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When His Mouth Says “Booty Call” But His Body Says “Relationship”

February 26, 2015

1 Comment

romance_ocean_couplephoto via flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

I met this guy who is really sweet and nice.  He is 20 and I am 21.  We’ve hung out a few times and I am starting to like him.  Then, I saw him at a fraternity party the other night (although he does not go to my college) and he barely said hi.  I was walking with one of my guy friends when I ran into him. He told my friend he was too “sweaty and gross” and had to go.

Then the next morning he texted my best friend (the one that kind of set us up) and asked her if she had fun the night before.  She said yes and asked him if he did and he said he “found a cute girl and stuck with her all night.”  My best friend texted him back and said “oh so no more cam?”  And he said “i am still interested and i still like her, she is really cool…i just don’t want a girlfriend right now, is she down with that?”  My friend said that he should talk to me about that and he said we should all hang out soon.  This is so out of the blue…he definitely does not act like he just wants a hook up, but now I am unsure of what to do…

– Hopeless in Seattle

Dear H.i.S.,

Hmmm, let’s see: What makes you think that “he definitely does not act like he just wants a hook up”? Does he like to cuddle? Is he fascinated by your thoughts on neoclassical architecture? Does he like to tell you about his day or whine about his Mom? Does he want to take you to brunch the next morning? And yet he tells your best friend — 100% sure that she will pass the info onto you — that he just doesn’t want a girlfriend right now. What we have here is a classic case of intimacy lite, also sometimes known as casual intimacy.

If you’ve ever spooned your booty call or held hands with your one-night stand, you’re familiar with intimacy lite. If both parties are fully onboard with the lite nature of the intimacy, it’s perfectly natural — everyone needs a cuddle sometimes, and even the most ardent commitment-phobe among us misses snuggling and nuzzling and — eww, okay, we’ll stop (like dirty talk, all that stuff should be kept in the bedroom; talking about it out of context makes our assholes contract).

Anyway, commitment-phobes (i.e. 99.9% of male college students) are especially prone to indulging in intimacy lite, and this often sends a mixed message, because if his mouth is saying one thing and his body is saying another, then you’re probably going to listen to whichever message you like best. Sure, he might tell you that that the sex doesn’t mean anything, but does brunch invalidate that sort of agreement? Not in our book — but plenty of tenderhearted young things out there might think so. All crushed up, you refuse to believe that sometimes, someone simply needs help finishing the crossword, or wants company at brunch because all their good friends are brunching with their significant others

To make a sweeping generalization (Who, us? Never!), men are most often the culprits in cases of misinterpreted intimacy lite, perhaps because they dominate the ranks of the commitment-phobic. It’s not just getting free milk — it’s having Bessie listen to you ramble on about your problems at work, too: a mini-me relationship on tap, whenever you need a top-up.

If someone regularly engages in intimacy lite, we like to refer to them as a “sampler,” i.e. a man — or, yes, sometimes a woman — who subsists on a diet of sex and relationship “samplers.” You know how some supermarkets offer tastings of new products in every aisle? If you’re a cheapskate (and not a germaphobe), you can make a meal of it — melon squares in aisle 1, cheese and ham at the deli counter, brownies over in aisle 7. Keep doing laps, avoid making too much eye contract with the product rep, and sample away. In the world of hooking up, samplers ensure a balanced diet by relying heavily on light intimacy from multiple product reps.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, if intimacy lite sounds like a fun way to pass the Spring semester to you, then go ahead and keep taking his calls. But if you really want to be his girlfriend, then we recommend moving on and not letting him sample any more of your, ahem, melon squares.

Lunch ladies,

Em & Lo

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Your Call: How Do I Give Women a Heads Up About My Penis?

February 23, 2015

9 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Hi Em & Lo!

Women’s advice on my situation would be much appreciated.

Imagine this: You like everything about a man, you get to the bedroom, you don’t like what you see as the undies come down.

So… I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on how I can let a girl know, ASAP, that I have a small (in my eyes, and hands!) penis. I measure an average L: 5.5 G: 4.5-5.

I understand that a lot of girls would be happy with this size, but I also understand that a lot of women will not. How do I let her know, so that she can make her mind up to go or stay ASAP, so that neither of us get hurt or, in her case, disappointed. I think it would be best for us to not waste each other’s time, so that we can both find someone who appreciates us.

Thanks!

