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This Is How Masturbating Can Transform Your Sex Life

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A relationship expert explains what it means to own your pleasure.

By Wendy Strgar

For many of us, taking responsibility for our pleasure begins with healing our relationship with our body. We may think that we can experience true pleasure only when we look a certain way. When I lose ten more pounds, I’ll deserve a little pleasure. If my tan gets a little deeper, then I’ll really be able to feel good. <

Actually, the reverse is true: Opening yourself up to more sexual pleasure will make you recognize the beauty in your body as it is, and inspire you to treat it better. And here’s the thing: If you sacrifice your access to pleasure to the false belief that sexual satisfaction will find you when you are fitter or more beautiful, you will miss out on your own life. Make a decision now to stop comparing yourself to the myriad Photoshopped images of models that even models don’t look like. Instead, dedicate yourself now to finding ways to live more deeply in your body.

Sex is something you do with your body, so how you feel about and treat your body is a direct reflection of the respect you hold for your sex life. Resolve to treat your body with a little more attention and loving kindness, and it will reward you by revealing its capacity for pleasure—sexual and otherwise.

If your body needs coaxing, there is something very simple you can do to deepen your relationship with it and explore your pleasure response: masturbate. Even with all the benefits masturbation can bring to a couple’s sex life, it is still a behavior that many people are not comfortable sharing with their partners or even talking about.

In addi­tion to the religious condemnation that has long been associated with self-pleasure, the practice was not long ago considered an affliction that medical doctors used the cruelest of instruments and techniques to control. So it’s not surprising that self-reporting of this behavior still hovers at 30% to 70% depending on gender and age.

Yet there are many benefits to a healthy dose of solo sex. First and foremost, it teaches us about our own sexual response, and personal experience is an invaluable aid when communicating with our part­ner about what feels good and what doesn’t. The practice of solo sex is helpful for men who have issues with premature ejaculation, as it familiarizes them with the moment of inevitability so that they can better master their sense of control. Masturbation can also be a great balancer for couples with a disparity in their sex drive, and solo orgasm can serve as a stress reliever and sleep aid just as well as partnered plea­sure can.

A 2007 study in Sexual and Relationship Therapy reported that male masturbation might also improve immune system function­ing and the health of the prostate. For women, it builds pelvic floor muscles and sensitivity and has been associated with reduced back pain and cramping around menses, as it increases blood flow and stimulates relaxation of the area after orgasm.

The one caveat is that masturbation, like anything else, serves us well in moderation. Becoming too obsessed with solo sex play, often enhanced by visual or digital aids, has been known to backfire and lead to loss of interest in the complexity and intensity of partner sex. There are also some forms of masturbation that can make partner sex seem less appealing because the form of self-stimulation is so different from what happens in the paired experience. If you are experiencing less desire or ability to respond to your partner, ask yourself what you can do to make your solo experience more compatible with your partner’s ability to stimulate you.

Complete Article HERE!

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Cushion for the pushin’

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Hey sex fans,

Welcome to another installment of Product Review Friday.

Today we feature a product from a new company; at least they’re new to us. Join us in welcoming the good people at Little Deeper to our review effort.

I love bringing you news of small, independent adult product companies. And if they are green and healthful, as is the Little Deeper, than that’s a huge plus in my book.

But don’t take my word for it, lets check in with Dr Dick Review Crew members, Ken & Denise, for their thoughts

