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My Sex Drive’s Back But My BF’s Isn’t

Writer’s note: This column mentions depression and suicidality.

Dear Yana,

When me and my BF first got together about a year and a half ago, we were having the best sex of our lives! Then I decided with the help of my therapist that I needed to be medicated due to suicidal thoughts and anxiety/depression.

The medication helped a lot with my mental illness, but unfortunately it made my sex drive plummet. I was still able and happy to get my man off on a regular basis, but didn’t have much interest in sex for myself (including masturbation) for a long time (6-8 months I think). Once in awhile I would get in the mood, but then I was never able to achieve orgasm.

I’ve since come off of the medication and am healthy and my sex drive has gone back to “normal.” The problem is that my BF got in of the habit of not even attempting to pleasure me. I’ve tried to talk to him about it and when we talk he seems enthusiastic about it, but never follows through with trying when we get in the sack! How can I help him understand the importance of this to me?

— Trying to Get Off More Than Just My Meds

Dear Trying,

It sounds like you’ve taken a quick and victorious journey with and through your mental illness, which is amazing and wonderful. However, it sounds like your boyfriend may have been left in the dust a little bit on your speedy trek to the top of recovery mountain.

A year and a half is not a very long time in the grand scheme of relationships and I wonder if he’s got a little bit of whiplash from where your realities once collided at the intersection of mental health and sex drive.

It’s intense to be someone suffering from depression and suicidality, that is for certain, and there co-exists another reality which is that it’s also tough to be the romantic and sexual partner of someone going through those experiences. You are feeling like your old self — and that’s so great, but it’s possible that he’s still feeling wary that the other shoe might drop…click to continue reading…



Clinical Support Options offers local 24/7 mental health crisis support for Hampshire County at (413) 586-5555 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.

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Our Sex Is All About Him

Dear Yana,

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when he does, he doesn’t bother to ask me for feedback. I’ve tried to tell him that X feels good and Y doesn’t, but he gets kind of insulted and self conscious, so I don’t do that anymore.

He does what turns him on in bed, and thinks that, because it turns him on, it must turn me on. Though he’s listened to me when I tell him in a nonsexual context what might personally get me going he doesn’t carry this information over into the bedroom. I’ve asked for more oral sex, less porn, less verbal fantasizing about my friends, etc., but still he does the things that get HIM going when we have sex. I don’t feel cared for in this area, in a stereotypically “girl wants more from hetero guy in bed and he says ‘Gotcha babe, now blow me’” kind of way.

Our communication is generally great, but there seems to be a missing link in this one area between what we express to each other and what we do. Help!

— Unpampered Pet

Hi Unpampered!

Popular, traditional sex education is quite sexist — it prioritizes boners and their reproductive pleasure principles and treats the vagina like little more than a baby-making receptacle not worth bothering to learn to please. Call it the heteropatriarchy or pleasure-phobia but either way — women are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.

This isn’t an excuse for your boyfriend to keep riding the sexist sex ed wave straight to blow-job beach, but it does mean that when in a cishetero relationship, couples need to try a little harder to overcome the many social, gendered blocks to good sexual communication…continue reading…

 

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The V-Spot: Will Our Mixed Desire Dating Last?

 

Hi, Yana!

I recently started dating somebody who ticks (nearly) all the right boxes for me. This is the first time since breaking up with my sweetheart of over two years that I’ve felt this way, and it’s really exciting. There’s only one hiccup: he seems to be grey-a and I’m about as allosexual as it gets. He prefers to cuddle; I’d have sex twice a day if I could.

We talked about this shortly after we started seeing each other, and it seems like things are workable, at least for now — he says he’s game for non-monogamy and I have other partners who are excited to have the kind of sex that excites me. He’s my only local partner, though, and I can’t help but wonder if this sort of arrangement is sustainable. I’m really wary of implicitly pressuring him into being more sexual than he’d like, but I also can’t help the fact that I’m super horny basically always.

How common are successful allosexual/asexual relationships? What can we do to make sure that both of our needs are getting met? What can we do to make sure that we don’t hurt each other if/when our sexual desires don’t match up?

-Dating, But Not Mating

Dear Not Mating,

In any romantic and/or sexual dynamic with another person, it’s impossible that our desire will perfectly mirror our partner’s and many couples have extreme desire discrepancies. This particular dynamic with your Grade A, grey-a bae just has a slightly more disparate desire difference to negotiate.

