Meet the men who get off on their wives having sex with other people

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Cuckolding is form of consensual non-monogamy, and these guys find it hot AF.

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Having sex with other people while in a committed relationship isn’t necessarily cheating—especially for those who are into consensual non-monogamy (CNM). In fact, the prospect of watching or hearing about their partner’s sexual escapades is such a turn on for some people, they actively encourage their lover to share as many unfamiliar beds as they want.

CNM is practised in all sorts of forms, such as polyamory (having multiple romantic partners) and swinging (swapping sexual partners with other couples). Cuckolding is a form of CNM where one partner (the cuckold) agrees their lover can have sex with other people—often known as ‘bulls’. There are variations in how cuckolding plays out for different couples—some cuckolds enjoy being verbally and sexually humiliated—but cuckolds are generally involved with watching their partner have sex. Or getting message/photo updates throughout, and being told in detail about it afterwards.

“It makes me pursue and compete for my own wife”

All varieties of cuckolding can be practised by anyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality. Nonetheless, there seems to be a high proportion of straight men who are interested in it—and yes, if you sleep with men, you might be familiar with a version of dirty talk that involves you recounting past hookups.

Here, three straight men discuss how they got into cuckolding, what they like about it and how it’s actually benefited their relationships.

“It allows me to watch the best possible porn ever”, says Ben*, a computer systems administrator

“For most of our marriage, my wife has been free to sleep with other men. When she does, she’s always told me about the experiences. We got into polyamory because my wife was having problems staying monogamous. She didn’t understand why it was wrong to love more than one person. We have been doing what is usually called cuckolding for 15 years.

How did you bring up cuckolding with your wife?

“We sort of grew into this place in our lives. We learned to be completely honest with one another, and trust each other. It was incredibly scary to tell my wife some of the things I would be interested in, involving cuckolding. I was terrified she would see me as less than a man, or that I didn’t want her the way I used to, but she’s been very supportive of me.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“I love the way my wife comes alive. Her body is almost constantly primed, partly from the excitement of the relationship, and partly from the feeling of being wanted by someone new. When she feels sexy and wanted, she becomes a more sexual being, leading to a much more fulfilling sex life for the two of us

“I also believe that wanting something is more powerful than having it. So, feeling like I’m being denied things that my wife is freely sharing with others is a powerful aphrodisiac—it makes me pursue and compete for my own wife in ways I haven’t in a long time.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. As such, I want my wife to be true to her own desires so that we can meet as equals—she’s not putting aside what she wants for me; we’re moving forward together, accepting one another as we truly are. Autonomy is important to me, and I don’t want my wife to ever feel trapped with me. With cuckolding, I know she could choose anyone she wants, but she always chooses to continue to spend her life with me.”

What are the downsides and benefits?

“There have been plenty of times where I had to fight hard against jealousy, especially in the beginning. I think most of the times that jealousy has taken over, it boiled down to me feeling unimportant, or left out of the loop. Now, when something bothers me, we talk about it quickly and agree on a path forward that works for everyone involved.

“One benefit to me is that my wife is the sexiest person I know. When we make love, I’m entirely responsible for her pleasure, so I tend to focus so much on whether she’s enjoying what I’m doing that I can’t really appreciate her reactions. Being able to watch someone else have sex with my wife allows me to watch the best possible porn ever—I get to fully enjoy the sights and sounds of her pleasure, while also learning entirely new techniques or discovering activities that I never knew she enjoyed.

“For both of us, one of the biggest advantages is how much our bond to one another has strengthened. We talk openly, honestly, and often. We regularly share our feelings, hopes, desires and fears. We have grown so remarkably close, and have gotten to know each other more deeply than we ever could have otherwise.”

“It’s fun to have a secret about our sex lives”, says Oscar*, a marketing manager

“I started dating my fiancée seven years ago. We had spurts of long distance in our early years, so we starting exploring cuckolding. We found that typical sexting was repetitive and a little boring, and one day she offered to tell me about a past sexual encounter in detail. It was a rush to hear, and over time she would tell me more stories. Then I’d occasionally encourage her to flirt with guys when she would go out, and that flirting eventually translated to hookups. I’d say we’ve been active for the last five years.

How did you bring up cuckolding with your fiancée?

“It was a natural progression for us. It arose from boredom in a long distance relationship and a realization that she enjoys being sexually active, while my kink is releasing my partner from the confines of monogamy.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“For me, it’s a chance for her to explore her sexuality and bring that fun back to the bedroom. She was significantly more sexually experienced than I was when we started dating, and I’ve always found her love of sex and attention to be a major turn on. It’s a little bit like being an introvert who gets to see life through an extrovert’s eyes.”

What are the downsides and benefits?

“Downsides could be bad communication and jealousy. I suppose emotion could get in the way, and she could start falling for someone. But that hasn’t happened to us

“Cuckolding is great because there is no fear of cheating—she gets to do whatever she wants, as long as I get to be part of it too (even if that just means hearing about it). It has brought us closer together sexually. It’s fun to have a secret about our sex lives, and it’s fun to be my fiancée’s cheerleader when she is attracted to a guy.”

“Sexual jealousy, for me, is like a roller coaster ride,” says Liam*, an energy consultant manager

“My wife and I have been together for a little over five years, and it’s always been a small or big part of our relationship. She’s quite a bit younger than myself, and has a very high sex drive. Back when I first became interested in seeing my partner with another man I was in my 20s, though I guess I had been a voyeur all my life. My girlfriend (at the time) and I had an upstairs neighbour, and the idea [of a threesome] just kind of caught hold. It was me who brought it up, but [my girlfriend] was all for it. Since that time, and with every serious relationship since, there have been elements of cuckolding or swinging.”

How have you brought up cuckolding with your partner(s)?

“I talk about it early if I’m feeling really attracted to someone. More about open relationships and swinging, and if they are biting, then great; if not, I know I should move on.”

What do you like about cuckolding?

“I’m easily bored. Some people like fishing, some like motor sports and some like stamp collecting. I like crazy sexual excitement, and I’ve always been drawn to women that are up for the same. I found along the road that I enjoy a bit of jealousy. Sexual jealousy, for me, is like a roller coaster ride—fun, brief, perhaps a little scary, but in the end an experience I’m happy to have.”

We both love sex, so it adds to our sex life

What are the downsides and benefits?

“I guess a downside would be not everyone understanding. [My wife and I] stay discreet. We have separate groups of friends—those that might know and those we would never tell.

“We both love sex, so it adds to our sex life. We are very open with each other and can talk about anything. She loves the attention and the men (or women) she gets to have, and I love having [a wife who is like] a very hot porn star in my home. I’m her biggest fan.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Stop Being Jealous

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Occasional jealousy is natural and can even be motivating. But if you find yourself getting upset when seeing Instagram photos of clothes, jobs, or cars that you envy, you might need to work through this issue. Or maybe your jealousy is making you paranoid and causing problems with you and your significant other. Curbing these emotions can be difficult, but it’s often necessary to move forward and feel secure and confident. Work through your jealousy by addressing it, finding a new focus, and improving yourself. You got this!

Method 1 Handling Jealousy in the Short Term

1 Take a few deep breaths when you start feeling jealous. Perhaps you see your boyfriend talking to another girl or find out your friend got the exact truck you want. Instead of freaking out, calm yourself instead. Take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this until you feel calm.[1]

  • If you want to address the issue, do so only when you’ve calmed down. For instance, if you see your boyfriend talking to a girl, calm down first, then approach him and say ‘hello’ to both of them. She may just be a friend or classmate.

2 Stay off social media. Social media floods you with images of people sharing fragments of their lives that might spark your jealousy. But, what you may not know is the girl who constantly posts pics of the flowers her boyfriend gets her may be unhappy in her relationship. People tend to only post things that show them in a positive light, so stay off social media while you’re overcoming your jealousy.[2]

  • If you can’t stay off of social media, unfollow or unfriend the people you’re jealous of.

3 Avoid criticizing or using sarcasm. When you’re feeling jealous, you might resort to name-calling or trying to diminish the accomplishments of others. However, this only shows your insecurity and makes others feel bad. Instead of being negative, keep your comments to yourself or compliment them.[3]

  • For instance, if your girlfriend comes home telling you about her new coworker, don’t say something like, “Oh, so since he’s so smart, you wanna go out with him now?” Allow your significant other to tell you things without fear of rudeness.

4 Confess your feelings if the person is close to you. If you’re very jealous of a sibling, best friend, or significant other, and have been for years, tell them. Getting it off your chest can help you move on from this negative feeling and clear the air.[4]

  • For instance, you might say, “Sis, I know that I’ve been a bit rude to you for a while. But when you got into Stanford and I didn’t, it hurt me. I’ve been so jealous of you because I feel like you’re living my dream. I know it’s not your fault, and I wish I didn’t feel this way.”

5 Focus on what you have in common with the person you’re jealous of. Unravel your jealousy by looking at the similarities you and the person you envy share. The more you two are alike, the less you have to feel jealous over![5]

  • For example, maybe you’re jealous of your neighbor because they have a nice car. But remember that the two of you live in the same neighborhood and probably have similar houses. Maybe you went to the same school, too, and have friends in common.

