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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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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Turns out the best sex actually doesn’t come from hot-blooded passion

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By Leah Fessler

Spontaneous sex—clandestine encounters, afternoon delights, and one-night stands—is fantastic. But more often than not, the mind-boggling orgasms of this kind of sex are a myth you read about in magazines.

The alternative, planned sex, doesn’t sound particularly exciting. Sending a calendar invite for sex is about as sexy as sending a calendar invite for Excel training.

But for people in long-term relationships, it’s probably worth sending that invite anyhow. Conscientious, plan-ahead people actually have more satisfying sex lives, according to a new study published in The Journal of Sex Research.

Researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany surveyed nearly 1,000 couples (most heterosexual) about their sex lives, asking each person to rate things like how easily they got aroused, how inhibited they were around sex, and any issues they may have with sexual dysfunction. Each participant also described their own personality and their partner’s, using the Big Five personality framework—which includes extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.

The most surprising finding? A statistically significant correlation between conscientious people of both sexes and higher sexual satisfaction. Conscientious people had fewer sexual problems–like inhibition or feeling unfulfilled. This positive correlation was particularly strong for heterosexual women whose partners were highly conscientious. “Men who are thorough and dutiful may feel the need to satisfy their partner sexually, which may in turn lead to better sexual function of their partners,” write the study authors.

“We wanted to know whether certain sexuality-related traits (i.e. traits that reflect how easily people become excited, or how sexually inhibited they are) are more or less relevant to sexual function than more broad, general personality traits (the big five),” writes author Julia Velten, a post-doctoral fellow in clinical psychology and psychotherapy, in an email to Quartz. “Studies have shown that most of these personality traits and sexuality-related traits are relevant, but it was unknown which factors are the most crucial when taken together.”

Velten defines conscientiousness as one’s tendency to be efficient and organized, as opposed to easy-going and disorderly. Conscientious people show strong self-discipline, achievement-orientation, and dependability. They display planned behavior more often than spontaneous behavior, says Velten. Which means people who are more sexually satisfied are also more likely to be having planned sex (calendar invite or not).

Most importantly, the data showed no significant correlation between relationship duration and sexual function, writes Velten. “Thus, sexual function (and sexual satisfaction) don’t necessarily decline with age or over the course of relationships. Many of our older couples were still sexually active and quite satisfied with their sexual lives.”

The upshot? If you’re more disposed toward planning sex, that’s not weird, or unsexy. It’s a major plus. It means you’re thoughtful—not only about the amount of sex you’re having, but also about the quality of sex you’re having, and your partner’s unique desires.

“High conscientiousness can be especially beneficial when it comes to putting effort into a satisfying sexual life,” write the study’s authors, “or to postpone one’s own needs and interests to focus on resolving a sexual problem within the context of committed, long-term relationships.”

Ultimately, this all boils down to communication, says Velten. Speaking honestly and non-judgmentally about your sexual preferences is sexy. If you do it, you’ll have better sex. Conscientiously planning intimate activities is just an extension of such communication—it amps tension and excitement, and can make sex feel surprising, even with the most familiar partners.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Sexuality Researcher Explains a Big Unanswered Question in Sex Studies

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By Cari Romm

Most of the time, the people who ask how you’re doing will be satisfied by the rote, two-word reply: I’m fine. I’m good. Really, it was the question that mattered, not the answer. Every so often, though, you’ll encounter someone who truly wants to know about the state of your emotional/physical/spiritual existence, who puts a hard emphasis on the last word to show that they’re trying to go deep: No, really, how are you doing?

It’s a question that sex researchers, too, would love to be able to ask, explains Kristen Mark, a professor of health promotion at the University of Kentucky and a sexuality researcher at the Kinsey Institute. The problem is that the vocabulary for it doesn’t really exist: Scientists have tools to measure various facets of our sex lives, from pain and dysfunction to communication and overall satisfaction, but they don’t have a tool to holistically assess all of those things together. Sexually, how are you doing? We don’t really know.

The Cut spoke to Mark about the concept of “sexual well-being,” why researchers don’t yet have a way to measure it, and why, without one, we’re missing out on a trove of information about what makes for good sex, bad sex, happy and unhappy couples, and fulfilling individual sex lives. Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Sexual well-being involves the absence of sexual problems, but to me, that’s kind of neutral. That’s baseline. My colleagues and I think about sexual well-being as going beyond risk reduction to the point where one is in a state of feeling safe, feeling trusting of their partner, feeling satisfied, fulfillment, attachment — especially in the current climate that we’re in, the safety and trust piece, I think, is quite important. Sexual well-being really plays a huge role in people’s overall sex lives, their romantic lives, and also their overall well-being. And it’s really quite crucial for the success of long-term relationships.

But it’s beyond each of those alone. And the reason it’s kind of complicated is because we do have definitions of all the constructs that I mentioned, but there’s no gold standard measure of sexual well-being, which would encompass all those things and would take this in sort of a holistic way.

It definitely can be something you have as a single person. This is not reliant on relationships. A couple may have a higher or lower sexual well-being based on how their relationship is going — certainly, if you’re in a relationship, that’s going to contribute to your sexual well-being. But being single and being happy about that, and feeling like you are sexually satisfied by being alone — you can reach a state of sexual well-being by single as well.

So much of the work that we do in the sexual-health world, or really just generally in society, looks at sexuality as being this thing that one either shouldn’t talk about, or should only talk about in the context of disease avoidance and risk reduction. And it’s quite important to our overall well-being that we go beyond that risk-reduction model, because what sort of level of satisfaction, or level of security, are we getting when we’re just looking to avoid getting pregnant or getting an STI? If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sexual well-being is kind of that self-actualization piece, but within the context of sex.

