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The REAL Reasons Why Yoga Improves Your Sex Life

January 3, 2013

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photo via flickr

Is your New Year’s resolution to improve both your health and your sex life? Yoga could be the answer, though not for the reasons you might think, says our contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz (read her blog here):

As a teenager, naive to what both sex and yoga were really about, I would gossip with my friends about our sprouting sex lives. We giggled about starting yoga classes in order to be better in bed, with the idea being that yoga = flexibility and flexibility + twisted pretzel positions = good sex. We’d learned this from movies that portrayed woman who could put their leg over their head as sexy and promiscuous. As I grew up and learned more about sex — and started taking yoga classes — I figured out that, while pretzel sex positions can be more awkward than pleasurable, there are plenty of other reasons why yoga can improve your sex life. Here are five…

1. Yoga Is a Stress Reliever
A tightly wound mind is not exactly conducive to orgasmic bliss, especially for women. Studies have shown yoga can lower anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and general mental and physical dissatisfaction. Carving out time for yoga each week is an easy and inexpensive way to be good to yourself. Consider it a kind of ongoing D.I.Y. foreplay.

2. Yoga Improves Body Awareness
Yoga helps you become more aware of and more in touch with your body, often through the practice of mindful meditation while you work out. I know what you’re thinking: Hold the oms, I just want to get in shape. But there’s an awesome side effect to all this body awareness: You learn to listen to what your body wants and likes. Which is a serious advantage in the bedroom, where women especially often find themselves doing things that they think are supposed to feel good, rather than figuring out what actually turns them on.
You don’t have to completely make your mind blank to achieve body awareness. It’s basically just about focusing your energy throughout different parts of your body, and then doing what feels right.

When I do yoga, I’m in a large studio space with at least 50 other people and an instructor who walks around describing the next position, while also encouraging us to do what feels best for our bodies. When we are all on our backs, some will want to have their legs tucked close to our bodies and rock back and forth, while others will want to spread their legs up and hold their feet with their hands. In my class, I’ve learned what positions feel good to me without worrying how I might look. It’s impossible not to translate this sort of acquired wisdom to the bedroom, where an arched back might look really sexy to my partner, but may not be the best way for me to get off that night.

3. Yoga Is an Aphrodisiac
Exercise is one of the greatest natural aphrodisiacs. And yes, yoga is a work-out if you’re doing it right! It improves strength, balance, and flexibility. And once you get those endorphins going, you’ll have more energy to do all the things you enjoy. In fact, in general, the more you look out for your health — exercise, diet, and rest — the better you will feel and the more eager you will be to jump in the sack with your partner!

4. Yoga Improves Blood Flow to the Pelvis
Many positions increase blood flow to the pelvis, for example, the bound angle position. And increased blood flow down there is exactly what happens when you get turned on! It’s also the same thing that those stimulant gels you can buy at your local sex shop are going for, too — except that, once you’ve learned the right positions, yoga is free! (And better for your heart, too.)

5. Two Words: Yoga Pants.
Ladies, a good pair of yoga pants can be an awesome visual turn-on for your partner — but more importantly, they can make you want to admire your own ass in the mirror. Aw yeah.

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Open Letter: Here’s What Romney Thinks Of Your Gay Son

November 5, 2012

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Our friend Nathaniel Frank is the author of the book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. He was an expert witness in two Constitutional challenges to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” whose success helped end the policy. Yesterday he spoke on the phone with the parents of his best friend about how they were planning on voting tomorrow; he was moved afterward to write this open letter to them:

Dear X & Y:

We go back a long time, to the beginning of my college years. I’ve known you over half my life, and you’ve become like another set of parents to me. I’ve enjoyed sparring with you over politics at Christmas dinner, and I respect that you, X, have been a proud Republican all your life (for reasons that I understand, even though I disagree with them) and that you, Y, have prided yourself on being an independent voter.

I realize there are many factors that shape our decisions about whom we think should lead our country. No one person will fully represent all that’s important to us, so we must choose the issues we value the most, size up a candidate’s character as best we can, and ultimately pull the lever we think will do the most good.

For me, that’s Barack Obama’s lever, as I’ve explained elsewhere. You’ll decide who it is for you, but I feel compelled to ensure you know just what Mitt Romney believes and promises to do about gay people like me and your son, Z. For I fear that many people have the vague sense that Romney can’t be that bad on gay rights, but they haven’t really gotten all the information. And even when they hear tidbits trickling out, they haven’t fully absorbed what a Romney presidency could mean for the gay people they love.

