Category Archives: Sexual Satisfaction

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

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By Ken Howard, LCSW

vintage tenderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

What Time of Day Is Best to Have Sex?

Enthusiasts claim that any time is the right time for sex, but there are some things you might want to consider

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In addition to the “where,” “with who” and “what do I do,” there’s another important question to ask about sex: when to have it. Sex enthusiasts may immediately weigh in that any time is a good time, and they might not be wrong. But those who find the answer isn’t so simple might want to take a look at some interesting research about sex, and the best time to have it.

It’ll come as no surprise that the mood tends to strike different people at different times. Recent research points to a gender difference in when arousal happens. According to Kinsey Institute, most men reach their peak testosterone levels in the early morning, which helps explain the experience of “morning wood,” or waking up with an erection.

For women, arousal tends to kick in a little later in the morning. Endorphin levels reach their peak between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Because high endorphin levels can help us feel less pain and mediate the negative effects of stress, they are often associated with more pleasurable sex.

There are other cycles to consider, too. Some experts suggest the best day to experience an orgasm is actually the day before you get your period. Sex therapist and couples counselor Laure Watson told Woman’s Day, “When blood accumulation makes your uterus heavy, contractions are more perceptible during orgasm.” She explains that the orgasmic tissue tends to be more sensitive when the body retains fluids.

Of course, it’s not always so precise. While data points can seem compelling, not everyone is slated to fall in sync with that science. Hormone expert Alisa Vitti argues the best time of day to have sex is around 3 p.m. And by “best time” she means the most opportune time to provide both parties with a pleasurable experience. The procreative bit runs on a different clock.

According to Vitti, 3 p.m. is when women experience a spike in cortisol levels. More cortisol means more energy, so if you want your lady amped and ready to go, 3 is a good time to catch her. During the same time, men experience elevated levels of estrogen, which Vitti says help make them more “emotionally present” during sex. She says this collision of conditions creates an environment where men and women can be most in tune with each other’s desires. She calls it the “perfect compromise” between the sexes in the way of heterosexual sex.

“You can see why ‘afternoon delight’ is a thing,” she told the Daily Mail.

Then again, there are other factors to consider. If Vitti’s 3 p.m. theory is correct, a lot of people will be missing out. The typical American work schedule doesn’t exactly permit mid-afternoon sex breaks. Though it might prove opportune for the adulterers out there. An extended lunch break or early-afternoon departure from the office tend to provide convenient cover for infidelities.

If you live with the person you’re having sex with (my grandmother keeps mentioning this thing called “marriage,” though my polyamorous friends tell me it’s something else), having sex in the evening or before bed might make more sense. A lot of people appreciate the somnolent effects sex can have on the body, and there’s no better place to enjoy that rush than in your own bed.

If you’re active in the hookup culture, you might find your sex schedule depends on other things, like what time the bars close.

There’s also age to consider. As people grow older, they may find themselves getting more tired at night, which makes scheduling a sexual rendezvous for earlier in the day all the more appealing.

In short, morning, noon or night all have their benefits.

Complete Article HERE!

The Secret To Good Sex In A Long-Term Relationship

Pro-tip: Act like your relationship is a Skinemax movie

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The Secret To Good Sex In A Long-Term Relationship

It turns out candles, lingerie, and jazzy tunes are more than romantic cliches—they might actually kinda work. At least, that’s according to a new study of long-term heterosexual relationships finding that sexually satisfied couples regularly engage in these and other forms of foreplay and mood-setting.

Sexually successful couples’ lives don’t look exactly like gauzy, soft-focus films, though: They were also more likely to have experimented with sexual variety—from anal stimulation to acting out sexual fantasies to using a sex toy together. And they had sex and orgasms more frequently.

“It was encouraging to learn that more than one-third of couples kept passion alive, even after a decade or two together,” said Janet Lever, a study co-author. “That won’t happen on auto pilot; these couples made a conscious effort to ward off routinization of sex.”

The study, published in The Journal of Sex Research, surveyed more than 38,747 heterosexual men and women in the United States who had been with their partner for at least three years. Researchers had participants rate their sexual satisfaction currently and in the first six months of the relationship. The majority, 83 percent, said they were sexually satisfied at the start. Ah, but passion does often wane: Just over half, 55 percent, said they were presently satisfied with their sex lives, while the rest either felt neutral or dissatisfied.

