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The Self-Sexological Exam

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No podcast today; instead there’s this…

The Ballad of Sylvie

Hi, my name is Sylvie. I’m 24 and I’ve been sexually active for three year, but I’ve never had an orgasm…at least not that I know of. I hear my friends talk about their orgasms and I know I should talk to them, but I don’t want them to know. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this complaint over the years, I’d be a wealthy man. Even in this day and age where sexual messages permeate the popular culture, there are still some women who are unversed about orgasms and their own bodies.

However, I almost never hear this from men. Sure, our sexual response cycle is more obvious. When we’re at attention, we’re at attention. I often wonder what the world would be like if men had as hard a time getting off as some women do.…

But let’s begin with dispelling the notion that there may be something wrong with you. There isn’t. You do, however, fall into a category we in the biz call “pre-orgasmic.” The idea is that you’re going to be orgasmic one day—you’ve just not accomplished it yet.

And I’m gonna assume a couple of things, even though I think it’s really dangerous to make assumptions in this line of work: 1. You’ve never had an orgasm, because you’d sure as hell know it if ya had. 2. You are sexually active with male partners.

I’m going out on this limb because I absolutely never hear from pre-orgasmic lesbians. And it stands to reason—lesbians tend to be more attuned to their bodies, and they certainly know their way around the bodies of their partners. But I digress.

Orgasms don’t come easily for some women. I suppose there are as many reasons for this as there are pre-orgasmic women. A woman’s pleasure center (her clit) is more subtle and less obvious than a man’s raging boner. Women are socialized about sexuality—even nowadays—in a much different way then men are. Men have more cultural permissions to be sexually adventuresome than do women. And, truth be told, men have never needed any permission to get themselves off!

The Ballad of Amy

Case in point: When I was just beginning my practice, a young couple, Joel and Amy, visited me with this very issue. As I’d soon learn, Joel considered himself a top-notch cocksmith. He was fond of saying that he could reduce any woman to blubbering jelly with either his mouth or his magic wand. But Joel was completely flummoxed to discover that the love of his life was immune to his sexual prowess—so he hauled the little woman in for my diagnosis.

Amy, for her part, squirmed with discomfort. I thought she’d absolutely die as Joel detailed the explicit intimacies of their lovemaking. I knew I’d get nowhere with Amy while Joel was there, so I told him to take a hike while she and I had a chat.

I first asked Amy about the early messages she got about her body. She thought for a moment and answered: “I don’t know if this is what you mean, but one of my earliest recollections is my mother teaching me to wash myself. I must have been no more than 3 or 4. She began by telling me I should wash my body like we washed dishes. First and foremost, I was to attend to my hair, my face and my hands—like we would first wash the fine crystal and silverware—because they would be what would attract a husband. Then I was to wash the rest of my body. Finally, at the end of the bath, I should wash my genitals…but only with a different cloth than the one I used on the rest of me…just like we washed the pots and pans.”

This unearthed memory startled Amy. Even though she hadn’t thought about it for years, she realized she continued to wash herself in the same manner to that very day. And she followed that revelation with one equally astonishing. She told me that once she reached puberty, her mother took her aside for “The Big Talk.” Menstruation and all the embarrassment and confusion that came with it added to the “pot and pan” imagery. As to her genitals, her mother said: “You must save that for the one you love and will marry.”

“This dirty part, this thing that’s cursed with a monthly unclean bloodletting was supposed to be SAVED for the man of my dreams. YUCK! Why?”

Poor Amy! She was a tangle of mixed messages. No wonder she was pre-orgasmic. No wonder fucking Joel, despite her love for him, was a teeth-clenching chore. No wonder his begging to eat her pussy was met with, “Oh, please don’t!”

There was a lot of work to be done, but she was eager to begin.

We started her with journaling and a self-sexological exam. I instructed Amy to get a hand mirror and a detailed diagram of female genitalia. She was to familiarize herself and make friends with her estranged pussy. Her exam would entail a touch-test. Every square inch from her anus to her navel was to be tested for sensitivity. I suggested she draw pictures of herself and color them to represent the levels of sensitivity: red being the hottest and most pleasurable areas; blue being more neutral, and all the colors in-between. I encouraged her to try this exercise first with a dry hand, then a wet hand using a personal lubricant. I encouraged her to spend at least 30 minutes a day for three consecutive days. She had a lot of reacquainting to do.

