post

The V-Spot: Help! I’m Too F*&%$ng Nice

Hi Yana,

So, I was recently dumped. Woo!

During “the conversation,” my now-ex told me a lot of confusing reasons as to why he thought we should break up, but the one that I can’t stop thinking about: “You’re too nice.” He said that he didn’t know how to be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t mean to him, or how to navigate a relationship with someone who wanted to provide and care for him and take his feelings seriously.

This is the second time this has happened to me. I had an emotionally abusive ex partner who told me the same thing — he said he was craving emotional abuse and neglect because it was what he’d become accustomed to.

My question is — where do I go from here? Since this has happened to me twice with my two most significant exes, I’m declaring it a trend. I refuse to become a mean person or neglectful partner, but how do I respond to future partners who may have histories of emotional abuse and present my niceness as an issue?

—Nicey McNiceness

 

Dear Nicey McNiceness,

Dang!

So your partners are dumping you because you’re not emotionally neglecting them enough? I’m nearly stumped about this one, especially without knowing more information about the histories of these relationships, but I’ll throw out some theories and you can decide if any of them stick.

Theory One:

I call bullshit. When a relationship has run its course for at least one member of said relationship, sometimes “the conversation” as you call it is not as honest as it might’ve been if it had been a conversation that was committed to hashing it out rather than ending it.

Sometimes when a partner decides it’s time to call it quits, they may have arrived at a place of acceptance, giving up, or letting go. Therefore, the conversation tends to come out in a way that’s more about peace-keeping than airing the dirty laundry.

Meaning, maybe calling you “just too nice” is the equivalent to the famous side-step of the popular job interview question “So, what are your greatest weaknesses?”: “My greatest weakness is that I just care too much about my job,” “You’re too nice” is like saying “You’re too pretty for me to date.” Not a real reason. Just some placating B.S. used to sidestep hard truth.

Theory Two:

Maybe you ARE too nice. Are you someone that avoids conflict like the plague and says things like “Whatever you want,” “It’s fine,” and “I’m chill” when in reality you don’t feel those ways at all? Avoiding conflict via nice-ness is easily perceived as phony-ness, disingenuous, or a concrete wall of defensiveness that not even your partners can reach you through. If this resonates, you could work on how you handle conflict, but don’t forget: it takes two to tango.

Theory Three:…continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: For the Love of the Uncut

Hi Yana,

I’m with a guy with an uncircumcised penis for the first time in my 16 years of being sexually active. I love how he looks, and it feels great when we can have sex. But, after three years, we haven’t been able to get into a good rhythm, sex-wise.

I’m not naturally super wet, so I’m used to using lube, but often we have to stop because he starts to tear. It’s basically almost every time that he’s either getting injured or we have to constantly reapply to the point where it completely disrupts everything and we have to give up. Oral is great, but we both wish we could explore each other in all the ways.

Water-based lube such as Yes! isn’t working, and Sliquid Organics is so-so. We’ve talked about it, and it seems a major issue is that the combo of the lube and my natural fluids are sort of quicker-drying than we need, and the mixture makes his foreskin stay painfully retracted and then it starts to tear rather than sliding like it needs to.

Do you have any recommendations for a better lube? He is on a medication that is dehydrating, but simple extra water intake isn’t enough. We love each other, but the lack of and fear of sex isn’t something we are happy with.

There’s got to be a fix to this one issue of an otherwise loving and intimate relationship, right?

—Unlubed, Uncut, Now What?

Dear Unlubed & Uncut,

You’re absolutely right — sex should feel good. Pleasurable! It shouldn’t hurt (unless intentional and consensual pain is your game, of course) and it certainly shouldn’t hurt so much that you and your partner have developed a FEAR of it, that’s for sure.

Foreskin isn’t necessarily my forte but lucky for me, I’ve got some of the best access to sex educators across the country thanks to ye ol’ secret internet groups. When I asked them what they thought about your predicament, suggestions ranged from having your partner visit a urologist to rule out any ongoing health concerns that may be affecting the elasticity of his foreskin to the most heartbreakingly difficult suggestion of all: more penis massages!!

Several educators mentioned that what can happen over time with foreskin is that the skin can lose pliability which may affect the skin’s slide no matter the quantity or quality of your natural or bottled slip. Massaging the foreskin and head of the penis with coconut oil regularly certainly can’t be THAT much of a chore and could go a long way in helping your partner’s privates maintain plasticity.

