10 Sexy Things About Men.

I love men. I love how they move, how they sit, how they kiss.

I love how they play air guitar, quote Wedding Crashers, man the grill and roughhouse together.

I love to hear them bitch about their sports team losing, observe them trying (and failing) to be subtle when checking me out, or watch them wrestle their dog. I love how they beat the steering wheel when they get really into a song, how they posture when a really hot girl walks by, and how most of them genuinely want to be good lovers. I love how different they are from me and how similar they are underneath.

And don’t get me wrong—I love a man with a six-pack, with that to-die-for body. But when it really comes down to it, the things that make a man sexy have very little to do with the packaging.

Here are the top 10 “non-packaging related” things I find sexy in a man.

….read more

3 Sex Problems as a Woman.

Let me start this out by making a couple wild generalizations about sex.

First, we’re all having it.

Of course, that’s not actually true; some of us haven’t had it yet, others are going through a drought and some choose not to have it at all. But in general, it’s a widespread phenomenon. Which is good, since it’s what leads to the propagation of the species.

Second, while it’s an extremely common experience, we don’t really talk about it.

We don’t talk about it with each other (as in, the actual people we’re having sex with), and we don’t talk about it with others, even those we’re close to. Again, yes, there are exceptions to this, but generally, not so much.

I humbly submit that this is a major issue. Because it’s easy for things that are kept hidden or secret (whether accidentally or on purpose) to lead to feelings of shame, confusion and hopelessness. Plus, what we don’t talk about, we can’t get support with. And we need support in this area; sex and sexuality are fundamental to who we are as human beings.

…Read more here

Meetup just shut down my group. I’m a little scared about why

Sometimes working in the field of sexuality sucks.

I’m a woman coach, and I help men understand women better. I help them get comfortable with their own sexuality and support women’s sexuality in a way that feels safe and inviting. I teach them how to approach women respectfully and directly, without being creepy. Ultimately, I help both men and women have successful, nourishing, fulfilling dating lives and stronger, happier relationships.

I’ve worked with men in their late 20s who were still virgins, and who felt ashamed about that. I told them there was nothing wrong with that in the least, and helped them figure out women such that they got to have sex for the first time (hurray!).

I’ve worked with divorced men getting back into the dating game. I’ve helped them understand their value as men, and feel solid and secure in approaching women again.  I’ve helped them parse out what happened in their marriage and learn things they’d never before known about women — after decades, in some cases.

I’ve worked with widows, men who’ve suffered one of the most painful losses a human can endure: the death of a spouse. I’ve supported them in coming back into their own, sometimes even exploring parts of them that weren’t fully expressed in that relationship (a fact about which some guilt usually has to be processed).

Yes: I talk about sex. I am straightforward about that. I help men embrace their sexuality, and I’m proud of that. I also talk about connection and humanity. My work forwards more safety and grace in the world, not less.

I used to have a MeetUp group on all these topics, called Please Her In Bed. This week, Meetup shut it down. In their words:

We understand that your intentions may be good, but your group does not align with our current policies and how our platform is intended to be used. We do sincerely hope that you will find another platform that is better suited to support your specific intentions.

Meetup is not positioned to support groups that educate about, or encourage, pick-up activities—including pick-up artist, wingman, or seduction guide groups. Even if you consider your group to be a support group, engaging in or promoting these principles is not allowed on our platform.

There are several things that suck about this. I’ll just name a few:

1. It’s limiting

Meetup has a review system. Members can review Meetups, giving them a 1- to 5-star rating. My Meetup had 4.5 stars. Clearly the members themselves found it valuable. Yet Meetup as an organization decided it wasn’t “appropriate.”

This makes no sense to me. Why don’t they trust their members? Don’t shut down a group that’s meeting the needs of your people, all of whom are grown-ups. You aren’t a group for kids. These are all adults who can make their own choices.

I’d completely understand if the group had a 1-star rating and members were reaching out to Meetup to say the content was offensive or abusive. But my members were saying exactly the opposite.

If you have a rating system, use it. Don’t limit the options of the adults on your site; that’s patronizing.

2. This decision blocks people who could really use this

Meetup is known to be a place where a lot of people new to a city or looking to meet more people go. In other words, it often attracts lonely people who are actively looking to connect.

This makes it the perfect platform for events like mine, which help men meet and succeed with women. This kind of event is useful to men looking to meet more people, and possibly get into a relationship that would be fulfilling for both parties — exactly the type of thing a Meetup member is even more likely than a non-Meetup member to want.

In other words, it’s just the kind of thing members should be able to choose to access, yet Meetup is taking that choice away from them.

3. It perpetuates a culture of repressed sexuality

This is the most insidious and alarming reason of all.

At its core, shutting down this group is a puritanical decision based on shame and fear of sexuality. Look, even if there are some shady pickup-type groups on Meetup, you’ve got a rating system where members can call it out. And I’d rather see an open environment where there are some shysters than a closed environment that blocks anyone even attempting to shed light on issues surrounding sex and dating.

