Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires

June 28th, 2016

Sometime last year — I really need to catch up with reviews! — I was presented with an opportunity to review Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous. The entire theme of the book is something that I think is not only helpful but is necessary for those who are discovering their kinky selves, especially people who are struggling with this fact either because of their upbringing or because their relationships don’t have room for kink.

It’s not the first time I’ve reviewed a book about discovering your kinky self, so I was curious how Galen Fous would handle it differently than other authors, especially with his history as a mental health professional.

Very shortly into the book, Galen name drops a survey on his website, and he does this multiple times thereafter. He also links to his Fetlife account, lecture series, personal website, and his professional website. While I commend Galen for actually utilizing hyperlinks in his digital book, the significance of the survey is unclear.

At first, it almost seems as if it will reveal something about the user. It is simply a way got Galen to glean information about sexuality from readers and visitors. Don’t get me wrong. I think this is important, and what better place to encourage users to vocalize than in Galen’s own book?

However, the numerous mentions imply there’s a greater usefulness to the reader. This is especially true in the chapter that discusses personal erotic myths at length. At the end, Galen tells the reader to find their own PEM and directs them to the survey, but it’s never clear how the survey will be helpful in doing so. Fous never says “Imagine the story that is so erotic to you that it never fails to get you off. Imagine the role you play in your fantasies and how power and kink play into it.” Although there is a small section in the survey that asks the reader to consider this, the book itself leaves the reader wondering.

At times, Decoding Your Kink almost seems like a vehicle manufactured entirely as a vehicle to get more responses (and clicks to his site). At best, readers deserve better and it’s mildly annoying. But I can see this turning off a reader enough for them to put down the book.

My second major concern is Fous’ use of the term “fetishsexuality,” which he has coined and introduces as a sexual orientation alongside straight, gay, bisexual, so on and so forth. It rubs me wrong for several reasons. There’s no doubt that living in a society that fails to be sex positive is difficult for any kinkster, myself included, but it does a disservice to those who have fought to marry and have been murdered to simply invent a sexual orientation like this. Furthermore, one can be a kinkster combined with any of those sexual orientations, and many people are fetish-inclined without it being a necessity in the bedroom.

Finally, I think someone who is really struggling with accepting this part of their identity might find this new term to be confusing. Baby steps, you know? Let’s open up their eyes to fetishes and how they can be awesome and positive without adding new definitions that are not (yet) wildly accepted.

But let me sing some praise for Decoding Your Kink. I think it’s important that a mental health professional is sex positive and kink positive. I think it’s important for those with kinks and fetishes to recognize that those sexual interests are not necessarily unhealthy. They can be enjoyed, and they may not be shamed for having those fetishes.

Anyone who encourages kinksters to be honest to themselves is doing important work. Galen goes one further by collecting data and trying to develop a treatment model for those clients who seek help but don’t need their kinks treated as problematic or symptomatic of an issue.

Galen’s own kinks might make the reader feel more comfortable. He speaks honestly about topics such as physical (not sexual) touch with his clients, especially men who might be disconnected with their bodies and who may not experience positive physical interaction other than sex.

I did find the chapter on Erotic Mythos to be interesting and potentially useful, too. A personal erotic myth is essentially a sexual personality, and Galen outlines a few archetypes: King/Queen, Tyrant, Lord, Daddy, daughter, etc. In this section, the reader becomes familiar with stories of a few clients whose “personal erotic myths” followed a specific erotic myth fairly closely. Galen also talks about how important it can be to find a partner whose erotic myth complements our own.

Fous also treads carefully on the subject of bringing up your kinks to your partners, negotiating and potentially finding satisfaction of your fetishes outside of your relationship. Similarly, he explains the difference between D/s and BDSM and the interplay between kink and romance in a way that can help to

Yet all these positives don’t manage to make me forget about the strengths. There are places where Fous lacks clarity and flexibility. As I finished the last page, I felt somewhat let down. I think because the title “Decoding Your Kink” implies a book that will be hands-on and provide the reader a way to deal with their own struggle in regards to sexual identity. But at the end of the day, the words within these pages serve more as a general insight into Fous’ research and work with clients while providing a way for him to glean more data.

