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Open Thread: Good Sex


by Elisabeth, Contributing Editor

Open Thread: Good Sex | A Practical WeddingOpen Thread: Good Sex | A Practical Wedding

The APW staff was worried it would be in poor taste to have an open thread about good sex during Pride Week, because they’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into how to craft a week that’s focused on queer marriages and weddings and relationships. I love them for this thoughtfulness, but when they debated whether this might hijack the week’s larger priorities, I believe I said, “Sex! Good! Lez talk about it!”

Indeed, I was excited that we were going to have this discussion during Pride Week in particular. Because the sex we’re having, or want to have, is not so different. Sure, mine comes with different bodies and maybe different toys (and oh, you should really give them a try). But I believe the essence of good sex—of connecting with someone else and figuring out what makes you feel good—comes from the praxis of experimentation, exploration, and play. And we all have something to say about that, whether you’re having solo sex, monogamous partner sex, or “being cordial” with the queers of Brooklyn, which is what my BFF called my super-single days.

Another friend says sex is made up of equal parts chemistry, communication, and skill. My girlfriend’s beloved Dan Savage says much the same thing, that you have to be “good, giving, and game.” If you come to the table (or the bed, or the shower!) in the giving and game mindset, the skill, and the good, is going to come. Heh, I said come!

So that’s where this conversation begins. You guys devour open threads like queers to a Thanksgiving tofurkey. Tell the rest of us what works! What means good sex to you? What have you figured out through trial and error? And what have you always been interested in? If you say it, I’m ninety-nine percent sure another reader is going to lend you their experience and give you the last bit of oomph you need to be game to try it.  And if you’ve done it, tell the rest of us about it, so we can report back on how it goes. In the immortal words of one of my feminist icons (Betty Dodson), “Rock and roll, girlfriend. Rock and roll.”

And of course, if you want to leave an anonymous comment, don’t forget to make sure both your name and your email address are anonymous (this goes double for Gravatar users, because the photo links to your email address). Also, if you put a fake email address please DO NOT CHECK the box to notify you of replies via email. It won’t, and our emails will be full of bounced back comments. No fun. See below for an example of how to leave an anonymous comment:Open Thread: Good Sex | A Practical Wedding

Open Thread: Good Sex | A Practical Wedding

Normal commenting rules and kindness still apply, of course.

Photo by APW Sponsor Jesse Holland

Elisabeth

Elisabeth is an MPH working in public health in New York City. Her old okcupid profile said she’s really good at: fixing socially awkward situations at parties, return trips to Ikea, whipping up excellent mac and cheese on camping trips, leaping into the ocean, being chronically late, and having Friday night adventures all over Brooklyn. In September 2013, she married her introverted, punctual K.

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  • Anonymous

    Interesting thread!

    What made good sex for me was the right partner. Okay, that’s kind of obvious. So what makes good sex with this partner is COMMUNICATION. Duh again. My first experiences were good, but not great. I was on anti-depressants and hormonal birth control. Both of these things stemmed my sex drive IMMENSELY. Because of the anti-depressants, I’d NEVER experienced sexual excitement (or knew what I was experiencing, if I did) until my late teens, when I started smooching folks and fooling around (foreplay activities, essentially). I didn’t masturbate. It didn’t particularly feel like anything really good to me. Porn freaked me out for whatever reason. I had no idea what to do.

    My semi-inexperienced first partner and I fumbled our way along and had a pleasing sex life, I think, for a few years. It took me a couple of years to learn how to orgasm, but they weren’t that awesome (I really felt like “what’s the bother?”). After that relationship, I played the field a little and learned more about how to get myself off. I attribute some of my successes to the sexual education program I was part of in my college. AND A VIBRATOR. That was a game-changer for me. Eventually, I met my current partner (who I will be marrying next month). Their experience was invaluable to me and with their help, I am learning how to get off effectively on my own and get off more effectively with them! Feeling comfortable talking to them about what’s working & what’s not, even in the middle of getting busy, was absolutely key.

    I hope this isn’t too explicit… Or maybe that’s okay? I’m kind of surprised to see this on a wedding website, but totally thrilled!

  • A. Nonny Mouse

    Oh my goodness. Only on APW.

    Had a two-day honeymoon after a smallish wedding this weekend. It was divine. Tip for the world- get a room with a Jacuzzi. And bring lube. Bring lube. Bring lube.

    We forgot the lube. Our hotel offered “intimacy kits” that could be brought to your room. Still wish I’d gone for that. The bathtub was fun and got lots of use anyway.

    And what could be better than watching a movie and your partner diving under the covers while requesting that you describe the movie to him? Hint- it gets more difficult the longer he’s down there. Hilarity/orgasms ensue.

    • anonymous.me

      I agree! After a jacuzzi, you feel so loose and relaxed. We were able to work positions that we normally fumbled through. Definitely ranked as some of the best sex my partner and I have had. And it made for an amazing nights sleep afterwards!

      • HotSauce

        Um, yeah, plus THE JETS. Steady streams of water flowing across your clit while he enters from behind? Yes please. And pro tip: a small-ish vibrator can be made waterproof by putting it inside a condom and tying it off.

    • Erin

      Picturing your partner under the covers while you describe the movie is AWESOME. Such potential for both hilarity and orgasms, my two favorite things! (Well, and also kittens and puppies, but they rank below orgasms.)

    • Kat

      I’m just so very much excited for our honeymoon now! I mean I was before, but man am I glad we booked the cabin with the outdoor hot tub and the indoor jacuzzi!

      • Kat

        Also thanks for the lube reminder!

  • http://uncommon-courtesy.com Jena

    Sex has definitely changed for me over time. Sometimes I wanted a monogamous partner, sometimes I wanted a fuck buddy, sometimes I wanted a stranger. I tried not to think too much about why I wanted what I wanted, or shame myself because of my desires. I would just stop doing the thing I was doing if it didn’t feel right anymore?

    FH and I took a while to find our rhythm–our relationship started as a friendship and grew into a deep love, with lots of sexual attraction but not necessarily sexual compatibility. But we knew it was worth it, started communicating with each other, and now it’s interesting and experimental and fantastic.

    • anon

      I’ve never (ever!) used any toys (solo or with a partner), but I’m totally down with the idea…I just wouldn’t know how to bring it up with my guy. And hey, my man works for a store chain that sells certain adult products (I don’t want to say the store name, but they’re frequently found in malls and also sell over-the-hill and bachelorette party items – so yes, you’re probably thinking of the right store).

      • HotSauce

        My advice on toys is to act like it’s no big deal. Just be like: Hey, I’d like to try a vibrator, would you be down with that? He’ll probably get excited. Buy one for yourself and experiment with it first and see what happens. Durex makes some low-threat vibrating rings that are sold in the condom section of the drugstore and might be a great place to start.

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      “lots of sexual attraction but not necessarily sexual compatibility” damn – thanks for that distinction.

