Do you talk about your birth control?

When I was fifteen or so I got my first birth control prescription. A set of hormonal pills that set my cycle on cruise control for the next ten years. I was prescribed Loestrin 24 FE, a name that still rolls off my tongue even though I haven’t been taking it for the last six months.

I had gone in to get my prescription renewal and they assured me that although I would be unable to get Loestrin anymore, Junel was essentially the same thing. I looked at her like she was trying to convince me that Pepsi could actually taste just the same as Coke if I just pretended. Reluctantly, I left with my bag stuffed with hormones anyways.

While I haven’t experienced any serious negative side effects using Junel, it’s been a huge pain in the ass having to go seven days without any active pills. Previously I was taking 24 active pills, now I’m only taking 21. Though Loestrin isn’t being manufactured anymore, it looks like there is a new pill called Minastrin 24 FE that is more similar to what I used to take. My current plan of attack is to look into this brand, and see how affordable and accessible it would be to me.

I have never experienced being dissatisfied with birth control until now, even though I am only mildly discontent. It reignited the discussion of birth control for me, personally, as I considered if it might be time to look into other options. I even considered the idea of getting an IUD. Though expensive upfront (and painful, I’ve heard) the IUD can last for five years and requires no real effort on your part once its in. It’s a great option if you forget your pill – something I’ve never had any issues with.

I don’t think that you should get your birth control recommendation from the internet. As with any other medication, your doctor should advise you based on your wants, needs, and health history what the best option is for you. But educating yourself on what type of birth control you think you would like, and what you’d like your birth control to do for you, can be a big help in taking ownership of your sexuality.

Are you on any kind of birth control? Does it do what you want it to do? 

Note: I have a few questions in my queue about birth control that will be answered within the week. If you too have a question about birth control that you’d like to ask, please hit ask advice at the top and I’ll answer it on my blog.

How to express your desire for d/s?

In a previous relationship I was able to establish a long desired D/s sexual partnership. That partnership is over and I still have a strong desire to fill that role in my sexual relationships (not necessarily monogamously) but that can be a tough thing to breech while meeting dates at coffee shops etc and I would never want to ask someone to do something they weren’t excited about exploring. I want them to want it as much as I do, but I’m tired of being kink-less. Are there any local scenes in Portland I could try and connect with to make my search for compatible partners easier?

In my experience, a lot of people are interested in dominance and submission. It might be that I have a nasty habit of asking people about their sexual preferences at happy hour, but most of the people I know seem either interested or indifferent about d/s. Perhaps the people you know are, too? It can be intimidating to feel out a new connection to see if you’re on the same page sexually, but it’s something that is important to master so you can get the kind of play that you’re interested in.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to bring up your sexual preferences early on in a new relationship, or even on a first or second date. If this is important criteria for you, make it so. When I was using OkCupid I would typically talk with someone for about a week before deciding if I wanted to meet them or not. In that time I would feel out what kinds of things they liked sexually and whether or not they were sexually open. How they responded to those questions made a big difference to me on whether or not I would meet them in person. Every so often someone appeared open but not directly interested in something that I was interested in. Those kinds of relationships (if you have good chemistry with the person) can be worth the risk, as sometimes someone just needs to be introduced to new play to see if they like it or not.

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If you don’t feel comfortable asking someone those questions over the internet, bring it up in person. What kinds of things do you like to do in bed? Would you consider yourself kinky? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in bed? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever wanted to do in bed? Spring those questions on a first date, you know, if you feel the chemistry. Why not weed out the folks who you think won’t be up to your kind of kink?

I am not sure how deeply you want to get into d/s. Are you looking for more lifestyle play? Wearing a collar in public? Slave and master? The more specific your play gets the more people might be weeded out as uninterested. That said, a lot of people are MORE THAN willing to cater to your sexual desires if you are open enough to tell them what they are.

If you want to dig deeper, try fetlife. It’s a community website where you can set your location and meet others with your kinks. Experiences may vary. The only Portland specific experience that I could recommend is Club Sesso. It’s expensive for men, mid-range for couples, and inexpensive for single ladies. They offer free tours.

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I have never been on Twisted night, but I hear that this event is quite fun, and sounds up your alley.

http://www.twistedpartyportland.com

Happy searching!

A Question of Polyamory

This is going to be an open ended post, as I am primarily looking for comments from readers. I’d love to hear opinions from people who are unfamiliar with polyamory, and from those who consider themselves polyamorous.

Is polyamory something you can become or is it something you are?

Do you view polyamory as an orientation – a part of yourself that cannot be changed? Or do you view polyamory as a structure for relationships, one that can be taken on by anyone?

