To be 23…

As is often the case a blog crossed my Facebook feed and sparked inspiration into my caffeine-fueled writing gland. The post (23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged) is filled with a glorious rant about how today’s generation approaches long-term relationships and a fun little list of alternatives. While I’m not much of a list maker I am a strong advocate of people forgoing lifelong commitments until they know themselves as individuals first.

So, here is a quick rundown of my past so you know where I am coming from…

  • I’m 32 years old (I know! I’m old, but damn I still look good)
  • I walked into an Army recruiter office on September 11, 2001 and became a paratrooper. I was 19 years old.
  • I was stationed in North Carolina, served for four years, and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan
  • During my enlistment I got engaged to a girl from South Carolina
  • I started college in 2005 and my engagement broke up in 2006
  • I received a BS in Economics in 2009 from the College of Charleston in South Carolina
  • Moved to DC and worked at a couple of non-profits for three years
  • Got sick of DC, sold everything I owned and rode my bicycle across the country to Los Angeles
  • While in LA I got into a relationship with my current partner
  • After two years in LA my partner and I are going to start a 2-year bicycle ride around the continent

I provided that list because I want people to recognize how much different my life would have been if I got married in 2006 like I originally thought. At that time I was 25 and still didn’t really know who I was. My religion was different, my view on family and life, I was aligned different politically… I had not experienced enough life to find me. I needed time to be independent and have adventures, explore the world, and challenge myself to find happiness.

Human brains are not fully developed even into the early 20’s, the idea that we are mature or ready to commit to a lifetime with someone when we don’t know ourselves is insane. Sure, it works out sometimes (I think mostly due to social and religious pressure than happiness) but as the article pointed out, the divorce rate among those who marry young is twice the average rate.

Previous generations had very good reasons to marry young. That type of support was necessary for security and to provide for a family. But we are not the previous generation. We live at a time when the economy is based on entertainment, service, and information. The internet has allowed us to earn an income from anywhere, survival goods are cheaper, and women do not need a man to provide. Instead, for maybe the first time in human history, the average person can travel, explore, and find their passion.

Now, I have been called selfish for not wanting kids, usually by people who have kids. Aside from the collectivist mentality that I owe an overpopulated society a genetic reproduction (this world has enough people with blue eyes, big booties, poor eyesight, and average height), it is hypocritical for people with kids to call me selfish. Nearly half a million kids in the US alone need adoptive parents, until that is taken care I think the selfish ones are those that somehow think the universe needs more of their DNA floating around. Want a kid? Adopt one.

I agree with the author… get out there and explore while your health and freedom allows you to. While riding across the country I met hundreds of people and by far the most common thing I heard was, “Wow, that’s awesome. I would love to do that, if only I was younger.” The body degrades, obligations increase with marriage (and particularly kids), the time to discover yourself, your boundaries, and your love is now.

Are you with someone you love now? Is your relationship great? That is fucking awesome. I have that same thing and I wouldn’t have it if I got married when I was younger. Your life partner should be someone that you adventure with as mature adults. It is crazy to make a lifelong decision based on 3% of your adult life when you have not fully developed. The odds are that you or your partner will change and the big three things necessary for a long term relationship (agreement on marriage, the amount of children, and lifestyle) will change. You can only be made better by new experiences, and that means you will be a better individual and partner. As the article author puts it:

“If your love is truly eternal, what’s the rush? If it’s real, that person will continue to be committed to you 2 months from now, 2 years from now, and 2 decades from now. Grow, learn, travel, party, cuddle, read, explore. Do. Freaking. Something… other than “settle down” at 23 with a white picket fence.’

 

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A Wedding Recap

This last weekend I had the huge honor of being the Best Man at my best friend’s wedding. I know in the past I’ve been fairly vocal about my own disinterest in traditional marriage, but I am an economist and recognize subjective value… meaning that I may not want a wedding for myself but am thrilled to participate in something important  to another. And man, this wedding was the fucking tits. There are a lot of stories and a lot of fun was had but here are some of the things that will stick with me the most.