  • Katelyn

    I want to shout from the rooftops about how awesome sex toys are. I use them as a masturbation aid, with porn, without porn, as a foreplay aid, as a sex aid, inside, outside, in different erogenous zones, and even to help with sinus pressure (ha!).

    I honestly have friends who have never tried even a little bullet vibrator. I fully intend (today!) to anonymously send them a couple, since they have expressed interest but are scared to purchase themselves.

    My “toy box” includes:
    – lelo Clio
    – Mystic Wand (like a smaller, cordless Hitachi Magic Wand)
    – classic rabbit
    – simple hard plastic vibrating dildo
    – 2-3 bullet vibes
    – scarves, handcuffs, plain lube, flavored lube, “arousal enhancers” (aka lip balm with menthol, actually kinda nice), etc etc

    I’d love suggestions for additions to my little sex toy parade, and to field questions from anyone looking to start their own toy collection!

    • Anon

      Okay, but be careful with the menthol. It’s a skin irritant.

      • Katelyn

        Yep, used very sparingly. Thanks for looking out for my safety!

    • A. Nonny Mouse

      I’m considering getting a vibrator to spice things up. What’s a good basic vibrator that will last and not break the bank? (And maybe available on Amazon? I get cash back!)

      • Anony

        I’d start with a basic bullet vibe. They’re small, not for internal use, and sometimes hard to keep a grip on, but as a starter it’ll give you an idea of what you like and don’t like and what you want to try next.

      • Katelyn

        Amazon has an *awesome* high-quality sex toy selection! Do you want something to use with a partner or strictly solo?

        The most basic vibrator, the bullet, is probably the best “beginner” toy. You can get one with a cord and a remote, or completely cordless. The ones with a remote tend to run on standard AA or AAA batteries, and the cordless use watch batteries, which can be a bit harder to fine (might be good to order an extra set of batteries while you’re placing an order).

        This is for external stimulation only! Bullets can be had for very little cash, and are great to use with a partner. You can use it for clitoral stimulation during coitus or as a great warm-up! Just be careful to start at a low setting and slowly increase – too much vibration can be uncomfortable. I prefer less direct pressure – above or to the side of the clitoral hood – versus head on.

        On Amazon, you can go to Health and Personal Care – Sexual Wellness – Adult Toys & Games – Sex Toys – Vibrators to see their selection. Anything with “bullet’ or “egg” in the name will probably be your best bet :)

        Sorry for the novel – let me know if you have any other questions!

        • Katelyn

          Editing comments seems to be on the fritz for me – so I just wanted to add that the brand “Doc Johnson” has been pretty good to me in the low- to mid-price range.

          Another awesome resource is early2bed.com – they have great video reviews and recommendations. If anyone’s in the Chicago area, they have the nicest and most knowledgable staff, a clean, well-lit showroom, and a very sex-positive atmosphere. Highly recommend!

          • Jessica B

            Freddy and Eddy is also a good place to go. It’s a husband/wife team that review products and have their own shop–they’ll tell you what they liked and why and if it worked for them together vs solo.

          • Anon

            I’m not able to edit either. There is no text inside the box.

      • Maddie

        My favorite (they don’t have it on Amazon, but it’s cheap):

        http://www.babeland.com/superbullet/d/2496

        Also, the babeland website has videos for a lot of their products, so you can get a more robust explanation on what everything does.

        • Amanda

          I LOOOVE Babeland, definitely the place to go if you live in the Seattle area! They’re very queer friendly and have lots of classes too. I learned a lot when they did a talk at my college.

      • Kacey

        If you do go shopping on Amazon, be mindful that Amazon will recommend products to you on your home page! I had to be very, very careful because I use Amazon prime videos in my classroom and I definitely did not want my 11th graders knowing what kind of toys I was interested in!

        After you are finished looking/purchasing, you can go to settings (I think) as edit your recommendations! I assure you the time it takes is worth if it you ever use Amazon in front of people who shouldn’t know about your sex life! (:

        • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

          Oh gosh. The high schoolers do not need any more ideas planted in their head.

      • happy anon

        Magic wand! I’ve had bullets in the past, but this has changed my life so fantastically.

      • Aubry

        Fun Factory is awesome! And cute and non threataning. And last forever. Seriosuly I love ‘em. Plus the little designs give a physical stimulation more than the smooth ones out there. I like it better. Also, we got some little vibrating rings from some promo (durex or similar generic brand) and they were amazing! Totally investing in a better quality one soon. A easier way to incorperate it in couple time (if your partner is so endowed) without worrying about getting hands tangles etc.

      • Rebecca

        I second the Doc Johnson suggestion for Amazon purchases. The “Jenna’s velvet jewel’s” model is very nicely priced and reliable (I sound like I am talking about a car). Also, babeland is awesome.

      • Kate

        Rock chick bullet vibe 80mm, available from multiple sellers on amazon, is great! Plus it is cheap but expensive/nice looking, which is important to me.

      • Ann Onymous

        Oh, skip the magic bullet stuff and go straight to the Mystic Wand! That thing changed my solo-sex life. Plus, the one I have is waterproof and has a bunch of fabulous settings (the one that builds up, then backs off, then builds up is just…….whoa).

        Still trying to get FH to use it on me. He says he will “at some point” but always finds a reason not to. Maybe he’s actually uncomfortable but not sure how to tell me. But I think he’s probably more worried about disturbing the neighbors because I tend to be, uh, exuberant in expressing my enjoyment and he knows how intense my orgasms are with penetration and hand stimulation–using the vibrator along with that would be explosive! ;o)

    • Meg

      Oh my god I’m so glad I’m not the only one who uses a vibrator to relieve sinus pressure! My husband thinks it’s super weird but I could not survive a cold without it!

      • Paranoid Libra

        Exactly how do you relieve sinus pressure with one? …. I’m not googling that at work.

        • Katelyn

          Ha! I use my Mystic Want (Hitachi knockoff). If you didn’t know, it has a very wide, round-ish vibrating head. Turn on the vibes and place it on your cheekbones on top of the sinuses. It will feel WEIRD but it helps knock loose some of the phlegm inside!

          • http://theambershow.net Amber Marlow, theAmberShow

            You. Are. Shitting me. I’m so going to try this.

      • anon

        professional singers use them to loosen their vocal cords. also.

    • Anonymous

      This is me–too scared to try and overwhelmed by the options! I’m sorta hoping my sister will buy me one for my bachelorette party …

      • Katelyn

        Ever since Sex and the City, I think women new to sex toys think they have to go for the “dual action” vibrators – which are admittedly kind of alien and scary looking.

        A simple bullet is easy to clean, versatile, and super fun!

      • HotSauce

        Consider buying online? Lilo is my favorite ever.

