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The Open Relationship Model

Podcasts will resume next Monday, September 6th.

Deviating from the norm. Is it worth it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Summertime and the livin’ is easy

Hey sex fans,

The dog days of summer are upon us and our postings and podcasts are gonna be a bit spotty for the next few weeks.

Don’t get the wrong impression; we are not idle. Actually, we are bustin’ our hump redeveloping and redesigning this site, no small task that I can tell you. Wait till you see what we have in store for you.

Anyhow, in our absence I want you to entertain yourselves and play nice with each other.

Therapy Available

I’m a Clinical Sexologist in private practice here in Seattle. I’ve been a practitioner of psychotherapy, sex therapy and relationship counseling for over 30 years. I am a sex positive and kink aware helping professional.

I am available weekdays, some evenings and weekends so you can comfortably fit your sessions in around your work, family and social life.

If you would like to talk to someone about your sexual thoughts, feelings, lifestyles and/or experiences then arrange for a consultation at our mutual convenience.

WHAT I OFFER / THERAPY, COUNSELING, CONSULTING or COACHING SESSIONS
I provide therapy in a variety ways —

  • on the telephone
  • online
  • in person

All sessions are 60 minutes in duration. Telephone and online appointments are paid for in advance via Paypal.

Here’s a bit more about the way I work.

I don’t believe therapy should become a lifestyle. Thus, my therapeutic intervention is short term, goal directed and personally liberating. I generally contract with my client(s) for four, six or eight visits (clients of course can terminate at any time). This way we build in an automatic termination date, keeping all of us focused on the goal and honest about the progress we’re making. And, more importantly, the end is always in sight. Rarely do I see client(s) for more than eight session in a row. If my client(s) doesn’t have what he/she/they need to work independently on the problems he/she/they face by that time, then I didn’t do my job properly.

I also firmly believe in at-home-work and journaling. These things keep my client(s) integrated and involved throughout his/her/their with me. Our time together will be concentrated, so there will little time to waste…either yours or mine.

My fee is $125. per session. I do, however, offer a sliding fee schedule for those who have need of that.

You’re welcome to contact me for an appointment if you’d like to move forward with this. You can reach me at: dr_dick@drdicksexadvice.com

TELEPHONE
Some people find it easier to talk about intimate aspects of their life over the phone rather than in person. Access therapy from the comfort and privacy of your own home, car or office. Telephone therapy helps get round geographical, transport and mobility issues.

ONLINE
I can also provide my services via the most commonly used chat and message platforms such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger, etc.

SCHEDULE THERAPY
To book your therapy session(s) email me your preferred date and time dr_dick@drdicksexadvice.com. We will then arrange your preferred payment method. Sessions can be made in block bookings or singly whatever suits your budget and commitments. Early booking is advisable.

CANCELLATIONS
A 24 hours notice is required from the client to cancel or change a booked appointment time. Clients will not be entitled to a refund or an alternative appointment if a cancellation is made with less than 24 hours notice.

PUNCTUALITY
All sessions will start and end at the agreed time. Late calls or visits will result in a shorter consultation. All consultations are by appointment only.

SERVICES
Clinical services cover a full range of sexual heath concerns including:

— Guilt associated with religious upbringing or training.
— Sexual trauma and/or sexual abuse
— Conflicts or sexual dissatisfaction between partners.
— Ejaculation and/or erection concerns.
— Orgasm concerns.
— Sexual orientation/lifestyle preference.
— Sexual inhibitions.
— Socio-sexual skills.
— Sexual misinformation.
— Love and sexuality.
— Jealousy and possessiveness.
— Poor body image.
— Unsatisfactory sexual outlet.
— Safe-sex concerns.
— Sexuality and illness or disability.
— Sexuality and grieving.

My practice combines the best of a short-term cognitive behavioral therapy model with a compassionate, person-orientated counseling technique. My purpose is to help clients come to terms with their sexual problems and conflicts as these relate to their own life values, expectations and goals.

My services are open to individuals, couples, families and groups, of any sexual persuasion, who have sexual concerns. I am available for lectures, workshops, and in-service training.

BACKGROUND
Since the completion of my doctoral studies in 1981 I have been involved in a wide range of sexological activities including counseling, teaching, lecturing, writing, publishing, video production, in-service training and facilitating groups and workshops.

I’ve been writing this online sex advice column for well over fifteen years now.
I am the founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, PARADIGM; Enhancing Life Near Death — an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people.