The idea would be to create some sort of scale to measure these things, and there are people looking to try and figure this out. If we create a comprehensive measurement tool, we have a better ability to figure out, what variables are related to this? And how can we improve well-being in individuals and couples? I would love to see an increase in the number of people using sexual well-being as an outcome measure in a variety of clinical-type uses. That could be therapeutic techniques, or it could be pharmaceutical drug development.

A lot of the research that I do looks at happy couples, well-adjusted couples — we like to be able to study them in order to learn what’s working, because we can learn a lot from these couples who are really thriving. And so if we could come up with a measurement tool, we could standardize this so that we could all be studying sexual well-being in a way that’s consistent. And then we can draw cross-cultural comparisons related to sexual well-being.

And it just improves our knowledge in this area that’s so under-studied. Sex is seen as such a taboo topic in our society, and all the funding for sexuality research goes toward risk reduction, HIV, unintended pregnancy. It’s never focused on, how do we optimize people’s sex lives? We’re not seeing any research grants go out to improve sexual well-being. But I would argue that if our society at large could become more sexually healthy through sexual well-being, and through improving pleasure and satisfaction and communication, then we would see a larger and more population-level change in some of these sexual-health outcomes that are being funded, like STIs and unintended pregnancy.

I think the measurement stuff is less relevant to the general public as opposed to the general idea that sexual well-being is quite multifaceted, and having people realize that sexual well-being is important. Our society doesn’t really acknowledge that, and doesn’t really place an emphasis on that, especially for women. When we look at statistics of the level of sexual pain than women experience, that alone is so much higher than what we would hope for women’s sexuality. Women have always been taught not to prioritize a sex life, not to really make pleasure a priority, and sexual well-being provides a framework within which women can prioritize their sex lives. And men as well, but women have so regularly and historically been told, Pleasure is not part of sex for you.

So I think just acknowledging sexual well-being is a really important piece, and that sexual well-being is beyond just feeling satisfied. It’s not about that. It’s about this fulfillment, and feeling you’re in a relationship where you feel safe and feel like you can express yourself in a meaningful way that enriches your life. So it’s about going beyond, Okay, let’s get rid of the pain during sex. It’s going beyond that and going into the fulfillment and excitement and really valuing sex as a part of your life. I feel like people don’t think about sex in this way, and I wish they would more.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s why having sex gives you meaning in life, according to scientific research

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Just another reason why sex is wonderful… 

By Rosie Fitzmaurice

There are a number of health benefits that have been associated with having sex, both physical and mental. And new research suggests having sex could also give you a greater sense of meaning in life.

A team of researchers at the George Mason University set out to explore the relationship between sex and wellbeing, which included mood and sense of meaning in life, in a small study that was published in the scientific journal Emotion.

They conducted a three-week study involving 152 college students who were told to keep a daily diary of the frequency and quality of their sexual activity, along with their moods and feelings.

The results of the study suggested that sex on a given day predicted an enhanced mood and improved meaning in life for the participants the following day.

David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, says in a Psychology Today blog post that this finding is “consistent with other research which have found that the ‘afterglow’ of sex extends for a day or two after the act.”

Interestingly, the time-lagged analysis suggested that the reverse was not the case: feeling happy one day did not predict sexual activity or intimacy the next day. The researchers conclude that it’s the sexuality activity – which respondents were allowed to define themselves as anything from passionate kissing to intercourse – that is making people feel happier.

Todd Kashdan, lead author of the study, is quoted in TIME as saying that it’s probably down to our natural desire to belong and that sex can translate as a sign of acceptance and inclusion.

“There is something profound about someone else giving you access to their body and accepting access to yours,” he said.

Those of the participants in relationships (a little over 60 per cent) who said that they felt close to their partners also predicted a greater sense of meaning in life and positive mood afterwards. Kashdan said that this is down to the feeling of reaffirmation that a person in a close relationship feels after having sex with their partner.

Sex, he said, is a remedy for loneliness and isolation, a “therapy without therapists.”

Ludden writes in his blog post that when you think about sex not only as sensual pleasure, but as a social act “we can understand why it boosts our mood and sense of fulfilment beyond the gratification of the moment.

“After all, what could be more affirming to another person than to willingly engage with them in the most intimate acts of human experience?”

The study is limited in its sample size, but also in that it examines the relationship behaviours and sexual activity of students, which is likely to differ to those of older people, psychologist Christian Jarrett points out. It nevertheless provides a snapshot into the relationship between sex and wellness, a topic the authors believe warrants further research.

“To understand the full scope of human flourishing, research on well-being needs to incorporate more rigorous scientific inquiries of sexual behaviour,” the authors are quoted as saying.

Complete Article HERE!

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We women need to stop allowing men to have bad sex with us

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Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour, not because they want to but because they have to

If you can’t get no satisfaction, you may be among the 42 per cent of British women who suffer from a ‘lack of sexual enjoyment’

By Rebecca Reid

Sometimes if I get really stuck on an issue of romance or dating, I look to Greek mythology. This is just one of the many reasons my little sister tells me weekly that I’m “so lucky” I found someone to marry me.  

Anyway, research from Public Health England, which revealed that 42 per cent of British women suffer from a “lack of sexual enjoyment”, sent me running to the myths. Specifically, the story of Lysistrata. Lysistrata is the story of a load of women who decide they’re so sick of their husbands going off to pointless wars and coming back missing bits, or worse, not coming back at all, that they’re not going to provide them with sex until they agree to stop fighting. All the women stick to this (I’m abbreviating a bit here) and the war stops. Moral of the story? Have sex on your own terms, and understand the power of the word no.

As a woman you absolutely must not – cannot – accept mediocre sex.