      • Anonymous

        This might not be what you’re looking for as someone new to toys, but I think the Thumbs Up is absolutely incredible! http://ww2.pureromance.com/PUBLICSTORE/product/Wireless-Thumbs-Up-New,993,156.aspx Pure Romance parties themselves I think are kinda weird, but I was really happy with this purchase. Looks like you can also just buy it online without needing to go to a party. I tried a simple bullet vibe and it didn’t do much for me. But with the combo clitoral and g-spot simulation from this one, whoa!!

  • Anon

    Downer alert! Thanks to a thread on APW, I went to see a PT for painful sex issues I’ve been having on and off for a couple of years (after years of painfree sex). I finally graduated from PT (after a year!) and now am scared to have sex again. I’m now seeing a therapist for these issues and that’s not helping. I’ve forgotten about good sex. How I miss those days.

    • http://acceptorchange.blogspot.com YetAnotherMegan

      I feel you on that. I’m waiting right now to get into someone about painful sex that I’ve been having for a while now (well, not having at this point). They keep telling me it’s a yeast infection but even after the infection is “gone” I still have pain, so I’m calling BS on that. I’m at the point now where I’m so afraid of the pain that I don’t want to do anything that would lead to wanting sex.

      • Anonymous Hippo

        I kept being told just use more lube. I knew that wasn’t the case.

        Find a physical therapist that does pelvic floor therapy. I am only on my 3rd week but today went so much less painful than last week’s went. Part of it though is not having sex until your body learns to have stuff there without the pain so it kind of relearns it all as it can be a cycle. I hate waiting right now. I am just ready to pounce my husband as oral just does not cut it. Not that I don’t orgasm with it, but it makes me want more sex when full on sex will actually satisfy the desire. Kind of like how eating just one M&M can make you want more chocolate.

        ….this thread is probably awful timing for me, I just want SEX!!!!

      • Hannah

        This sounds like a line, but a friend of mine had the same problem (the painful sex thing being diagnosed as extended yeast infection) and it turned out to be a newly developed latex sensitivity. Assuming you’re using condoms, maybe try switching to a different synthetic? Good luck!

      • Kate

        Have you held a mirror down there to see if you’re experiencing perineal tears? I got them after a severe yeast infection and it took a while to completely get things balanced again and for sex to be pain free again.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Still undergoing treatment for painful intercourse myself. At this point, I’m just waiting until the doctor lets me give up on the issue.

    • Emily

      I went to a doctor for this for a while but it never went beyond the it is probably a UTI but weird you have no bacteria coming up and/or a yeast infection stage. That was frustrating to say the least. I do have to say though that it isn’t all the time, so I am lucky in that regard.

      I am pregnant now, and went off birth control before that for a little while, and I did notice a big difference between the number of times sex has been painful afterwards, it’s been much less of an issue now. I haven’t talked to my doctor yet about whether that could influence it but my guess is birth control might have been the driving force behind my problem. Good luck to you though, it does suck.

      • Katherine

        BC is ABSOLUTELY the reason why sex is now painful for me 99% of the time. It has made my body completely stop producing it’s own moisture, plus completely killed my sex drive. The combination of those two things really is not a good thing at all for me & FH as far as our sex life is concerned. I have talked to my GYN about it, and she confirmed that many women have the same experience. Lube does help to a point, but I really do miss having a sex drive & not having to worry about it hurting every time I want to mess around with FH.

        That being said, it still makes sense for me to be on BC for now. So we’re using lube, and I try to get past my low/non-existent sex drive issues as much as I possibly can. Maybe one day when I can go off BC things will be easier.

        • This Chick

          Talk to your doc about an IUD. If the hormones are messing with you, you can get a non-hormonal one (Paragard). That’s what I have and it’s sooo nice. Can’t recommend it highly enough!!

          • anon

            ditto. dittodittoditto.

            also, I’ve found that drinking a couple big glasses of water before….settling down for the evening…helps with the moisture issues.

          • Kate

            Yep. Just got Paraguard last week. Thumbs up so far but I’ll keep you posted

        • Anonymous

          I was on the pill for 6 years and switched to the copper IUD which is no hormonal…it’s a life changer. I can naturally lubricate again, my sex drive is threw the roof and my orgasms are bigger and better. It’s def worth a try

          • Julia Canuck

            I had the same issues with the pill, asked my doctor about switching to an IUD, and he said that it is only for women who have already had children. Now I’m wondering if he is full of crap.

          • Lucy

            @ Julia – the IUD is much easier to insert after you have had children, both myself and a friend have had them inserted pre-children though. I managed to have it inserted by a gyn, with no pain relief/complications but my friend has a general anasthetic to get her’s inserted so it totally depends. I found i had a bit of discomfort for a few weeks after, but it soon disappeared and was the best thing for me ever!

          • Dawn

            Julia, idea that IUDs are only for women who have had children is really old school thinking so yeah he’s full of crap. If you decide to get an IUD (love my Paragard!) I would definitely find a different doctor to have it put in because the amount of experience a doctor has with inserting IUDs can apparently make a world of difference to the pain and the possibility of expulsion. A great resource for all things related to IUDs is IUD Divas on livejournal.

          • Anon

            From the medical professional side:
            Yes it is TOTALLY possible to have an IUD placed even of you haven’t had kids. Keep in mind though that different IUDs are better options for different women. For example, your OB/GYN might not recommend the copper IUD for you if you have extremely heavy/painful periods. For some women the hormonal IUDs are a better option.

            Also, be aware its not necessarily sunshine and roses in the beginning. I had a retroverted uterus (fun time to find that out) which resulted in enough blood and pain that another doc eventually had to be called in and even though he got it placed I went vasovagal on him (read: my brain shut itself down and passed me out to avoid the pain). I asked them to call in my fiance, which was a terrible mistake as the poor thing was so scarred he now insists on adopting or surrogacy lol. I also had cramps every day at about the same time for a couple months.

            HOWEVER, an IUD is as effective as getting your tubes tied and totally reversible !! Taking the what-if-we-accidentally-get-pregnant stress out of sex has been a total game changer. It’s also nice not to be debilitated by menstrual cramps a couple days every month when I’m supposed to be running around a hospital. Even with everything I would absolutely do it all over again.

          • Amanda

            Here is an interesting article about IUDs from Wired a couple of years ago. It goes through the history and new technology of IUDs.
            http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_iud/

        • anon

          I think hormonal birth control is best avoided when possible, for our bodies and the environment. In addition to non-hormonal options, consider Natural Family Planning. You don’t have to have objections to other birth control methods to use it It’s not that complicated, it’s virtually free, and it has no side effects. There is quite a bit of good information available online.

          • Anonymous

            I’m really curious! Can you please tell us more about the negative effects on the environment? I feel silly that I’ve never heard that argument before.

      • Anon

        I went to a PT for pelvic floor therapy and it did wonders–having almost-back-to-the-way-it-was sex now, with just a little pain at the beginning. It is worth it! Find a physical therapist who treats vulvodinia/dyspareunia. Have your GYN refer you to somebody–you are not alone!
        http://www.nva.org/

    • Anon for this

      Hey Anon — I think I know the thread you’re referring to. I was the author :)

      I too graduated from PT, but still felt scared and worried about sex. Can I just let you know that it gets better — it’s slow but it does get better.