Romney not only opposes your son’s right to marry the person he loves, but opposes civil unions, a back-of-the-bus version of relationship recognition designed to do nothing but remind gay couples that they’re lesser. That puts Romney to the right of George W. Bush who supported civil unions, and well to the right of Dick Cheney, who supports marriage equality. Marriage is not a mere abstraction or symbol — a government study found that it provides over 1100 crucial rights and protections, and states provide many more.

It gets worse: Romney doesn’t only oppose marriage equality, he supports tearing a hole in the U.S. Constitution to ban it, using the amendment process for the first time ever to remove instead of protect a right. This could annul tens of thousands of existing marriages, yanking away rights and tearing families apart. If you think I’m being dramatic, check out this report I helped author showing that the two million children of LGBT parents have become “collateral damage” of anti-gay ideology and law.

Romney doesn’t only oppose marriage for gays, he finds the prospect of gay parenting to be anathema to all that’s good and civil. As governor of Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe, he “opposed child-rearing by gay couples” and when his state’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, he refused to grant accurate birth certificates to kids born to same-sex couples. Indeed, Romney hasn’t only opposed gay parenting, he’s been downright derisive of it. “Some gays are actually having children born to them,” he told a South Carolina audience in 2005. “It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.” More recently, Etch-a-Sketch Mitt tried to moderate his image by warming to gay adoptions but — after hollering from the religious right – back-tracked the very next day claiming that “actually” all he’d done was to “simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal” in most states.

It gets worse: Romney approves of the idea that states should be free to bar your son from entering the hospital to sit by the bedside of his dying partner (don’t worry — he’s not dying!) And he puts his considerable money where is mouth is. He’s donated at least $60,000 to anti-gay causes. That’s more than a lot of Americans make in a year.

It gets worse: Romney signed a pledge with a fiercely anti-gay organization that he would appoint federal judges who would block gay rights. That means, if he can, appointing a Supreme Court that would likely have criminalized homosexuality itself, not to mention that will oppose same-sex marriage.

It gets worse: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney, who was forced to apologize for having bullied a gay student in prep school, blocked the publication of an anti-bullying guide when he learned it mentioned bisexual and transgender people, and he abolished the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

In fact, what we now know of Romney suggests he can be not only frighteningly out of touch but astoundingly cold and unfeeling about vulnerable and unfamiliar people. As governor of Massachusetts, he told Julie Goodridge, a lesbian mother who was the named plaintiff in the same-sex marriage court case, “I didn’t know you had families.” And it wasn’t a moment of touching revelation. When Goodridge asked him, “What would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?” he reportedly said, “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter.” She wasn’t adopted. “Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.” Trying to usher her out of his office, he said, “is there anything else?” Goodridge recalls it as a heartbreaking meeting. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy,” she said. “It went [beyond] flat affect. It was a complete lack of ability or motivation to understand other people.”

Think Mitt’s a moderate dressed up as a “severely conservative” candidate (as he’s called himself)? What I’ve described above are not only his words but his thoughts, his beliefs, his actions, his record. These are the things he thinks, says and does. He did them when in power, and will do them again. Because the day he enters the White House, he’s running for a second term. He still needs to hold his coalition together. And he’s shown what he’ll do to maintain power.

In at least three cases, gay people who worked under Romney were fired or forced out when their identities became public — in all three cases, Romney was wooing the right wing by showing how tough he was on gays.

And that’s the thing: if all this is not enough for you to reconsider pulling the lever for Mitt, if his beliefs and positions and record on gay rights are just not enough to sway you, consider this: Mitt Romney is someone who will exploit the vulnerable to gain and maintain power. That’s a character flaw that transcends how we each may prioritize the various issues we care about. It speaks to leadership and trustworthiness. Sure, politicians throw folks under the bus all the time. Obama dissed “Wall Street fat cats” to leverage populist anger among his base. But here’s the difference: Obama picked on the powerful — they can take it (and sometimes they deserve it); Romney abuses the vulnerable to advance himself, and that’s despicable.

Other issues matter that we both care about — matter a lot. If those issues take precedence in swaying your vote, so be it — I probably won’t convince you with one letter. But let me just say a few sentences about these issues.

