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4 Early Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

April 23, 2014

4 Comments

Reader Pigeon said the following in response to our post, “Your Call: I Finally Escaped a Toxic 13-Year Marriage. Now What?” What warning signs of a toxic relationship would you add to this list?

Have a bit of time to enjoy your freedom — just remember that you are still young and you don’t have to be married. Find new hobbies and just really get to know yourself in every sense of the word! And take some time to write down what you would consider “warning signs” for a new partner… things like:

1. Isolation: Feeling separated from friends and family.

2. Pressure: Feeling like you’re being pressured into anything, either by force or guilt.

3. Physical: Any form of non-consensual physical contact. This could be a range from actually hitting to grabbing and manipulating you into sex.

4. Sense of Self: If you feel like you’re being made to do what he wants all the time and that you’re losing your own interests just to keep them happy.

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Comment of the Week: A Cautionary Tale About Shame

April 16, 2014

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photo via Flickr

An Em & Lo reader told the following cautionary tale in response to our post “Dear Dr. Joe, Can You Break Your Penis During Sex?” Just one more reason why we need be better, shame-eradicating sex education in this country:

Dr. Joe, very informative post. I’ve always heard that you cannot break it; however, early in high school, I had an injury on a band trip: short version, this girl, an older classmate, started holding my hand and I became so hard, with tight pants on, something broke/popped. I had to be carried off the bus and just said I had stomach pain. The pain was excruciating. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, including my parents, so I wasn’t examined or treated in anyway. I spent the next several years trying to gradually straighten my penis back to normal. It finally healed back to maybe 80%-90% straight. Unfortunately, my erect penis size since that accident has remained maybe 3/4, at most, what it was before. It may be even more like 1/2 but too long ago to really remember.

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The Three Make-or-Break Issues In Every Relationship

April 9, 2014

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Reader Blah Blah Blacksheep (best username ever, by the way!) said the following in response to our post Your Call – He’s Kinky, She’s Vanilla, Is the Relationship Doomed?

Money, sex, and kids are the three make-or-break things in every relationship. A spender will have a hard time being with a saver. Two dominants or two submissives will have a hard time getting along in the bedroom. A breeder with a non-breeder usually won’t work out. And … a vanilla will have a hard time being with a BDSM’er.

If you are not happy in all three of those major categories (money, sex, kids/parenting style) then there will be major clashes and it won’t last.

It’s better to break it off early, amicably.

Find someone else you click with on those 3 things. Everything else you get along on is just icing on the cake.

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Comment of the Week: BDSM Destroyed My Marriage

March 26, 2014

5 Comments

photo via flickr

Reader Nancy told the following heartbreaking story in response to our post, “Your Call – He’s Kinky, She’s Vanilla, Is the Relationship Doomed?” Sometimes, it turns out, love just isn’t enough…

I have been married for 17 years and recently discovered my husband’s infidelity. He started with a porn addiction which affected our sex life negatively and now is in pretty deep in the BDSM world–of course never communicating to me about his desires. I knew something was “up” for about six months, and then started having him followed. Such a sad way for me to discover his alternative lifestyle. I had to have answers for his behavior and mood changes so I am not really sorry I did the surveillance thing.

His personality changed in a negative way. He became very disengaged from our children and myself. Irritable, self-centered and defensive about any kind of inquiries about his life. (I realize these are behaviors that anyone would demonstrate if having an affair). After I confronted him about his activities, we had huge communication sessions about what led up to this. We love each other dearly and have three wonderful children who deserve both parents in a loving household. It probably won’t be possible to continue with our relationship. He cries and says he wants a committed, loving, monogamous relationship with me, but knows in his heart the BDSD charge is very strong and admits it will be next to impossible to maintain fidelity in our marriage.

I am sick about this, but don’t have an answer for any of it. I was sexually, emotionally, and verbally abused much of my childhood by an abusive stepfather. My mother was an extremely submissive person who “looked the other way” and accused me of lying when I would complain. I have worked extraordinarily hard to overcome the scars and damage from this. I am proud of myself for who I have become. I look for the light and positive in everything I do. My life is devoted to helping other people. BDSM has cast a very dark shadow over my children, my marriage and my future.

Yes, I did try and be open to my husband and play the “sub role.” It sucked. Sorry, I don’t want to be spanked, tied up and blindfolded. I don’t want my husband to stick his penis in my mouth when I am in a vulnerable position. Doesn’t do it for me. I am not excited by the “confusion” that BDSM brings into the complicated division of “power” between a man and a wife. So, we will be divorcing soon. It is a no-win situation. My husband cries every day and says he knows he will not find happiness with a sub, but he is “just in too deep.” I have a hunch he is not going to make BDSM a lifetime commitment. I am looking forward to getting out of this mess and beginning a life either on my own or with someone who will love me in a way that shares gentleness, warmth, care light and love. I want my children to experience what a relationship looks like from that perspective.