My therapeutic training includes The Institute for Advanced Study in Human Sexuality San Francisco, The University of California, San Francisco Human Sexuality Unit, and The Pacific Center for Human Growth, Berkeley.
Besides my sexological training I carry a Masters degree in Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley.

I am Board certified by The American College of Sexologists, The American Board of Sexology and The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS





WET and Wonderful

Hey sex fans!

Today’s Product Review Friday brings you the balance of our reviews of the WET products we received earlier in the year.  As you recall, we reviewed a whole bunch of their products back in May. You can see the Dr Dick Review Crew comments HERE!

I’m delighted to have the honor of introducing you to the remaining three WET products, two of which are not personal lubes.  I love it that they are branching out.

WET Gellee —— $8.74

Dr Dick
Water-based personal lubes are notorious for drying out too quickly, at least as they compare to silicone-based lubes. And when a lube dries out during use, it tend to become sticky. I hate when that happens! Problem is if you’re using a condom and/or playing with a fine silicone toy; ya can’t use a silicone-based lube.

Water-based personal lubes are also less viscous then their silicone-based cousins. Less viscosity means the lube will be runny and less likely to stay in place. This can be frustrating, messy and wasteful.

But wait! Our friends at WET have come up with a very nice solution to these nagging problems. They call their product — WET Gellee. This is a new product for WET. They’ve successfully made a hypoallergenic gel-type water-based lube that is silky smooth; more long-lasting; doesn’t get sticky; way more viscous than the traditional runny liquid formula so it stays put longer; and there’s less of a mess when using it. WET Gellee isn’t as likely to drip all over your bedding, furniture, carpet or car upholstery. Wait, car upholstery? Come on; let’s face it, not all fucking happens in the bedroom. And WET Gellee is non-staining, which makes it perfect for all those non-traditional sex situations…the dining room table, pool side, Aunt Millie’s powder room?

I was happy to receive the non-scented original formula of WET Gellee. They also have a Kiwi Strawberry flavor, which would have been way over the top for me. I prefer my lube to be flavorless, thank you very much. However, there is a hint of sweetness, even with this non-scented original formula. But these formulas are completely sugar-free, which means most people can use them internally without reservation. But, if you are allergic to sucralose, you’ll want to look elsewhere for your lube.
Full Review HERE

Inttimo Tranquility Aromatherapy —— $12.17

Dr Dick
I’ve been an avid practitioner of massage and bodywork for ages. I guess you could say I know my way around a massage table. However, finding just the right massage oil or lotion is not nearly as easy as kneading out the knots in someone’s body.

I’ve tried dozens and dozens of different products over the years and while I’m particularly fond of the Vitamin E and Aloe Vera-based massage lotion that I whip up in my own kitchen, I am always on the lookout for an exceptionally fine massage oil as a compliment to the lotion I use.

I am happy to announce that, thanks to my friends at WET, I now have what I’ve been searching for — Inttimo Tranquility Aromatherapy.  It is the ideal massage oil to use along side of my special recipe massage lotion. So yay for that!

Inttimo Tranquility is another new product from the masterminds at WET. It’s a very light, pleasantly fragranced massage oil that can also be used as a bath oil. I am so glad to see them branch out from their more familiar line of personal lubricants.

Inttimo Tranquility is long-lasting, but never greasy. It has a nice, but not overpowering scent. This one contains bergamot and ginger; aromas to balance, instill composure and relax the body. But there are three other aromas to choose from. And a little goes a long way. It feels beautifully on my hands and on my client’s skin.

It comes in a nicely shaped plastic bottle. I got the 4oz size for review, but it also comes in an 8oz size. Despite the attractive bottle I wound up transferring the contents to an empty pump bottle I had on hand. The screw top of the original container is not convenient. It’s a bother to have to open and close it with each application, but you’d be foolish not to. The bottle could easily tip and spill and that would make a huge mess. If I had one suggestion to make to the manufacturer it would be consider adding a pump to the packaging.

Again, I loved the consistency of Inttimo Tranquility; not too thin, not so thick, it’s just right. It distributes on the body very evenly and it easily absorbs into the skin. There’s no residue to stain either my massage linens or my client’s clothing.

