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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…

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How Do I Make My Orgasms Come Back?

Dear Yana,

I’m a single woman in my late twenties, with no relationships on the horizon. But that’s OK, because I have a super intense, cordless Hitachi that I’m in love with.

Problem is, recently, whenever I have attempted to reach orgasm, it never comes. I get the brink, right before the fall, but I’m just stuck. This has happened with lovers in the past; one even suggested it was a problem with not being able to “let go.”

Perhaps I am not relaxing enough when I masturbate. What are some tips, tricks, or techniques to have that incredible, solo experience?

— Absent Orgasms

Dear Absent,

I’m laughing a little at your partner’s (I’m sure well-meaning) suggestion to “let go” seeing as that is technically what an orgasm is, after all — a build-up followed by a release. It’s almost like your partner was like “Honey, have you tried just having an orgasm?”

I kid, but really, please let this sex columnist and educator tell you that nobody (not even your partner, not even me) can tell you the key to finding and experiencing your own sexual satisfaction. But, I can give you some suggestions to try out!

From your question, it sounds like you’ve been able to orgasm in the past and it’s only recently that the Os have hit the skids. This can be for a variety of reasons — new medications (especially antidepressants), new stress levels, new major life events, etc. Emily Nagoski’s free desire brakes/gas pedal worksheets (thedirtynormal.com) can help assess environmental, relational, and personal factors that may be impacting your current experiences of desire and pleasure.

In my opinion, with the rumbly, reliable, powerful Hitachi, you’re armed with the perfect tool for the titillating task at hand. But I find myself wondering how many laps you’re taking around the brink before attempting to push yourself over the orgasmic edge. Meaning, do you turn the Hitachi on high, make clitoral contact, and then smash the gas pedal straight to the finish line? Or do you take time with yourself to build up anticipation? Experiment with bringing yourself close to the tipping point of orgasm and then backing off on sensation…continue reading…

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Your Campfire Sex Life: Rekindling Desire

Hi Yana,

I love reading all of your stuff. I was wondering if you had any advice on getting back into a sexual relationship. My partner and I have been together for over four years and our sex has fizzled out a bit. I think now we feel really nervous about it and don’t know how to get back into it even though we both really want to! If you have anything to read or any advice to give that would be amazing.

— Rekindle Our Romance

 

Dear Rekindle,

It’s perfectly normal for long-term partners to feel their sex life fizzle a bit. While mainstream sex culture seems to embrace the notion that sexual flames between partners may falter, we don’t have as much acceptance of how rekindling those flames means that you might have to do some fanning. As in, that sexual fire certainly isn’t going to stoke itself!

Lust, sex drives, and turn-ons carry the narrative that they must be spontaneous in order to be acted on or “real.” Waiting for two people to both fall into The Mood at the same time, in the same place, at the right time, and the right place, is a great recipe for waiting around for your sex life to happen … for … quite … a … while.

Creating blazing, amazing bonfires in long-term sexual relationships takes kindling, fuel, tending, and intention. Don’t wait for lightning to strike. Make it happen. On purpose.

Here are some tips:

First: Learn how to build a bonfire. Each of you do some homework — whether that’s watching porn (see my earlier column “Gimme That Grass Fed Porn” for my suggestions), doing one of Emily Nagoski’s great turn-on and turn-off worksheets (thedirtynormal.com/worksheets), or reading an excellent how-to book about sex in general (Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon, for example). Reacquaint yourselves with what turns you on and share that info with each other once you know.

Gather your kindling. What’s going to fuel your fire? New sex toys (Oh My Sensuality in Northampton, Adam and Eve in Greenfield, babeland.com online)? A fancy lube? Just a nice afternoon of self-grooming and a new pair of jockeys? Get ’em!

Build your fire pit…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: He’s Afraid to Cuddle / Different Sex Drives

Hi Yana,

My partner and I have different sex drives. I could have sex four to six times a week, while he feels more comfortable with about two. In the beginning, we had a lot of sex and I was ecstatic thinking that our sex drives were more matched. Now, not so much.