I always wonder if people that are so enthusiastic about BDSM would want their children involved with this. Would you really want your daughter being a sex slave or sub to a dom? Would you want your son whipping his wife? Not me. Life is so full of wonderful things that include kindness and gentleness. I have walked both sides of the fence and there is nothing to me more exciting than a gentle caress, a supportive hug, a loving gaze, a meeting of the eyes while love-making, my husband’s head on my breasts, an equal say in decisions involving the household etc. It is not a boring vanilla lifestyle to experience these things, I promise you.

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Comment of the Week: Why the Labia Jokes Have Got to Stop

March 12, 2014

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At what point can we all agree that jokes about protruding inner labia are (a) way past their sell date (seriously, Dane Cook? A “box of cow tongues”? A “high school play curtain”? Are you working from the junior high book of jokes here?); (b) douchey in the extreme; and (c) seriously damaging to women’s self-confidence. Guys, if you really want women to enjoy sex more, then stop criticizing their labia. Stop comparing their labia to roast beef, or slices of ham, or any other kind of meat. If you insist on recycling material from seventh grade, then stick with fart jokes, please. For those just getting with the program, this week’s comment by Thee (abridged; you can read the comment in full here), in response to our post, “Wise Guys: Do Men Care What Labia Look Like?”  should seal the deal. Hint: Even if a woman is laughing at your “joke” — in fact, especially if she’s laughing — doesn’t mean she’s not dying a little inside.

I really am not fond of my labia. At all. Like someone else said, I don’t remember them growing, I just know that at some point I realized they were large. I was just looking at them one day thinking all kinds of things. “Why are they stretchy looking? Why are they brown? Why aren’t they like tucked in? What the hell is a vagina typically supposed to look like anyway? Is this right? I wonder how many other girls look like this? Did I go years unconsciously pulling at myself or something? They hang. Why? Guys are going to have to adjust their eyes when they see my (Dane Cook large labia reference here) high school play curtains. They’re so ugly. And wrinkly. I need them chopped.” These things still go through my head when I’m changing in a mirror.

I go back and forth between those things and thinking to myself, “It’s not a big deal. The guys you’ve been with have NOT EVER complained. Your ex bf said he liked them a lot, you’re fine. Shut up.”

But I hear so many negative jokes about them. The other day my guy friends were talking about lip size. I just ha-ha’d and stayed balls deep into my phone like I didn’t care about the subject, but I was listening quite intently. The guys never came right out and said they prefer porn-like pussies (“pretty in pink” or “tucked away” as I think of them). They just made jokes about larger labia. The play curtain joke came up, as well as the beef curtain joke. I forced myself to laugh, but I felt so abnormal and insecure about myself.

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Comment of the Week: A Small Penis Is Better Than No Hands

March 5, 2014

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photo via Flickr

We selected this Comment of the Week with some hesitation — thanks, in part, to his terrible username, his unnecessary mention of his own penis size (i.e. not small), and his refusal to use punctuation (which we’ve provided for him) — but his heart really seemed like it was in the right place, so here’s a part of Womanareagift’s response to the post “Wise Guys: If He Asks About Size, Can I Tell Him the Truth?” He had some other good points buried within his comment, but honestly, we didn’t have the patience to extricate them from all the bad grammar.

As a guy, you should really not allow yourself to waste any of your life feeling unhappy about your penis. If it’s small, so what? What if you had no hands! You would be a lot less fortunate and [experience a lot less pleasure] than you can with hands and any size penis. I am around average size, based on all the feedback [I've heard], porn [I've seen] and showers at boarding school [I've taken]. I don’t feel inadequate in any way, and you should just be real. Why be concerned, did you somehow fuck up and get delivered a small one [as punishment?] NO, you had no control [over] what you got, so just use it to get as much pleasure as you desire and think [about what it would be like] if it got cut off or you had no hands.

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Comment of the Week: How to Fall In Love with Your Wife Again

February 26, 2014

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Reader John wrote the following in response to the post, “Comment of the Week: I’m Jealous of My Wife’s Friends.” It’s a long one, but stick ’til the end (just as he did, sorta) — you’ll be glad that you did!

About two years ago, I had mentally drifted away from my wife of over twenty years. It had gotten to the point that I felt I lost that strong connection we once had. We had spoken about it, but not made any decisions at that point (go forward, divorce, etc). And SEX had nothing to do with our issues. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our sex life continued to be outstanding, even right up to that point. But I got so disconnected, I moved into another part of the house, and contemplated divorce.

