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What asexuality can teach us about sexual relationships and boundaries

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There is an expectation that everyone feels sexual attraction and sexual desire and that these feelings begin in adolescence. Assumptions about sex are everywhere – most of time we don’t even notice them. Music videos, films, reality shows, advertising, video games, newspapers and magazines all use sexual content which supports the idea that sexuality, attraction and desire are normal. There is, however, a group of people that are challenging this sexual assumption, who identify as asexual.

Asexuality was once thought of as a problem which left people unable to feel sexual attraction to others. Upon the discovery that some people had little or no interest in sexual behaviour, researchers in the 1940s called this group “asexuals”, and labelled them as “Group X”. There was no more discussion of “Group X”, and asexuals and asexuality were lost to history, while studies of sexuality grew and flourished.

Even today, asexuality still seems to be something of a mystery for many people – despite more people talking about it, and more people identifying as asexual. Asexuality is difficult for a lot of people to understand. And research shows that as a sexual identity, people have more negativity towards asexuals than any other sexual minority.

What is asexuality?

What exactly asexuality is, is very much still being decided – with a lot of debate going on as to whether it is a sexual orientation or a sexual identity. There have also been discussions about whether it is a medical condition or if it should be seen as a problem to be treated.

But it seems that for many, being asexual is less about a traditional understanding of sexual attraction and behaviour, and more about being able to discuss likes and dislikes, as well as expectations and preferences in the early stages of a relationship. In this way, it is a refreshing way of being honest and clear with potential partners – and avoiding any assumptions being made about sex. Maybe because of this approach, a growing number of self-identified asexuals see asexuality as less of a problem, and more of a way of life.

Discussions about sex and sexuality during the early stage of a relationship can make partners and potential partners more respectful towards a person’s choices and decisions. They also can reduce the potential of others making requests that may make someone uncomfortable, or which carry subtle elements of coercion.

Redefining boundaries

In this way, then, with its need for honesty and clarity, asexuality is an insightful way of looking at sexuality, and the ways in which non-asexuals – also known as allosexuals in the asexual community – interact with others on a close and intimate level.

According to one asexual, her friends’ reactions to her “coming out” were underwhelming – mainly because it is an orientation defined by “what is not happening”. But for self-identified asexuals, there is actually a lot happening. They are exploring and articulating what feels right in the context of intimacy. They are considering different aspects of relationships and partnerships. They are talking to others about their experiences. And they are looking for people they can share a similar experience with.

Asexuals are thinking carefully and critically about what it means to be close to someone, and in doing so, many of them have an understanding of non-sexual practices of intimacy. By doing all of this, they are developing a very unique skill set in a culture which is often considered to be over sexualised.

At a time when there is a growing recognition that many teenagers struggle to understand what a healthy romantic relationship actually looks like, asexuality gives us a new way of understanding relationships – both sexual and asexual, romantic and unromantic. And this could have a huge potential to help others understand closeness in relationships where there is an absence of sexual intimacy.

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Celebrating Magnus Hirschfeld, the Einstein of Sex

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Decades ago, wandering a ramshackle German flea market, an old book caught my eye. Emblazoned in gold on its brick red cover was the beckoning title Sexualkatastrophen. In its inevitably German way, the title (in English, obviously, Sexual Catastrophes) said it all and that alone was worth the few dollars price. Little did I know I had purchased a 1926 first edition of a collection of sexual studies including several written by the father of modern LGBTQ liberation, Magnus Hirschfeld.

Like his other works on the subject, his contributions to Sexualkatastrophen present scientific biographies of individual trans (he invented the term “transvestite” in 1910 that would evolve into today’s transgender and its variants), gay and lesbian subjects. Reading it at the time, I was struck by Hirschfeld’s candid and natural embrace of sexuality that helped confirm my own sense of being of another identity that was as valid as any other. And, as it still does today, the book made clear how we are so predisposed to ignorance and denial that our whole social structure continues to suffer as a result.

May 14 marks the 150th anniversary of Hirschfeld’s birth in 1868. The significance of the occasion is recognized in his native Germany where 2018-2019 has been declared “Hirschfeld Anniversary Year.” In July, the German Federal Post Office will issue a postage stamp in his honor. Throughout the jubilee, arts events, seminars, exhibits, conferences and concerts will celebrate the “Einstein of Sex” or, as he was affectionately known within his gay Weimar circle, Tante Magnesia (“Aunt Magnesia”).

