I Want a (Not Too) Open Relationship

Hi Yana!

I’m a lady in a happy, healthy, committed relationship with a man. We have a good sex life but my sex drive is much higher than his.

I’m also really into girls and have wanted to ask him for a long time how he would feel if I was Friends With Benefits with another girl. The idea excites me, but I’m really nervous to open up to him about this.

I’m afraid that he might propose an open relationship but I’m not down with that. I feel like me being intimate with another female is different than him being intimate with another female.

Is that hypocritical and selfish of me? How do couples talk about these things? If I take the plunge and all goes smoothly, where does a lady find another lady in the Pioneer Valley who shares similar desires?

— Slightly Ajar

Dear SA,

I hear this a lot when I talk to people about open or otherwise non-monogamous relationships: “I’d love to do that if I was the only one sleeping with/dating others” or “I could never let my partner sleep with/date someone else. I’d be way too jealous.”

While people can easily imagine the value of having both a committed relationship and outside sexual partners for themselves, they’re unable to trust that their partner could do the same without leaving them. No one ever says, “I could never be non-monogamous; I’m afraid I would leave my partner for my fuck-buddy.” Put clearly: fulfilling our own sexual diversity sounds swell, but when it’s our own vulnerability, the stakes are suddenly too high to bear.

Monogamous/non-monogamous pairings like you’re proposing above do exist. Couples can decide to do this for a number of reasons, such as one person being bisexual and the other not, or one person is living with a sex-life-impeding illness, or there’s an extreme difference in sex drives. But these structures aren’t about one person being “allowed” to sleep with others and the other being “forbidden” from doing so — they succeed because it’s the arrangement that both partners want.

One of the major myths supporting monogamy is that our partner’s commitment to us is synonymous with our control over them. Any relationship needs to be a positive choice for the people in the relationship in order for it to be healthy and happy. “Positive” meaning that it brings all involved more joy than pain and “choice” meaning it’s comprised of autonomous people choosing to commit to each other…continue reading…


I’m Giving a TedxTalk! // Vienna, Austria // May 6th


I’m giving a TEDxTalk!


TEDxViennaSalon // The Future of Intimacy // May 6th


Is the Porn Brain Our New Sex Ed Teacher?

What is our Porn Brain? How has it become our new sex educator and how/what is it teaching us about consent, sexual pleasure, and our sexual selves?


In a world where sex is simultaneously commodified and shamed, sex education efforts are failing young people while the porn industry is booming. According to’s 2015 year-in-review, we’ve blown through 1,892 petabytes of bandwidth on the site this past year, equivalent to filling the storage on all of the iPhones sold in 2015 with porn, with 63.7% of these visits launched from smartphones or tablets.

Technological advances have made porn available to us in the palms of our hands & Google a more accessible sex educator than our teachers, parents & peers. But what kind of sex educator is porn? What sexual stories do our Porn Brains tell us (men, women & young people) and how do these stories both positively & negatively impact our real-life experiences of sexual pleasure, communication, connection & intimacy?


Follow me to Vienna, Austria for TEDxVienna on Instagram! May 3rd-8th.



Fretting Over My First Vibrator

Hey Yana,

I would like to buy either a dildo or vibrator for me but I have no experience on what to buy in terms of brand or what type for my first sex toy. What would you suggest to be the best sex toy to purchase to start with?

— Fretting Over My First Vibrator Dear FOFV,

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You’ll never find a vibrator that everyone loves. Your vagina, your clitoris and your turn-ons are all as unique as tiny little X-rated snowflakes. So, though I wish I could just give you the name of The One, I can’t; you and your dirty bits are the only ones with the power to do that. But I can send you in the right direction.

First, a sex nerd moment: Though these terms are often used interchangeably, a dildo is intended for penetration only and usually resembles a flesh-and-blood penis or a candy-colored version of something like it. A vibrator is intended primarily for external, clitoral stimulation. What makes this confusing is that sometimes dildos come with little bullet vibrators lodged in the base to add a subtle buzz. More confusing-making is that vibrators come in many shapes, from little metallic bullets to slender plastic wands, as well as insertable silicone shapes that look an awful lot like dildos, indeed.