On the economy, you may have heard a pitched debate about whether the math for Romney’s plan adds up. The truth is in the middle: it’s based on wildly optimistic projections that are the opposite of conservative — anyone running a business or household that way would be laughed out of power. The only prudent take-away is that he’s highly unlikely to achieve the tax and growth agenda he’s selling, and as Slate points out, he’ll never get it through Congress even if he wins. He promises 12 million new jobs that experts predict will emerge no matter who’s in power. And Obama’s steps to save the auto industry, stop the bleeding and begin to stimulate the economy have shown documentable results.

Some experts say it should take ten years to recover from the recession the Republicans left us with; Obama’s only had four and he’s still created nearly 5 million jobs after the recession he inherited shedding over $4 million. There’s plenty more to do, but little evidence that Romney’s plan will make things better.

On foreign policy, Romney basically endorsed every Obama position in the last debate, putting almost no daylight between the two men. Benghazi was a tragedy that’s an unfortunate result of living in a world that’s not risk-free. The idea of a cover-up, that the White House expected to keep the possibility of Al Qaeda links from the public all the way through the election, is asinine, given how much information it turns out there was about what really appears to have happened. Meanwhile, did Bush prevent 9/11? No (but Obama brought Bin Laden to Justice), in part because his national security team was still fixated on a phantom Cold War that ended a decade before.

On the environment, people can disagree on the extent and threat of climate change but it was Romney who used rising oceans as a laugh line weeks before those oceans poured over sea walls to inundate American towns and cities, destroying thousands of lives. He has said we should divert federal relief resources to local governments and even private contractors. How can a town or a company jet in $25 million gallons of emergency fuel to affected areas like the military is doing as we speak? This liberal will cheer the Pentagon every step of the way. Oh, and a woman’s right to choose? Don’t expect a Romney Supreme Court to protect it.

Many have called LGBT equality the civil rights issue of our time. I think they’re right. Now that the two candidates have offered us the starkest choice ever on this critical issue, the choice you make will become part of your legacy. With whom do you want to cast your vote? Which camp reflects who you are and who you want to be? No one ever doubted you love your son with all your being; no one thinks you have an ounce of homophobia in your blood. If you’re pausing even for a moment to consider voting for Obama, I hope it’s, in part, because your relationships with your son, with me, and with all your gay friends, have offered the opportunity to connect the lives of gay people with your own values. But I hope you won’t do it it for your son, or for me, or your gay friends. I hope you’ll do it, if you do it, because having processed the available information, you’ve decided it’s what you think is right.

– Nathaniel Frank

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This letter originally appeared on the Huffington Post.



Confession: 8 Rules for the Third Wheel in a Threeway

November 1, 2012

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photo via flickr

Our contributor is a college student who wishes to remain anonymous. She has some sage advice to impart on the topic of three ways…

When people give warnings about threeways, it’s usually directed at couples who are bringing in a third party. Threeways are not a relationship-building exercise, they tell you. Are you sure your relationship can handle this? they ask. The reality is rarely as hot as the fantasy, they intone. Do you both want this equally? And this is all good, solid advice — I know this because I have had a threeway as one half of a couple.

But what people don’t often tell you is that it’s not easy being the third wheel, either. I’ve been there, too, and I can report that there are just as many potential pitfalls when you’re the single one — in fact, sometimes it can be even harder.

Until I tried it, I thought being the single person — the guest star of the evening! — would mean having all the fun with none of the pressure or tension of wondering what might happen to your relationship. All the tangled bedsheets, none of the nagging insecurities! And at first, this was true. My single lady threesome days proceeded similarly to the San Francisco summer of 1969: the first few experiences and couples were all love, sunshine, and plenty of orgasms to go around. By the end of the summer, though, everything good about swapping favors with couples had turned bad.

The final couple of the summer was my worst experience to date. They asked me to be their number three because they trusted me. And, perhaps, because they knew I was experienced in threesomes, too — I wasn’t some newbie who was going to try and mess with their relationship or commit some threeway faux-pas. But all the trust and experience in the world is no match for a couple who just isn’t ready for a threeway. Despite our best attempts to outline rules and regulations beforehand, the night ended in a storm of arguments between the couple.  And if you think it sucks being a couple in that situation, imagine being the lonely third stuck on the bed watching the entire thing unfold.

When I first arrived at the couple’s house, they poured me a glass of white wine as we sat on their bedroom floor, all of us eager and a bit nervous. We discussed their previously concocted rules and what everyone’s comfort levels were on various sexual acts. Additionally, I suggested that we choose a safe word in case things went in a direction someone was uncomfortable with — that way we could redirect the threeway without having to disrupt the lively libidinous mood of the night.

