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Fabulous Four

Because The Dr Dick Review Crew has been inundated with loads of swell adult products to review, we will be presenting several different toys each week till we relieve the backlog.

Despite it not even being Halloween yet, I know from my forays into the land of retail that holiday gift giving is not far from the minds of a lot of people.  Perish the thought!  So expediting our reviews will also give you loads of gift-giving ideas.  And that, my friends, is all I’m gonna say about that till at least the middle of next month when we launch our annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

Today we will hear from Review Crew Members: Madora, Joy & Dixie, Brad and Glenn & Hank.  So without further ado…

There’s something brand-spankin new goin on at Fleshlight.   Here’s Brad to tell us all about it.
Sex In A Can: Spread Eagle Brew —— $39.95

The Fleshlight company has been around for a lone time. They make the legendary Fleshlight and Fleshjack. I’m the proud owner of my very own Fleshlight; it is my go-to toy for spankin the monkey. I never get tired of my Fleshlight and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. That’s way I wanted to review their new product: Sex In A Can.large_1759

I am of the mind that foolin’ around with or trying to improve on a great product, an icon even, will sure enough just fuck things up. I just couldn’t see why the Fleshlight people were tempting fate by bring out Sex In A Can. But I promised Dr Dick that I would set aside my preconceived ideas and approach this new product with an open mind.

Damn! I’ll be the first to admit, I was totally off base in thinking the iconic Fleshlight couldn’t be improved upon. Wait, improved is not the word I’m looking for, because Sex In A Can doesn’t really improve on the original design, it just gives the consumer yet another option.

Those of you familiar with Fleshlight will know that every customer can pretty much customize every aspect of the unit he wants to buy. They have several “orifice” options: pussy, mouth, asshole or “neutral”. The plastic case comes in silver, black or clear. The insert comes in different colors, and there are several different internal contours for the insert itself.

Sex In A Can is basically just another option in terms of size and shape. Here’s what I mean. Sex In A Can is shaped like a tallboy beer, instead of the traditional oversized Fleshlight shape. It is lighter, more compact, less expensive, yet it has all the features of its big brothers.

There are three brand new “orifice” options — two different pussies (Mmmm, pussies!) and a mouth. Three new insert contours too. Everything else — including the patented Superskin insert remains the same. The plastic case, the thing that looks like a tallboy beer, has removable caps at both ends, as does the Fleshlight. The top cap covers the head of the insert and keeps it clean when your dick’s not in it. The end cap can also be removed for easy cleaning.

Just like the Fleshlight, ya gotta loosen the end cap a bit before you attempt to stick in your dick. Sex In A Can is a whole lot tighter than my stalwart Fleshlight. In fact, bein the hefty-cock brother I am, it was a very tight squeeze. I had to use a shitload of lube just to get me started. Oh, and by the way, you can only use water-based lube with all the Fleshlight Superskin products. Here’s a tip: you adjust the suction created inside Sex In A Can by either loosening or tightening the base cap.

Clean up is a super-easy. A little soap and water will do the trick. But once the insert is dry, you have to dust it, inside and out, with a little cornstarch, or body powder. This will help keep things as fresh as the day you got it.

My Sex In A Can: Spread Eagle Brew, came with the Pink Spread Lady orifice; (Mmmm, pussies!) mini vortex insert; the cleverly designed beer can case; and sample packet of lube.
FULL REVIEW HERE

Sex furniture?  You betcha!  Glenn & Hank walk you around this offering from the amazing folks at Liberator.
Liberator Ramp —— $200.00

Glenn: “Check this out! This is the best thing that’s happened to butt fuckin since the invention of the sling. The Ramp is just one of Liberator’s many sex furniture shapes that are designed to add more fun and lessen bodily stress for whatever kind of sex you have up your sleeve.”
Hank: “Or down your pant leg, as the case may be. We got us a plus sized Ramp and it is covered in black pleather. But you can choose from a bunch of sizes and fabric options.”