First, let’s nail some terms, courtesy of my former intern Emmett DuPont who wrote a great blog post for my website about just this:

  1. Allosexual: You & the majority of people. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a necessary part of partner relationships.
  2. Grey asexuality. Grey-ace. Grey-A: Your boo. Emmett says: Grey-A is a term that people might use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally”.
  3. Asexual: Emmett says: “Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain, consensual sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner”.

So, how do you deal with such a desire discrepancy (besides consensual non-monogamy which, you’re already doing)?

In a 2014 interview with EverydayFeminism.com, David Jay, founder of Asexuality.org reminds allosexual partners that “It’s important to give asexual people a place to celebrate and talk about all their important relationships, not just sexual ones. Sexual people need to treat those kinds of intimacy as if they are as interesting and exciting as romantic/sexual intimacy because they are!”.

Which is to say, Not Mating, any implicit pressure for your partner to sexually perform at your allosexual level will likely come from inside of you. If you’ve made genuine peace with all that comes with enthusiastically consenting to dating a greysexual person in all of their glory, you will be less likely to inadvertently turn up the heat for more than they have to offer you.

Be clear about what you are truly okay with, too. In a mutually respectful relationship, there is no space for pity or charity. In fact, it may even disempower your partner’s already marginalized sexuality identity even further if you continue to date him because you want to prove to him or yourself that you can do without a certain level of sexual interaction. Especially if you can’t! Each of you are entitled to have, express, and be honored for your unique desire levels and identities.

Finally, avoiding hurt is something we all want in our relationships but may not be able to fulfill, especially in a relationship with inherently conflicting desires built into it. Though I can’t give you a percentage of success here, I can tell you this relationship will take some honest boundary setting, exploring, and work, as all desire discrepancies do!

 

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Honestly, I Could Do Without the Squirt

Hello Yana,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost a year. We’re in our 20s, and he’s a few years older than me. There have been times when we’re intimate when he doesn’t provide me with oral sex. He’s never close to ejaculating while inside me. He only does so after I give him a blow job, and it’s not a lot of semen.

Also, he puts his fingers inside me and does this thing to make me “orgasm,” which causes me to expel liquid. I’m not crazy about it and I don’t consider it an orgasm, since I know what one feels like.

I don’t know how to tell him that I can do without it. I don’t want to make him feel bad about himself nor make it seem that I haven’t enjoyed the sex — because I have, just not the ending part. I don’t know how to ask him about providing oral sex. We don’t live too close to each other and the opportunity to do it is usually two-three times a month.

— Not Gushing  About Gushing

Dear Not Gushing,

We take preferences personally. Especially when it comes to sex. Someone says “Not right now,” and we hear “You’re unattractive.” Someone says “I’m not into that kink,” and we hear “You’re a freak.” Someone says “A little to the left,” and we hear “You’re bad at sex.”

When you say “You know, babe, I could do without this liquid finale” will your boyfriend hear, “I hate having sex with you”? When you say “You know what would be super hot? Having you go down on me before we bang,” will your boyfriend hear “I’ve never liked sex with you?”

Society tells us to keep quiet about sexual pleasure. This leaves us with a lot of blanks to fill in for ourselves. Blanks produce anxiety. So we fill them in; often with self-doubt, paranoia, and assumptions.

What will happen if you vocalize to your partner: “I love having sex with you. But this ending part? Not so much. Can we try something else? Like maybe you could go down on me?” Your boyfriend could take it personally. Or maybe he’ll be relieved to know what you do want. Maybe he feels insecure about his oral sex abilities. Maybe he’s just doing this because he’s reading your physical reaction as confirmation of your enjoyment.

How is he supposed to know unless you verbalize otherwise? How are you to know unless you ask?…continue reading…

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Oh! Oh! Oh? Where’s My Orgasm?

Hi Yana!

I started having sex with males this past summer. It’s fun and exciting, but I’ve yet to reach an earth-shattering orgasm. That may be too high of an expectation for myself, but it feels like I’ve never had an orgasm at all.

I feel the build up, but there’s no release. I think this may be contributing to my extremely low sex drive, because sex isn’t really beneficial for me. I really do want to be having more sex, and more fulfilling healthy sex with my long-term partner.

