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I’m Dating Three Women; Does That Make Me Polyamorous?

Hi Yana,

I’m a 38 yo male currently involved with three women. One is a long distance relationship. We met at a concert and had one night together and stayed in touch. We speak regularly on various chat and texts. Two is a nonsexual relationship. She spends the night and we spoon. We have some common interests, but that’s it. And Three I met on an online dating site. We go out and have sex once or twice a week.

On one hand I feel like between the three, I’m actually pretty fulfilled and all my needs are being met. On the other, this is a lot of work. Even though it hasn’t been discussed, there is no expectation of exclusivity with any of them.

I guess my question is, is this healthy? I’m spending all my time divided between three partners. Should I be trying to find one person that can do it all? I don’t have any illusions that any one of these girls couldn’t just move on and/or that my relationship with any of them could change at any moment.

Have I stumbled into being poly? Maybe I’m just over thinking and should just enjoy what I have?

Three’s a Perfect Crowd

Dear TPC,

If you explore what true-blue polyamorous folks have to say about their non-monogamous orientation — which you can do extensively on morethantwo.com — you’ll find that one of the unifying concepts is the freedom from the belief or expectation that one person — The One — can fulfill all of our needs.

In the monogamous mindset, it’s believed that one partner should be and can be it all: the best overnight snuggle spoon, our favorite long-distance sexter, and our hottest in-real-life copulating cutie.

In non-monogamy, this trend is bucked and folks are free to explore a wider variety of human sexual and romantic experiences. The pressure is taken off of one person to be All The Things and having multiple partners can scratch our multitudinous, ever-changing, relational itches. As you’ve accidentally discovered, TPC, this feels nice — and is hopefully worth the work.

But is this healthy? It’s my belief that among enthusiastically consenting adults, any relational, sexual, or intimate structure can be healthy and wonderful. Are you unhealthy because you’d rather date three women than one? No. Are you a weirdo because you’d rather keep it casual than head down the aisle? Definitely not. Your body, your time, your intimacy, your choice.

However, in order to enthusiastically consent to something, each party involved should be clearly informed about what they are saying Yes or No to. You say that there are no expectations of exclusivity between you and these women. But you also say that this has never actually been discussed. And without clear communication, that healthy enthusiastic consent we’re looking for isn’t there.

My advice to you, TPC, is to discuss it…continue reading…

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I’ve Had Enough With Vaginismus

Content Note: Sexual trauma addressed in this week’s column.

Hi Yana,

I really appreciate your column and the work that you do. I have a really embarrassing sex problem. I was sexually abused throughout various parts of my life, starting in my childhood and going into my twenties. I have vaginismus, but with therapy and dilation, it’s slowly but surely gotten better. I’m seeing someone new who I really like, and the vaginismus is coming back. I feel very safe and cared for with this person, so it’s both perplexing and embarrassing. I feel like I can never escape the sexual abuse of my past and move on to have healthy sexual relationships. Help!

— Reaching for Relief

Dear RR,

First, it’s crucial for you to hear, know, and reaffirm to yourself that neither the sexual abuse inflicted on you nor the resultant vaginismus is your fault. While it’s extremely common for sexual abuse survivors to feel shame and embarrassment as a result of their abuse and/or its aftereffects — in your case, vaginismus — these feelings of shame and embarrassment are misattributions of responsibility for the abuse onto you rather than rightfully onto your abuser/s. Again, neither the abuse or vaginismus are your fault.

I can only imagine how painful and frustrating it is to have to manage the aftereffects of these traumas inflicted on you in this new relationship with someone so great.

Vaginismus — the unexpected tightening of the PC muscles/vaginal canal during sexual penetration resulting in physical pain and discomfort — is an especially upsetting and fickle symptom of trauma as its root causes are often both physical and mental/emotional. It sounds like you’re doing all of the right things by digging down to these two roots via therapy and dilation.

Whether we have a trauma history or not — and so many of us do — our bodies aren’t always going to cooperate with our minds during sex…continue reading…

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Sex Gets Real with Dawn Serra: Listen to my interview!

This week I was interviewed by Dawn Serra for her awesome sexpertise podcast Sex Gets Real! Listen to it HERE.

How does traditional consent education fail us? What do you do if you’re in a new open relationship and ityana-7 just isn’t working for you? Can someone really orgasm without having their genitals touched?

This week, Yana Tallon-Hicks joins the show and we roll around in all those questions and more (don’t miss Dawn’s story of aiming a penis). It’s a fun, laughter-filled talk and it’s clear why TEDx invited Yana to do a talk on sex education recently.

The listener questions this week are particularly delicious, especially the final question from Lady Lilly – both Yana and I are near tears as we listen to the pain and heartbreak of her question.