And this was to be private time. Joel was not to be invited.

On the forth day, if she was ready, she could invite Joel to join her. No pressure; just a suggestion. But whenever she was ready to invite Joel, he could only attend as a guest, NOT a participant. Joel was only to receive the royal tour of Amy’s fabulous cunt. She was to show Joel her drawings, and once the show was over, that was it. No fucking, no sucking, no nothing—this was only to be an exhibition.

Poor Joel was beside himself. He couldn’t see the logic of him not being involved. I had to impress upon him that this was Amy’s work—not his. And if he just held on to that magic johnson of his, he’d be back with an orgasmic Amy in no time—but he had to be patient.

When next we were together, Amy shared her artwork with me. I could tell right away from pictures she’d drawn and colored that she’d found her clit. Amy was extremely pleased with her “newfound” pussy. She was eager to take it to the next level.

The following week’s play would include a vibrator. Amy was to buy the one she wanted, take it home and introduce it to her pussy. Using the pictures she’d created, she was to throw it into first gear and start making small, lazy circles around the blue areas, working her way to the bright red areas. She was to do this privately for 30 minutes for three consecutive days or until there was a breakthrough.

I knew this wouldn’t take long, and it didn’t. The very next day, I got the anticipated phone call. Amy was breathless.

“Holy shit, I did it!” She exclaimed. “I saw stars—the earth moved and I made so much noise that Joel came running into the room. He thought I’d somehow hurt myself. He stood there stunned as I threw myself another screaming me-me.” I loved the way she already had a name for her orgasms…screaming me-me’s.

And that’s how Amy went from pre-orgasmic to I totally know how to give myself a big fat juicy orgasm in a matter of a couple of weeks.

The Ballad of Becoming Presently Orgasmic

Now let’s review for you, Sylvie. The basic formula for achieving an orgasm is acquainting yourself with your pussy. Map out all the points of interest. Find out what feels good, and repeat it. The object of this first step is not to stress about having an orgasm—it’s all about reconnecting with your body.

The more you know about yourself, the better you’re gonna be at slamming yourself a “screamin’ me-me”. Knowing your way around your pussy is also helpful in partnered sex, especially if your partner doesn’t know shit from Shinola about your pussy.

Step two is masturbation. You may have tried before without success. This time, thanks to step one, you’ll better know your hot spots. I’m a big fan of full body masturbation. So while you’re diddling, be sure to spread the sexual energy all over your body—tits, ass, feet, mouth, whatever you like—stroke, pinch, pat, massage, and rub yourself all over. Vary your breathing, gyrate your hips, listen to sexy music, rent some porn, watch yourself in a mirror, or throw in some Kegel exercises. Try a wet hand. Play with yourself in the bath. Hell, dance around naked with a jewel in your navel…whatever it takes.

Like Amy, many women experience their first orgasm with the help of a vibrator. I encourage you to experiment with one—or try another sex toy.

Be sure to keep a journal during this exploratory period. This will help you later to bridge the gap in communicating with your partners.

Good luck!

The Erotic Mind of Polly Frost — Podcast #235 — 10/04/10

Hey sex fans,

I have an outstanding show in store for you today. I have the pleasure of introducing you to an extremely talented woman. She is an essayist, prolific author and a marvelous conversationalist. She has a sensational sense of humor and an immense erotic mind worthy of our investigation. I am delighted to welcome the one and only, Polly Frost.

Devoted fans of The New Yorker and The Atlantic will, no doubt, be familiar with Polly and her wicked wit, but that’s not all. You can find her signature work pert near everywhere, don’t cha know. She is in print, on CD as well as online.

Polly joins me as part of this The Erotic Mind series, which features interviews with noted erotic artists, both visual and literary, from all over the world. I am chatting with these ingenious people in hopes of uncovering something of the creative process involved with this specialized art form. And let me tell you; Polly dazzles in this regard.

