On one hand, lemons

November 10th, 2017

I don’t know when I first stumbled across Dr Emily Nagoski’s post on Lemonade Sex. I think I began reading her blog after I read her book. I’ve continued to read and references her work since then.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Emily, she’s an expert on sex whom I greatly respect. Teaching and speaking about sex are her day job and, I suspect, her passion. Among her work is a relationship guide, and her post on lemonade sex starts with the following sentiment:

I spend a chunk of time talking about coping in my relationship guide because it turns out that effectively coping with stress is quite possibly the most important thing you can do to improve your sex life.

I believe you, doc.

Dr. Nagoski goes on to explain how stress can kill one person’s libido or raise another’s. And it wreaks havoc on your relationships. This is where coping comes into play. Coping is all about taking the hand you’ve been dealt and making the most of it or, you know, making lemonade out of sour lemons.

The good doctor recommends having sex with your partner even when you’re too stressed to really want it. It doesn’t need to be amazing but maybe could be. And you don’t do it because you’re expected or you feel obligated to do it for your partner. Lemonade sex isn’t about how sex is good for you. 

Lemonade sex paints having sex like flexing a muscle to keep it strong or maintaining something even though you’re not actively using it. Emily compares it to eating vegetables, something that people rarely like but that they do because it’s good for them — just like lemonade sex.

And the analogy to veggies works for me because eating them isn’t amazing, but the energy is. I’ll periodically ingest something with tomatoes (okay, technically a fruit) or spinach that’s so tasty that I feel legitimately excited over something that’s good for me.

I’ve been there with sex, too. The slumps with my ex-husband were never more than a few weeks and less so related to a lack of desire and more due to a lack of habit. It’s easier to fall out of the habit of something, even sex and even if you’re a pretty sexual person, than we always realize.

So I’d throw my ex a bone, and sometimes he would me. I found that this bone, or lemonade sex, worked in exactly the way that Dr. Emily predicted. Where my body went, my head followed, even though it hadn’t been in the game just a few moments before (she describe this as responsive desire). A similar thing happens when I watch someone I’m in a relationship with masturbate. I think I’m only an audience member but find myself drawn to willing participation in short order.

The concept of lemonade sex is one that’s controversial, and Emily admits this in her blog post. No one is suggesting anything that’s nonconsensual.  It’s important that if you have lemonade sex, you do it for you, because it’s beneficial for yourself, and not your partner. I think that’s the emphasis that Emily is trying to make toward the end of her post.

That’s also what’s stuck with me since I originally read this post. The kneejerk reaction might be to view lemonade sex as something that’s negative and potentially blurs the lines of consent, but I certainly think that it’s useful to consider whether throwing someone else a bone is really throwing yourself a bone in the long run.

Check out Dr. Emily’s post about lemonade sex on the Dirty Normal, and stay for her other insights into sex.

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Science of Sex: Conditioning

March 11th, 2017

Welcome to the first post in a new feature on Of Sex and Love: Science of Sex. In this feature, I plan to discuss the science of sexuality in an easy-to-digest format that’s accessible to the casual reader. I will also follow up with some extended reading material for people who want to know more about the subject of each post.

I hope you enjoy. 

Science of Sex -- Conditioning

We all learned about Pavlov, his dogs and classical conditioning in school. By associating a neutral stimulus (the ringing of a bell) with a desired reward (food), Pavlov was eventually able to condition dogs to salivate at only the sound of the bell, even when there was no food in sight.

Much like food conditioning, sexual conditioning exists. However, many people first stumble across their capacity for conditioning quite by accident. Whether you masturbate to hardcore porn during your formative years and become unable to get off any other way or you realize that you’re physically turned on at the sight of a bright red lipstick that your partner wears specifically for sex, you’ve been conditioned.