The reason that 42 per cent of women in the UK are having shit sex is because 42 per cent of women in the UK are allowing men to have shit sex with them. To quote Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, “screw me badly once, shame on you, screw me badly twice, shame on me”.

Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour; not because they want to but because they have to. Women are estimated to do 26 hours of unpaid work in the home every week (compared to 16 for men). If you’re having sex because you think you owe it to someone, or because it’s “just part of being in a relationship” then you’re tacking on yet more hours to your running total. You’re doing yourself an enormous disservice and I’m afraid to say you’re also short changing the person you’re sleeping with.

Straight women have the least orgasms of any demographic in the world. And in my experience that’s not because men are bad or selfish or don’t want to give their sexual partners pleasure – it’s because they don’t know how to.

The female anatomy is quite complicated. Bringing a woman to orgasm takes a lot more work than getting a man there. Broadly speaking, most men need a variation on the same theme to enjoy sexual gratification. But with women? We’ve got clitoral stimulation, the G-spot, women who like lots of pressure, women who like very little. Some women can orgasm from penetrative sex (though only around 25 per cent), others need a specific sex toy or oral sex. Some women need an hour of gentle coaxing and others can come from having their nipples stimulated.

So, awkward or difficult as it might sound, if we want to close the orgasm gap, to prevent women from benevolently allowing mediocre sex to happen to them, we have got to empower them to say “actually, that really wasn’t much good for me” or “no, I didn’t come”.

We all know that faking an orgasm does more harm than good (you might as well put a gold star on a D grade piece of homework) but I’m afraid we need to go further than just not faking orgasms. We need to tell our sexual partners in no uncertain terms that we did not orgasm, and then we need to give them the specifics of why.

t’s not easy to tell someone you’re sleeping with, especially if you’re fond of them, that they’re not getting it right. Especially if you’ve been sleeping together for a long time. But if you don’t? You’re sentencing yourself to lifetime of chronic dissatisfaction.

As women we’re encouraged to seek out promotions and pay rises, to speak up rather than being spoken over. And those things are huge, vital, essential steps forward for society. But can we really make any progress at all if a woman who refuses to be talked over in a meeting or patronised by a male friend then goes home to her partner and accepts mediocre sex without complaining? Of course we can’t.

Complete Article HERE!

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We know the very best time to have sex…

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By Anna Breslaw

You climb into bed, shimmy up next to your S.O., and pucker up—only to find that they’ve already cashed in their ticket to Snoresville. If you’re in a long-term relationship, chances are it’s a familiar scenario, particularly if your partner is of the opposite sex. As the Daily Mail reports, a 2015 study of 2,300 people by the sex toy brand Lovehoney found that male sexual desire peaks between 6 and 9 a.m., aligning with the highest spike in their testosterone levels over a 24-hour period, while female partners desire sex most between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Is one partner *right*? Is there an optimal time to have sex? In an attempt to puzzle it out, I look back at evolutionary biology.

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and senior researcher at the Kinsey Institute. According to her studies, ancient man actually had sex in the middle of the day: “They would wake up, eat, have sex, and then socialize.”

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago.” —Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist

As fun as that sounds, it wasn’t exactly an afternoon delight—the sole purpose of intercourse was procreation, and the constant threat of predators meant it had to be quick.

These days, we’re not constrained by the threat of a looming mastodon, and morning and night sex each boast some compelling benefits. AM sessions strengthen your immune system by ratcheting up your levels of IgA, an antibody that protects against infection, according to Debby Herbenick, PhD, a sex researcher and Indiana University professor. Obviously, this would come in handy for flu season.

On the other hand, both men and women experience an increase in prolactin, melatonin, and vasopressin after sex—all hormones that are linked to increased sleepiness. So if you have trouble falling asleep at night, sex might help—and conversely, if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, an early roll in the hay probably isn’t doing you any favors (unless you have the luxury of time to laze about while you recuperate).

It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

For the most part, though, the health benefits of sex, like mood-boosting dopamine, improved heart health, decreased stress, and stronger emotional bonds with your partner, apply to both AM and PM sessions. (Heyo!)

So the best time to have sex is really whatever the best time is for you and your partner. “Some people are talked and touched out at the end of the day,” says Shannon Chavez, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and licensed sex therapist. “Other people are finally decompressing from work and ready to relax and focus on sex.” It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, adds Dr. Chavez, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

Better yet, these peak desire times are usually malleable for both genders. One way to align your sex drives is a technique Dr. Chavez calls sexual conditioning. The idea is to find a time that works for both of you. (According to the Lovehoney study above, the second-most popular block of time to have sex—for both genders—is between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., so that might be a good place to start.) The more often you have sex during this time, the more you’ll come to want sex at this time. “Positive sexual experiences that happened at night, or in the morning, or in a certain environment, will create a stronger arousal response in the future,” explains Chavez. You know what they say, practice makes perfect…

Complete Article HERE!

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How Do You Figure Out What You Really Want From A Relationship, Anyway?

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By Kasandra Brabaw

[M]any times, the advice that sex and relationship experts give to anyone who wants to have a great relationship or sex life boils down to one main principle: communication. People have to ask for what they want out of a relationship and/or sex, and then keep talking to their partner about how to make that happen. But how do you ask for what you want if you’re not really sure what that is?

It’s easy to say that you should know how you want a partner to treat you and what types of sexy things you want to do together, but it’s not as easy to actually figure it out. Yet, knowing what you want (and making sure you get it) is essential to having a healthy relationship, according to the National Coalition For Sexual Health (NCSH). The NCSH released five action steps to good sexual health, one of which stresses the importance of knowing your sexual standards and holding your partners to them.

