Poll of the week: Favorite time to have sex?

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The case of stamina vs. pleasure: is lasting longer worth it if you’re not having fun?

The post “Why Lasting Longer in Bed isn’t REALLY What She Wants”on The Good Men Project is interesting. If you’re not subscribed to this website yet, definitely give it a look.

I’ve written articles in the past about improving stamina (naturally, not with any of those horrendous numbing products) yet I’ve never actually considered what might happen in that extended time. The author discusses men who want to last longer in bed and how their partners may not actually care so much about lasting longer. They might have other more important needs that aren’t being met.

Though the article is framed as men and women I think that this conversation is important for any combination of genders. There is really a common perception that longer is, in some way, better. This is similar to the idea that bigger is better. These ideas are passed down through media (film and tv jokes about “coming too soon” or gags about “small penises”) and perpetuated in day to day life by people who just want to have a good time.

These are super harmful ideas because the ability to last longer in itself doesn’t really add anything to the experience if you’re not already having a good time. I think that’s really important and something that the author touched on as well.

The rate of people who are actually ejaculating prematurely is fairly low. To be classified as a PE’er you’re going to have to be having intercourse for about 15 seconds before ejaculation. I would guess – though I’m not certain – that a lot of men consider a few minutes premature, when it’s simply a matter of being excited or not knowing when to slow down and pace yourself (among other possible explanations.)

If time isn’t a problem – or once you’ve solved the problem of time – the focus should be 100% on making sure that both partners are having fun. That means strengthening other things besides your pubic muscles.

It’s also important to recognize what things get you closer to an orgasm more quickly. Going fast may be perceived as the quickest way to get to an orgasm. However, mental stimulus (roleplaying, dirty talk, a sexy body) can get you there quick too. So can a clench of the kegels, a different angle of the body, or an addition of lubrication.

Instead of putting so much pressure (and attention) on stamina, pull back a few steps and work on answering this important question: what do you like best, and what does your partner like best, and how can you best use that time so you both leave satisfied?

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Why does my boyfriend still masturbate?

Why does my boyfriend still masturbate when I’m ready and willing to have sex with him whenever he wants?

Great question.

Masturbation reaches more or less the same ending as sexual intercourse (orgasm, ejaculation, satisfaction) but it gets there differently. Remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry is like I gotta do this myself bros. And they’re all No! We have to come with you! And he’s all No seriously it’s just different if I go by myself. You knew what it meant. It wasn’t that having his best friends with him wouldn’t be helpful, or more enjoyable. In fact, he probably would have had a way better time facing Voldemort if Ron and Hermione were there with him. But that wasn’t the point.

Similarly, his desire to get off alone doesn’t mean he doesn’t want and/or need you as his partner.

Masturbation is just different. It’s an entirely different experience. It’s a different kind of sex. And if you’re not masturbating, you should be too. Masturbation is a form of self-love and self-care. It helps us understand our bodies. It’s good alone time. It’s… healthy.

When he masturbates he isn’t saying “I would rather touch myself than have you touch me.” He’s saying “I want to get off. I want to get off quickly or slowly. I want to be alone for a minute with myself. I want this experience to be all about myself.” Because sex with a partner isn’t all about yourself. It’s inherently a couples experience. You’re working to please yourself and the other person. Masturbation gives someone an opportunity to just get themselves off. Period. That’s it.

And of course that sounds a little selfish. Great. Good. Even if you’re in a relationship you should afford yourself some selfish moments. You should go for a run by yourself. You should go for a walk by yourself. You should get out of town by yourself. You should have a little tea by yourself. Because every single thing in your relationship does not revolve around your partner. That especially includes what you do with your body. (With respect, of course.)

I don’t know the exact reason why your boyfriend is still masturbating even though you have super awesome sex. Maybe it’s because he just really likes getting himself off. If so, that is reason enough.

Find room in your relationship to see that his masturbation does not detract from your ability to have a loving sexual relationship together.