Little Deeper —— $89.95

Ken & Denise
Denise: “This is our first posting of the new year and we have a wonderful product to tell you about. The Little Deeper is a practical, easy to use and easy to store cushion that makes partnered sex more fun and less strenuous.”
Ken: “In other words, the Little Deeper is sex furniture. We’ve reviewed a couple of other such products in the past; you can find those reviews HERE!  In fact, Denise and I had the dubious honor of reviewing one of them. And all I can say is, that product was horrible.”
Denise: “Yeah, I remember how frustrated we both were. I even hesitated when Dr Dick invited us to review the Little Deeper. I was afraid that we’d be disappointed again. But I am so glad that Dr Dick persisted, because I am happy to report that the Little Deeper is amazing. We love the fun play on words too.”
Ken: “It just goes to show you that really good things can come from a good company, one who is interested in health and wellbeing, not just cranking out junk for profit.”
Denise: “So you may be asking yourself, what exactly is the Little Deeper. Well, it’s an ergonomically shaped, sturdy foam cushion covered in a removable plush red polyester cover. And it comes in it’s own very smart black zip-up carrying case.”
Ken: “Let me quote from their promotional materials, because I couldn’t express it better. ‘This simple, nifty device lifts and supports a woman’s hips, positioning them in the perfect position for lovemaking. Using the Little Deeper, you can leave behind the toil and effort that can sometimes be associated with enduring sessions of lovemaking, and now perform various positions with more ease and comfort. The cushion is anatomically designed to fit all body types and sizes, and can result in increased pleasure for both partners. As the woman’s hips are tiled at an ideal angle for penetration, a man can plunge into her body more deeply, which means he can simultaneously stimulate her G-spot and give himself limitless access to pleasure. Ultimately, using the Little Deeper cushion can result in more intense, more long-lasting and even more frequent orgasms during vaginal, anal and oral lovemaking.’”
Denise: “What the promotional materials do not tell you is that the handy-dandy Little Deeper works equally well when Ken is on the bottom and I’m pegging the bejesus out of him.”
Ken: “TOTALLY! When Denise straps it on, I know I’m in for the ride of my life. To tell the truth, I think she’s a better top than me.”
Denise: “See how sweet you are, honey? I suppose I understand why all the images on the Little Deeper website show traditional heterosexual coupling. But I think they do themselves a disservice by doing only that. The Little Deeper is for everyone — gay boys and lesbians will love it too. I also think this cushion would be great for older lovers and the bigger-build people among us too.”
Ken: “You’ll never have to struggle with ordinary bed pillows to prop up your partner’s pelvis for a roll in the hay. And the best part is, this simple device leaves your hands free to further pleasure your partner. And it works with a variety of positions.”
Denise: “I want to return to something I said at the very beginning of this review, because it bears repeating. The Little Deeper is easy to store. We’ve seen some of the other sex cushions that are available in stores and online; they’re huge and unwieldy. And unless you have a designated playroom, where in the world would you store something like that? The Little Deeper, in its nondescript carrying case, fits easily and discreetly in our bedroom closet.”
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY

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He Knows Me; He knows Me Not

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SEX! — We have a finite number of erogenous zones, but an infinite number of ways and means of stimulating them. INTIMACY! — We have a finite number of needs, but an infinite number of ways and means of satisfying them.

Sex is one a way of expressing intimacy and intimacy can give meaning to sex. Simple, right? As if! When sex and intimacy collide, confusion, disappointment and frustration abound.

Doc,I really have a serious problem. I can have sex all day long — women, men, whatever ya got — not a problem. And I think I’m really good at it too. That is until there’s hugging and kissing. Again, — women, men, whatever ya got — big problem. I don’t mind a quick hug or embrace, or a fleeting kiss, but anything more than that and I just freeze up. I can’t seem to relax inside myself while in another’s embrace. I am 39 and worry about dying alone and forgotten, because I can’t let myself get close to someone long enough to fall in love. I know this sounds foolish, but I have never even slept with another person, like after sex, in my whole life. What’s wrong with me?   — Frozen

Wanna know what’s wrong with you, Frozen? Easy! You’re a human, that’s what’sbrutos4235.jpg wrong with you! You are exhibiting a very human characteristic, a fear of intimacy, albeit a rather severe case of it indeed.

Many people are able to perform sexually, while having difficulty with intimacy. When I see such a person in my therapy practice, I help my client overcome this rift by encouraging him to gradually increase the amount of intimacy he is comfortable with every sexual encounter. It’s a simple behavior modification thing.