In other words, it scares me precisely because while Meetup’s intention is “good,” the result perpetuates a culture of repression. The decision to close any group that touches these topics precludes even the possibility of talk about sex, for fear that it will be the “wrong” kind of talk.

Look: we as a culture need MORE discussions and openness around sexuality, not less. So you, as an organization, should exercise discernment, not exclusion. Deciding an entire category of things is unacceptable (Meetups based around dating/sexuality) is shortsighted and unfair. I understand wanting to have high-quality offers. But if my group was about knitting, you never would have shut it down.

Meetup: What I do is valuable and helps make the world safer and more fulfilling for both women and men. Recognize that. Take the time to figure it out. Be a force of openness and good in the world; don’t perpetuate a culture of shame and repression around sexuality. Please don’t shut me down.

I’ve asked to at least be able to email my former members about the group ending. While they generally allows those whose groups they’re closing 7 days to inform members that the group will be shut down, I didn’t get that chance (I don’t know why). I couldn’t even tell the men in my group that the show will go on.

But the show WILL go on. If you were one of my original Meetup members (or you’re just interested), my upcoming event is most definitely still happening. I’m also recording it, so if you’re not in LA, don’t worry; I’ll be sending it out to my list. And if you are in LA, come to How to Successfully Approach Women; it’s going to be fucking awesome.

Sometimes working in the field of sexuality rocks.

My Top 10 Pros & Cons for Getting Into a Relationship (as a Woman)

Ahhhh, relationships. That most fraught territory in the realm of human experience. That place where we crash and burn, where we are lifted up into a bliss and connection beyond our conscious mind’s capacity … and where we are smashed into the earth with a velocity that often leaves us bloody and broken, whimpering into the abyss.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about my “stated” desire to get into a relationship and the uncomfortable truth underneath it: there are reasons I dread getting into one, too.

I figured I’d apply the same tried-and-true pro and con list thing to this knotty issue, just as I have to more minor problems like whether to take a certain apartment or pick a certain school.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 reasons for and against getting into a relationship:

CONS

  1. The isolation and despair and grief and inevitable disappointment I will feel when you let me down, since you are human and I am human and we are most definitely going to fuck up sometimes
  2. Dealing with morning breath (yours or mine)
  3. The feeling of being boxed in, like I’ll never be able to be truly free or expressed with respect to my sexuality again
  4. The anxiety of wondering when or if you’ll text
  5. The anxiety of wondering whether you’ll cheat on me
  6. The crushing heartbreak that will happen if/when you shut down or turn away from me
  7. The fear of losing hold of my practices (like morning journaling) because you will always around and I won’t be strong enough to hold my boundaries
  8. Feeling inhibited at parties because if I’m too flirty, you’ll be angry with me and give me the silent treatment in the car ride home instead of addressing it directly
  9. The resurfacing of core wounds and issues. Yeah, they come up to be resolved but right before they’re resolved they HURT LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER and isn’t it also true that some of them never go away?
  10. Because what if I go on a vacation and meet a really cute guy and can’t hook up with him (not even a little bit) because I’m committed to you?

PROS

  1. Cuddling. Regular spooning. Spooning that leads to sex. Sex in general
  2. Looking at you from across the room knowing you’re thinking the same thing I am and smiling at how much fun we’re going to have debriefing this moment later
  3. Smart, funny, witty text banter. Inside jokes. Sending and receiving #relationshipgoals memes with someone with whom I’m actually in a relationship
  4. You coming up behind me in the kitchen and nuzzling my neck, rubbing against me and getting me hot and wet
  5. Holding hands fingers intertwined. Affection and attention and being noticed and responded to and cared for
  6. The way you pull me in tight when we’re having a fight and we’ve gotten to that point where we’re stuck
  7. The closeness of “I’m thinking about you” “I’m thinking about you too”
  8. Looking around at a sea of men and thinking, “None of you is as good in bed as my man. It’s not even worth it.”
  9. Learning how it feels to have conflict and then actually resolve it, becoming stronger and more resilient as a team
  10. Because it’s one of life’s very greatest offerings
  11. Finally having a wedding date I actually want to bang

What’s on your list?

I Surveyed Over 1,000 People About Dating Problems. Here’s What They Said

[Photo credit: Cristina Souza]

I’m a member of a beach cleanup crew. We meet regularly. There is a cute guy on this crew, and a few weeks ago, we got to talking a little bit. When I got home that day, I saw that he’d friended me on Facebook. He has no girl in his photos and I think he may be single. However, I also think he *may* be dating one of the other girls on the crew, because they left together last week.

I don’t know what to do about it.

Do I assume they’re together, or do I ask him (or her) if they are? Is that weird? Do I just wait for him to reach out to me over Facebook? If he’s interested, he probably will (right)? If I’m the one to make the first move, is that un-sexy? And will that mean that I’m the first one to make the first move in the whole scenario? Would I have to be the first one to kiss him? That doesn’t really make me feel feminine …

And on and on.

I bring this up because it feels like a microcosm for the results I’m about to share with you.

Last year, I conducted a survey of both men and women, with the following questions:

  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to sex?
  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to dating?
  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to relationships?

This piece covers solely the dating results. For sex, go here. The relationships data will come out next week.