      For me, it took several months, and it’s still something that’s not effortless. What helped the most was actually scheduling more sex. It was like I had to gently remind my body that sex wasn’t scary and painful. For me, I also work on being more aggressive in bed — I find that it helps me to get out of my head and into my body.

    • Sarah

      I work in a health clinic and pain during intercourse is a HUGE thing for so many women. It really upsets me because this seems like an under-researched area; women get lots of “I don’t know why this is happening” and “could this be psychological?”. Not to be a complainer, but if men got pain during intercourse I feel like the world would stop turning. ANYway… this is not very helpful :) But don’t give up if this is important to you; be your own health advocate if the doctors don’t take you seriously.

    • Anonymous

      Everyone who ha painful sex: Have you ever heard of Vaginismus? Aka painful sex. Yhis website: http://www.vaginismus.com/ along with an awesome OBGYN have changed my life! Read up if you have trouble with painful sex. Also, go to a sex therapist (and try to take your partner along. Pricy? Yes. Worth it? Yes!

    • Anonymous

      I had pelvic floor therapy for a little while in college. It started after a string of yeast infections and UTI’s. I think my muscles just got overworked in a bad way (I wasn’t able to orgasm at that time, so that didn’t help either). The PT experience was really humiliating for me. My PT was awful. She kept telling me to do stuff at home, but didn’t really explain how. I wasn’t comfortable doing it myself and she kept being reluctant to do anything for me in the office! I was like, person, I don’t care if it’s uncomfortable for me, physically, I just want to feel better!

      For me, it wasn’t a pain issue, it was mostly feeling like I needed to pee a lot.

      The solution was to do squats. Seriously. Squats in proper form, even just body weight, help work your pelvic floor muscles in a functional way. Not to mention, they’re great for your back, butt, and legs. If I slack on physical activity now, the random tweaks of pain come back & sometimes the urgency feeling does too.

    • Curious

      Using the word “pain” is pretty vague–is everyone talking about the same type of pain? My guess is not.
      For me, it’s like a burning feeling, which I assume PT can’t help with (or can it?). I only brought it up with a gyno once long ago, and she suggested a latex allergy, but it happens without condoms, too. To which she shrugged.
      My annual gyno appt is coming up, and I plan on doing my research before then and not taking no for an answer. Thanks for the tips so far, ladies! I’ll look into all of them.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I’ve been examined for vaginismus a few times, and the doctor confirmed this self-diagnosis, and I could describe the pain as “burning.” It’s hard to describe because that part of the body is unique. The burning I feels both like stretching and like when I put a too-strong beauty product on my face; I can’t tell because that part of my body feels and reacts different than any other part. It doesn’t feel like salt in a wound, though. And it doesn’t feel like a rug burn.

      • ItsyBitsy

        Man, I’m sorry. Painful sex = the worst. I recommend checking out nva.org – it’s for vulvodynia, which basically is painful sex. I lucked out (big time) and found a women’s clinic that specializes in issues like this. There are different kinds (like: All the time? Only when there’s pressure [sex/tampons/etc]? All over? Only in one spot?).

        CURIOUS- this might be TMI but the pain I experience with vulvodynia is like burning, or like a paper cut (a really fucking awful paper cut in the worst place ever). PT may or may not be able to help but if your gyno doesn’t know how to deal ask for a referral for someone who does. I was given medication and was recommended biofeedback.

        Anyway. It’s frustrating but you’re definitely not alone and it can get better!

    • Liz

      I lost my virginity 9 years ago, and have only had pain free sex a handful of times. I started BC and had 6 months of chronic yeast infections before I had sex the first time, so it’s possible that both of these things contributed to it. I used to want to punch doctors in the face when they told me it was “probably psychological.” But without the research, I can’t really blame them for not knowing more.

      I *luckily* can still orgasm, but it’s caused a bunch of anxiety, stress, and fear about my sexuality and my relationship. I did PT which helped some, but I admit to being not great about doing the at-home exercises. My PT also gave me a prescription for lidocaine. I usually apply some 15 – 20 minutes before actual intercourse and it has dramatically reduced my pain during sex and my FH can’t feel it (we use condoms). We found a great sex therapist which also helped a great deal. It also helped us to do other sexual/sensual things that weren’t painful to stay in the mood, so to speak.

      • ItsyBitsy

        I’m sorry things have been so rough for you. I well remember the “all in your head” answers that make your head explode. Unfortunate-solidarity-fist-bump. I’m glad things seem to be working towards better right now, though! Shit takes TIME. Annoying, annoying time. I’m also in the lidocaine camp although personally I’ve found it helps to use multiple times daily. The NVA is currently asking for women to contribute to a treatment registry to figure out what works for most people, if you’re interested. Here’s hoping things continue to improve!

  • Anony

    I think my big struggle right now is having CONSISTENT good sex. Husband and I have great sex occasionally, okay sex regularly, and bad sex almost never. But I’d like to raise the average sex rating from say a 6, to more like a 9.

    I feel like it hinges on communication, so I’d love some tips there. I am not a word person during sex, so it’s been difficult for me to say “Do A instead of B” in the moment. (I tend more towards “more” or “less” which is too vague.) And talking when we’re not having sex hasn’t been very helpful, because really all I can say is “Sometimes I like A, and sometimes I like B” and doesn’t provide much information about what I like at any given moment.

    So HOW do you communicate about sex? What words have you found useful and not too vague? (Harder/lighter? Slower/faster? Directional words?) What do you do to communicate that this time you want the thing that you don’t usually want?

    • Amanda

      Also not a word person. When I was learning to talk during sex I literally cried. Often. From not knowing how to communicate what I wanted or feeling exposed or being upset that I couldn’t just “get it right” without having to explain, you get the idea. Buuut, after enough of this and of not giving up when it was hard and finishing even after crying, or feeling free to just call it a lost cause every once in a while, it got better. (full disclosure, I also cried when I couldn’t pick up a guitar and be able to tune it right away because I had a hard time hearing the notes. I kinda don’t like feeling like I’m not good at things… haha). This was serisously the most important thing I have learned in sex so far though. To the extent that I often describe our sex life as a physical mirror of our communication. The more connected we are, the more open, able to communicate, intimate, the better the sex is. Oh, and it’s really fun to be able to say what you want and what you’re gonna do once you get the hang of it ;)

      • Amanda

        As for vocab. I think for me I get pretty practical nowadays so I usually say, I want you to touch me here, then here. And sometimes I hold my partner’s hands and guide them, because it’s really hard to explain the right amount of pressure or placement sometimes. And yes, harder works pretty well when that’s what I want. But it’s equally important to be abel to say “that’s to hard”. “Bite me” when we’re making out happens often lol. My partner tends towards gentleness. When I don’t want anything in particular, I let my partner know that they can/should take control. When I want to take control I tell them that’s what I’m doing. Particular words often seem silly to me. I think the best way to start is to say any of the things that are already running through your head. For me that’s often “f&ck me (harder)” but for a long time I would just think that but feel uncomfortable saying it. It’s sort of fun when you just say what’s running through your head. Even if its only one or two words here and there, it still makes it more fun!