But, before you can hold your partners accountable, you need to educate yourself, says Shan Boodram, certified sex educator and host of Facebook’s Make Up or Break Up. “If you want to get good at anything, if you want to understand what your strength is in golf or what your strength is in math, then you have to go and learn about that thing,” she says. She’s not advocating a “practice, practice, practice” mentality to sex and relationships, though. When you don’t know much about sex or relationships, planning to just dive in and figure it out could go badly, she says. You have the potential to hurt yourself or hurt your partner.

Instead, Boodram suggests learning what you want by reading and talking to other people. Read about things like love languages and kinks, watch responsible and feminist porn to see what turns you on, masturbate to learn how your body responds to certain types of touch, and talk to your friends about what they do or don’t enjoy from sex and relationships. Essentially, you need to give yourself the sex education that you never learned in school. We don’t live in a society that encourages exploration of sexuality, Boodram says, so it’s important for us to develop a language for talking about sex and relationships on our own. “We’re [told], ‘No, no, no, don’t learn about that. You don’t talk about it,'” she says. “Then all of a sudden, when you’re of age and society deems that it’s okay for you to be having sex, you’re supposed to be perfect at it.”

But you can’t be perfect at anything that you haven’t been told how to do (and btw, there isn’t really a “perfect” when it comes to sex and relationships). So, don’t go into your first sexual and romantic relationships with too many expectations. But, do take the time to think about what you want from sex, relationships, and love so you feel prepared when it happens. Because you’re much more likely to have a happy and healthy love life if you know how you want to be treated.

Complete Article HERE!

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Most relationships start off with rubbish sex

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Don’t despair if you just had sex with someone you really, really like, and it was a bit disappointing.

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[I]t turns out that the majority of relationships start with rubbish sex, so the first time you bone really isn’t a good indicator of how compatible you are. That’s good news, right?

A survey of 2,000 Americans found that 58% of those in relationships had sex for the first time with their partner that was awkward or terrible.

That’s around six in ten people. Reassuring, right?

With rubbish sex being so common, it’s not surprising that the study, by OnePoll and Pure Romance, found that the majority of us feel anxious before having sex with a new partner.

53% say they worry about how their body looks, while 48% panic about being able to please their partners.

Maybe we should all openly say that we won’t ditch a relationship just because the first time isn’t great. The study also found that three in ten people would break things off with someone if the sex wasn’t good the first time, which isn’t exactly reassuring.

On average, people will tolerate four or five bad sexual experiences with someone before breaking things off, which seems fair. At that point you’ve got rid of the first-time nerves, you’re comfortable with each other, and hopefully you’re able to do the best you can. If the sex still isn’t great at that point, there may need to be a conversation.

That conversation needs to explain what works for you, what doesn’t, and needs to involve total honesty and openness. It’s key to be open to trying new things and experimenting to find out how to make sex work for the two of you.

Maybe you’ll swap techniques and skills. Maybe you’ll up their game and they’ll up yours.

The good news is that 71% of those surveyed don’t believe the first time ultimately defines a relationship, and figuring out how to make things better should be pretty fun. Practice makes perfect.

Complete Article HERE!

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‘If We Want To End Sexual Violence, We Need To Talk About Female Desire’

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“Good sex is about more than lack of violence or fear.”

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[I]t might seem strange to be talking about pleasure and desire when we are surrounded by stories of rape and harassment. Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Shouldn’t we concentrate first on stopping those crimes before we ask for sex that might actually work for us?

I don’t think so. The worst men—and the worst lovers—I have known were the ones who didn’t understand that women, too, want things from sex. That sex is not simply something we give to men—or something men take from us.

These were the men who commented, with a mixture of surprise and revulsion, on how much I actually seemed to enjoy the sex we had, how I acted as though we were sexual equals, as though my own desire mattered—and how unusual that was. I’ve never known what to say to that. I’ve never known whether to pity their ignorance or worry about the other women they have been with, about how those women may have felt forced to deny their desire, to keep their sexual agency secret, even in bed.

Study after study shows that women want sex just as much as men do—but they’re often afraid of the consequences of saying so. The story we tell about how women should behave sexually is one of hesitancy, of submission, of waiting for the man to make the first, second, and last moves. Cajoling a woman into sex is considered normal, hence much of the confusion about women who are now complaining, often for the first time, about men who pressure us into sex we don’t want to have.

Good sex is about more than lack of violence or fear. But there are still too many people out there who believe that it is enough for sex to not be painful or frightening for a woman. One recent study showed that 32 percent of college-age men said they would commit or had committed acts of violence against women that courts would describe as rape, but when asked if they would ever rape a woman, most said no. This is rape culture; nonconsensual sex is normalized and, as long as we don’t call it rape, tolerated.

There are still very few societies that are truly comfortable with women having sexual and reproductive agency—in other words, the right to choose when and if and how we have sex, and when and if and how we have children. All over the world, including in the United States, the basic assumption made about women by their governments and employers and families is that we do not deserve to decide what happens to our bodies—and we cannot be trusted to tell the truth about our experiences. This is sexual repression, and we must fight it.

We must also fight against internalizing it. The consequences of capitulating to what our bodies seem to want—whether it be an orgasm or another slice of cake—are made very clear to girls long before puberty turns up the dial on desire. We must not be too hungry, too horny, too greedy for anything in life, or we will become ugly, unlovable. Women who eat too much, talk too much, shag too much—women who want too much—will face shame, stigma, and ostracism. We must not lose control.

When you’ve learned to be suspicious of your own appetites, it takes time to treat yourself and your body with more kindness. How can we be honest with anyone else about our desires when “slut” is still one of the worst things you can call a woman, when women who openly enjoy or seek out sex are shamed for it, and men who do the same are celebrated?