Method 2  Refocusing Your Attention

1 Identify the source of your jealousy. Understanding why you are jealous can help you overcome it. Is it because of low self-esteem and insecurity? Do you have a past history with infidelity? Or are you placing unreasonable standards on your relationship? Once you have identified the source, reflect on ways that you can improve upon or fix the issue.

  • Writing in a journal every day can help you discover where your jealousy might be coming from.
  • Professional therapy can help with this process. A therapist may be able to help you find the source of your jealousy while working through the issue.

2 Praise those who are doing well. Hating on someone’s accomplishments won’t put you closer to your own goals. When you see others doing the things you want to do, give them kudos. This shows respect and humility.[6]

  • For instance, if your friend has an awesome career, say, “Molly, your job seems so cool. It seems like you’re always getting awards and promotions, too. You’re really killing it! Got any tips?”
  • Perhaps your boyfriend has been doing a great job lately of being more affectionate; tell him you appreciate his effort.

3 Reflect on your own strengths. Instead of harping on what others are doing, focus on yourself! Take a moment to either list or think about at least three things that you are good at. These can range from organizing or cooking to being a good listener or hard worker.[7]

  • Do one thing related to your strengths list today to build your confidence, like cook an awesome meal.

4 Compile a list of what you’re grateful for. Every day that you wake up is truly a blessing. Remember that and think about one thing that you’re thankful for each day. This will help reduce your feelings of jealousy because you’ll become more appreciative of what you do have.[8]

  • Maybe you have an awesome mom who supports and loves you. Or perhaps you got into a really good school and you’re starting soon. Be thankful for these blessings!

5 Meditate daily. Meditation can clear your mind and help you focus on what’s important. Your thoughts of jealousy might cloud your headspace daily, but get some relief by sitting quietly in an uninterrupted space in the mornings for at least ten minutes. During this time, focus only on your breathing and how your body feels.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, you can also download an app like Simple Habit or Calm.

6 Call the shots. You might have a rich friend who’s always asking you to go to expensive restaurants or on extravagant trips. This might make you feel jealous of their money. Instead of letting that control you, take the reins! Pick the restaurants you go to and choose not to go on vacations if you can’t afford it. Plan something locally, instead.[9]

  • You can say, “Hey Josh, I enjoy eating at five-star restaurants with you, but to be honest, it’s a little out of my price range. If you still wanna get dinner once a week, that’s cool, but you’ll have to let me pick the place most of the time. I hope you understand.”

7 Have fun daily to distract you from your jealousy. You won’t be able to think about your jealousy as much if you’re out having fun! Schedule something to look forward to every day, like watching your favorite show, getting ice cream, or going shopping. Life is short, so make the most of it every day!

Method 3 Improving Your Own Life

1 Set short- and long-term goals. Use your jealousy to motivate you to become the best version of yourself. Based on the things you want in life, create action steps to help you achieve it. Set goals that you can achieve within the next five days and things to focus on for the next five years.[10]

  • For instance, maybe you want to get a high paying job. As a short-term goal, try to get A’s in all your classes for the semester. A long-term goal could be finding a mentor or getting an internship in your field.

2 Plan a fun getaway. Maybe you’re jealous because it seems like everyone else is having all the fun. Create some fun for you! Plan a fun weekend away for you and your bae, go to a theme park, or go hang out on the beach. Do whatever makes you happy![11]

3 Take care of your health. You’ll be a lot less worried about others if you’re focused on your own health. Build your confidence up by exercising at least three times a week. Eat a healthy meal by having veggies, fruits and lean meat. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.[12]

  • Drink a lot of water, too!

4 Surround yourself with positive people. Maybe your jealousy comes from hanging around friends who try to make you jealous on purpose. That’s definitely not cool. Instead of being around that negativity, spend more time with your kind-hearted, honest, and down-to-earth friends!

  • A positive person will be supportive, honest, kind and helpful. A negative person will insult, criticize, and drain you.

5 Consider seeing a counselor to work through your jealousy. If your jealousy is making it hard for you to enjoy life anymore, it might be time to seek outside help. There are many therapists who are trained to help their clients work through feelings of envy or inadequacy. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting help! It’s much worse to suffer in silence.[13]

  • Search online for therapists or counselors in your area. You can also get a referral from your doctor’s office or insurance provider.

Complete Article HERE!

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Do You Have Sexual Side Effects From Antidepressants You Stopped Taking?

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From low libido to erectile dysfunction, some people report suffering from enduring sexual problems.

From low libido to erectile dysfunction, some people report suffering from enduring sexual problems.

By Michael O. Schroeder

Antidepressants are widely prescribed, commonly used for depression and recommended to treat a range of other issues, from anxiety disorders to pain. But the medications aren’t without risk – and some potentially serious side effects start, or continue, after a person has stopped taking them.

These effects vary by the individual and the drug, but for the most commonly prescribed antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SSNIs – side effects, or adverse events reported by patients, range from headache, nausea and fatigue to paresthesia, or an abnormal sensation that can feel, to some, like electrical shocks, to insomnia to seizures. And though less widely recognized, some patients also report another enduring effect of SSRIs and SSNIs: sexual dysfunction.

To be sure, sexual side effects ranging from lower libido to erectile dysfunction are known and detailed in drug labeling information. But though online support groups have cropped up for people who experience persistent sexual dysfunction after going off antidepressants – post-SSRI sexual dysfunction, or PSSD – it’s not clear how common the concern is.

However, one recent paper co-authored by researchers linked with an independent drug safety website RxISK.org that collects reports of side effects – including after people stop medications – recently reported on 300 cases of enduring sexual dysfunction. These were reported by people from around the world who were taking SSRIs, SSNIs and tricyclic antidepressants, as well as drugs called 5α-reductase inhibitors and isotretinoin. which are used to treat male hair loss (baldness) and benign (non-cancerous) prostate enlargement, and acne respectively. Reports by patients who’d taken 5α-reductase inhibitors and isotretinoin to RxISK of enduring problems with sexual function after stopping these medications appeared to have similar characteristics to those related to antidepressants, notes co-author Dr. Dee Mangin, the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Chair in Family Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and chief medical officer for RxISK.org.

“We were really looking at sexual dysfunction both on and after taking medication, because some of the reports we were getting were suggesting that sexual dysfunction, which is a known side effect of a number of drugs, seemed to be persisting once the drugs were stopped,” Mangin says.

As noted in the paper published in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, there have been limited references to the potential for such issues to occur after patients stopped antidepressants. In the U.S., the product information for Prozac (fluoxetine) – the oldest of the SSRIs – was updated in 2011 to warn, “Symptoms of sexual dysfunction occasionally persist after discontinuation of fluoxetine treatment.” What’s more, the authors noted, “The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013, states that ‘In some cases, serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction may persist after the agent is discontinued.'”

But the authors go further in detailing reports of enduring sexual dysfunction such as the onset of premature ejaculation and persistent genital arousal disorder (whereby a person becomes aroused without any stimulation) as well as losing genital sensation, or genital anaesthesia, pleasureless or weak orgasm, loss of libido and impotence. “Secondary consequences included relationship breakdown and impaired quality of life,” the authors note.

The individuals weren’t independently evaluated before, during or after taking the medication, and more study is needed. Still, Mangin asserts, “The study provides the strong signal that there is a group of people who seem to experience enduring side effects that affect their sexual function after they’ve stopped taking the drug.”

Experts say just as patients should never stop antidepressants abruptly, or without consulting with their provider – since doing so is known to increase side effect risk and worsen those effects – patient and provider should discuss any adverse effects that start or continue after stopping a medication.

Dr. Eliza Menninger, who directs a behavioral health program at McLean Hospital in Boston, says she hasn’t heard from patients voicing serious concerns about sexual side effects after stopping their medication. For the most part, sexual side effects seem to go away after patients stop taking the medication, Menninger says. “Some will indicate it’s still an issue, but they don’t seem as bothered by it – and I don’t know if it’s as bad an issue as when they were on the SSRI,” she says.

However, clinicians say, it would be helpful to have more clarity on the issue – including how likely it may be that patients could experience enduring sexual side effects. In part due to the sensitive nature of sexual complaints, experts point out, these effects often go unacknowledged in patient-provider conversations.

One problem is that sexual side effects aren’t tracked in a systematic way like other drug side effects – even though they can be severely damaging to intimate relationships and undermine a person’s overall quality of life and well-being. “There’s no requirement, for example, for drug companies to track sexual side effects. They’re not considered serious adverse events, although the potential for them to continue post-medication I would consider extremely serious – even a disability,” says Audrey Bahrick, staff psychologist at the University of Iowa’s counseling service.

Bahrick recently signed onto a petition, along with Mangin and others who’ve researched enduring sexual side effects, asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies to require makers of SSRIs and SSNIs to update drug labeling to warn that such legacy effects can occur and continue for years or even indefinitely.

Sandy Walsh, a spokesperson for the FDA, said it would review the petition and respond to the petitioner, but declined to comment further regarding the petition. Drugmakers who responded to a request for comment say they work closely with regulatory agencies to keep information updated.