Hirschfeld’s work in the field of sex was groundbreaking and visionary. Basing his theory of sexuality and gender on the “born this way” principle, he argued the case for fluidity and that all sexual expressions and their characteristics were part of a spectrum from masculine to feminine. He believed that homosexuality was, in fact, a third sex and practiced universally. As early as the 1890s he advocated the legalization of abortion and the decriminalization of homosexuality. In 1919, he helped produce a film, Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others). It depicts the plight of a gay man subjected to blackmail (it still exists today only as a restored reconstruction). His work, he hoped, would help fight prejudice and provide justice through knowledge for those “hostages of morality,” the victims of an invented system that condemned their natural deviations from the norm as deviance.

But given the politics of the times, whether in conservative Imperial Germany or, later, under the Nazi

Magnus Hirschfeld

regime, particularly as a Jewish gay liberal, Hirschfeld was considered revolutionary in its most subversive sense. A year after his film’s release, it was banned. The Nazis burned his books and his Institute for Sexual Science was ransacked and razed. Hirshfeld managed to escape to Switzerland and, later France, where he died in 1935.

In Germany today, his legacy was the complete repeal in 1994 of the infamous Paragraph 175, the anti-gay law in the German penal code and the founding of the Magnus Hirschfeld Federal Foundation.

Hirschfeld Anniversary Year should be recognized here as well. It seems, after all, we are still, a century later, fighting for the same cause.

Complete Article HERE!

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Financial Domination: Inside the Erotic Fetish That Controls Men’s Wallets

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A financial dominatrix rarely takes off her clothes or engages in sex. But she might have to talk a lot of shit about a client’s FICO score or let him listen in while she splurges at Saks with his cash.

 

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The first time Ceara Lynch dipped a toe in the world of sex work, she was 17 and a long way from home. A high school student who had grown up in the Portland, Oregon, area, Lynch was doing a semester abroad as an exchange student in Japan. She didn’t know the language, or anyone who spoke English. She was bored and lonely. So she did what people do now when faced with social isolation: connected with friends, and strangers, online.

“This one guy started randomly talking to me after he saw my profile on some site,” Lynch remembers. Though it wasn’t an adult platform, she explains: “To be straightforward: He was a big pervert.”

This stranger on the Internet had a host of fetishes—golden showers, pantyhose, you name it—stuff that seemed shocking at the time, though Lynch wouldn’t blink twice about anymore. He wanted to meet up; she said absolutely not. “I was young, but I wasn’t stupid,” she points out with a laugh.

When the man finally accepted that there would be no IRL meet-up, he asked her if she’d do something else: let him buy a bottle of her urine. At first she thought no way. But the more that Lynch considered the offer, the more she felt like, “What did I have to lose?” She packed up her pee and sent it away to the address he provided. Two weeks later an envelope arrived in the mail—containing $250 cash. That’s when she recognized a potential business opportunity. “I thought: If guys like this found me by accident, what would happen if I went looking for them?”

Lynch started selling her used underwear, among other things, online through an auction site that is best described at eBay but for fetishes. Guys would bid for her garbage, her used tampons, excrement, “all this wild stuff,” she recalls. But when she started to get messages from men begging to be her “money slave” she had to do some research to figure out what they meant. Eventually she stumbled on the kink she was looking for: financial domination. That was 10 years ago. And it’s how she’s been making her living ever since.

At its most basic level, financial domination is pretty much what it sounds like: domination whereby, instead of a bondage or ball gag, money is the means of (consensual) abuse. When you scratch below the surface though, that’s where it gets a little tougher to understand—as Lynch explains it, all BDSM is an exchange of power, and financial domination isn’t any different, but it’s not a kink most people understand unless they’re into it.

A financial dominatrix might be paid by her submissive to talk shit about his FICO score or tell him she’s going to spend all his money, even if she never actually has access to his accounts. Or maybe she has his credit card numbers and he gets off on the fear that one day she’ll decide to max it out; in other cases, he might send her, via Venmo or another money-sharing app, a certain amount of cash and want to listen in while she’s shopping so he knows how she’s spending it. The whole point is that the submissive gets off on the idea of losing power over his money—it’s his form of waiting for the bullwhip to crack.