Polly and I discuss:

  • Our mutual friend, Jeremy Edwards;
  • Writing under her real name;
  • Who is the comedic genius, Poly Frost;
  • Writing about sex in America;
  • Being married to her collaborator, Ray Sawhill;
  • Her story collection: Deep Inside;
  • Live erotic readings of Sex Scenes;
  • How spoken word erotica is different from erotica found in books;
  • Reshaping material with audience feedback.

As a special treat, Polly will share with us a mouth-watering selection of the fruit of her Erotic Mind. And here’s a tip, if you like your sci-fi with a big helping of delicious sex, you’re gonna love today’s reading.

For more of Polly, be sure to visit her site HERE!

(click on the thumbnails to get more information about these volumes)



BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

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

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

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

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

Human Rights + Sexual Rights = Sexual Freedom

On this the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day, sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, I’d like to propose something quite radical. I suggest that our sexual freedoms, here in the United States, are intricately linked to universal sexual rights. And I contend that the notion of universal sexual rights is at its core a respect for human rights and human dignity.

In a world wracked by poverty, disease and war; where we threaten our very existence with climate altering pollution, nuclear proliferation and extreme population growth; is there room to talk about human rights that include sexual rights and sexual freedom?

I emphatically answer yes! In fact, I assert that sexual inequality and oppression is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. I contend that trying to address human rights without including the essential component of sexual rights and sexual freedom is ultimately doomed to failure.

An absence of sexual rights and sexual freedom leads to domestic and societal violence; human trafficking; suicide; a rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and sexual dysfunction.

You know how we are always being encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally? Well while we busy ourselves securing and celebrating our sexual rights here in this nation, I think we’d do well to focus some of our attention on how our struggle binds us to the rest of the human community.

I offer three examples of what I’m talking about. I invite you to consider how a myopic sexual rights and sexual freedom agenda, divorced from the overarching issues of human, economic and social rights, can be ineffectual and even counterproductive.

***

In 2008 the research community was all aflutter about ‘conclusive’ evidence linking HIV transmission and uncircumcised males. While I’m certainly not ready to take this data on face value, let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that the link is conclusive. A massive campaign of circumcision was proposed as the best means of HIV prevention. The medical community would descend on epicenters of the disease, scalpels in hand; ready to eliminate the offending foreskins from every male in sight, young and old.

But wait, there’s a problem. Most HIV/AIDS epicenters are in underdeveloped countries. In these places, access to enough clean water to drink or attend to even the most basic personal hygiene, like daily cleaning under one’s foreskin, remains an enormous chronic problem. Without first addressing the problem of unfettered access to clean water and adequate sanitation, which according to The United Nations is a basic human right, further disease prevention efforts are doomed.

I mean, what are the chances that surgical intervention would succeed—one that would involve significant and sophisticated aftercare—if there is not even enough clean water for drinking and bathing?

These well-meaning medical personnel suggest imposing a strategy that not only works against nature—our foreskins do have a purpose after all: a healthy prepuce is a natural deterrent to infection. But this intervention would also violate long-held cultural and societal norms—circumcision is abhorrent to many of these same cultures. Wouldn’t this proposed prevention effort to stem the tide actually make matters worse?

***

Indentured sex work is another indicator of how human rights, sexual rights and sexual freedom are intertwined. Until the economic and educational opportunities for women throughout the world improve—which is a basic human right according to The United Nations—women will remain chattel. Families in economically depressed areas of the world will continue to be pressured to sell their daughters (and sons) simply to subsist.

Closing brothels and stigmatizing prostitutes overlooks the more pressing human rights concerns at play here. Sex is a commodity because there is a voracious market. Men from developed nations descend on the populations of less developed nations to satisfy sexual proclivities with partners they are prohibited from enjoying in their own country. Young women (and boys) in developing countries are viewed as exploitable and disposable, because they don’t have the same civil protections afforded their peers in the developed world. And runaway population growth in countries that deprive their women and girls access to education and contraception inevitably creates a never-ending supply of hapless replacements.

Addressing the endemic gender inequality in many societies is key. Equal access to education and economic resources must come before, or at least hand in hand with any serious sexual liberation effort.