Dildo or vibrator — it’s up to you which one you want. But what I’m assuming you want and recommending you get is a vibrator that gives you the option to penetrate. This brings us to our first rule of first-time-toys: Variety, variety, variety. Get a vibrator with multiple speeds and, if you can swing it, multiple pulsation patterns so you can experiment with what works for you — fast, slow, pulsing, consistent, with penetration, or without. As we’ve established, one size never fits all when it comes to sex so it’s important to get a toy that lets you customize…continue reading…


I’m Dating 2 Men: Who Do I Choose?

I’m a 61-year-old woman dating two men. One of them is a retired, 75-year-old secure man who knows who he is. The other is in his 50s and is still trying to figure it all out. Neither of them knows about the other one and live at a distance from each other. I just ended a 35 year marriage and don’t want to be in a committed relationship right now. I love parts of both of them and I love what both of them bring to the table. Who do I choose? I don’t want to stop dating either of them. I guess I’m just seeking validation that it’s okay to date two men at once.

I can only imagine how dating practices, taboos and norms have changed in your 61 years. They’ve changed so much just in my 30! With the advent and availability of everything from the birth control pill to Tinder, the way we date, fall in love, have sex, and find people to do all of those wonderful things with has evolved at a rapid clip.

The most meaningful validation will come from within yourself, TBT. You sound happy and fulfilled so let’s shut down these mass messages that say dating two men at once is wrong, slutty, or shameful while a man doing this with two women makes him cool, powerful, or otherwise player-esque.

Secondly, in the 35 years since you got married and took a hiatus from playing the field, the rules of the game have changed. Casual sex, casual dating, and dating two people simultaneously is getting less risque by the minute. Buzzwords like “polyamory” and “open relationship” are flying around everywhere from books (see Opening Up by Tristan Taormino), reality TV shows, and even workshops, some of which are taught by yours truly.

At a recent workshop I met two participants in their 60s, one of whom had been practicing non-monogamy — the practice of dating more than one person simultaneously — for over 40 years. He described a long journey of being closeted about his multitudinous love life and relief at today’s more open dating culture. Long story short, you’re certainly not the only person in their 60s looking beyond monogamy…continue reading…


Bisexual Invisibility: I’m bisexual & I refuse to leave the LGBT community

The day the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage I sobbed into my boyfriend’s shoulder in bed for half an hour. My shoulders heaved and my dog looked worried as he frantically tried to lick my tears away.

When I managed to stifle my drool-crying, I lifted my head and a wobbly tightrope of snot connected his clavicle to my septum ring. “I don’tttt — (hiccup) — want to be straight — (hiccup) — FOREVER!” I sobbed dramatically, before jamming my face back into the snot-pool running down his arm.

But I’m not straight. I identify as both bisexual and queer (choosing my words wisely depending on who I’m talking to, their terminology knowledge or my mood). So, why did I feel straight, so snot-sobbing straight, the day same-sex couples were granted equal access to legal marriage in the United States?

Patrick and I had just gotten engaged . In fact, our engagement party was set to happen that very night. Though I had dated cis-men until I was 21, for the nine years prior to meeting Patrick I had primarily dated queer women . I had even married one in Massachusetts. And once you have a “lesbian wedding,” your “bisexual” label magically becomes a “lesbian” label in the public eye.

This never bothered me much. I had always felt special with my membership to this group of gender-fucking, pierced, shave-headed hotties in the LGBTQ community. I barely kissed the straight community goodbye when I left in 2006.

But when I fell in love with a straight man, I became instantly paranoid. Would my LGBTQ community membership card be revoked? I was devastated, a devastation that had been quietly seeping its way into my heart since I had enthusiastically said “Yes!” to Patrick’s question. It’s why I exploded in a tearful mess that historic day last June. I was overjoyed to read those headlines — and also so, so sad. I felt like the marriage equality victory and its celebration were no longer mine.

A few weeks ago, months after the marriage equality ruling, Alex Anders of the YouTube channel Bisexual Real Talk uploaded a video asking his fellow bisexuals to leave the LGBT community. He cited a 2015 study that implies the LGBT community might be doing more harm than good to the “B” part of the equation. The study reports that bisexual people internalize just as much biphobic discrimination from the “L” and “G” parts of the LGBT community as from the straight community. Bisexual rates of suicide are three times the rate of lesbian- and gay-identified people.

