Thank You, Friends

This post is a thank you to my friends who are always honest with me, to my friends that don’t sugar coat things or ask me to “have faith” or say things like “things will work out”. These friends encourage me to take action and give me actionable steps to get me towards the life I want, even if it means that I will have a painful period ahead.

When I am going through a rough time, these are the friends I turn to. They will tell me the truth, which is the most valuable things. There have been times in my life when I was unhappy with my life and they provided wisdom and guidance. If I was unhappy with my finances they pointed out that I didn’t really need a Playstation, a smartphone, or a car. If I embraced minimalism, even for just a little while, I could sell the things I don’t need and lower my bills to the point where I am stable. Then, if I desired, I could reacquire things (hopefully used to be fiscally responsible) that I wanted. For me, that desire never came though.

These are the friends that I could talk to about my relationship and they would be frank and honest. They tell me when the person I’m engaged to isn’t treating me right, they point out the things that I was blind to because I was too close to the situation. They also pointed out when the person I was dating wasn’t long term compatible, no matter how much we loved each other that love wasn’t enough. If we wanted different things out of life we needed to separate and be true to ourselves, and sooner rather than later.

These friends will hear me when I say what I want to experience and point out flaws in my plans or places to improve. When I wanted to get more involved in kink and open relationships, when I wanted casual sex, they pointed out that I needed to be more social and that I needed to take my health seriously. I was very unhealthy at the time and as I took care of myself I found like-minded people to engage in bedroom activities with.

It is even better when they approach me without prompt. When they see something in my life that I could improve… my finances, my relationships, my mind, my body… and say something before I come to them. They help head problems off at the pass and keep me on the right track.

Inevitably, because of this honesty, they are the ones I trust when they give me encouragement. I’ve heard “you should write a book” dozens of times while on the bike ride, but that means nothing… those people rarely know me or what I want. But when one of these friends tell me that they love my writing and wish I blogged more or wrote a book, I listen. They have earned relationship capital and I know they wouldn’t say that without believing it.

We all need these people in our lives, the ones that will give it to us straight. The ones that realize a friendship without the ability to be completely honest with someone isn’t really a friendship, it is an acquaintance. If a friendship dies because one person is honest, then that friendship wasn’t authentic.

These people are our ka-tet, siblings, soulmates, true friends. I hope that there are others who I can give in this way that I have received. I want to be someone who people know will speak the truth without fluff. We have so much power in this world and we minimize our own strength if we wait for a white knight to save us or expect the universe to just fall into place. Action is what improves our lives, stagnation is death. We must work with what we have to make our lives better and forget the past that got us where we are… and hopefully we have a few true friends by our side to steer us straight.

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OMGYes

I recently purchased season 1 of OMGYes and I couldn’t be happier with it. It was definitely money well spent and I wanted to write a quick summary and review of the product. This is clearly from the perspective of someone who does not have a clitoris, labia, vulva, or vagina, but I do enjoy being sexually active with people who have those body parts and I want to give them as much pleasure as possible. I am sure that people with those body parts will also get a lot of value out of this product (at least one friend of mine says she is glad she purchased it, I know I would get a lot out of a similar set of videos for people with a penis, testicles, and a prostate. Variety is the spice of life and we can learn a lot from each other in regard to giving ourselves and others pleasure. Some of my favorite moments from past threesomes and group situations was seeing how other people enjoy their bodies in a way that is different than me.

So, what do you get for the limited time pricing of $29? A whole lot of information and inspiration.

Season 1 is divided into 12 sections that you can navigate between as you see fit. Within each section there are video interviews with individuals about the subject, data collected about the subject from extensive surveys, charts and graphs to visualize the subject matter, videos that show individuals demonstrating the techniques in a informative way (it is not particularly erotic but you will see clitoris, labia, and vulvas of the participants), interactive “games” to practice the techniques, and recommendations on how to bring it into the bedroom. For example, you can check out some of the section on “Edging” for free here, the actual paid section has a lot more information.