Follow Sex Gets Real on Twitter and Facebook. It’s true. Oh! And Dawn is on Instagram.

In this episode, Yana and Dawn talk about:

  • How current sex education models are like the “don’t do drugs” D.A.R.E. programs which is focused on saying no to sex instead of saying yes to pleasure and your needs.
  • yana-5Yana’s recent TEDx talk in Vienna about porn brain being the new sex educator. Yana tells us all about the invitation and what her talk was about. Check out the resource section below for a link to the talk.
  • Porn and the way the scenes unfold without any talking or negotiation and how that influences our expectations around sex.
  • Consent being highly gendered when it’s taught on college campuses – it’s about telling men where they can’t go and women that they need to be protected.
  • Pleasure-based consent and how that helps level the playing field to invite conversation about where you can go, not where you can’t.
  • Even as a “sexpert” never assuming you know anything about your partner’s experience. It’s an important point because even for folks who teach sex for a living, there has to be a constant conversation about what folks want and feel and desire. So, that means everyone needs to be checking in all the time.
  • Penises are not as easy as the cultural narrative would have us believe – there is just as much nuance to pleasuring a penis as there is a vulva.
  • A listener question about his wife’s ability to orgasm without any physical touch. Is it real? Is this possible? We get super excited talking about how fun it would be to have someone who could have yana-4these non-touch orgasms and be in a power dynamic with them.
  • Open relationships in response to a listener question about being in a long-distance relationship and navigating open relationship dynamics. She isn’t super comfortable with it, and we dig into the importance of not keeping score or making a lot of rules around feelings.
  • Meaningless sex, why it doesn’t work for everyone, and why THAT’S OK.
  • The importance of learning to trust someone in a space that is super scary and vulnerable. It takes practice, and feeling scared shitless is part of taking risks.
  • LadyLilly’s email about her Daddy Dom/little girl dynamic and her broken heart. Her DD has cheated multiple times and she doesn’t know what to do. Yana and I talk about how especially hard that can be inside a power dynamic relationship like Daddy/little girl.

Resources discussed in this episode

Yana’s resource guide to open relationships is here. Password: compersionimmersion

Watch Yana’s TEDx talk.

Barbara Carrellas’ book “Ecstasy is Necessary”

A video of Barbara Carrellas having a brain-gasm (or thinking her way to an orgasm) in an MRI machine

About Yana Tallon-Hicks

Yana Tallon-Hicks joins Sex Gets Real this week to talk about pleasure and polyamory.Yana Tallon-Hicks is a consent, sex & sexuality writer and educator living in Northampton, MA. Her work centers around the belief thatpleasure-positive & consent-based sex education can positively impact our lives and the world (like really though).

Yana’s workshops work to create a welcoming & comfortable space for all to explore crucial aspects of our sexual selves such as pleasure, communication, consent & the body and are taught at colleges, high schools, and sex toy shops all over New England.

Read more about Yana & her work here, where you can also read her sex advice column, follow her on Instagram & Twitter, and watch her TEDxTalk: Is the Porn Brain Our New Sex Educator?during which she talks about watching porn with her husband, how we learn about sexual pleasure, and what that does for our concept of consent.

Find out more about Yana and her work on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.
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My 2-Minute Orgasm

So, I was masturbating last night and set a timer. It took me under two minutes to orgasm. However, when someone else in involved, it takes forever or doesn’t happen at all. I can count the times it’s happened on two hands.

Every time I masturbate it’s like clockwork, and I wish I could experience that with a partner! I’ve heard from various ladies and witnessed firsthand that orgasming seems easier for them with partners than it is for me. Is this why some women fake orgasms? Is this something I need to see a psychiatrist about or just live with? Or is it some Kinsey situation where my vaginal measurements aren’t conducive to orgasming? Help!

— Clit Out of Luck

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, probably for the rest of my sex educator career: your vagina is not broken! It’s the metaphorical vaginal “user manual” we’re handed via school sex ed, social stigma, and our peers!

That manual is seriously flawed – it’s stained, ripped, even missing whole chapters. Our current sex education system pretends that our clitoral and/or vaginal orgasm is unimportant or non-existent. Our social system convinces our sexual partners that asking us outright how best to pleasure our clits and vaginas is not the sexy or slick or cool thing to do. Simultaneously, this same system shames us into not speaking up about our own desires or how exactly to do our bodies right.

Yes, these flawed systems are why some women fake orgasms. Yes, these systems have convinced you that you have to see a psychiatrist to “fix” yourself and/or smoosh yourself into an outdated concept of “ideal vaginal measurements,” a la Kinsey.