How do I have an orgasm? How do I go about figuring out what I like, what gets me off? Am I getting in my own way somehow?

Usually when I have sex it’s vaginal penetration with short bursts of clitoral stimulation. I guess my main problem is starting the dialogue, “Hey, can you try this?” because I don’t know what to ask for. Should I watch more porn, go on kinky websites for ideas? Or, considering how sex in mainstream media is depicted in a way that is largely unbeneficial to women, is that more hurt than help?

— Still Searching

Dear SS,

Your questions echo the many, many questions I get from people trying to overcome this sexual hurdle — or just come at all. An orgasm is typically characterized by a pleasurable build-up which ends in a climactic release.

It sounds like you’re on your way, but haven’t quite reached Orgasm Town — a common experience.

You’re on the right track in your thinking about this — your search for an orgasm is going to take a lot more than basic P-in-V penetration. Logistically speaking, direct and consistent clitoral stimulation is a requirement for most. More importantly, orgasms take personal work both in between our legs and in between our ears. What I mean to say, is the brain is our largest sex organ; so let’s start there…continue reading…

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Couple Seeking Toyfriend

Straight guy here in a monogamous relationship. We’re looking to add some toys to our routine and would love to hear your opinions and suggestions on items that we could use together. We’ve been eyeballing the Oden 2 from Lelo [a vibrating, rechargeable, remote-controlled cockring priced around $180], but have no idea if it’s worth the investment. Maybe there are simpler, more cost-effective ways to start?

If I had a dime for every question I got about “couples’ toys”, I’d be able to buy you 100 Oden 2s from Lelo. I wouldn’t though, because it would probably be a waste of my money, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I totally get it: Trying to find a sex toy that physically pleases everyone simultaneously is worth searching for. The efficiency! The cost-effectiveness! The false reassurance that everyone’s needs are getting met!

When people say “couples’ toys” what they tend to mean is a toy that is actively stimulating both partners during sex and by “both” partners we tend to mean one woman and one man and by “during sex” we tend to mean penis-in-vagina. Really though, all sex toys have the ability to be “couples’ toys” based on the basic concept that being present while your partner gets his or her rocks off is also sexually pleasing to you.

Looking at it this way, CST, your options are wide open for your new couples’ toy…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Unplug to Buttplug

Hi Yana!

My partner and I both really like butt plugs. We have the “Little Flirt” [a small, silicone butt plug made by Tantus] that we ordered online to experiment with. A friend of ours suggested the Njoy Pure plugs [made of stainless steel and available in a variety of sizes] and they look great!

We want to get one for each of us, but trying to figure out what 25mm difference in radius would feel like from a website’s picture online is like trying to figure out the real feel of weather in Celsius.

Sometimes the Little Flirt comes out during play and we’re worried that the smallest Njoy Plug doing the same. So, should we buy larger?

When it was a $15 toy it was no big deal to just order it online and find out in the mail, but these toys are expensive! Is there a good way to order toys online or is it really just best to find a good shop that you can go to in person? Thanks!

Hi OSM!

I always recommend shopping for sex toys IRL to get a real sense of sizing, material, and feel of your soon-to-be sex toy. Moreso, female-friendly, brick-and-mortar stores that boast well-trained sex educators are well-worth the extra time and money spent as they can offer customized advice, considerations, and sex toy education unavailable on the Internet.

This can be geographically or financially difficult for many. If you can’t unplug from the Internet to buy your butt plug and you’re (rightfully) skeptical about size, take the website’s measurements of the toy and compare it either to a toy you have at home or 1-3 of your fingers, noting that firmer toy materials (like the stainless steel Njoys) have less give and therefore will feel bigger inside of your body/booty.

Do read reviews about quality but don’t solely depend on reviews about quantity: everyone is different and one person’s mindblowing multiorgasmic experience with a particular sex toy doesn’t mean you’ll be similarly exploding. Instead, buy based on material, shape, vendor and pleasure principles…continue reading…

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5 Hours to a Blissful Partnership

Now that marriage equality has been won (!!), lesbian and queer couples are poised to pay attention to marital therapy’s age-old research which, was previously relegated to the straight realm, but can be easily adapted along the gender and sexuality spectrums, to all married/committed couple’s benefit.