If he is frequently choosing masturbation over having sex with you. That is a problem. Discuss together not from a “you need to stop masturbating” perspective, but from a “how can we better communicate when you need to get off so I can be there with you?” perspective.

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

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Poll Results: What makes sex hard?

Thanks to everyone who participated in my last poll! The question was what do you struggle with most in your relationship? The intent of this poll was to see what made sex most difficult for you and your partner. A friend of mine pointed out that I didn’t include “everything is awesome” as a possible choice. This was actually an accident. I had intended to focus primarily on the idea that everyone struggles sometimes. It doesn’t matter how often you struggle or if you’re currently struggling. Sometimes you’re too tired. Sometimes you’re too busy. Life happens. Here are the results.

Most of you voted that you just didn’t like sex the same amount. Your partner liked it more or less than you did, and that influenced how often you had sex. The two results with the second highest number of votes were also about time. Finding enough time to have sex, or not being turned on at the same time.

These results say something pretty interesting. Solo sex (masturbation) is easy because it revolves around you and your schedule. Any sort of partnered sex is more difficult because you have to match up your partners libido with your libido and your partners schedule with your schedule. Those things aren’t always easy.

I had a few fill in responses, one which I should have thought of: having enough privacy. If you don’t live alone or with your significant other, or if you have kids, this can be a big one!

Even if we exclude things like time crunches, having privacy, and liking sex the same amount, there are still a lot of things that can make sex hard. Some people struggle getting aroused. Some people struggle with actual pleasure. Some people have mental or physical issues that have pushed sex from being a priority. Some people, indeed, are single, and either don’t focus on sex or cannot find a partner.

Do you have any tips for conquering these issues? If you voted in the poll, have you had success in combating some of the time issues or arousal issues with your partner?

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Q: I don’t orgasm during sex – so what?

Hi! Love your blog! I’m a 20’s straight(ish) female struggling with reaching orgasm during sex, or rather my partners’ reactions to my inability to orgasm. I am able to orgasm while masturbating, but that is a pretty long and arduous process and almost always requires the addition of a toy or porn. With a partner I am almost completely unable to have an orgasm. With a vibrator I can orgasm with my partner, but I’m not a fan of incorporating a vibrator, as the loud buzz and the general addition of a toy are mood killers for me. I’d rather just enjoy my partner. Rubbing my clit myself during sex, or having him rub it, has never worked. Only three times has oral ever worked on me. That being said I absolutely enjoy sex without having an orgasm, and am working really hard at becoming okay with the fact that orgasms are not really a part of my sex life and that that doesn’t mean I’m broken or need to be fixed. I feel like I’ve tried everything, and accepting that this isn’t actually a problem is the only solution. My partners on the other hand have seemed to struggle with this even more than me. I am always careful to express that it is not their fault, that they did a great job, that I enjoyed it, etc. but they have a really hard time accepting that. I can’t recall a single partner who’s reaction was to just accept that I know my body. Most of my partners start by wanting to try a million ways to get me off, and insist that they’ll figure it out like I’m a rubix cube they’re trying to solve, and many then go on to get sort of mad about it when none of their techniques and persistence works, and then blame it on me, claiming that it’s because I’ve been using a vibrator or because I’m not telling them what I like (I do communicate what I like frequently and openly, but those things don’t get me off) or that I need to stop spectatoring (they’ll find some sex advice about this on reddit because apparently I’m a googleable problem who never had the sense to google this shit for myself? Not sure where they get the idea that I’m not aware of these concepts). It can be really hard for me to accept this about myself when my partners are so busy trying to fill me with hope that they’re special and will fix me. And I want them to feel happy and sexy and talented and such, and I understand why me never having an orgasm can interfere with that, but it just seems that short of me communicating my enjoyment verbally and with body language as I already do there’s nothing I can do to calm them. So I’m wondering if you have any advice for how to get my male partners truly content with not giving me an orgasm and still maintain their pride. How can I make them understand that I’m happy and they are good lovers despite what they see as evidence to the contrary?