To be honest, the dating data was much more challenging to sort than the sex data. In this set, there was less agreement and more paradox. There were more categories and fewer generalizations.

It turns out dating is complicated. Who knew?!

First a few specifics on the population that was surveyed. If you’ve read the other pieces, obviously you can skip this part:

  1. Each respondent could give three separate responses to each question, so the percentages don’t add up to 100 (they still show the overall trends)
  2. The exact question was, “What are your top 3 problems when it comes to dating? (If you’re currently in a relationship, think back to when you were dating)” — so as not to exclude those currently in relationships

The demographics:

  • Total age range: 16-72, average age 37
  • Identified as female: 85%; male: 14%, “other”: ~1%
  • In committed relationships: 45%; single: 33%; “it’s complicated” or “other”: 22% (many said they were separated from spouse)
  • Identified as heterosexual: 85%; bisexual: 12%; gay: 1%; “other”: 3%

Thus people were mostly in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, mainly hetero, and about half were in relationships, while half were single/single-ish.

The top problems listed by the groups:

WOMEN’S TOP DATING PROBLEMS  

  1. Dis/honesty: 12%

  2. Finding the right fit: 7%

  3. Men only being interested in sex: 6%

  4. Where to meet men: 5%

  5. Game-playing (including knowing when to have sex): 4%

—-

MEN’S TOP DATING PROBLEMS       

  1. Finding the right fit: 21%

  2. Expectations/pressure: 15%

  3. Insecurity: 13%

  4. Mis/communication: 12%

  5. Reading signals: 11%

—-

Now, quickly back to the guy on the beach cleanup crew.

Let’s assume he does like me back. I don’t know him very well, but from the results of this survey, I’m going to go ahead and guess a few things: first, he isn’t sure whether I like him, either (he’s not 100% sure about about the “signs”). Second, he doesn’t want to get rejected, so he’s not sure about asking me out. What if I have a boyfriend? What if I don’t like him back? What if he asks me and I say yes and then he finds out he doesn’t actually like me? What if he hurts me?

And on and on.

I’m going to outline my biggest takeaways from the data now, but the two most overwhelming ones are these:

Humans are complicated.
When it comes to dating, we need to communicate with each other more.

More detailed takeaways (these are mainly hetero-normative, since the vast majority of the responses referred to hetero dating):

1. Nobody knows “the rules”

All actual responses:

  • “Lack of labels, always confused!” (woman)
  • “What are the current social norms?” (man)
  • “Never knowing when it’s okay to have sex without seeming like a slut or a prude.” (woman)
  • “Reading the situation, i.e. is she OK for me to kiss her? Etc.” (man)
  • “I never know if I should give into my sexual desires, even if it’s on the first date for fear I’ll come off as slutty. And fear that if I hold off for a few dates, and disregard my urges to gain their ‘respect,’ that they’ll actually get bored and lose interest.” (woman)
  • “Who pays the damn bill this time? ;)” (man)
  • “Sex – if you’re dating more than one person and no one exclusively, what’s the sex etiquette in that situation? Is it OK to assume that you are free to have sex with more than one person until you are dating an individual exclusively?” (woman)
  • “Timing. When to ask for sex the first time.” (man)
  • “I intend to sleep on the first date, some think I am a whore.” (woman)
  • “Reading ‘signs’” (man)
  • “Feeling a great connection and afraid to overwhelm the person. I come on pretty strong whenever I read energy that feels sexual. So, if I get that kind of vibe, I’m like, (in my head ~ NOT out loud!) ‘When do we get to the sex already???!!!’” (woman)
  • “I’m too old for games, when to text, what to say, don’t seem excited or desperate or interested. Who knows what’s going on?!” (woman)

I’ll tell you: Nobody knows what’s going on. If all these responses were written by a single individual, they’d be schizophrenic.

What came across more than anything was this: modern dating is confusing. It is. The social norms have changed. Everyone is fumblefucking their way through it, there are casualties along the way, and one of the biggest casualties seems to be clarity. Nothing is clear, which brings us to our next point:

2. More honest communication is needed

As you can see from the data, women listed their top problem as dis/honesty. Of course men want honesty, too, of course, but this was a big issue for women in particular. They said things like:

  • “Wondering how genuine [men] are. What their real intentions are.”
  • “Men who are not upfront about their intentions or desires. You want to be my fuckbuddy, cool, I’m human and we all have sexual needs. You want to date and get to know me and try to have a future together, awesome! But please, out of courtesy or respect, do not say one and mean the other.”
  • “Men are not clear in the communication. They say, ‘I’ll call you’ when they really mean ‘You are nice, but I don’t see us as a match.’”
  • “Men lying about what kind of relationship they really want just to have sex.”

A friend of mine hooked up with a guy she knew at a house party a few weeks ago, and it fell into that really confusing category of: what happens now? Is he going to text me? Are we going to date? Does he actually like me? What’s going on?

Then he did something classy. He sent her a long email (I know that doesn’t sound romantic, but bear with me). He was courteous and straightforward, saying he’d really enjoyed their time together and wanted to let her know what was going on on his end. He had just gotten out of something serious and was looking for a strictly physical relationship. He wasn’t sure that was a match for her. Was it?