The first therapeutic theory worth adapting? The Magic 5 Hours. Renowned marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman spent countless hours observing what makes (heterosexual) married couples thrive. Or, more importantly, what separates the soon-to-be-divorced from the happily-ever-after. One of these key differences? Just 5 measly hours per week (which can be effectively perfected by doting LGBTQ partners, too!), all devoted to your partner in these particular ways:

Partings: Give your partner a warm farewell before parting for your workdays. This means eyes-up, phones-down, people. This doesn’t mean through the bathroom door, via text message, or with a fleeting glance up from your laptop, kids, or dogs.

Time it takes: 2 minutes. x 5 workdays = 10 minutes/week

Greetings: Have a debriefing conversation when you reunite after your workdays. This conversation should include each partner taking turns actively listening to each other unwind about their day without offering solutions or conflict.

Unsure where to start? Use the Rose/Thorn structure: what was the biggest highlight of your day? (Your Rose). What was the biggest lowlight (Your Thorn). One couple I know also adds in a humorous “Tiny Win” such as “I found $20 on the ground”, “I finally got that splinter out of my foot”, or “Everywhere I went today had gender-neutral bathrooms!”.

Time it takes: 20 minutes. x 5 work days = 1 hour 40 minutes/week

Continue reading…

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My Married Sex Life, For Better or Worse

I’ve been with my husband for many years, and our sex life has never been ideal. We never seem to be on the same page. We definitely have different styles and preferences. Things he enjoys, I do not, and vice versa. For example, I enjoy giving him a blow job, but he will take it over and start thrusting or grabbing my head. He gets frustrated and will say I’m so hard to get off, but it’s almost an insult to his masculinity when I offer suggestions. Our marriage is great, but I would like the best sex of my life to be with the man I married. How do we make our sex life work for both of us if we don’t have the same sexual interests?

Our atrocious sex education paired with our cultural knack for social stigmatization has made us really bad at talking about sex. When women ask for what they want sexually, they’re labeled “sluts” or “high maintenance” or “selfish.” Women aren’t taught to vocalize their desires nor are they educated about their orgasms. Women are taught to be sexually passive and submissive and that when in doubt, they should “just take it.” Meaning, they should just take the orgasms they can get, take the affection they’re offered, and accept their sex lives for what they are at face value.

Men, on the other hand, are socialized to know — or at least pretend to know — everything about sex, be in charge of sexual encounters, and be intrinsically able to satisfy their partners. When men don’t do this, they are seen as being “weak” or “not a real man.” If women are taught to “just take it,” men are taught to “just fake it,” blindly stumbling through every sexual situation without stopping to ask for directions…continue reading…

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Lickety Split About Going Down: My boyfriend won’t lick my sundae

This week I was feeling split about what kind of advice to give to a reader about her boyfriend’s hesitancy to go down on her. So I called in the big feyonce guns to lend me a dude’s opinion.

Find Patrick’s advice here and my boring old advice in this week’s column (posted below) and in the back page of The Valley Advocate as always.

Feeling inclined to do the Yes/No/Maybe list with your bae? Find it here!


 

The V-Spot: My Boyfriend Won’t Lick My Sundae

I’ve been seeing a wonderful man for about a year and a half and I feel like I’ve finally found someone I could spend the rest of my life with.

Here’s the problem: He isn’t a very sexual person and won’t perform oral sex on me. He says he never has on any of his previous girlfriends and they never asked for it.

He says he’s actually sickened by going down there orally.

I’m clean, healthy, well-groomed and a very sexual person. I go down on him all the time and enjoy it. He feels bad that he can’t do this for me and I feel bad asking him to do something that makes him feel gross.

We have very traditional sex and it’s satisfying — we both come — but I always want more. I’ve begged him for anal and he tried it and didn’t like it.

In the past I’ve had great sex with jerks I want no future with. And then I have boring sex with nice people who want long-term. I don’t want to throw away our relationship because of one thing, but I’m afraid I’ll end up resenting him. He’s against an open relationship. Any advice?

I’d be split about this lackluster labia-licking situation if I were you, too. In fact, without being able to sit and talk to you both, I’ve been pretty lickety split about how to advise you.

I want to tell you to stop eating his banana split if he won’t eat your sundae.

On the flip side, I hate yogurt. This isn’t a sexual metaphor — I seriously despise yogurt. I gag at the sight of it. If my boyfriend told me that my eating yogurt was the only way he would feel sexually fulfilled, I know I couldn’t do it. Continue reading…