Anders wants the “B” to GTFO of LGBT before our fellow queer folk hurt us even more. “Every time we tell young people who are bisexual to go and search the LGBT community, we are creating certain expectations in their mind.” He believes it’s harmful “when a person is told that they will be able to find solace in a group, and they lower their guard and then they’re discriminated against.”

But I don’t want to leave. And neither should other bisexual people.

I’ve written extensively about my own queer and bisexual identities — and my related identity crises about them — more so now that I’m engaged to be married to a cis-man. My queer sexuality feels more invisible than ever. The thing about bisexuality is that it’s often socially determined by the body parts and gender identity of your partner. No matter how many times you repeat, “I’m bisexual. I’m bisexual. I’m bisexual.” to yourself, when you walk through life holding your cis-male partner’s hand, your attempts at making meaningful eye contact with the other queer couple at the party fail. Your boyfriend’s friends scratch their heads, “I dunno man, I think Patrick’s girlfriend might be gay.”

Socially, bisexual folks are done disservices by both the LGBT community and the straight community via terms such as “gold-star lesbian” (which, lauds the supposed purity of having never touched a penis before, while invalidating those who have). As queer/bisexual writer Ashley C. Ford explains in her piece “I’m Queer No Matter Who I’m With,” the sheer “un-catergorizability” of a bisexual/queer person makes others in our communities nervous and, as a result, we are forced into one lane or the other. Ford writes:

Identifying as queer means being mistrusted, misunderstood and, often, mislabeled for the rest of your life. Every time you date a new person, you have to come out again. Every time someone says, ‘But I thought you were…’ and drifts off at the end, you feel guilty of a deception you didn’t intend, based on a projection of the other person’s assumption…I end up bearing all the blame for someone else’s assumptions that have little do with me.

Yes, this is all true and happens all the time. But I’m still not leaving the LGBT community.

Prompted by Anders’ video, Trav Mamone wrote a piece called “Bisexual Invisibility: The LGBT Community’s Dirty Little Secret” in which they detail the statistics showing just how erased bisexual identities are in the LGBT community and the overwhelmingly negative impacts this has on bisexual mental health.

One solution feels much more productive to me than leaving the LGBT community entirely: “We must debunk the myths surrounding bisexuality that fuel its erasure.” Rather than following Anders’ lead in taking the “B” out of LGBT all together, I propose that we do quite the opposite, and BOLD that beautiful “B,” making it bigger and more visible than ever. Ghosts are being made out of bi people in both the LGBT and the straight communities, partially because we’re dangerously misunderstood by these common bi-erasing myths…continue reading on…


Straight Talk About the Prostate

I’ve been curious for a while about anal play while I’m pleasuring myself. I’ve heard it generates a more intense orgasm. I can take fingers, but I’d like to try something more (on the smaller side of course). Being a guy, is there a position or toy that will give me the best penetration while pleasuring myself? I’ve never reached out to anyone regarding this before. Being a straight guy, there’s not too many people you trust with whom you can mention something like this.

Your question reflects the classic conflict between pleasure and shame we’ve all been socially force-fed. You’re right! Prostate play — reached by going in and up the ol’ backdoor — can lead to more intense orgasms.

You’re also right that identifying as a straight man limits who you can talk to about receiving anal pleasure. Seems weird, as straight men are so easily socialized to talk about their penises. Though straight men have been granted permission to seek sexual pleasure, alright, it’s only certain kinds. The prostate’s location really rips up that permission slip.

As you’ve discovered, the prostate is reached easiest with a curved shape — whether hands or toys — and pressure applied to the inner wall of the rectum. That’s right, up your butt! Charlie Glickman, co-author of the exceptional The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Play, describes what you’re looking for as “a plum half-buried in the sand.” Once found, use a press-and-drag motion to massage it.

Reported reactions to prostate stimulation include longer, more intense orgasms with aftershocks, stronger ejaculations, and all around sexual sparklers. Sounds pretty nice, yet many straight men can’t get past their fears — or sphincters…continue reading…


How Tech is Reshaping Male Masturbation //

“Let me assure you, babe. I’m absolutely ambidextrous when it comes to the touchpad mouse and keyboard on my computer. Being a right-handed masturbator means I’ve gotten very good at typing with my left hand.”