The more we talked, the more we learned about each other. Sounds like we were on the right track, right? Unfortunately, the guy had failed to tell his partner just how many times he and I had been together previously. It was years ago, and it was never as a couple — his girlfriend knew this, but she didn’t know exactly how often. Awkward time to find out that your partner wasn’t completely honest with you! (I’d assumed she was fully in the know.) We also discussed how he had cheated on every one of his partners, except her. Again, not exactly the best way to make your partner feel secure and safe as she prepares to engage in a threeway.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of tension in the room. For some reason, though, we all agreed that it was a good idea to go ahead with the threeway anyway. Once you’ve got that far, I guess it’s hard to turn back. And for most of the night, we had a great time. But as the evening wore on, the man became jealous of his partner and me getting intimate together. Rather than pull the plug on the evening, he let his jealousy grow until he couldn’t stand it any longer — and then he launched into a massive argument with her. In a slightly drunken stupor, they staggered to the bathroom, fighting all the way, and slammed the door shut behind them. Meanwhile, I was left in the dark, somewhat dehydrated, lying on another couple’s sex stained bed and listening to them yell at each other through a closed door. Not exactly my favorite way to spend an evening. I gathered my things as I tried to put together how this night took such a dramatic turn for the worst.

Here’s what I came up with — consider it some much-needed advice for the pinch-hitter in a threeway (though most of this advice applies to anyone considering a threeway). Do not proceed without the following:

1. Communicate. The couple needs to tell you exactly what is and is not acceptable — preferably at a time before the night of the threesome. This is because (a) this talk is necessary but not always sexy foreplay talk; and (b) this talk may make any one of you rethink the threeway — and some time lag will give you each a chance to change your mind. Some recommended topics to cover: Will the guest be able to have intercourse with either partner? Can there be two-way kisses or only three-way kisses? What positions do you want to try that involve three people? How are we handling safer sex? Similarly, the guest should also communicate boundaries. Think of it as a consultation to make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. Know thyself. Really knowing yourself and where your boundaries lie is key. For example, the guy in this threeway had no idea that he would be jealous of his girlfriend kissing another woman. As a guest, are you prepared for what your role will be? What if the couple treats you as a human sex toy, for example? What if they only want to kiss each other?

3. Have (and use, if necessary) a safeword. Of course, you can’t always know in advance how something will make you feel. Hence the need for a safe word – and the need to actually use it!

4. STOP at any time. You can pull the plug after the initial communication session, you can run a mile when they open the door to you, or you can yell the safe word right after everyone gets naked. Don’t ever keep going just because it seems like it would be “awkward” to stop. It’s way more awkward to keep going with a threeway you know one or all of you will regret later. And don’t feel bad ditching a couple if you sense they’re not ready for a threeway — you’re doing them and their relationship a favor.

5. Make sure you trust each other. Everyone knows that the couple must trust each other, duh. But the guest also needs to trust that the couple has come to the right decision in having a threesome. If you think one of the partners is not emotionally stable enough for it, then you must politely decline the invitation. If you don’t trust one of the partner’s intentions for the threesome, or you think they might overstep their boundaries, then don’t do it. All three of you need to want the best for each other, and to understand the sexual dynamic you each desire. After all, as the guest you are not just there to heat up that couple’s relationship — there needs to be something in it for you, too!

6. Know your responsibilities. The couple is putting their relationship in a vulnerable position when they decide to share their other half with someone outside of the relationship. This means that the guest has a responsibility to stay aware of their boundaries and intently listen to what each partner wants and desires. Similarly, the couple has a responsibility to one another in maintaining trust by keeping in check with their partner to ensure that nothing has gone too far.

7. Don’t get drunk. Consume alcohol responsibly and in moderation. Sure, some liquid confidence may seem like a good idea, but if you feel like you need alcohol to go through with a threesome, you probably should not be having a threesome. A glass of wine to settle the nerves and get in the mood is totally acceptable, but anything beyond that can lead you into the dangerous territory of disrespect, non-consensual sex, and — like my experience — heated arguments.

8. Debrief afterwards. Maybe meet for coffee the next week to check in and see how everyone is doing. This is especially helpful for the single person, because they will be reassured that the couple is still solid in their relationship. Overall, everyone can feel more comfortable and have closure over the experience. Plus, then you won’t live in fear of bumping into each other in the supermarket and having to debrief there!