Men and women are told a lot of stories about sexuality. One of those stories is that sex is about the orgasm. There is a very clear narrative of what sex is and how it works, even if that is nothing like the actual reality of sex.

This sex happens when a heterosexual cis-gender couple come together for PIV (penis in vagina) sex. After some PIV sex, the female orgasms, and the male ejaculates. Either the female first, shortly followed by the male, or both at the same time, in perfect harmony. This story is reinforced over and over again in many different ways – through film, television, romance novels, even taking an influence on what is taught in sexual health courses. (How many of you were taught how to safely protect yourself if you weren’t having heterosexual PIV sex? Were you even taught that anything else was sex?)

PIV orgasms are one tiny little sliver of sex pie that don’t happen for everyone – even couples who are heterosexual. Yet still, many of us try to closely align with this story, because we have some very sturdy beliefs about sex that are difficult to change.

These beliefs can become even more difficult to stray from depending on what specific messages you’ve been told growing up. For instance, men may be raised to be fixers. They may associate their skill in the bedroom to how quickly and how successfully they are able to get their female partner off. If you say “I cannot orgasm” that may be seen as a challenge. It might be seen as a challenge because they cannot see sexuality through a different lens than the one they’ve been looking through their whole life. To them, it’s not just that you want to enjoy a different kind of sex. It is as though you’re giving up on sex entirely.

Of course, anyone can be a fixer. (Hello!) And it’s hard to look at a situation like this and not offer up advice. There are a lot of things you can do to improve your chances of an orgasm. There are a lot of things that can stand in the way of making the orgasm easier to obtain. And having an orgasm can really be worth the extra work we put into the bedroom. But not if it’s distracting from how much fun you have. Not if you just want to kick back and have a good time. Not if the orgasm becomes the pinnacle of your sexual experience.

If you can’t just enjoy each other, if its genuinely become a race to the imaginary finish line, whats the point? We think about orgasms as things that are “given” to other people but thats not right. We don’t give orgasms. We discover them together.

I don’t have an easy solution. How you have this conversation might vary depending on who you’re with, and what your sexual relationship is like. I have heard of some women who are in casual relationships faking orgasms because they don’t want to bother to take the time to explain to their partner what makes them feel good. To me, this is absurd. Isn’t the point of casual sex that you’re going into it to have fun? However, I can see how some aspects of this that make sense. Sometimes it’s just easier to leave the bits and pieces out that you already know are going to hold your partner up. If it’s going to take 3 hours to try and convince someone you don’t need them to freak out about their sexual ego, thats three hours you could have had sex, said goodbye, and gone out for pizza.

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In an ongoing relationship I would say that you sit down with your partner immediately and express basically what you expressed to me.

Look, this is what I want. I want to feel good. I want to feel good with you. And you make me feel good. That’s going to have to be enough. I can’t enjoy myself when you feel pressure to get me off. That’s my holdup. That’s where my struggle is. Maybe some day I’ll have an orgasm with you, maybe some day I’ll have a really good one with you, but I don’t judge my sex life on this criteria like other people do.

I can’t say for certain he will believe it. He might even still, on his own, try his damnedest. At the end of the day, that pressure is going to be on him.

Here’s one last thing, and if you don’t want that unsolicited advice, maybe just skip it. You don’t have to just become OK with not being able to orgasm during sex. You’re not broken, you don’t need to be fixed, but this isn’t necessarily how its always going to be either. Look at it like a long game. This is just one level. Maybe the next level will prevent new excitements and challenges. Roll with the punches. Keep exploring. Communicate openly. And see where it takes you. Whether thats to partner-shared orgasms or just way better more satisfying sex, either way, you win.

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

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Q: Avoidance of Clitoral Sensitivity

I had a request to talk a little bit about clitoral sensitivity during oral sex. This is clitoral sensitivity specifically tied to the desire to urinate. Many women have reached out to me in the past with similar issues. “It feels too sensitive, I have to ask my partner to stop, it feels like I’m going to pee.” Stimulation has varied from g-spot to clitoral. Descriptions of the symptoms sound more or less the same.