The sections don’t only cover physical techniques for bringing pleasure. Also included are incredibly important subjects like framing the experience to reduce anxiety and increase pleasure, giving and receiving feedback, and multiple orgasms. I really do think there is something for everyone in this and it could be beneficial for new partners, established partners who would like to try some new things, and unpartnered people who want to maximize the pleasure they give and receive. I know I am excited to try this out on any willing partners I can find, and hopefully season 2 will be just as awesome.

 

Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies

As is often the case on road trips and long flights I was able to get some good reading and writing done… maybe I need to find a way to do this more. Anyway, I finished reading “Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head?” by Brett Kahr. This 400-page book is the culmination of a multi-year study conducted primarily in the UK (though there are some US participants) about people’s sexual fantasies. These fantasies are what goes through a person’s head during masturbation and sex with a partner. The research was conducted through online surveys completed by over 23,000 people and 122 intensive face-to-face interviews with volunteers. It appears to be the most comprehensive attempt to catalog and interpret human sexual fantasies that anyone has ever done.

While I found the intentions of the study and premise of the book fascinating my feelings towards the book are bitter-sweet. As a Freudian psychotherapist Kahr spent much of his time focusing, analyzing, and, in my opinion, unjustifiably fishing or hoping for childhood trauma to explain sexual fantasies that people had. He mentions alternative approaches like evolutionary psychology only twice and only in passing. I understand that he is a Freudian but if his attempt was to objectively or comprehensively attempt to look into sexual fantasies and their foundation (if one exists) he should have brought in some alternative view points. To him humans seem to be born as a blank slate with no genetic predispositions or tendencies in place from evolution.

Kahr often at times come off as a bit judgemental and sex-negative, and even a bit LGBTphobic. He focuses several times on homosexuality possibly being linked to childhood trauma and child rearing but little acknowledgement of a biological aspect. He also seems to see all cross-dressers as “transvestites”. It also seemed like a negative judgement when he penned the term “intra-marital affair” to describe thinking about someone other than your spouse, as if thinking of another is a form of cheating. Some may agree that fantasies are cheating (but if they really are based in trauma or evolution it is cheating we have little to no control over) not everyone does and I think it weakens the betrayal of true affairs if we attach that phrase to a passing thought during masturbation.

Clearly, I have some problems with Kahr’s approach, but I want to give him some benefit of the doubt, it is possible that there is a generational gap and cultural one between he and I. He is British and a bit older than I, while Americans and our friends across the pond are similar in many ways I can’t help but wonder if the stereotypes about prudish non-sexual Brits might have some truth to it. It has also been almost a decade since this project started and a lot has changed in sexual research and views on fantasies in the last 10 years, particularly with the exponential growth of internet access and the pornography that comes with it.

There were also some wonderful things within the book though, and I actually very highly recommend it. Kahr’s analysis later in the book provides a lot of great information and provides some support to his hypothesis in some of the cases. There clearly can be a trauma at the foundation of sexual fantasies, and many of these trauma fantasies are causing great distress and harm to the individuals. In cases where people can’t live the lives they want or have the relationships they desire it is a problem, such as the case of “Julius” who has only been able to masturbate to mental images of a girl who tormented him in his adolescence and he has not had a long-term relationship in nearly 50 years.

I would have loved to see more research and questions about the ramifications of opening up about your fantasies to your significant others. Kahr mentions a few in one chapter but for the most part glosses over any potential benefits and instead focuses on trauma and harm. In my experience being open and honest with your partner about desires and what goes on in your head can have a bonding effect and open the door for new real life experiences. If we decide to enter into a partnership something as intimate and important as sex should not be a taboo subject. Much of the negative aspects seem to come from our social stigmas against sexuality as much as childhood events. As a culture if we can admit that sex is a healthy and enjoyable part of the human experience we can reduce the pain, suffering, and shame that seems to accompany so many fantasies.