My boyfriend Patrick (31 years old, tattoo artist, handsome as hell) and I are driving to a dinner party. We’ve drifted into talking male maturbation, porn and technology as you do when you’re a curious sex writer without a penis of your own, with an hour-long drive to kill.

As someone who rarely watches porn when I masturbate, I ask him why he needs to do so much mousing and keyboarding when jerking off to Internet smut.


“Oh, you know, most guys go through this cycle of blow job, penetrative fucking, cum shot; blow-job, penetrative fucking, cum-shot. That way you hit all of the most high-intensity parts of the porn. But too much of that would probably be desensitizing to sex in real life,” he speculates, “because that’s not how real sex works”.

According to’s 2015 year-in-review, we’ve blown through 1,892 petabytes of bandwidth on the site this past year, equivalent to filling the storage on all of the iPhones sold in 2015 with porn. In 2015 we watched 4.4 billion hours of porn on alone. The U.S. was responsible for 41% of the XXX-rated site’s traffic this year, with women representing 23% of the site’s visitors and men 77%.

Free online porn has become so accessible that in October 2015, iconic porno mag Playboyannounced its no-more-nudity rebranding in an effort to stay relevant in the modern age of digital debauchery; “The political and sexual climate of 1953, the year Hugh Hefner introduced Playboyto the world, bears almost no resemblance to today,” said Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders.

In 2015, handheld devices brought in most of’s traffic, with 52.9% of visits coming from phones, 10.8% from tablets and only 36.3% from desktop computers. That means men aren’t just holding their penises while jerking off.

Ian Kerner, Ph.D, nationally recognized sexuality counselor, sex therapist and author, says technology-assisted self-love could be changing the physical action of how men masturbate. He calls it “opportunistic masturbation”: “Men no longer need to plan maturbation; an impulsive turn-on strikes and they can go masturbate with the aid of technology, pretty much wherever.”


As Patrick confirms, “I use technology 95% of the time I masturbate. My phone means that at any given time with the right amount of privacy I can have a nice, mind-clearing orgasm without having to conjure up that old stand-by mental image. [Writer’s note: Thanks, babe.] When I was young I could masturbate to an erotica story on the Internet or a Victoria’s Secret catalog because that’s what was around. But now, left to my own devices, I’ll scan through half a dozen to a dozen porn scenes before I actually orgasm.”

With hand-held devices, everything men need to jack off is readily available in the pockets and flies of their jeans, providing them with a hyper-stimulating cycle in short, high-impact sessions. As reports, the average visit to their site lasts just over nine minutes — far from the 30 minute average it takes most women to orgasm via direct stimulation and hardly enough time to light some candles before or snuggle after — a disconnect from partnered sexual experiences that could be causing more harm than good…continue reading on…


Hide My Hickies!

Tis I, LL [from previous column “‘Lost in Labialand”]. I’m back with another problem. The advice you gave me last time worked out great. Opening the lines of communication between my partner and I really helped. However, my girlfriend and I have run into an issue: either she bruises really easily, or I need to settle down.

There have been multiple instances of hickies in our endeavors together, and most of the time we have difficulty getting rid of them/hiding them without arousing suspicion. She enjoys receiving them and I enjoy giving them, but once the heat of the moment is over …

Do you have any advice pertaining to more effective hickey-hiding, leaving less of a mark, or anything like that? A couple of close friends suggested forgoing neck kissing altogether, but why would anyone want to do that?!

So glad to hear that my advice to talk openly with your babe about being new to Labialand as a high school butchie was helpful! It sounds like y’all are having a great time — with the marks to prove it. But between parents, teachers, and nosey peers, I’m sure not everyone is as excited for you and your necking as I am. As you’ve said above, you’re both enjoying yourselves and love doing the hot ’n’ heavy that leads to the hickies so you’d like to diminish the damage done without stopping the fun. Here are my suggestions on how to do this:

Stop sucking! A hickey is left behind from biting and sucking the skin (usually around the neck) enough that small blood vessels called capillaries break, letting a tiny bit of blood seep out and become visible from under the skin. The harder you bite/suck, the more capillaries will break and the more visible and long-lasting your hickey will be.

Some people get hickies easier than others and it sounds like maybe your GF is one of them. In my high school necking days, I found that nibbling without sucking can offer the same type of sensation to the person getting snacked on without leaving kissing crumbs behind. Try out a softer smooching/nibbling routine without the suction…continue reading…