In the case of this question-asker, she had already seen a doctor. Bladder tests were done, and apparently she had been put on different medications to treat the sensations. It is helpful to seek medical attention if you are feeling pain, particularly if that pain is ongoing. A need to urinate and the feeling of pain could be something like a UTI.

Thinking specifically of the sensitivity during sex (or masturbation, or oral sex, or any other clitoral stimulation) I have some advice.

The long term advice would be to masturbate often and learn if that sensitivity is located at a certain area on your body or if it is associated to a certain stage of arousal. As you get closer to orgasm you may find that the area around the clit gets more sensitive. It may no longer be comfortable to stimulate as you were stimulating before. If this is the case, changing the mode of stimulation or how you are stimulating could make a difference.

For example: If you are rubbing your clit directly and find that it is becoming painful, move your hand to an area away from the clit and continue to stimulate. The clitoris has a lot of nerve endings packed into a very small space, and as blood rushes down, things become more sensitive. Things become even more sensitive the closer you get to an orgasm, during the orgasm, and after the orgasm. In this case, your partner may be stimulating too directly with his mouth/lips or providing too much direct suction to the clit itself.

Some short term advice would be to try this with your partner the next time he does the thing that was causing sensitivity issues. If you experience discomfort, tell your partner to go more slowly, to stop for a moment, to go more lightly, or to move his hand/mouth/body to a slightly different area.

It is hard to say what could have happened to make these stimulations appear suddenly. Perhaps something emotional/environmental has changed that has made your body react differently to stimulus. Maybe you are on or off a new medication. Maybe you are more relaxed and feel more connected to your partner. Perhaps your partner is trying a new technique that is stimulating you slightly differently than they used to.

There are a lot of reasons why a woman may experience pain, sensitivity, or the need to urinate. The above advice will only really be helpful if the sensitivity is coming from an issue of sexual technique. The most important thing to do is to continue communicating with your partner. If something feels uncomfortable, stop doing that thing, and do something else. If the pain is constant/persistent, continue seeking out medical advice until you find a doctor that is able to help you.

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

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Q: Waiting Until marriage… kinda?

My (23m) partner (24f) wants to wait until she is married to have sex (anything except to vagina/anal is ok) and I’m ok with this but I want to make sure we are communicating about sex so we aren’t going into our relationship blind. Is there a way we can still figure out if we are sexually compatible without having sex?

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This is a really difficult question to explore, because so much of sex is a journey, a constant unfolding of questions that you’re asking one another. It’s not as though putting your penis inside of her will call out a definite “yes this will work” or “no this will not work.”

It’s the open communication and actually trying things that can help you figure out that chemistry. If we think of it like that, you can definitely figure out a lot of stuff pre-marriage without actually having penetrative sex.

However, you are also missing out on a lot. For some people, that penetrative sex is the key. That’s the thing that really encompasses sex. And because they give it so much meaning, it holds so much meaning. The more meaning you give it, the more meaning it holds. So even if you do have great chemistry together, that first time you have sex after marriage, it can be kind of startling.

I hear this a lot: It was great, it was everything I thought it would be, but at that point I wasn’t quite sure why we waited.

We – and the culture we’re in – wrap up a lot of meaning in sex. And that meaning is absolutely there. It is emotional. It is physical. There are so many factors: romance, well-being, intimacy, understanding of the body and mind. Then there’s a lot of gunk that gets mixed in. Others opinions about romance. Faulty ideas about well-being. Confusion about what intimacy we want or need. Ignorance about the body. The inability to connect body and mind.

My one concern in all of this is that your girlfriend will want to have sex after marriage, but will carry those sex-negative mentalities that many who are abstinent hold. My concern would be that she still views sex as something that influences her self-worth.

Not everyone is like this. Not everyone who waits sees sex this way. But many times, it can be deeply tied to your sense of self. And that’s where you have to be careful.