***

Finally, people in the developed world enjoy a certain level of affluence and economic stability which allows them to indulge in sex recreationally. Thanks to effective birth control methods we can ignore the procreative aspects of sex and replace it with a means of expressing a myriad of other human needs. Not least among these are status, self-esteem and self-expression.

If we’re trying to prove something to ourselves, or others, by the way we conduct our sexual lives, simple prohibitions against certain sex practices won’t work. If I’m convinced that unprotected sex with multiple partners and sharing bodily fluids is edgy, cool fun, without serious consequence, as it’s portrayed in porn; I will be more likely to express myself the same way. This is especially true for young people who are already feeling invincible.

Case in point: there has been a startling uptick in seroconversions among young people, particularly gay men, which indicates that disease prevention efforts, even in the world’s most affluent societies, are simply not up to the task. It’s not that there is a scarcity of resources, quite the contrary. It is more likely that these efforts are not connected to a fundamental understanding of the role sexuality plays in the general population. I believe that sexual expression and sexual pleasure are the overarching issues here. These too are fundamental human rights.

No amount of safer sex proselytizing is going to prevail unless and until we look at why and how we express ourselves sexually. As we unravel this complex jumble of motivations and behaviors, effective prevention strategies will manifest themselves clearly. We must develop a sex-positive message; one that celebrates sexuality, builds self-esteem and counteracts the prevailing media messages of sex with no consequences.

***

National Sexual Freedom Day brings into focus the micro-strategies needed to combat a macro problem. But it also shows that we cannot work for and celebrate sexual freedom in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we see how global health and wellbeing is completely dependent on basic human rights, including sexual rights that include gender and reproductive rights, the elimination of sexual exploitation and the freedom of sexual expression.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Scheduling difficulties prevent me from bringing you the latest installment of The Erotic Mind podcast series today. But with a little luck, that will resolve itself by next week.

Actually, I’m glad I have this positing opportunity, because September, as you may know is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  And I have something important to say about that.

Curiously enough, I was contacted by another website recently and asked to contribute to a series they were doing on this very issue. They were looking for a unique take on prostate cancer awareness. I told them I had just the thing; and proceed to outline what I think is an exceptionally important, yet universally overlooked, aspect of prostate health — prostate self-awareness. Alas, the folks who run the website thought the concept of prostate self-exam was too edgy for them. After they declined my offer I thought to myself; man, there is incredible resistance, on virtually every front, for us men to become proactive in this aspect of our health.

Name: Gordon
Gender: male
Age: 67
Location: Florida
I guess I have more of a comment than a question. I’m 67, a widower and have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. I never was very adventuresome when it came to sex. In fact, before my wife died two years ago, I never had sex with any other woman. I never gave prostate cancer a thought, never gave my prostate a thought either. Now I’m mad as hell that I didn’t. You see when I started to go to a prostate cancer support group I discovered I could have monitored myself better with a simple self-examination. Why don’t doctors tell us about this? Women are supposed to examine their breasts why don’t men examine their prostate? It’s so easy actually and yet it’s this big secret. Why don’t people talk about this? It makes me so mad because it could have made a big difference in my own life. Do you know about this self-examination Dr Dick? If you do why don’t you tell other people about this? I think it would help a lot if you could get the word out on this. Now that’s all I have to say. Thank you.

No, thank you Gordon. Thank you for sharing your concern with me…with us.

I’ve been a tireless activist of prostate self-exam for decades. Let me explain. My career as a therapist began in San Francisco in 1981. That was precisely the same year a mysterious new disease began showing up among gay men. Back then it was being called gay cancer, but soon it would have another name — HIV/AIDS.

As it turned out, my private practice focused down almost exclusively to working with sick and dying people. Luckily, I discovered that I was well suited for the job and I liked it very much. So much so that in the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization called, PARADIGM; Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work and I learned so much from the people I was working with. One of the things that struck me most was that regardless of the disease — cancer, HIV, MS, you name it, or even aging process for that matter — there was always a woeful lack of information about regaining a sense of sexual-self post diagnosis, or sexual wellbeing for seniors.