FinDom for short, the fetish falls under the BDSM umbrella, can take on a variety of forms, and is admittedly fairly niche; it also goes by other names, like financial slavery. A financial dominatrix rarely—if ever—takes off her clothes or has sex with a client. According to Lynch, the fact that she doesn’t is an integral part of her brand.

“I don’t get naked in my videos. That’s kind of important for my image actually. If I were to do that, I would certainly gain another audience,” she says. “But I would lose a lot of them too, because the whole idea is that my submissives aren’t worthy of seeing me naked. Also I just don’t want to.”

FinDoms—who are typically women, though not always—might be called money mistresses, while submissives are referred to as cash cows, money slaves, or pay pigs, among other epithets. Unlike a sugar baby, a woman who has an emotional or sexual relationship with her client in exchange for cash, she’s demanding and assertive, not supplicant or sweet. But though the specifics of a relationship dynamic might vary, in a culture that equates money with power, and sex with power, financial domination can sound, at least in theory, like the ultimate aphrodisiac to some.

While financial domination is better known than it used to be, it remains a highly niche fetish that sex researchers don’t know much about, much like BDSM itself. Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., is an award-winning sex researcher and psychology professor whose book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life hits shelves this summer, explains that the lack of qualitative and quantitative data on this sexual proclivity has much to do with the fact that we literally haven’t been asking people about it. Questions about FinDom have yet to appear on national sex surveys, which also means that we have little way of knowing if it’s more or less popular now than it used to be.

At least one thing is clear, though. “The Internet has allowed people with interest in BDSM to find a like-minded community.” That’s the medium through which most FinDoms work, whether via chat, video, pay-per-minute calls, and “ignore lines,” which are exactly what they sound like: a line that a sub calls into with the express purpose of paying for the pleasure of being ignored.

If you think it sounds easy, Lynch wants to correct the record: “You see a lot of girls try and get into it by just setting up a Twitter account. But if you’re going hunting for these guys, you’re just not going to find them.”

In a way, a successful financial dominatrix is just like any other online influencer. It’s all about building a brand, creating content, and connecting with followers in a way that brings them back for more. “Offering webcam, making videos, having an Instagram and Twitter presence”—in other words, diversifying revenue streams so that you’re widening your reach and depending less on one-on-one interactions. Maybe you also dabble in foot fetish or humiliation (Lynch also refers to herself as a humiliatrix). “If you keep doing that, and putting it out there, every once in a while, you’ll catch what I like to call a white whale,” she says, “one of those guys who surfaces, gives you a ton of money and then disappears.”

Speaking of money, by now you’re probably wondering what a financial dominatrix actually commands for her services. That answer depends on a range of variables. But Lynch breaks it down by the things she actually sells. “My webcam rate is $10 per minute, and my prerecorded videos, which usually run about 10 minutes, are around $10. If I guy wants a custom video, those start at $250 or so, and scale up depending on how elaborate their idea is. Then I have my phone lines: Talking to me is $5 per minute. With the ignore line, the guy just calls me and then I put the phone down, and I get paid for as long as he stays on the line.”

Other FinDoms Glamour spoke to for this story said they wouldn’t get on the phone for less than $50, and that their financial domination “side hustle” might yield $30,000 a year. Lynch is less inclined to share an exact figure, but it’s worth mentioning that, when we spoke, she was in the midst of a three-month trip through Asia, and that this duration of travel is a pretty normal part of her lifestyle. “I make six figures, I’ll say that,” she says. She’s used the money to buy a few investment properties, and has been an incorporated business for 10 years.

Another FinDom Glamour emailed with shared that, over the past 19 years, her financial domination business has afforded her the kind of lifestyle where she could be available and present for her four kids every day. When we connected, she was currently taking her youngest on a class trip to Disney World before heading back to work after the vacation.

Of course, on top of the rates and attention for pay, there’s also another financial element: spending sub’s money. Tatiana, a 30-year-old West Coast-based financial dominatrix, relayed an exchange with a client who transferred $450 into her Venmo account—under the condition that she go shopping and let him listen into how he spent her money.