Human’s aren’t the only animals capable of sexual conditioning. In fact, humans may be less prone to this type of conditioning than other animals. People who higher sex drives who more easily respond to sexual stimuli are the most likely candidates to become sexually conditioned, whether by accident or design. Most studies focus on men, who may be more likely to become sexually conditioned; however, women can experience it, too.

Upon discovering sexual conditioning, some people like to experiment it. BDSM practitioners sometimes employ sexual condition as it’s especially helpful to force someone to orgasm on command. You can certainly play around with sexual conditioning without being kinky, however.

Attempting to sexually condition someone without their knowledge may cross fall into consensual gray area. And classical conditioning has been used for nefarious purposes: specifically to change a person’s sexual orientation. The process, known as conversion therapy, attempts to change a person’s orientation with stimuli such as electricity or nausea drugs. No reputable studies show that this type of conditioning is successful, and one proponent of conversation therapy who wrote a controversial paper about it has since changed his stance and offered an apology to the gay community.

Finally, PTSD because of past trauma can lead to conditioned behavior in otherwise neutral environments because of fear conditioning. This is one reason why it can be difficult for survivors of assault to engage intimate behavior after the assault.

Fortunately, negative conditioning and fear conditioning may be reversed through a process known as counter-conditioning.

Although classic conditioning used for sexual purposes is possible and can be fun, we must address the ethical implications as well as the limitations of sexual conditioning.

Further reading on conditioning and sexuality:

Did you enjoy the first installing of Science of Sex? Do you have further questions or suggestions for next month’s subject? Leave me a comment!

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Why So Serious? On Laughter and Sex

January 30th, 2017

Today’s post was inspired by this tweet from Girly_Juice.

It sounds like she’ll be talking about it in the upcoming episode of Dildorks, but I wanted to give you my own take on it. Plus, dear readers, it’s been a hell of a long time since I wrote anything, let alone anything about my personal sex life. So, down the rabbit hole we go.

I’ve had a lot of serious sex. My first sexual partner and ex-husband was pretty serious about it. We didn’t laugh during sex, even though we smiled and we loving. Laughter, it seemed, wasn’t something that *belonged* in sex. Sex was Serious Stuff (TM), and there was no room for laughter.

I felt that if we laughed, it took away from the moment. It meant we weren’t taking it seriously enough. As a result, any laughter was accidental and often uncomfortable. That’s a pretty association to have with something so awesome, don’t you think?

But it was all I knew.

It wasn’t the worst sex of my life by far. We were in love, after all. But it was limiting, and I couldn’t come to understand that until I had a few more notches on my bedpost. Although many men near my age seem to subscribe to that sort of serious sex-having, some don’t. The Bartender is a notable example. While I originally found him to be overly chatty, I eventually fell in line.

We talked and, yes, we laughed. Without all the limitations created by such serious sex, I found myself being more myself inside the bedroom. It helped me to de-compartmentalize, and it was a welcome change!

Apparently, the change became permanent. Even though it’s been years since I’ve slept with The Bartender, my last partner remarked how much I chatted. It was obvious that being chatty and even laughing at something he did that was funny took him directly out of his headspace. He couldn’t be interrupted in any way.

Neither of us left satisfied, I’m afraid. I’m not one to judge, but if you’re unable to have sex with someone who is talking to and laughing with you during sex, then you’re limiting yourself — just like I was limited with my ex.

And the realization dawned on me that this just wasn’t good for me. It left me feeling disconnected. So not only was I left out in the cold physically, but there wasn’t any sort of human connection, and I was stuck inside my head. That’s something I’ve battled with for years, and it’s not a place I like to be when I can help it.

Perhaps this beautiful and seemingly inexperienced man was just a bad match for me. But I bet a lot of people would enjoy themselves a hell of a lot more if they simply allowed themselves to be themselves during sex, chattiness and laughter included.

Sometimes you kick someone in the dick, you fart or positions just don’t work. Being able to laugh at those moments and with one another seems to be not just something that is desirable but might be necessary to enjoy sex without complete mortification.