Mads Kronborg, a spokesman for pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck, notes that summary production information for its SSRIs, citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro), “already states that side effects can occur upon discontinuation, and that such side effects may be severe and prolonged.” Specifically, it’s stated that “generally these events are mild to moderate and are self-limiting, however, in some patients they may be severe and/or prolonged.” The side effects listed for citalopram and escitalopram “include sexual side effects,” he says, though he adds that sexual side effects are not among the most commonly reported reactions to discontinuation. “So information about potential enduring side effects is actually already included.”

But the petition asserts drug companies aren’t going far enough to acknowledge these concerns.

Bahrick says though the prevalence of enduring sexual side effects remains unknown, “My own impression clinically is that it’s not at all uncommon, and that it can range from subtle – not returning to sexual baseline – to really a complete sexual anesthesia, where a person who has been without any significant sexual problems prior to taking the medication might be rendered unable to experience sexual pleasure, unable to have sensation in the genitals, having orgasms that are not associated with pleasure,” she says. “These are clearly, I think, drug effects. [Issues] like genital anaesthesia and pleasureless orgasm – these are not symptoms that are associated with any sexual problems, say, that are commonly associated with depression. We can see these as legacy effects of the SSRIs.”

In the absence of prevalence data, clinicians continue to debate the potential extent of enduring sexual side effects for those who have stopped antidepressants. Some worry about unnecessarily scaring patients away from antidepressants who may benefit from taking the drugs.

“These medications are used to treat symptoms of illnesses that are potentially quite debilitating and can be lethal, so while I want to encourage a discussion of side effects, the intent is to use medications to help improve significant symptoms,” Menninger says. She points out, as the petition notes, that to date no prospective studies have been done assessing sexual dysfunction prior to SSRI and then during and after SSRI use. Though certainly side effects are real and concerning, she says, “there is clinical evidence the medications make a significant difference in helping [and/or] saving a life.” That’s something some clinicians emphasize shouldn’t get lost in the discussion.

But Bahrick says for patients, not having information that these effects may occur undermines their ability to make a fully informed decision when deciding to go on antidepressants, and deciding whether to try alternative treatment options first. “It’s so important to get this information out there on the front end. Because these injuries are very real and can be lifelong and seriously limit intimacy and create a lot of shame and isolation and despair,” she says. While for some the side effects go away on their own, for others they persist – and Bahrick says there’s no known cure for PSSD. “So this is in service of informed consent that is quite lacking at this time.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Satisfying Are Open Relationships Compared To Monogamy?

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Monogamy;— to have only one partner at a time — is considered a social standard in modern human society. But is it a necessary component of a satisfactory relationship?

Canadian researchers present new findings, suggesting that it may not have to be the ideal relationship structure. People in open relationships report feeling just as happy and content as those in conventional, monogamous ones.

The study titled “Reasons for sex and relational outcomes in consensually nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships on March 23.

“We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfillment and excitement but also emotional and financial support,” said lead author Jessica Wood, a Ph.D. student in applied social psychology at the University of Guelph.

“Trying to fulfill all these needs can put pressure on relationships. To deal with this pressure, we are seeing some people look to consensually non-monogamous relationships.”

While monogamy is omnipresent, Wood said that open relationships are actually more common than most people would expect. Currently, somewhere between three to seven percent of people in North America are said to be in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship.

For the study, the team surveyed around 200 people in monogamous relationships and around 140 people in open relationships to compare the data sets. Both groups were asked questions regarding how satisfied they felt, whether they considered separating, general happiness levels, etc.

Research has shown that many people tend to have a negative perception of open relationships. Some find it to be immoral, some equate it to cheating or sex addiction, and some simply believe it offers low levels of satisfaction.

“It’s assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainized and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that’s not the case,” Wood said. “This research shows us that our choice of relationship structure is not an indicator of how happy or satisfied we are in our primary relationships.”

The results of the study revealed that people in open relationships actually had similar levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships.

Sexual motivation appeared to be the biggest predictor of satisfaction, regardless of relationship structure. This was because of how closely sexual satisfaction is tied to our psychological needs.

“In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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The End of Safe Gay Sex?

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By Patrick William Kelly

June is Pride Month, a ripe time to reflect on one of the most startling facts about our sexual culture today: Condom use is all but disappearing among large numbers of gay men.

Many rightly attribute the condom’s decline to the rise of PrEP — an acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a two-drug cocktail that inoculates a person from contracting H.I.V. But another crucial component is the fading memory of the AIDS crisis that once defined what it meant to be gay.

After tracking the sexual practices of 17,000 gay and bisexual Australian men from 2014 to 2017, a team of researchers this month unveiled the most convincing evidence to date. While the number of H.I.V.-negative men who are on PrEP increased to 24 percent from 2 percent, the rate of condom use decreased to 31 percent from 46 percent. More troubling, condom use among non-gay men is also down significantly</a

Although public health advocates have been sounding the alarm on condom use for the last decade, their calls have gone largely unheeded. Part of that is because of a shift in how we talk about risky sex: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has replaced “unprotected” with “condomless” sex.

The dangerous implication is that PrEP alone may ward off all sexually transmitted infections. Indeed, studies have shown a strong correlation between PrEP use and the contraction of S.T.I.s. PrEP enthusiasts counter that PrEP mandates testing for S.T.I.s every three months, a practice that promotes rather than discourages a culture of sexual health.

But a 2016 study by the University of California, Los Angeles illustrated that PrEP users were 25.3 times more likely to acquire gonorrhea and a shocking 44.6 times more likely to develop a syphilis infection (other studies have found no significant uptick in S.T.I. rates, however).

More than the specific public-health risks of declining condom use among gay men is the shocking speed with which a sort of historical amnesia has set in.

The very idea of “safe sex” emerged from the gay community in the early 1980s, in response to the AIDS crisis. Drag queens once ended performances with catchy one-liners like, “If you’re going to tap it, wrap it.”

AIDS indelibly shaped what it meant to be gay in the 1980s and 1990s. When I came out at the tender age of 14 in 1998, I recall my mother’s reaction. As tears welled up in her eyes, she buried her face in her hands and said, “I just don’t want you to get H.I.V.” No stranger to controversial allusions, the AIDS activist and author Larry Kramer famously called it a homosexual “holocaust.” Condom use, therefore, was never a negotiating chip.

Until it was. PrEP, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2012, replaces the condom’s comforting shield. Liberated from the stigma of AIDS, gay men, many people think, are now free to revert to their carnivorous sexual selves. In this rendering, the condom is kryptonite, a relic that saps the virile homosexual of his primordial sexual power.

AIDS is no longer a crisis, at least in the United States, and that is a phenomenal public-health success story. But it also means that an entire generation of gay men has no memory or interest in the devastation it wrought. AIDS catalyzed a culture of sexual health that has begun to disintegrate before our eyes. What is there to be done to bring it back?

One answer is to recall the gay culture of the 1970s that gave rise to the AIDS crisis in the first place. The myth of a world of sex without harm is not new. The 1970s were a time of unprecedented sexual freedom for gay men, during which diseases were traded rampantly, fueled by a libertine culture that saw penicillin as the panacea for all ills.

The nonchalant dismissal of the condom today flies in the face of the very culture of sexual health that gay men and lesbians constructed in the 1980s. If a hyper-resistant strand of another life-threatening S.T.I. develops, we will rue the day that we forgot the searing legacies of our past. We might also recognize that PrEP has not proved nearly as effective a prevention strategy for women as it has for men, and that some strains of H.I.V. have developed resistance to the drug.

While we debate the utility of latex, what are we to think about the millions of sex workers, injecting-drug users and marginalized populations (in particular, black men who have sex with men) without adequate access to costly and coveted drugs like PrEP? If they develop AIDS, they also struggle to acquire the triple drug therapies that have since 1996 turned AIDS into a manageable if chronic condition. Millions have died from lack of access while pharmaceutical companies rake in billions every year.

We might also pivot away from the individualistic and privileged approach of our dominant L.G.B.T. organizations — what one scholar called the “price of gay marriage.” We might, then, regain a radical sense of queer community that we lost in the wake of AIDS.

Complete Article HERE!

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Trying to figure out where you fit on the sexuality spectrum?

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Dabbling in these tests might help.

Human sexuality spans too wide a scope to possibly be covered by a single test.

Be attracted to whomever—don’t stress about tests and scales.

By Sara Chodosh

Alfred Kinsey’s spectrum of human sexuality shocked the world when he published it in 1948. His book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male featured extensive interviews with 5300 people—almost exclusively white males along with a paltry number of racial and ethnic minorities about their sexual histories and fantasies. The second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, came out five years later and made equally shocking claims about the inner lives of 5940 women, also almost exclusively white.

Kinsey’s ethical standards were questionable, especially by today’s standards—much of his research involved sexual contact with his subjects—but he also introduced the world to an idea that previously had little publicity: Human sexuality isn’t confined to the binary hetero- and homosexual standards; rather, it exists on a broad spectrum. Today, most people know that as the Kinsey Scale (though that’s just one way to measure sexuality). It runs from zero to six, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual. A seventh category, just called “X,” is often interpreted as representing asexuality.