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In Defense of the “Woman-Child”

September 10, 2012

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photo via Flickr

I (Lo here) consider myself a pretty hardcore feminist. And I love Jezebel.com. So I expected their “Woman-Child” article today to be just my kind of internet candy. My best guess about its focus? The media’s obsession with infantalizing women to make them seem cuter, softer, more likeable. But it actually turned out to be one writer’s poop parade on grown, successful women choosing to have fun, be lighthearted, dress up, and not take things so seriously. (I know by choosing the phrase “poop parade” I may only be proving her point, but I’m sticking with it.)

The article talks about the female counterpart to the man-child: grown women who increasingly don’t act their age. Now, far be it from me to get in the way of someone going to town on Katy Perry’s lollipop-licking, Candyland-prancing, cherry-nippled persona — hey, go to town! But in the process, the piece totally dismisses the benefits of being young at heart, of maintaining a childlike wonder about the world, of always learning and exploring, of making time for play and fun and laughter. Why should kids get to have all the fun?

There’s nothing wrong with an adult wanting to read an engaging, plot-driven story that’s entertaining and takes you back (hello, Twilight) — especially when you’re too overworked or stressed out from a job and/or kids to finally finish David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” right now even though you will eventually some day. Having older and wiser personalities contribute to a magazine for teens like Rookie just makes sense. And board games are a hoot — especially when you’re old enough to add alcohol to them!

So is dressing up. Now, I’m not defending the extremes the fashion and beauty industries go to in order to make a billion — namely shaming women into spending way too much time, money and effort on this season’s sanctioned “ideal” look; what I am defending is the right women have to wear whatever the hell they want without ridicule, especially if it’s cost effective, creative, nostalgic or empowering for them. Sarah Silverman wearing comfortable t-shirts and sneakers and refusing to put her sex on display or to buy into the High Fashion Industrial Complex is radical and refreshing and bold, especially for a celebrity — it’s not adolescent. And I would call Zooey Deschanel’s style retro, not infantile. Perhaps the writer, at least with these examples, is confusing a lack of cleavage with childishness.

And I hate to break the news, but wacky nail polish color has been around for a long time. I remember writing a bit for The Boston Phoenix on the “crazy” new nail polish colors by, for example, Nars, that were new on the scene…twenty years ago. It just might seem like a big, new deal right now because, during a recession, nail polish is a cheap and easy and therefore popular way to make a bold fashion statement.

There’s nothing worse than chatting with fellow moms or career women — especially younger ones — who take themselves too seriously, as if having a sense of humor or a good time might get their membership in the Adult Club revoked. These types always seem to me like they are playing grown up, making mountains out of molehills — when they should be making mud pies with their kids. After all, being able to tap into your inner child — which includes the incredibly healthy quality of not being afraid to make an ass out of yourself — makes you a better parent (and probably a better innovator and a better improviser and a better artist and a better friend…).

And I’m sorry, but pizza and cupcakes taste good. Not to mention the fact that they are economical and require minimal prep and clean up – great for busy adults who want to get together with friends but don’t have the time, the money and/or the inclination to concoct five course meals with linens and good silver. Her underlying argument seems to be one in favor of high status over low, rather than adulthood over immaturity. I mean, are you really going to suggest that shopping at Banana Republic, where sweaters cost $100, is plebeian?

The author says women these days might just be afraid of growing up. I will concede that there is great prejudice in our society against women who dare to age (I mean, if I hear one more joke about Madonna being elderly I’m going to hurl — the woman could literally kick most Americans’ butts! She’s a machine! Have you seen her guns?!?!). And this kind of shaming that happens to women and not men (who only get more distinguished and experienced and dashingly silver-tipped as they age) results in horrifying Joan Rivers’ masks and Botox at 20.  And so, yes, many women are afraid to get old. Can you blame them when such a sky-scraper high, almost moral value is placed on how women look in our society?

But are they afraid of growing up? Nuh uh. Women want to be successful, competent, and powerful — at whatever endeavors they choose. They stay single longer because they’ve got a lot of living to do and they want to grow their careers and their bank accounts and their experiences before they get married and have kids (if they get married and have kids) — which is a much more grown-up approach to life than trying to live the fairy-tale fantasy of finding prince-charming at 18 to take care of you for the rest of your life.

Maturity and fun are not mutually exclusive. Women can — and do — discuss feminist articles in The Atlantic or the dearth of female directors in Hollywood while they are out on the town with their girlfriends, getting a relaxing mani-pedi, having a delicious cocktail, cracking jokes and cracking up, taking pictures along the way to preserve the memory of a great night out with friends. (Then they post those right along side their “age-appropriate” pics of their kid’s first day of kindergarten.) Sit-down dinners inspired by the Times Magazine‘s food column and during which important geo-political issues are debated can be — and are — followed by epic rounds of charades.