– Average Joe

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Dear Em & Lo: How Will “Fifty Shades” Affect Young Women?

February 11, 2015

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Dear Em & Lo, 

Have you thought about the effect that this film may have on young girls — how this film will set their expectations as to what sex is like?

– Fifty Shades of Fay

 

Dear FSoF,

Honestly, we haven’t. We’ve been too distracted by our upcoming ladies night screening of it!

But it’s a great question, and its implications are interesting.

First off, the movie is rated R. Of course this won’t stop people under the age of 17 from seeing it, but we don’t think all adult content should be banned because of the chance that it may get into the hands of some younger people who are not mature enough to process it. Parents and educators have to give their kids guidance about media, talk to them about the distorted fantasies, stereotypes, and violence they’re bombarded with these days. Frankly, we’re much more concerned about the effects hardcore porn has on young people’s perceptions of how sex is supposed to be — something, unfortunately, most kids have been exposed to. (Compared to the stuff they can find online, we’re afraid this film will seem downright quaint to most of them.) Hell, advertising and women’s magazines in the aggregate are much more worrisome than this single movie. Even scarier is the chance that young people will think that, due to its popularity, the Fifty Shades trilogy represents decent writing (we’re only half joking here!).

One of the reasons we’re so looking forward to the movie is to see how (or if) the female director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, a feminist-artist powerhouse, was able — despite author E.L. James’ resistance — to transform the movie into a tale of female strength and empowerment. According to an article in this week’s Time Magazine:

[Taylor-Johnson] thought she saw how to address the troubling power dynamic in the book: give the control to Anastasia. Put her in charge of her own odyssey. “This is the emotional journey of somebody who doesn’t seem as strong as she becomes,” she says. “And by the end of the story, she holds all the power.” Taylor-Johnson wants to reclaim the sexual-submission fantasy for empowered women. “To be a feminist,” she asks, “do you always have to be on top?”

Our answer to that question has always been “No.” Our resident radical feminist, Lo, enjoyed Anne Rice’s original BDSM trilogy The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty…in high school. Our generation also ate up the movie 9 and a Half Weeks as teenagers, and we didn’t become doormats (in fact, we may have learned how NOT to do kink). In our first Em & Lo sex manual, 2003’s The Big Bang, we wrote, “Just because you like to be tied up, spanked, and called ‘bitch’ doesn’t make you a bad feminist.” In our next book, Sex Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, we wrote the following:

A fantasy may be counterintuitive to the lady or gentleman you present yourself as in society. For instance, a feminist may fantasize about bending over a carburetor dressed in cheesy, scratchy lingerie with her hair teased, sprayed, and back-combed in the tackiest of styles. This is perfectly correct, for one’s fantasies should not be bound by ‘politically correct’ mores. And no, seemingly hypocritical kinks do not necessarily reflect deep-seated repression, neuroses, or issues. As with dreams, fantasies may be inspired by something as shallow as the previous evening’ televisions lineup or that summer’s trashy beach reading (no matter what Freud said).

For a lot of women, the submissive fantasy is an effective one — and you can’t legislate people’s turn-ons, despite the countless attempts made by righteous, religious conservatives (many of whom have secret Red Rooms of Pain in their own basements!). As far as we’re concerned, BDSM and (self)respect are not mutually exclusive. As long as we teach young people how to make smart choices, be as safe as possible, understand the difference between fantasy and reality, respect each other, talk to each other, and elevate sex to a sacred level (even when it’s casual), then it shouldn’t matter if they eventually like to be spanked once in a while.

We’ve always tried in our own small way to be a part of that educational effort. In all our writing about sex and relationships, we’ve endorsed and emphasized comprehensive sex education, open communication, consent, and safety. As far as Fifty Shades goes, we’ve actually written about the ways we hope the film will improve upon all the troubling elements in the book: Christian’s stalkerish abuse, Ana’s total lack of any sexual experience, her lukewarm reaction to kink, her issues with eating, the dirth of well-adjusted kinksters, etc. They’re improvements any viewer would benefit from, whether female or male, straight or gay, old or young. Hopefully the movie delivers, but with James fighting tooth and nail to stick to the original story, warts and all, for the sake of her fans, we’re not holding our breath.

One thing’s for sure, though: there will NOT be enough equal opportunity nudity! More male nudity in movies would go a long way to evening the playing field for women. And not just in the bedroom, but in all areas of life.