I recall one participant in particular, a man much like you, Gordon. He too had prostate cancer and, like you, he was mad as hell with the indifference of the medical industry toward prostate self-exam. One day during a group session, John was railing against doctors and cancer associations for their lack of interest in promoting prostate self-awareness. He pointed to the success of the cultural campaign to encourage women to self-examine their breasts. There is even a modest campaign to promote testicle self-exams. But apparently the medical industry draws the line at prostate self-exams. I guess no one is going to encourage a man to finger his ass, even to save his life.

Another group member, Clare, a senior woman in her 70’s and a breast cancer survivor, helped put things in perspective. She reminded us that breast self-awareness is a relatively new phenomenon. Her mother, aunt, sister and a niece all died of breast cancer before the self-exam campaign began in earnest. Clare went on to say that it was only through the hard work of individuals and grassroots organizations that actively campaigned for breast self-exams that things began to change. Eventually, this movement changed the medical and cultural mindset. Clare said that it was these individuals and grassroots organizations that helped all of us overcome the denial, shame and embarrassment that was associated with women touching themselves, even to save their lives.

This is an indication of just how ingrained the sex-negativity and body-negativity runs in this culture.

I continue to work with sick and dying people here in Seattle. I had a brief gig at a local cancer center where I developed an NIH (National Institute of Health) funded program for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the same time, I was also working with a group of women with breast cancer and group of men with prostate cancer. Again every therapeutic intervention I encountered — government funded or foundation funded — was woefully lacking in any clear and unambiguous information about sexual health, wellbeing and intimacy issues post-diagnosis or surgical intervention.

To remedy this, I decided to produce a series of videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses. Videos that would help them address reintegrating sex and intimacy into their lives post diagnosis. One of the first videos was going to be Public Service Announcement showing men how to do a prostate self-exam and what to look for. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the necessary funding for this groundbreaking work. My grantwriting efforts turned up zilch. I did, however, get a whole lot of, “What a fine idea, Richard. Good luck with that…” brush-off letters though. No foundation would be caught dead funding sexually overt pattern films, even ones with the laudable intent of assisting people with the life-saving information they needed most.

I’m sorry to have been so long-winded in my reply, Gordon. I just wanted you to know that many have preceded you with outrage at the conspiracy of silence regarding prostate self-exam. Let’s face it; our society is so ass-phobic that we’d rather see men die than offer them simple instructions on how to finger their butt, find their prostate and keep tabs on their prostate health.

If we want this to change we all need to speak out…as well as stick a finger in our ass.

Keep up the fight, Gordon! And please, stay in touch.

Good luck

The Open Relationship Model

Podcasts will resume next Monday, September 6th.

Deviating from the norm. Is it worth it?

Since the launch of the Sex EDGE-U-cation podcast series in early 2009; I’ve been hearing from a lot of people who are considering opening their relationships to include additional partners to augment their primary relationships. People point to the increasing media attention polyamory is garnering as a way of justifying their interest.

It’s true; polyamory is enjoying an efflorescence in popular culture these days. But this mirrors the spike in interest that swinging had a couple of decades ago. This suggests to me that there is a fissure at the foundation of the dominant relationship model of the monogamous heterosexual, reproductive pair. All the sociological underpinnings of why our culture promotes this paradigm aside, I think it is undeniable that there is a level of dissatisfaction on the part of many who initially bought into this model as the only way to live, love and raise small herds of children. But is it?

People may feel trapped in the traditional expression of a committed relationship. But while they may be second-guessing the party line, they are equally wary of throwing open the doors in a haphazard way, and rightfully so.

I’ve been reading a lot about polyamory lately. It seems it’s the topic du jour in all the women’s magazines. Do open relationships really work?
—Cameron

For starters, the viability of an open relationship depends on the maturity level of the people who are considering opening up their sexually exclusive relationship. And how much they’re willing to work at communicating with one another through all the little details that such a decision entails. One thing for sure, I am willing to go on record to say that the devil, in this case, really is in the details.

That being said, there are a few things us sex researchers know for sure. In most cultures, people claim to practice sexual exclusivity, which is commonly referred to as monogamy. Although I think that’s a misnomer. Monogamy literally means having one union, which as we all know tells us nothing about the sexual expression either or both partners are supposedly sharing in.