It’s by far the best-known sexuality scale, both for its creator’s fame and for its simplicity, but it’s far from the most accurate or most helpful. In fact, it probably wasn’t ever intended to be a test for participants to take themselves.

Kinsey and his colleagues (among them, his wife) generally assigned their subjects a number based on the interview they conducted. This may be surprising. Many people, sex researchers included, mistakenly believe it was some kind of psychological test conducted exclusively to determine someone’s sexuality. But in a 2014 journal article James Weinrich, a sex researcher and psychobiologist at San Diego State University, dug back into the original Kinsey reports to investigate and found that only a small portion of Kinsey’s subjects were asked to assign themselves a number on the scale. “It was a self-rating only for those asked the question—those who had significant homosexual experience. Otherwise, it was assigned by the interviewer,” he writes.

Since most people’s score on the Kinsey Scale wasn’t their own assessment, it was more or less based on the subjective decision of the expert conductors. That means those online quizzes purportedly telling where you fall on the Kinsey Scale aren’t official in any way.

But that’s not to say that they can’t be useful. Plenty of people—perhaps even most—question their sexuality at some point in their lives. It’s natural. And it’s equally natural to feel anxious, unnerved, or uncomfortable about having feelings that you’re not sure how to categorize or think about. Society has a plethora of negative judgments for anyone who deviates outside of the cisgendered, heterosexual bucket.

Of course, no one has to fall under specific labels. Many men interviewed for sex research, for example, avoid using the term “bisexual” even if they’ve had multiple sexual encounters with other men. San Diego State’s Weinrich spoke extensively with Thomas Albright, one of Kinsey’s original collaborators, who painted a likely far more accurate picture of how the interviews went and the challenges that the study presented. He wrote that a significant percentage of men in the Kinsey sample self-reported that they had “extensive” homosexual experiences, but when asked to rate themselves (men with homosexual experiences were the only ones asked to rate themselves) would self-identify as a zero (exclusively heterosexual) on the Kinsey scale when first asked. If pushed, they might push that back to a one or perhaps a two even as they acknowledge that they receive oral sex from other men.

While just one example, it highlights some of the inadequacies of the Kinsey Scale and of many other attempts to quantify human sexuality. One is that all answers are self-reported, and so rely on people to self-examine. Another is that there may be a disconnect between the attractions a person feels and the label they identify with. Perhaps they only have romantic feelings for people of the opposite sex, but are sexually aroused by men and women.

All of this intricacy is only magnified when you add the spectrum of gender identity. Transgender people, those identifying as gender-fluid or really anything outside of the traditional binary genders are often left out of these sexuality scales.

If you’re questioning your own sexuality, looking at some of these scales might be helpful in getting you to consider aspects of yourself that you might not think of. And if you’re not yet comfortable confiding in another person, these tests and quizzes may be a way of testing ideas and identities. Probably the healthiest way to explore would be with a psychologist who specializes in sexuality (you can find one here, as well as locate all manner of bisexuality-aware health professionals), but if you’re not ready for that step or can’t afford to see someone, these scales may be of some use.

The Kinsey Scale

The oldest and most basic spectrum, the Kinsey Scale is a straightforward numerical scale:

0 – Entirely heterosexual 1 – Mainly heterosexual, little homosexual 2 – Mainly heterosexual, but substantial homosexual 3 – Equally hetero and homosexual 4 – Mainly homosexual, but substantial heterosexual 5 – Mainly homosexual, little heterosexual 6 – Entirely homosexual X – “have no sociosexual contacts or reactions” (Kinsey didn’t use the word “asexual,” but modern researchers interpret the X this way)

Kinsey and colleagues allowed for intermediate numbers, like 1.5, along the scale in keeping with the idea that sexuality is a smooth spectrum. The Kinsey Scale is nice and simple—and that may make it useful to some—but it also focuses on behavior. Cisgender -women who have some unexplored feelings towards other cisgender -women or towards a transgender -woman may not find a place for themselves on the scale if they’ve never acted on those feelings.

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

The KSOG tries to remedy some of the nuance that’s not included in the Kinsey Scale. Rather than a single number line, the KSOG is a grid that asks you about sexual attraction, behavior, and fantasies along with emotional and social preferences (and even a few more variables) along a scale from 1 to 7. Importantly, it also asks about these variables in different time scales—past, present, and ideal. (It’s easiest to understand if you take a look at the grid on this page). Perhaps you have historically thought of yourself as an exclusively straight, cisgender male, but now feel some sexual attraction to men like yourself, though you still feel emotionally attached only to cisgender -women. There’s a place for you on the KSOG. There’s also a place for a cisgender -woman who feels equally attracted sexually and romantically to men and women.

It’s downfall is gender identity. In two studies of the KSOG, researchers asked non-cis participants to evaluate the scale on its ability to capture their own sexuality. Many felt it did not. One wrote that “it still does not capture my sexual expression as a genderqueer transwoman for whom the labels “same” and “opposite” sex are incoherent.” Another noted that “As a person who is gender queer and who prefers the same in partners, I have a hard time figuring out if I am homosexual or not! It depends on the solidity of your gender category which I don’t have.”

Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality & MoSIEC

As a reaction to the Kinsey Scale’s limitations, researchers in the 90s developed the MSS and later a more modern version called the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC). It’s now one of the few (or perhaps the only) scale in the official Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures.

MoSIEC measures sexuality across four subscales—commitment, exploration, sexual orientation identity uncertain, and synthesis—where participants score themselves on each of 22 statements based on how characteristic they find it. So for example, statement 1 says “my sexual orientation is clear to me,” and you as the test-taker would score yourself on a scale from 1 (very uncharacteristic of me) to 6 (very characteristic of me).

The MoSIEC questions are really intended for researchers, not self-exploration, so we’ll give you the warning here that this isn’t supposed to be a take-at-home quiz. But if you’re curious, you can find the full questionnaire on pages 101-2 of this pdf. The subscores are the averages of the scores for the questions in each subscale, but they’re not divided evenly nor are they in any particular order. For example, the “exploration” subscale is made of up questions 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 19. A higher score indicates “higher levels of the measured construct present in the individual” (we did warn you it was for researchers!).

Again, this isn’t a tool intended for lay people, but if you’re really motivated here are the breakdowns for the subscores:

Exploration: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 19 Commitment: 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20 (#15, 16, and 18 are reverse-scored) Synthesis: 4, 7, 13, 17, 22 Sexual orientation identity uncertain: 1, 15, 21 (#1 is also reverse-scored)

The final option: no scoring at all

All of these measures play into both our desire to categorize ourselves as well as our peers, and the necessity of measuring sexuality when it comes to research. But numbers, like labels, can’t possibly capture the complex nature of human sexuality. A quiz or a test can prompt you to consider important questions, but it can’t give you any concrete answers. Don’t stress if you don’t feel like you belong in any one category—nobody really does.

Complete Article HERE!

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Can’t manage to approach a person for sex?

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Name: Jake
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: London
I have never had sex mostly because I have never managed to approach the person. I am bisexual and am desperate to have sex with a guy or girl. What are the best ways to approach someone for sex?

[C]an’t manage to approach a person for sex? Are you just shy, or are you a total geek? Either way, my friend, you gotta get over yourself if you ever hope to get laid. And here’s a tip: perspective partners can smell desperation, like the kind you speak of, a mile away. And they will avoid you like the plague.

Ok, so you’re just 18 without a lot of experience in the ways of the world. Here’s what I tell everyone who asks me this question, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. When it comes to asking for sex; the direct approach works best. Just so long as you’re not a dick about it. If you haven’t already discovered this, baggin’ a chick will probably take a bit more finesse than pokin’ a bloke. And coming on to a mate demands a different approach than hittin’ up a stranger for a shag.

If there’s a bit of charm about you, your task will be considerably easier than if you are a crude Neanderthal who just wants to notch his belt. If you’re not sure what your selling points are, ask a friend for their feedback. If they tell you nice things bout yourself, you might be in luck. But if they tell you that you’re a charmless creep, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

Regardless what group you fall into — the “maybe fuckable”, or the “not fucking ever”, you can always improve your image and hone your unique style. Look to how you present yourself; make sure you are groomed, clean, and odor-free. Dress to impress. Stay clear of fancy or fussy, but do make it look like you gave your clothing a thought before you dressed yourself. Make yourself interesting; have a point of view, but share it sparingly. Develop a sense of humor about yourself. If you can’t be clever or witty, then keep your mouth shut for the most part.

The internet is a great place to test the waters. Dating and hook-up sites and apps abound. Put up a profile…with a photo or two. Here’s a tip, save the dick pics for the queer sites. Women don’t want to see your pathetic willie, at least not right away. And like I said above, there’s nothing more unattractive to most women, or men, than a desperate fuck. Asking for what you want is good, pleading to be taken out of pity is not!

Few women are as casual about sex as are most men. So if a woman tells you no, she just may be shy, or not ready, or not sure. If a guy tell you no, it’s not the end of the world. You’re probably not his type. There are lots of fish in the sea so if you’re not immediately successful, move on. Sometimes getting laid is a situational thing. Being in the right place at the right time is helpful.