200

Glenn: “Pleather is great, because it cleans up fast. And that’s a big plus because our sessions can get pretty messy.”
Hank: “Ok, so what is the Liberator Ramp exactly and why is even better than a sling, or a swing for that matter? Good questions. The Liberator Ramp is a big triangular shaped, sturdy, comfy and solidly made cushion. Ours is 29” X 35” X 12”. And it can be used in a multitude of ways.”
Glenn: “It’s better than a sling or swing, because it’s portable, storable and you don’t have to suspend it from the ceiling, or set it up every time you want to shag. It does stow easily under the bed. It’s perfect for butt fuckin, because regardless of what position you like the Liberator Ramp is gonna make the sex a whole lot better for the top as well as the bottom.”
Hank: “Glenn likes it doggie style. I just bend him over the Ramp and plow away at his ass. It’s easier on me, because his ass is elevated to just the right position for the ass-ult. I can go as deep as possible, because his pelvis is supported by the Ramp. Oh, and ya can’t really do doggie style in a sling or swing!”
Glenn: “Hank is right! I don’t have to arch my back or strain my arms and wrists pressing back against his manly thrusts. But he can still grab my hair and pull.”
Hank: “You joke, but I know you love it deep and heavy. You’re just a dirty little piggy bottom, aren’t you?”
Glenn: “Oink, oink! I do enjoy a furious ride, that’s for damn sure. Ok, so if you want to do another position, all you do is reposition yourself on the Ramp for a little face-to-face action. Like I lay down on the Ramp, with my head at the lowest part of the incline. I scoot my butt to the highest edge of the incline.”
Hank: “Again, his ass is perfectly positioned for me to fuck him silly. With Glenn already angled down, I can lift and open his legs with ease.”
Glenn: “My toes are pointed to Jesus, and I’m in fuckin’ heaven.”
Hank: “Oh, the Ramp is great for cocksucking too. I just lay back on the Ramp, in the position Glenn just described, which elevates my hips 12” off the floor. Glenn has all the access he needs to my dick, balls and rosebud. He can service me till his heart’s content.”
Glenn: “Again, there no stress or strain on my neck or back while I blow him. And in this position Hank can grab his knees and pull open his own legs. PERFECT!”
FULL REVIEW HERE

Joy & Dixie have the pleasure of introducing you to a new kid on the block, Duncan Charles Designs. They specialize in unique, handcrafted ceramic adult toys.

Signature —— $55.00

Dixie: “Here’s something refreshing, this ceramic textured dildo is handmade! I’m so tired of mass-produced sex toys, aren’t you? Oh to have something unique, something that is crafted not manufactured.”
Joy: “Dixie is so right; I love knowing that no one else on the planet had precisely the same toy as we have. Each Duncan Charles Designs piece is unlike any other. In fact, it’s beautiful art. And it is GREEN!”
Dixie: “Signature has a food grade high-gloss coating that makes it as smooth as glass. But it is also textured, just the way we like it. Despite it being ceramic, there is nothing fussy about this beauty.”
Joy: “However, you will want to treat Signature with loving care, not because it’s fragile, but because it is a fine-looking sculpture.”
Dixie: “Signature comes wrapped in a lovely lined ultrasuede pouch. Ours is jet black, but it also comes in red. It’s just under 8″ long and weighs in at just over 8 ounces.”
Joy: “It has a rounded head on top of its scalloped shaft. The ridges add immeasurable fun. Because of the super high-gloss finish, we only had to use a little bit of lube. And you can use any type of lube you want with this ceramic baby.”

DCD signature black

Dixie: “This dildo is designed for g-spot, clitoral or prostate massage. Unlike most of the other G-spot stimulators that have a curve to them Signature is straight as an arrow. And yet it is just as effective as the curved ones.”
Joy: “I also really like the fact that I can warm and chill the Signature to suit my mood. You can chill it in the refrigerator for a few minutes or warm it by placing it under running hot water.”
FULL REVIEW HERE

Finally, Madora, has something fun from Big Teaze Toys to show you.