Kahr does admit that this is just a beginning, and like a good scientist he hopes others will dive into the data, conduct their own studies, and come up with alternative hypothesis. I would love to see a larger sample size of humans from more diverse backgrounds. What is true for Brits (and in this case a few Americans) may not be true for Australians, Italians, Russians, Kenyans, Colombians, Thai, Egyptians, etc. The more information the better and it looks like this is a field ripe for research and exploration.

I definitely recommend this book for many different people. If you just have an interest in sexuality there is a lot to love about this book, as well if you are interested in seeing how a Freudian interprets things, though I would recommend skipping or skimming Section II if you get bored with it. You can only read poorly written erotica for pages and pages for so long before it becomes a blur. It is also a good resource for people who have anxiety about what goes on in their own heads. It will become quickly clear that “normal” fantasies don’t exist, and because of that there is really nothing that is “weird” or “abnormal”. Some people don’t fantasize at all, some think only about their spouse, some focus more on feelings while others have elaborate situations they play in their head, some people think of college professors, siblings, strangers, movie stars, and inanimate objects. Some people like to be raped, piss on people while they are shitting, or change genders. Some like to be whipped while others like to be bought a nice romantic dinner followed by a massage and some cunnilingus. The limits to human sexual fantasies are only restricted by the combined imagination of billions of people.

5 Discussions For Intimate Moments

My partner and I have gone to a local BDSM club a couple of times now to enjoy cheap drinks, a drag king show, and just the general sexually charged atmosphere. This particular club has several play rooms filled with equipment that people are free to use if they wish. I’ve never actually seen anyone having sex (I don’t even know if that is allowed to be honest) but I have seen several scenes where people are being flogged, whipped, tied up, and in various other kinky situations. While the club and situations are awesome they themselves actually attract a fairly niche audience, what isn’t unique is the rules that are announced and plastered all over the venue. Kinksters are very good at communicating and this particular venue has five rules for scenes that I think should be explicitly discussed for all intimate sessions whether they are kinky, vanilla, monogamous, swingers, polyamorous, orgies, or whatever.

Discussion 1: What are you into?
Sadly most people do not openly discuss with their partner(s) what they are into. This can be anything from something you know works for you or can be something you are just curious about. If you are comfortable enough to put your penis in someone, rub on or against someone sexually, or have a penis placed inside of you then you should be comfortable enough to talk about what you enjoy first. If you can’t talk about what you like and enjoy the experience then what is the point?

Discussion 2: What don’t you like?
Which brings us to the next discussion, what don’t you like? This can be full on “hell no I would never allow that to happen” to “hmm, maybe under the right circumstances”. Having this discussion helps remove any type of confusion that can happen in the middle of fun. Sometimes body language can be misinterpreted but if hard no’s are discussed ahead of time it can prevent discomfort and confusion.

Discussion 3: Are there any health issues?
It may not be the most comfortable subject but health issues should be discussed in any intimate environment. This can be everything from HIV status to what form of barrier or birth control is going to used. The last thing anyone would want to happen is one person to think condoms are going to be used and the other person has a latex allergy that wasn’t discussed ahead of time. It is much better to be aware and prepare for health issues before the clothes come off.

Discussion 4: Safe Words.
Sometimes the action needs to slow down or stop, even during vanilla relationships. Having key words or signals that can work to signal to your partner is incredibly important. Red (stop everything) and Yellow (slow it down a bit) are commonly used in kink play. Some people also prefer words like “banana” that can be a little funny and really can’t be confused with any other word. If you are in a situation where you can’t talk for some reason it is important to develop a non-verbal signal, like holding onto an item that you drop if things need to stop.

Discussion 5: Aftercare.
This is probably the least discussed but it is incredibly important to prevent post-coital discomfort or confusion. Some people need cuddling while some need to be alone. We all operate differently and establishing aftercare expectations allows everyone to know what is coming… which allows for increased comfort between partners and better future experiences.