So, I suggest that you hold an embrace a minute or two longer each time you are embraced, taking the intimacy a bit deeper than you did the time before. The same goes for kissing — hold a kiss for a few moments longer, or kiss a little deeper each time a kiss is offered. You’ll have to concentrate and make a concerted effort, because this is unfamiliar territory for you. But you have a really strong motivation; you don’t want to be sad and alone. I think you’ll find that you will be rewarded handsomely with everything you invest in this exercise.

A good potion of any fear is what we talk ourselves into about the feared thing. Sure, there may be a traumatic event at the source of some of our fears. But even if there is, we have the capacity to move through the remembrance, let go of the trauma and move on with life.You’ve been living with this phobia for a long time, Frozen. It’s become second nature for you. As you apply yourself to overcoming your dread of intimacy, have some compassion for yourself. Know this will take time. In fact, it’ll be the work of a lifetime.

My advice to you is to set a goal for yourself. Try to turn some of this aversion to intimacy around. Give yourself say 6 or 8 weeks to make this happen. Start out with baby steps, but don’t hesitate to stretch and challenge yourself. Let your partner(s) know that you are working on something important. Ask for his (their) help and patience. You’ll be able to overcome your hesitancy even sooner with the help and encouragement of others. Ask for feedback on your progress.

Keep at it till you are comfortable cuddling in someone’s arms for an hour or till you can kiss someone passionately without wanting to pull away. Celebrate the fullness of your personhood; don’t just settle for bumping parts.

Good luck

Dear Dr. Dick,I could sure use you some advice on how to find Mr. Right! Can you help? Here’s the thing, I only meet guys that want sex….they objectify me and just think about their own needs. I’m sick of it. I’m including a link to my online profile and photos of myself so you can judge for yourself.Where can I go to meet someone that believes sex is mutual?    — Why Not Take All of Me

Are you trying to tell me that someone as delicious as you is having trouble connecting with quality people? If so, what chance is there for us mere mortals?

Listen, I don’t mean to be flippant. It’s just that looking at your photos and reading your profile, you sound like a dream. Of course, maybe that’s the problem.brutos3046.jpgI’m not sure asking me, or anyone else for that matter, how YOU should go about finding Mr Right is the correct way to go. The reason being, there’s a different Mr Right for everyone. For some, Mr Right is no more than a pretty face, stiff dick and a supple ass.

Your needs appear more complex. One thing for sure, if you are looking for the perfect match for YOU, integrity and authenticity are preeminent. Don’t settle for less than what you want.That being said, you might begin by reassessing how you present yourself online. If the images you post suggest sex, that’s what you will attract. I mean come on — all those eye-popping nude full body shots of yourself; the close-up of your dripping hardon; your ass backed up to the camera lens like that, so that everyone and his mother can see where the sun don’t shine. And your profile, it proudly proclaims, “power bottom extraordinaire.” — Trust me, darlin’, none of this invites anyone to take you seriously for the dignified, well-rounded person you claim to be.

Finding Mr Right, is difficult at any stage of life. While you sound like a decent enough guy, you are no longer a youth. This time of life presents it’s own unique challenges. Are you carrying lots of personal baggage that may be off-putting to potential partners? I see that a lot in my more mature clients. They are too set in their ways to really enjoy the spontaneity of a new relationship.Lots to consider, huh?

Good luck

Dear Dr. Dick,  I have recently been going out with this great guy. He’s had three long-term relationships in the last 10 years or so. He says that with each one, when they met, he felt a “spark.” (I guess he means the spark of attraction, or passion.) But each of his relationships came to a crashing end.Anyway, this guy and I have been chatting on the internet for hours every day for weeks, but have only had two dates in person. And both times we got down to sex rather quickly. Now he says he wants things casual between us, because he didn’t feel any spark upon meeting me. He says I’m not his soul mate.I think this “spark” is passion. But fiery as it is, it always burns out, as it did with his first three partners.I’m different, I fall for a guy by getting to know him, finding mutual interests, and developing intimacy over time. (Although this method hasn’t worked for me, any better than his method has worked for him.)Is the approach through friendship better or worse than the approach through passion? Is there a future for a couple like us?  — In Way Too Deep

My gut feeling is that there isn’t enough common ground here for anything more than asensitif.jpg garden-variety casual internet connection. And I suspect you both are looking for something more permanent than that. That is what you are talking about, right?