Infidelity and The Powerful Juxtaposition

A big thank you to my guest blogger for emailing with me about his story. I have pulled some portions of his response into quotations that I felt were particularly relevant. It’s my hope that we are able to shine a light on why good intentioned people do such hurtful things. This is a story I’ve heard before, and maybe you’ve heard it too. How can we learn from stories like this to prevent ourselves, and our friends, from making the same mistakes? Read on, reader. Please keep your comments respectful, as I’ve come to expect. If anyone else would like to share their story please use the contact page at the top of my site to reach out.

Let’s learn a little more about you, first. 

What is your age and where in the world do you live? Would you consider your upbringing to be conservative? What kind of sexual education did you get?

I just turned 22. I lived in Texas for the first 18 years of my life in a small-medium town, and then went to school in Colorado for two years before transferring to south Florida to finish up my bachelors. My upbringing was indeed conservative–my family was never religious, but all of my friends and peers were. My parents also tended to have more conservative values. My sexual education was pretty limited; I didn’t have much in the way of talks about contraception almost at all and the main focus was on abstinence.

I am an atheist now, and consider myself very liberal.

Can you describe your relationship to us? How long did you date, how did you meet?

My relationship with L was unconventional. We actually met through a mutual friend that I had pursued previously. Our relationship was cultivated almost entirely online, starting with Facebook and transitioning into long phone conversations and Skype–She was from my Texas hometown, but I was in California when we began messaging.

We fell in love and declared as such in July of 2013. She was 18 and I was 21 (a large gap considering she was entering her senior year of high school and I my senior year of college) but I found her incredibly mature and insightful and saw numerous qualities that made me say “damn. I just may have found the girl I’m going to marry.”

Without going into excessive detail, we decided on having an open relationship. I had read significantly about the concept on your site as well as others, and felt that I wanted to give it a shot. L was hesitant but with further education and discussion came to be amenable to the idea, as we were so far away from each other and we did not want our life experience to be hampered by the obligations that a fully monogamous relationship entailed. However, we were very much in love and wanted to look towards the future and go to school in the same city the next year–possibly NY. We planned on possibly being exclusive at that point.

Things were happy for the first four to six months, I would say. But eventually, we began to have problems that I detail in the next question.

I consider L my third “real” girlfriend. I had two previous relationships in high school as well, but for various reasons I consider them more superficial, though they shaped me into my current self. L is my longest relationship to date and also the only person I have slept with.

Why don’t you describe the details that led up to the infidelity. What do you think brought you to that moment?

I believe a few key factors laid the groundwork for me to cheat:

1.   I had concerns that I was too young to fully settle down.
2.   I begun to suspect that L was not quite the person I thought she was; she had emotionally volatile tendencies that I perceived as immaturity issues, but I assumed that moving out of our hometown would mellow her out and she would undergo significant growth into who I thought she was originally
3.   A, the other woman, possessed numerous qualities that L lacked that alerted me to things I was lacking in my current relationship and needed to have in a life partner.

At a certain point in our relationship, we were having significant problems–jealousy, discrepancies in the amount of attention one was giving the other–that were causing both of us unhappiness. L strongly hinted that the open relationship was to blame, and I thought so at the time as well. (I now realize it was just sheer incompatibility as well as poor communication from both sides, particularly mine.) I knew at that point I either had to become exclusive earlier than anticipated with L and incur the possibility of never sleeping with or having a relationship with another girl again, or leave L. I felt strongly that I had so much love still to give to the world and so much discovery I wanted to do via relationships with others, but i did think that eventually, L would be the person I ended up with, so I made a judgment call and decided to initiate exclusivity and sacrifice the single life. This was my first mistake.

Was this primarily emotional infidelity or physical infidelity or a mix of both?

It was both. I met A on a two week trip about a month after I became exclusive with L, and we had an instant connection. Before long, she confessed her feelings to me. I decided to tell A about L’s existence before i took action on these feelings. However, i tell A that although I am seeing L, we’re not going to be in a relationship until the fall, which is a lie. I also told her that I wanted to explore our connection but did not want to create an expectation that we would pursue it after the trip was over. I didn’t want to outright lie to A but I also did not want to jeopardize all of my chances at a relationship with her. I go into the rationalizations I made for my behavior in the next questions, but one of them was that as long as I had good intentions and was “mostly honest”, the “right” outcome would happen. In truth, I realize now that I felt I wasn’t strong enough to turn down a potential two week fling, so I tried to set the stage for her to do it for me. Not my best plan of attack.