Check back here at EMandLO.com next week to see just how good or bad we think the movie turned out  – not just for young people, but for us all.

Laters babe,

Em & Lo


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What to Do When You Have Zero Sex Drive

January 30, 2015

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woman_jeans_undiesphoto via flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a 23-year old woman in a relationship with a wonderful guy — we’re celebrating two years together this month. We’re pretty serious about each other, but we have a serious hangup:  I have very little sex drive.  I’m not sure if he’s got an average drive or if he’s got a high drive, but he wants it a lot and I’m not usually wanting any part of it. I don’t think it’s him, because I don’t even want it when I’m not around him. We are close to each other and open, we experiment a lot with toys and have tried just about everything short of heavy bondage and adding in other partners. I just have no drive at all.

Even masturbating, once it’s over, I just think to myself, “Okay, moving on…”  I don’t really enjoy it. I read that having orgasms promotes sexual interest, and so I figured that if I masturbated more, it would jump-start my drive. I mostly masturbate out of a sense of obligation to myself/us, as opposed to my own personal interest.  I could live without it easily.

I climax most of the time we have sex thanks to clitoral stimulation, but I find that sex is fun for five or ten minutes, then I orgasm, and I feel like I could have just as easily used that time for something else (non-sexual).

Lately I’m not even interested in us focusing on me once we’re done with him.  He feels very badly that I don’t pursue my “ends.”

Please give me some advice, because I feel broken inside for this lack of interest.

–Just Not That Into It

Dear J.N.T.I.T.,

We very nearly skipped your question, as we are tempted to do whenever we get a letter that makes our heads hurt. But you sound so nice and you’re clearly trying so hard to do the right thing that we feel obliged to answer — even if we’re not sure that we have a simple answer for you.

One thing we will say is that there are two kinds of desire when it comes to sex: there’s a physical desire to get naked, and then there’s an emotional desire to be close to your partner. You clearly have the emotional desire. And you know what? Maybe that’s all you’ll ever have. Or maybe you’ll feel emotional desire most of the time and once in a blue moon your physical desire will show up.

But that doesn’t mean you’re “broken inside.” To think that way is to take a very male-centric approach to libido. Just because your physical drive doesn’t match your boyfriend’s, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It just means you’re different.

We commend you for being so open to trying new things! You may not think it, but your boyfriend is a lucky guy. That said, we don’t think you should force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel good. But five or ten minutes of fun in bed is nothing to sneeze at — maybe you two should just compromise at regular quickies. Plenty of women are happy with ten minutes of sex at a time, there’s nothing strange about that. In fact, most women who masturbate regularly can climax in just two or three minutes — so don’t get hung up on this idea that you should enjoy hour-long sex sessions. For some people, that’s heaven — and for others, it’s just plain annoying.

There are a million more things we could say on this topic — because it’s not a simple question, and there’s no simple answer. Rather than try to wrap up this letter with a snappy one-liner, we’d like to reprint an article we wrote a few years back for Red magazine in the U.K. It was inspired by an excellent memoir on this very topic called I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido by Joan Sewell. The article begins below — at the very least, we hope it will convince you that you’re not broken inside. You can also click here to read everything in our archive related to libido.

Big love,

Em & Lo

The Libido Cure
by Em & Lo

Can you imagine any of the men you know “working on” their libido? Do they linger in a bubble bath to awaken their nerve endings, do they hit the treadmill to get their juices flowing, do they insist on a backrub to help them warm up to the idea?

Not so much, right? In fact, a strong breeze gets most guys in the mood. So how come it can be such hard work for the rest of us?

According to recent research, 33 percent of American women and 32 of the ladies over here have “low libidos.” Of course, the astute reader will notice that therefore 68% of British women don’t have sagging sex drives (just hope your best friend isn’t one of them when you finally get up the courage to confide your libido woes!). But still, how is it possible that a third of all women experience this so-called sexual dysfunction? Are we that screwed up? Or could it be that what’s really screwed up is our concept of “normal”?

“The gold standard is men, that’s what we’re being measured against”, says Joan Sewell, author of the new memoir I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido. [read an excerpt here] “It’s politically correct to say that we have equal libidos because we want to feel equal to men socially, but anthropologists and socio-biologists all agree that, across all cultures, women have a far lower libido than men.”

