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Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

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Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

A molehill becomes a mountain

My problem is Sexual dysfunction, I can have a hard on and keep it for penetration but if I have to use a condom I lose my erection, most of the time. I also take to much time to cum. Most of the time I loose my erection and I can’t finish what I’ve started. I would like to find a solution for this, because I have been like this for a long time, and it is really frustrating for me. I do appreciate your help and look forward to hear from you.
Miguel.

Sounds to me like you’re racing to the finish line. Hey, where’s the rush? You may be experiencing a bit of performance anxiety, but I don’t think it’s a full-blown sexual dysfunction quite yet.

Look for the category pull down menu in the sidebar to your right. Scroll down till you find the category — Sex Therapy. Under that category you will find a subcategory labeled PERFORMANCE ANXIETY.

You’ll find loads of information about this issue in both written and podcast form.performance anxiety

Here’s an example of what you’ll find…

Simply put, there’s a difference between the psychosexual response we have when we are alone and the one we experience with a partner. There’s probably nothing wrong with your unit. It’s all in your head…or your mind, to be more exact. And I’m not being flippant.

Here’s how performance anxiety works. Say I have a less than satisfying sexual experience for one reason or another. Before I know it, I’m replaying the incident over and over in my mind’s eye till that’s all I can think about. The proverbial molehill has become a mountain, don’t ‘cha know. I then bring my anxiety to my next encounter. My hyper self-consciousness primes me for more disappointment. And I’m all prepared to interpret the disappointment as a failure. Well, you can see where I’m going with this, huh? My fears become self-fulfilling and I find I’m beginning to avoid partnered sex and my relationship flounders, I develop a full-blown sexual dysfunction and my self-esteem takes a nosedive. My preoccupation with my problem makes it less likely that I’ll be fully present during sex with my partner, which pretty much scuttles my sexual responsiveness and any hope for spontaneity.

Get thee to a sex-positive therapist ASAP! Believe me this is nothing to fool around with. Check out the directory at The American College of Sexology for a therapist near you.  If you can’t find anyone near you and you really need to talk to someone, check out my Therapy Available page.  I do remote therapy/counseling via Skype or phone.

When I see this sort of thing in my private practice, I always begin the therapeutic intervention by calling a moratorium on fucking of any kind. This immediately takes a great deal of the pressure off the couple. From there we begin to rebuild the partnered psychosexual response one step at a time. We begin with sensate focus training, stress reduction and relaxation exercises. I have the greatest confidence in this method; it succeeds over 90% of the time.

Good luck

The Suppressing Gag Reflex — A Tutorial

Arguably, the humble blowjob is the most common partnered sexual activity for men — straight, bi or gay.

It’s pretty obvious why the gays like to suck cock. But nowadays loads of straight women have taken to smokin’ some pole too. Let’s face it; it’s a great way to give pleasure. Regardless of whether it’s part of foreplay, after play, or the main event — like relieving the Commander in Chief in the oval office after a long day of commandering and chiefing, don’t cha know.

funny_sign_fail_14

Certain skills are essential for mind-blowing oral sex. The preeminent skill, of course, is mastering the gag reflex. But close behind that is keeping your partner’s spooge off your blue dress.

Did you know that the gag response is least active in the morning? That’s right, my pretties, you’re gonna have to know things like this if you aspire to getting a gold medal in cock sucking. Besides, tidbits like this also make for the most charming dinner party trivia.

Today we’re gonna look at three important aspects of understanding and suppressing that nasty gag reflex when chowin’ down on some love muscle.

1) ANATOMY

So let’s take a semi-serious look at the gag response and why we have it. Millions of years of evolution have Epiglottisprovided us the anatomical function we call the gag reflex to protect our throat. And as all you rocket scientists know an obstruction in your throat — in either your larynx, which connects to your lungs or the pharynx, which connects to your stomach could be deadly. And since us humans breathe more often than we swallow, the larynx is always open. We all have a piece of cartilage known as the epiglottis at the back of our throat that responds to swallowing. This is not to be confused with the uvula, which is that little thingy that hangs down from the back of your mouth.