I kissed her when she decided that she wanted to go through with it and essentially dated her throughout the rest of the trip–nobody else on the trip was aware of L’s existence. What I didn’t expect is that I fell in love with A over the course of the trip, and she with me. She, in many respects, embodied a person that I had always wanted to share companionship with; someone with incredible drive and a fervent sense of empathy for anyone and everyone else.

She, in many ways, revealed to me many things that I was lacking in my current relationship.

In many ways, the relationship between A and I ran its course like it would have if L didn’t exist. While we didn’t sleep together (she’s saving until marriage), we did everything but and it felt incredible. At the end of the two weeks, I cried after I said goodbye to her. We wrote final letters to each other. It was an incredibly meaningful experience for both of us.

At no point did I feel like I cheated because I needed sexual gratification; there was a significant emotional void that A filled for me. I felt like A trusted me and believed in everything I was and stood for with such admiration.

I felt like she /got/ me, and I was at a point with L where I felt like a part of her detested who I was.

That juxtaposition was incredibly powerful.

During and after the infidelity explain how you felt. Was the infidelity on going or did it happen in a singular experience?

As stated above, it was an ongoing affair. It was a surreal experience; while I had feelings of guilt during the two weeks, I also had strong feelings that it was the “right” thing to pursue my feelings towards A. I made numerous rationalizations for my behavior:

- “well, I still love L and I’m going to still ship her a really elaborate and thoughtful gift for her birthday.”
– “A and I aren’t realistic options for the long term, so this will be perfect for me to be better for L! I can get my desire for another relationship out of my system and will have peace of mind for the rest of my relationship with L”
– “I really do love A and am expressing that the best way I know how. How is expressing love to the fullest at every possible moment wrong?”
– “I would hold resentment towards L for the rest of my life if I cut myself off from A during this trip. I don’t want to hold a grudge.”

I consider myself a highly emotionally aware person, so I just made everything make sense morally. Of course in hindsight, it was an immense betrayal of trust that I built with both A and L, which is the exact opposite of what love truly should be.

But I had such strong feelings for A that the blinders were on in full force and I couldn’t see that at all. I think a part of me didn’t want to.

Also, I think it’s important to note here that L actually had a ‘side relationship’ during our time being open. She was clear to him as well as me that I was much more important, but her having someone else, especially when I didn’t, caused a lot of issues for us.

To elaborate, during our time being open, I had failed to meet anyone and fulfill my desire to have a fling or even someone to make out with. I think I was already a bit sad for that when I left for my trip. It feels weird and selfish to say that but I felt like my youth wasn’t sufficiently lived–I was always fairly awkward growing up so I have only in the past year or so felt confident in flirting and talking to women. Meeting the “right” person so early in that period was awesome, but at the same time I held some sadness about it that I think I just denied to myself until it was too late. I think in the end I held an idea in my head of what an open relationship was supposed to be–what I wanted it to be–and it was a bit unrealistic. Eventually I think the right(wrong) circumstances came along in the form of A and I just lashed out without giving myself a chance to think.

After the infidelity, what happened?

I eventually decided on telling both parties that I cheated, with intentions of repairing the relationship between L and I. I tell L first, and I tell her that I kissed A at the end of the trip. I rationalized it by thinking that I shouldn’t have to hurt L more than necessary, but I should be honest that I emotionally and physically cheated. I left out that I fell in love with A but I mention that the connection was incredibly strong.

I was so focused on getting her forgiveness and minimizing her pain that I didn’t bring up at all why I cheated.

I.e. the problems we were having in the relationship that led us to this point. I think I didn’t feel like I was in a position to do so. I can’t decide whether I regret that or not. L was, of course, wildly upset and decides to take some time and evaluate our relationship on her upcoming vacation in Germany, where she wants to be single. However, we would keep in contact and if I could prove that I would better myself from this experience, she would take me back.

I told A everything, including that I hid the full truth from L, which she is obviously upset at me for. She is also incredibly hurt by the situation and we decide to break off all communication.

L and I emailed every day while she is abroad, and I realize that a central issue of our relationship was that I felt the need to hide certain details from her because I felt like her feelings would be hurt or that I didn’t trust her to emotionally process things the right way. I knew that if I were to pursue any sort of relationship at all, I needed to be 100% honest with her all the time, consequences be damned. I made a decision then (about two weeks after the first conversation) to tell L everything that happened, and iterate a commitment to total honesty moving forward and a desire to rebuild our relationship. She then is furious and breaks off all contact with me.

I try to reach out to A and let her know that I did the right thing and told L and that we were done, but A, understandably, never responded.

It has been about a month and I have not spoken to A since. L and I have had sparse conversations about exchanging possessions of each others’ we’ve had, and she still holds a lot of bitterness and hate towards me for the situation. I can’t say I fault her for it. We are planning on meeting in September to make a single exchange, and we will have a final conversation then about everything. One of the hardest things to deal with from this is that she may never forgive me.