So here’s what I would suggest. Learn to be sex-positive together. You can be sex-positive without having penetrative sex. Easily. Talk to each other openly and honestly about what you like and don’t like. Read books about sexuality – all kinds of sexuality. Gay, straight, bi, wibbly-wobbly, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, kinky sex, sexual positions, sexual health, anatomical guides, videos, comic books, online blogs, everything. Be consuming machines. And get really good at the things you do like to do together. Whether that’s rubbing against each other, making out, teasing one another, touching, talking to one another, oral sex, fingering, mutual masturbation, you name it. Exist in a space together where the sex you are having is good, positive, healthy, we-love-sex kinda sex.

And be clear about why it is you’re holding on to that penetrative sex. Be clear why it is you’re waiting. And acknowledge truly and openly that when you do have sex together it will be special because it’s special. Not more or less than that.

Beware of warning signs as you’re intimate with one another. Can you communicate cleanly and easily? Do you struggle, but gain progress? Do you feel comfortable talking to your partner about sex? Are there compromises? Do you both respect each others feelings? Do you both feel satisfied? When you’re with one another, does it feel sexual? Does it feel sensual? Do you throughly enjoy the time you spend with one another?

These are questions that you might find you ask continuously throughout your relationship, married or un-married. Sometimes the answer will be no, and thats when you need to ask harder questions. Is this someone I want to be with? Is this someone I want to work with sexually, intimately, romantically? Do we equally want to invest in each other?

While I phrase the extent of this post around a heteronormative relationship (the penis, the vagina, the great and majestical “virginity”) this same mentality can easily be shared with same-sex couples as well. All that matters is what we perceive to be sex. Those boundaries that we create for ourselves.

It is helpful exploring sex before marriage because you can lay these foundations. You can lay that ground work together and grow that little triangle of your relationship pie. You can see what it means to be sexual with that person – and you can see if that person is going to want to and be able to work with you to a mutually satisfying end.

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

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When Things Go Stale: What is Spice and How Does it Work?

I got a request to write a little bit about this scenario: you’re in a relationship, you seem like you’re getting along okay, but the sex is becoming a bore. It seems like you’ve fallen into a routine, and you don’t like that. Enter the headline of every Cosmopolitan magazine ever: How can you spice it up?

Many couples hit this wall, especially if they have limited sexual experience. You need knowledge to explore, and you don’t know what you don’t know.

Pop culture presents two obvious points of exploration:

1. Trying a variety of new positions (as is dictated in books like the kama sutra or 1000000000 new sex positions to try with your beau!) These books are available more or less front and center at most bookstores.

or…

2. Exploring kink. An accessible point of kink would be things like furry handcuffs, or dirty talk. Things that are represented enough in media that people know what they are and how to do them.

As I ponder these two main roads for spicing up your relationship and I’m forced to question what exactly someone feels when they start to desire this spice. I’ve wound it down to two likely possibilities.

1. They may be experiencing pleasure with their partner but it’s at a level that does not feel particularly satisfactory. They’re bored because they just don’t feel like they’re having fun anymore.

2. They are having tons of fun with their partner and they feel safe enough that they want to explore new horizons! They know that there is more out there, but they don’t know where to start! So many fun things to do and try! How does one dip their toe in?

Let’s talk about both.

I’m feeling bored with my sex life, I want to spice it up. How can I make it fun again?

My first hesitation with this narrative is that the couple may be seeking out spice because there is something else going on. That is, of course, general satisfaction is lacking. I don’t feel that this majestical spice can act as a filling putty. If you don’t have a good awareness of how to stimulate each other in things that you’re already doing, its not a guarantee that adding new things to the mix will suddenly make you see fireworks.

Spice can be seen as this secret passkey that people use. If we just sprinkle some more spice on our relationship we’ll have more fun. Which we’ll see in the next part, can be totally true. But if you don’t already feel satisfied and happy with what you’re doing, start there.