Maybe I’m getting young in my old age, but if I have to choose between Ralph-Lauren-wearning Gwenyth Paltrow and blue-wigged Nicki Minaj, I’ll take Nicki any day. After all, girls just want to have fun…and so do boys, and women, and men — at least the ones who want to enjoy this one-time ride do.



Comment of the Week: The Older Men Get, the Less They Talk Sex w/Friends

August 23, 2012

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This week, in response to the post “Wise Guys: Do Men Know Whether Their Male Friends Are Circumcised?” reader Johnny said:

The older men get, the less we discuss sex with each other. Whether it’s because we’re more mature, we’re pretending we’re more mature, or because we’re more experienced and there are fewer questions and surprises, there’s just less sex talk.

So, I don’t know the penile stats of my newer, more-aged male friends. I do know the penile stats of my longer-term friends whom I’ve known since we were young. Approximate size, circumcision, pitch, yaw, std status, extent of pubic grooming… all that.

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Confession: How I (Still) Make My Open Relationship Work

August 9, 2012

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Three years ago, our then intern Kristine deGuzman, who was a junior at UC Berkeley at the time, wrote a Confession for this site about how she and her boyfriend were taking a break from each other while she studied abroad. Kristine is now a Cal grad and a Senior Social Media Specialist at a PR agency in San Francisco, and she’s back to tell us how the story ended. You can check out our personal blog here.

A few years ago, when I was a bright-eyed junior at UC Berkeley, I wrote here about how my boyfriend and I were going on a break before I left to study abroad in Spain. At the time we had been together for two years, and I remember the reaction I received — from friends and readers alike — who thought I was being unrealistic in thinking that I could hook up with a slew of Spanish men and return to my relationship unscathed.

Well, I’m happy to report that that three years (and many attractive foreign men) later, my boyfriend and I are still together and still as much in love as we were before — if not more so.

Though our relationship has passed the five-year mark, this is not to say that it has been without its difficulties. I’m not going to lie and say our relationship was full of sunshine and daisies after I got back from Spain, because it wasn’t. We dated other people and, yes, slept with other people, and like any normal relationship there were fights and there was jealousy and there was crying — lots and lots of crying.

But in the end, there was and is always a decision — do we give up or do we work it out? And amidst all of the fights, we always chose each other. (Plus, it became kind of kinky to talk about the other people we’d had sex with while having sex with each other — how’s that for dirty talk?)

In the two years that followed my trip to Spain we stayed in a mostly monogamous relationship, though there were a few occasions at parties where he gave me permission to kiss other people (and I, likewise, extended the same courtesy). However, since my boyfriend moved back to LA last September, we’ve returned to experimenting with the boundaries of our relationship, and we’re currently in a long-distance, open relationship.

We don’t have a timeline for when we’ll no longer be long-distance, since I work in the tech industry (which is booming in San Francisco) and he works in the entertainment industry (which basically doesn’t exist outside of Hollywood), but we have talked about moving to New York together within the next two or three years. As far as whether or not our open relationship will continue once we’re back in the same city — it’s kind of unknown. Though, it does seem hard to justify either of us sleeping with other people when the other is just a quick Metro ride away.

Most of the people who I talk to about our relationship are either really supportive or really confused. The confused ones often ask, “Why waste your time with other people if you have a good thing?” Others have admitted that they think it’s hubris for my boyfriend and I to think that we can have our cake (each other) and have sex with other people on the side too.

I think that most of the people who question our relationship do so because they could never imagine themselves in the same situation, and that’s perfectly fine. I don’t think my boyfriend and I have the gold standard of relationships upon which all other relationships should mold themselves, and neither of us goes around telling other couples that they should try spicing things up a bit by sleeping with other people.

What it boils down to, at least for us, is communication — my boyfriend and I talk everyday, several times a day, to the point where my sister now rolls her eyes and says, “Again?! You just talked an hour ago,” whenever she sees my boyfriend calling. We also have pretty specific “rules” in our open relationship (in contrast to the “anything goes” policy we had during our break when I was in Spain). The rules are as follows:

• Dates must be disclosed in advance.
• Potential suitors must know about the existence of the other person.
• Kissing is basically like shaking hands – doesn’t need to be disclosed unless it leads into a date.
• Condoms must be used with all extraneous sexual partners.