While you may have enough in common to consume hours of internet time each week, (no big challenge there, you can train a chimp to do the same) the sex thing, or passion thing, or whatever else one calls it these days, simply isn’t there. And there’s no making it suddenly appear at this point in your association. Your internet “date” is not about to be dazzled by anything that isn’t highly combustible, regardless of how poorly this has served him in the past. Your method, on the other hand, ain’t getting you married either.

Alas, we’re such creatures of habit.I am of the mind that passion is the stuff that keeps us thrilled while we slog through the less appetizing “getting-to-know-him” and “getting-adjusted-to-his shit” phase. In fact, I believe the “fireworks” thing is designed to distract our attention — or more precisely — blind us to the more unsavory aspects of the guy we’re bumping.

If there are no fireworks we’d immediately see the guy’s an overweight psychopath, with anger management issues, bad teeth, a little dick, shameful personal hygiene, a ridiculously low IQ, dwarfed only by his bank account, who picks his nose and lets his mother run his life.Time to move on, darlin’!

Good luck

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How to Talk to Your Younger Sibling About Sex

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Since older siblings can sometimes be the best sex-ed teachers, here are four important topics to cover and a few links about how to get the conversation started.

Positive sexuality is at the forefront of conversations being had by student activists on college campuses. Dismantling the societal constructs of traditional masculinity and femininity and redefining campus sexual scripts are priorities aiming to decrease sexual assault rates and increase discussion about what perpetuates them.

As a result, college students are in a prime position to be instigators of conversations amongst younger groups, because they are at the core of the rapidly changing dialogue prompting social changes that support young adults in expressing their sexuality and promoting safe sexual climates for everyone.

Being a mentor to the younger kiddos in your life, and more specifically the youngsters in your family, can be a tricky yet invaluable role to fill. If you decide to open up a conversation about sex with younger siblings, some awesome topics to include are consent, gender identities and expressions, contraceptives, birth control and the construct of virginity. There are certainly other categories to include, and questions will likely arise about the many nuances of sex, but starting with broad ideas essential to healthy sexuality will set up the conversation to be productive and meaningful.

1. Consent

It’s never too early to start introducing principles of consent into children’s lives, nor is it ever too late. If your siblings are elementary school-aged, having a conversation with them about consent does not have to centered around sex, because consent is applicable to any and all interactions, whether sexual intentions are present or not.

Teaching young kids to ask for permission to hug someone or to sit close to someone plants the seed for healthy habits of asking for and offering consent to grow. If younger individuals become accustomed to asking for consent in small, everyday ways, they will be more aware and respectful of others’ boundaries. As they grow into adolescents and college students, the concepts of consent will be second nature and clearly understood when they do enter into sexual contexts where consent is required.

Regardless of the age of your siblings, consent is applicable to everyone and should be a frequent, continuing conversation. For siblings that are old enough to dive deeper, unpacking the mechanics of genuine and enthusiastic consent can include information about how things such as power dynamics, substances, coercion and intimidation can all influence the improper acquisition of consent. This is also a great time to emphasize that despite the common tactics used to unfairly obtain someone’s consent, the right to enthusiastically consent to sexual activity without the influence of outside factors is omnipresent, powerful and absolute.

Consent is a quintessential component of healthy sexual encounters! For more info on consent, and the “Yes Means Yes” campaign advocating for enthusiastic consent, check out https://www.yesmeansyes.com and have your siblings take a look, too for the scoop on all things consent and respect. As quoted in an article on everydayfeminism.com “conversations about consent—especially if those conversations are with children—are not always easy to have. They are, however, necessary if we’re trying to create a society in which consent is understood and respected by adults and children alike.”