The phone stayed in her purse, from which she could hear him loudly protesting the conversations about specific items she was having with the salespeople—the resistance, and the sub’s inability to do anything about it, is part of the kink. When she pouted about the fact that he hadn’t sent her enough to buy a pair Louboutin booties, he eventually wound up sending her an extra $200. “I viewed it as a tip,” she says.

Lynch recalled a time that a sub wanted to be “tag-teamed” by herself and another FinDom: He paid for an hour of their cam time each, set up his credit card information with Saks Fifth Avenue sites, and requested that they tell him what they were buying as they shopped the site. “I think we ended up spending something like $10,000 between us just in that hour,” she says.

But it’s not all shopping sprees and big spenders. “The thing about this fetish is that you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of money to have it,” she says. “You might just get off on the idea of it.”

“For instance, I had a guy one time call me on my talk line, just for a quick chat. He wanted me to tell him how rich I am, how I want all his money, how greedy I am. Then, at the end, he hung up and paid me maybe $10.”

Another thing about being a financial dominatrix versus a real-life dungeon master is that it removes the element—and some of the potential danger—of working in the BDSM world. Because doms and subs tend not to exchange real identifying information, it allows for more anonymity (for example, Ceara Lynch is not Ceara Lynch’s real name), and the fact that interactions largely happen online on or the phone adds a protective layer into the practice.

Over the last decade Lynch can recall being doxxed only once, and when she reported it to police, they basically told her there was no recourse. In the end, she decided the best way to deal with it was to ignore it, and eventually the guy just faded away. “Unfortunately, if someone really wanted to find a lot of personal information about me, they could. There’s only so much I can do about it. It’s just kind of a risk I’m willing to take.”

Subs are obviously going out on a limb too. Sydney Lee, a dominatrix whose YouTube channel AstroDomina is devoted to explaining kinks of all kinds to the layman viewer, describes how her pay pigs getting aroused by the idea that she could financially ruin them at any moment.

“It’s a deep mental fetish, and it definitely takes more than a random pretty girl saying, ‘Give me money,’” she says in a video devoted to FinDom. That comment echoed an observation Lynch made about supply and demand—and why it’s harder to be a successful financial dominatrix than it might seem. Which makes sense, given that capitulation to the dom is part of the kink.

“One thing about financial domination is that there’s this element of humiliation that goes along with it,” explains Lehmiller. “What we know now from a lot of research is that physical pain and psychological pain activate the same areas of the brain and have similar effects. One of those effects makes us focus more on the here and now, allowing us to experience other things more intensely—for example, if you experience pain and then have sexual stimulation afterward, it might feel more intense.” In the case of financial domination, it’s not hard to see how chasing intensity might put a submissive on the road to financial ruin. It’s the kind of costly thrill you don’t want to be addicted to unless you can afford it.

Lee, of AstroDomina, positioned it in her FinDom video like this: “Handing over money is the ultimate representation of surrender or submission for most money slaves.” And with all the ways to connect and spend money these days, it’s never been easier for subs to find their financial doms or make deposits into their accounts.

Lynch has watched the landscape change a lot over the years. “When I first started, there were about five girls doing this,” she says. “But now there’s this huge influx of girls trying to do it because it seems easy. Once, one of my slaves gave me his log-in to Twitter and I went through his DMs—there were all these women trying to hustle him, like, ‘Hey bitch, pay me.’ I’ve had the luxury of time to build my brand, and I don’t mean to talk shit; however girls make it work, they make it work. But I thought it was fascinating because I have never sent a message to a guy first. They come to me.”

She used to think she would be out of the business by now, and, in a way, she’s a little surprised at how in-demand she continues to be.

“In the adult industry youth and beauty are your main currency—I imagined that mine would be up by now. But I make more and more money every year. It’s really confusing and unexpected. I always told myself I would keep doing it until it makes sense not to. I have my bachelor’s, but it’s not a very useful bachelor’s, so I’ve thought about going back to school one day.”

But even though she know she has plenty of options on the table, Lynch says, at this point, it doesn’t make sense to set FinDom aside—she just doesn’t have a reason to. “I make a lot of money. I travel. I have a really cool life right now. My focus is to make as much money as I can for the future, put it into real estate and other investments. Once the reason to stop arrives, I just want to have a good nest egg to explore the rest of my life.”

Complete Article HERE!