Pity the poor woman with a low libido — these days she doesn’t even have cultural stereotypes on her side. Once upon a time it was pretty much assumed that women weren’t as sexual as men, or weren’t even sexual at all. Then along came feminism, the discovery of the clitoris, and decent sex education, all of which gave women permission to embrace their sexuality. But now, thanks in part to shows like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and Footballers’ Wives, having anything less than a hyperactive sex drive is considered, well, kind of uncool. “It’s become a point of pride,” says Sewell. “Women brag about their libidos and talk about men as if they’re consumables, and if you don’t feel that way, you’re branded as inhibited or sour grapes.”

Don’t get us wrong: We think it’s brilliant that women are now comfortable dishing about their sex lives over tea or cosmopolitans. But sometimes all this openness results in inflated expectations that can make sex feel like a competition. And those women who aren’t “winning” may experience a double-dose of anxiety: They worry “How is my partner is coping without a regular roll in the hay?” and they wonder “What the hell’s wrong with me?”

“My libido is really, really low and I hate it,” says Francesca, a 35-year-old mother and business owner who is still head over heels for her husband — but that love just isn’t translating to lust right now. “I feel guilty, not just on my partner’s behalf, but on my own, too, in a way.”

Unfortunately, thinking that you’re somehow defective in bed can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Nothing squashes an already anemic libido quite like diagnosing yourself — based on a particularly moving episode of Oprah, perhaps—as sexually dysfunctional. In other words, if you can’t beat that 32 percent, then join them.

Dr. Patti Britton, PhD, author of The Art of Sex Coaching, thinks we shouldn’t give in so easily. “There’s this trend toward the medicalisation of sexuality,” she says. “The model is: There’s something wrong with you, we can diagnose and name it, and then we can give you a pill or a cream to cure it.” Like Sewell, she believes that our approach to what is normal in the sack is problematically male-based. “We are not bags of raging hormones who are horny around the clock,” she says. “That’s just not how female desire works.”

The traditional model for sex has five phases: desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. And, sure, sometimes it happens in this order for women, especially in a new relationship or after a week apart or a few vodka tonics. But not always — which doesn’t mean these women are out of whack, it just means they have a different natural order.

“Many women need to actually be aroused and move up that scale and feel excitement and maybe even plateau in order for desire to kick in,” Britton explains. “They don’t initially have desire, they have an openness and a willingness, and then, lo and behold, that desire shows up as a desire to continue.” In other words, what looks like low libido might just be a delayed start — and a so-called low libido doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman enjoys sex any less.

In fact, almost every woman we interviewed who claimed to “suffer” from a low libido said that when her partner initiates and she just goes along for the ride, she typically ends up having a good time: “I often have sex when I’m not in the mood,” says Amy, a 39-year-old divorced writer. “But it’s with the full knowledge that the mood will kick in — and it usually does.”

“Women need to understand that they’re not usually going to feel like they’re about to explode in the groin like their male counterparts,” says Britton. “And men need to understand that the reason she doesn’t ever initiate is that she’s not itchy, so she’s not going to scratch it.”

“My husband can never understand how I can happily have sex with him five nights a week, but then if he goes away for two weeks on business, I won’t think about sex once!” says Melanie, a 34-year-old TV researcher who’s been married for two years. “He’ll masturbate every night in his hotel room, and he can’t believe that it never occurs to me to do the same.”

Often, a woman won’t even realise that her partner is the one making all the first moves. We asked a couple who have been married for nine years who typically initiates sex. “It’s about 50-50,” reports the Missus. “Um, it’s actually more like me 90 percent of the time,” says her husband. “Oh!” she replies. “Well, I love it that you’re always asking me to have sex.” In her mind, the ratio is 50-50 because she figures she’s enjoying the sex at least as much as her husband. But no one could blame him for thinking that his sex drive is nine times as powerful as his wife’s.

Of course, waiting for your guy to initiate and then lying back, thinking of England, and hoping for the best is not exactly a proactive (or particularly healthy) way to get what you want in bed. That’s where Britton’s holistic M.E.B.E.S. (Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, Spirit) approach to sex comes in. Understanding that the libido often manifests itself differently in men and women is only the first step in this plan (“Mind”). Step two, “Emotions,” involves dealing with all the guilt, shame, and fear that are part of the package. The panic can set in: If I don’t lust after him, maybe he’ll turn to someone else who does. “Many times, it’s in her imagination,” says Britton. “If she talks to her partner, those fears are often stilled. He might say, I have no intention of leaving you, I just wish we could have sex a little more often!” And then at least your worst-case scenarios are dismissed. Because giving a blowjob just so your husband’s secretary won’t isn’t exactly the number one way to get in the mood.