And then there’s The Butters. This lube boasts nine all-natural ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, and raw shea butter and is, according to the maker of this lube himself, perfectly concocted “at home with love by Jerome Stuart-Nichols in Ypsilanti, Michigan.”

This simply luscious and luxurious lubricant is all-natural, non-toxic, body-safe, and non-staining, and can be made unscented, hypoallergenic, or customized in a variety of ways just for you and your sweetie. The Butters has been making well-oiled waves since its debut in 2014 and has the sex educating likes of folks like Kitty Stryker and Emmeline Peaches saying things like “Magical,” “Fucking fantastic,” and “Creamy. Rich. Decadent.”…continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: My Boyfriend Just Won’t

Hi Yana!

I am a 21-year-old cisgender female living with my partner of 1.5 years. I’ll make it simple: a partner has never been able to make me orgasm. Either I do it solo or I do all the work for myself during sex with a partner.

My partner and I communicate about sex all the time and I enjoy sex with him otherwise. I’ve tried a number of ways to ask him to put in a little more effort in making me feel good and he still doesn’t really try. His excuses are that I take too long to climax, he doesn’t feel like it, etc.

Am I ever going to be sexually satisfied? I love this man and plan to spend my life with him … but I feel like I’m settling in the sex department. Am I doomed to a life of masturbation?

During conversation about the topic I try my best not to make him feel inadequate but he makes me feel like there’s something wrong with my body by his reactions. I understand orgasm isn’t necessarily the most important part of sex but will I ever be able to effortlessly lay back and let another person take me to that level?

I appreciate your advice,

-Very Anticlimactic

Dear Anticlimactic,

Let’s talk numbers for a minute. The University of Chicago did a study that found that 31 percent of female participants had never felt an orgasm. Seventy-one percent of women surveyed for the same study reported that they did not consistently orgasm with a (in this study, male) partner.

Over 70 percent of people with vaginas require direct, consistent clitoral stimulation in order to have an orgasm — period. Whether that’s alone or with a partner. And the vast majority necessitate at least 20-30 minutes of clitoral stimulation of some kind before reaching climax. That number can get shorter as we get more familiar with our own bodies, our partners, and our orgasm cycle but 20-30 minutes is the average.

Now that we’ve got those pesky facts out of the way that (hopefully) demonstrate that you’re not broken, slow, or alone in your orgasm experience — let’s talk about your boyfriend. First thing’s first: a sexual partner who consistently treats you in a way that makes you feel unworthy of effort, pleasure, and sexual care is … let’s go with “lacking.”

Let me be clear: a partner’s struggle to provide you with the sexual pleasure you hope for (orgasm, in this case) is 100 percent understandable, forgivable, and workable…continue reading…

Sexcessories 101: an intro to kink gear & sex toys

Tuesday, December 5th, 5-7pm

Free & Open to all Hampshire College & 5-College Students

 

Workshop Description: Our formal, school-based sex education is lacking. But what about our sexual pleasure education? It’s practically non-existent. How do we learn to make ourselves and our partners feel

Hitting the Spot // Bennington College // March 2016

Hitting the Spot // Bennington College // March 2016

sexual pleasure? Often by accident, often by guess-and-check, and way-too-often in ways that are terribly misinformed by Google, social mores, and sweeping generalizations about what “everyone likes”.

This workshop will explore how we learn about pleasure by touching on some of our most pleasurable spots – the G-Spot, C-Spot (clitoris) and P-Spot (prostate) – complete with hands-on demonstrations with sex toy floor models (vibrators, dildos, anal toys, lube, etc).

This demonstrative workshop will also cover the essential basics of exploring kinky sex (topping, bottoming, ropes, cuffs, paddles, floggers, sensation play, and how to deliver the perfect spank!).

Going against the problematic version of BDSM portrayed in the blockbuster 50 Shades, this workshop will focus on safer kink practices including technique, consent, scene negotiation, and aftercare. Participants will leave feeling more confident in their kink practices with the tools and resources to bring kinky sex into their own relationships and sex lives.

 

 

This workshop is open to all bodies, genders & identities. Language in this workshop honors the gender & sexuality spectrum rather than the binary and all participants are encouraged to practice self-care in their level of participation & attendance. There will be no live demos or nudity at this workshop, though there will be some illustrated anatomy diagrams for educational purposes.