That’s when I started going out to bars and parties alone. During my travels to discover the perfect martini, I was seated at a hotel bar one night, minding my own business, sipping my favorite cocktail. Which is stirred, by the way (sorry 007, you got that wrong!). There was this kinda goofy dude seated to my right, and two attractive women seated to his right. I had never seen any of them prior to that night. The guy was chatting them up pretty vigorously, but I could tell by their responses, they were hardly interested.

I was surfing the internet at the time, on my new Kindle Fire, when one of the women farthest away, called over to me. I looked over and she said, “What is that you have there?” — referring to my new Kindle. I could see that she had that “Please come save me from this goofball” desperate look in her eyes. Rather humorous, I remember thinking. So, rather than trying to shout over Mr. “I’m from outta town” goofball, I decided to walk over and give her a demonstration of my new toy. Now the other women, on my left, was interested in the diversion my little device was providing. The goofy dude eventually got the message when no one was paying any attention to him.

As it turns out, the women on the left (A) was married, and the woman on the right (B) was in a committed relationship (living with her fiancé for several years). I had seen men hitting on women all the time regardless of their status. Not always in bars, either. The workplace, etc. You would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to think that happens all the time.

My point with all this? I wound up dating women (B) for approx. 8 months. Through my relationship with this women, I found out that this was not exactly uncommon. One of her close friends, also in a committed relationship, had been intimate with a man they had met during a convention in a hotel bar. I also found out that the friends of women B disliked her fiancé so much, they were setting her up on blind dates, even though they knew about me! Maybe it was the whole “he’s still married” thing. But so was she! She never divorced her first husband because of insurance reasons.

Needless to say, I had just bought myself a new set of problems! I ended the relationship after I found out about the blind dates. Yes, she could have refused to go, but she didn’t. These women were not slutty low life’s, you might be thinking right now. Surprisingly (or maybe not), they were all highly educated with advance degrees, and held administrative positions.

During this time, my wife was continuing to express a desire to fix things. She had started going to a counselor, and encouraged me to go as well, but I was very resistant. I decided that I needed to go at least once, for my wife’s well being. It’s been about a year since then, and we have been back together ever since (I mean REALLY back together!). I have attended many counseling sessions with my wife, and it’s been the best thing for the both of us. We really reconnected.

Yes, I came clean about my relationship with “B”. But I soon realized I was connecting (through just conversation, with the one exception being “B”) with women I hardly knew, to feel that newness, or freshness of a budding relationship. Ok, enough of my personal introspection, and analysis.

My wife and I decided to try some new things, toys, etc. to spice things up. Not that we needed to, but to add another dimension to our sexual relationship. It has really turned out to be the special relationship it always was. I had just stopped seeing it that way back then. Easy to do when you’re not looking.

So, in conclusion to this very long saga, I would encourage the writer to do the same. Seek professional advice if necessary. The bottom line: you have to discuss this with your wife, and let her know how you feel. But, going out every week, and taking yearly week long trips, all with single friends? After reading my post, does anyone see any red flags here? Kinda sounds like a former friend of mine from a few paragraphs ago.

Oh, and one last bit advice to the writer: be careful who you share with, or go to for advice. Everyone will have an opinion and be willing to tell you what they think, and what to do. For example; if there is something going on with your wife, but you decide to stay together and work it out, what do you think all those people who said dump her are going to say? Try to find that one person who will not judge you regardless of the outcome. And again, if all else fails, try seeing a therapist. You might be surprised. I was.

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Comment of the Week: A Refresher Course on Female Anatomy

February 19, 2014

1 Comment

When we read loyal reader Nikki’s response to “Your Call: Do Bigger Penises Lead to Different Orgasms for Women?” it was like we were looking in a mirror, like she had channeled her inner Em & Lo. We are smellin’ what she’s steppin’ in! Amen, sister!*

The G spot is responsible for the so-called “vaginal” orgasm. I reject the clitoral/vaginal orgasm distinction for a number of reasons(origins in Freud and the belief that one is superior to the other, the fact that the G spot is probably just the internal part of the clitoris, etc).

In any case, the G spot is not buried way deep in the vagina, so whoever is telling you you need an 8 inch penis to reach it is full of it. Indeed, trying to probe deep into a woman’s vagina is likely to lead to less pleasure not more, as you’re likely to come into contact with her cervix (this does not lead to orgasm, trust me).

