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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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Dream Interpretation: My Boyfriend and I BOTH Dreamt About Demons

January 29, 2015

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“The Nightmare” by John Henry Fuseli

Other people’s dreams are never interesting…except when they’re about sex. Each week, our dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells one lucky reader what their dirty dream means. Got a dream you want Lauri to analyze? Click here to submit it (18 and older only, please). This week, a reader tells Lauri:

My boyfriend and me had a dream about demons! His was he was killing demons and mine was helping my cousin while she was possesed by one. Two cats appeared in my dream, and bit my cousins neck.

Lauri:  It’s actually pretty common for two people, who are close, to have the same dream or very similar dreams on the same night. If you scroll through this column, you’ll see I have answered questions about this before. In a nutshell, the reason why this happens is because the two individuals who have the same or similar dream on the same night are likely dealing with the same issue and their subconscious minds respond to the issue in a similar fashion resulting in a similar dream experience. Pretty cool, huh?

So, these demon dreams are most likely connected to the same issue. Demons in dreams tend to symbolize a negative force in your life, a bad situation or behavior or something that you have “demonized.” Your boyfriend was killing the demon in his dream, which suggests that, in real life, he is actively working on putting an end to this negative situation or behavior. Your dream demon possessed your cousin, which tells us you view this negative element in your life as all consuming to the point that you may not be yourself lately… that is, unless your cousin is actively involved in your relationship or actively opinionated about it then you may feel SHE is not being herself lately.

The cats in your dream may point to catty behavior. So again, is your cousin giving you a hard time about your relationship? Whatever the case, these dreams indicate you and your boyfriend are both aware that a negative force looming about and it is time to put up a united front!

 

Visit Lauri’s site, WhatYourDreamMeans.com, for even more dream interpretations! If you want to be able to figure out your own dreams every morning, then check out her latest book, Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, which will give you the tools you need to become a dream expert, too. Check out all of Lauri’s books here.

 

 

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Wise Guys: Are Blue Balls Real?

January 28, 2015

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photo via Flickr


Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks, “What do blue-balls feel like… is it really that painful, or that big a deal? Is it even a real physical phenomenon?”

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett): Blue balls are the testicular equivalent of a migraine headache. They are very real and can be very painful: pressure builds up due to sexual excitement from direct stimulation and has nowhere to go. Imagine having to sneeze, getting right to the second before and holding it for 15 minutes. Now, to be clear, I’m referring to situations where sexual activity has already begun (i.e. handjobs, oral, whatever) and then stopped in the middle for some reason. Mere kissing doesn’t cause blue balls, and those guys who claim otherwise are probably pigs. (To suggest a romantic situation that starts with kissing HAS to end with an orgasm is not only absurd, it’s borderline abusive.) But in those situations where physical contact with the johnson has been initiated by a second party and then arbitrarily withdrawn, it can be not only physically frustrating, but emotionally frustrating as well. It’s like, Why would she do that? Why??? My work ethic has always been to finish what I start, and I recommend this philosophy be applied to the bedroom as well. Of course, guys who find themselves in this situation have a very easy solution: masturbate! Much like Excedrin cures a headache, masturbation will cure blue balls. It’s really quite simple.

Gay Single Guy (Jay Dyckman): Truthfully, I had to look this up.  Wikipedia claims it is “the condition of temporary fluid congestion in the testicles and prostrate region caused by prolonged sexual arousal in the human male.”  I say no way.  Total urban legend.  “Prolonged sexual arousal?”  What kind of oxymoron is that?  I don’t know any guy who “prolongs” sexual arousal.  Sexual arousal in men is like Superman: it’s up, up and away, end of story.  Maybe it existed in the ’50s, when people would just “neck” for hours and it wouldn’t go anywhere. But those days are looooong gone.  Hi Bristol Palin!  And gay-wise?  Uh, never an issue. However, if I’m wrong and there really is such a thing, I would sincerely hope they look like Smurf balls — because that would be kind of cool.

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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Camping, Not Glamping)

January 27, 2015

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photo via @BachelorABC (the caption read: “One of these virginities will be taken tonight.” Brilliant.)