About the Presenter 

Yana Tallon-Hicks (she/her) is a therapist, sex columnist, and a consent, sex & sexuality writer and educator living in Northampton, MA. She is a graduate of Hampshire College where she studied LGBTQ+ community and sex education. Her YanaMay2016-34work centers around the belief that pleasure-positive & consent-based sex education can positively impact our lives and the world.

Yana is a relationships therapist at the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley, where she sees clients in all relationship structures, particularly surrounding issues of sex and sexuality.

Her sex educational writings have appeared in both national and local publications and can be found most regularly in her weekly sex column, The V-Spot, on the back page of the Valley Advocate.

Yana’s workshops work to create a welcoming & comfortable space for all to explore crucial aspects of our holistic, sexual selves such as pleasure, communication, consent & the body using humor, relateability, and experience as key teaching tools.

Read more about Yana & her work here, where you can also read her sex advice column & watch herTEDxTalk: Is the Porn Brain Our New Sex Educator?

Find her (and her cute dog) on Instagram @the_vspot.

 

 

post

The V-Spot: I Keep Falling for Straight Girls

Hi Yana,

I’m a 20-year-old student at one of the local women’s colleges. I’m gay and have been out for five years, though I’ve never dated anyone.

I figured that it wouldn’t be too tricky to find someone here, since there’s a pretty large population of people who identify as LGBTQ+. However, despite the fact that I’m pretty social, and part of multiple student groups, I’ve only managed to fall for straight girls.

To most people, I appear “stereotypically straight” — my hair is pretty long and I wear mostly dresses. I also don’t drink or attend parties. For these reasons, everyone recommends that I try Tinder, etc., but I’m demiromantic so I don’t find people attractive unless I have some level of friendship with them first.

I also can’t really engage with anyone if I go in thinking “This is a date!” So, this cuts off the prospect of being introduced or set up with people. Furthermore, I currently identify as asexual. I’m really worried that if I do find someone, my asexuality will turn them off, and eventually make the situation even harder.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom?

Having Doubts About Asking Out

 

Dear Having Doubts,

The extensive topic of queer identity and visibility is one that many writers dive in to daily in regards to queer visibility as working positively to affirm identities, build community, and score dates alongside visibility working negatively as targeting folks for harassment and violence. We can’t get into all of that important stuff here but let’s talk about visibility re: finding you a good date.

When I first moved to San Francisco in 2007, I was decidedly less visible in my LGBTQ+ community. I had a wicked crush on my local (female) barista who (spoiler alert!) eventually became my partner of five years. Like you, I also had long hair and chose dresses as my go-to apparel. I felt like I didn’t know the first thing about flirting with other women beside writing in Sharpie on my forehead NOT AS STRAIGHT AS I LOOK PLZ DATE ME.

My strategy then as a “straight-looking” lady trying to pick up another lady was to send clear signs about my sexual fluidity. And what could be a clearer than bringing an entire stack of books I was reading for my undergraduate thesis with titles featuring words like “lesbian community,” “bisexual identity,” and “sexual fluidity” into the cafe and then strategically positioning them towards the counter in plain reading-view of my soon-to-be-girlfriend?

I’m not saying but I’m just saying that we were dating the next week. But, before you book it to the library, there are certainly a few more, less passive-aggressive, ideas to consider…continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: I’m So Excited and…

Hey Yana,

I just read a list of codependent behaviors on the internet and realized a ton of them describe the ways I have navigated/still navigate my relationships. Particularly: getting upset/stressed about other people’s problems and trauma, abandoning my needs to cater to others, and getting strong dips in my self-worth/self-confidence when the people in my life aren’t totally happy/excited about me.

I realize these issues can’t be fixed without tons of work but do you have any “in the moment” solutions that can at least stave off these responses/emotions when I feel overwhelmed by them?

I ask because I’m seeing someone new and I really like them, like they are so dang cute and the time I spend with them feels great so I’d really like to keep that going and I’m starting to worry that these behaviors could really get in the way!

With excitement,

I Just Can’t Hide It

 

Dear I Just Can’t,

Oftentimes the ways we relate to people we are romantically and/or sexually attracted to run along tracks that are deeply grooved in our minds, emotions, and bodies so it can be tough to change those patterns by just saying “Hey! Cut it out, self!”