Super Flower Power: 2 Piece Bouquet —— $29.99

Home; batteries included (triple A), YES! I love it when that happens. Inside there’s a bonus Flower Power keychain, a mini version of the vibe that looks like a little daisy without the stem, this one even comes with bonus extra batteries (the little watch kind), EXCELLENT!sfp-500px

My first impression is that the vibrating part, the center of the flower, is a little hard for me. At least for direct contact with my “flower”. The center of the flower is hard plastic. But I like the soft petals which spread the vibes out from its petals to yours. It’s like a gentle labia massage, which is cool and rare in a vibrator. These are especially nice if you use a little lube on the petals.

I’m starting to get used to the texture and hardness. I actually like it and like the strength of the vibe when I’m using it through my clothes, the barrier makes it not seem so hard and yet it’s still able to convey strong enough vibes right through to where they’re needed. I was thinking it could be fun for when you want to tease your partner right through her clothes. Did I mention these toys are waterproof?

All in all it definitely did the trick but when I really start to get into it, either with the vibe or the little keychain, the soft petal ring pops right off the vibrator. I either hafta kinda hold it on, or stop and put it back on, if I wanna keep playing with that part. So that’s a bummer.

The keychain has been a godsend. I’m on a trip right now and brought it with me and wasn’t concerned about security seeing it, It just looks like a toy. I ended up having cramps and everyone knows an orgasm is the best thing for cramps so I put it to use, you know, for medicinal purposes.
FULL REVIEW HERE

ENJOY

Dismantling the myths of rape culture

By Matthew Wade

slutwalk

It’s a double edged sword: as a queer woman, your sex life is objectified if you’re too femme, or dismissed if you’re too masc. In light of the recent SlutWalk rally in Melbourne to protest slut-shaming and victim-blaming, Matthew Wade spoke to queer women about how their sexual identities are policed in Australia.

Men often fetishise the sex lives of queer women or erase them completely, with little elbow room in between.

When she first came out and started dating women, Natasha Smith was femme-presenting, and her sex life was a point of objectification.

“A common question at the time was around what I did in bed, but not in a way that made me feel empowered,” she told the Star Observer.

“People would ask if what I did was really sex, and who the ‘man’ was in the bedroom.

“When there’s no man involved other men have to try and figure out what this tantalising thing is… when a woman’s sexuality isn’t defined by them they turn it into a form of entertainment.”

On the flip side, Smith believes the sexualities of queer women that are more masc-presenting are often invisible, as they’re not seen by men as ‘real’ women.

“Queer women live in this weird dehumanising space where they’re stigmatised as sex objects for the straight male gaze or they’re denied,” she said.

For her Master’s thesis Smith focused on the impact homophobia and sexism had on same-sex attracted women.

She interviewed women aged 18 to 60 and many told her they had experienced street harassment and ogling, with men yelling at them for holding another woman’s hand.

“There’s this idea that you’re an object but if you fight back and resist that, it comes with the threat of escalating violence,” she said.

For many of her interviewees, revealing their sexuality to a male who may be flirting with them in a nightclub would have damaging repercussions.

“As soon as they said they were a lesbian, they’d be called a slut, a dyke, and would be subject to public humiliation,” she said.

While shame and stigma are commonly heaped on the sex lives of queer women, this becomes much more apparent when a queer woman has a more grievous encounter with sexual assault or rape.

According to the United Nations, Australia has one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world, more than double the global average.

However, because men often try to delegitimise the sexualities of queer women, their voices and experiences are left off the table.

Smith believes rape culture affects society at large, but that for queer women it can be particularly damaging.

“If you’re a queer woman and you happen to be more masc-presenting there’s a weird sort of erasure of your sexuality,” she said.

“And because people misunderstand rape as something connected to sexuality, many think queer women aren’t likely to be raped.”

When it comes to survivors of sexual assault and rape, Smith wants to debunk a common misconception: that rape is about sex.

“There’s an assumption when it comes to sexual assault and rape that they’re inherently sexual acts – but they’re not,” she said.

“They’re violent acts of power that use sex as the weapon.