I guess, what I’m saying is, I crossed that bridge laughing the whole way. And now I won’t go back.

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I Get Paid to Write About Sex

November 3rd, 2016

..and it has nothing to do with this blog.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t made money from this blog. But I am not so awesome (like Epiphora!) to have made it my job.

I do get paid to write about sex, though, even if I’m not directly paid to write about sex toys. And I like it that way.

Mostly, I do tfghost-writing. Although, I do get a byline here and there. I typically write blog posts for sex toy stores and communities, including the Bad Girl’s Bible, Romantix and Cirillas, among others. I get to tell people how to choose sex toys, how to talk about sex, what it means to slut shame and which lubes are best for which sexual activities. All in all, it’s a charmed life.

And yet, it wasn’t at all what I set out to do. In the beginning of my freelance writing career, I wrote often about technology-related topics: cell phones and iPods, routers and browser settings. Several years ago, I began writing almost exclusively about search engine optimization (SEO). There were many things happening in the world of SEO, which meant there was much to write about.

All of these topics interested me as most things do – at least for a while. Writing about sex, relationships and toys fell right in line. It has given me an opportunity to write things that I truly believe have helped readers (and I’ve seen feedback from readers that validates this). Like I said, a charmed life.

Sure, it sometimes feels monotonous or redundant. There are topics that I find frivolous or shallow, but not everyone has read (let alone written) a blog like mine for 8 years. Some people are just discovered their sexual side, and my words may help make it easier or more fun. Who knows? And everyone once in a while, I learn something new to me as well.

So, yes, I get paid to write about sex. And, yes, you can hire me.

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6 Guys I Don’t Want to Have Sex With

January 20th, 2016

1. The Guy With the Big Dick Who Thinks That’s All It Takes

Sure, there’s something awesome about a dick that’s just big enough to stimulate the G-spot, and I feel like a champ when i take an especially big dick. But having a big dick alone is not enough, folks. If you just stick to the in-and-out, it can be boring and painful and the big dick inside my vagina is unlike to do anything for my clit. I would much rather sleep with someone less endowed but more skilled. Sorry.

2. The Inexperienced Guy

I am sure there are plenty of people who have little to know experience who will eventually make wonderful lovers. I’m just not the person to teach them. I’ve no problem telling you what I like or don’t, but sometimes that’s easier to articulate than others. And sometimes it’s just nice to be in experienced hands and to let go of thinking and just be.

3. The Guy Who Won’t Go Down on Me

I can’t say that I need this every single time, but it’s gotta be something that happens at least 75% of the time I have sex with someone. It’s almost a guaranteed orgasm, and even if it weren’t, getting eaten out feels intimate and divine in a way that I am not willing to live without.

4. The Guy Who Never Listens to Me

My ex-husband was a terrible kisser, like, to the point that I feel bad for his new wife. He opened his mouth too far, didn’t move his lips and was incredibly sloppy. Kissing him often made my own mouth feel chapped or sore. I tried to bring it up, gently of course. Time and time again. He was acknowledge me, seemingly open to my suggestions. Nothing ever changed. The kiss thirty seconds after I requested something would be exactly the same.

I can’t do this, not ever again. It’s one thing if you’re a little self involved or aren’t as good at reading body language as some people. But when you actively want advice and then ignore it repeatedly, I am done.

5. The Guy Who Is Intimidated by My Toy Collection

There’s an interesting thing that happens when someone finds out I have toys and they like it: I am simultaneously aroused and a little frightened by the prospect of using them together. This is because the way I masturbate is so different than the way I have sex, and using toys together seems like a melding of the two.

But that anxiety is absolutely better than someone who won’t ever use toys with me or, even worse, someone who thinks I shouldn’t use them just because I am am actively having sex with other people. Nope nope nope.

6. The Guy Who Is Incredibly Vanilla

This was definitely a roadblock when it came to the last guy I had sex with. He was just boring in bed. To be fair, he was boring outside of bed. His routine was the same. Am I talking about his everyday life or sex? Does it matter.