2. Gender Identities

Another frequently skipped-over chapter in the sparse book of sex education in America is the section on gender identity. Thanks to celebrity stories in recent years such as Caitlin Jenner, Jazz Jennings and many other Hollywood young adults openly identifying as gender fluid, bisexual and indicating other identities along the gender-nonconforming spectrum, gender identity and gender rights have become popular topics. While many school sex education programs are a bit behind the times and have yet to add conversations about various gender identities into their curriculum, older siblings can try to fill some of the gaps.

The biggest point to emphasize to a younger sibling is the difference between sex and gender, and that gender is a social construct that is governed by expectations and norms that align with the gender binary system. To expand on that, include notes about how gender is made up of multiple components that fall along a spectrum; there are new models, like the gender unicorn, being developed to illustrate this idea; the colorful and simple designs are engaging for young learners and a great visual representation of the spectrums in general.

Most of all, encourage youngsters to explore and contemplate their own gender identity by questioning the norms they’re conditioned to live in accordance with, and support them unconditionally in their discoveries. Your unwavering love may serve as an example for when they find themselves being a support for a friend or peer one day.

3. Contraceptives

For siblings that are approaching the age of dating and having sex, a little brush up on contraceptive options is a helpful addition to sibling sex-education sessions. This goes for all gender identities, not just the ladies! Everyone should be aware of how to protect themselves and their partner of choice, so that everyone can feel safe and focus on other matters at hand. A quick browse through the “Birth Control” tab on teenshealth.org gives an extensive explanation of the various methods of birth control and contraceptives, the intended uses of each, the effectiveness rates and some FAQs.

While talking with a healthcare provider is the best idea for beginning a birth control plan, providing kiddos with information about their options allows them to reflect on what they’re comfortable with and choose an option that suits them if and when they need it.

4. Virginity

When younger siblings are thinking about becoming sexually active, a chat about the virginity construct can help them reflect on what sex means to them. There is heavy emphasis placed on the “losing of” one’s “virginity” and how the experience is meant to be transformative, pivotal and special. For some, the giving of virginity to another person signifies an act of deep trust, intimacy and comfort. For others, the concept of virginity is merely an ancient phrase sometimes used to label the beginning of their sexual adventures.

There is no right or wrong way to think about a first sexual experience, nor is there a universal definition of what composes the official loss of virginity, which some sex beginners don’t get the chance to contemplate before diving in. The concept of virginity loss is associated with impurity and places the person taking someone’s virginity in a position of power, while the person who “lost” it is seen as sacrificing something valuable.

Contemplating the idea that virginity is not a physical state or thing, but instead a construct that can be accepted or disregarded, allows young people to decide for themselves how they want to think of sex and define it in their own terms. First times are a lot of things, ranging from spontaneous, meaningful, messy, calculated or a combination of everything. Restructuring the way young adults think about their first sexual experiences gives them the power to conceptualize their sexual debuts as they choose to.

Beyond everything, the most important thing about having a conversation with siblings about sex is just to have it (the conversation). In the era of change kids are growing up in, the taboo topic of sex is not yet a conversation of full disclosure, even as it gains traction. Being an advocate for positive sexuality development by starting dialogue can help change this, one awkward chat at a time.

The following websites are excellent resources with information on the topics above and many more! They’ve got tips for curious teens and lots of advice for how to start a conversation.

Complete Article HERE!

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Casual Sex: Everyone Is Doing It

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Part research project, part society devoted to titillation, the Casual Sex Project reminds us that hookups aren’t just for college students.