“The myth that rape is somehow related to the sexual attractiveness of women is what leads to the dismissal of the experiences of queer women.”

Beyond the masculine and feminine gender binary that subjects queer women who present either way to sexual fetishisation or erasure, queer women who sit somewhere along the spectrum also face stigma around their sexual identity.

Where Smith recalls being asked intrusive questions about her sex life as a femme-presenting woman, Melbourne resident Luca Vanags-Smith is at times assumed to not have one.

As someone who now identifies as gender queer, Vanags-Smith has seen a noticeable shift in the way her sexual identity has been perceived.

“I think if you’re femme you’re hyper sexualised, and if you don’t fit the stereotypical model of femininity you’re invisible,” she said.

“I’ve had the lived experience of being gender queer for about two years and I’m viewed by many men as being sexless, or as being an asexual creature.

“I think there’s also this idea that two people that have vulvas can’t really have sex because there’s no penetration involved, so men see women sleeping with each other as entertainment for them.”

The desexualisation and dismissal of masc-presenting or gender queer women can also lead to homophobic views around Vanags-Smith’s sexual identity and her relationships with other women.

“I think when I was more femme-presenting people didn’t take it as seriously, but now my relationships often get pushed into a more heterosexual lens, which isn’t the case at all – after three or four months at a job I had, I had to break it to my boss that I wasn’t in fact a man,” she said.

“It can definitely erase the queerness of my relationships.

“People just assume I must be the one that uses the strap on, when one: that’s none of their business and two: that isn’t the case at all.”

Vanags-Smith has also found that heterosexual men will treat her as ‘one of the guys’ and attempt to engage her in a sexist conversation.

“Men will come up to me, point out a particular woman and say, ‘she’s got a great ass mate,’” she said.

“I know how awful that can make someone feel, especially a same-sex attracted woman.

“I’ve also had guys calling me love and telling me I just haven’t had a good fuck, and asking me how I have sex.”

As a means to combat this, Vanags-Smith believes sex education in schools needs to become increasingly sex positive.

She also added that sexist attitudes and misogyny are the bedrock of homophobia, transphobia, and whorephobia.

“With same-sex intimate relationships between women, men don’t really fit into that equation,” she said.

“And some see that as affronting.”

Melbourne recently played host to the annual SlutWalk rally, a march developed as a means to protest the slut-shaming and victim-blaming of women around the world, irrespective of gender or sexual identity.

It was created in Canada in 2011 after a police officer said “women should avoid dressing like sluts” if they wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted.

In Melbourne the rally sees speakers with a diverse range of experiences speaking out against misogyny and rape culture, and how it affects women.

Smith believes SlutWalk does well at being as inclusive as it can be, particularly now that the conversation around trans and queer identities has become more prominent.

“When I started going to SlutWalk I wasn’t as out as I am now, and it was through being emerged in the march that I found a community of feminists that understood me,” she said.

“They enabled me to grow into someone I’m very proud of and to be comfortable in my sexuality.”

Vanags-Smith said she loves SlutWalk because it changes people’s opinions of what a sexual assault survivor might look like, to include women of different ages, cultural backgrounds, and sex ual and gender identities.

“It acknowledges that there may be people who are femme and attractive, but there may be women who don’t fit these archetypes who may also experience sexual assault,” she said.

“The idea that some women are more at risk than others is a massive myth in rape culture that SlutWalk seeks to dismantle.”

Complete Article HERE!

All My Son Needs to Know About Sex and Being a Good Man

By Megan Rubiner Zinn

When I was pregnant, and learned I was going to have a boy, my first thought was “Here’s my chance; I can help put a good man out into the world.” Utter hubris, I know. We only have so much control as parents and we often don’t know what we’re doing. I had no idea how I was going to do this, but I knew I was already ahead of the game, since his father was such a good man. When my second son came along four years later, it was my first thought again: another chance.

There are scores of qualities that make a good man, but as I’ve raised my boys, three values have consistently bubbled to the top: Be honest, be kind, take responsibility. I’m never more proud of my boys when they demonstrate these qualities, and as we’ve all learned the hard way, nothing will make me more angry when they don’t.