The fourth episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor” featured more Emmy-worthy editing, from the tiny violins playing over Ashley “Kardashian’s”s tragic princess soliloquy to the close-up shots of her weave to the sad, foreboding music behind Jillian’s tasteless “Who Would You Rather” inquiry. That said, we would revoke all Emmys for the misleading season teaser they made a few weeks ago which suggested premature pre-fantasy-suite humping happened in a tent. Lying liars!

While the catty interpersonal drama we’ve come to love and expect is a little lacking this season, and Prince Farming’s personality is nowhere to be found, we can still glean some important life lessons about love and dating from “The Bachelor”:

  1. It’s 2014. Can we please dispense with the retro myth that virginity = value? Just because you’ve never experienced the presence of a penis in your vagina does not make you “marriage material.” (And while we’re at it, let’s dispense with that old-fashioned “marriage material” term, too!) Respect given should not ebb and flow in relation to the number of partners a person has had. (Chris: “It makes me respect her more.” Say wha?!) Are you in touch with your sexuality and enjoy sex with open and honest communication? Great! Are you abstaining until you’ve found the right person? Great! But please don’t whip out your V-card and flash it around like it’s a Black Amex.
  2. Lipstick, concealer, bronzer, and contour makeup have no place on a camping date. It’s okay to get glammed up for special occasions (though we’d reconsider the fake, tarantula-leg eyelashes), but a quick run to the corner store to pick up croissants and the Sunday New York Times for you and your lovie should not require three and a half hours of prep in front of the vanity.
  3. Little girls under the age of six can get away with calling themselves “Disney Princesses” — just barely. But if you are an adult woman, you should not consider yourself a princess, expect to be treated like one, or refer to yourself as such in public with zero shame. This is the real world, not Far Far Away; you are a grownup, not a spoiled brat. Self-infantilization is not attractive.
  4. Before this becomes the official Poop on Ashley I. Parade, let’s switch gears: It’s your life and your body, do with it what you want — but when revealing past personal choices, consider the nude modeling slightly more potentially scandalous than the called-off engagement.
  5. It is a HUGE red flag when you gently ask the person you’re dating a legitimate, challenging question and they become so enraged that they cannot form a complete sentence — indeed, they cannot even finish a single sentence. (Verbatim: “I guess, ah, I see two sides, like, a, Kaitlyn has a lot of different facets that are, not, and I don’t, those aren’t, I see the Kaitlyn that’s just, you know what I mean? I mean obviously, I mean if you like her or dislike her, I don’t see, I don’t look at Kaitlyn like being some really, I mean I’m not rewarding inappropriate behavior, you know, by giving roses to people that are, and I, if you view it as that, um…”) When the expression on your date’s confused face reads “Can’t talk, must punch,” it’s probably a good idea to back up slowly and then briskly walk away.
Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.” 

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

January 26, 2015

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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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10 Ways Blizzards Are Good for Your Love Life

January 26, 2015

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photo via Flickr

It’s Snowmegeddon! Batten down the hatches! Get the gas for the generators! Scratch the eyes out of the mom at the grocery store grabbing the last of the organic milk! And then take a deep breath, relax, and look at the beautiful snow from another perspective: namely, from a place of love. Here are 10 blizzard-inspired behaviors that can have a potentially positive effect on your romantic relationship:

  1. Cozying up by the fire: If you’ve got a fireplace, there’s no better time to build a fire. And what’s more romantic than a roaring, crackling fire? A thousand cheesy movie love scenes can’t be wrong. Bear skin rug optional; bare skin…ideal.
  2. Nipping whiskey to warm up: It’ll bring a flush to your cheeks, reminiscent of the rosie cheeks you get in, shall we say, other ways. And a little loosening of inhibitions — in moderation, of course — might inspire those “other ways.”
  3. Snuggling under the blankets to share body heat: According to one health site, to avoid hypothermia “remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both bodies with a blanket.” Hey, that’s official medical advice, people!
  4. Winter montages: Building a snowman together, having a snowball fight, drinking hot chocolate, looking adorable in matching woolen hats — it’s like your life is suddenly a rom-com montage! How can you not feel the love?
  5. Power outages mean mood-enhancing candlelight: As with a roaring fire, “natural” light = instant romance, mainly for its flattering affects on your appearance: almost all bodily flaws are forgiven by firelight. Power outages may mean no TV, too — in which case, you’ll just have to make your own entertainment. Hmmm, we wonder how you could do that?
  6. Eskimo kisses: Touching skin that you don’t normally touch can be novel. New nerves are awakened. Use the eskimo kiss to inspire other kinds of untraditional and unexpected touching, if you know what we mean.
  7. Long, hot baths: With nowhere to go when you’re snowed in, there’s no need to rush through a quick shower. Draw a hot bath, add some bubbles or aromatic oils, bring in some candles (even if there’s no power outage), and invite your partner to join.
  8. Post-shovelling massages: Yes, digging out is not only a drag, it can be dangerous: sore muscles, thrown-out backs, even heart attacks. But if you do any heavy lifting and make it back inside safe and sound, you are definitely within your rights to pull the pity card and request a rub down. And it’s almost a scientific fact that 78% of back massages end in sex.
  9. Cancelled work = instant mini staycation: (Please note: for the kid-free only.) With the world basically shut down and all responsibilities temporarily put on hold, you can sleep in, watch movies in bed, and have sex in the middle of the day just like you do on vacation. And the sex is always better on vacation.
  10. Stockholm-Syndrome-Lite. Forced to essentially be each other’s captives for an indeterminate amount of time, you just might fall in love all over again (if you don’t kill each other first).

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Dream Interpretation: I Have MMF Threeways with My Wife

January 22, 2015

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Other people’s dreams are never interesting…except when they’re about sex. Each week, our dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells one lucky reader what their dirty dream means. Got a dream you want Lauri to analyze? Click here to submit it (18 and older only, please). This week, a reader tells Lauri:

I dreamed me and my wife had a threesome with a guy. This dream occurs to me frequently, what does this signify? What does this symbolize? Is it a bad omen or what? Thank you!

Lauri:  There are two main reasons we get recurring dreams:

1. The dream is connected to an ongoing issue that has yet to be resolved; for as long as the issue continues, so will the dream.

2. The dream is connected to a recurring behavior pattern of yours in real life; whenever you exhibit the behavior you get the dream.

So let’s see if we can figure out which it is. The guy in the dream symbolizes something that has been brought into the marriage. Can you pinpoint when these dreams began? If so, then the issue the guy symbolizes began around the same time. I’m assuming the guy in the dream is someone that doesn’t actually exist in real life, in which case he will symbolize male assertive energy. Has your wife been a bit more “ballsy” lately (in the bedroom or elsewhere): speaking her mind, standing up for herself, making things happen, making more money, working more, etc? If so, then that may be what this guy is.

Or are you the one being more ballsy, assertive, etc.? Or is there some issue or activity that you both have become “involved” in? You should be able to connect it to one of the three.

Once you do, it’s time to decide if this is a welcome addition to the marriage or is it something that you feel is getting in between the two of you. I hope this gives you enough ammo to figure it out. Once you decide this is a welcome addition to the marriage or decide it is not and remove it, the dreams will stop.
Visit Lauri’s site, WhatYourDreamMeans.com, for even more dream interpretations! If you want to be able to figure out your own dreams every morning, then check out her latest book, Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, which will give you the tools you need to become a dream expert, too. Check out all of Lauri’s books here.

 

 

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

January 21, 2015

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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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Wise Guys: How Can Women Pick Up Men in Bars?

January 21, 2015

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photo via flickr

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: What are the best ways for a woman to pick up a man in a bar?