We’re so honest with each other that we rarely even fight anymore. I told him when I joined OkCupid, and he joined soon thereafter. We deactivated our OkCupid accounts somewhere around the same time, since neither of us had any luck meeting people in whom we were truly interested. A few months ago, when a trio of boys chatted up a couple of friends and I at a bar, I joked with him about it afterwards. We still talk to each other about our crushes, including one in particular that was so deep and overwhelming that I thought for sure it would tear us apart.

But even with the most destructive of crushes, honest communication was and is the key to making it work – in this particular scenario, my boyfriend ended up giving me permission to date this person despite his misgivings about the situation. The crush fizzled out anyway, but I had even more respect for my boyfriend afterwards for being so rational and levelheaded about it all.

When I envision the trajectory of my life, he is the one I see at the end. He will always be the person I choose when it comes down to it, and I know he feels the same.

So why not have some fun with other people along the way?

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Confession: I’m a BDSM Beginner

June 28, 2012

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Lelo’s “Etherea” Silk Cuffs

A female friend of ours, a recent college grad who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:

I think I might be kinky.

I know, I know: These days, who isn’t? With Fifty Shades of Grey refusing to budge from the bestseller list and Rihanna singing about how chains and whips excite her, it’s practically de rigueur to own a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. But I know for me, this isn’t some trendy game I’ll play with a pink blindfold and a couple of scarves (though if those are your thing, more power to you!). I’m talking about real domination and submission, real pain.

I’ve always liked playing around with control in the bedroom. One boyfriend I had would pretend to be a bandit or a pirate and I would be the pretty maiden waiting to be ravished. Another would pin me down, yank my hair, bite harder than usual. (Unfortunately, most guys couldn’t seem to understand that I actually wanted something that hurt and left a mark, not just a delicate, ticklish nip on the neck like some Twilight fantasy.)

But while I enjoyed doing these things, something always felt a little tame. It seemed too easy to be the princess, too boring to be the delicate flower, all please-sir-may-I-have-some-more?

I started watching BDSM porn, beginning with the typical guy dominating a girl. It was fine, the way any porn is fine when you want to watch some. But then I found a link to the femdom aspect of this particular website, and: JACKPOT! Fireworks went off in my underwear! The images of men in submission, begging for a touch, were so much hotter to me than women doing the same. And when the man begged to have an orgasm? When he was denied? That was (and is) the best of all, to me. It’s usually a given that a guy is going to climax when you’re having sex, right? At least, it was a surefire (pun intended) thing for my partners, and not always so for me. Femdom changed all the rules.

I’ve tried to figure out why I’m into femdom. Did I once stand up to the bully in pre-school? Do I want to find my powerful voice, one that doesn’t come naturally to my reserved public persona? All I know is what I want: I want a man to trust me enough to let me do whatever I want to him. I want him to want me to do that. And I totally want to ruin his orgasm.

My one big problem now? Finding someone to top.

I’ve never actually fucked anyone this way. I’ve never told anyone about these desires and I’m not sure how to bring them up. I know there are websites for people like me, who want to find a “slave,” but I don’t buy into the whole leather-boots, lotsa-lipstick look that screams “Dominatrix right here!” Nor do I want this to be an entire “lifestyle,” one in which my boyfriend, after a satisfying round of power play, does my dishes and folds my laundry while on all fours. (Then again….)

No, I think I’d rather fly under the radar, and work my ways on some strong man who’s never really given bedroom submission a thought before. I guess I’ll have to start slow and ease him into it with those silly fur cuffs, so eventually he’ll go for real rope. Maybe I’ll even make him think it’s all his idea…



Confession: 4 Things Emma Goldman Taught Me About Sex

May 17, 2012

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EMandLO.com contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz — you can read her blog here — has this to say:

Emma Goldman: 1800′s anarchist, philosopher, and rebel women. She believed in free-thinking, free-love, and birth control. The woman wasn’t so much of a suffragist, seeing as she once said, “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal,” but she is known for starting anarcha-feminism. As a radical thinker of her time, she fought for the rights of all genders and sexual orientations. Even in all her extremity (yes, there are stories that she plotted an assassination, politically driven, of course), this rebel woman has had a striking influence on me. She died 72 years ago this week. Get inspired:

1. “It is essential that we realize once and for all that man is much more of a sex creature than a moral creature. The former is inherent, the other is grafted on.”

This taught me that sex is real and normal and human. It is okay to be interested in and ask questions about it. The only judgments that can be made about your sexual fetishes are the ones you make yourself (consent is always a good one though).