Chicks are gonna be concerned about the whole pregnancy thing. This is a much more serious concern for a woman then for a dude. If you’re not well versed on several methods of contraception and willing to practice at least one, you’re not ready to have sex. Sexually transmitted infections ought to be a concern for you both. Don’t be a fuck-up; always use a condom regardless of your partner’s gender.

If your dick is hard, it’s not the right time to talk about sex with a woman, but it might be the best time to hit up a dude. Women don’t necessarily like the lean and hungry look. Men tend to groove on it.

There are lots of different ways to have sex, so what might be appealing to one person may not be to another. Mutual masturbation and/or oral sex are often more easy to cum by than full-on fucking with both birds and blokes.

In the end, there no standard way to ask for sex, but if you treat a prospective partner, regardless of gender, with respect, honesty, and patience, you can be sure whatever words you use will be more effective than if you’re an uncouth lout.

Good luck!

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We know the very best time to have sex…

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By Anna Breslaw

You climb into bed, shimmy up next to your S.O., and pucker up—only to find that they’ve already cashed in their ticket to Snoresville. If you’re in a long-term relationship, chances are it’s a familiar scenario, particularly if your partner is of the opposite sex. As the Daily Mail reports, a 2015 study of 2,300 people by the sex toy brand Lovehoney found that male sexual desire peaks between 6 and 9 a.m., aligning with the highest spike in their testosterone levels over a 24-hour period, while female partners desire sex most between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Is one partner *right*? Is there an optimal time to have sex? In an attempt to puzzle it out, I look back at evolutionary biology.

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and senior researcher at the Kinsey Institute. According to her studies, ancient man actually had sex in the middle of the day: “They would wake up, eat, have sex, and then socialize.”

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago.” —Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist

As fun as that sounds, it wasn’t exactly an afternoon delight—the sole purpose of intercourse was procreation, and the constant threat of predators meant it had to be quick.

These days, we’re not constrained by the threat of a looming mastodon, and morning and night sex each boast some compelling benefits. AM sessions strengthen your immune system by ratcheting up your levels of IgA, an antibody that protects against infection, according to Debby Herbenick, PhD, a sex researcher and Indiana University professor. Obviously, this would come in handy for flu season.

On the other hand, both men and women experience an increase in prolactin, melatonin, and vasopressin after sex—all hormones that are linked to increased sleepiness. So if you have trouble falling asleep at night, sex might help—and conversely, if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, an early roll in the hay probably isn’t doing you any favors (unless you have the luxury of time to laze about while you recuperate).

It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

For the most part, though, the health benefits of sex, like mood-boosting dopamine, improved heart health, decreased stress, and stronger emotional bonds with your partner, apply to both AM and PM sessions. (Heyo!)

So the best time to have sex is really whatever the best time is for you and your partner. “Some people are talked and touched out at the end of the day,” says Shannon Chavez, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and licensed sex therapist. “Other people are finally decompressing from work and ready to relax and focus on sex.” It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, adds Dr. Chavez, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

Better yet, these peak desire times are usually malleable for both genders. One way to align your sex drives is a technique Dr. Chavez calls sexual conditioning. The idea is to find a time that works for both of you. (According to the Lovehoney study above, the second-most popular block of time to have sex—for both genders—is between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., so that might be a good place to start.) The more often you have sex during this time, the more you’ll come to want sex at this time. “Positive sexual experiences that happened at night, or in the morning, or in a certain environment, will create a stronger arousal response in the future,” explains Chavez. You know what they say, practice makes perfect…

Complete Article HERE!

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9 ways to make sex less painful

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Sex should not be painful.

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[F]eeling some sort of physical pain during intercourse is incredibly common — according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly three out of four women experience painful sex at some point in their lives.

Though it might make you feel slightly better to know you’re not alone, this fact likely offers little comfort when you’re in the middle of a sexual encounter and things just aren’t feeling right. Whether you’re dealing with muscle aches due to a position that doesn’t work for your body, irritation or burning on your skin, or a gynecologic condition like vaginismus or vulvodynia, there are definitely ways to help ease your pain so you can enjoy the pain-free, happy sex you deserve.

Here are nine ways you can make sex less painful.

1. Take things slowly — very slowly.

Foreplay is important.

Some people can just go right into sex as soon as the opportunity presents itself, but others require lots of foreplay before they’re ready to go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but if you start having sex before you’re adequately turned on, you might feel pain, especially when it comes to penis in vagina intercourse.

“Many women think that if they feel excited, then they’re ready for sex,” Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, told Women’s Health magazine in 2014. “But your body needs time to lift the uterus and make room for the vagina to expand. The latter can stretch from four inches long to a fully aroused seven inches.”

Quickies are great under the right circumstances, but if you rush into the main attraction without enjoying some previews before the show, you might feel pain, soreness, or irritation down below, so be sure to slow things down as needed. Herbenick recommended 20 minutes of foreplay to adequately prepare your body.

2. Be sure you’re using enough lubrication.

Vaginal dryness is common.

Although you still need to be sure that your body is ready for sex before your partner enters you, vaginal dryness can occur even if you’re fully ready to go. This is where lube comes in, so you’ll want to snag a silicone- or water-based lubricant, particularly one without harsh chemicals or fragrances so that you won’t risk irritating your genitals or skin.

There are no shortage of great lubricants for sex out there, but after you’ve found the one that works for you, you might want to look into the reason you’re feeling dry down below. Dryness can be caused by a slew of medications, including birth control pills, allergy medications, antidepressants, and even over-the-counter cold medicines, as well as soaps, and even smoking cigarettes, so check with your doctor.

Everyday Health also noted that vaginal dryness can happen due to a drop in estrogen levels, which happens at certain points of your menstrual cycle, if you’ve recently given birth, are breastfeeding, or are going through menopause.

Also, if you’re bathing in hot water pre-sex, you could be inadvertently drying out vaginal tissue. Checking with your doctor about any discomfort due to dryness is always the best option.

3. Check for allergies or other health conditions.

You could have a latex allergy.

If you’re feeling itchiness, burning, or irritation down below, you could be dealing with a number of health issues, so you’ll want to check with your doctor.

An itchy rash or hives can be symptoms of a latex allergy, as can vaginal irritation or burning. As Jonathan Schaffir, M.D., an OB-GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told SELF magazine in 2016, “it is also possible to have a more severe form of allergy that leads to anaphylaxis, which involves system-wide swelling, dropping blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. That would be rare, but needs immediate medical attention.”

But acute reactions aside, latex allergies aren’t a huge deal, and you can safely switch to polyurethane condoms without issue. Still, pain, itchiness or irritation can be signs of other health conditions, including a yeast infection, STIs, vaginismus, vulvodynia, or an ovarian cyst, so paying a visit to your doctor is never a bad idea.

4. Try a different position.

Some positions may hurt more than others.

Unfortunately, some sex positions are more likely to cause pain during sex than others, which means you might need to get creative. Positions that allow for deep thrusting (such as doggie style) are often more painful for women, while those that allow the woman more control of the pace (such as woman-on-top, missionary, or side-by-side spooning) are often helpful if you’re experiencing painful sex.

Experiment with different positions to see which ones feel the most comfortable for you and your body.

5. Change things up completely.

Props are your friend.

If you’ve tried different positions but are still experiencing discomfort, Health suggested using props, pillows, or toys to make things feel better. Pillows are great to help align your body in a more comfortable position, and there are no shortage of sex toys and props out there to help alleviate any tension or stress in your muscles and joints. Getting a bit creative can help you explore new options while also helping to reduce pain.

6. Create a relaxing, sex-positive environment.

Clear your mind.

For many people, it can be hard to fully relax and enjoy the moment, which leads to tension in our bodies as we are having sex. So doing some things to help yourself feel connected in the moment is a great way to have more pleasurable sex.

Relaxation looks different for everyone, but some helpful tips include keeping a space free of clutter and mess, so you won’t be worried about getting cozy on top of a pile of clothes. Playing relaxing music, lighting candles, and keeping a comfortable temperature and linens might sound like a scene from a cheesy romance novel, but these things can all truly help you feel more at ease and able to be more present in the moment.

Trying out different mindfulness techniques can also help, and MindyBodyGreen reports that plenty of people enjoy meditation or breathing techniques to help their brain stay present and connected. Most of us lead such busy, hectic lifestyles that it can be hard to truly disconnect and enjoy sex, which could unknowingly be causing you pain or discomfort.

Meditation is a proven stress reliever, and research shows that when your body is producing too much of the stress hormone cortisol, it can be hard to get aroused. When you meditate, you’re naturally lowering the levels of cortisol in your body, which can help your mental health both in the sheets and outside of them.

7. Take a break from intercourse.

There are other ways to have intimacy.

It might sound obvious, but pain can often be a signal that your body needs a break, so it won’t hurt to listen to your body and explore other options for a little while. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other forms of intimacy — if you haven’t enjoyed a makeout session in a long time, it can be a surprisingly fun way to keep the spark alive without the worries of pain down below.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little exploration of your bodies to figure out what works best — without pressure to climax or have a full-on sex session. It’s entirely possible you’re trying to have too much sex, which is especially common in the early stages of a relationship.