I feel like I’m constantly rejected and he feels pressured to have sex. He’s said he’s afraid to cuddle and kiss me because then he feels he’ll be expected to take it further. To make it even more difficult, I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and feel like I have been hardwired to feel loved through sexual intimacy.

So, when he says no to sex, I feel like my whole world drops from under me. I’ve worked on the sex-equals-love piece in therapy to no avail. I feel at a loss.

Any advice for two people who love each other fiercely, but need help figuring this out?

—Pedal to the Metal

Dear Pedal,

Childhood sexual abuse impacts many people and leaves survivors with a steep check to pay emotionally, physically, and mentally. And though you’re doing great work with your therapist, that hardwiring will still fire.

No couple is perfectly matched in their desire for sex at all times, especially after the hormone-fueled honeymoon phase. If you were to label your sexual desire on a scale of 1-10 (10 being gimme, gimme more!), maybe you would be a 9 at baseline, and your partner, a 4. Factor in relational conflict, hormones, outside stress, and health fluctuations, and the chances that you both will be running at a compromised 7 are rather slim. And that’s normal!

Normalizing this and reminding yourself that his sex drive is a Him issue and not a You issue is important here. A Him issue may be related to a You issue, but is certainly not Your Fault.

He’s feeling wary that once he gets on the intimacy rollercoaster there’s no slowing down or stopping the ride until after sex. His hesitance I’m sure in turn adds to your feelings of rejection. This cycle traps you both in a black-and-white viewpoint of your sex life leaving him on one side and you on the other.

So, where can you collaborate?…continue reading…

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How Does a Shy Girl Ask for the Sex She Wants?

Hi Yana,

I’m a bisexual woman in a LTR with another woman. My issue is that I’m super bashful when it comes to asking for what I want during sex. I’ve been partnered for a while now and even though I’m really comfortable with her and trust her, it’s hard for me to drum up the confidence to speak up.

She’s great at asking me what I want from her but in the moment I freeze up and don’t even know how to start answering her questions! I get nervous, I get anxious, and I can barely say much at all. Any way you can help me spit it — anything! — out during sex?!

— Bashful Babe

Dear Bashful,

The modern sexual revolution has been fueled by anti-slutshaming, the freedom of popular hookup culture, and being outspoken about taboos (getting-more-formerly-by-the-day) such as birth control, genuine sexual pleasure, the gender spectrum, and designer relationships. So much open space to move around in! So many rules to bend and break and disregard so that you can make your own! So many things on the sexual menu to pick from! How is a bashful babe to choose?

No but really, how is a bashful babe to choose?

Though part of the battle is finding the bravery, freedom, and permission to ask for what we want, the other part is figuring out: wait, what the hell do I even want to ask for?

Maintaining your own independent sex life, even when you are in relationships, is a crucial aspect of having a great and satisfying sex life. Just because you are partnered, doesn’t mean that the solo sexplorations needs to or should end. Reading books about sex, talking about sex, finding porn you actually like, masturbating, trying new sex toys out, or even just fantasizing on your morning commute are all great ways to discover and build on your own independent sexuality.

Being unsure about what you like, if you like something, or even if you want to try to see if you like something is an intensely personal process that doesn’t necessarily need to be done in front of an audience — even if that audience is your wonderful, trusting, long-term mate…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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How Do We Get The Mood Back?

Hi Yana,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time. We moved in together six months ago into our new home in New Mexico. But, I’m really not feeling our sex life lately. I feel bad because my boyfriend is amazing, but I’m never ever in the mood to have sex.

Lately, we have sex once a month and it’s only because I feel bad so I just pretend. Is there anything I can do? We’re a rather conservative couple, but how do I get the mood back? We’ve just been together so long and work is so tiring that we kinda just don’t really think about it anymore. But it weighs on us. And I want a little excitement between us again. Any advice?

— Feeling Dry in the Desert

Long-term couples make a common mistake: waiting for The Mood to strike spontaneously. More-so, they both wait for The Mood to strike each of them, at the same and right time. The timing gets more particular still as we wait for the cosmic alignment of The Mood, our work schedules, menstrual cycles, etc. If we all waited for this divine intersection, we’d never have sex. You gotta manage that mood! Intentionally manage The Mood? *GASP!* “But what about sexiness?