I’m about to send my 18-year-old son off until the world. He’ll be 750 miles away, on his own, and he’ll be able to do whatever the hell he wants. Whatever the hell he wants will undoubtedly include having relationships and sex. There is so much I want to say to him, and really, to every young man about to strike out on his own, so much I want to impart about how to be a good man in a relationship. Yet, really, it comes down to the same three things: be honest, be kind, take responsibility.

in love

So here’s my didactic list for my son, who is nearly a man, and anyone else who wants to listen.

1. If you like someone, tell them. Don’t play games. Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them question their judgment.

2. If you love someone, tell them. But not on the first date. Use a little judgment.

3. Don’t pretend to be in a relationship or in love to have sex. If you just want to have sex and fun but not a relationship, be honest about it. It’s up to your partner to decide if that’s what her or she wants, too.

4. If you can’t be yourself in a relationship, find a new one.

5. If you’re trying to be who you think your partner wants you to be, stop it.

6. If you can’t or don’t want to be monogamous, don’t commit to someone who wants monogamy.

7. Get to know your own body before someone else gets to know your body and before you try to figure out theirs.

8. Sex is about being open, vulnerable, and naked. It’s about trusting your partner. You don’t have to be in love. You should be in trust.

9. Sex brings responsibility, for yourself and for someone else. Don’t underestimate that.

10. If you can’t talk to a partner about sex, you shouldn’t be having sex with them.

11. Don’t overestimate and don’t underestimate the importance of sex in a relationship.

12. Figure out birth control before you have sex.

13. Learn how to use condoms. Not just that they exist, but how use them, how to make sure they don’t fail, what to do when you’re done.
Make sure you know about women’s birth control and emergency contraception. This is your responsibility just as much as it is theirs.

14. If you’re too embarrassed to buy birth control, you shouldn’t be having sex.

15. Sex doesn’t always have to mean intercourse. There are plenty of ways to have fun without a pregnancy risk, though these do often come with STI risks. I would enumerate, but I’m sure you don’t want that.

16. Don’t expect to be good at sex right away. Practice, practice, practice.

17. There are words for women who like sex and don’t hide this fact. Self-aware, satisfied, and good company are three that come to mind. Most women like sex. There is no such thing as a slut.

18. Don’t guess whether your partner is as satisfied as you with sex. Ask. If they weren’t, ask what they need and want. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be having sex in the first place.

19. Your partner has had some partners before you? Great. It might mean they know what they’re doing.

20. Laugh during sex. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be having sex. Sex can often be ridiculous; respond accordingly.

21. Consent consent consent.

22. Drunk, incapacitated, and unconscious people can’t give consent.

23. Porn is a terrible way to learn about sex. This is not what most men look like. This is not what most women look like. This is not what most sex is like. It’s a movie. It’s no more realistic than Star Wars or The Avengers.

24. If you’re going to watch porn, pay for it. Look for feminist, non-exploitative porn. It will be just as fun, just as effective, and your partner may want to watch it with you.

25. One night stands, hooking up, and friends with benefits: not everyone is doing this. Some people can have casual or anonymous sex without damaging themselves physically or emotionally. Some people can’t. Figure out which of these you are and which your partner is, and tread carefully.

26. There are more ways in heaven and earth to be a sexual being and to have relationships. Accept who you are, let others be who they want to be. Unless someone is being coerced or hurt, don’t judge. In their eyes, you may be the weirdo.

27. Be honest, be kind, take responsibility.

Complete Article HERE!

French Researcher Wants to Make Sex Education More Accurate With 3D Printed Clitoris

by

clit

What’s this? Many people still don’t know.

Sex education varies greatly from school to school, location to location – some places don’t teach it at all, while others teach abstinence only; some schools are much more thorough in terms of discussing safe sex and birth control. I went to Catholic elementary school, and I remember getting a textbook called Gifts and Promises, a few awkward anatomical diagrams, and dire warnings about ruined lives and sin. That was more than two decades ago, so I don’t know how the program may have changed since then, but there has been some encouraging news lately about public schools introducing increasingly comprehensive programs that address issues of consent and safety, as well as same-sex relationships and non-binary gender identities.