For women and queer people, for anyone whose sexuality has been treated as abnormal and punished, and particularly for those who’ve survived sexual violence, it can be very hard to be honest about what we might want in bed, even with ourselves. That’s alright. It’s okay not to know what you want, as long as you know that the wanting itself is okay. This isn’t going to change overnight. But I know I’ve had more positive experiences than negative ones when I insisted on making my desires clear. Being able to ask for what you want is the first step toward real sexual liberation. The sort that works for everyone.

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Why Does Sex Feel So Good, Anyway?

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By Kassie Brabaw

[T]here’s a reason that sex toy shops choose names like Pleasure Chest, Good Vibrations, and Sugar. All of these words invoke the tingling, heart-pumping, all-over ‘yum’ feelings many people associate with having sex.

There’s no question that great, consensual sex feels amazing. But why does it feel so good? What’s actually happening inside someone’s brain and body to create that euphoria?

According to sexologist Laura McGuire, PhD, there are three main physiological reasons someone feels sexual pleasure: the pudendal nerve, dopamine, and oxytocin.

The pudendal nerve is a large, sensitive nerve that allows someone’s genitals to send signals to their brain. In people who have vulvas, it has branches in the clitoris, the anus, and the perineum (the area between the anus and the vulva or the anus and the penis). In people who have penises, the pudendal nerve branches out to the anus, the perineum, and the penis. “It’s important for women to realize that the nerve doesn’t have much concentration inside the vaginal canal,” Dr. McGuire says. “Most of the pudendal nerve endings are focused on the clitoris.” That’s why it’s common for people who have vulvas to struggle reaching orgasm from penetrative sex alone, and why the clitoris is often considered the powerhouse of women’s sexual pleasure.

The pudendal nerve explains how signals get from someone’s genitals to their brain during sex, and then the brain releases dopamine and oxytocin, which causes a flood of happy, pleasurable feelings. “Oxytocin is often called ‘the love hormone,'” Dr. McGuire says. “It’s what makes us feel attached to people or things.” Oxytocin is released during sex and orgasm, but it’s also released when someone gives birth to help them feel attached to their baby, she says. “That’s the big one that makes you feel like your partner is special and you can’t get enough of them.”

Like oxytocin, dopamine helps your brain make connections. It connects emotional pleasure to physical pleasure during sex, Dr. McGuire says. “So, that’s the hormone that makes you think, that felt good, let’s do it again and again and again,” she says.

Oxytocin and dopamine are both in a class of hormones considered part of the brain’s reward system, says Lawrence Siegel, a clinical sexologist and certified sexuality educator. As someone’s body reaches orgasm, they flood their system because the brain is essentially trying to medicate them, Siegel says. “The brain seems to misunderstand sexual arousal as trauma,” he says. As someone gets aroused, their heart rate increases, their body temperature goes up, and their muscles tense, all of which happen when someone’s body is in trouble, too.

“As that continues to build and increase, it reaches a point when the brain looks down and says ‘Uh,oh you’re in trouble,'” Siegel says. “An orgasm is a massive release of feel-good chemicals that leaves you in a meditative state of consciousness.”

Yet, not everyone desires sex. So how do we explain asexuality? Science doesn’t have any solid answers, Dr. McGuire says, although it’s important to know that asexual people don’t choose to be asexual any more than gay people choose to be gay. While we don’t know what makes someone asexual, it’s pretty certain that there’s no physical difference between asexual people and everyone else, Siegel says.

“It’s not correct to say that people who identify as asexual don’t experience pleasure,” he says. “They just don’t have the desire to have sex.” Desire is ruled by different hormones, most notably testosterone. But even that might not fully explain why someone isn’t interested in having sex. “It feels like a different appraisal or reaction to the experience in their body,” Siegel says.

While everybody has a pudendal nerve and can experience the release of dopamine and oxytocin that happens with sex, not everyone will experience that release as pleasurable or experience the same level of pleasure. “People are very complicated,” Dr. McGuire says.

Complete Article HERE!

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Women who have sex with women orgasm much, much more, new study shows

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Women who have sex with women are more likely to orgasm, according to a new study.

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[R]esearchers at the University of Arkansas have discovered that though straight partners have sex more often, bisexual and lesbian women have more orgasms – by far.

The study, which had 2,300 respondents, found that women were 33 percent more likely to orgasm when they were having sex with another woman.

And they also told the study, titled “Are Women’s Orgasms Hindered by Phallocentric Imperatives?”, that they were more likely to experience multiple orgasms with women.

Those in same-sex relationships said they orgasmed, on average, 55 times per month.

This stood in stark contrast with women in straight relationships, who said they usually achieved just seven orgasms per month.

Dr Kristen Jozkowski said: “Sex that includes more varied sexual behaviour results in women experiencing more orgasms,” according to The Sun.

Sex between women “was excitingly diversified,” she explained.

These results follow a study last year which showed that gay men and lesbians are better at sex than straight people.

The four researchers, David A. Frederick, H. Kate St. John, Justin R. Garcia and Elisabeth A. Lloyd, measured the orgasms which people across the sexuality spectrum have.

They found – perhaps not shockingly – that heterosexual men were most likely to say they “usually always orgasmed when sexually intimate,” doing so 95 percent of the time.

In contrast, straight women orgasm in just 65 percent of cases.

The orgasm gap is well-documented, and its generally accepted in the academic community that women climax less often than men – but this, of course, is a heteronormative theory.

It doesn’t consider the fact that possibly, just possibly, non-heterosexual people are better at sex.

The four professors, two of whom work at Indiana University, discovered just this.

Gay men orgasm 89 percent of the time, they found, while lesbians are not far behind on 86 percent.

That study came on the heels of research which revealed that gay and lesbian couples are happier than people in straight relationships.

