journey with ups and downs.” Another study (charmingly titled “Great Sexpectations”) found that partners with high “sexual destiny beliefs” experience lower relationship quality. In other words, we are happier with our relationships when we assume that sex is something we get better at together.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that straight women are the ones most eager to reject the fairy tale of effortless mutual understanding. Same-sex couples tend to be better at communicating, which means that women in same-sex relationships are having (significantly) better sex than straight women. And same-sex partners distribute domestic labor and caregiving responsibilities more fairly than those in different-sex relationships. Maybe it goes without saying that women do more of the housework and childrearing in heterosexual relationships—and that this decreases their relationship satisfaction—but I’ll say it anyway.

The Oxford English Dictionary provides two definitions of the word “consent”: to “give permission for something to happen” and to “agree to do something.” The first – giving permission – is essentially what sex educator Jaclyn Friedman calls the gatekeeper model of consent. This model requires the person with the least power—the most vulnerable person in a relationship—to be the one to set boundaries. It also normalizes the idea that the one with more power will maximize that power in an attempt to get what they want. The second definition – agreeing to do something – sounds more mutual, but only slightly. Both definitions are the equivalent to checking the “terms and conditions” box on a new software download and hoping for the best.

But consent hasn’t always been so one-sided. The etymology of the word gets closer to the culture of consent I’m imagining. The Latin consentire literally means “to feel together.”

Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? But we might also think of it in terms of attention. One reason romantic idealism is so appealing is because it suggests that love is an adequate stand-in for attention; if you are perfectly matched with someone, you don’t have the obligation of really bothering to know them.

What would it look like if we built a culture around the idea of “feeling together”? If we began with the assumption that we should shape our relationships – sexual, personal, even professional – with another person, bearing both our experiences in mind?

“Feeling together” requires us to acknowledge that privilege is, by definition, an imbalance of attention, an absence of care. And it implies that it’s the responsibility of those with privilege and power to offer more attention, to give more care. What I love about this version of consent is that demands intimacy. It ties us more tightly to one another by suggesting that empathy is not a burden, but an opportunity.

Complete Article HERE!

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6 reasons why sex is important in a relationship

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By Gabrielle Kassel

I want to start by saying that sex doesn’t need to be a part of every relationship. It might be important to you to wait a certain amount of time or until a particular life milestone (like, say, getting married) to have sex. Or, as Liz Powell, PsyD, an LGBTQ-friendly sex educator, coach, and licensed psychologist, points out, “There are people who are asexual who are in relationships where sex is mutually unimportant or undesired, and those relationships are just as valid, loving, and intimate as any others.”

But for people who do decide to have sex be a part of their relationships, it’s super important. Because when it comes to sex—both having it and talking about it—you and your partner need to “navigate, communicate, and compromise,” says Shadeen Francis, a sex, marriage, and family therapist. Are you in-tune with each other’s needs and wants? Do you trust your S.O. enough to be vulnerable with them? And to handle your bod with respect?

Beyond the emotional benefits, there are also a slew of health perks that come with doing the deed. And that helps your relationship, too—because when your stress is down and confidence is up, it’s the perfect environment for your love to *flourish.* (Bonus: The physical benefits aren’t reserved for penetrative sex alone, says licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, PsyD. “It’s important to realize that there are a lot of ways of being intimate physically: deep kissing, hand jobs, mutual masturbation, even watching porn together,” adds Powell.)

So while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to just how important sex is in a relationship, the experts agree that it is.

Keeping reading to learn 6 expert- and science-backed reasons why sex is important in a relationship.

1. It gives you an emotional high

The blissful afterglow is one of the main reasons people do mega-intense workouts. And, it turns out, you experience a similar high after sex, thanks the release of feel-good hormones.

Here’s how it works: Sex releases dopamine in the brain, which increases your ambition and sense of happiness; testosterone, which improves your performance at work; and endorphins, which reduce your stress level and minimize pain. “All of these hormones together play a complex role in human pair-bonding and are essential in maintaining the glue of a relationship,” says psychologist and relationship expert Danielle Forshee, PsyD.

Plus, a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that having sex promotes overall well-being and fosters positive emotions, particularly within 24 hours of gettin’ down. So, in addition to the immediate gratification, the physical encounter with a partner creates a sort of lasting “hangover” that can strengthen your relationship, mood, and emotional bond.

2. Sex can help relieve stress

By now, you’ve probably tried the de-stressing staples: deep-breathing, massages, hot baths, and even hotter yoga. But why not add sex to the mix? “Sex releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, which promotes relaxation and stress relief,” says Francis. “And oxytocin also combats cortisol, the main stress hormone,” says Schewitz.