Do you feel that you could have prevented the infidelity from happening?

My feelings on this question are complicated. I believe the only thing I could change about the situation is that I should have had the courage to break things off with L before cheating.

However, the bond I experienced with A was so strong and so eye opening that although I would never put myself in that situation in the future, a part of me is glad I experienced it.

You don’t lose someone like that and make the same mistakes twice.

Everything was so hazy during that two weeks. I really did have an overwhelming feeling at the time that pursuing A was the right thing. It resonated deeply inside me and overrode all reason and logic. I’m incredibly remorseful for my actions, but I almost felt helpless to my heart. I understand that sounds like an excuse–it’s sincere.

I was cognizant that my actions were traditionally wrong, but since I had good intentions and wasn’t cheating maliciously, it was fine. Which is of course, not fine.

As the person who was unfaithful in the relationship (presuming your partner was not also unfaithful) are there any sentiments that you feel are important to share that others would not like to hear or are difficult to say? Do you feel it difficult to share your side of the story with others?

I would say that my biggest lesson from the situation was that you should constantly ensure that you evaluate any relationship you are in based on current realities rather than assumptions.

I was so caught up in assuming that L was perfect for me that I spent a lot of time performing mental gymnastics to keep her in that role.

Really, our relationship had simply run its course, and I should have had many more honest conversations about that possibility early on. Perhaps it would have saved our relationship, or perhaps it would have ended naturally before my trip and I would be free to pursue A to this day without having truly lost both L and A.

I would never condone cheating. On no level do I feel like what I did was the right thing to do. I lost two of the most influential people in my life–two people that I both loved–through actions that were entirely my fault, and I will live with that pain for a long time, maybe forever. That said, the experience that I’ve gained as a result of the choices I made will serve me incredibly well. The pain I continue to go through will serve as a motivator for constant self-evaluation.

Sharing this story with others has actually been manageable and has also been the biggest part of me recovering from the fallout. I encourage anyone in this situation to reach out to anyone you can about it–I’ve explained the situation to and received feedback from mutual friends of L, mutual friends of A, and friends that never met either of them. I was surprised to discover that other people that I held in incredibly high esteem had cheated before in their lives as well, and was also surprised at the level of empathy shown from people that had been cheated on in the past.

People will surprise you.

Five End of Summer Favorites

The one thing better than summer sex is fall sex. Things start to cool down. Things get cozy. Big wool blankets, crackling fires, the smell of hot apple cider and pumpkin pie. Before all that happens, you should equip yourself. As always these links support the Portland local shop SheBop. A percentage of your purchase (after clicking any of these links) goes towards me and my site.

Happy browsing!

1. OhMiBod blueMotion – $129

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This is a toy that couples have been writing me about for ages. OhMiBod is a respected brand name in toys, perhaps best known for their vibrators that sync up to the music on your iPod. This toy is a clitoral vibrator, bluetooth enabled, wearable (slip it in your panties) and it has a 30ft range for the wireless controls. For an extra cost, you can even control the vibrator via the internet. Hello long distance couples. This is a toy that I would be wiling to shell out the extra money for.

2. Cunt Coloring Book – $9

A friend gave me this lovely treasure. Not only is it a fun coloring book, but it’s also a reminder that your vulva is beautiful just the way it is. A great present for yourself, a friend, your partner, or even a younger tween to teen who might need some starter sex ed.

3. Sex From Scratch – $15

Somewhere in my notes is a scribbled sentence. “Write a book about making your own relationship rules.” It’s with reluctant praise that I recommend this book before I even read it. I picked it up the other day and flipped through it and it seems, final judgement pending, to fill a gap in the sex literature out there. Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a huge proponent of making our own rules. So hop to!

4. Game of Bones – $45

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This just happened to go on my wish list. Isn’t GOT already a porno? If there isn’t at least 50% more incest and ravaging I’m going to be severely disappointed. If you have never watched a “real” porno on a DVD it’s definitely an experience worth having. If you’re feeling extra ballsy, throw a party and watch it with your friends. Would make a good gift for GOT fanatic.

5. Cheeky Boy – $80

You know what is super in right now? Anal play for men! I am so excited about this because too long has anal play been wrongly associated with sexual orientation. Now men are realizing they they can tap the resources of their ass and find the awesome within. This one tickles my fancy because it is beaded as well as curved. The fun of anal beads and a prostate massager all at once.

BONUS -

We-Vibe 4 $160

I’ve mentioned this toy before. It’s a fun staple for couples to experiment with.