So if we assume straight couples both climax 65% of the time – and that orgasms are a decent barometer of how good sex is – these results are excellent for gay and lesbian partners.

They come out 24 and 21 percentage points ahead of their straight counterparts, which equates to a hell of a lot more joint fun.

The study also found that “women who orgasmed more frequently were more likely to: receive more oral sex and have [a] longer duration of last sex”.

They are also “more satisfied with their relationship, ask for what they want in bed, praise their partner for something they did in bed, call/email to tease about doing something sexual and wear sexy lingerie”.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual Attraction

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Sexual Attraction

By Driftwood Staff

[H]ave you ever wondered why you are attracted to the people you are attracted to? Despite surface guesses, there are common generalizations of sexual preferences that seem to make sense, or are at least exhibited by the average human male or female.

Have you ever noticed that your preferences have changed or change constantly? Well, there’s an answer to that too. “Female preferences are especially interesting because they are dynamic and influenced by the individual menstrual cycle,” said Dr. Simon Lailxaux, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and the Virginia Kock/Audubon Nature Institute Chair in Species Preservation. “Women prefer different things when they are ovulating to when they are not, and women using hormonal contraceptives also show different preferences to those who are not. Additionally, both men and women appear to look for different things in a short-term vs a long term partner.”

Despite the social connotations of sexual preferences in the modern world (e.g., the growing acceptance and understanding that gender, sex and sexuality are all different aspects of the human self), many preferences men and women have for each other come from biological occurrences.

“Evolutionary explanations for human sexual attractiveness have long fallen under the purview of ‘evolutionary psychology,’” said Lailvaux. Though it gained a controversial reputation, “The rigor of evolutionary psychology has improved over the last 20 years, but there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding questions of the evolution of human sexual attraction largely as a result of this period where evolutionary psychologists weren’t really evolutionary biologists and were still figuring out how to approach this topic.”

“Our genetic legacy predisposes us to certain behaviors and preferences but it does not condemn us to them. Culture can play a large role in sexual attractiveness as well, and it’s important to bear that in mind,” mentioned Lailvaux.

That being said, below are some common aspects of sexual selection.

HIP-TO-WAIST RATIO (HTWR)

“The ‘traditional’ explanation for this has to do with childbirth; the reasoning goes that childbirth is traditionally dangerous for both the mother and baby. Women with large hips relative to their waists have a wider pelvic girdle, which means they will have an easier time when giving birth relative to someone with smaller hips,” said Lailvaux.

“It is an innate, honest signal to men about a woman’s age and reproductive status across all human cultures and ethnicities,” said Dr. Jerome Howard, UNO Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. “The male brain has receptors that evaluate HTWR in females, and MRI studies have measured maximum responses to female silhouettes that display a HTWR of about 0.7 compared to lower values or higher values.”

Thinner waists could signify poor nutrition, which lowers fertility, and the HTWR of a woman generally increases as a woman ages and become less fertile.

“Large breasts tend to elevate attractiveness only in combination with narrower waists, and eye-tracking studies have found that men tend to look at either the bust or the waist region first, as opposed to the facial or pubic region,” said Lailvaux.

Nutrition varies due to cultural differences, and larger bodies that indicate more fat storage are sometimes more attractive in non-Western cultures where food availability is a problem.

HEIGHT AND STATURE

Height and shoulder width are signals to women about male health and nutritional status. “Women do prefer men with the traditional ‘triangle’ shape: broad shoulders, narrow waists. Women also tend to prefer men with broad faces; this is interesting because facial broadness in men is linked to high levels of testosterone,” added Lailvaux.

Women also tend to prefer men who are taller than they are, but the reason for this has not been thoroughly researched.

SYMMETRY

Both sexes generally find symmetrical facial features more attractive. There are plenty of studies to show this, but the significance of that attraction has yet to be established.

“The best supported and most widely accepted explanation is that symmetry is a measure of developmental stability, which is related to how well suited an individual’s genes are for the environment in which it lives,” said Howard. “An individual that is well-suited to his or her environment is likely to produce children that are also well-suited, and able to respond robustly to any environmental challenges they might experience in that environment.”

SMELL

Body odor is produced by Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes, which mainly work in the immune system. “We strongly prefer mates with different MHC alleles, because the more similar they are, the more likely that you are genetically related, and we avoid mating with relatives to avoid inbreeding,” said Howard.

HEAD AND FACIAL HAIR

Hair length preference is more culturally influenced than other signals, but in Western cultures, young women have a tendency to wear their hair longer on average than older women. This is less labile than HTWR for mate preference among men; it is not an honest signal of age or quality as a mate.

However, a recent study examined why beards became so popular among men in recent years. “They linked beards to male facial attractiveness and to negative frequency-dependent selection, where things that are uncommon are considered attractive, until they become too common and are no longer considered so.” said Lailvaux.

Complete Article HERE!

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Actual things you can do to bridge the orgasm gap in your own bedroom

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By Rachel Thompson

[Y]our sexual partner just jubilantly crossed the finish line, but you’re still running a race with no end in sight. It’s frustrating. And, for an alarming number of heterosexual women, it’s the infuriating reality of sex. Metaphors aside, we’re talking about the gender orgasm gap—the disparity between men and women’s sexual satisfaction, and a struggle that many of us know all too well.

64 percent of men have an orgasm during sex, but only 34 percent of women can say the same, according to the Durex Global Sex Survey which surveyed nearly 30K adults worldwide. Women who identify as heterosexual are the demographic that have the fewest orgasms, according to a study by Indiana University. That same research also revealed something that many women are already fully aware of: penetrative sex alone simply doesn’t cut it for most women. And, that women need oral sex and clitoral stimulation if they’re going to stand any chance of coming.