  • Weddings can be really, really damn beautiful. The site (Convict Lake near Mammoth, California), weather, atmosphere, everything was perfect. A true fairytale location for a perfect fairytale wedding.
  • I will get naked and streak a household of mostly strangers for at least $20
  • My partner can’t handle Fireball whiskey
  • I am pretty decent at giving impromptu speeches… and that apparently surprises people
  • Real friendships stand the test of time… for the first time in 12 years my closest friends since fifth grade were together and we still had a grand time. Some of us have lost hair (not me), some of us have gained weight (me), and all of us have gorgeous partners but all-in-all the banter and friendship was the same.
  • Online presences are strange things. Several of the people I met at the wedding primarily knew me through Facebook and blog posts where I may come off one-dimensionally focuses on polyamory, sex, drugs, anarchy, and Burning Man. Hopefully I have the opportunity to spend more time with these people and we can get to know each other.
  • Some people get uncomfortable when you invite them to a foursome
  • It can be difficult to tell if people seriously want you in a foursome or not… I still have hope that the joking was only “haha, that’s funny… but seriously” and not really “haha, this is all just joke drunk flirting”
  • Some people will offer to have sex with you if you give them your jacket in the cold
  • Flirting is still a lot of fun, especially when your partner doesn’t care/encourages it.
  • Other people agree that my partner has a fantastic ass
  • When the dj plays Ke$ha most people leave the dance floor (not me)
  • A wedding that includes several Star Trek: The Next Generation references is awesome
  • Drunk parents rock
  • Love is an amazing thing… I don’t think Love is all you need for a successful romantic relationship but it is certainly an important part of the human experience.

I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned from this amazing, unforgettable weekend but it is time to leave my office for the day so here is a picture of what I woke up to each morning I was up at the wedding.

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You Should Give As Good As You Get

This is going to be one of those “if you believe TMI exists and/or are related to me and uncomfortable with sexual information it may be time to close the tab” blog posts.

I follow a fair number of sex and relationship advice-givers on my Facebook feed and have noticed something interesting. About once or twice a week a “How to give a great blowjob!” post appears on my feed, but I have yet to see a “How to give good cunnilingus” ever appear. I’m not exactly sure why that is. I admit that with the exception of Dan Savage (who is gay and has a high book knowledge of vagina’s but has not had much personal experience with them) most sex and relationship columnists tend to be targeting women. I had a friend point out one Vice column about cunnilingus but personally I found it fairly unhelpful and seemed to be more for shock value than actual advice. So, after a pretty decent Facebook discussion and encouragement from a number of female friends (and my partner) I decided to write this post.

Big Huge Fucking Disclaimer: I won’t even begin to claim I have the answers for creating pleasure. I am one guy who has had a fair number of partners and I am comfortable with my oral skills. These tips and thoughts are based on my personal experiences and the contributions of my partners (past and present) and some friends that shared their thoughts with me privately. Every person is different and desires vary widely, what I talk about here may not actually be effective for others, these are just my personal experiences. I don’t know if any of my followers will find value in this, but I hope they do… if nothing else I hope it sparks conversation because talking and discussing things with your partner is the only way to guarantee everyone is satisfied, inside and outside the bedroom.

————-

In retrospect, I owe most of my base knowledge to a guy I met in Basic Training that we called “Romeo”. When word got around that I was a 19-year old virgin Romeo took me aside and felt the need to tutor me. He could have done all of this in front of the group to humiliate me but I think he genuinely wanted me to have some working knowledge of the vagina before my first real sexual experience. So, he told me things that I would have ideally learned from either sex ed or my father, how to bring sexual pleasure to my partner.

Some Basic Information: If your partner has a vagina and desires oral sex you really should give it. Approximately 75% of women cannot reach orgasm through penetration alone… that means there needs to be some clitoral stimulation at least. In my experience I have only had one partner that could orgasm off of penetration alone and she could also orgasm off of only nipple stimulation, so she was a rarity. So, if you look at your previous partners and most of them orgasmed just off of penetration either that is a statistical anomaly or you have been lied to. (Side note: Ladies, please don’t lie about having an orgasm. This does not do anyone any favors. If your partner cares about you they will want to make you happy and that requires honesty. It is better to temporarily bruise an ego than fill your time with less than satisfactory encounters.)