It wasn’t. She told him, and that was that. She could stop wandering about in limbo, not knowing what was happening. It was also obvious from the email that he really did respect and care about her, and wanted her to know that.

This kind of straightforward communication is the exception right now, not the rule. And the lack of it is creating a lot of chaos, resentment, and bewilderment for both sides. To me, the overall lesson is this:

Be brave. Tell the truth.

3. Humans are complicated

One of my guy friends helped me with the data, and his interpretation of it all was both poetic and accurate:

“It was validating seeing all the contradictory responses, because it made the social matrix I’ve been navigating all my life visible. One woman says, ‘I hate that men want sex on the first date.’ Another says, ‘I want to have sex on the first date without feeling like a slut.’ One says, ‘I’m scared of feeling used.’ Another says, ‘I’m sick of guys being worried I’ll feel used. I can take care of my own feelings.’

We’re all walking around wanting and needing, fearing and feeling frustrated with different things, and we won’t necessarily know until we ask and have a conversation about it.”

He’s right. The data was full of paradoxes. Women said both:

“Men want sex right away. If they don’t get it, they move on.”
“Keeping my pants on.”

“Men telling you I love you too soon.”
“Picking ass clowns.”

“Being smothered and me having to pace the relationship.”
“Men do not want to take me anywhere but the bedroom.”

And men said:

“Wanting to get serious when they don’t.”
“Fear of hurting the one I’m dating emotionally in case I realize that she’s not for me.”

“Falling real hard for them when we did connect sexually.”
“Knowing if she is really into me.”

And on and on.

As with the last piece, I have much more to say about all this but I wanted to get this out. If you have any thoughts on all this, please do get me directly at melanie@pleaseherinbed.com. This is an ongoing project and I can use all the feedback I can get. Especially: if this is helping, I would love to know how.

I leave you with more prize responses:

  • “I’m just going to say it: I HATE dates. They feel way too artificial. I can’t help but feel that, on a date, both parties’ mindsets are, ‘OK, I’m running you and everything you say through a giant filter where if you slip up and say something wrong then the rest of this evening becomes me just being polite while I bide my time until I can leave and ghost on you.’” (man)
  • “Hard to find the right combo of “real man” and being emotionally available.” (woman)
  • “Dating apps that perpetuate a Candy Crush style of dating.” (man)?
  • “The fear of my body not being beautiful enough once we get intimate physically.” (woman)
  • “I’m quite sensitive and caring so women see me as weak but I am really passionate and am not afraid to get rough/dominate her once we are a little comfortable together.” (man)
  • “It was hard to find someone strong enough to handle me… Who didn’t want to conquer me.” (woman)
  • “Breaking the modern dating culture ‘act like you don’t care’ barrier.” (woman)
  • “Being judged for being nice. Fuck you, I’m a nice fucking guy, I’m opening your car door all the time, and buying you dinner, not because feel like I have to, or am trying to get you into bed. I’m doing these things because it’s nice to be nice to someone and I like treating human beings with kindness.” (man)
  • “How do I trust another man… ever? (After my heart has been so shredded)” (woman)
  • “Being presumed to be the sum of all previous boyfriends.” (man)
  • “Holding in a fart.” (woman)

The Secret Relationship Killer No One is Talking About

I broke up with my last boyfriend because of sex.

I didn’t tell him that, of course. I told him other things, things that were also true. So it’s not that I lied, but I didn’t share the full truth.

I didn’t tell him the full story for the same way a lot of people don’t tell … because we don’t want to “hurt each other’s feelings.”

I’m not alone in this. A lot of people end relationships in large part because of sex, while naming something else as the culprit.

I’m not saying sex isn’t cited. Often one person will say s/he wants it more (or less) than the other. One will say the other isn’t as “open-minded” as s/he wants.

But I don’t think we’re talking about the real, underlying reason behind the sexual dissatisfaction. It’s not that we could never satisfy each other. It’s not that we’re fundamentally different and fundamentally incapable of becoming compatible.

No.

I believe it’s because of something much more serious than we have given it credence for. I think it’s because of something that is just as much of a relationship-destroyer as cheating, yet remains something we rarely talk about. There’s a dirty little secret in most relationships, and that’s this:

We have no fucking clue how to talk to one another about sex.

I’m not talking about discussing frequency. I’m not talking about the, “Hey, it’s been a while since we had sex. Is everything cool?” conversation. I’m not even talking about the, “Hey, we need to talk about this … I feel like I want sex way more than you, and I’m afraid of what that means” thing.

No, not the how-often-we-have-it, not even details of whether or when you go down on me, or whether I am open to us having anal sex — I’m talking about the actual, down and dirty sex part.

What it feels like.

What I crave from you, and you from me.

Whether I trust you — really trust you.

Where I feel truly, extremely vulnerable sexually, and what that means for me.

Where you feel really, truly, extremely vulnerable sexually, and what that means for you.

Where we are meeting one another’s needs, and where we aren’t meeting one another’s needs.