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This Female Filmmaker Is Changing the Porn Industry—One Perfectly Lit Sex Scene at a Time

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Catching up with Erika Lust.

By:Lindsay Brown</a

Since we last spoke to Erika Lust, her star has continued to rise. She was recently honored with the Maguey Award at the Guadalajara International Film Festival—a prize that celebrates “the career and achievements of a person who, through her work, has transformed sexual diversity, breaking down barriers and showing new paradigms of sexuality and gender.” Indeed, the Barcelona-based erotic filmmaker is transforming the porn industry. Lust has spent the last ten years elevating porn’s aesthetic, using her role behind the camera to put the focus on female pleasure. (Lest you think that sounds like a lot of gentle lovemaking, I can assure you that you’re wrong; it’s intense and X-rated—from a female gaze—and it will absolutely get you off.)

On the heels of her first American screening in L.A., we spoke to Lust about her revolt against male-centric content, the importance of ethical porn, and why audiences are so hungry for her style of sexual storytelling.

You’re often described as an erotic filmmaker, perhaps because the word “porn” doesn’t seem to do your films justice. Does the word “porn” get a bad rap, and how do you deal with that?

“People have so many ideas about what porn is, and most of those ideas have bad connotations around them. It’s related to mainstream porn that we are used to online today—this kind of ‘Pornhub’ porn. That is very different from my kind of porn. I show explicit sex, obviously, and the conventional porn is also showing explicit sex. But I am trying to do much more with my films. I am a filmmaker. I love film—that is my big passion.”

How would you explain the difference between your movies and mainstream porn to someone who hasn’t seen your films?

“It’s like the difference between eating fast food, and eating at a small little family-owned restaurant. You know, where the owners go to the market and pick out the ingredients themselves…where the owners are elaborating on an old recipe, trying everything out and deciding how it is going to look…caring about the quality.”

The fast-food analogy is such a perfect way to describe mainstream porn sites. A lot of it literally looks greasy, gross, and borderline unhealthy.

“Ha! Exactly!”

What do you think the problem is with mainstream pornography?

“My problem with porn is not the explicit sex in it, [it’s that] it’s so aggressive, so misogynistic, many times so racist, and sometimes even homophobic. It looks like [men] are more interested in punishing women, instead of, you know, coming together and just having a fabulous time! That is what sex should be about, right? But mainstream porn is all about fetishizing people based on body type, age, and race. It takes [away] the humanity of people, and that’s sad, because that’s the interesting part.”

Would you say your films are designed for women?

“I would say…my films are made from a female perspective with a female gaze, but they really are for everyone. I think men will find great benefits from watching real pleasure from women on screen.”

They might learn something!

“Exactly! Many men are confused about what pleasure really looks like. I mean, if you go to Pornhub or something like that, [the women] are all screaming from penetration, and we know that’s not true. We all know that most women need some sort of clitoral stimulation to create those kinds of screams.”

One of the differences between your films and mainstream porn is the casting. You have a lot of diversity. Can you tell us about your casting process?

“It’s totally essential. Without the right actors, you can’t really make it, and it’s something we have really been working a lot with over the last year, to get better at it. I work with a great casting director who is an actress, as well. But [it] is not easy to find the right people… You have to make an effort.”

You’ve been making films for over 10 years now, but recently your company has started to invest in other women’s films as well, financing projects. How important do you think it is to have representation behind the camera?

“I think it’s ridiculous that [mostly] men are telling the sexual stories of humanity. I started financing other women because I realized that I cannot change an industry by myself. The project is growing and has become bigger, and now I have the means to fund other films by women.”

You’ve spoken a fair bit about the importance of ethical porn. Can you elaborate on what that means in practice when it comes to your company?

“Ethical porn means taking care of your cast and crew—making sure that they’re comfortable, that they understand the contract they’re signing and the type of sex they’re agreeing to beforehand. All the sexual acts are negotiated up front, so there are no surprises. And then basic things; that they have water and snacks, that they have blankets, and that they have time to have a break. I hear from women that they feel so safe on my sets, because they are surrounded by sisters.”

You recently hosted a sold-out screening at the legendary Mack Sennett Studios in L.A., which was your first time screening in the States. What do you look forward to at these events?

“I love the audience interaction. I love to communicate with the audience, to answer their questions, to feel the energy in the room. When it comes to the screening in America, it’s particularly special because we really are a small art house European film company.”