Inttimo Tranquility contains almond oil, aloe vera juice, vitamin E and A, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, kukul nut oil, and sunflower oil. It’s very good for your skin. It’s great for erotic massage too. But it’s not recommended for use with a condom.
Full Review HERE

Inttimo Shave Cream —— $9.99

Dr Dick
I have the pleasure of introducing you to my new product of choice in the shaving department. Say hello to Inttimo Shave Cream, another innovative product from the good folks at WET. I mean it just figures that a company known for their premium personal lubes would bring to market a superior shaving cream. All I gotta say is; what took you so long?

If you’re prone to razor burn, ingrown hairs and/or shaving bumps Inttimo Shave Cream is the ideal product for you. Now I know that WET created this formula to enhance and safeguard intimate shaves, like bikini shaves, legs, underarms and manscaping, but is it’s as practical, if not more so, for every day facial shaving.

It’s enhanced with aloe vera, vitamin E and jojoba oil; it doesn’t contain parabens, but there is glycerin. I have pretty sensitive skin, but I didn’t experience any irritation when using Inttimo Shave Cream and my skin fells fantastic after each use. A small amount covers a large area and coats the skin nicely. I really like it because it’s not dense like shaving foam. This is a good thing because my razor just glides along, it didn’t clog my razor and it rinses off my razor easily.

I’m happy I got the unscented formula for review, but for those who want/need some fragrance they also have a Forbidden Fruit formula. (I wonder, what fruit is forbidden these days?)

I really like the plastic squeeze tube container. It has a flip-up top that is very convenient and you don’t have to worry about rust stains that so frequently accompany traditional metal shaving cream cans.
Full Review HERE

ENJOY

Who’s up next?

Name: Sofia
Gender:
Age: 54
Location: Arizona
You are sick Dr DICK! I believe that porn is a sign of weakness in men and women. They cannot control their need and put their personal relationship in harm. Its degrading towards women and it gives off the wrong message to men about women. Porn is very harmful in peoples daily lives. Relationships come to an end because of men’s porn addiction. Men have lost families, wives, girlfriends etc. because of porn. Men find themselves defending it so much that they end up losing the people in their lives who do not agree with it (wives, GF, BF, etc.) What does porn leave them? Nothing! Lonely nights with no one by their side and a PC full of nasty images. Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic. Men are destroying their lives to make a porn filmmaker more wealthy. What a great exchange.

So nice of you to drop by, Sofia, and thank you for being so solicitous about my health. Yes, I was sick, I had a little cold there for a couple of days, but I’m much better now.

Oh wait, you’re saying I’m sick because I don’t share your repressive opinion about pornography. I get it; you’re another moral crusader who needs to denigrate those who don’t share your beliefs. What is up with that?

Ya know the thing is, darlin’, I actually share many of your concerns — a lot of porn is harmful and exploitative. It also can be very disruptive to people’s lives and can cause serious damage to otherwise healthy relationships. I mean how difficult was it for you to come up with that critique? Taking pot shots at porn in this sex-negative culture is like shooting fish in a barrel. Get over yourself, girlfriend.

And ya know what else, ma’am, all the things you accuse porn of — being harmful and exploitative, disruptive, damaging to otherwise healthy relationships — you could say about the worst aspects of organized religion, the fast food industry, our government, the credit card industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical industry, the war machine and it’s horrific profiteers, like Halliburton. And what about BP and the damage it is wreaking families, an entire way of life and on a whole ecosystem in the Golf of Mexico? The list goes on and on.

Hell, everything humans touch has the potential for becoming harmful and exploitative; it’s the nature of the beast. Even your own tirade is harmful to and disruptive to those of us who are trying to make a difference in the adult entertainment industry. Trust me, you would have made a better case if you said you wanted to help change the status quo in porn, not just point out its inherent flaws.

And what’s all this; “Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic”? Are you suggesting that you are the alternative? Perhaps, if you weren’t so bitchy and condescending your men wouldn’t turn to porn. Your abrasive personality and moral rectitude would drive the pope to porn.

Oh, and have a nice day! NEXT!

Name: Suzanne
Gender:
Age: 25
Location: Auckland
Should a woman fake an orgasm to keep her partner happy?

Brilliant idea, Susanne! Rather than help your ineffectual lover overcome his inadequacy with the truth and a little tutorial on how to make you cum — lie to monkey about his sexual prowess.