You should never push through pain or something that doesn’t feel right — forcing yourself to do something you’re not enjoying is not okay, so taking notice of your body and brain during sex is crucial.

8. Communication is key, so you’ll want to speak openly with your partner.

When you talk about it, you can take some of the scariness away.

No matter the reason you’re experiencing pain during sex, talking it out with your partner is a great way to help get you to a place where you’re both enjoying sex … without wincing in pain.

No one deserves to engage in sexual activity that makes them feel pain or discomfort, so sitting down with your partner is a good way to brainstorm solutions to help you both feel great. Maybe it’s a matter of changing up the speed or pace of sex, or you’re hoping to try new things.

Experimenting and giving honest feedback is never a bad idea, but it’s especially important if things haven’t been feeling right.

Also, if you have experienced sexual abuse of any kind, it can be understandably difficult to enjoy sex. It’s entirely up to you whether you discuss your feelings with your partner and when, but know this: your feelings are absolutely valid, and you have every right to discontinue sexual activity at any point, no matter the reason.

9. Be honest with yourself about what you want.

It may not be sex.

Our bodies are all different, and we all have different wants and needs, especially when it comes to sex. People of all genders are entitled to the sexual experiences they want, but it’s also OK if you’re not interested in sex right now or ever.

Pop culture might have you think that people want to have sex all the time, but there are plenty of reasons you might not want to, and they’re all perfectly valid.

New moms are often given the green light for sex around six weeks after giving birth, but not all people who give birth are ready right away, thanks to a drop in estrogen levels and healing scar tissue after giving birth. If you’re simply not ready for sex, there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’re recovering from illness or trauma, or simply don’t enjoy sex and think you might identify as asexual, you have every right to explore your feelings without forcing yourself to have painful sex. Talking with your partner can help, as can seeking the advice of a doctor or therapist you trust. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do sexually, no matter what movies or porn might suggest to the contrary.

Complete Article HERE!

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Kinky Sex Could Be the Secret to Your Success

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Turns out whips and blindfolds are the unseen force behind a lucrative career—and a satisfying love life.

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[C]laudia wasn’t sure if it was nerves or the night before that had given her the confidence to ask her boss for a raise. Either way, negotiating her salary was easier than expected. She’d been practicing, after all… just on something a little less G-Rated.

The 36-year-old mother-of-two, who asked me not to use her last name, had spent the past few days negotiating with her husband about how she could flex her longtime fantasy of dominating him in a way they’d both enjoy. Afterward, she told me, the experience had made her feel confident, valued, secure and pleased at their ability to compromise—feelings which she was surprised to find lasted into the the following day. When she arrived at work, still swimming in the satisfaction of a fantasy realized, she decided this was it. Raise day.

The way Claudia was able to benefit from her erotic encounter is a common theme among people with knacks for kink. Many successful visionaries throughout history, from artists to scientists and even politicians, have had well-documented kinks and fetishes that affected how they operated in their daily lives. I was curious: Could it be that whips and blindfolds are the unseen force behind their artistry, leadership and innovation?

A wave of recent research has confirmed this: If it’s something you desire in the first place, kinky sex can benefit you not just in the bedroom, but outside of it as well. “Unconventional” sexual practices and fantasies, such as BDSM, group sex, or role play, have been shown to reduce psychological stress, improve mental health and can help with satisfying and communicative relationships. Kinky people have also been found to have higher self-worth than those who are too afraid or ashamed to pursue their fantasies; all positive effects, which Los Angeles-based sex therapist, Jamila Dawson, LMFT, says can help optimize your goals, mood and overall well-being even after kinky play ends.

“A healthy relationship to kink can absolutely be the underlying cause of some people’s success,” explains Dawson, who specializes in kink and polyamory. “I see this all the time in my practice.”

No wonder Claudia felt so motivated.

So, how is it that kink is able to give the people who practice it such an edge? Why would getting lost in the fantasy of floggers, blindfolds and safe-words matter in everyday moments like asking for a raise?

The answer is multifaceted, but the primary way kinky sex gives people a life boost is the fascinating way in which it can affect the brain.

Activities like BDSM can actually alter the pattern of blood flow within the brain, creating a number of favorable mental states with positive effects similar to that of mindfulness and meditation, according to recent findings by Dr. Brad J. Sagarin, Professor of Psychology at Northern Illinois University and founder of the BDSM Research Team. These mental states are highly distinctive, altered states of consciousness which can improve mood, enhance cognition and heighten our capacity to form original ideas and novel connections, adds Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a faculty affiliate of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and author of the blog Sex & Psychology. In the context of kinky sex, these distinct head spaces are called “flow.”

Flow is most often described as a transcendent state of heightened sensory awareness, focus, presence and euphoria. It can be intense—it’s not uncommon for people to feel high, floaty, melty, tingly, or detached from both time and their body. Most commonly, it’s brought on by the endorphins released during a physically intensive experience (flogging or spanking, for example; similar to a runner’s high), but the same feeling can be brought on by passionate mental or emotional stimulation.

Interestingly, the quality of these altered states can differ according to the type of kinky play someone’s involved in. In particular, Dr. Sagarin’s research found that dominance and submission activates two unique types of flow that enhance creative and emotional conditions.

More specifically, Dr. Sagarin found that the participants who played the submissive role in their experiment achieved greater transient hypofrontality, which refers to a feeling of peacefulness and happy detachment, where time has slowed down. Runner’s high, meditation and even some drug highs produce a similar effect. Meanwhile, dominant participants experienced slightly different altered state. As opposed to a dreamlike detachment, those in the dominant role felt a greater sense of control, a loss of self-consciousness, clearer goals and heightened concentration—less of a “high” in their case; more of a laser focus.

When you’re in one of these flow states, Dr. Lehmiller continues, you’re operating with much lower levels of self-awareness. You’re focused; you’re in the zone. It’s like playing an instrument—when you think too hard about what you’re doing and how each note is supposed to sound, you psych yourself out and make mistakes as your body tries to catch up to your brain’s over-analysis. But when you detach from that hyper-awareness of yourself and let things, well, flow, they come out naturally. They sound better.

That’s precisely the mental state in which both creativity and productivity flourish best—when we’re not concerned with moment-to-moment survival or the stressful mundanities of everyday life.

Outside of the bedroom (or dungeon, or… wherever), feelings of flow can stay with a person anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, during which time Dawson, the sex therapist, says many of her clients and kinky acquaintances harness their power for a variety of uses. One acquaintance in particular, she tells me, was able to overcome a severe case of writer’s block the morning after her partner finally obliged her rope bondage fantasy. The catharsis of a fantasy realized—and the freedom to inhabit her desires in a safe and trusting space—put her in a creative mood.

World-famous composer Georg Friedrich Haas is a more well-known example of this. In 2016, The New York Times chronicled the unusual union between Haas and his wife, writer and sex educator Mollena Williams—a 24/7 kinky relationship in which Haas, now a 64-year-old music professor at Columbia University, played the role of Master; Williams, his ever-doting Submissive. Reportedly, the two fell in love after Haas told Williams he wanted to “tame” her on OkCupid. (“I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way,” she told The New York Times, describing the situation as feminist because it’s her choice.)

In the article, Haas directly attributes his success as an artist to his kinky (and sexually vibrant) marriage, which he said had “dramatically improved his productivity and reshaped his artistic outlook.” After three divorces and a lifetime of repressing what he’d once considered “devilish desires,” he explained that the freedom to not only explore, but live in his dominant fantasies had “roughly doubled” his artistic productivity.

This delights, but does not surprise Dawson.

“In general, I’ve found that people who engage in forms of expansive sexuality such as kink are more creative or imaginative in their jobs or recreational life,” she says. “The culture of kink supports their creative drives. It gives them a space to play with the limits and boundaries of their bodies and minds, and with mental states such as surrender, fear, playfulness and surprise. In that sense, kink’s not so different from art, design or any creative venture. It’s a totally valid form of self-expression.”

Of course, not everything kinky immediately leads to a revelation, artistic inspiration or a sudden solution to a long-suffering problem, but, as Dawson points out, getting into a headspace where it’s more likely to happen definitely doesn’t hurt.

In fact, while many people still hold the belief that fantasizing in a relationship means you’re unhappy with your partner (a faulty theory devised by Freud in 1908 which has since been debunked), it has been reported that people who incorporate fantasy into their sex lives reap a surprising number of benefits. Frequent fantasizers have sex more often, engage in a wider variety of erotic activities, have more partners, masturbate more and orgasm more reliably than people who fantasize infrequently, or don’t fantasize at all.

And just having sex can also make you more productive at work. A 2017 study from Oregon State University found that having sex before work—either the night before or the morning of—made people more engaged and efficient on the job.

Fantasy-based sex can also decrease stress and anxiety much like meditation and exercise, only rather than through silence or sweat, the reward comes through say, the satisfying swish of a paddle, or the worshipping of a lovely foot. Kinky sex has also been linked to the sorts of changes in cortisol levels which can reduce psychological and physical stress; correlated with better physical and mental health, increased life span, better coping skills, and improved mood. Show us a job, relationship, creative project or personal goal that can’t be helped by those things.