In fact, researchers have found that sex is similar to eating pleasurable “comfort food” in its ability to reduce tension by stimulating the brain’s reward system. And orgasm isn’t necessary to reap the benefits: Your body releases oxytocin after only 20 seconds of skin-to-skin contact, so any sort of physical touch is beneficial.

While the reduction in stress is beneficial to both parties individually, it’s beneficial to the relationship as a whole, too. “Even if stress is not relationship-specific, it can interfere with how good you feel in it,” Francis says.

3. It can boost your confidence

Sex may not give you an automatically turn your BDE levels all the way up to Rihanna, but “it can be an incredibly confidence-boosting, body-loving moment for some people,” says Francis. “Most of us have some degree of insecurity, whether it be something about our physical body or not. But being validated by someone that we love and trust can help build confidence.”

That dopamine rush we’ve talked about also helps boost your mojo, says Courtney Cleman, CFA and co-founder of The V. Club, a wellness and education center in New York City. “The more we have dopamine, the more we feel good and we feel good about ourselves,” she says.

That’s key, because your self-image has an impact on your sexual satisfaction. A 2012 review of research on the topic found that “body-image issues can affect all domains of sexual functioning,” from desire to arousal to satisfaction.

4. You’ll both get a better night’s sleep

In addition to increasing oxytocin and decreasing cortisol, sex also improves your sleep because you release a hormone called prolactin when you orgasm. This chemical can lead to deeper sleep and more time in the REM stage—the part of the sleep cycle when your brain and body are re-energized and your dreams occur.

A good night’s sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, in no small part because increases your mental wellbeing. And increased mental wellbeing means less irritability, which means you pick fewer fights with your partner.

For a bonus bae-boost while you snooze, scooch close to your S.O. before you doze off. According to research from the University of Hertforshire, people who go to sleep touching report the highest rates of relationship bliss.

5. The intimacy extends beyond the bedroom

“[Sex creates] an intimacy feedback loop,” says Cleman. “The more intimacy you have in the bedroom, the more intimacy you’ll have outside the bedroom, and vice versa.” Research backs this up. A series published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that sex predicts affection and affection, in turn, predicts sexual activity.

“This loop is particularly beneficial to people who have physical touch as one of their primary love languages,” says Francis, referring to the concept introduced by Gary Chapman in his best-selling book. “If intimate touch is how you express love and receive love from our partners, then sex is a gateway for how you share affection and love,” she says.

6. Post-sex cuddles are the best (but really)

Getting all snuggly-wuggly with your boo is not only one of the greatest parts of the relationship for some people (it’s like a blanket burrito, but better), it can also make your relationship stronger. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that kissing and cuddling after sex leads to a more satisfying and happier relationship. (Oxytocin FTW, again). But of course, to reap those post-sex benefits, the sex has to come first.

Complete Article HERE!

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Relationship Boredom Isn’t Necessarily A Problem, Therapists Say

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  • A relationship won’t always be passionate and spontaneous, therapists say. It’s normal to sometimes feel bored in your marriage.
  • But there are ways to spice things up, like planning to do something “illicit” with your partner.

If there’s one “problem” relationship experts hear over and over again, it’s this: The passion has faded. The routine has replaced the spontaneous.

Yet most of those experts will tell you this generally isn’t a reason to freak out. If there is a problem, it’s in how you’re handling the boredom.

Over the past few months, I’ve asked sex and relationship therapists to share their top strategies for keeping the passion alive in a romantic relationship, and preventing ennui from creeping in. Here are the best tips I heard:

Accept that the waxing and waning of passion is normal

Couples therapist Rachel Sussman puts it bluntly. “Were we really put on this earth to have a monogamous sex life for 50 years and have passion the entire time for our partner?” she said when I interviewed her last year . “I don’t think so.”

So when couples come to see Sussman complaining about the lack of passion in their relationship, she wants them to know: This is normal.

People are worried “that something’s wrong with them,” she told me. They think “maybe something’s wrong with the couple; maybe something’s wrong with them individually.”

Chances are, there’s not. “People think, ‘Oh, [passion] should just be there,'” Sussman said. ” No ! It shouldn’t just be there. You have to create it.”

One strategy Sussman recommends? Scheduling sex dates, right there on the calendar.

Plan to do something ‘illicit’ in your relationship

Tammy Nelson is a sex and relationship therapist, and the relationship expert at Ashley Madison, a website for people seeking affairs. Nelson told me the “fantasy of an affair” is simply that “you’ll have that impulsive excitement.”

But affairs come with risk , like potentially destroying your partner’s trust in you and wrecking your own self-image.