But you, COOL, are perfect! Your experience of sexual pleasure is perfect. Your two-minute self-curated climax is perfect.

So, if our formal and social sex educational systems are screwing it up so hard, who’s supposed to do the real educating about your orgasms to your partners, COOL?…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: 8 Tips to Keeping it Consensual

Thankfully, consent is becoming a big topic on college campuses. However, most conversations about consent overfocus on the damaging outcomes of the failure to ask for consent rather than engaging students in learning the benefits of ongoing conversations about consent and sexual pleasure.

Many campuses are offering too little too late, after-the-fact rather than ahead-of-the-act. But really, everyone can benefit from practicing sexual consent regardless of whether you’re having sex with your partner of 30 years or a hook-up: Consent is mandatory. And it can be HOT. Here are 8 tips on how to keep it consensual and sexy:

1.) Play! Give yourself permission to have fun. Understanding your enthusiastic Yeses — whether it’s trying the next kinkiest thing or abstaining from sexual contact altogether — is the first step to being prepared to give or not give your enthusiastic consent.

2.) Ask for what you want. Often, when we pointedly ask for what we want, we’re seen as selfish, greedy, or entitled. But your desires aren’t a bother and your partners should always feel and be able to say “No” to your requests. Get used to getting what you want by practicing clearly stating what you want in your everyday interactions like at shops or cafes.

3.) Accept a “no” gracefully. Often when we hear the word “No” we don’t hear what our partners are actually trying to tell us. We might hear “You’re ugly” when they mean “This is my sexual preference.” Or “You’re not good at sex” when they mean “This position kind of hurts my hip.”

Stating a boundary can be a scary thing to do. When you hear “No,” thank your partners for sharing their limits. Know that you’re valuable whether a partner says Yes or No to your requests and that you’re even more valuable when you respect their answer.

4.) Build your boundaries. When we hear the word “boundaries” it’s easy to hear “restrictions.” Giving someone a hardline No isn’t just telling them what they cannot have, but is showing them the space they do have to explore and play in.

5.) Stop trying to be “sexy.” The most pleasurable experiences in my life weren’t traditionally sexy…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Help! My Boyfriend Hates My Vagina

Hi Yana,

I’m a straight 20-something lady and have been with my boyfriend for two years. We have a great sex life and we’re totally in love! He doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in my vagina — and my vagina, in my mind, is kinda the main thing that makes me a female sexual being. He likes my breasts and loves my butt, but he (literally) never goes down on me and I get the feeling that he only fingers me because he knows I like it, not because he does. He also prefers anal sex to vaginal sex.

Personally, I’m super into my guy’s penis and I love going down on him; it’s one of our main bedroom activities. The fact that he has zero interest in going down on me makes me feel like he thinks my vagina is gross. I’ve mentioned it to him a few times, sometimes teasing but often serious. Just the other night I said to him, “I wish you liked going down on me. I love going down on you, and it makes me feel hurt and left out that you don’t.”

He actually didn’t say anything … no response, as if I hadn’t said it at all. It hung in the air and now it’s just making me feel terrible. I guess I thought he’d at least deny it. Sometimes I feel like he thinks I’m sexy because of the sexy things we do together, not because I (myself, my body) are sexy to him. It’s not the best feeling. What’s a girl to do?

— Trying to Get Ahead

Dear Trying,

I’ve been teaching strangers about sex for 10 years now and just celebrated my sixth year as a sex columnist. I’d like to consider myself quick-witted, resourceful — a dame that can get any dick out of a sticky pickle and any vagina more blissed-out than a babe at Burning Man. But damn, this is tough!

You’ve done great work already — telling him how hot you find him, clearly stating your desire (“Cunnilingus, please!”), and then sharing your feelings (“Hurt and left out”).

You’ve also got valuable tools to use: you’ve got high self-cuntfidence (so if he confirms “Yes! I hate your vagina!” it seems like you can process this hurtful reveal and bounce back), you’re not afraid to talk about sex, and you’ve got great insight.

Use these tools to get some answers. While he’s entitled to his own body and desires, you do deserve information that impacts your shared sexual and loving relationship. Invite your boyfriend to tell you the truth: tell him why it’s so important for you to know how he feels about your vagina and reassure him that whatever he has to say will likely hurt you less than continuing to receive radio silence.

Don’t set him up to fail by asking “You do like my vagina, right?!” in a way that communicates in tone and delivery that if he doesn’t say “OMG, babe, of course, I love it” that he’s in deep trouble. Instead, ask him blunt, unavoidable yes/no questions in baby-steps: “Do you dislike vaginal sex?” “Do you dislike vaginal sex with me in particular?”…continue reading…