Again, I find this all interesting but it’s not what I expected to get from this book. I am mildly annoyed at this fact because I am not in the middle of a struggle myself, but someone who is, someone who picks up this book looking for answers, is unlikely to find them in a clear way that encourages action. For them, I would suggest As Kinky As You Wanna Be instead of Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires/

 

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Erectile Dysfunction and Extramarital Sex

January 5th, 2009

A friend of a friend was looking for advice on her current situation. Her husband had been having troubles with erectile dysfunction for a while and while prescription medicine solved the problem, it was no longer working. Add to it that his doctor had just confirmed it would be a permanent issue, and my friend was feeling disgruntled. Her husband suggested that she go out and find someone else with whom to have sex and she was wondering whether or not this is a good idea. She certainly wished for sexual intimacy and was considering sex outside her marriage but wasn’t sure.

My first reaction was that there may be other activities husband and wife can do together. Oral sex and mutual masturbation both popped into my mind. Use of toys is also something I would advocate. A hollow dildo may work for some while others just might use vibrators and regular dildos. Use with her husband or alone, this friend might not feel as much of a need to seek sexual gratification after all. Furthermore, I encouraged her to research alternative treatments for ED such as acupuncture or herbal remedies. I’m no doctor but it certainly seemed like all involved parties gave up on finding a solution, not just for his ED but for achieving sexual intimacy together, rather quickly.

I next wondered if their relaitonship was stable and whether extramarital sex, even if condoned by her husband, would cause further strain. As I inquired further, it became obvious that everything wasn’t peachy keen. She and her husband were no longer sharing the same bed, resulting in an even further loss of intimacy. While she felt willing to look into other ways they could be intimate together, he had already written off the subject. It was clear, not being able to perform in bed had done a number on his ego and confidence, thus it was affecting their relationship.

As this information came to light, my opinion quickly changed from “this might be a plausible solution” to “This couple needs therapy, not extramarital sex.” What they had both perceived as problem in the bedroom was really a larger problem with their relationship, of which sexual frustration was only a symptom. It seemed to me, that by considering she have an outside sexual encounter, this couple was only putting the cart before the horse. By working on meeting each others’ emotional needs, I have a feeling the wife will feel less of a desire to have sex with others and they might be able to substitute other activities for vaginal sex, instead.

Now, in their specific situation I would strongly encourage therapy and, if he was not willing, she should go alone. I would not recommend that she continue with the idea of sleeping with others, at all. Still, were their relationship strong and healthy, it may have worked out as long as they were both sure about what they want and made sure to vocalize it.

While what he was suggesting might be a completely selfless sign of love, it could also mean a test. If she had sex with another man, he might judge her as failing or not loving him enough despite his flaws. Or perhaps he really isn’t comfortable with the idea at all but feels he must do something so that she does not leave him for something better. Either way, even a stable relationship would suffer. This is why it’s important to be honest not only to our partners but to ourselves.

It may take a little soul searching in order to really know whether or not he is okay with his wife having sex with another man and it even may be difficult for her to come to terms with the idea. Feelings like jealousy, resentment and poor self worth may surface here but they are all surmountable. If you’re Is it absolutely possible to put aside human traits of jealousy and possessiveness? Sure. Do we all have the will to do so? Not usually. If either partner is uncomfortable at all, it’s not something which should be acted upon, at least yet.

Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to analyze the desire to seek out sexual fulfillment elsewhere. If this woman had done so, she would have discovered that she was not looking for sexual gratification alone; rather, she was looking to fill the emotional loss she was experiencing due to her husband pulling away. While he might be okay with her being in a sexual relationship with someone else, would he feel the same about her being emotionally intimate with another?

Which leads me to my last point: it’s vital to discuss (and agree upon) expectations and guidelines. The more she talked, the more it sounded like she was looking for a full time boyfriend but I could not help but wonder if this is what her husband had in mind. Perhaps he expected her to only have no-strings-attached one night stands. Perhaps he expected they would only have vaginal intercourse or not engage in activities which he felt we special to them (whether sexual or otherwise). Does he expect them to use protection? If so, what kind? Will she tell her new beau that she is married? Discussing when, where and how these trysts can occur not only helps to make sure all parties are on the same page but can help to shed light on whether or not everyone really is comfortable with the situation.

While I think this arrangement can work for some people, I think it doesn’t work for more people. I think certain conditions must be “met” before a couple should consider this. Other activities should be considered first, the relationship must be stable and healthy, both partners must be accepting of the idea and completely honest about their feelings and it’s a good idea to discuss guidelines and expectations beforehand.

If you have been successfully involved in a similar arrangement, it’s extremely likely it’s because you gave it some thought and followed these guidelines. Many of these considerations are those which belong in any relationship (honesty and communication) and others can be effective in negotiating open relationships or threesomes as well.

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