Expressing a fantasy, a particularly intimate form of connection, can even increase intimacy and connectedness in relationships. One 2009 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found people who practice sadomasochism (consensually exploring the pleasure of pain) show an increase in relationship closeness. This, researchers theorized, is because safely executing that kind of play takes a great deal of trust, acceptance and communication.

“Most people in mainstream relationships tend to reserve the most transparent and direct communication for challenging situations like a fight or some obstacle that requires they finally ‘break down’ into total honesty,” Dawson continues. “By contrast, when responsible people engage in kinky acts, there is almost always clear, intimate communication and respect for boundaries, two things that build trust like nothing else.” And even if you identify as vanilla, you can still benefit from communicating like kinky people do: with limits, safety, comfort, and compromise in mind.

Translating that to other areas of your life—either at work or in relationships—isn’t that big of a jump. Midori, a renowned fetish and sexuality educator who teaches a three-day domination intensive for women called ForteFemme, tells me her students utilize her kinky negotiation tactics in a number of practical ways.

One, an IT manager, uses her negotiation training to “discover what motivates potential employees and their compatibility with the scope of the project and team environment.” Another has a special-needs child in school. When school administrators tried to shirk their responsibilities and blame her parenting, she used the physical postures of dominance and negotiation skills Midori taught her to advocate for her daughter’s well-being.

“We learn so much about our bodies and our minds when we engage in kinky sex,” explains Dawson. “It absolutely makes sense that we’d transfer that knowledge to other endeavors.”

Perhaps this transference is why people who engage in BDSM and kink have been found to be happier, more conscientious and less neurotic than people who don’t engage in so-called “deviant” sex.

The question that remains then, is not whether kink is safe, healthy and beneficial, but how you can apply it to your life. If you’ve been harboring kinkier desires and feel empowered to communicate them, one way to cash in is pure honesty: Turn to your partner after reading this and have a discussion about how you’d like him or her to spank you, armed with the knowledge that them doing so can benefit you in ways beyond the thrill of the sensation.

Ideally, that knowledge can help mitigate any shame or embarrassment the prospect of sharing and negotiating your kinky fantasies may bring, but if you’re not ready to communicate your kinky interests—or simply don’t harbor them at all—there are other ways to go about reaping the rewards.

“Let’s be clear, it’s not kinky sex itself that makes life better,” Midori cautions. “It’s the conversational skills and self-knowledge needed to engage in it that makes life better.”

A small, but significant tool she recommends is to start noticing and logging each occasion you don’t speak what you really want, or you minimize your wants in comparison to another’s. These are areas to apply the communication, negotiation, self-awareness and creative thought kink affords. Changing these habits isn’t easy, she says, but they address a lifetime of putting your own needs aside. In kink, when there’s consent, it’s okay to put yourself first.

Dawson offers some of her own advice inspired by safe BDSM practices to help you reach flow during any kind of sex, be it vanilla or covered in more leather than an industrial tannery.

“Setting the scene, taking the time to breathe and slowing sex down to a pace that’s much slower than you’re accustomed to are all things kinky people do to get the most out of their scenes and interactions,” she says. Enhanced pleasure and erotic creativity, Dawson reminds us, can be achieved when you’re not focused on a particular outcome—rather, simply immerse yourself in the experience, concentrate fully, and remain open to what arises in the moment. You can get into the same sort of flow states that latex-clad dominatrixes can, sans the craving for control.

The experience of living one’s fantasy in a safe, consensual space that’s free of judgment and expectation, it seems, far outweighs the perceived benefits of keeping kinky desires under wraps. If you have them, try bringing them to light. At the very least, you might get a raise out of it.

Complete Article HERE!

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Want to figure out the rules of sexual consent? Ask sex workers.

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by Jessie Patella-Rey

[T]he #MeToo movement has pushed issues of consent to the foreground of our cultural zeitgeist. Confoundingly, though, some of the movement’s most vocal champions seem to be the worst at respecting the very conventions they are espousing. Shortly after now-former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, for example, Schneiderman resigned in the face of four sexual-abuse allegations. In a public statement, he claimed that he had simply been engaged in “role-playing and other consensual sexual activities.”

If Schneiderman really believes that to be true, his understanding of what consent actually involves seems to be fundamentally confused. Consent demands thoughtful communication, careful reflection and sometimes takes practice. Few know this better than people who deal with consent every day as part of their jobs: sex workers, for whom negotiating consent and setting boundaries is central to the work of sex work. It’s our ability to tackle these issues that makes us good at what we do. As the conversation around consent moves ahead, it’s time others start learning from our own hard-won experience.

If turning to sex workers for conceptual clarity and moral guidance rings odd to you, it may be because we sex workers have been systematically excluded from these discussions. Many refuse to acknowledge that sex workers are even capable of exercising consent. This is the rhetoric of what anthropologist Laura Agustín calls the “rescue industry”— a term used to describe people and institutions who conceptualize all sex workers as victims in need of saving. Catherine MacKinnon has argued, for example, that “in prostitution, women have sex with men they would never otherwise have sex with. The money thus acts as a form of force, not as a measure of consent. It acts like physical force does in rape.” More recently, Julie Bindel has proposed, “In almost every case it’s actually slavery. The women who work as prostitutes are in hock and in trouble. They’re in need of rescue just as much as any of the more fashionable victims of modern slavery.”

This thinking casts sex workers as victims, entirely without agency of our own, while ironically speaking authoritatively about us without asking for our input. It’s a stance that parallels the hypocrisy behind Schneiderman purporting to champion consent for women while allegedly ignoring it in practice.

This is a mistake. As Lola Davina, former sex worker and author of several books, including “Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry,” put it to me in an email, she views “sex workers as soldiers on the front lines of the consent wars.” That squares with my own experience, which suggests that the lessons we teach may be broadly applicable. In my own work as a phone-sex operator, which I also write and podcast about under the name Jessie Sage, I’ve had numerous clients who have called me to rehearse future conversations or negotiations with their wives or partners. And my experiences merely scratch the surface of what’s possible.

With this premise in mind, I recently reached out to community organizer and writer Chanelle Gallant to ask what she thinks sex workers can offer. “Something unique about sex work is that consent is seen as a collective responsibility,” she said. “Sex workers organize to build their power and the ability to prevent abuse.” In some cases, that might involve exchanging information about bad customers, workplaces or managers. In others, it might be about collaborating to improve workplace conditions.

This collective organizing also translates to the interactions of individual sex workers with their clients. Stripper and journalist Reese Piper told me that she has had to learn how to avoid situations with people who will violate her. “Sex workers know how to walk away from people or situations that are dangerous or not worth our time,” she said. “It’s part of our job to detect dangerous customers. And it’s also our job to invest in customers that will value our labor.”

Alex Bishop, a sex worker and activist, talks about gaining these insights and skills as a gift that sex work has given her. She told me, “Before I did sex work, I didn’t think as deeply about sexuality and consent. I was still young and naive and slept with men because they bought me dinner or were nice.” It was her job that helped her change her way of thinking, so much so that she suggested she would like to see everyone try out sex work “for a few weeks,” if only to help open their eyes. To her way of thinking, “sex work instills a lot of confidence in those that do the work. It becomes easy to say no because you find yourself saying it all day long to clients.”

Piper agrees, telling me, “Stripping taught me how to value my time, my emotional energy and my body. It taught me how to stand up for myself. I never used to tell men who accosted me on the street to go away. Now it’s easy. I don’t feel bad about valuing my space and soul.”

Mistress Eva, who specializes in domme work, describes her interactions with clients as safer and defined than those outside of sex work. At the airport on the way home from DomCon, she took a few minutes to write to me: “I never have to hesitate about entering an interaction as a sex worker, because our interaction is always preceded by negotiation and an understanding of our combined desires and limits.”

Circling back to Davina, I asked for specific examples of how sex work has taught her how to negotiate consent. She explains, “Here’s what sex work taught me: I can say ‘yes’ to a lap dance then say ‘no’ to kissing. I can say ‘yes’ to kissing, then say ‘no’ to a blowjob. I can say ‘yes’ to a blowjob, then say ‘no’ to intercourse. … Saying ‘yes’ to one sexual act is saying ‘yes’ to that particular sexual act, and nothing more. Sex workers navigate these waters all day, every day.”

Recognizing that they can add a lot to our conversations around consent, many sex workers have taken it upon themselves to teach consent in their sex work practices. Ginger Banks, who has been a sex worker for eight years, told me, “After learning more about consent [as a sex worker] I see so many different ways that we violate it, possibly [unintentionally]. I think it is important to discuss this topic of consent with our fan bases.” Reflecting on her experience as a porn performer, she explained, “This is why I try and integrate the consent into my films, compared to just having it done just off camera. This way I can teach people about consent while they watch my films.”