So Nelson proposes that people aim to have that impulsive excitement within their own relationships. “You have to have an affair with your spouse,” she said. Meet like strangers at a bar one night, for example.

As Nelson said, “You have to make something about your marital sex feel dangerous.”

Make your own life more exciting

Ruth Westheimer — a.k.a. “Dr Ruth” — says boredom is the single biggest threat to a romantic relationship.

Perhaps surprisingly, Westheimer advises anyone in this situation to focus first on themselves.

In her 2015 memoir, ” The Doctor Is In ,” she recommends spicing up your own life as a way to combat relationship boredom: Visit the theater, join a book club, take an online course.

“By investing in yourself in all these ways, you’ll find that the fog of boredom will lift and the bright light of joie de vivre will being to light your life.”

And if it doesn’t, it might be time to seek professional guidance, either individually or as a couple.

Complete Article HERE!

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The five rules of good midlife sex

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It’s been said that sex in midlife is like going to the gym: you know you should probably do it a couple of times a week, but work, children and a mountain of life admin always seem to get in the way, leaving you too tired to bother (and vowing to do it next week instead).

But, just like regular exercise, research shows that continuing to have sex in later life improves your overall health and immunity, reduces your risk of depression and heart disease, makes you smarter and look younger, as well as strengthening your relationship.

“In theory, we should all be having more sex in midlife because the stresses of the child-rearing years have eased off, couples know each other’s bodies far better and those body hangups that can preoccupy younger people seem less concerning,” says Janice Hiller, a consultant clinical psychologist and relationship therapist. “However, couples may have also spent years becoming increasingly tired, neglecting their relationship or resenting each other. But it’s worth getting things back on track for your health and happiness.” 

So, how can you maintain a midlife sex life?

Have a sex schedule

Ask any busy midlifer and they’ll tell you there are only a few sex-windows in the week – the mornings are generally too rushed (especially if you have children to get off to school and a train to catch), evenings go by in a blur of cooking and box-sets, and weekends seem to be increasingly full of neighbour’s BBQs and DIY. So what’s the answer?

In four words: have a sex schedule. Researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, announced this week that – while crushingly unromantic – scheduling in a time and date for sex each week (and sticking to it, as you would a work meeting) is the key to keeping your sex life going. The researchers interviewed almost 1,000 couples and found those who were “thorough and dutiful” in their sex schedules had more satisfying and regular sex lives as a result.

According to Barbara Bloomfield, a Relate therapist and author of Couples Therapy: Dramas of Love and Sex, middle-aged women increasingly have what’s called ‘reactive arousal’, whereas middle-aged men still have ‘primary arousal’. “This means a man will be able to just look at something he finds attractive and feel aroused,” says Barbara. “Whereas reactive arousal means women need time to become aroused, by being cuddled, kissed and plenty of foreplay.

“Long kisses – around 15 seconds – are incredibly effective in improving libido. I’ve advised this technique with many of my couples through Relate and while it’s very simple, it works. So rather than just having a peck on the lips, enjoy longer kisses.’”

Get an early night

And not because of why you think. A recent US study published in the health journal Menopause found women over 50 who slept for fewer than five hours a night had less satisfying sex lives. “When you’re tired, your sex drive is the first thing to go,” says nutritionist Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.

She recommends increasing your levels of magnesium, which has muscle and nerve-calming properties and is found in fish, dark green leafy vegetables and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Or try a supplement like Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium (£16.50 for 30 capsules). 

Stay healthy…

The healthier you are, the healthier your sex life will be. “Feeling healthy and fit will make you feel sexier, so as well as getting enough sleep, follow a balanced diet, don’t drink too much, manage your stress levels and exercise regularly,” says Marilyn. “Good fats, found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and oils, are important for boosting libido because sex hormones like testosterone are manufactured from the cholesterol contained within those foods. 

“Foods rich in zinc, like spinach, beef and kidney beans, also play an important role in the production of sex hormones.

… And keep your relationship healthy too

It sounds obvious, but you have to be happy together to want to have sex in the first place: “I often find in clinic that things like feeling disrespected or undermined outside of the bedroom have just as much of an impact on libido, if not more, than things like tiredness or hormonal changes,” says Janice Hiller. “So if a couple are having therapy for a poor sex life, I’ll often get them to work on issues outside the bedroom first.

“The most common issues I see are women who feel they’re not listened to and men who feel their partner complains or gets angry with them, which causes them to retreat further. So I tell couples to talk through their problems in a calm, non-threatening nor demanding way, and express how they’re feeling about certain things.

“Once they’ve worked through those problems, the sex one tends to resolve itself.”

Complete Article HERE!

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