So, I hope that no matter what type of relationships you have you are open and communicate your needs from start to finish. Have fun out there everyone! 🙂

Poly/Mono Relationships

Yesterday I had planned on writing a post about the role patience has played in my poly life but that has changed. In preparation for that post I did my normal half-ass Google search of relevant topics and came upon an article called “I’m monogamous, and I’ve fallen for someone who’s polyamorous!”… and man, it is fantastic. If you have even the remotest interest in poly relationships I highly recommend you check it out. I wish I would have read it months ago. My partner wishes she had access to it months ago. Many of my dear friends loved it as well. Seriously… read it now.

 

 

Well, now that you may or may not have read that article I want to tell you about the early stages of my current relationship. I identify as polyamorous but my partner does not. She is much more monogamous than me and that caused a lot of tension in the early part of our relationship and that is mostly my fault.

When I first “discovered” polyamory I was thrilled. For years I had been operating under three rules of what I called “responsible non-monogamy”. I’d tried monogamy and it felt wrong. I felt like something was seriously wrong with me so instead of dating anyone I just built friendships and had sex with those who knew my three rules. It wasn’t completely satisfying but it felt closer to natural than closed monogamy did. So, when I stumbled across the word and concept of polyamory I was like a kid in a candy shop… and in many ways I made myself sick by diving in too quickly.

I had found a rational justification for how I felt and instead of recognizing that some people are actually geared towards monogamy I tried to lay out arguments convincing my two partners that they shouldn’t ever feel jealousy, anger, or frustration and that their concerns about limited time and resources were unfounded. I thought I could have it all and I saw everyone else as being wrong for not seeing things my way (as a libertarian I’ve made similar mistakes when trying to share that philosophy). I was wrong though… and quite frankly, I was a jackass and I almost lost my amazing partner.

After several rough months filled with arguments, disagreement, frustrations, and a break up I learned my lesson and came to many of the same conclusions as the author of the article. Communication is absolutely necessary for any relationship, especially polyamory, but so is patience and compromise. As Cathy from “Sex and the State” said on my Facebook wall, “If you want absolute freedom be single. If you are willing to do some compromising then be in a relationship.” Voluntarily giving up some of your freedom and allowing another human some control over your life is hard for anyone, particularly libertarian anarchists. That level of vulnerability is necessary though for all relationships to be healthy. I still don’t believe in sacrificing yourself for another or pretending to be something you aren’t, but compromise is necessary and in the end satisfying because as trust and love is built more opportunities present itself. As Pervertically Virtuous put it:

“I have agreed to let him slowly grow into my level of openness because he’s the closest to my ideal partner I’ve ever met, and he’s shown willingness to venture out beyond his comfort zone. So I thought he deserves that chance.

Although my freedom is somewhat curtailed, I have plenty of maneuvering space. Enough so, that the other benefits of being in this relationship outweigh the costs of not having complete, absolute freedom.”

And now, that is what I have in my amazing partner. I’m glad she isn’t 100% in line with me because that forces me to challenge myself and understand others. She is a constant support of challenge, support, friendship, love, and openness…. and she is flexible, open to new things, curious, and trusts me. We have established boundaries, we discuss our desires, and we have found a way to make things work. I’m sure I will make mistakes again and our relationship differences will continue to be the subject of much discussion, debate, and compromise, but we are moving forward with baby-steps and patience on all sides. I truly couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome.

11th Sex Suggestion

Yesterday I posted my thoughts on a recent “Sex Commandments” ad by Max Arousal. Sex was on my mind this morning when I woke up and I realized I there was one more suggestion that I’d like to add to my list.

11a. Seek improvement. No matter how much you love someone your sex life will eventually get pretty boring (or non-existent) over time. Seeking advice and information from others can be hugely beneficial. Whether it is columnist Dan Savage, YouTube star Laci Green, or reading books like Sex At Dawn or The Ethical Slut, increasing your knowledge about sex and applying that to your relationship can help keep the spice.