Isn’t this fascinating? Aren’t you delighted you stopped by today? Hold on, there’s more!

The passageway to the stomach is fairly narrow, although you’d never guess that from the way some folks wolf down their food. The gag reflex protects us from getting something stuck in there. If the object being swallowed — a big old cock or a piece of cold pizza — can’t easily pass the opening of the pharynx, the epiglottis flaps triggering the gag response. This forces the foreign object — big old cock or cold pizza — out. This is a lifesaving reflex because it protects us from literally biting off more than he can swallow. And since there’s not gonna be a whole lot of biting off and chewing when we blow some dude, the gag reflex can be pretty pronounced.

bjbw.jpgThe object of this tutorial is to help us subdue this lifesaving reflex when needed. The first thing we should know is when suckin’ cock, the dick in question can’t get stuck in our pharynx because, happily it’s attached to the dude we’re blowin’. It can, therefore, be removed without the coughing and choking associated with the garden variety of gagging.

Let’s review, shall we? Your tongue, your salivary glands, your hard palate, your soft palate, your uvula, your epiglottis, your tonsils, and your pharynx are all parts of the sensory experience for you as well as your partner with his dick in your mouth. When you deep throat his johnson, your uvula and the epiglottis tickle his dickhead. I guess that’s why us mens like getting’ head so much.

Like anything worth doing, mastering the gag reflex takes practice. The most important thing to remember is that we cannot simultaneously inhale and swallow. Also the epiglottis is very flexible, while the pharynx is relatively rigid.

Let’s do some math. The depth of our mouth — from the lips to the curve in the pharynx just in the back of the throat is three of four to inches. The pharynx runs another five and half inches or so before the esophagus begins, which continues another eight or nine inches. That makes for total passageway available for swallowing cock between seventeen and nineteen inches long. How’s that for adaptability? Your throat is not just for sword-swallowing any more! As long as your partner’s prick is neither too wide nor too stiff to make the turn in the pharynx, an average cocksucker can completely swallow just about anyone for a short period of time while holding his or her breath.

2) POSITION

deepthroat-humor-pictureProbably you’ve already guessed that positioning the cock your sucking at just the right angle down your throat is crucial. Check it out. Take a deep breath; insert two fingers as far as possible into your mouth. Your fingers will bend easily downward. While you’re rootin’ around inside there, you’ll immediately have a sense of internal capacity of your oral cavity. Carefully placing a couple fingers at the back of your mouth shouldn’t cause you to gag, but moving them around might. This will underscore the importance of having the willie you’re about to swallow go in the right direction.

So let’s say you’re on your knees, with the intended cock right in front of you. If it’s rock-hard and/or curved upward, as some of those darling things are, that dick is gonna go pounding against your tonsils, making you gag, sure as shootin’. The dude’s cock has to go in and then down your throat, not up and against the roof of your mouth. Got it? Jamming his member against your hard palate will also be pretty unpleasant for the owner of the said cock. This could easily give his dickhead a real owie!

This brings us to the ever-popular sixty-nine position. It’s so popular because it points the dude’s rod toward the base of your tongue, thereby successfully navigating of the curve in your throat.

3) BREATHING

bananaA proper breathing technique is as important as position to happy deep throating. The aquatic minded among us already have the key. Swimmers know that synchronizing one’s breathing with the motion one is making with his or her arms and legs makes for less effort and more stamina. The same is true for the person gulping a big one…or even a small one for that matter. You’ll want to inhale while doing down on his cock, exhale quickly while coming up, then inhale again going back down. The deeper you inhale on the down stroke, the longer you’ll be able to hold your breath. And PRESTO! The longer you’re able to hold your breath the deeper your partner’s baloney pony will disappear down your gullet. So you see, it’s exactly like swimming, only completely different.

For the non-athletes in my audience there is another way to learn to control the gag reflex. Simply practice holding your breath and swallowing at the same time.