All women are different, but the G spot is generally located somewhere along the front wall of the vagina, within the first couple of inches of the vaginal opening. You can often find it with your fingers using a “come here” motion. Since the G spot is literally within reach, your “average” size is more than sufficient to stimulate it. It’s just a matter of finding a position that works for you and your partner of the moment because, again, everyone is different.

Finally, here are a couple of other things you should note. First, the majority of women require some kind of external clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. So regardless of your penis size, you’re going to have to give the little man in the boat some love if you want to get most of your partners off. Second, not all women enjoy G spot stimulation, so you’ll need to communicate with your partner about her specific preferences. Third, a man’s insecurity about his penis can be a huge turn off, so don’t sweat it. For many, I dare say most, women, penis size is irrelevant. What matters is chemistry, communication, and how attentive your partner is to your pleasure. If you’ve got these things down, you have nothing to worry about.

*(Except for maybe the part about the cervix: there are some women out there who do enjoy pressure on their cervix — they are, admittedly, very few and far between, so agreed it’s not something people interested in pleasuring women have to focus on as a necessary skill set).

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Comment of the Week: Give Virgins a Break!

February 12, 2014

2 Comments

Reader Jane said the following in response to our post, “Your Call: What’s the Best Way to Tell a Guy I’m a Virgin?”

If a girl is a virgin at a certain age, 20, 25, 30 etc… and she is with a guy, in a new relationship, and WANTS to have sex with him… why would a guy assume that sex won’t happen anytime soon just because she is a virgin??

I mean, if being a virgin was a fault, a mistake… and a girl finally WANTS to put an end to her state of “virginity”, obviously she has to have sex with a guy. But if all guys react this way and ran away… she still never has the chance to have sex..

Being in a new relationship and being a virgin means: “I’ve never had sex BEFORE”, but from the moment a girl, a virgin, finds a boyfriend, it just means she WANTS to have sex. She tells the guy she’s a virgin because she wants him to be delicate when they do it and not expect to have sex in all the kama sutra positions on the first night…

So what is it that scares guys? Is it actually the lack of sexual experience, rather than not expecting sex to happen anytime soon?

I think that’s really the problem. Nowadays, with the porn industry being so mainstream, every guy wants to have sex with a girl who “knows her ways”. So to me, that’s really what scares guy. They picture having sex with a virgin as laying in bed with someone crying all the time and not moving… And that’s just a prejudice! Someone who has never had sex before, but decides to do it, could be as passionate and hot as the guy wants… but by running away, he just gives her no chance to prove it. It’s all a prejudice. The word “virgin” recalls so many more “ghosts” than what it actually means.

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Comment of the Week: The Only Thing You Can Control Is Yourself

February 5, 2014

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photo via Flickr

Reader Michael wrote a HUGE response to the post, “Your Call – Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? It was a little meandering, and we weren’t sure we were quite down with all of his advice, so we took the liberty of gently editing it a bit with the Em & Lo red pen:

There is NOTHING you can do to ensure you don’t get hurt. NOTHING. Not if you intend on dating and being with someone. There are no guarantees, period. It doesn’t matter if you completely submit, or try to control every aspect of this situation — it has little to no effect on the situation. All you can control is you and your reactions. That’s all. You need to focus on how to deal with your fear, and mistrust of others, and try minimizing it’s grip on you, a little each day….

The best you can do is give your best to someone. If they betray that or force a situation in which you must leave, you have nothing to look back on with regret. I’m not saying to be a doormat, not at all, I’m simply saying that you must forget the idea that you can control this situation. You must come to terms with the idea that you are a great person, worthy of love and trust, and if you are with someone and they want that, they have to act accordingly. [But] hold on too tight, and you surely will not get where you want to be….

So how to start? Stare fear in the face and don’t flinch. Period. Tell him how you feel about him…. Engage him in talk about other women. Allow him to tell you if they are attractive to him, and you do the same, tell him if you think someone is good looking. Create an atmosphere of choice and not ownership. “Yeah, they’re hot…” but you are with the person you want to be with. The purpose of this is bigger than it seems. You not only draw in the other person with your ability to overcome fear, but you also show that it’s ok to be human with you, to think others are attractive, to have emotions and feelings and at the end of it all to be able to choose and make [make each other] feel chosen.

Even if it doesn’t last forever with that person, if you develop this ability you will find future relationships to be more open, understanding, and less scary…. Be the person he never thought he’d meet. Be the person you never thought you could be. Focus on you. It’ll work to your favor in the end…..

We only have this life, enjoy it. The happier you make yourself, the better your relationships will be. If something is not acceptable, then move forward. Not because of fear, because of your standards. But don’t take that fear with you from relationship to relationship…it’s a losing fight.

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