Lifetime sexual exclusivity (being sexually involved with only one person for one’s entire life) is rare. Serial sexual exclusivity (having a series of exclusive relationships over one’s life) is much more common. And despite knowing that we humans do not mate for life, we continue to presume that sexual exclusivity, or monogamy is the only legitimate form of coupling.

This, unfortunately, leads to our culture’s obsession with cheating—that is, having sex with someone outside of a monogamous relationship. And frankly, what I know about humans, human relationships and human sexuality; I can say for certain that fidelity is not necessarily a genital issue. One can indeed be faithful to someone else and still have the freedom to express him/herself sexually with others. It happens all the time. In these cases, fidelity is to the relationship and the agreements, parameters and boundaries mutually agreed upon by the partners. Which gets me back to my opening comment about the need for communication. Of course, it’s much easier to presume that everyone in a relationship is working under the same rubric, but that kind of presumption is a fool’s paradise.

Another shortcoming of setting up sexual exclusivity or monogamy as the only legitimate type of coupling is that it diminishes all the other types of relationships that flourish, albeit in a more covert way. And here I’m talking about an array of open relationship models—and polyamory. The fact that we’re only now hearing about these non-traditional relationships shouldn’t suggest to you, or anyone, that they don’t exist; or that they aren’t practical alternatives to the traditional monogamous model, or that they aren’t practiced by a lot of people. They do and they are! It just means that most people in non-traditional relationships know not to go public in a society that would denigrate them for their lifestyle choices. That’s how things are here in the good old US of A; and I’ll wager it’s also true for the rest of the world. Am I right, or am I right?

Open relationships and polyamorous relationships work because the people in them adhere to some basic tenets about how to conduct themselves.

First among them is the notion that these alternative relationships must be chosen; they can’t be mandated. If one or another of the persons considering an open or poly relationship is being pressured to go along with the flow, or is fearful that he/she will be alone if he/she doesn’t comply with the will of the other(s). That kind of emotional duress will not work.

Each person in the relationship needs to take responsibility for the choices he/she is making. If you’re not up for the task, or if this kind of arrangement is not compatible with your personality type, don’t attempt to override that. You will only jeopardize the relationship for the other(s) involved. However, if the idea appeals to you, give it your best shot. I can guarantee that it will be a learning experience. Just remember, exploring something and having it carved in stone are two very different things.

Second, communication is key. The more complex the relationship structure, the greater the need for open lines of communication. Know your boundaries and express them clearly. Ask questions; never assume you know something when you don’t.

Third, know yourself! You must be able to deal with your emotions, particularly jealousy, in an up-front, adult way. This is often much easier said than done. If you need to be the center of attention just so you can feel good about yourself, or you have serious territorial issues—this is mine, this is mine, and THIS is mine!—then alternative relationship models are probably not for you.

Know what keeps you even keel in terms of what you need and what you are able to give. There has got to be a healthy tension between these two things. If you’re the kind who gives too much and resents not being rewarded for your gifts, stay away from alternative relationships. Or if you are so needy that you can’t stand it when someone else is enjoying his/her time in the sun; open or poly relationships are decidedly not for you.

You should also know that alternative relationships, of whatever stripe, are, for the most part, on the fringes of what society will accept. And some are outright taboo. This doesn’t mean you will have to slug it out on your own in a vacuum of support. On the contrary, you will, no doubt, find that the people who are living contrary to the expectations of the popular culture are often a whole lot more generous with their support and compassion then those following all the rules.

You will find that your support system will shift from more traditional sources like traditional family, church and community to alternative sources like clubs and social groupings of other like-minded individuals as yourself. A common mistake made by those in non-traditional relationships is to take their problems and issues to their traditional support systems. This rarely works because the traditional support system will inevitably blame the non-traditional relationship setup for the problem. This is not true, of course, but how would those in traditional relationships know otherwise.

I always suggest that those in non-traditional relationships bring their issues to a non-traditional support system. Here you are less likely to encounter judgments about your life choices and more help with overcoming the problems at hand.

In the end, it’s your call. Are the potential rewards as well as challenges associated with an open relationship worth taking more than the voyeuristic peek behind the curtain that the women’s magazines provide you?

Good luck!