In my experience some partners can be nervous, uncomfortable, or apprehensive about receiving oral sex. From the discussions I’ve had this stems from false stereotypes about the vagina (men don’t like giving oral, it smells bad, etc) or past partners have been really bad and it has not been enjoyable. It is important to remember that for most guys bad sex is better than no sex, while the opposite is true for women where bad sex can be painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. As with all new sexual things with your partner (or experiences with a new partner) it is good to move slowly in the beginning and communicate. All sexual acts should be consensual, and ideally that consent is enthusiastic. Communication really is key and the more comfortable everyone is beforehand the better. It should, and will, come naturally in the end. Oral sex is fucking awesome but remember, good relationships are GGG, and that second G means “giving equal time and equal pleasure”. There is no need to keep a scorecard of sexual acts but we all know when our partner has woken us up to oral sex or been the major pleasure recipient in a quickie, the last thing you want is for your partner to feel like they are being taken sexually for granted.

Alright, now for some basic anatomy… to be honest I wasn’t sure how basic I was going to get but I figured better be safe than sorry. One of my life motto’s is “The only thing I want more than my own orgasms is for other people to have orgasms” and it would be sad if a basic anatomy lesson prevented that. So, oral sex is mostly focused on the clitoris either directly or indirectly. As you can see in the picture below the actual clitoris is way, way, way more than the small glans above the vaginal, it is a web of nerves that extends all over the pelvic region. The “glans clitoris” is important and a major pleasure producing spot for most women but it is the tip of the pleasure iceberg for your partner, the nerves underneath the skin can (and should) be stimulated as well. Remember though, everyone is build differently and some woman are tip sensitive, some g-spot sensitive, some prefer light thrusting, some fast, some hard, some need to concentrate hard to orgasm, and for some it comes with little focus. All sex takes practice to get great and hopefully the following info will help you along the way.

Clitoris_anatomy_labeled-en

Warm Up: It is pretty unlikely that sex is going to begin with oral. In general, women need more warming up to be ready to receive oral. There is rarely a rush, so take your time. Start with kissing, touching, fondling. I find some over the clothes genital rubbing can really get things going, and trust me, it pays off in the end. To be blunt, oral sex can often take a lot of time and energy, the more you put into foreplay the easier giving your partner pleasure will be in the future. So, instead of rushing to the mouth banging take some time and treat each article of clothing as a new experience, every inch of new flesh can be a new place to explore with all your sense while you keep rubbing and playing with her body below the clothes. As a guy I know it feels good when I am still wearing boxers or shorts and I am being rubbed, in my experience that pleasure is similar for women.

Oral Sex: When it is time to begin your partner will likely be pretty moist. The actual level of fluid can vary significantly depending on your partner but hopefully if it is on either extreme (generally really dry or generally really wet) your partner will communicate this ahead of time. Often the vaginal folds will keep moisture in so it may take some play with your fingers to get to the vaginal opening. Use the natural fluid to make rubbing and touch less abrasive… just as it feels better to get a handjob with lube it feels better for the woman to have some moisture when playing with the clit. Once you begin playing you should use your hands/fingers and your mouth to provide a multiple stimulation.

Mouth/Tongue: For me the mouth is used primarily for clitoral stimulation but it starts as the primary tool. Kissing and licking along the inner thigh before you actually start with the vagina and clit can help build up pleasure through a bit of teasing. Again, there is no rush. Long, slow kisses from the bottom of the vaginal opening to the clit can be great stimulation. Once things are going the tongue focuses more on the clit itself by hardening and rubbing against it horizontally and vertically. A decent trick is to use your mouth to “draw” each letter of the alphabet, this provides seemingly random stimulation but keeps things going. If you find your tongue gets tired fairly quickly you can exercise that muscle by daily moving your tongue horizontally 100 times and vertically 100 times. Some partners may also enjoy it if you press your lips down around the clit and hum, causing vibrations to ripple throughout the area.

Primary Hand: To add stimulation your primary hand can put fingers inside the vagina. The amount of fingers varies depending on the woman but having it palm up and making a “come here” motion with your fingers can often stimulate the g-spot. Playing around with the locations, speed, and pressure can help you figure out what your partner likes. This stimulates the internal nerves of the clit and it would be a shame to ignore all those pleasure spots.