      • Melissa

        You sound exactly like me, only having achieved good sex. Thanks for being a model that my dislike for being crap at something *cough*blowjobs*cough* is something that can be overcome!

    • This Chick

      I find it easiest to talk about sex immediately after sex, while still basking in that afterglow. I also definitely vocalize when something is really, really good- so on those occasional great sex times for you, be explicit. “I loved that thing you did with your. . ” “Omg, that was so so good, that position was perfect” etc.

      In the moment, I usually can’t speak properly, so one word phrases work best for me: harder, faster, wait, stop, yes, YES, and on occasion a complete phrase like “use your mouth” “not yet” “hold on”

      And if words are tough to utter, I also try to physically reposition what’s going on (easier in some situations than others), but actually moving my partner’s hand or body, or shifting my body to get what I’m going for.

      • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

        Add to your one word list: THERE. For when he’s found a good spot and I need him to not deviate from it for a bit.

    • http://jpnadia.blogspot.com jpnadia

      Watching porn together and saying “I like this, I don’t like that” has worked for me with less talkative partners.

      Communication, especially about sex, is a skill and takes practice. You can do it!

    • Kat

      I think the best thing then is to physically show your partner what you need ie: moving their hand to the right spot and then if you’re in a one word scenario say “There” followed by many Yes’s for reinforcement.

    • anonymous

      I learned a lot of what I know about communication in regards to sex through the BDSM community. I know that kink isn’t’ everybody’s cup of tea – and I respect that. But for me, the best part of it (in addition to really hot sex and finally feeling like I could be myself, without fear or shame) were all these really great communication tools. The idea of a “checklist” (which could be printed out on a piece of a paper, or just a conversation that covers the same ground – I prefer the latter, but in my less comfortable days liked the former) i.e. discussing with your partner what erotic activities you’d like to experience. You can break it down – activities that I’ve enjoyed in the past and think I might enjoy again in the future, activities that I’ve never tried but that sound intriguing and I’d like to try, activities that I’ve tried and don’t like, and activities I’ve never tried and don’t want to ever try! Usually these are not just ‘yes’ ‘no’ answers (why I’m not a big fan of the written questionnaires) each question is a conversation starter – for example, you say you’re intrigued by rough sex – how rough? what does rough mean to you? It makes sure you and your partner are on the same page – you don’t have to try to read the other person’s mind.
      Another thing I’ve found profoundly liberating is the idea of a safeword. If you try something and it’s not working for you – you can stop – and there’s no shame in that! It took me a while before I realized that safewording, i.e. stopping in the middle of sex to readjust or stopping completely cause it just wasn’t working for me was not a failure. It actually made sex better for us, made us even more intimate.
      Anyway – I think these and similar communication tools can work for non-kinky sex too – don’t see any reason why not. In my experience, kinky people are used talking about sex, so it’s less awkward for them – but anybody can do this. I think the difference is in the kink world, conversation before and after sex is considered a sex enhancer, not a mood killer (btw – I’m not a fan of talking during sex either – but before and after makes it better for me) Talking about sex takes courage – but it’s so worth it! If you’re worried about it being a mood killer – I think this is where tone becomes really important. You don’t have to talk about it coldly and clinically. You can talk about it in a sexy way – for instance, if you want to give your partner more specific “instructions” of what to do – you could start with, “you know what really turns me on….?”
      Because in my experience – and this is true in non-kinky relationships as well as kink ones – your partner really wants you to enjoy yourself – they want to turn you on – they might just not know how – and they won’t know unless you tell them.
      Anyway – my two cents. Hope that’s helpful.

      • Anonymous

        This comment was so informative! I feel like you’re right on, and it’s something I’ve never really thought about. While we’re personally not into BDSM, there probably is a lot to learn about communication. I’m thinking of bringing up the idea of a word with my partner that’s not exactly a “safeword” but more of a “let’s-change-this-up-word.” I’m thinking it would be used when you’re just not feeling it a certain way, yet it doesn’t have to be a mood killer like “don’t do that” or “could you stop that?” Has anyone in a non-kink relationship tried something like this?

        • This Chick

          We use “stop” or “no” without it having any kind of shame baggage around it, but any other casual phrase could work, too: “Hold on” “Wait a sec” “Change up” or borrow some sports metaphors: “Sub!” “Time out” “Game changer” . . .

        • Anon

          This is especially important in the not-often-discussed area of sex after violence.

          It was a pretty recent event when my partner and I first got together and he had to be able to go right from full tilt to cuddling/soothing and not feel like a scary bad guy. I’m sure it messed with his head, and I certainly felt buckets of guilt over it. It does get better though. Years later, incidents like this are now few and far between, and when they do happen, we’re so in tune that he can instantly read what’s going on and pull the brakes.

        • Cal

          We don’t do BDSM, but my hubby and I have certain moods that we play to. During foreplay, one will tell the other what mood they’re in, like playful, greedy,or frisky, or rough or romantic. (Choose your own flavour). This way, you carry on with a theme for the evening, and not worry too much about going preverbal. And when there are things that are in the territory of “fun in some moods, but not in others”, I find saying “not this time” less discouraging to my partner than a straight no. And saying what worked during afterglow is invaluable for next time, and building that vocabulary of moods!

    • Anonymous

      One thing that has helped me and the hubby is how we categorize the type of sex we’re about to have, depending on what we’re in the mood for. We use the terms (from softest to hardest) “making love,” “having sex,” and “f*cking” to check in with each other about what we want. Once either of us has initiated, we will check in with the other person to see what kind of mood they’re in, and then start getting busy!

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    “You guys devour open threads like queers to a Thanksgiving tofurkey”

    I keep reading this line. Like, more than 10 times….

  • Anonymous

    My soon-to-be-wife and I (NO MORE PROP 8 YAY) were each other’s first. She was actually my first kiss! We were working through tons of other communication issues in our relationship at that time, and sex (although we were trying to pretend that’s not what it was) was really helpful in that it gave us another outlet to improve our communication.