The ways we learned to get our emotional and physical needs met as small infants (professionally dubbed our “attachment style” by the likes of psychologists Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby) carry over into our adult relationships in ways that can be both beneficial and/or problematic. Your tendency to abandon your own needs in order to cater to others, for example, may have been a great efficient strategy to get what you needed as a child in relation to your caregivers but in your present adulthood, it’s no longer serving you as well.

This doesn’t mean that this tendency is bad or wrong, but it does mean it’s maladaptive and is now causing you more harm than good, more unhealthy relationships than healthy, and so might be due for a tune-up. Working with a therapist might help this exploration and shift.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about attachment styles and how they factor into adult relationships, check out Stan Tatkin’s easy-to-digest book Wired for Love (though I don’t agree with ALL he says in that book, overall it’s an interesting read and breaks down attachment theory well).

As for quicker-to-apply strategies, I’m noticing that many of the things you’ve listed above as “codependent behaviors” are actually primarily feelings or thoughts that might be leading you to codependency…continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: My Partner is a Porn Addict, Now What?

Hi Yana,

My partner has struggled with a pornography/masturbation addiction since he was a teen. I’m not against self pleasure. In fact, I believe it’s important and wonderful for everyone to experience, even when partnered.

We’ve been together for 4 years, and our sex life is generally great. He was upfront with me about his issues with porn (his words) at an early point, but at the beginning he was contacting people outside of our monogamous relationship looking for sex. I was, as you’d expect, very hurt by this. He assured me that he would never have actually cheated but was just “seeking pleasure.”

Things have largely gotten better: he doesn’t contact people or seek interaction, but still indulges in porn on the regular. I find myself resenting this, despite believing that freedom of self pleasure is important. Our sex life is hugely affected by his masturbation habits and I’m afraid of how he’s sought out other people in the past.

I’m at a point now where I can’t help but wonder if it will ever change. Is it entirely wrong for me to want it to change at all? I’m trying to do right by him emotionally and sexually, but I’m also trying to do right by myself. Am I looking at it all wrong?

All the best,

Left Loveless

Dear Loveless,

Porn addiction (not officially included in the DSM-5, FYI) is a controversial animal in the therapeutic world. And without diving too deep into that debate here, I’ll tell you where my biases lie: I believe that porn — like many other substances and habits — can be used both in healthy and also in unhealthy ways. This unhealthiness, I believe, is largely in the eyes of the beholder and also in the impact it has on their lives.

Meaning, while there are more “traditional” addictions like those to alcohol and drugs, there are also many things we can use in unhealthy ways to cope with something/s that we feel like we currently can not cope with in other, perhaps healthier ways: sleeping, shopping, or even “socially acceptable” avenues like exercise or dieting, can all be used in compulsive or damaging ways without being labeled an official “addiction.”

Where my line is drawn in the sand around labeling this as problematic, Loveless, is here: Is the compulsive behavior causing distress for the person experiencing it and/or in that person’s significant relationships?

As you’ve described, this issue is at least certainly problematic: he himself considers his porn use an “issue” and you have clearly experienced some distress around the impact his porn use has on your relationship — a relationship that at one point he agreed to as being monogamous. He then broke that agreement when he secretly reached out to others…continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: How Do I Make Sexual Suggestions?

Dear Yana,

I’m a 30-something guy in a long-term relationship with a bisexual woman. She’s got a high sex drive and wants to have sex almost constantly. My desire doesn’t really match up with hers but I wonder if the issue is really that her sexual techniques don’t really line up with my tastes. Her confidence seems tenuous and I’m worried that my requests will deflate her.

How could I best make suggestions towards what I want her to do and request changes to her existing approach without making her retreat from me or feel bad?

Thanks for any advice,

Cautious Critiquer

 

Dear Cautious,

I know for some readers this might sound shocking, but I was once a church youth group director. Okay, well, it was a Unitarian Universalist church youth group but still. One thing that’s really great about working with teenagers in an intentional, pure, community-building setting such as a UU church youth group is that they teach you how to be a nice, ethics-forward, person in the world.

What does this have to do with your sex life, Cautious? Well, not all sex advice is sexual in nature. Sometimes, learning how to communicate directly and kindly is just the skill set you need to further your sexual satisfaction. And with that, I introduce to you the The Compliment Sandwich, courtesy of my former church youth group days.