11b. Talk to your partner(s) about what you are learning. In high school I heard the best advice for sex. Now, I wasn’t the one having sex. Conservative geeks who play Star Trek: TNG CCG, wear dc Talk t-shirts, and hang out in the drama department don’t get laid much in high school. I was also saving myself for marriage at the time so I wasn’t exactly pursuing it. No, the lesson I heard was from other students talking in my German class, I don’t remember who they were but it was irrelevant. The conversation went something like this…

  • Student One: “My girlfriend and I are getting close to sex but we can’t seem to be able to discuss it”
  • Student Two: “Really? How do you know you are ready for sex then?”
  • Student One: “I don’t know. We are just heading that way and it seems inevitable”
  • Student Two: “Talk to her about it. If you can’t discuss your boundaries you aren’t ready for sex”

I think student two is correct. Once you know your desires you need to be comfortable communicating them.

“Un-Memorizing the ‘Silence is Sexy’ Date Script” – Some Thoughts

One of the things I love about Facebook is it has allowed a diverse group of people to stay more intimately in my life than would otherwise be possible. People who I’ve met only superficially are able to passively share their interests and passions with me and from those interests valuable conversations can form. Yesterday this article was posted by someone who I have only met once or twice (in fact, I think I met her at a party to help send her to Burning Man in 2010 but I was embarrassingly drunk and hope she doesn’t really remember that). The article was then posted today by someone who I have a much stronger internet relationship with than I ever had with her in real life.

Well, I posted that article today after reading it and for once didn’t really know what I thought. I am pleased that a conversation developed on my wall among my diverse network and with it came links and resources for those interested in what was being discussed (it truly is a wonderful time to be alive). Anyway, here are some of the thoughts from my perspective. I am not far enough removed from my ego to clearly see this from another person’s perspective but maybe some day.

As an introvert it has always been a nerve-racking experience to navigate intimate interactions. I like explicit consent in all things but much of society tells us that men  need to be the aggressor and try to interpret puzzling (to me) signals that women give off. To be honest, I have no idea if eye-contact and a smile is really an invitation to say hi… or if a touch on the arm is flirting or something else… I already suck at it and the INTJ part of me fears making someone else uncomfortable way more than my own rejection. I am very comfortable alone and don’t mind going home from a bar or party by myself.

The internet has provided me with a way around that though. I can passively share my thoughts online which will attract those people who might be interested in similar things. While I don’t use my blog and FB to call out specific people, when I post polyamorous views, comfort with BDSM, and a sex-positive outlook it opens up dialogue between me and other people  (though bangwithfriends is still an awesome concept in my mind). But, in some ways I kind of view this as a cop out.

I still don’t approach women often or initiate any type of relationship. I often use my online openness as an excuse to be passive in real life by telling myself “they must not be interested or else they would say something”. There are still signals to navigate and games to play, but this article provide me with some good dialogue once intimacy has started and has also started online conversations around the issue of pressure placed on women to be the gatekeepers of sex and the social norm of men pushing the boundaries.

I love the idea of very explicit consent and I am glad these things are being talked about. I think more women would be open to expressing their sexuality if they knew that they wouldn’t be harshly judged by their partner(s) or friends. In the same vein, men (or at least I) would be more likely to approach women if we didn’t feel like every expression of interest was a huge inconvenience or would be interpreted as an attempt to use and abuse. Basically, I don’t want women to interpret my attraction or interest in intimacy as pressure or something chauvinistic.

I certainly would love it if we could send clear and concise signals in all situations. It would be absolutely fantastic to have a woman who was attracted to me to send me a FB message like “hey, you’re cute and I’d like to cuddle and kiss for a bit at some point” (or a more kinky couple to come up and say “hey, you and you’re girlfriend are cute, how about you two curl up with us and see how things go”) and know that all actions would be communicated clearly. As was pointed out by my friend, people into kink (particularly BDSM and polys) do have a more established culture of explicit consent and open communication, I can only hope that the internet age will usher this in for all intimate relationships because sex and love is awesome when all parties are open and satisfied.