    Years into our relationship, we’ve worked through some sex drive issues (one person’s high sex drive makes the other feel inadequate) and have found a happy medium that involves doing it at least once a week (before this rule, we went weeks at a time without any hanky panky – regrettable) and expanding our definition of sex. Sometimes really intimate naked cuddling is enough to reconnect us in that way that only sex can. Of course, there are days/weeks/months when we can’t get enough of it. ;-)

    • Helen S

      Thanks for this – we’re going through a similar scenario where different sex drives is sending us down a guilt/blame spiral of horror and devil horns and spiders. It was impacting even nice morning kisses or cuddling that wouldn’t normally lead to sex anyway, because she was afraid of leading me on. Consequence? I got needier, she got more defensive aso we backed off and became two close friends in a bed, feeling shitty about everything. So, the solution we’re trialling (which seems to be working) is that it’s all about me – if she gets tot he point where she wants it all about her too, then awesome. But in the meantime, we can kiss without expectation – there’s no worries about “leading me on”, more intimacy, more love, less gross mind spirals and, overall, more sex – hooray us!

  • http://landlockedlove.com Kelly

    Tell me about sex during pregnancy, please. Highs, more than lows if you’ve got ‘em. I’m going into the 2nd trimester any minute now, if it matters.

    • http://www.mereader.wordpress.com Mary Jo

      I had a baby 4 weeks ago, so I guess this is still pretty fresh for me. Our sex life mostly continued as usual until the last two months. That was when I was just too gigantic, that it was super awkward and not much fun, on top of the fact that I mysteriously stopped being able to finish. We like the missionary position, so the day when that became impossible was a sad one. One high was that at about early 2nd trimester, we had a rash of randomly waking up in the middle of the night and doing it, which is pretty unusual for us, but lots of fun. Our favorite position during pregnancy was something we call the “pretzel” which is kind of a modified spooning position, half turned. I think there will be a wide range of experiences here, though. Everyone (and every pregnancy) is different!

      Anyone want to tell me about post-childbirth sex?

      • A. Non. Mouse.

        It can be rough for awhile. I was really really sad about it for months, because it would hurt and I would cry, and that was that. My OB told me I just had to ride it out. (This after a c-section). But it comes back!

        I’m still adjusting to sex with a baby in the other room, and we’re more tired and it’s less frequent right now, but it’s good sex when we have it. And GREAT sex when the baby is elsewhere.

        So just be aware that you won’t bounce back right away, and you just might not feel sexual at all at first, and that’s normal. And it says nothing about your relationship or your future.

      • Anony

        Post-childbirth sex was awesome for me. Well, not immediately afterwards, but a couple months afterwards. Almost immediately afterwards I got back my sex drive that had been missing during most of pregnancy, so that was exciting. I was definitely sore and swollen for several weeks, and the first few times we had penetrative intercourse it was uncomfortable. What made it work was lots of lube, lots and lots and lots of lube. Like half a bottle at a time. Lube is wonderful. I love lube. By about 6 months it felt like my vulva was back to normal.

      • Hilary

        Lube! And taking it really slow. Also a glass of wine helps. But really expecting it to be uncomfortable for a bit and don’t get discouraged because it gets the better and then gets great again.

        Also if you can, a decently early bedtime for the newest member of the family. That helps a lot!

    • A. Non. Mouse.

      IT’S ALL HIGHS. Best kept secret around: second and third (till it’s hard to move) trimester sex is among the best sex you’ll ever have. That was about the only highlight of my shitty pregnancy.

      That said, what they don’t tell you is that sex after you give birth can suck a lot for longer than you’d think. Fun things happen like… your cervix can move. Uh huh. Sex can be painful for awhile. At three months it became… possible. It took till six months to be normal, which is exactly what my OB told me was par for the course. (After I gave birth, of course, till then I thought it was just six weeks of no sex then magic back to normal sex. And I had a c-section for motherfuckingfucks sake.)

      HOWEVER. I’d get pregnant again just for the sex. Enjoyyyyyy it. Hormones of a 14 year old boy.

      • http://landlockedlove.com Kelly

        Dude. I totally thought it would be six weeks of no sex, and then magic back to normal sex. I expected the complications to be emotional, not physical. The more you know.

      • Anonymous Hippo

        Just for knowledge sake did you go into labor at all or were you a scheduled C? If you labored it makes some sense since you know baby did press on the cervix and what not, but if you didn’t that really is probably good to know info for future reference of the unicorn children we discussed earlier today.

        • A. Non. Mouse.

          I labored. I pushed even, so it does make sense. (Though, I thought no baby coming out through the vagina means the vagina is all fine and good. HAHA. Not always true. But it’s ok. It comes back).

          Kelly. I know. My husband is like “they oversell you on the ‘you’ll never have sex again because that’s what it’s like to be a parent’ and undersell you on the ‘physical issues to be overcome’ part. WTF.” Aside from pain, it also just took me awhile to feel sexual again, and not like someone who’d just had major surgery (without a C it’s still traumatic physical experience, and I don’t mean in a childbirth is scary way, I have good things to say about labor, but in a recovery way). Plus I was breastfeeding, and at first that’s all the time. Plus everything was a little wonky and we had a baby waking up at all hours and yeah. Just not conducive to sex at first.

          It’s not all the way back, but it’s healthily chugging along towards normal now. And it DOES make me want to tell everyone to get their good sex on pre-kids if you’re going to have kids. Just because, chances are, your body is as healthy as it’s ever going to be. USE IT!

    • 36 weeks

      I’m at 36 weeks now, and after a few weeks of being frustrated with our usual positions due to my belly and swollen feet/sore wrists, we figured out what works– he goes down on me and I just try to enjoy it as much as possible (without expecting to orgasm, or to orgasm in my ‘usual’ way), and when I’m satisfied, he fairly quickly enters and comes. He’s def getting less attention from me than usual, but doesn’t seem upset by it. I feel like the added benefit of our new (for us) focus on oral sex is that it’s helping me learn to relax my muscles more down there, which will hopefully be helpful during the birth. He is also starting to do some perineal massage down there, which for us wasn’t erotic per se, but was educational :D

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      Oh, my god, I miss pregnancy sex. We had more (and far dirtier) sex on our “babymoon” at 31 weeks pregnant than we did on our honeymoon. I can’t wait to get pregnant again for the crazy libido boost. So much fun.

      It’s not that we don’t have sex since the kid was born. It’s just … I had 5 months of PPD followed by 9 months of a brain chemistry altering (libido crushing) lactation drugs. It’s not the inability to have it – just the fact that for brain chemistry reasons my libido vanished for like a year. Things are much better now that my brain’s back to normal, but normal isn’t as much fun as crazy pregnancy libido. Soon, soon…

    • Kat

      I’m 21 weeks and unlike the posters below I haven’t found pregnancy sex to be ‘the best thing ever’. My sex drive and general experience has been much the same as normal (except for a serious tail off during some of the first trimerster when I was exhausted all. the. time.).
      What I have noticed is that my orgasms feel very different. The very intense feelings that used to be predominantly in the genital region spread up and around my uterus. It’s good (different, but I wouldn’t say better), but a very strong reminder that I’m pregnant right when I orgasm which is a little odd. I’m hoping some pregancy sex hormones kick in at some stage.

      Slightly off topic, one of the pregnancy books I was reading said there is some evidence that regular sex during pregnancy increases the likelihood of going into labour around full term (rather than early or late). Another good reason for sex!