It should be clear, then, that despite what the rescues industry assumes, we sex workers spend a great deal of our time both exercising and practicing consent. Significantly, we do so in the context of our relationships with clients. These sort of low stakes transactional interactions are fertile ground for productive consent work. Sex workers can, and often do, walk away from interactions with clients who fail to value consent. Accordingly, clients must practice negotiating consent in order for a transaction to continue. And, as my own experiences suggest, those are skills that they can transfer to their other relationships.

Given all of this, I’d argue that we need to empower sex workers to continue to do the sort of valuable, consent-focused work that we are already doing. In relationship to consent, we need to stop thinking about sex work as the problem, and start thinking about sex workers as part of the solution.

Complete Article HERE!

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Can You Get An STI From Anal Sex?

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That itch in your butt? It may not just be a harmless rash.

By Isadora Baum

[W]hen you think of sexually transmitted infections, symptoms like vaginal itching and pelvic pain probably come to mind. But the same STIs that threaten your health down below can infect other body areas. They’re typically transmitted through oral sex or anal sex, but some can be picked up after direct skin contact.

The scary thing about getting an STI in another part of your body is that you’re less likely to recognize signs, so you don’t seek the right treatment—and the infection potentially gets worse. Here are four body areas that can play host to an STI, plus the symptoms to look for.

On your face

You already know that genital herpes can spread to your lips if you have oral sex with someone who has this STI. What you may not know is that the same type of herpes that shows up below the belt can infect other parts of your face, such as around your mouth, Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health. Herpes can also appear on your tongue or nose.

How do you know if a sore on your face is herpes? Early signs are the same as genital herpes: tingling and itching, and then as the sore develops, it blisters and scabs over. If you’re unsure, check in with a dermatologist. You can treat herpes with over-the-counter cold sore remedies; your doctor can also prescribe antiviral meds that cut the duration of an outbreak.

In your butt

Yep, we have to go there. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be transmitted to the rectum if you have anal sex with an infected partner, Karen Brodman, MD, a gynecologist in New York City, tells Health. Your risk of one of these backdoor STIs increases if you develop small tears or nicks in the thin skin of the anus, through which the bacteria can get into your system.

STIs transmitted through skin contact, such as genital herpes or HPV, can develop in or outside the anus and rectum, says Dr. Brodman. Herpes may also show up as sores on the skin of the buttocks. And of course, HIV is spread via anal sex, as are blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C.

Signs of an STI in your behind include rectal burning, unusual discharge, bleeding, pain, or a fissure, says Dr. Brodman. You might also notice blisters or achiness in the groin, she adds. If any of these develop, let your doctor know. And don’t be embarrassed—she’s seen it all before.

In your eyes

STIs that trigger eye infections include herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, says Dr. Adalja. The signs of many of these conditions mimic pink eye: think pain, swelling, redness, and discharge.

An eye herpes infection, however, can present differently. If the herpes virus is in your eye, it may result in an outbreak of one or more lesions on the eyelids or even the cornea, triggering pain and sensitivity that could jeopardize your vision by causing scarring. If you have any symptoms, see your ophthalmologist promptly, says Dr. Adalja.

In your throat

STI infections in the soft, moist tissues of the back of the mouth and throat are more prevalent than you might think. Chlamydia and gonorrhea (including the drug-resistant strain known as “super gonorrhea”) can set up shop here if a person contracts either of these infections during oral sex. Scarily, you may not even know it; sometimes the only symptom is a sore throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

HPV is another infection that invades the throat—and it’s thought to be behind the recent rise in cases of head and neck cancers, especially among men. While there are more than 100 types of HPV, the type that causes many cases of cervical cancer, HPV 16, is also responsible for most head and neck cancers. Though HPV of the throat is becoming more common, a 2017 study emphasizes that the overall lifetime odds of cancer is low. Still, if you think you might be at risk, talk to your doctor.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men lose interest in sex before women in long-term relationships

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[A] new study has shown that men are the first to lose interest in sex when it comes to long-term relationships.

According to the research, there are ‘clear assumptions in our culture that women have lower sexual desire than men’ – it’s long been thought that men have insatiable sexual appetites for the duration of their lives, while it’s been said that women peak sexually at 33 and then coast along a life of flagging libidos while being nagged for sex.

However, the study – published in the Journal of Sex Research – found that actually, male sexual desire can be just as complicated as women’s.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky analysed 64 studies on sexual desire conducted since the 1950s, discovering that men do lose interest in sex and that there are three main reasons – individual, interpersonal and societal.

‘We expect male desire to always be high and to be simple, like an on and off switch, while we expect women’s desire to be a complicated switchboard, but they are both complex,’ says Kristen P. Mark, associate professor of health promotion and director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky, and the lead researcher on the study.

The aforementioned assumptions are part of the problem – while women expect ebbs and flows in our libido, men may feel frustrated and confused when the same happens to them.

There’s a constant pressure from the assumption that they be the ones initiating sex in a heterosexual relationship.

Individual issues affecting sexual desire may include physical ones, including erectile dysfunction, poor mental health, and side effects of medication for illnesses such as depression and high blood pressure.

Previous studies have backed up past assumptions about the gender sex imbalance in older people.

This US study found that women aged 65-80 were more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives, while men were more likely to be extremely or very interested in sex.

Half of men aged 65 to 80 said they were extremely or very interested in sex, versus just 12% of women in the same age range.

The takeaway from all of this is that it doesn’t really matter how much sex you’re having, or how interested you are in it, if it works between you and your partner, and you’re open and honest with each other.

If you’re worried about your libido or lack thereof, speak to your GP to alleviate any concerns.

What you think is worrying may well be perfectly normal, but if it’s stressing you out, it pays to seek help.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Does It Actually Mean To Be Sexually Fluid?

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It’s not the same as being bisexual.

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[R]ecently, I was speaking with a friend about sexuality and labels: She has fallen in love with both men and women, and cannot quite pin down her orientation.

She doesn’t feel fully lesbian and she doesn’t feel fully straight. But bisexual somehow doesn’t strike her as the right fit, either.

Hers is more an attraction she can categorize on a person-to-person basis and it has evolved over the years, but when pressed to define it herself, no single word surfaces.

I had two words to suggest: sexually fluid.

Sexually, what? This concept can be difficult to wrap your mind around, and comes with a lot of confusion.

What Is Sexual Fluidity?

“I define sexual fluidity as a capacity for a change in sexual attraction—depending on changes in situational or environmental or relationship conditions,” says Lisa Diamond, Ph.D., professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. Diamond should know: she literally wrote the book on this matter, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.

Sexual fluidity: The idea that sexual orientation can change over time, and depending on the situation at hand.

The concept of sexual fluidity doesn’t negate the existence of sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and so forth). Rather, fluidity builds in a little wiggle room, Diamond says.

Not quite getting it? Rena McDaniel—a clinical sexologist and licensed therapist—suggests thinking about a spectrum, with attraction to women-identifying people on the left side, and male-identifying people on the right. Your attraction profile exists within a bracket on that spectrum, and that bracket can slide: At age 22, for example, your attraction bracket might sit closer to the left, but by 30, you might find it’s shifted a few degrees to the right.

“You may, for instance, be attracted to the more feminine side of the gender spectrum, and over time, that may evolve and you may find yourself attracted to…people on more the masculine side…and that—over your lifetime—may shift and change,” McDaniel says.

That’s not to say a person chooses their sexual orientation, though: Rather, it means that the degree to which they’re attracted to men or women, or whoever, might vary somewhat over time.

In other words, sexual fluidity does not mean once I was exclusively attracted to men, and now I’m exclusively attracted to women, but something closer to I was once attracted to men and women, but these days I find myself attracted more or less exclusively to women. That migration can depend on a person’s experiences, Diamond adds, and on their personal relationships.

How Is It Different Than Bisexuality?

“Are you not just describing bisexuality?” I hear someone muttering off in the distance. Diamond says she gets that question a lot, and in truth, the two concepts do share much in common.

The confusion isn’t helped by a lack of agreement, even among bisexual people, as to what bisexual means: For some, it’s attraction to both genders; for others, it’s not caring about gender at all and gauging attraction on the basis of the person in front of you.

Bisexuality, she continues, “is a real orientation, it does exist, and I’ve seen a lot of people in the bisexual orientation experience themselves as consistently over time being attracted to both women and men. Maybe not to the exact same degrees—it doesn’t have to be 50/50—but they are consistently attracted to both women and men.”

Fluidity, meanwhile, connotes change over time: “Someone who’s fluid, they aren’t necessarily going to consistently experience attraction for both women and men,” Diamond explains. “There may be times in their life that they are more aware of attraction toward one gender, and times in their life when they’re attracted to the other gender.”

Further, not everyone exhibits the same degree of fluidity—and some people don’t experience fluidity at all, which is also fine. You can be the most open-minded person in the world and still not summon up attraction for a man-identifying or woman-identifying person, because again, you don’t get to choose sexual orientation.

And while Diamond’s research used to indicate that women-identified people were more fluid than male-identified, that’s changing. Many men are increasingly comfortable describing themselves as mostly heterosexual, Diamond notes.

Complete Article HERE!

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What asexuality can teach us about sexual relationships and boundaries

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By , &

[T]here 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.

Complete Article HERE!

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