Then there’s sex ed in France. According to researcher Odile Fillod, the system has a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to the female anatomy. She’s not the only one who thinks so – in June, Haut Conseil à l’Egalité (High Council for Equality), a government organization dedicated to issues of gender equality, published a report indicating that sex education in France is still full of woefully outdated and sexist ideas. The information – or lack thereof – about one particular female organ especially concerns Fillod.

She turned to Melissa Richard, mediator of the Carrefoure Numérique Fab Lab at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, who took to Blender to create a 3D model of an organ that remains a mystery to many, and one that’s still given little mention in many sex ed programs: the clitoris.

clit diagram

“The idea came as part of the preparation of videos dealing with non-sexist way of themes SVT program about sex and sexuality,” says Fillod. “In textbooks, the clitoris is often overlooked and is systematically misrepresented when it is. It was therefore able to show concretely what it looks like to talk about sexual anatomical and physiological bases of desire and pleasure remembering women, for once.”

Fillod has been working with V’idéaux, a Toulouse-based documentary film production company, to create a Ministry of Education-supported website dedicated to the promotion of respect and equality between men and women. V’idéaux wanted to include a video about the clitoris on the website, which is set to launch in January 2017, and Fillod realized that she could incorporate a film of the 3D design and printing process onto the site. You can see the video, which probably has the most sensual soundtrack you’ve ever heard in a film about 3D design, below:

It took a bit of work to find anatomically accurate drawings of the clitoris to base the 3D model on, showing that Fillod is correct in her assertion that this organ has been a highly misrepresented one. Once Richard had a realistic model designed, it was printed in PLA on a Mondrian 3D printer, and the open source file has been made available – the world’s first open source, 3D printable clitoris, if I’m not mistaken.clitoris

Fillod is hoping that 3D printed clitorises will be used by teachers and doctors to learn and teach about the actual structure, dimensions and function of this important part of the female body. Even though France has the reputation of being sexually progressive, Fillod told The Guardian, the focus is still mostly on male sexuality, to the extent that women and girls are largely uneducated about their own bodies.

“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated,” she said. “In understanding the key role of the clitoris, a woman can stop feeling shame, or [that she’s] abnormal if penile-vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick for her – given the anatomical data, that is the case for most women.”

Will 3D printed clitorises start showing up in the classroom? We’ll see…but at least Fillod and Richard have brought some much-needed attention to the often-downplayed and still-taboo subject of female sexuality and pleasure.

Complete Article HERE!

Sleeping with other people: how gay men are making open relationships work

A new study says non-monogamous couples can actually be closer, even as critics of open relationships argue humans are unable to separate love and sex

Non-monogamous relationships can lead to a happier, more fulfilling relationship, a study found.

Non-monogamous relationships can lead to a happier, more fulfilling relationship, a study found.

By Spencer Macnaughton

Hugh McIntyre, a 26-year-old music writer, and Toph Allen, a 28-year-old epidemiologist, are in love and have an “amazing” relationship of two and a half years. One of the keys to their success: sleeping with other people.

“We wouldn’t change a thing,” says Allen, who lives in New York City with McIntyre. “We get to fulfill our desire of having sex with other people. We avoid cheating and the resentment that comes in monogamous relationships when you can’t pursue sexual urges.” Their relationship is not unusual among gay men. In 2005, a study found that more than 40% of gay men had an agreement that sex outside the relationship was permissible, while less than 5% of heterosexual and lesbian couples reported the same.

McIntyre and Allen say the strength of their bond is built on clear and open communication. And while that assertion will be perplexing or even taboo to many monogamous couples, a new study into gay couples in open relationships suggests that this skepticism is unjustified. In fact, the study says, non-monogamous couples can actually be closer than their more faithful counterparts.