Secondary Hand: Don’t let your non-primary hand go to waste. You can use your secondary hand to massage your partners legs, caress along her skin, grab her butt, or relieve your primary hand when your fingers get tired (be sure to make sure they are wet though through quickly sucking on them yourself or using your partner’s fluid). A great use I’ve found for your secondary  hand is to massage or place pressure on the pubic mound or near the hip/leg joint. This can sandwich the clitoral nerves between your fingers inside the vagina and the skin on the outside. Play with her body, feel things out, and see what she likes.

Communication: In the end, communication is what it comes down to. Pay attention to her body and make adjustments as needed. Also, recognize that communication can sometimes be difficult and body signals can vary significantly. I’ve had partners that get incredibly quiet and still when they are close to having an orgasm and I’ve had partners that start to get loud and buck their hips or grind into my face. Once you know the signs it gets much easier. Not everyone (including me) is comfortable with a lot of verbal instructions, particularly during intercourse. It can be helpful to develop non-verbal signs with your partner (for example: one hand lightly pulling of my hair means speed up the tongue, two hands lightly pulling my hair means slow down, etc). Non-verbal instructions can start to become very natural and oftentimes become unnecessary, but they do offer a way to enjoy the pleasure that comes with knowing and being in control of the act (like with masturbation) and the spontaneity and freedom that comes from a partner doing the “work”.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope this helped somebody, if nothing else it was fun for me to write. Happy orgasms everybody!

 

Couples Therapy

I have often talked about my advocacy for using MDMA* as a therapeutic assist for individuals facing PTSD, as well as a way for romantic couples to keep communication open and maintain a strong love for each other. A while back my partner and I got to experience something else when we had a night “rolling” with another couple who are our friends. I found this experience to be incredibly positive and I hope to relive it again with that couple and others that we know.

There is a false stereotype that MDMA is some sort of “sex drug”. In reality, it opens doors of communication and fosters love and trust between those involved. Due to the nature of the relationship of all involved the only sexual contact occurred between significant others and did so in a fairly private manner. Instead, the whole experience was a lot of discussions about love, life, relationships, and how much we appreciated each other. We  all got to discuss how we face the problems in our lives and what we hope for in the future. We were also able to find out how another couple deals with difficulties in relationship types (both being kind of mixed poly/mono couples). People who love each other should be free to discuss anything openly, but sadly social barriers and our past often prevent that. MDMA helps open that up.

Moving forward I certainly hope we have more experiences like this. With all things pre-intoxicated discussions are key. While I may be comfortable with things like being naked in front of friends, giving/receiving massages, having sex while others are in the room, or even sexual intimacy with others it is important to get these things on the table beforehand when everyone is completely sober… if something comes up of interest during a roll you can always discuss it the next day and save it for another time. It is better to guarantee enthusiastic consent and interest in an activity than risk harming a person or relationship. Basically, err on the side of the most conservative member of the group.

Unfortunately, I am not as outspoken in person with individuals as I am when writing about things as broad issues, so though I may be interested in something I often remain quiet. I’m working on this, and thinking there might be a better way. I’ve seen lists of sexual interests that couples can exchange where they rate things like “I’d love to do that – Maybe under the right circumstances – No way in hell” and I’m sure that could be adapted for couples therapy. Even if new boundaries aren’t pushed, enjoying a loving and intimate home environment while rolling is still one of my favorite things to do, and it sure as hell is a lot safer and cheaper than alcohol.

*Unfortunately we live in a place where men with guns are willing to throw peaceful adults in cages if they possess MDMA. Due to Prohibition the quality of MDMA can be compromised and can become unsafe. Please, please, please, always purchase from a trusted source, use a test kit to ensure quality, stay hydrated, and look out for each other. Rolling is amazing and can be a near spiritual experience, but it isn’t worth taking unnecessary fatal risks.  Be Safe.

30 Days to a Better Man – Day 1: Define Your Core Values

When I read on Facebook last week that a friend of mine decided to do the Art of Manliness 30 Days to a Better Man I was intrigued, as I often am by all things.I was so intrigued in fact that I decided to do it as well. My friend encouraged this and asked if I would like to share my thoughts with him as things progress and to offer support for each other, that seemed awesome so I decided to also put it into a blog. I’m not sure if this will be a daily thing or not due to my busy schedule but I am certainly going to try.