“We used to have lots of long chats about our sex life,” says Maggie, a 34-year-old floral designer who got married a few years ago. “It involved lots of crying, hugging, sympathizing and apologizing. Now, we giggle about it and make it part of our daily conversation, like, You know, we haven’t had sex in about a month, and I feel very distant from you these last few weeks, wanna go away for the weekend and reconnect?”

Next comes the all-important “Body” step. A research presentation at the most recent gathering of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality showed that body image is now the single most important component of a woman’s sex drive. “If a woman doesn’t have a good image of herself, she probably has low desire,” says Britton. “It’s almost a correlate you can count on.” So accepting the things you can’t change (aging) and courageously changing the things you can (with decent nutrition and regular exercise) is essential.

But it’s not just a matter of how you feel about your boobs or your belly: It’s what you (or your partner) can (or can’t) do with that body, too. If you think you’re not good in bed or at giving head — or if you know that your partner is skilled at neither — then it’s no wonder you’re not giddily rushing into the bedroom. Britton’s recommendation? Educational DVDs about sex: “Watching people being sexual is the best teacher of all.”

But all the blowjob skills in the world won’t matter if you’re just too tired to get down there (the “Energy” factor). “With email and texts and P.D.A.s, we’re always in demand and on tap,” says Britton. “There’s not a lot of energy left to be sexual.” Her suggestion is to allocate time when you’re not on-tap: turn off the phones, turn down the lights, use scented oils. And don’t pressure yourself into feeling that this is supposed to be “sexy time.” It’s simply “me-time” — and you may have to bank quite a bit of it before you’re ready to invite someone else along.

Finally, there’s “Spirit,” which basically just means not losing your sense of self in the process. We live in such a fix-it culture that it’s tempting to approach something like a low libido as if it were simply a matter of changing the batteries or oiling the parts. But this step is about figuring out what works for you. “Most women don’t use sex as a way of recharging,” says Britton. “Whereas for men, sex is often their de-stressing zone. It’s their discharge and their recharge!” For you, maybe it’s a day at the spa, maybe it’s tantric sex, maybe it’s a little masturbation before hubby gets home — and maybe it is a bubble bath, the treadmill, or a backrub.

Heidi Raykeil, author of Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido, went searching for her sex drive after the birth of her daughter, and along the way addressed all five of Britton’s steps without even knowing it! First, she got her head straight: She tells us, “I just accepted that I have my own, sometimes fickle, sometimes feral sexuality — not some TV version of sexuality.” Second, she and her husband dealt with their emotions: “In the process of writing about what was not going on with us, we actually started talking about it. Not fighting, or blaming, or guilting — but really communicating.” Third, she got medical help with a thyroid problem that was negatively affecting her libido. Fourth, she found more “me-time” with her husband’s help: “He realized there was a connection between me feeling sexy and getting time away from the baby, so he would take her more or arrange childcare he knew I trusted. Also, as lame and old-school as it sounds, he started cleaning more and helping out around the house.  Not as a trade for sex, but because he realized that walking past a stack of dirty dishes on the way to the bedroom doesn’t do much for my mood.” And finally, they figured out what they each needed to feel sexy individually (sleep, time alone, exercise, de-stressing), and what they needed to do to stay feeling sexy as a couple (turn off the TV, have fun outside the house, communicate better). Raykeil says, “When we connect emotionally and spiritually, the door opens a lot wider for us to connect physically.”

But Raykeil’s story may make a libido-makeover seem easier than it is. Sewell, the author of I’d Rather Eat Chocolate, tried everything: therapy, thongs, naughty thoughts, dirty talk, quickies, slow sensual sex, chocolate icing (for his penis), housework (by him), instructional videos, initiating, masturbation, romance, role-playing, and just going along for the ride to see if she’d get in the mood (she didn’t). None of this changed the fact that she just couldn’t imagine wanting sex more than three or four times a month — and even then, she’d always choose chocolate or a good book over the boot-knocking. Her husband, given his druthers, would like it five to six times a week.