2. “Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open.”

Our sex scripts tell us that women should be silenced and submissive. Thanks to Goldman, I hope we’ve learned that our pleasure is our own and we have the right to tell others what we want (and don’t want).

3. “Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty in things that help create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in.”

I keep this quotation above my desk as a reminder of what gives my life meaning and fulfillment. I would also say this is an understanding we have here at EMandLO.com: we encourage loving our bodies and our surroundings.

4. “I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.

Pretty much speaks for itself, in the most beautiful and real of ways.



Confession: I Lied About Being a Virgin

May 3, 2012

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photo via flickr

A female friend of ours, a recent college grad who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:

When I got to college, I was still carrying around my V card in my back pocket. By then, I had read erotica, watched porn, masturbated, made out furiously with high school boyfriends, even experienced cunnilingus — it just didn’t make sense to me (and, I feared, to everyone else at school) that I hadn’t had intercourse yet. I figured, with some annoyance, that my intact hymen was going to be a major speed-bump on the road to on-campus sexual satisfaction.

Turns out it was also a blow to my on-campus self-esteem. At my college — a very liberal, sex-positive place — everyone was having sex, and talking about having sex, and thinking about having sex. Everyone but me, it seemed. When the topic would come up among friends, I would sit blushing in the corner with nothing to say, uncomfortably aware of my status as outsider, as freak.

My virginity had to go! It didn’t matter who, it didn’t matter how. So when I found an interested party — a rather devastating boy who lived down the hall from me — I didn’t dare mention it. Why risk the transaction? I figured, Let’s just close the deal!

I very quickly realized this was a mistake.

Sure, there was some relief in the moment that actual, official intercourse was finally happening. But that emotion was squelched by an all-consuming fear of the unknown — a fear I couldn’t share with my partner, which ironically made me feel very alone. Then there was the pain. I wasn’t aware of how much I would need to be turned on in order to find penetration pleasurable, and lube (what’s lube?) certainly wasn’t an option back then — so it hurt like a mother. The final indignity — at least at the time — was all the blood. He freaked, I cried, and that was the end of that five-minute relationship.

Thinking back on it now, I realize that what’s worse than the break-up, worse than the physical pain, even worse than the crime scene is the ridiculous power that Virginity with a capital V still holds over our 21st-century culture. It’s like the Scarlet Letter — except this time, inexperience is the crime. Virgins don’t want to talk about it; experienced people don’t want to take it away from anyone. The shame and fear surrounding it make virginity a way bigger deal than it needs to be. After all, intercourse is just one of many different ways to have sex.

Clearly, with this issue — as with so many relationship problems — communication is the key! For all you newbies to intercourse, take it from me: Tell your partner in a non-sexual context that intercourse is new to you, and tell them how you feel about it. If it’s not a big deal to you, say that. If it is, say that too, and why! Then you and your partner can go forth fully informed and aware of what you are doing together. And maybe you’ll have the good sense to put down a towel.



5 Reasons to Have Sex with the Lights On

April 19, 2012

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photo via flickr

EMandLO.com contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz — you can read her blog here — has a confession to make:

In the movie Manhattan, Diane Keaton says to Woody Allen that he’s the kind of man she could see herself have kids with — naturally, he tells her to hit the lights. It’s common in movies for the dimming of the lights to be a signal for getting it on (I suppose it helps them steer clear of NC-17 ratings). Like most movie sex, I tend to disagree. I’m not saying you need to see each other under the unappealing cast of florescent lighting — just use a dimmer switch or light some candles. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Sex is considered very much a physical activity — let’s get physical, Olivia Newton John sang. Touching each other makes us feel good. However, I think humans are more complicated than that: visuals can make us feel good too. Let’s get visual!
  2. Seeing your partner and having your partner see you brings a new level of intimacy to the experience.
  3. Not only does it allow you to better get to know your partner, but you’ll also know where you’re going. Going down on someone — especially a new partner — takes enough concentration and difficulty as it is… try cutting off all means of seeing what you’re doing!
  4. Allowing someone to see you naked is a sign of trust and confidence — two characteristics that can make someone very attractive. Body shame is a big issue in our society, especially when we see hundreds of advertisements a week of people with unrealistic bodies. Letting your partner know you want to really see them, even with the lights on, may help them realize they don’t need to be ashamed. No matter your body type, you can still be sexy and still deserve pleasure.
  5. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but when I look at people in the dark, they look like mysterious and scary monsters. I want to know who I am sleeping with!