In my case, I knew better. I knew what phenomenal, off-the-charts, haunting, mesmerizing, riveting, bed-shaking, earth-quaking sex felt like. I knew what it meant to be so totally absorbed by my my partner’s body, attention, and touch that I was rendered literally speechless.

I knew what truly great sex was, so I wasn’t willing to settle for “just OK.”

It’s not that I never tried to talk about it — at least in part. For example, I did bring up the idea of him being more gentle with his hands — a few times. He usually got more gentle for a few minutes (sometimes even one whole encounter) … then went back to doing it how he’d always done it.

After a few times, I let it go. I didn’t want to be perceived as a nag. I didn’t want to be perceived as demanding. I didn’t want to be told I was too sensitive or too much. I didn’t want to be shut down or shamed. So I let it go.

No, that’s the wrong phrase.

I gave up.

I recently conducted sex research on 1,000 people, and there were a lot of similar responses from the women. They said they’d tried to communicate with their partners about sex, then felt really discouraged when it didn’t “stick.”

So they did what I did: gave up. They’d grin and bear it, tolerate the pain when it happened, and just figure this was as good as it gets.

As good as it gets.

Now, to be fair to the men, my guess is that these women approached the conversation with as much trepidation as me, and without informing the men of the extent to which this was a problem. They probably didn’t say just how much it mattered, the same way I didn’t.

They didn’t give him the stakes.

For example: I said something like, “I would love a lighter touch. The more gentle you are with your hands, the more I feel. When it’s too much pressure, I numb out.”

The second time, I probably just said, “Lighter, lighter, lighter” — because he’d gone back to a pressure that hurt.

The third time, I squirmed and said, “Less pressure.”

The fourth time, I gave up.

Yet at no point did I say say:

“Listen, I’d love to talk to you about something really important. I’ve brought it up a few times, but I need to emphasize it: I really need a lighter touch when you touch my vulva with your fingers and hands. Right now, the pressure is often too much, and it hurts. The pain makes me cringe inside and tense my body, which then distracts me from any pleasure I might have been feeling. I end up feeling like I have to protect myself. This is really important to me. I want us to have beautiful, amazing, spectacular sex, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. In fact, it’s so important that if it doesn’t get better, I’m considering breaking up with you.”

Whoa.

Harsh.

Was I wrong to not say that?

Was I right to?

Was it my responsibility to make sure he understood the stakes, or was it his responsibility to take the direction I’d given (and not just forget about it by the next encounter)?

Whose “fault” was it?

I don’t know.

I do know that this is the dirty little secret in a LOT of relationships.

I do know that when you love someone, it’s hard to “criticize” them about something so inherently vulnerable.

I do know that when you don’t fully let yourself go during sex, it damages the intimacy of the whole relationship …  and that that is the beginning of the end.

So I want to know: How do you talk about sex with a partner (if at all)? Have you ever broken up with someone because of sex? Ever talked about it with someone and had it go well?

I’m conducting a survey about this to help understand the extent of the issue and the possible solutions. If you’re willing to share (anonymously), please do.

Let’s talk about how to talk about sex.

It’s time.

Take the survey: Sex Talk.

 

Survey Results: Over One Thousand People Weigh in About Sex, Dating & Relationships

[Photo credit: Tony Fischer]

About a year ago, I wrote a piece called My Top 3 Sex Problems As A Woman.

I did it to promote transparency and openness. I did it because I think we should talk about sex more, and more honestly. I did it because the better we feel about our sexuality, the better we are to ourselves. And others.

In that spirit, at the end of the article I invited people to participate by taking a survey. The questions were very simple:

  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to sex?
  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to dating?
  • What are your top 3 problems when it comes to relationships?

I wanted to see whether I was alone in my sex problems as a woman. I wanted to know what men would say. I wanted to see what trends would emerge.

I wanted the truth.

I thought I’d be lucky to get 100 responses. You can imagine my shock, then, when over 1,000 people responded. Then I read them and was even more shocked by their depth, range, vulnerability, and, yes, truth.

Get excited, because I’m going to share the results with you now.

First, a few notes on the data:

  1. Since each respondent could give 3 separate answers to each question, you’ll notice the percentages don’t add up to 100 (don’t worry, they still show the critical trends)
  2. I’m including only the sex results in this article. I’ll do separate pieces for the dating and relationship questions. They’re equally as fascinating

And a few quick demographics on who responded:

  • The total age range was 16-72, with an average age of 37
  • 85% identified as female, 14% male, and ~1% as “other”
  • 85% identified as heterosexual; 12% as bisexual; 1% as gay; 3% as “other”
  • 45% were in committed relationships, 33% were single, and 22% fell into the categories of “it’s complicated” or “other” (many of these said they were currently separated from spouse)

So we’re talking about people mostly in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, primarily hetero, roughly half of whom were in a relationship, and half of whom were single/single-ish.