I see nothing wrong with that! Other than when you’re done fuckin’ him, or he’s done fuckin’ you, the next unlucky woman he happens upon will have twice the work. She’ll not only have to tell him the truth — that he sucks as a lover — but she’ll also have to contend with his inflated ego. Thanks to you and the deception you practice, he’ll be convinced that he’s a fabulous lover when, of course, he’s a Neanderthal.

What could be wrong with that, Susanne? D’oh!

Name: Emily
Gender:
Age: 28
Location: Texas
How much should I tell my new partner about my sex life with my exes?

How about just enough to get his dick hard?

Hell, I don’t know! Some guys get off on hearing all the gory details of the sexual exploits of their partners, albeit, it’s a relatively small number of guys. Just keep in mind that most men prefer the bliss that is ignorance.

If you’ve been around the block a time…or six, maybe you best keep that to yourself till you find out how much the new guy can stomach.

Good Luck

Name: Phillip
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: Austin, Texas
Dr. D, I’ve never had a problem with my sex life up until now. My wife and I have been very happy with our physical relationship. But, about 8 months ago, in a very vivid nightmare, I dreamed we were making love and when I came, the ejaculate was blood. I came blood. Everything in the dream stood still as I watched, almost like a third person, as my life flowed out of me. I woke in a sweat, and we’ve not made love since. We’ve talked about the dream, tried to be intimate, but I’m simply not able to enjoy the contact anymore. This is someone about whom I care deeply and with whom I am deeply in love. Considering professional help but would like your take.

Interesting! Yet another case of how one’s psyche can override one’s eroticism.

This is nothing to be toyed with, Phillip. Like an earthquake, this vivid dream has jarred you out of your happy, healthy sex life with your wife. And like anyone who has survived an earthquake, or a similar natural disaster, you need to put your life back together again as quickly as possible. I encourage you to seek a sex-positive therapist to help you break the spell of this nightmare.

The longer you let this thing hang out there the more perverse it will become.

Good Luck

Name: Lorenzo
Gender:
Age: 33
Location: Italy
I can only get off by squeezing my cock with my thighs. I have done this for as long as I’ve masturbated. I only found out years later that you should use your hand. But this does not work for me. Is this normal or common?

Lorenzo, what you report is neither normal nor common. But do you really care about “normal” and “common” if this technique works for you? And what the fuck is normal anyhow — statistical normalcy? I think we can forget that being the arbiter of things sexual.

Apparently your masturbation technique isn’t any less effective than those who employ a more “common” practice — like using one’s hand.

Basically, there aren’t a whole lot of “shoulds” when it comes to the style one employs to squeeze one off — and in your case, I mean that literally. If squeezing your cock with your thighs works for you — SWELL, knock yourself out!

Since you don’t report that this method of getting off is getting in the way of your partnered sex, I think you should leave well enough alone and enjoy your uniqueness.

Good Luck

Name: Sam
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: London, UK
Dear Dr. Dick, I am a young gay guy, and when I masturbate I am able to achieve orgasm and ejaculate; but when I am with another guy I do not cum. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time during sex, but my partner doesn’t get me off. This is not a person-specific thing — this has been happening to me since I was 16.
Call it “delayed ejaculation”, if you will; but it’s more like “non-existent ejaculation”! The weird thing is, I don’t mind myself; the foreplay and sex is totally hot and I’m as happy as a clam with that as it is. But my partners have always been frustrated and disappointed, as if ejaculation is the official mark of success to show the culmination of a great fuck. So they keep trying until they get tired, which I guess is inevitable.
Is this something I should be worried about if I’m otherwise okay with sex? Or should my partner be less concerned about the orgasm and just realize that it doesn’t bother me. Many thanks and kudos for such an informative site.

Hey Sam, thanks for your kind words about the site, they’re much appreciated.

As to the issue you present, it’s not particularly uncommon. Many people are unable to, or choose not to, get off in partnered sex. And there are several very common reasons why. Without going into detail about that, let me just ask one thing. Are you able to masturbate yourself to orgasm when you are with a partner, like you can do when you are alone? If so, maybe you could incorporate that into your sex play your partner.

It’s true what you say about some people thinking a sexual encounter is only “successful” if both partners shoot. That’s nonsense, as both you and I well know. There’s no necessary connection between an ejaculation and sexual satisfaction, just like there’s no necessary connection between an ejaculation and an orgasm. If you cave to that way of thinking you won’t help your misguided partners and you will be adding a good deal of performance anxiety to your sex encounters. And nobody wants that! Stick to your guns, Sam!

Good Luck