I guess I should mention why I found this interesting. As a feminist I seem to have a knee-jerk reaction against all things masculine, but this seems like an incomplete way to live life. There should be balance in all things, yin and yang, night and day, feminine and masculine. In order to understand and experience all things that humankind has to offer I feel the need to dive into new scenarios and viewpoints. I refused to take the government, religion, and societies views on life as gospel, I shouldn’t also take how I perceive feminist views on masculinity as gospel either, instead I will dive into the art of manliness and see if I can learn something.

This particular friend of mine makes the perfect companion for this adventure. In many ways he and I seem to be very different people. He is clean shaven, clean cut, classically attractive, wears fine suits, has dated an international model, professional, and articulate… he is the reincarnation of Frank Sinatra, including the voice (maybe) and the blue eyes (maybe). I, on the other hand, am bearded, cut my own hair, look like a lumberjack, have not put on a tie since 2012, have a partner who was lovingly described as a woodland princess, am a hippie burner, and am kind of a wreck when talking to anyone. I’m not trying to say that my life is better than his or anything, just highlighting that he and I are different (though we both love good booze and motherfucking liberty). In a way I feel like my venture into “manliness” is an exploration of his world.

Day 1: Define Your Core Values —-

When I saw this was the first day I was not really surprised but I didn’t think it would be much of a challenge. I’m 31 years old, I grew up on the west coast, went to college in the south, worked in the mid-Atlantic, had a threesome in the northeast, and rode my bicycle across the country. I have also served as an infantryman in the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, work in corporate America, and had a job since I was 12. Basically, I figured I was pretty in touch with my core values. Before I started I decided my core values were “individuality”, “love”, and “freedom”. I wasn’t sure if these are the things that the exercise would point out but I was shocked when I printed this days work and saw it was six full pages. How in the world could it take me six pages to figure out what I value?

As I read through the instructions I found a passage (below) that really stuck out to me. It really reminded me of some of the stuff I am reading in “Steering By Starlight”, this day seemed to really be trying to help me find my North Star and find the path to the my own happiness and potential. It also reminded me of the often conflicting Army Core Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage – LeaDeRSHIP) and how different it was to search for my own values instead of having them drilled into my head during Basic Training.

Defining our values gives us purpose. When you don’t know or you haven’t clearly defined your values, you end up drifting along in life. Instead of basing your decisions on an internal compass, you make choices based on circumstances and social pressures. You end up trying to fulfill other people’s expectations instead of your own. And before you know it, life has passed you by and you haven’t even started to live. Trying to be someone else and living without core values is down right exhausting and leaves you feeling empty and shiftless. Conversely, living a life in line with your core values brings purpose, direction, happiness, and wholeness.

So, per the instructions I spent some peaceful time thinking about my values. I ran through different scenarios and tried to focus on how I felt when exercising those values. I whittled it down to the following five. I wasn’t instructed to share them here but since I share pretty much everything with y’all I feel no need to censor myself now. So, my five values are:

  • Peace: The silence of internal and external conflict. The former may be impossible to achieve as a human but the latter is possible in most cases.
  • Intimacy: Human contact, love, touch, and affection. This includes friendship, sex, love, partnerships, cuddle puddles, and all combinations of expression love for one another.
  • Exploration: The freedom to see how far and wide I can go in this world. This is internal and external exploration… reading, writing, travelling, learning
  • Accomplishment: The sense that I have pursued something and truly did all I could. This may not mean I hit the goals I mentally focused on but I can rest comfortably knowing I did my best.
  • Variety: New experiences that challenge my mind, body, spirit, and expectations. This is my seemingly endless thirst to try everything myself to see if I like it or not.

I Cannot Live Without Books…

I’m pretty sure the title for this post was a Thomas Jefferson quote. To be honest, I mostly remember it from playing Civilization and that quote would come on when you build a library or something… man that game was great. Anyway, I just got a Kindle and it has kind of revolutionized my life. I read a fair amount due to my 90ish minute commute each way on public transportation. I also see some weird value in learning what other people like to read. So, I decided to ask 18 of my Facebook “friends” what their favorite book is and what book they think everyone should read. These friends run a wide range from people I’ve known for decades to mostly Facebook “friends” but they are all people who I respect and would love to know more about… basically they are 18 people that I’d love to have in my life forever in some way or another. Ideally we would all live in a big communal house together in Colorado, grow weed, and sell high-end edibles while raising a bunch of cool dogs and maybe a human child or three. Most of them kept to just two books but some of my friends can’t be limited in such a way… another sign they are fucking rad.