We could all learn a lot from the little piggie cocksucker among us. They’re in this whole blowjob thing for the long haul, and they know that pacing one’s self is crucial. They know how important it is to pull off the cock from time to time, at least far enough to take in some air before going down on it again. If you try this you could make some yummy sounds while you pull off his cock. Or you could take it out of your mouth and look at it admiringly. He’ll be impressed that you like his rigid piece of art, and only you’ll know that what you’re actually doing is simply catching your breath.

You should know that deep throating a pleasure prong is gonna make a lot of saliva. This is a double-edged deep_throat_640_03sword. Great for keeping things lubed up, but problematic if that abundant saliva falls into the larynx and makes you cough and choke. If your saliva becomes a problem rather than an asset try relaxing for a bit with his cock in the forward of your mouth so that your larynx will open for breathing. This shallow sucking is a delightful counterpoint to deep throat sucking. You can also practice relaxing and stretching the muscles that regulate swallowing by opening your mouth wide, like in a yawn.

Whichever technique or combination of techniques works for you, remember to breathe. Accumulation of mucous will sometimes mean you have to take a break to spit. If you try to continue without spitting, it will just make your uncomfortable. And who need that?

Also when you deep throat your nose will run and your eyes will water. So if you’re wearing a lot of makeup when you’re blowin’ your guy, you’ll look like a raccoon with a clown face by the time you’re through. Some guys really like this. It suggests to them that they have a really big dick to have wreaked so much havoc.

blowjob-funny-humor-illustration-lol-quote-Favim.com-39125You’ll probably want to keep at least one of your hands on his pole while you’re sucking it. This will give you more control, especially when he starts pelvic thrusting.

It is a good idea to keep a hand on his balls too, as they are usually a good indicator of how close your man is to cuming. As he gets closer to shooting, the skin on his scrotum tightens and pulls his balls towards his body to warm them up. You can let this happen on its own, or help out by stimulating his jewels with your hand, tongue, or mouth.

Finally, common mistake most women and some men make while blowin their guy is using only their mouth to repeatedly bob up and down his weener. This is neither pretty or particularly helpful! Some folks continue doing this until they get a sore jaw or neck. A good deep-throatin’ blowjob should not be too repetitive. The wise cocksucker will keep her/his hands busy throughout. She’ll include stroking his dick, exploring balls, thighs and asshole. By mixing things up, he’ll allow his mouth and throat muscles to relax. This will improve one’s performance and will subdue one’s gag reflex.

Good Lick…I mean Luck…ya’ll.

What A Drag

Here’s something unusual. Just last month we heard from Roxie, a crossdresser at a crossroads. Today, another crossdresser. That’s what’s so unusual, two in one month. Maybe it’s something in the stars. Anyway, our fabulous friend here has a bit of the ennui.

Name: Mariah
Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: Brewster NY
I have been doing a lot of crossdressing secretly and I have no idea how to stop. Its been going on for quite a number of years and I am not sure exactly what I should do. I enjoy a lot of other things that I won’t mention. I guess my question is how long does it take to get over this?

Mariah darling, I’m confused. You’ve been secretly crossdressing for a number of years and now you want to stop? Why? Sounds to me like you’re still into it. A lot!

crossdressingAnd then you tantalize me with; “I enjoy a lot of other things that I won’t mention.” What’s up with that?

So ok, you’re a kinky little transvestite; is that such a big deal? Crossdressing is a relatively innocuous fetish, as far as fetishes go. And if you’ve been doing it for years, albeit secretly, I’d guess you have your fetish under control. It doesn’t sound like it’s messin’ with or spillin’ over into the rest of your life. So again, my question is, why stop?

If you’re just bored with it, which doesn’t sound like the case; why not simply pack up your frilly knickers and dancer heels and drop them off at the Goodwill? If you don’t have women’s clothing around the house, you won’t be able to crossdress. So that part is relatively simple.

cross-dressing-1

Georgina

However, getting over a fetish is not so easy as ridding yourself of your frocks. There’s probably a psychological and an erotic hook in your crossdressing, as there is for most folks who do drag. After all, this is what makes the whole exercise a turn on and so much fun. You can learn to wean yourself off this activity, if you really, really want to. But again my question is: why?