1. Learn to communicate what you like and what you don’t like so your partner can start building a base of knowledge about you. This grows over time, and if your partner is a smart cookie, a lot of that knowledge just grows in the subconscious.

2. Make sure that your partner knows how to satisfy you and vice versa. This does not necessarily mean achieving orgasms. Not all couples want to or can achieve orgasms every time they have sex. Focus on making things feel good.

3. Figure out the basics of what you like through experience. Do you like it rough, or gentle? How do you communicate those things? Through moaning? Verbal command? How does your body react? Do you like being on top? Do you prefer your partner to do most of the heavy lifting? All of these basic things about sex will be useful in moving forward with any new exploration. (Ex: If you learn something about yourself like ‘I don’t like being in charge’ you could apply that knowledge to your ‘spicing’ by exploring submission.)

Remember that you have to work together to have good sex. Good sex does not have to be fancy. If you and your partner are in bed and you see things progressing as they usually do, don’t be passive. Express your desires.

Okay. Got the communication down. My partner and I rock together. I totally trust them. And we want to try some new stuff. Where do we start?

This is the fun part! There are a lot of modes of learning. Here are just a few:

  1. Read sex blogs and learn more about whats out there from what other people are doing and writing about. Some blogs are more educational (hello!) but there are a lot of blogs out there that are based in writing erotica, or true accounts of experiences.
  2. Read actual erotica. You can pick up books of compiled stories or research through literotica.com. Reading these stories together can be a form of spice!
  3. Visit pornography websites, or go to a shop and pick up a DVD. You can use the videos as foreplay or steal ideas from the film.
  4. Practice roleplaying. Roleplaying can be a form of learning because with each new role you have new things you may do with/to one another. Roleplaying can also help you expand your toy/clothes chest.
  5. Read books about sexuality. There are so many educational books and tools out there that can help someone think of new ideas. I’m a big fan of Tristan Taormino’s educational books and films. There are books out there specifically about kink. There are books that get more specific, like exploration into S&M. You can find a book about anything! You can also find books that help you cement and improve upon the basics. “She Comes First”, for instance, is a great book about oral sex.
  6. Talk to your friends about it. What are some of their favorite things to do? How do they hold themselves in the bedroom? If you have a friend you talk to about this, you could express you need some new ideas, and see what they’ve got for you.
  7. Go with what feels natural. No one needs a book of positions to try a new position. It’s not that hard. Move your leg a little different. Lift your butt a little higher. Move your arm around and stimulate yourself or your partner. Kiss and touch and bite or scratch or whatever. Each position can be altered and re-altered and added with super-bonuses to make it more fun. If you want to focus on positions, just spend time in bed rolling around until you find one that makes you go ‘oh.’

It’s difficult to give advice about spice without knowing an individual. The individual needs to be able to know themselves, first. What kind of person are they? What kind of person is their partner? Once they master the basics, it should help guide them towards new and exciting questions. How can we further implement our desire for bondage? My partner really likes pain, how can we explore that safely? From there, the questions become more specific, more guided, and you can start looking for resources that will give you better help.

If you feel that your relationship has become stagnant, remember that you need to be an active participant in the sex you’re having. If something isn’t fun anymore, stop doing it, or make it fun again!

You should also remember that emotional intimacy can play a big role in the sex you have with your partner. If you aren’t feeling connected to your partner, the things you used to do might not feel fun anymore. Many couples experience this chain of events in their relationship.

Partner 1: I need emotional intimacy to enjoy physical intimacy. My partner is not making me feel emotionally appreciated so I am just not interested in sex lately.

Partner 2: I need physical intimacy to feel appreciated and loved and my partner has been physically distant lately, which makes me feel emotionally distant from them.

You can see how this would create a tugging reaction between each partner. One partner needs the emotional to have the physical, one partner needs the physical to have the emotional. It’s important to be aware of how your partner receives and perceives affection.

Taking time throughout the day to appreciate one another and reflect in how you feel about one another, extending foreplay, and taking time to re-learn and improve upon those basic sex-skills can help you connect.