Maia Astral Dildo $49

Because you can always have just one more dildo. This mid-rage Maia Astral looks soft and fun.

Harassment in the Workplace

I work as a waitress in a small restaurant and nearly all of the Spanish male cooks harass me. The better I’ve become at understanding their accents the more I realize how frequently they make kissing noises at me, call me Baby or other names, give me eyes, and even try to verbally fight over ownership or rights to me. I try to tell them no one owns me in a tough, but half joking kind of way but they all just say “oh okay” and nothing changes. It didn’t bother me so much in the past, but over the last year working there I’ve just become sick of their attitudes and being touched every time I pass by or hand something to them. The female owner of the restaurant has in the past talked about “how a while back there was this ‘thing’ where construction workers got in trouble for cat calling because it was ‘offensive to women'” and I’m not sure if it would even have much impact if I brought up the situation. I’m trying to quit by the end of the month anyway, so I guess I’m wondering if it’s even worth standing up for myself and causing a potential blow up or if I should just make it through the last month and get the heck out.

-Harassed At Work

I would absolutely bring up the situation with your boss. At least to have what is happening documented in some way. You are being harassed and you shouldn’t have to come to expect that kind of behavior at work. You standing up and saying that the behavior is not acceptable may make the difference for the next woman who is hired after you, or any other women that currently works with you. If there are other women that you work with, could you reach out to them? Could you make a stand together?

I worked briefly in food service as well and experienced the same sort of behavior. The staff was almost entirely men and their first language was Spanish. They would often hold impromptu meetings in the kitchen which I could not understand. The same behaviors as you described happened to me, often out in the open. I left shortly afterwards but I still regret not sitting down with the manager and expressing how inappropriate the behavior was.

Harassment in the workplace is worthy of a blow up, in my humble opinion. But I equally understand your hestitations. At the least, I would recommend making your concerns heard in some way at the time of your exit.

Do you have a question, do you need advice? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

Class in Session: Oral 101

I have never given a blowjob and to be honest im kinda scared too. My boyfriend asked for one and I told him yes, I want to try giving him one, Im ready and wanting to giving him one. I just don’t know how to give one. I know not to use teeth and use lots spit. I want to give him the best blowjob he has ever had. How should I start? Should he be laying down, sitting up, standing? If he thrust his penis in my mouth will I throw up or gag?

I find the very best way to learn anything is to expose yourself to it and to practice, practice, practice. All penises (and those people attached to them) are different. This means they have different preferences. Some like really gentle, some like a more aggressive touch. Some are circumcised and some are uncircumcised. Some like lots of deep throating, some prefer slow, some prefer fast. There are different techniques you can learn – a mashup of using your hands, your mouth, your tongue, your throat.

Just like penetrative sex, start with the basics, and don’t worry about going crazy right at the start. Build from the basics based on what works well, and what your partner seems to like. I believe that you should move progressively through things, gaining more experience, and expanding your sexual portfolio as you go. 

Your first blow job will not be your best blow job because you haven’t had practice. Also, you haven’t had the time to learn what your partner likes. That’s okay. It can still be damn good if you follow a few basic tips. It seems like you know a few of them already.

1. Don’t be too aggressive

Obviously, this includes not using teeth. But it also includes things like handling your partner aggressively. Until you find out what sort of stimulation he likes, stick to light-medium stimulation. Have him communicate what feels best. You can try to grab a little tighter with your hand or create a little more suction with your mouth and see how he responds. Make these changes incrementally. Don’t go from zero to a hundred.

2. Stick to the Stick

Until you know where your partner likes to be stimulated, avoid anal play or toying with their balls. You can be adventurous and lightly try either but don’t be shocked if your partner moves you away or asks you to stop. Not all men like this, or expect it.

3. Keep your mouth moist

If you have issues with keeping your mouth wet, make sure to stay well hydrated throughout the day. If you find that your mouth is getting dry, stop for a moment and get some more saliva going, and then resume. It’s also smart to keep spicy or minty foods out of your mouth prior to going down on your partner.

If you want to get a head start, read some books on oral sex. She Comes First is a great one for teaching people about going down on women. He Comes Next is the companion to that. I haven’t read it yet but I imagine it’s filled with similar, useful information.

I usually advise against using pornography as a study tool, but in some cases it can be helpful. If you have zero idea on how to get started, watching a lot of amateur pornography can be helpful. It will show you how people position themselves, how long a blow job might last for, and how to actually move your mouth up and down. Remember that much of pornography is not representative of what actually goes on in the bedroom, and it should not necessarily be used as a guide on what to do. Proceed with caution and curiosity.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit to the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

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