    • Anon

      Super sensitive nipples (which is AWESOME but also means they need to be handled with care to start with. Also, I’m on my second and it’s a bit weirder this time because of a subconscious breast-feeding sensation association that I have to try and ignore. Fine if it’s me touching them, but if it’s not….)

      Also, second the super libido, especially second trimester. But I found that meant I was keener on solo stuff than with my partner because I hate hate hated my pregnant body and monstrous breasts. But if I made the effort it was always worth it, and he was very generous with the orgasms!

      I wouldn’t say our post-baby sex is as good as it was before, but we’re tired and I really don’t like how much weight I am still carrying – if I don’t fancy myself just a little bit I find it much harder to be in th mood – plus my hormones are definitely altered! but we know it won’t be forever. Probably don’t talk about it as much as we should though, so thanks APW for sparking a discussion.

  • Anon

    This is more of a question about improving sex: I learned how to orgasm in my teens by masturbating a certain way. It reliably makes me come almost every time. Which is great.

    But I would like to expand my repertoire. In part for sex with myself, and in part for sex with partners. Because I almost always have to get into THAT certain position to come even with a partner. There have been a handful of times where other ways have worked, but that was usually with a very patient partner or patient moment. A few times it was a surprise and just happened.

    Any suggestions?

    • Paranoid Libra

      Maybe you are over thinking it now? If you are just dwelling that I won’t orgasm from this angle over and over again it can be one of those awful feedback loops. I think everyone has that surefire position that does the job, but it shouldn’t be the only thing.

      Maybe stimulation in other areas in other positions can help like a lil boob action at the same time?

      • Anon

        Oh, good point! I do love boob play!

    • Anon

      I was that exact way for a long time too. My advice: a very patient and persistent partner. If they stay in it and let you relax and keep trying, you will get there lots of different ways. And once you’re doing that, it takes the pressure off and enables it to keep happening (at least it did for me). I also would work on your mental process – if you think “it only works this way so they’re just wasting their time down there” that is a recipe for no go. I try to think “it’s ok if it happens, it’s ok if it doesn’t, just enjoy the process” :).

    • Jessica B

      If there is a progressive sex store in your town, see if they have any classes. I live in the Twin Cities and one of our most awesome stores (probably my favorite store ever), is a shop called Smitten Kitten. They regularly host classes on how to have better sex, focus on your orgasm, and ways to please both yourself and your partner.

      If not, I suggest trying different positions for masturbating. I can usually only orgasm in a certain position as well, but I can make my way to the big O in another position if I’m alone and only concentrating on me. Sometimes having a partner there is just too distracting (but usually it’s more fun).

    • AnonymousE

      Oh God, I had to do this! In my teens, silent and nonmoving in a dark bedroom, I learned how to give myself reliable but, in retrospect, really mediocre orgasms — more as a sleep aid or stress reliever than as anything exciting. And since my then-boyfriend, now-husband couldn’t mimic the exact pressure of my own hands, I couldn’t seem to orgasm from his hands directly for… quite a while. I hear a lot of guys who learned to masturbate with a “death grip” (tight and dry) have this problem as well, to the point where they have to re-learn to masturbate if they want to orgasm from intercourse. Whatever direction people come at it from, it’s a pretty common issue, I think! So, tips from the “masturbation is great, sexual ruts are not” room over here:

      1. Don’t ever be ashamed of masturbation. You know at least one really reliable way to obtain an orgasm; a lot of women are still striving for that! For me, it was really helpful that my guy was really happy that I was comfortable with myself and was totally willing to let me finish myself off while dirty-talking in my ear.

      2. Let him learn from you — watch you, put his hand over yours, put your hand over his. He’ll never do it exactly the same, but he’ll get in the neighborhood, and once your body learns to adjust to the little differences (the direction his fingers are coming from, the rhythm being externally rather than internally determined) it’ll be easier to explore more varying sensations.

      3. Let yourself learn from him, from books, from wherever — in your alone time, try out some of his techniques as well as your own. Try some things you’ve only just read about. Really be kind to yourself, take your time, explore new sensations as if you were a teenager all over again. What happens if I touch myself like this, then that, what if I keep going, what if I stop, etc. Treat it like play instead of a homework assignment, though — “ooh, that’s fun, I wonder what happens if I do more of that,” as opposed to “yes, catalog this sensation as acceptable, move on to the next.”

      4. Be patient and have lots of fun with non-orgasmic stimulation. Finish yourself off with the tried-and-true if you need to, but have fun beforehand! Penetration is generally non-orgasmic for me, but it’s pretty awesome, and I thiiiiink I’m going to eventually learn to orgasm from it. Maybe. I’ve been getting pretty close over the past few months, and it’s because we’ve been just going with what feels good, even if it doesn’t feel like the internal climb to orgasm I’m used to.

      5. None of the above tips have been goal-oriented, because that can be really inhibiting for a lot of people/women in particular. But for me, a few goal-oriented masturbation sessions have helped! (A few have also ended in me getting frustrated, too; then I just give up on the “goal” and fall back on the tried-and-true.) My own particular rut consisted of 1) the same stimulation every time, to 2) the same meandering internal rhythm, and part one has been easier to deal with than part two. Having to take 30+ minutes for focused stimulation on me where my brain just never quite seems to let the internal climb start, or wants to start it over and over and over again, because I’m used to drawing it out while reading or fantasizing or whatever, is not that fun every single time, especially when we’ve already had a fun athletic sex session. :/ So I’ve done a few solo sessions where the “goal” was not to let that internal climb meander along, but to see how fast I could get to orgasm. Like I said, if I get frustrated I stop, because frustration is the enemy of good sex, but it’s happened a few times, to the point where quickies are a possibility now, where we always had to have an hour or more on the schedule before.

      Tl;dr, my tips for exploring your own orgasmic repertoire. Basically, no shame! Have fun, no pressure, explore explore explore, be patient, toy with both different sensations and different internal rhythms. If you always go right for the goal, try drawing it out; if you always draw it out, try vice versa.

      • Jessica B

        This is awesome.

      • Anon

        Thank you! This advice is fantastic, and so detailed!

        I don’t feel ashamed about masturbating; I feel ashamed about only being able to come one way. As a sexually adventurous lady, I think I “should” have more in my repertoire. But alas, as you say, that pressure does not help.

        The concepts of playing and patience are key. And I love the idea of mixing it up! Because I’ve gotten so used to my old standby, there’s little incentive to try new things.

    • Kate

      If all this wonderful thoughtful advice doesn’t help you orgasm in other ways/positions, realize that that’s okay! I only orgasm with the aid of a vibrator.