The reasons for the orgasm gap are multi-faceted, and some of them will take a long time to remedy. Sex education that fails to teach sexual pleasure has been cited as one reason for the gap. A study from University of Wisconsin-Madison found a third of university-age women can’t identify their clitoris in an anatomy test. Communication, or a lack thereof, is one of the biggest obstacles in bridging the orgasm gap, according to the Durex Global Sex Survey. Over a third of people feel they can’t tell their sexual partner what they like. And, others say the reason behind the gender orgasm gap is the cultural prioritisation of the male orgasm.

We might not be able to change these things overnight, but there are a few things we can do. Mashable asked gynaecologists, sex therapists, sex educators, and orgasm equality activists what heterosexual sex partners can do to bridge the orgasm gap in their own bedroom. Here are the pearls of wisdom they imparted that will hopefully bring us all a little closer to that oh-so-coveted finish line.

Don’t fake it

Heather Corinna—founder of Scarleteen, a sex and relationships education site for young people—warns against faking your orgasm, which can cause a miscommunication between you and your sexual partner. “Orgasm tells a partner whatever you did together can gets you off. So, they’re often going to try and repeat those things to get that result again,” says Corinna. “If you faked, you gave them wrong information, and then they think things get you off that might not, or even most definitely DO not.”

Masturbate together

Angela Skurtu— sex therapist and cohost of the About Sex podcast—says couples should masturbate together so they can see see “how each person touches themselves.” “Women masturbate very differently than men do and we can teach each other,” says Skurtu. “You can also make this a competition—whoever finishes first wins something.”

Build arousal slowly

“Slow down,” says Sophie Holloway, founder of Ladies Come First, a campaign promoting pleasure based sex education. “No touching the vagina until you are really really really turned on,” says Holloway. “Your labia should be plump and erect just like the penis when you are aroused.” She recommends staying in foreplay for as long as possible to build arousal slowly and to achieve what she calls a “lady boner.” When it comes to pressure, Holloway says partners should start out “touching the clitoris with the same pressure as you would your eyelid” before applying more pressure.

‘Stay in’

Claire Kim, program manager at sex education site OMGYES, says in hetero penetrative sex, “in and out friction” is what’s pleasurable for the man, but this action isn’t conductive to the level of clitoral stimulation women need. “What’s often much more pleasurable for the woman is his penis staying inside,” says Kim. “So that the clitoris stays in contact with the area above the penis, and the top of the penis stays in contact with the inside roots of the clitoral cluster, which go around the urethra and up the vaginal canal.”

Think about what gets you off alone

We know what makes us come when we’re going solo. The obstacle usually arises when we bring another person into the equation. Corinna recommends examining “what floats your boat solo” and then “bringing it to your crew.” “Whatever that is, bring as much of it into sex with partners as you can,” says Corinna. “Whether that’s bringing the fantasies in your head, showing them how to do what you like with your own hands meshed with theirs, or doing it yourself during sex (or both!), using porn you like together.” Gynaecologist and sex counsellor Dr. Terri Vanderlinde recommends that women practice “alone, comfortably” with fingers or vibrators to learn “her body and how it works.”

Treat this as a learning curve

PSA men: this is gonna take some time. Holloway says men need to know that “until they have the map to their partner’s pleasure” it’s going to be a “voyage of discovery.” “This takes time, and patience, and love, and respect, and placing their partners pleasure and orgasm as their primary goal is a big part of it,” she says.  Partners should listen and learn their partner’s pleasure signals, and be receptive when your partner tells you when something’s not working for them.

Get on top

When it comes to positions for penetrative sex, all experts interviewed by Mashable were in agreement: getting on top will help get you off. Dr. Vandelinde says being on top provides open access for clitoral stimulation, which most women need in order to orgasm. It also gives the woman “the freedom to have more control of the movements” so you can get into a rhythm that feels good, according to Holloway. Online sex therapist and host of Foreplay Radio podcast Laurie Watson says “woman on top at a 45 degree angle gives the penis the most contact with the G-spot, and is a good position that she can reach her clitoris.”

Experiment with positions

Getting on top isn’t the be all and end all, though. Vanderlinde says doggy style can be a good position for clitoral stimulation. “Anything that can give direct stimulation to the clitoris works,” says Vanderlinde. Watson recommends lying on your back, hooking your legs around your partner’s elbows with your pelvis rocked up. “To climax during intercourse I suggest a position where their partner or themselves can simultaneously touch their clitoris,” says Watson.

As Corinna points out, women have “incredibly diverse bodies, and even more diverse sexualities.”  They say orgasm can occur with “any kind of sexual activity” and each person over time will find what works for their own bodies. “There are going to be certain positions, angles or other specifics that work best for them. But what those are is so varied, that’s something we all have to find out by experimenting,” they say.

Talk about sex outside the bedroom

Corinna says it’s actually really hard to talk about what you like and don’t like during sex. “It’s just such a high-stakes situation, and people, especially women, are often so worried about how what they say will be perceived,” says Corinna, who suggests building communication about sex when you’re not having sex. “Start by doing more talking about sex when you’re not actually engaging in sex. That can help build trust and comfort and practice that makes doing it during easier,” says Corinna.

Tell your partner when something feels good

We know that faking your orgasm will give your partner the wrong message about what’s working for you. If you feel comfortable doing so, Corinna says you should “voice it when things do feel good” and “show them what you like when you can.” “Don’t be afraid to ask a partner to keep doing what they are doing when you’re into it, or to adjust when something isn’t doing it for you,” they say. “Be explicit and clear and open.”

Add toys to the equation

If you use a vibrator on your own, then it’s worth considering using it when you’re having sex with your partner. “If someone enjoy sex toys alone, why wouldn’t they bring them into sex together at least sometimes? The idea that toys are just for people alone is silly,” says Corinna.