Gay Single Guy (Daniel): Well, what kind of bar is it? If it’s a sports bar, talk about the game of course! I’m going out on a limb here as a queer man, but most straight men lurve women who are into sports. And why is that? Because it’s a pleasant surprise that keeps giving pleasure. Imagine meeting someone attractive that happens to share an interest with you that you can talk almost endlessly about. Wouldn’t your heart just melt if you met a genuinely straight guy who loved shopping for clothes and talking about it? It’s the same kind of surprise and euphoria for a woman and sports! But outside of the sports bar, I know the absolute best way: walk up to the man and offer to buy him a drink. Why is this frakkin’ brilliant? 1) Totally unexpected; 2) Demonstrates both a cleverness and a sense of humor; 3) Shows independence and adventurousness; and 4) It’s also an open door to a smart discussion on male-female dynamics, role-reversals, feminism, etc. See, it’s perfect!

Straight Married Guy (Figleaf): You’d think the best way would be to ask for his phone number and say, “Can I call you later.”  Unfortunately that seems to make men nervous if they’re not already pretty interested.  That’s not as unfair as it sounds, though, because chances are good that unless you’re already pretty interested, it makes you a little nervous when men try to pick you up!  Here’s what I’ve seen work pretty well no matter who’s asking: make or permit eye contact without making a big production out of it.  Then go back to doing what you were doing before.  Try for eye contact again every now and then.  Smile back if he smiles.  If he seems interested, find your way over to him (if he doesn’t come over to you first) and find a way to say “hi” without making him feeling cornered.  You can both probably take it from there.  One important point though: don’t be shocked and, especially, don’t be hurt if he declines your overtures.  We’re used to thinking of men as always interested, but that’s more a function of men traditionally initiating.  If he gets to know you a little better he might change his mind… or even ask you out himself.  Good luck.

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10 Journal Prompts to Help You Get Over a Breakup

January 20, 2015

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photo via flickr

Two recent articles in the New York Times (here and here) discussed the benefits of writing things down to help you move on from a difficult situation. An aversion to exercise, for example, or trouble fitting in at a new job, or — the situation we hear about most often at EMandLO.com — inability to get over a breakup. The latter is the one we will discuss here.

You may call it writing in a diary, or “journaling” (assuming that word doesn’t make you feel funny inside!), but researchers call it “expressive writing.” And there is actually a lot of scientific research showing the benefits of expressive writing — studies have shown it can improve mood disorders, boost memory, increase happiness,  improve general health, change behavior, and even reduce symptoms among cancer patients. Holy shit! If expressive writing can punch cancer in the face, just imagine what it can do to your asshole ex.

The idea, according to the NYT, is “based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way.”

But how the hell do you edit your narrative and change the story? Below are ten prompts that you can follow to do exactly that. Buy yourself a notebook (or do it on your laptop if you prefer, but we like the old-school nature of using a pen). Each day, or every other day, follow one of the prompts below. When you get to the end of the list of prompts, take a few days to read over what you wrote in response to each prompt. Then, start over with prompt number one, and go through to number ten again. When you’ve completed all ten prompts a second time, take a few days to read and compare your two different sets of responses. Repeat, and repeat, as necessary.

Here’s the thing: It may not seem as if you are moving forward, in real time. But journaling in this way is kind of like time-lapse photography — in a month or two or three, you’ll be able to step back, look at the big picture, and see how you really are moving on. And the more distance you have from your ex, the more honest, and more helpful-slash-healing, your responses are likely to be.

Without further ado, here are our ten prompts. Respond in a hundred words, or five hundred, or a thousand, whatever feels right*:

1. Describe what your ex looks like, including at least one physical defect (come on, even supermodels have at least one body part that is less than perfect, even if it’s just an oddly shaped pinkie toe).

2. What do you miss about your ex?

3. What don’t you miss about your ex?

4. Why did you two break up?

5. In what ways were you a better person around your ex?

6. In what ways did your ex make you a worse person?

7. What are you looking for in your next partner?

8. When did you first realize you guys were headed toward a break-up?

9. What was sex like with your ex?

10. What did you do today?

* Warning: According to the NYT, too much journaling might not be right for everyone: If your problem is that you tend to ruminate too much on your feelings after a breakup, then you should limit yourself to a certain word count each day (say, 500 words), and limit yourself to journal entries only every three days.

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