In June 2015, Christopher Stults, a researcher at The Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies at New York University, launched a qualitative study of 10 gay couples in open relationships. He conducted 45-minute, individual interviews with each of these men and their partners, who ranged in age from 19 to 43.

The study, funded by the Rural Center for Aids/STD Prevention at Indiana University, had multiple aims. “We wanted to see how these relationships form and evolve over time, and examine the perceived relationship quality, relationship satisfaction, and potential risk for HIV/STI infection,” says Stults, who finished coding the interviews this week at NYU and hopes to have the study published early next year.

So far, Stults says his finding is that non-monogamous relationships can lead to a happier, more fulfilling relationship. “My impression so far is that they don’t seem less satisfied, and it may even be that their communication is better than among monogamous couples because they’ve had to negotiate specific details,” Stults says.

And open relationships “don’t seem to put gay men at disproportionate risk for HIV and other STDs,” Stults says. “To my knowledge, no one contracted HIV and only one couple contracted an STD,” he says.

But despite Stults’s findings, there’s stigma associated with these kinds of relationships. In 2012, four studies from the University of Michigan found that participants’ perception of monogamous relationships were “overwhelmingly more favorable” than of open relationships.

“Gay men have always engaged more often in consensual non-monogamous relationships, and society has consistently stigmatized their decision to do so,” says Michael Bronski, a professor in the department of women, gender and sexuality at Harvard University.

McIntyre and Allen say they’ve experienced the stigma themselves but that an open relationship is the most honest way for them to be together. “We’ve run into gay and straight people who have assumed our relationship is ‘lesser than’ because we’re not monogamous. I think that’s offensive and ridiculous,” McIntyre says.

So what makes an open relationship work? Participants in Stults’ study emphasized that success is predicated on creating rules and sticking to them. For McIntyre and Allen, two rules are key: “Always tell the other person when you hook up with someone else, and always practice safe sex,” Allen says.

For David Sotomayor, a 46-year-old financial planner from New York, sticking to specific rules is fundamental to the success of his open marriage. “They’re built to protect the love of our relationship,” he says. “We can physically touch another man and have oral sex, but we can’t kiss, have anal sex, or go on dates with other guys,” he says. “We attach an emotional value to kissing – it’s special and unique.”

But sticking to the rules isn’t always easy. Sotomayor has broken them multiple times, which has caused conflict. “It creates a sense of doubt of whether someone is telling the truth,” he says.

Critics of non-monogamous relationships argue that humans are unable to separate love and sex. “Sex is an emotional experience,” says Brian Norton, a psychotherapist who specializes in gay couples and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s department of counseling and clinical psychology. “There is emotion at play, and even in the most transactional experience someone can get attached,” Norton says.

Further, Norton believes that going outside the relationship for sex can lead to emotional insecurity. “I think it is a difficult pill to swallow that we cannot be all things to our partners,” he says. “A relationship is a constant balancing act between two conflicting human needs: autonomy and the need for closeness,” he says.

But Allen thinks it’s more complicated: “It’s true that love and sex are intertwined, but they aren’t the same thing. Love is about so much more than sex. [There’s] intimacy, friendship, mutual care and respect.”

That gay couples are leading the way in sexually progressive relationships shouldn’t be surprising, according to Bronski. “Because they’ve been excluded from traditional notions of sexual behavior, they’ve had to be trendsetters and forge their own relationship norms,” he says.

Norton believes the facility with which gay men engage in open relationships may be related to a fear of intimacy. “The experience of coming to terms with your homosexual identity can often be associated with emotional abandonment, shame and rejection,” he says.

“So our experience with love and intimacy at an early age is often broken and compromised, so when someone tries to get close to us as an adult, defenses get close,” he says. “It’s human nature to avoid revisiting feelings of abandonment, and open relationships may be a way of keeping a distance between another man.”

But Allen says that being open has strengthened his relationship with McIntyre and brought the couple closer together. “I feel a greater sense of connectedness with Hugh because I get to see him explore his sexuality with other people and I feel gratitude to him for giving me the same leeway,” he says.

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