The Compliment Sandwich is a technique great for delivering constructive feedback in a way that strikes a nice balance between honoring your partner’s/friend’s/co-worker’s strengths, and being direct and clear about what you’d like to see change. In a Compliment Sandwich, compliments are the bread and your request/suggestion/critique is the meat (or vegan meat substitute, as it were).

For example: … continue reading…

post

The V-Spot: Watching Porn in Public with Bella Vendetta

It’s not what you’d expect — this whole watching porn in a room full of strangers with your friends thing. On Saturday night, in an expansive room of the Eastworks building, about 50 of us did just that. And it was a wicked good time.

The Training of Poe is an award-winning documentary-style erotic film shot in the beautiful hills of Western Massachusetts. The indie porn/documentary hybrid (docuporn?) follows the two-day BDSM submissive training of Chelsea Poe at the instruction of local professional and lifestyle dominatrix Bella Vendetta.

Heavy on power play, and low on overt penetrative sex acts, the film takes viewers through a lovely arc of intentional consent negotiations, playfulness, tenderness, sexiness, and really at many points, downright humor.

Vulnerable and self-assured in both their work and in person, Chelsea Poe and Bella Vendetta nearly charmed the pants off us, and watching the film in their company complete with a Q&A was one of my favorite things I’ve done this fall. Lucky me, I got to have a little chat with Bella Vendetta afterwards.

Yana: What are three things you hope people take away from watching the Training of Poe?

Bella: 1.) That BDSM doesn’t always have to look like Fifty Shades of Grey.

2.) That sexuality and sex can go far beyond traditional orgasms.

3.) The natural beauty of Western Mass and how unique fetish films made here are.

Yana: How did you get started doing this work and what motivates you to keep doing it?

Bella: I got started by doing a formal training at the world’s oldest BDSM training chateau. Messages I get from students and retirees alike thanking me for opening their minds up to new ways of thinking about sex and sexuality is what makes me want to keep going.

Yana: What’s the hardest part of this work?

Bella: It’s just so much WORK — actual labor that’s exhausting. The stigma that goes along with this work because you’re a sex worker can get overwhelming. Then, most folks don’t view your work as actual work, so it’s a constant fight for legitimacy.

Yana: In what ways do you think watching smut is positively sex educational?

Bella: For the queer community, it’s one of the only places where we can see our sexualities being played out in an authentic way.

Yana: How do you prioritize consent in these projects and how can we apply that to our real, everyday sex lives?…continue reading on ValleyAdvocate.com where you can also watch a NSFW trailer of the Training of Poe…

post

The V-Spot: No Place for Your O-Face

Dear Yana,

I recently had an ~interesting~ first sexual encounter with a man. We had been talking for a couple weeks and it was our second date, and it was all going pretty well. So far we seem to connect pretty well on an intellectual level and there was some great intimacy build up (read: massive sexual tension-filled cuddling while watching a movie). Though it took us a second to kind of get on the same kissing level, after a while we got on the same groove and I was definitely pleasured.

And then he had an orgasm and it was honestly a turn-off for me. The sound and face he made were just super different than anything I have experienced before. I am naturally fairly quiet, and the few men I’ve been with in the past happen to have been rather conservative as well.

I don’t watch porn, so my past sexual experiences are all I have to go off of. I don’t want to judge people for what they want in bed and I certainly don’t want this to be something that puts a stop to what could potentially grow into a relationship. But at the same time, if I’m turned off by him orgasming, what does that mean for our sexual chemistry in the long term?

— Turned Off by his Turn On

Dear Turned Off,

I once heard a comic do this bit about making fun of other people’s laughs. He made some commentary about how you’re pretty much a total jerk if you scoff at somebody because of the way in which they express pure, unbridled joy and humor. That when you make fun of someone’s laugh, you’re telling them that when they’re tickled pink enough to let go and guffaw, or snort, or cackle, they actually shouldn’t feel joyful because they look real stupid when they do.

Does this rule apply here, Turned Off? Are you being a total jerk if you ditch this dude because he’s so good at leaning into his moment of pleasure that he looks pretty stupid when he does it? Is his looking real un-cute during his ecstatic climax more important than his sexual joy?

To be fair, Turned Off, I would imagine that if you looked yourself straight in the O-face in the mirror it might not be the prettiest selfie you’ve ever seen either. Losing control in a moment of pure pleasure looks and sounds funny sometimes, and that’s okay!

Of course, there are always two sides to every coin…continue reading…