By

Zhana Vrangalova had hit a problem. On a blustery day in early spring, sitting in a small coffee shop near the campus of New York University, where she is an adjunct professor of psychology, she was unable to load onto her laptop the Web site that we had met to discuss. This was not a technical malfunction on her end; rather, the site had been blocked. Vrangalova, who is thirty-four, with a dynamic face framed by thick-rimmed glasses, has spent the past decade researching human sexuality, and, in particular, the kinds of sexual encounters that occur outside the norms of committed relationships. The Web site she started in 2014, casualsexproject.com, began as a small endeavor fuelled by personal referrals, but has since grown to approximately five thousand visitors a day, most of whom arrive at the site through organic Internet searches or referrals through articles and social media. To date, there have been some twenty-two hundred submissions, about evenly split between genders, each detailing the kinds of habits that, when spelled out, can occasionally alert Internet security filters. The Web site was designed to open up the discussion of one-night stands and other less-than-traditional sexual behaviors. What makes us engage in casual sex? Do we enjoy it? Does it benefit us in any way—or, perhaps, might it harm us? And who, exactly, is “us,” anyway?

Up to eighty per cent of college students report engaging in sexual acts outside committed relationships—a figure that is usually cast as the result of increasingly lax social mores, a proliferation of alcohol-fuelled parties, and a potentially violent frat culture. Critics see the high rates of casual sex as an “epidemic” of sorts that is taking over society as a whole. Hookup culture, we hear, is demeaning women and wreaking havoc on our ability to establish stable, fulfilling relationships.

These alarms have sounded before. Writing in 1957, the author Nora Johnson raised an eyebrow at promiscuity on college campuses, noting that “sleeping around is a risky business, emotionally, physically, and morally.” Since then, the critiques of casual sexual behavior have only proliferated, even as society has ostensibly become more socially liberal. Last year, the anthropologist Peter Wood went so far as to call the rise of casual sex “an assault on human nature,” arguing in an article in the conservative Weekly Standard that even the most meaningless-seeming sex comes with a problematic power imbalance.

Others have embraced the commonness of casual sex as a sign of social progress. In a widely read Atlantic article from 2012, “Boys on the Side,” Hanna Rosin urged women to avoid serious suitors so that they could focus on their own needs and careers. And yet, despite her apparent belief in the value of casual sex as a tool of exploration and feminist thinking, Rosin, too, seemed to conclude that casual sex cannot be a meaningful end goal. “Ultimately, the desire for a deeper human connection always wins out, for both men and women,” she wrote.

The Casual Sex Project was born of Vrangalova’s frustration with this and other prevalent narratives about casual sex. “One thing that was bothering me is the lack of diversity in discussions of casual sex,” Vrangalova told me in the café. “It’s always portrayed as something college students do. And it’s almost always seen in a negative light, as something that harms women.”

It was not the first time Vrangalova had wanted to broaden a limited conversation. As an undergraduate, in Macedonia, where she studied the psychology of sexuality, she was drawn to challenge cultural taboos, writing a senior thesis on the development of lesbian and gay sexual attitudes. In the late aughts, Vrangalova started her research on casual sex in Cornell’s developmental-psychology program. One study followed a group of six hundred and sixty-six freshmen over the course of a year, to see how engaging in various casual sexual activities affected markers of mental health: namely, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, and self-esteem. Another looked at more than eight hundred undergraduates to see whether individuals who engaged in casual sex felt more victimized by others, or were more socially isolated. (The results: yes to the first, no to the second.) The studies were intriguing enough that Vrangalova was offered an appointment at N.Y.U., where she remains, to further explore some of the issues surrounding the effects of nontraditional sexual behaviors on the individuals who engage in them.

Over time, Vrangalova came to realize that there was a gap in her knowledge, and, indeed, in the field as a whole. Casual sex has been much explored in psychological literature, but most of the data captured by her research team—and most of the other experimental research she had encountered—had been taken from college students. (This is a common problem in psychological research: students are a convenient population for researchers.) There has been the occasional nationally representative survey, but rigorous data on other subsets of the population is sparse. Even the largest national study of sexual attitudes in the United States, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of close to six thousand men and women between the ages of fourteen and ninety-four, neglected to ask respondents how many of the encounters they engaged in could be deemed “casual.”