It wasn’t until Sewell’s relationship was headed for divorce court that she finally hit on something that worked. She did it by figuring out what she dreaded most about sex (soldiering through it no matter what) and what she didn’t mind so much (dressing up in lingerie, doing stripteases, and, luckily for her husband, giving blowjobs). So they came up with a kind of sex contract: “I agreed to sexual contact three times a week, so long as I could determine both the pace and the content of these sessions,” says Sewell. This meant her reserving the right to take a break in the middle of sex if she needed to — maybe she’d grab a can of Coke from the fridge, stretch her legs, have a Kit-Kat. It also meant that on some nights, there’d be full-on sex or a blowjob, while on others, she’d just entertain him with a lapdance while he rubbed one out.

Now, she no longer dreads sex — in fact, most of the time she kind of enjoys it. (And trust us, if she can, then almost anyone can.) Oh yeah, and her marriage got a lot better. “Kip became a more loving, attentive, and communicative man,” she writes. “Our marriage became more intimate in other areas. He became more affectionate, happier. To me, it was impossible to fathom that sex could make such a difference, but it did.”

While Sewell’s plan is intricately tailored to her relationship, her approach can be generalized to anyone’s situation: Be honest with yourself and then your partner about what you like most and least about sex, and then work your love life around that. Maybe your only problem is that six nights a week doesn’t give you enough time to miss sex — and chances are, your partner would rather have you gagging for it once a week than going through the motions night after night. Or perhaps the rapid-fire jackhammering so fancied by men (and most pornos) doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities.

“My husband and I have much better sex when a bit of time has passed between our seshes,” says 34-year-old Anne, whose husband usually waits for her to initiate so he knows she’s really in the mood. “Still, he’d like it more. So I’ve told him, If you want it more, then the onus is on you to get me in the mood and do it the way I really like.” For Anne, that means building up slowly with lots of teasing, occasionally tying her up, and limiting actual thrusting time to ten minutes.

Finally, after all the self-exploration and self-improvement and mutual compromise, remember that it’s okay to just say no. After all, consistently having sex when you don’t want to can lead to bad sex, which can lead to not wanting to have sex even more. Explains Heidi Raykeil, “Saying No, I don’t want to do it tonight without hemming and hawing or lying or making excuses is a lot more empowering and feels a whole lot better.” And if you go to sleep feeling good, then who knows? Maybe you’ll wake up in the mood for a little morning nookie.

Five Easy Ways to Feel Really Good
Have you heard of oxytocin? It’s known as the body’s feel-good hormone (not to be confused with the infamous feel-good drug OxyContin), and studies show that when we don’t have enough of it, we’re not going to feel much like reaching out and touching someone. “Oxytocin won’t necessarily increase your sex drive,” says Dr. Laura Burlen, M.D., Ph.D., who has studied the role of hormones in women’s sexual health for decades. “But it does make you more receptive to touch, it helps with increased vaginal lubrication, and it makes the climax better.” We’ll take that for starters! Burlen recently founded the Balencia Wellness Spa, where she often prescribes her low-libido clients oxytocin in the form of a pill or nasal spray. But she also prescribes simple human touch, which can naturally boost oxytocin levels. This is why a low libido is often a vicious circle: The more oxytocin we have, the more we crave touch, so touch begets touch — and no touch begets, well, no touch. But the good news is that this touch can come from anyone. Here are Burlen’s favorite D.I.Y. tips for upping your oxytocin levels this week:

1. Get a facial or a mani-pedi during your lunch break.

2. Make an appointment to have your hair straightened—and then spend the night in.

3. Have lunch with your girlfriends. Who knew that scientists actually studied this stuff? But yep, a good natter with good friends can up the feel-good factor, too.

4. Snuggle up on the couch together for Dancing with the Stars.

5. Get a professional massage, either alone or with your partner.

And if you’re wondering why you often crave the massage or the pedicure instead of sex? “The massage is just bringing you up to the normal level of oxytocin,” says Burlen. “Then you need more touch, like foreplay, to get the surge you need before sex.” So the ideal date night, according to Burlen? “A facial, then a massage from your husband, and then sex!” Just tell your bloke it’s what the doctor ordered.

[article orginally appeared in Red magazine (U.K.)]

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Your Call: What Positions Work for Big Belly, Small Penis?