Without further ado, here are the top problems listed by the groups:

—-

WOMEN’S TOP SEX PROBLEMS  

  1. Trouble orgasming: 24%

  2. Pain/It hurts: 23%

  3. Communication: 18%

  4. Not enough foreplay: 18%

  5. Relaxing/letting go: 4%

—–

MEN’S TOP SEX PROBLEMS       

  1. Pleasing partner: 17%

  2. Partner not initiating: 17%

  3. Performance anxiety: 12%

  4. My sex drive is higher: 9%

  5. Not having/getting it enough: 8%

—–

If you’re a woman for whom orgasming is challenging, or a man who isn’t exactly sure how to please your partner, the biggest thing to know is that you’re not alone.

Here are a few more of my biggest takeaways (note: these are hetero-normative for the most part, as the vast majority of the responses referred to hetero sex).

1. For a lot of women, sex hurts

It’s hard to talk about this one. First, because a number of women said their biggest sexual issue was figuring out how to enjoy sex after rape or other sexual trauma, and that is, frankly, heartbreaking. Not only were these women violated either as girls, teens, or adults, but now sex is painful for them and while they desperately want to enjoy it, they don’t (yet). I have much to say about this, which I will save for a different article, but for now will simply say this: one of my closest friends is a survivor of sexual abuse, and she has scorchingly hot sex with her fiancé now. It IS possible, you CAN get there, and you DESERVE to get there.

Next: for a lot of women, it’s not necessarily that sex hurts all the time, but that many of the men with whom they have it, hurt them (probably unwittingly). Thus:

  • “Painful intercourse”
  • “Too much pressure/too rough”
  • “Fear (like I need to protect my body from painful and unwelcome stuff)”
  • “Fingering too rough causing anxiety rather than stimulation”
  • “Men are rough. I call it porn sex.”

I’ve got to be honest: It was a little depressing to read response after response like this. But it also gave me hope, because I feel like much of this is fixable with the right information and communication. Especially because …

2. Men really want to know how to please women

Apparently, for many men, figuring out how to please a woman is a puzzling mystery wrapped in the shroud of an enigma:

  •   “I can’t tell whether what I’m doing is working.”
  •   “I don’t know how to tell if I gave a woman an orgasm or not. This is compounded by the fact that I can’t get feedback because asking if it happened is a turn-off (e.g. showing a lack of sexual prowess), which results in no orgasms anyhow. I’ve also heard the conventional wisdom, ‘If you don’t know if you’ve given a girl an orgasm, then you probably haven’t’ – which makes me even more insecure.”
  •   “If what I’m doing actually turns her on.”
  •   “A lot of women I’ve met almost seem like they expect me to know how to please them, but it requires a little direction. Don’t be afraid to tell me you don’t like something, or would rather me do something else. Guide me. Not everything I like do will appeal to every partner I have. Direct me, and show me the way. This is a mutual thing, and if only one of us enjoys it, what’s the point of having sex?”

I really feel for men here. For many of them, it sounds like determining how to successfully pleasure a woman is like trying to escape a dark room with a lot of furniture in it. You do your best while you stumble around, hoping not to run into anything bad and eventually find the right door that leads to the holy land.

As a woman who has sex with men, I was also touched by the responses in this category. It was a good reminder that most men really do want women to enjoy themselves during sex. They’re not just looking to “score” – they care that she’s having a good time.

Which makes the next point even more poignant:

3. Women struggle with how to talk about sex with men

Over and over, women mentioned wanting to give their partners feedback about sex but feeling like if they brought something up, they’d hurt him. They said things like:

  • “I struggle to express what I want during sex. I’m afraid of making the other person feel inadequate.”
  • “Communication! Speaking up in bed while trying to balance pleasing myself and not hurting my partner’s ego.”
  • “My partner likes going down on me, but he’s not very good at it. I don’t think he knows where to focus the energy and stimulation. I try to tell him but don’t want to hurt his feelings or ego.”
  • “Not wanting to tell my partner when he does something I don’t like. Men take it personally and seem to think because they’ve successfully pleasured one woman with something that it should/will work with all women.”
  • “How to communicate when I don’t like something without shutting my partner down.”

I can’t tell you the number of responses that sounded like these. This is a HUGE issue for women.

So in general, we have men who want their women to enjoy sex, and women who are terrified of being honest about what’s not working and therefore don’t speak up about it, to the point of tolerating quite a bit of pain.

While that may sound ridiculous, I can say without a doubt that I’ve done it many times.

I have about a bajillion more things to say on this topic, but this piece is already long and I don’t want to overwhelm.

So expect more – much more – from me about all this. I am DETERMINED to improve our sex lives, people. HOT SEX FOR EVERYONE IN 2017 – who’s with me?!