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

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Good Friends Talk About Sex

I have a friend who I talk to about sex whenever we hang out. She has told me numerous times that she does not experience a lot of pleasure in bed: orgasms, swelling, heart rate, fantasies, moaning. Nothing. She just shrugs it off like it’s no big deal but I’m appalled that she isn’t trying to make it better. How can I help her? How can I convince her that her sex should feel good and not just be something she does?

It can be so helpful to talk about your sex life with friends you are comfortable with. It can help you normalize the very real things that people do in the bedroom. You would be surprised that the experiences you have are experiences that your friends share.

It is unclear why your friends sexuality looks the way it does.

She might have grown up in an environment that reinforced the idea of sex as dirty/bad. Maybe she never learned that women can own their sexuality. If she sees sex as a secondary aspect of her relationship, she may not have thought of it as something she could improve.

On the other hand. She may be actively working to improve her sex life, but feels shame or frustration around the subject. Instead of expressing that to you, she’s shrugging it off like its NBD. It might be hard to her to talk about sex because she feels like she’s run into a dead end. She might feel like she’s tried it all and there’s nothing left to do but sigh and shrug.

It could be that she is unsure how to ask for help and is poking you for information. You could use this time to ask questions or give your own experience.

For instance, if she says something like “nothing he does feels good so I’ve given up” you could say “do you two talk to each other about that?” This can give you more information about whether or not it’s something she wants to share.

If that brings about more shrugs, how about a little story? Try to share a story that provides a similar problem as well as a solution.

“I used to date this guy named Jake and he did this weird thing with his tongue that actually turned me off. So one night when he was going down on me I asked him to move his mouth down a little bit and it felt so good! So I moaned and told him that it felt amazing and now that’s the way he goes down on me all the time.”

Some people need time to feel comfortable talking to their friends about sex. Some tiptoe into it, looking for approval that the conversation can continue. Some people mention it in passing and don’t even know that there is a conversation held within.

We all enter into sexuality at different places. There are so many things that influence our experiences! Our gender, our sexuality, our upbringing, our religion or lack thereof, our education, our personal exploration, our mental and physical health, and so much more. Throw into that the combination of your partners sexuality and sometimes there’s work to be done!

The next time you are with your friend I would suggest bringing up the subject of sex again. Try to work it out a little bit with her – either by asking gentle questions or by providing your own stories. Just have a natural conversation about sex. See where it takes you. Where you can provide knowledge (“sex can feel good!”) do it! But do so in a way that respects that the journey is hers. She’s going to have to take those steps. She’s going to have to want to.

If you have an opportunity, suggesting books for her to read can help. Even if your friend is well educated in sex and her own body, literature can always make a difference. It can give us new ideas, or inspire old ones. It can help us figure out where our hangups are and how to move past them. It can give us new ways to spice up our relationships – or tips and tricks to find new relationships.

Good luck!

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

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Married and Unsatisfied: Is it too late to talk about sex?

Tomorrow morning I have a post queued about the book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. In the midst of finishing this book up, I wanted to pop up one post ahead of time regarding some problematic language.

Though the book itself has a lot of good ideas, the language used in the book can be a struggle for me to read. A lot of it reinforces ideas of men do this, women do this, even as it actively tries to tell the reader that gender doesn’t necessarily matter.

The chapter I just finished is the most problematic. “You mean we have to work at sex?” Chapter Seven.

For context, here are two quotes within a page of one another:

Our maleness and femaleness is a righteous idea. There is nothing dirty about our sexual organs. They are exactly as God intended them to be. 

Okay, that’s not so bad. Even within religion he is saying that sex is good. Then, the cliff breaks, and we fall into despair.

Clearly, many couples, particularly in the early years of marriage, need to deal with the baggage of past experience. The commonly held idea is that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. Research indicates otherwise. n fact, the divorce rate among those who have had previous sexual experience is higher than those who have had no sexual experience before marriage. The reality is that previous sexual experience often becomes a psychological barrier in achieving sexual oneness in marriage.