January 26, 2015

1 Comment


Pitch Perfect, The Mermaid Dance

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I have finally met the man of my dreams in almost every way. I am a bigger girl, he is supportive of my diet and other efforts, so it wasn’t a problem. I don’t mind that he has acquired his own belly either. However, the two of them mixed with what is a smaller than average penis, a severe knee injury in his past, and his not desiring to give oral are leaving me very sexually frustrated.

I don’t think a man going down on me is personally necessary, but in past relationships I at least got plenty of pleasure from a nice dick and was happy. I think I need help because I love him very much and cannot determine a good approach other than staying on my diet and hoping that future sex is more fulfilling for us.

We want a child together and what we have done together will never be able to produce a child. We need ideas that can bring us together without further injuring his knee. ALL help and ideas are greatly appreciated!

– Big (and Small) Problems

What advice do you have for B.A.S.P.? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Your Call: Can I Downgrade a Booty Call to Friend (No Benefits)?

January 21, 2015

2 Comments

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I have been reading lots of stuff, but not really getting the answer I want, so here goes: Can a booty call turn into him and I just being friends? Not boyfriend girlfriend, just friends.

– Friend, No Benefits

What advice do you have for F.N.B.? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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What to Do When You Get Your Period on a Booty Call

January 16, 2015

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Dear Em & Lo,

For the past two weeks I have been sleeping with a guy I met here at college. The boundaries of our relationship have been well-established: late night phone calls for no-strings-attached sex. We’re having a great time, and I want to keep this thing going. However, the last time we were together I had one of my most embarrassing moments: I got my period during sex. Although he seemed to handle the situation relatively well, he hasn’t called me since. I am worried that what happened was more of a girlfriend-type situation than a booty-call type situation. Was that a deal breaker for him? This is an incredibly awkward situation for me, as we know many of the same people and I fear that he has given up on me and that this can only reflect badly upon myself. Should I contact him? Apologize? Buy him new sheets? Help!

– Crimson Tide

Dear C.T.,

We have so many questions…

First, how does you unexpectedly getting your period reflect badly on you? We’re sure you didn’t plan to turn his bed into a crime scene, right? Sometimes these things happen. Your period is part of life. Heck, it’s part of your sexuality. And have you seen the stuff that comes out of the end of his dick when he ejaculates? Not exactly flowers, either. If you wanted to win the Nice Booty Call of the Year award, you could have offered to either help him clean the sheets (he may not have the experience we ladies do with getting out blood stains) or buy him new ones. But how many guys do you know who offer to clean a woman’s sheets when he spills his seed all over them, huh? It’s just not that big a deal.

Next, if this is a mutually understood, agreed-upon, and pleasurable booty call situation for both of you, why are you waiting around for him to call you? If you want to keep making sex appointments, call him. If you want to find out if this is a big deal for him, just come right out and ask him. You guys are getting naked and poking each other’s holes, for crying out loud. That’s pretty intimate stuff, menstrual blood or not. We think your relationship, however casual, can handle a frank discussion about the functions of those bodies that get undressed and roll around together.

Finally, assuming it turns out that he does think it’s a big deal, why would you want to be with him? He doesn’t have to lap it up like Edward Culllen from Twilight, but if he’s so grossed out by your period that he’s willing to give up a good booty call arrangement, then he’s an unsympathetic, immature baby who doesn’t understand the first thing about female anatomy (which probably makes him suck in the sack, anyway) and he doesn’t deserve your amorous attention. But rather than giving him bloody hell (which would be our first instinct), we guess you could rise above it all and try to gently explain why it’s just not that big a deal, making him a better future booty call and boyfriend for girls to come. After all, he is still in college. Maybe he’s never had a good woman tell him this before.

Of course, you need to consider the possibility that his not calling has nothing to do with your period at all. You’re in college, you’ve known each other only two weeks, you’re having casual sex, he’s a guy — it’s kind of a miracle that you’ve gotten together more than once! He might have just moved on to have casual sex with someone else, period.

Seeing red,

Em & Lo

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Your Call: How Can I Get Past My Boyfriend’s Bisexuality?

January 7, 2015

4 Comments

photo of Alan Cumming via flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

So, I’ve been with my lovely boyfriend for around 4 months. Not long but we’ve fallen absolutely head over heels for each other.

He told me recently that he’s also attracted to men/’cock’.

He has kissed a couple of guys kind of as a joke whilst drunk at parties but never done anything more, sexually, with another guy. Yet he is certain he is bi.