I leave you with a few highlights from the responses (these respondents gave their consent that their words could be shared (anonymously)):

  • “Fear my partner will lose interest if I’m too ‘difficult.’ That is, if I take too long or if I don’t orgasm.” – Female, 48
  • “Being afraid to ask for something in fear she’ll think you are weird or gross.” – Male, 44
  • “Focusing too much about meeting his needs and not enjoying myself and our sexy time.” – Female, 30
  • “Broaching the subject without feeling pushy or apologizing.” – Male, 29
  • “I have no problems telling a partner to touch me lighter, but they don’t always get it. Then it takes a while, I get frustrated, I feel he’s frustrated, then I just don’t want to anymore. I unfortunately don’t have a lot of sex, I think I have a low drive, too. All things put together, I often feel ‘broken.’” – Female, 42
  • “Feeling insecure about initiating sex ALL the time and not waiting to come across as demanding. Trying to be a man ravishing my lover but still being sensitive to her needs and desires.” – Male, 60
  • “People thinking ‘bisexual’ automatically means ‘promiscuous.’” – Female, 45
  • “Always be hard – Like don’t lose the underwear until ready to impress, and never droop so she won’t feel I’m bored.” – Male, 40
  • “Am I doing it right ? Am I doing something wrong? Am I bad at sex?” Female, 44
  • “[Women being like] starfishes – no positions, lay there and no noise, makes you feel like a rapist.” – Male, 39
  • “What if the one day she actually initiates is the one day I just want to take a nap?” – Male, 40
  • “Inability to obtain or pay attention to quality feedback. ‘Porn-style’ vocal feedback is the only thing they use to judge success, in other words, jab something until the girl makes a sound, versus exploring and watching and feeling for subtle clues of pleasure.” – Female, 47
  • “Top problem: A SMALL CHILD THAT INVADES OUR BEDROOM.” – Female, 35

NOTE: If you aren’t on my list yet but want to be alerted when the next two parts of the survey come out (dating and relationships), sign up here.

P.S. I think the data from this sex survey lends itself to visual representation and would love to see an infographic made of these results. If you’re interested in making that happen, get in touch: 80laysbook@gmail.com (I can pay).

Vixen Manifesto (the original)

Vixen Manifesto

1. It is possible for every single person alive to have amazing, passionate, mind-altering sex. In fact, as human beings it is not only possible, it is our birthright.

2. Everyone should have a relationship with her/his sexuality completely separate from any other (romantic or otherwise). Your sexuality doesn’t depend on anyone else, and it is a vital part of who you are: it can be a source of power.

3. Monogamy isn’t for everyone. It’s time to be realistic about that and start dealing with it, instead of pretending it works for everybody. It doesn’t.

4. Not all relationships are meant to last – even long-term ones. If we aren’t learning and growing within a relationship, it’s time to get out. Having been together for a long time is NOT a reason to stay together.

5. One in four girls and one in six boys are survivors of sexual abuse, a huge factor in one’s current sexual reality. If you are one, know the following: 1. You are not alone. 2. It wasn’t your fault. 3. Help is available. 4. If you haven’t yet dealt with it, it’s time.

6. It is absolutely impossible for one person to fulfill all of your needs. Problematically, this is the current model for romantic relationships in our culture. We need a new one.

7. The way people receive love is different: some people feel loved when they are told aloud; others want to be shown, with gifts or acts of service. Social science shows us that over and over, people assume that others are like them. They’re not. Understanding fundamental personality differences like these can make or break relationships.

8. Relationship Ed should be taught in schools the way Sex Ed is.

9. Unresolved trauma is the root cause of most issues in relationship. Many times relationships force us to confront our deepest Family Of Origin (FOO) “issues.” So let’s confront them, instead of just unconsciously repeating old patterns. Let’s all be FOO fighters.

10. World peace will only be achieved when every person is raised in a healthy, loving, functional family system.* By learning to have healthy relationships, we actually do have the power to change the world – literally.

 

*healthy does not necessarily mean traditional nuclear family, nor does it mean “perfect.”

Note: This blog is hetero-normative. It excludes a lot of relationship concerns, including gay/lesbian/transgender and others. There are fascinating discussions to be had on these topic, I just don’t cover them. Also, I occasionally utilize sentence fragments. Before the Grammar Police get their panties in a bunch, please know that I realize I’m doing so. I just like to use them for effect. Note that I didn’t say “affect.”

6 Thing Men Should Get About Women.

Newsflash, men: It isn’t all (always) your fault.

I recently received an amazing email (names and other identifying information have been changed), and it had me realize just how much confusion there is when dealing with the fairer sex:

“Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog and thought you might be a good person to turn to for advice, so here goes. I met a very intelligent and attractive woman at a lecture a few weeks ago. We had been talking for about a half hour and really developed a great rapport. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.

Then things suddenly went downhill. There was a pause in the conversation and since she had classic curves (large bust, narrow waist, etc.), I commented that she had a “really nice hourglass figure.” My intent was to be complimentary and a little flirtatious but instead she became deeply offended. I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but the more I talked, the more I exacerbated things as she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She told me I was being “inappropriate” and that she was “very disappointed” and then whap, she slapped my face and departed.

My reply:

“She slapped you!? No, I don’t think you should email her an apology note. I think she should email you one!”

read more

Incidental Sex

Her: "You do realize we'll be stuck like this for *eternity*, right?" Him: "Aww, yeah..."

Some sex is meaningful.

It means something when you finally sleep with that guy in your building you’ve been flirting with for months but never got the guts up to ask out. It means something when the girl from your kickball league you wanted from the moment you laid eyes on her, finally says yes and you end up going all the way. It means something when you sleep with that college RA you always had a crush on, who you hadn’t seen for years but just moved into your city.