Mainstream depictions of sex show that sex is only sexy when it’s void of outright communication. Therefore, we think that if we intentionally manage The Mood, we can’t possibly also be sexy. But this simply isn’t true and is also in fact detrimental to your sex life. So, what do you do?

1.) Ditch the idea of The Mood as all-ruling and spontaneous. Bye, Mood!

2.) Verbally acknowledge to your boyfriend that The Mood as you’ve known it has fallen by the wayside (normal!) and that you’d like to respark your sexual connection.

3.) Schedule sex. Sure, if one of you gets food poisoning that night, you won’t be having the sex. It’s not a contract. But, carving out space for sex at least gives it a chance.

4.) Redefine sex. You don’t have to do the all-out, two-hour long, multi-orgasmic marathon sex date to have it be successful. Maybe you’ll make out hot and heavy for an hour and then call it quits. If you give yourselves permission to do these smaller sexual activities, it’ll likely lead to more. But, knowing that it doesn’t have to makes the whole thing less daunting…continue reading…

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Why Don’t I Want Sex With My BF?

I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years and he was my first and only sexual partner. Sexually we struggle. Well, I struggle. The thought of having sex is like a chore. I try really hard to do it even when I don’t want to because I know he needs that and it’s a necessary part of our relationship. He isn’t forceful or anything; I just feel bad. Once I can get myself past the initiation of it, it can be enjoyable. I’m career-oriented and my focus isn’t on the relationship. The sexual aspect of it just isn’t important to me and I don’t want to do it.

However, I think about sleeping with other people all the time and I even told him that. He told me if I wanted to have a one night stand I could if I never saw that person again.

This idea is appealing because I sometimes think I might be taking my boyfriend for granted, but I just don’t have much to compare him to. I don’t know that I could actually go through with it though. It’s basically an okay to cheat! He also says I couldn’t be mad if he does it as well. I might be fine with this because I know I don’t fulfill his needs as a man.

We love each other and talk about long term. So, why don’t I want to have sex with my boyfriend? Does sleeping with someone else put me in an open relationship or is that just a hall pass? Will it work or ruin everything?

This is A LOT! So here’s some quick-and-dirty advice:

1.) Open relationships can be great! But I don’t think it’s a viable option for you two at this time as there’s other work that needs doing here.

2.) Stop having this chore-sex that you outright say you don’t want to be having. Sex doesn’t need to be forceful in order to be nonconsensual, BotC. Being together for six years does not negate the need for consent — meaning, you and your boyfriend both saying an enthusiastic “Yes!” to the sex you’re both enjoying together and actively negotiating until you can get there.

3.) No one has ever died of blue balls and your boyfriend’s penis doesn’t need you. This antiquated, sexist, bullshit reasoning that women need to submit to men because men need to get off is a social set-up. In many ways it works against both men and women and certainly against consensual, loving, good sex and it’s a set-up that your boyfriend is (subconsciously or consciously) using to his benefit…continue reading…

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Getting Selfish in the Sack

We’re socialized to not ask for what we want. This applies to promotions, the best looking cookie in the cafe’s pastry case and, of course, sex. When we pointedly ask for what we want, we’re seen as selfish, greedy, finicky and maybe even a little mean. When women ask for what they want in bed they’re stamped with ye olde “slut” badge. When men ask, they’re viewed as non-masculinely picky: you have a penis for fuck’s sake how difficult can it really be to please? No wonder we’re not asking for what we want in the sack.

The assumption that we’re only good at The Sex if we know exactly what our partners want just by getting naked with them is totally absurd. Yet media everywhere (myself included) cash in on giving you tips to “give her what she wants” and “how to blow his mind”.

Well, here’s the simple answer to all of these supposed sexual mysteries: Ask.

This is the truth: if you ask for what you want and need, you are more likely to get it than if you don’t. Continued…