To me, reading someone’s favorite book gives you a glimpse into their soul. The list of books below are what my friends answers were and I hope to read my way through them in the next year or so. Oh, and I also put down Stephen King’s and Jay-Z’s favorite two books because they are awesome. (Unrelated: I can’f find my Kindle… I swear it was in my office yesterday. Argh.) In no particular order (and missing a few because some of my friends apparently work doing the day)…

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
  • Conte of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (read previously)
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (currently reading actually)
  • Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
  • Why Do Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa
  • Girls Guide to Taking Over the World by Karen Green
  • Naked by David Sedaris
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Crucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson
  • Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant
  • The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
  • The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg (read previously)
  • Nature of Order by Christopher Alexander
  • Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin
  • Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenburg and Arun Gandhi
  • Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
  • Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • A Happy Death by Albert Camus
  • Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (read previously)
  • The Good Life by Hackatt Publishing
  • The Golden Argosy edited by Van H. Cartmell and Charles Grayson
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  • The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
  • The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris
  • On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walsh
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • House of Leaves by Mark Daielewski
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  • Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
  • Extras by Scott Westerfield
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (previously read)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (previously read)
  • Steering By Starlight by Martha Beck

Sexy Books

Unfortunately I probably won’t have a lot of time to blog this week. My boss is out of town, our accountant just pushed another baby out, and my office spouse had some surgery that involves her holding an ice pack to her groin for the next few days. Basically, I am the low man in the office but somehow I am in charge of this shit. There is a 50% chance I will accidentally burn the building to the ground… so yeah, I won’t have a lot of blog time.

So, instead of my regular ramblings I thought I would just list some awesome books about sex that my lovely follower might be interested in. As you probably know the subject of sex (and the taboo surrounding it) fascinates me, particularly with the increase of open relationships and polyamory that technology has allowed. I don’t really have an abnormal sex drive or anything, I just find the subject fascinating and enjoy studying it. And without further ado… here are my favorite sexy books (with my simplistic summaries):

Sex At Dawn: Definitely the most sciency of the books. The authors work against the parental investment theory that encourages human pair-bonding and monogamy. They use research into bonobos (our evolutionary cousins) and remaining hunter/gatherer tribes to argue humans are much more polyamorous than we are raised to believe. There is societal pressure for monogamy that is based more on those in power trying to control sex, but this monogamous pull may not be “natural”.

The Ethical Slut: This is the least sciency book in the series and still one I recommend EVERYONE read (seriously, I will buy you a copy and ship it to you… fucking read it). It discusses what sexually open people are and some advice for dealing with the struggles polyamorous and open relationships can bring. The authors are often funny, sometimes crass, but always entertaining. Read. This. Book.

What Do Women Want? This book is a middle ground between objective science and subjective stories. It is probably my favorite out of all the books due to it’s accessibility and tone. The author argues that the traditional story of women wanting a “one and only” lifelong mate does not hold up to scientific inquiry and it is dangerous to tell women there is something wrong with them if they desire sexual variety. The author discusses multiple studies on humans and our mammalian relatives, as well as interviews researchers and women who have cheated, desired to cheat, seek open relationships, and practice polyamory.

American Savage: This is kind of a sex book… it is a collection of essays by sex and relationship advice columnist Dan Savage. Just like his podcast it is funny but honest and there are no taboo subjects. This work is particularly personal for Savage and he discusses his marriage, raising a straight child, growing up in a Catholic home, etc. If you don’t listen to his podcast or read his column you should do that right now.

Bonus – The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers: I’m still reading this so I won’t recommend it strongly yet but so far I enjoy it. It is fascinating to me how common some form of extra-spousal relations happen in the middle class and how varied there are. Very few practitioners of “the lifestyle” participate in orgys, instead most of them just enjoy being in an erotic situation where some sort of voyeurism and exhibitionism is the norm. Some will have multiple sex partners but the lifestyle is more about being open, honest, and participating in something that helps prevent confusion, harm, and secrecy. So far I really like it. This is very similar to my personal experience in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man and intimate experiences with friends… it isn’t about sex, it is about deep honest connections where there is no taboo conversation.