Have you found difference between American viewers and Europeans? Do you think there is a different sensibility there about sex and sexuality?

“Absolutely. But even within Europe there are differences. In Germany, for example, they are very open-minded. America is a little bit more…hypocritical when it comes to porn. [Americans] want it, but they don’t want it. They are so drawn to porn privately, but then they don’t want to talk about it as much.”

You’ve mentioned that just how comedy is supposed to make you laugh and horror is supposed to make you scared, porn is supposed to turn you on. Has anyone ever enjoyed the films a little too much during a screening?

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything bad. Mostly people are behaving very well! But when you say that, it sounds like that could be the plot of a new movie!”

Complete Article HERE!

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Performance Anxiety Doesn’t Mean the End of Your Sex Life… Here’s Why

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Sometimes sex can be stressful, but these steps may help you get your groove back.

by Stephanie Booth

After her first sexual partner belittled her in the bedroom, Steph Auteri began second-guessing herself when it came to sex.

“I felt self-conscious and nervous about being a disappointment to the other person,” the 37-year-old says. “I found myself never feeling sexual, never wanting to be intimate, and never initiating anything.”

Even with different partners, Auteri “went through the motions” of sex, always hoping the act would be over quickly.

“I felt broken,” she admits. “And more than anything else, I felt guilty for being weird about sex. I felt that I wasn’t someone who was worth committing to. Then, I would feel resentful for the fact that I had to feel guilty and would want sex even less. It was a vicious circle.”

“Sex anxiety,” like Auteri experienced, isn’t an official medical diagnosis. It’s a colloquial term used to describe fear or apprehension related to sex. But it is real — and it affects more people than is commonly known.

“In my experience, [the incidence] is relatively high,” says Michael J. Salas, LPC-S, AASECT, a certified sex therapist and relationship expert in Dallas, Texas. “Many sexual dysfunctions are relatively common, and almost all of the sexual dysfunction cases that I’ve worked with have an element of anxiety associated with them.”

How sex anxiety manifests can occur in a wide variety of ways for different people. Women may have a significant drop in libido or interest, have trouble getting aroused or having an orgasm, or experience physical pain during sex. Men can struggle with their performance or their ability to ejaculate.

Some people get so nervous at the idea of having sex that they avoid having it altogether.

However, Ravi Shah, MD, a psychiatrist at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, suggests one of the keys to overcoming sex anxiety is viewing it as a “symptom” instead of a condition.

“You’re getting anxious around sex, but what’s the real diagnosis?” Shah asks.

The link between anxiety and sex

If it seems like just about everyone you know is anxious about something these days — well, that’s because they are. Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental health issue in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults.

When a person senses a threat (real or imagined), their body instinctively switches into “fight or flight” mode. Should I stay and fight the snake in front of me, or book it to safety?

The chemicals that get released into the body during this process don’t contribute to sexual desire. Rather, they put a damper on it, so a person’s attention can be focused on the immediate threat.

“In general, people who experience anxiety disorders in the rest of their lives are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, too,” says Nicole Prause, PhD, a sexual psychophysiologist and licensed psychologist in Los Angeles.

Additionally, trauma — such as sexual abuse or sexual assault — can trigger apprehension about sex. So can chronic pain, a change in hormones (like right after giving birth or when going through menopause), and even a lack of quality sex education.

“Abstinence-only education tends to create a stigma and shame around sex that can continue into adolescence and adulthood,” says Salas. “Sex education that focuses only on pregnancy ignores the importance of sexual stimulation and pleasure. This can leave people looking to porn for their sex education… [which] can increase myths of sexual performance and increase anxiety.”

“Some people may have anxiety around sex because they have unrealistic expectations about what healthy sex is,” agrees Shah. “Across both men and women, that has to do with low self-esteem, what sex is like in porn and movies versus in real life, and how much sex they feel they ‘should’ be having.”

“People wrongly believe everyone else is having sex all the time and it’s great and no one else has problems except them,” he adds.

How to alleviate sex anxiety

There are plenty of benefits to maintaining a healthy sex life. Sex improves your bond with your partner, gives your self-esteem a boost, and can lower your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system.

The “feel good” hormones released during sex can even help combat feelings of stress and anxiety.