There’s a thrill that comes from being slightly-less-than vanilla. Call it chemistry or sexual tension. No matter what you call it, though, sex isn’t really worth having without it. I know they say that sex is like pizza because “even if it’s bad, it’s still okay.” But I have to disagree. Pizza and sex aren’t worth having most of the time if they’re not at least good enough. I’ll stop halfway through and do something better with my time.

And maybe that’s why I’m the type of woman who many men would rather not have sex with. I’m okay with that.

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Judging His Cover

February 15th, 2015

He was plain. There was nothing special about him. He was lanky with too much gut from years of drinking. His hair was thinning prematurely, and he tried to hide it by wearing it long or, more frequently, wearing hats.

He was tall enough to look awkward. All of his t-shirts looked two sizes too large. If we’re being honest, they were. It’s hard to clothe that frame.

He wore glasses ill-suited to his face shape. Without anti-glare, looking at him was like looking into some sort of abyss. It was empty and soulless.

Whenever he gained weight, his face ballooned out like a chipmunk foraging for its very survival. He tried to hide this by growing a beard. To a certain extent, it worked, but he let it become unruly. At this point, his childlike nose poked out from between the whiskers, and he just looked silly.

That’s all he was: silly.

And yet with all this silliness, his mediocrity and his inability to style himself in a manner that indicated any thought at all, he was confident. He was cool. He was fun. He was the laid back type of person whom you always want to be around because he makes everything look so damned easy.

So despite his awkwardness, his overly-worn hats and glasses that made it impossible to tell whether his eyes were green or blue anyway, I fell in love with him. In spite of myself, I found my mind drifting to him whenever it wanted, whether or not I wanted it to at all.

And despite all of his own insecurities, he carried himself with enough confidence that he was magnetic, his charisma always pulling me closer to him when his arms weren’t physically wrapping around me and bending me to his will. He twisted and pulled and I melted against him, this plain, not-special, awkward boy who was trying too hard to be a man.

What was it about him? It wasn’t visible. It was chemical, running through his veins and jolting across neural pathways. It was gustatory, sliding across my tongue and sticking in my mouth with a sweetness that was only as bitter as I imagined. It was tangible, electric, breath-quickening and pulse-quickening.

What it was that drew me to him, kept me at his side and begging for me, left me looking after him when he’d already walked away, was an eddy of forces so subtle and quick that I was already gasping for breath by the time that I realized what had happened. And by then, his animal magnetism had already replaced oxygen as my primary source of survival.

That is the power of the main who looks plain from the outside but feels like a storm once he’s inside you. Flowery descriptions seem so far from apropos when it comes to the boy who slouches and drinks too much and isn’t sure of his own self worth.

But when I think of the awkward boy with all his flaws, even through the filter of my broken heart, I cannot help but see a little beauty.

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That Time I Broke My Tooth During Sex

June 20th, 2014

I don’t have many crazy sexual stories. I like to have sex in bed for no reason other than it’s comfortable. I like being comfortable.

I also like occasionally getting slapped, and the bartender doesn’t mind obliging.  The last time we had sex, we enjoyed an open-palmed hit to my face. Later that day, I enjoyed some dinner with my little sister, but my mouth felt strange. I have one tooth that sometimes scratches my inner cheek because it’s sharp, and it feel like this was happening.

Upon investigation, part of it crumbled right off. My dentist confirmed that this tooth — my wisdom tooth — had broken. I am waiting for an extraction appointment. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt. Thankfully. Though, I did spit out more pieces of tooth the other day.

The tooth was already in poor shape due to it being a wisdom tooth that there was never room for to begin with. It would eventually have broken; although, I’m sure the bartender helped it along.

And now I’m getting taken care of, which is just fine. However, I am certainly going to tell this story as that one time when I broke my tooth during sex should anyone ask.

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