Satisfied couples were far more likely to have experimented with sexual variety. For example, among dissatisfied men and women, 33 and 45 percent respectively said they or their partner had worn sexy lingerie or underwear in the past month. But among their satisfied counterparts those numbers rose dramatically to 67 and 71 percent. Consider the percentage that reported recently trying a new sexual position: 22 and 25 percent of unhappy men and women, compared to 59 and 63 percent of their sexually stoked counterparts.

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The aforementioned cheesy, mood-setting measures also saw higher, although much less dramatic, numbers among the sexually satisfied: 23 and 20 percent of contented folks reported lighting a candle or dimming the lights during their last sexual encounter, compared to 11 and 9 percent among the dissatisfied. (You heard it here first: Candles can’t compete with anal play.)

Fulfilled couples also, as David Frederick, lead author of the study, put it, “practiced effective sexual communication.” It’s true: satisfied folks were far more likely to report praising their partners in bed or their partner asking for something they wanted in bed. But it’s also somewhat startling just how little sex talk there was, even among the happy couples. Satisfied or not, more people tried out sexy lingerie and undies in the last year than asked their partners in the past month for feedback on how something felt during sex. In fact, more men across the board reported experimenting with anal stimulation than having a partner who “asked for something they wanted in bed.”

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It’s important to note that the study didn’t establish causation, so we can’t say that lingerie or candles directly lead to sexual satisfaction—maybe the sexually satisfied are simply more open to exploration! Or maybe those who are open to exploration are more sexually satisfied. Frederick points out that the two groups respond very differently when it comes to tips found in articles just like this one. ”Almost half of satisfied and dissatisfied couples read sexual self-help books and magazine articles,” said Frederick, “but what set sexually satisfied couples apart was that they actually tried some of the ideas.” No pressure.

Complete Article HERE!

Shape Up Or Ship Out

Name: Bill
Gender: Male
Age: 51
Location: Knoxville, TN
I was listening to one of your Q&A podcasts recently. In it you responded to several women who were in relationships with men they liked (or even loved) but who didn’t sexually satisfy them. Your advice was for the women to tell their men to essentially “shape up or ship out.” Even considering the reasoning you gave in the podcast, is this really the best advice? I’ve heard similar advice from other “sex positive” commentators, which makes it seem that “sex positive” is a synonym for “relationship negative.” It didn’t appear as if any of the women involved were looking for a way out of their relationship, just a way to improve the sexual aspect — and it’s not entirely clear how the approach you suggested would do that. If the men didn’t have performance anxiety, a blunt discussion would almost certainly provoke it. If I remember correctly, one of the women was about my age — early 50s. Surely you must know the ever-increasing difficulty women have finding a happy relationship as they get older, and that a woman must know how lucky she is just to be with a man she likes, even if the sex could be better. Besides, there are probably very few women these days who need to be told they can leave a relationship if they choose. If the women’s sexual complaint had seemed to be just the tip of an iceberg of unhappiness, I could see the efficacy of your advice — but that’s not how their queries came across.

Listen Bill, I stand by my advice. And yes, I think it was the best advice I could give these two women. And ya know why I say that? I say that because had it been a couple of men writing in about the same concern, I would have given them the very same advice. If you are unhappy in your relationship because the sex has dried up then that’s a pretty serious concern in my book.

shape-up-or-ship-outBeing sex positive is not being relationship negative. But, settling for the lowest common denominator in terms of sexual expression is. Here’s another thing I know for certain, by the time someone makes an appointment to see me or writes to me about their sexual complaint, I can be pretty certain that they’ve struggled with it on their own for a long time. This is particularly true for women.

I also want to take issue with your statement: “Surely you must know the ever increasing difficulty women have finding a happy relationship as they get older, and that a woman must know how lucky she is just to be with a man she likes, even if the sex could be better.” So you’re sayin’ older women can just kiss their sexual needs goodbye after they reach a certain age, because the relationship they have is as good as it gets? Is that what you’re sayin? Because, if it is, it’s hogwash! Women of any age don’t need a man to be happy or fulfilled and they certainly don’t need one who to tell them to suck it up and settle for what ya got.