So how do you get past your current anxiety about sex to reap those benefits?

Talk to your doctor

First, rule out any physical problems.

“Many physiological problems can increase sexual dysfunction, which can then increase sex anxiety,” Salas says. These include chronic health issues like arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can also do a number on your libido.

Explore intimacy in different ways

“Sensate focus” exercises, which involve touching your partner and being touched for your own pleasure, are meant to help you reconnect with both your sensual and sexual feelings.

“Initially, no genital touching is allowed,” explains Prause. “More touching is gradually added back in as exercises progress, which are often done with a therapist between home sessions. These are done to help identify sources and times of anxiety and work through what those might mean.”

Since anxiety “most often is about something failing around the moments of penetration,” says Prause, you could also choose to avoid that specific act until your confidence builds back. That way, you can learn how to enjoy other pleasurable sexual activities that still provide intimacy, but without the pressure.

Just make sure you talk with your partner if you decide this direction is best for you. As Prause cautions, “There’s no skirting good communication on this one.”

Be mindful

During sex, you may find yourself trying to read your partner’s mind or worrying that you’re not living up to their fantasies. “Mindfulness can help keep you in the present, while managing negative emotions as they arise,” says Salas.

To do that, he urges his clients to view the signals they get from their body as information, rather than judgments. “Listen to your body, rather than try to override it,” he says.

For instance, instead of worrying why you don’t yet have an erection — and panicking that you should — accept that you’re still enjoying what you’re currently doing, like kissing or being touched by your partner.

“Noticing without judgment and acceptance are key aspects of lowering sexual anxiety,” says Salas.

Make sex a regular conversation

“It’s a fantasy that your partner should know what you want,” says Shah. “They don’t know what you want for dinner without you telling them, and the same goes for sexual activity.”

Choose a private moment and suggest, “There’s something I want to talk to you about in regards to sex. Can we talk about that now?” This gentle heads-up will give your partner a moment to mentally prepare. Then approach the heart of the matter: “I love you and want us to have a good sex life. One thing that’s hard for me is [fill-in-the-blank].”

Don’t forget to invite your partner to chime in, too, by asking: “How do you think our sex life is?”

Talking openly about sex may feel awkward at first, but can be a great starting point for working through your anxiety, Shah says.

Don’t discount foreplay

“There are so many ways to get sexual pleasure,” says Shah. “Massages, baths, manual masturbation, just touching each other… Build up a repertoire of good, positive experiences.”

Explore issues of shame

Maybe you’re embarrassed about your appearance, the number of partners you’ve had, a sexually transmitted disease — or perhaps you were raised to believe that your sexuality is wrong.

“When it comes to sex, shame isn’t very far behind,” says Salas. “The problem with shame is that we don’t talk about it. Some of us won’t even own it.” Identify which aspect is causing you to feel ashamed, then consider opening up about it to your partner.

“When people survive sharing the information that they’re most ashamed about, the fears of sharing it lessen,” says Salas. “They realize that they can share this, and still be accepted and loved.”

Seek professional help

If your anxiety isn’t confined to the bedroom, or you’ve tried without success to improve your sex life, seek professional help. “You may need more robust treatment with a therapist or even medication,” says Shah.

Life after sexual anxiety

Steph Auteri didn’t find an instant cure for her sex anxiety. It stuck around for 15 years. Even when she met her current husband, their first sexual encounter was marked by Auteri’s tears and a confession that she had “weirdness” about sex.

An accidental career as a sex columnist helped her slowly start to realize that her anxiety wasn’t so unusual. “People would comment or email me thanking me for being so open and honest about a thing they were also experiencing,” says Auteri, who’s now written a memoir, “A Dirty Word,” about her experience. “They had always thought they were alone. But none of us are alone in this.”

When she and her husband decided to have a baby, Auteri was surprised to find that the more she had sex, the more she desired it. A regular yoga practice also helped her improve a sense of mindfulness, and she started asking her husband for more foreplay and nonsexual intimacy throughout the day.

“I also became more open to intimacy even when I wasn’t necessarily ‘in the mood.’ Although let’s be real,” Auteri adds, “sometimes I’m really not in the mood, and I still honor that.”

And honoring our own feelings is often the first (and biggest) step toward overcoming sex anxiety.

Complete Article HERE!

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