From its beginnings, sex research has been limited by a social stigma. The field’s pioneer, Alfred Kinsey, spent decades interviewing people about their sexual behaviors. His books sold, but he was widely criticized for not having an objective perspective: like Freud before him, he believed that repressed sexuality was at the root of much of social behavior, and he often came to judgments that supported that view—even when his conclusions were based on less-than-representative surveys. He, too, used convenient sample groups, such as prisoners, as well as volunteers, who were necessarily comfortable talking about their sexual practices.

In the fifties, William Masters and Virginia Johnson went further, inquiring openly into sexual habits and even observing people in the midst of sexual acts. Their data, too, was questioned: Could the sort of person who volunteers to have sex in a lab tell us anything about the average American? More troubling still, Masters and Johnson sought to “cure” homosexuality, revealing a bias that could easily have colored their findings.

Indeed, one of the things you quickly notice when looking for data on casual sex is that, for numbers on anyone who is not a college student, you must, for the most part, look at studies conducted outside academia. When OkCupid surveyed its user base, it found that between 10.3 and 15.5 per cent of users were looking for casual sex rather than a committed relationship. In the 2014 British Sex Survey, conducted by the Guardian, approximately half of all respondents reported that they had engaged in a one-night stand (fifty-five per cent of men, and forty-three per cent of women), with homosexuals (sixty-six per cent) more likely to do so than heterosexuals (forty-eight per cent). A fifth of people said they’d slept with someone whose name they didn’t know.

With the Casual Sex Project, Vrangalova is trying to build a user base of stories that she hopes will, one day, provide the raw data for academic study. For now, she is listening: letting people come to the site, answer questions, leave replies. Ritch Savin-Williams, who taught Vrangalova at Cornell, told me that he was especially impressed by Vrangalova’s willingness “to challenge traditional concepts and research designs with objective approaches that allow individuals to give honest, thoughtful responses.”

The result is what is perhaps the largest-ever repository of information about casual-sex habits in the world—not that it has many competitors. The people who share stories range from teens to retirees (Vrangalova’s oldest participants are in their seventies), and include city dwellers and suburbanites, graduate-level-educated professionals (about a quarter of the sample) and people who never finished high school (another quarter). The majority of participants aren’t particularly religious, although a little under a third do identify as at least “somewhat” religious. Most are white, though there are also blacks, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic groups. Initially, contributions were about sixty-per-cent female, but now they’re seventy-per-cent male. (This is in line with norms; men are “supposed” to brag more about sexual exploits than women.) Anyone can submit a story, along with personal details that reflect his or her demographics, emotions, personality traits, social attitudes, and behavioral patterns, such as alcohol intake. The setup for data collection is standardized, with drop-down menus and rating scales.

Still, the site is far from clinical. The home page is a colorful mosaic of squares, color-coded according to the category of sexual experience (blue: “one-night stand”; purple: “group sex”; gray: the mysterious-sounding “first of many”; and so on). Pull quotes are highlighted for each category (“Ladies if you haven’t had a hot, young Latino stud you should go get one!”). Many responses seem to boast, provoke, or exaggerate for rhetorical purposes. Reading it, I felt less a part of a research project than a member of a society devoted to titillation.

Vrangalova is the first to admit that the Casual Sex Project is not what you would call an objective, scientific approach to data collection. There is no random assignment, no controls, no experimental conditions; the data is not representative of the general population. The participants are self-selecting, which inevitably colors the results: if you’re taking the time to write, you are more likely to write about positive experiences. You are also more likely to have the sort of personality that comes with wanting to share details of your flings with the public. There is another problem with the Casual Sex Project that is endemic in much social-science research: absent external behavioral validation, how do we know that respondents are reporting the truth, rather than what they want us to hear or think we want them to say?