I am not homophobic. Well, at least I don’t think I am. I’ve had plenty of gay friends and never had a problem with it/felt uneasy about it what so ever. Yet when my boyfriend told me he felt that way I instantly felt repulsed. If I think about it, the thought makes me feel ill and anxious. I’m not worried he will cheat, I just hate the thought of him feeling that way.

I know this is my problem/issue. I know it’s fantastic that he felt comfortable enough to tell me and that I shouldn’t feel this way. But… I do. I don’t know why. Any insight as to why I feel this way, and, most importantly, how to move past it?

– Bi Shy

Share your advice with Bi Shy in the comments section below.

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Once More with Feeling: Why He Didn’t Call

December 19, 2014

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cat_phonephoto via flickr

Dear Em & Lo,

I am interested in this man and I think he is interested in me.  I will call him if I am in his area and ask him to grab a drink with me and my friends.  This is usually last minute.  The past two times he was busy and it seemed legit.  However, he doesn’t ever make alternate plans.  I feel if he really wants to see me, he should try to see me no matter what.  What gives?

– Hung Up

Dear H.U.

Argh, don’t make us say it! Your letter is like a trap just to get us to write that stupid catchphrase! We really wish we could think of a more original response. Oh screw it, we’re just gonna go ahead and say it: He’s just not that into you.

Man, that feels good to just let it out. Overuse be damned, sometimes the commercialized old chestnuts say it best. Still, why do we feel so dirty? The only reason we’re being unoriginal is that so many daters — both male and female — are unoriginal in their lameness.

Um, are we supposed to pay someone royalties now?

We’d like to break it down for you and explain the nuance in our answer, but really, there isn’t any. You call; he’s busy; he doesn’t make alternate plans. There are a million things that could be going on… like, for example, he dislikes last-minute plans, he’s a very busy guy, he doesn’t like alcohol, he doesn’t like your friends, he doesn’t have your number, he’s just letting you take the reins, he broke his dialing finger. But every single one of these million things could be easily overcome if he was really into you.

Just not that into coming up with our own catchphrase,
Em & Lo



Dear Em & Lo: I Need a Gynecologist But I Can’t Tell My Mom

December 17, 2014

1 Comment


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Dear Em & Lo,

I have a BIG issue. I have been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half and something traumatic has happened three times now. On occasion, when the sex has gotten extremely heated and we are going at it, his member will slip out and pretty much stab me right above my vaginal opening. The first time this occurred there was so much blood and pain that I almost passed out. Now that this has happened three times (with about 3 months in between) I’ve noticed a large tear forming above my vaginal hole and I’m afraid its ripping my urethra. Even though I’m 20 years old I’m STILL not comfortable enough to tell my mom I need to visit the gyno because she is very anti-premaritial sex.

PLEASE help.

Thanks,

All Torn Up

 

Hi ATU,

We’re not doctors, so we’re not going to touch your genital problem with a ten foot speculum. But we will say this: You should definitely go to the doctor asap! You’re a sexually active adult, you deserve to see a gynecologist privately, and you have to take care of yourself.

As a 20 year old woman, you should have a gyno you’re seeing regularly, whether you’re sexually active or not — you have ovaries and a uterus and breasts that are all prone to disorders that have absolutely nothing to do with sex. Getting regular gynecological check ups at your age is just good sense, even if you’ve never been kissed! So making an gyno appointment does not automatically equate with sex — if your mother assumes so, she’s mistaken (she’s also mistaken about premarital sex, but that’s another article).

Frankly,  it’s none of your mother’s business what you’re doing (or not doing) sexually. What is discussed between you and your doctor is also none of her business. We normally wouldn’t condone lying, but if you’re mother is standing in the way of you getting the medical help you require and you need a cover, tell her you’ve been getting bad, heavy periods lately with lots of cramping. We’re assuming you can keep her out of the examination room with you? This will give you the chance to be honest with your doctor. And remember, there this thing called doctor-patient confidentiality: your doctor can’t discuss your situation with your mom if you don’t want her to (so make that clear!).

You could also go on your own, avoid your parents health insurance (and thus your mom’s involvement), and visit a Planned Parenthood near you; if you don’t have your own insurance, they can offer you services based on their discount fee scale, which many patients find very reasonable, especially when compared to other doctors’ offices. Good luck — and get thee to a doctor, stat!

Em & Lo

 

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