Besides, if I remember my advice correctly, and I think I do, I suggested that my correspondent give her husband the right if first refusal. That means she offers her old man her sexual energy first. If he doesn’t rise to the occasion, so to speak, she’s free to take her sexual energy elsewhere. This strategy takes the pressure off the sexually uninterested partner, it can overcome the disparity in libido between the couple, as well as saving the relationship. No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, right?

To my mind we do too much “settling for” as it is. Complacency is the real enemy. You got issues in your relationship; hash them out. If your partner won’t join you in that effort he/she is telling you that your needs don’t matter. And when that occurs, regardless of what else you may have in place, your relationship is in its death throws. And you can bank on that!

Good luck

20 Interesting Facts You Never Knew

Everyone took a sexual education course in middle or high school to learn about the “birds and the bees.” However, there are a lot of facts that sex ed teachers leave out. These facts are sometimes the most interesting and the most useful in real-life situations. Here are 20 little known facts about “doing it.”

Patterns In Sexual Desire

Most women have an increase in sexual desire around the time that they ovulate each month. This is nature’s way of making sure the Earth stays well-populated.

It Sounds Gross But…

Semen can be great for the facial pores and can even help with acne. The male-produced “facial cream” can also prevent wrinkles.

Headache

A Headache Is A Bad Excuse

We’ve all heard the cliche “my head hurts” excuse for turning down sex. However, sex often helps with pain, especially with headaches.

We’re Not Judging

Many straight men enjoy having their anal areas stimulated, and that is totally okay! Sexual experts say that the anal areas are packed full of nerves and can make a male orgasm so much better.

1, 2, 3…And They Keep Coming!

Women can orgasm an unlimited amount of times. Men generally need a period of time after orgasming to recover. However, women need barely any time and are ready to go as many times as they please.

Men Are Erect…A Lot

It is said that many men experience about 11 erections every single day. While they may not be raging every single time, it does happen pretty often.

Celery Can Arouse

Yes, celery. The pheromones in celery can cause arousal in men. In addition to the arousal, the vegetable also makes men who eat it more attractive to women.

The Left Side Is The Best Side

A group of scientists found the upper left quadrant of the clitoral head is the most pleasurable spot to touch. So, it’s okay to tell him to go “a little to the left.” It’ll be sure to make the sex even more enjoyable.

Orgasms Are Different

A man’s orgasm lasts about 22 seconds while a woman’s lasts about 18. It is also very common for it to be uncomfortable to pee after having sex because of an antidiuretic hormone that prevents urine from freely flowing.

Sex Can IMPROVE With Age

Sexual attraction is a life-long drive. The reason most older people don’t have sex very often is that there is a lack of opportunity to have sexual encounters.

Get Your Heart Going

Sex is a great way of getting in your daily cardio exercise. During an orgasm, heart rates can reach between 140 and 180 bpm.

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Lube Can Make A Difference

While lube is considered a sex tool for older people, many sexual experts say that a little lubricate can make the difference between pain and pleasure during sex. This doesn’t mean the woman is not turned on. Natural “lube” can come and go without any warning.

Penetration Is NOT The Secret

Most women do not orgasm from penetration alone. The majority of women need some type of clitoral stimulation to reach their climax. It has nothing to do with size or penetration.

Everything Expands

The penis is not the only thing that grows during a sexual encounter. In fact, the testes grow by 50% and the vagina can double in size when aroused.

More Sex Makes You More Appealing

After having sex, a woman’s estrogen levels double. When estrogen levels are higher, a woman’s hair can look shinier and her skin can even feel softer.

Not Only People Can Be Arousing

Some people have sexual attraction to objects instead of specific people. There is a woman known to be sexually aroused by the Eiffel Tower.

Have Sex, Live Longer

Scientists have found that orgasms can actually prolong your life. That’s right, the more sex you have, the longer you can live.

Humans & Dolphins Alike

As far as sex is considered, dolphins and humans have one key fact in common. The two mammals are the only animals in the world that have sex for pleasure.

Sex Everyday Keeps The Doctor Away

Sex can actually help you stay healthy. Many doctors believe this is because sex can lower blood pressure and greatly decrease stress levels.

It’s Like Two Puzzle Pieces

Not every penis, or vagina, is the same. If a guy is too large, women can control penetration by changing positions. If he is too small, there are many toys, etc that couples can invest in.