If you feel your crossdressing is screwin’, up your life, or contaminating your relationships; well, that’s another thing. But you don’t say that. Maybe you just need some assistance in understanding what’s going on with you and some support from others like you. And that, my dear Mariah, is very easy to come by. First, let me direct you to a couple of brilliant podcast interviews I’ve done with two amazing crossdressers — first, Debra Christina Darling. (You’ll find Part 1 of that conversation HERE and Part 2 HERE!)   Then there’s the toast of the Emerald City, Sylvia O’Stayformore. (You’ll find Part 1 of that conversation HERE and Part 2 HERE!).  Or just use the the search function in the sidebar to your right, type in either of those names, and PRESTO! Faster than you can say Lane Bryant, you be taken to their podcast postings.

These interviews are chock full of information about crossdressing; the dos and don’t as well as the whys. I’ve also supplied a short list of online resources for crossdressers, drag queens, and transgender folk.

Good luck

Selfish So ‘n So

Name: Andrew
Gender: Male
Age: 34
Location: Texas
I’m selfish. I don’t feel like having sex with anyone, not even my boyfriend. I can masturbate all I want and get off just fine but I prefer to do it alone. My boyfriend is frustrated and wants me to go to therapy, but I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea. I’ve had selfish times like this before, but this one has been the longest (almost 2 years). Usually they’d last a few months at most and seem to have happened independent of whether I’m doing great or depressed. I’m also fairly certain that this isn’t to do with my current relationship. The reason is that past selfish times have happened whether or not I’ve been seeing someone. When I get this way, even guys who are perfectly my type (like my boyfriend) can try all they want to get into my pants (literally and figuratively) and will not be successful. When I’m like this I notice that I barely think about sex unless a dirty picture, movie or text is in front of me, and I’m only trying to get away when a hot guy is trying to get in my pants. I’m usually good at finding out what’s going on in my head, then solving an issue but this one has me stumped.

So you’re tellin’ me you’ve been withholding sex from your long-suffering BF for nearly 2 years? That’s not being selfish, my friend; that’s torture. Your refusal to see a therapist about this, because you are “extremely uncomfortable with the idea,” also tells me that your issues are deep seeded and you’d rather keep these things hidden and stifle your relationship then get them out in the open and resolved.

love music

I’m sorry, Andrew, but I have virtually no patience for folks like you. If you were single and you wanted to live your life like this; that would be fine. But you’ve involved your sexually messed up self with another human who has needs that are just as important as yours. And that, sir, ain’t right.

I have one real simple premise that I live by. And it is, each of us has a right to a happy, healthy, integrated sex life. If there is something that is getting in the way of achieving that, whatever it might be, it is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

As far as relationships go, I am of the mind that we ought, first and foremost, work to honor our commitments of mutual support. Are there ways that these two moral principles — a right to a healthy sex life and one’s relationship commitments — can coexist when one’s relationship excludes the possibility of happy sexual expression? Yes, I believe there are. And many couples achieve that balance, because they have an overriding love and concern for one anther.

Now the facts — not all loving relationship, including many marriages, have a sexual component. Many, for one reason or another, simply don’t. In fact, most long-term relationships are not sexual in nature. However, a partner in loving relationship who is unable to provide sexual satisfaction to his/her partner should give that partner permission to find sexual fulfillment outside the relationship. I hasten to add that these are often very difficult negotiations to hammer out. But to do less than try to make these accommodations is, I believe, a form of sexual abuse.

If your partner is trying to negotiate a satisfactory solution to your problem and you are opposed to even discussing the issue or seeking the professional help you desperately need you will destroy a perfectly good and viable relationship. And that is unconscionable in my book.

I am not suggesting that you deny your sexual issues just to appease or pacify your partner. Nor do I condone simply letting your selfishness become the path of the least resistance. These options will only create a divide between you and your partner that will not be able to be bridged.

If you ever hope to escape the corner you’ve painted yourself into, you’ll have to buck up and be honest with your partner and commit to getting the help you need.

Good Luck

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