And yet, for all these flaws, the Casual Sex Project provides a fascinating window into the sexual habits of a particular swath of the population. It may not be enough to draw new conclusions, but it can lend nuance to assumptions, expanding, for instance, ideas about who engages in casual sex or how it makes them feel. As I browsed through the entries after my meeting with Vrangalova, I came upon the words of a man who learned something new about his own sexuality during a casual encounter in his seventies: “before this I always said no one can get me of on a bj alone, I was taught better,” he writes. As a reflection of the age and demographic groups represented, the Casual Sex Project undermines the popular narrative that casual sex is the product of changing mores among the young alone. If that were the case, we would expect there to be a reluctance to engage in casual sex among the older generations, which grew up in the pre-“hookup culture” era. Such reluctance is not evident.

The reminder that people of all ages engage in casual sex might lead us to imagine three possible narratives. First, that perhaps what we see as the rise of a culture of hooking up isn’t actually new. When norms related to dating and free love shifted, in the sixties, they never fully shifted back. Seventy-year-olds are engaging in casual encounters because that attitude is part of their culture, too.

There’s another, nearly opposite explanation: casual sex isn’t the norm now, and wasn’t before. There are simply always individuals, in any generation, who seek sexual satisfaction in nontraditional confines.

And then there’s the third option, the one that is most consistent with the narrative that our culture of casual sex begins with college hookups: that people are casually hooking up for different reasons. Some young people have casual sex because they feel they can’t afford not to, or because they are surrounded by a culture that says they should want to. (Vrangalova’s preliminary analysis of the data on her site suggests that alcohol is much more likely to be involved in the casual-sex experiences of the young than the old.)  And the old—well, the old no longer care what society thinks. For some, this sense of ease might come in their thirties; for others, their forties or fifties; for others, never, or not entirely.

This last theory relates to another of Vrangalova’s findings—one that, she confesses, came as a surprise when she first encountered it. Not all of the casual-sex experiences recorded on the site were positive, even among what is surely a heavily biased sample. Women and younger participants are especially likely to report feelings of shame. (“I was on top of him at one point and he can’t have forced me to so I must have consented . . . I’m not sure,” an eighteen-year-old writes, reporting that the hookup was unsatisfying, and describing feeling “stressed, anxious, guilt and disgust” the day after.) There is an entire thread tagged “no orgasm,” which includes other occasionally disturbing and emotional tales. “My view has gotten a lot more balanced over time,” Vrangalova said. “I come from a very sex-positive perspective, surrounded by people who really benefitted from sexual exploration and experiences, for the most part. By studying it, I’ve learned to see both sides of the coin.

Part of the negativity, to be sure, does originate in legitimate causes: casual sex increases the risk of pregnancy, disease, and, more often than in a committed relationship, physical coercion. But many negative casual-sex experiences come instead from a sense of social convention. “We’ve seen that both genders felt they were discriminated against because of sex,” Vrangalova told me. Men often feel judged by other men if they don’t have casual sex, and social expectations can detract from the experiences they do have, while women feel judged for engaging in casual experiences, rendering those they pursue less pleasurable.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise: the very fact that Vrangalova and others are seeking explanations for casual-sex behaviors suggests that our society views it as worthy of note—something aberrant, rather than ordinary. No one writes about why people feel the need to drink water or go to the bathroom, why eating dinner with friends is “a thing” or study groups are “on the rise.”

It is that sense of shame, ultimately, that Vrangalova hopes her project may help to address. As one respondent to a survey Vrangalova sent to users put it, “This has helped me feel okay about myself for wanting casual sex, and not feel ashamed or that what I do is wrong.” The psychologist James Pennebaker has found over several decades of work that writing about emotional experiences can act as an effective form of therapy, in a way that talking about those experiences may not. (I’m less convinced that there are benefits for those who use the site as a way to boast about their own experiences.) “Often there’s no outlet for that unless you’re starting your own blog,” Vrangalova points out. “I wanted to offer a space for people to share.”

That may well end up the Casual Sex Project’s real contribution: not to tell us something we didn’t already know, or at least suspect, but to make such nonjudgmental, intimate conversations possible. The dirty little secret of casual sex today is not that we’re having it but that we’re not sharing our experiences of it in the best way.

Complete Article HERE!

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