In those instances there’s a connection, and the sex is memorable even if the act itself isn’t particularly good. In fact, it’s actually hard for it not to be good, because anticipation is half of what dopamine release is all about.

Damn, boy... that fire's not the only thing that's smokin'!

There’s also the kind of sex where the physicality itself is so good, so explosive, so raw, that it doesn’t matter who it was with. It’s that guy you met in Brazil at a bonfire with whom you could barely communicate (at least verbally), who traced his fingers along your bare shoulder until you were the one dragging him down the beach with a blanket and whatever Portuguese is for Trojan. It’s that girl that rubbed up against you while you did the merengue at your favorite salsa place until you were totally incoherent, who you took back to your place and continued the incoherence nonstop, all night.

Hat trick, anyone?

It’s the pro hocky player who spotted you from the stands and came to ravage you after the game, not even fully taking off his uniform but taking his time while he bent you over the benches in the locker room and lifted you up with your legs around him while he did you against the lockers themselves.

(Obviously this is not a personal fantasy of mine).

At any rate, in those cases your mind is overrun because the only space that exists is taken up by your body. The bends and ridges and curves of you can do nothing but remember the sensual, sexual, creative, intoxicating power of it, the way skin and lips and limbs and thoughts melded into one. It’s the kind of experience where the sex itself carried you beyond the present into the Present, that place where words are lost and grace is found.

Then there’s incidental sex.

Incidental sex is exactly what it sounds like: it just happened to happen. It was a Monday night, it wasn’t particularly inspiring, and it wasn’t particularly memorable – it just sort of occurred.

I had incidental sex this past week. We met up at around 10pm on a weeknight. We had a nice drink at a nice hotel bar. We got along well, both having gone to good schools, both knowing who Kanye is and who Romney isn’t. And after about an hour and a half, we went back to his place.

Now, just to clarify, the sex was good. He could get it up and keep it up and liked to kiss while fucking and could read my body for the most part and genuinely wanted to do what I wanted to do and liked to give oral sex. So really, technically he was a great sexual partner for me.

And yet, even just an hour after I’d gone home and was about to go sleep, I realized that the sex (and the guy) were hardly even in my consciousness. I’d spent the taxi ride home thinking about other things – what classes there’d be at the gym tomorrow, whether or not it was going to rain, my weekend, friends, my life. And the next day when I got a text from a friend asking how the date had gone, I was surprised. I’d practically forgotten I’d even had sex the night before.

To be completely honest, I think this did, in part, have to do with the guy’s technique. It was a smidge mechanical. I think that frankly, I wanted a little bit more care, a little more love, a little more tenderness. (Also, I hate it when men grab my breasts like they’re door knobs. Wtf is that? Does it feel good to you? Do you really think it feels good to me? Well, if you do, think again. It’s doesn’t just not turn me on, it turns me off. In fact, if I were a lamp, you’d be in the pitch-ass dark, motherfucker).

But I digress. The point is, if the sex had been truly spectacular (as I love to harken back to), I wouldn’t have been surprised at the text from my girlfriend. I would have been texting her, because I would have been replaying the scenario in my mind, or looking at my phone hoping he had texted, or simply basking in post-coitus-excellentus bliss.

But I wasn’t. I was thinking about my upcoming workshop and acting and music videos and my writing and all of the rest of the things I’m excited about in my life. I didn’t regret the night before, but I also didn’t want to relive it. I just felt neutral.

In other words, it was a bit like going out to dinner at a good restaurant – not a great restaurant, not a truly extraordinary restaurant, but a good one nonetheless. It’s good while you’re there; the sauce flavorful, the food hot, the waiter attentive.

But it’s not truly exceptional, where even the next day you’re remembering how exquisite the soup was, light and buttery and delicious, or how perfect the bread, crunchy and warm and delicious, or how extraordinary the dessert, a delectable chocolate lava cake with just the right melt-in-your-mouth, feed-it-to-me-slowly-and-make-me-beg-for-more factor.

Nope, most of the time going out to eat is incidental to your life. It’s a meal, a way of nourishing yourself, something you do because you don’t feel like cooking and you don’t want fast food.

And that’s sort of what this was. It was incidental, not fundamental. It was a like going out for a sexual meal, a way of nourishing myself because I didn’t feel like cooking for myself, so to speak. Sometimes a girl just wants take-out, you know? Or in this case, take-ME-out.

You get the idea.

The point is, while there’s nothing wrong with incidental sex, I’ve decided that I’m sort of over it for now. The next sex I have, I want to be good. I don’t need it to be The Best I’ve Ever Had, but I do want to have a few transcendental moments. I want to have at least a times where our bodies are moving together in exactly the right way, where the way that I’m being touched is perfect in that moment, connected and exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. Maybe even transformative.

My body wants this. My mind wants this. My heart wants this. I’m in alignment.

And it’s been a while since I had it, but I’m willing to wait. I’m even willing to forgo some incidental sex.

But if I’m truly honest, I’m hoping I won’t have to wait long.