If you want to add toys to the equation during penetrative sex, Vanderlinde recommends using a “cock ring with a vibrator” which will afford “hands free stimulation” as well as vibrators that can fit between your and your partner’s bodies. “Or simply wait ’til he finishes and then he can stimulate her to multiple orgasms,” says Vanderlinde.

Plan to give oral

Sex therapist Deborah Fox says that the “majority” of women won’t come from intercourse alone and that’s simply down to biology. The clitoris is full of nerve endings, while only the outer third of the vagina tends to have responsive nerves,” says Fox.

If the man comes during intercourse, his next move should be to find a way to make his partner come. Skurtu says if the man comes during intercourse, he should plan to perform oral sex afterwards. “If a person finishes first, the next person can perform oral on the first or use a vibrator and/or fingers,” she says.

Don’t fret

Try not to get stressed if you don’t come. Vanderlinde says there are sometimes other things at play that could be standing in the way of reaching orgasm. “There can be interfering medical diagnoses, medications, pain, low desire, hormones, partner issues, prior abuse, trust issues, stresses, worries, depression, that have a major effect on a woman’s ability to have an orgasm,” she says. In these situations, consider seeking advice from a medical professional or trained sex counsellor.

Go forth, explore. And most importantly, have fun.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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How to build sexual confidence

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[H]aving sex for the first time is nerve wracking but it isn’t the only time when the thought of sex can feel daunting. Many of us will go through periods of abstinence later in our lives and the thought of engaging in sexual activity again can spark feelings of insecurity.

There are a variety of reasons why someone might have experienced an extended amount of time without having sex (divorce, a breakup, the loss of a loved one, or difficulty meeting the right person) and often by the time we get round to having sex again it feels as if we are back to square one with our sexual confidence.

Here, we speak to Valeria Chuba, PhD, MS, ACS, a board certified clinical sexologist and a certified intimacy coach. She helps her clients overcome sexual shame and anxiety, achieve sexual confidence, and create pleasure-filled intimate relationships. She is the creator and host of the Get Sex-Smart podcast, which offers expert information and guidance to listeners around the world.

“Finding that special spark with a new partner can often take a long time,” she explains. “Regardless of the reasons why we may find ourselves without a lover, when the time comes to get back into the groove, most of us experience feelings of fear, anxiety and low self-confidence.”

So to help anyone who is feeling less than empowered about the idea of a new sexual encounter, we asked Valeria to give us some practical advice on how to feel less nervous and more confident when starting a new sexual relationship…

1. Learn from the past

Each new relationship offers a promising beginning, which means an opportunity to do things differently and better than before. “Now is the perfect time to look back at your past sexual experiences,” Valeria advises.

“What were some of the things that worked well (or didn’t work) in your intimate relationships? What partners were the most memorable, and why? What would you like to do differently this time around? For example, would you speak up more about your need for sensual foreplay, or share more of your sexual imagination with your partner? Getting clarity around your needs and boundaries will help you start a new sexual relationship in a more proactive way, which in turn will help you feel more safe and grounded.”

2. Know what gives you pleasure

“As a sexologist, I often tell my clients that masturbation is the foundation for partner sex,” says Valeria.

“The more you know about what turns you on and helps you experience pleasure and orgasm, the better you’ll be able to share these things with your partner, leading to a more positive intimate experience.”

Reacquainting yourself with your body in this way will help you to first accept and then to gain confidence when it comes to being with someone else. It’s easy to forget the positive things about our body when we are feeling insecure and focusing on the parts we don’t like as much.

“If you are new to self pleasure or just want to broaden your sexual repertoire, sex-positive books like Come As You Are or fun and instructional sex ed DVDs will both inform you and spark your sensuality. It’s important to note that you should always consider seeking professional help for specific sexual concerns, like trouble experiencing orgasm with a partner, early ejaculation, erectile difficulties, or performance anxiety. Working with a sex-positive, compassionate professional can be a huge boost to your sexual confidence.”

3. Communication is key

“I often tell my clients that they should begin a new relationship as they mean to go on; and good communication is a big part of any successful sexual relationship,” says Valeria.

“There are few things more attractive in a lover than the confidence to speak up about his or her needs and desires, and the ability to listen to his or her partner. Speaking up improves your chances of getting what you want from your sexual relationship; and being accepting of your partner will make him or her feel special and appreciated. Either way, you will come across as a generous and thoughtful lover, which is sure to boost your self-confidence.”

4. Focus on pleasure and not performance

Whenever we begin a new relationship, especially after a long time without partner sex, we tend to feel anxious about things like our attractiveness; our size, shape and weight; and how well we will ‘perform’ during sex.

“This mindset keeps us caught up in our heads and disconnected both from our bodies and pleasure, and from our lovers and the process of lovemaking. Whenever you feel yourself getting caught up in performance pressure, focus instead on your body sensations. Breathe deeply and if need be, slow down. Pay attention to how things feel as opposed to how perfect you appear to be. As a bonus, a lover who is focused on pleasure and sensuality comes off as a lot more empowered and confident than someone who is insecure about their ‘performance’.”

5. Have a sense of humour

Sex can be complicated and intimidating at the best of times, let alone when we’ve been celibate for an extended period. Because of this, we tend to forget that at its core, sex is about connection, pleasure and fun. And since partner sex happens between bodies, it can also be a messy, embarrassing and unintentionally hilarious experience. Using this as a point of connection with your lover, rather than something to be ashamed of, can help you lighten things up. Chances are your partner is also feeling nervous, so bonding lightheartedly over your shared anxiety and the absurdity of it all can be both relaxing and very, very sexy.

Complete Article HERE!

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