That’s right. If you’ve had sex before marriage your sexual dissatisfaction may actually be a productive of fucking around.

Nevermind the huge confounds here. If you were a Christian and had previously had intercourse, perhaps you had done it in a first marriage. Then, you had gotten married for a second time, and had intercourse again. Given the statistics that most second marriages are more likely to fail than the first, how exactly (and why exactly) is sex the guilty party here?

But the chapter goes on – some partners go years without experiencing pleasure in their relationships. They don’t learn to communicate about sex. And to me, this is the real secret of sexual pleasure. Not how many people you’ve had sex with. But how openly and honestly you are able to communicate your needs.

People enter into sex from all kinds of different places. Their first time, their 500th time, a history of abuse, a broken heart. Communication takes us from a place of not knowing to a place of knowing.

But what does it mean to communicate, and more importantly, if  you are figuring out years into your relationship that you need to communicate, is it too late?

Believing it is too late to communicate to good sex can be a key reason people don’t reach out to improve their sex lives. Particularly for couples who feel pleasure is taboo, or don’t believe that they can achieve pleasure.

I can’t believe that having previous sexual partners discredits your pleasure or presents inherent psychological barriers. It’s absurd to believe that such a large percentage of the population is out there feeling bad about themselves for enjoying their bodies. The thing thats making them feel badly about themselves are people who stand on the corners and say “you should feel bad about yourself.” (In this case, it would be the pressures of anti-sex religious non-sense, which is thankfully not the entirety of religion.)

If you feel that you have waited too long to communicate, especially if you:

1. Actively experience disinterest in something you and your partner do

2. Have never achieved an orgasm with your partner

3. Deeply desire to have a more pleasurable sexual connection with your partner

Try this:

Sit with your partner and, separately, write out three lists.

The first list: Five things you enjoy

This could be things you already get enough of or things you’d like to do more of. (You can make the distinction if you feel comfortable.) This could be anything.

“I like how long we have sex. The sessions are a good amount of time.”

“I like when you go down on me and do that thing with your hand.”

The second list: Things that you would like to try

This list is arguably harder than the next list. To confess things you would like to try puts you out there. You must make it clear that this is a safe and open space where all ideas are welcome.

The third list:  Things that you’d like to do less (or not at all!)

The intent of this list is not to say “I hate these things! I’ve just never gotten a chance to say so!” It’s an opportunity to move away from things that just don’t do it for you and move towards the previous two lists. Again, if you feel comfortable you can differentiate between things you’d like to do less or not at all. Ideally couples would be open and honest about things they were not interested in doing from the very beginning.

Now compare your lists. Find spaces in list two where you can explore together. Work on including more from list one. And talk in depth about list three. Make these conversations a regular part of your intimate space.

As you learn to more freely speak about the things you like and don’t like, begin to communicate during sex. Tell your partner to move their hand, or slow down, or speed up, or to change positions. If you can feel you would like a certain kind of stimulation, ask for that, or stimulate yourself.

If you aren’t accustomed to talking about sexuality there may be a little blinking red light going off. What if you don’t know how to get yourself off, and what if you don’t know how to talk about anatomy? Getting to understand ones body and learning more about sex and sexuality can help you so much in passing along knowledge to your partner. Asking questions and reading books can help you communicate better and more clearly what your needs are.

We all have different beliefs when it comes to sex. Some people wait until marriage. Some people don’t have sex at all. What is important is not falling into ideas of sex-negativity that are beautifully dressed up as sex-positivity. The sex drive is NOT necessarily more emotional for women than men! (P. 102, ungghhhh.) Sometimes women want to get off, too! Sometimes women are visual beings, too! We are all unique. We all have needs. We ALL have preferences!

Communicating about sex is good, and we should do it all along, but some people don’t. And it doesn’t mean that it’s too late for you. There is always time to open up that dialogue and to work towards a healthier and happier sexuality. Whatever that means for you.

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