  • Rachel

    OK here’s my not-anon dirty little secret you guys: I loved being single and having lots of sex but the #1 reason I decided I wanted to find a serious boyfriend was because I wanted to have better sex. (I will…not be putting that in my vows.) And it’s not even all “awww…sex with love…romantic!” Because it’s not really the emotional bond that makes sex better for me…it’s the fact that the person I’m with actually has to give a shit if I’m enjoying myself or not. When I was single and having fun, I definitely had some great sex, but I never felt empowered to say anything if it wasn’t great. (I mean, why bother?) So even though I’m lucky in that Eric and I really compatible, I also feel way more comfortable being open about what I want if I want something new/different/etc. It’s made sex WAY better!

    • Erin

      Yesssss. I mean, back in my days of being footloose and fancy-free, there was definitely some awesome sex, but if it was just okay sex (and let’s be honest – most sex starts off as just okay until y’all get your own rhythm), I was like “eh, why bother even saying something, I’m never going to see this person again.”

    • Emmy

      Hear ye, hear ye. I was just going on and on to my fiancé about how wonderful it is to never have to have a first kiss again. I mean, oftentimes that first kiss was SO THRILLING, but sometimes it was really terrible and that made me so sad. If he can’t even kiss right, man, this is going to be a long night!

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com SarahHoppes

      PREACH, SISTER!

    • rys

      Makes perfect sense to me…says she whose “footloose and fancy-free” days move on and on and on sans sex with anyone else, much less good sex with someone else. It’s actually one of the things that makes being super-single super-frustrating for me. Some days I really want a relationship, other days I just want sex, but neither–despite plenty of effort–have been forthcoming (see: Sarah’s awesome dungeon story for my experience with online experiences; the latest creepy message is a masterpiece of online dating horror).

  • Anonymous

    I’m lesbian, and my fiancee took a loooong time to warm up to sex. She has always been happy to give, but is very sensitive and tight down there and receiving is painful for her. (Not oral, so we still have a lot to work with.) Any suggestions for relieving tension? We’ve tried toys – they work great for me, but everything we’ve found so far is waaaay to wide/long for her. Any suggestions for non-penis-shaped toys that are on the very narrow side?

    • Anonymous Hippo

      I am currently in physical therapy for my pelvic floor. If you are using toys and they are burning her at insertion it’s because she is too tensed up and needs to learn how to relax them. I was given a kegel regimen and also told to do diaphramatic breathing in general a few times a day to help release tension.

    • Jessica B

      The first thing I would suggest is for her to see an OBG/YN. Pain can be indicative of more problems =(

      The second thing is to focus on the clitoris with toys–not everyone is a G-Spot gal (I most certainly am not). My favorite toys are egg shaped ones with multiple speed settings. I can tailor it to what I want when I want it.

      The third thing I would suggest is to buy a few cheaper toys (all silicone, jellies are bad for you!) to try out, all in different shapes and sizes. I would suggest ones like this :https://www.smittenkittenonline.com/women/clit-toys.html

      or this

      https://www.smittenkittenonline.com/vibes-buzz-me-tender/sterling-standard-bullet-vibrator-by-california-exotic-novelties-1.html (you need to buy a controller for it though)

    • Erin

      She might want to check with her doctor. Has she ever had penetrative sex? A hymenectomy may go a ways towards relieving her pain.

      Otherwise, I’d say start very small. Does digital stimulation work? Maybe just go a little at a time there until y’all can progress to a small toy?

    • http://jpnadia.blogspot.com jpnadia

      Have you looked under the buttplug section of your friendly internet retailer? These tend to be smaller (I might even go as far as to call them “more reasonable” based on my own personal preference).

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      i’d just say – she doesn’t have to like that. i mean, if she likes it but it hurts, that’s a different (and possibly medical) problem, as others have addressed.

      but also, data says that women not being that into penetration isn’t particularly unusual – and, lucky y’all, that’s not really putting anyone out in this situation (except that culturally it seems weird, or maybe she feels the need to want it, or maybe it is fun for you).

      but generally speaking i would say that if it doesn’t work for her, there’s no reason you can’t just skip it. there is a lot to do (not just oral) with what’s available outside of penetration. it took me a while to understand (because i am not one of those women), but clitoral stimulation is what gets most women off anyhow – no shame in that.

      also, fingers are slim – if that’s too much, you’re not going to find a toy that’s less.

      • Kat

        Totally agree with this, especially the fingers part. They are probably a great place to start.

    • Amy

      This might be weird…but maybe look into a set of dialators? They’re not exactly toys, more like therapy tools…a set of dildo-ish shaped things that range from tiny to big, and you work your way up. (I’ve used them for pain issues before.) You can get them on Amazon. I think they’re as much finger-shaped as penis-shaped, and even though they’re technically more therapeutic, playing around with those could be pretty sexy with the right mood goin’ on. And tons of lube!

  • Anon

    Here’s a conundrum. I caught herpes from my ex, and wasn’t diagnosed correctly till years after the first outbreak. He never had an outbreak, so didn’t know he was a carrier. My first outbreak occurred several years after he and I got together. Prolly would have caught it sooner, but we didn’t have frequent sex (one reason he’s an ex). Now I’m faced with a future of dating where I’d have to have the conversation with a prospective partner. In addition, I recently found out that once you acquire herpes, your risk of catching aids is 50% higher.

    All this to say that I now feel the risks out there are much higher than we’ve been led to believe. Only 1 out of 4 people with herpes knows they have it. I wouldn’t consider having sex again without testing for all stds on both sides (keeping in mind that most tests for stds don’t screen for herpes, so you have to ask for it). Casual sex is out of the question for me.

    How many people here have herpes and have gone on to new relationships? I know people manage it, but damn.

    • Anon

      I know how you feel– I caught herpes from my FH. We both were tested prior to entering the relationship, but he has oral herpes, and I got it from oral sex– which is not something we had every really even thought about even being possible (but now, with 50/50 hindsight, totally is possible and something people should think about).
      Obviously, I’m still with him, so I can’t offer any help about moving on, but I can say that communication is really important. So is counseling. I had some major issues dealing with this– the perceived societal stigma of getting an STD, the worry about having to tell someone about it if I ever did move on, the feeling that my body had betrayed me, not feeling sexy anymore. I had a hard time talking about it with my FH, especially since he felt a lot of guilt over giving it to me. Eventually I ended up going to counseling about it and that REALLY REALLY helped me with these issues and with feeling comfortable talking about it with my FH (and other people).

      • Anon

        Yes, it was after I finally got a correct diagnosis that I read that you can have oral herpes (cold sores) and transmit them to a partner’s genitals through oral sex. And you can have genital herpes and transmit it to a partner’s mouth. Not many people know that each virus can show up in a different location.

        Only a certain test can tell you which type you have. I was incorrectly diagnosed with something other than herpes by the first doctor I saw, so I didn’t know I had it for years. Finally got a correct diagnosis from a dermatologist, who gave the scientific name, but was too embarrassed to tell me it was genital herpes even when I asked him if that’s what it meant. I didn’t figure it out until I looked up the name.

        The worst part isn’t just telling a potential partner. It’s also that my immune system is compromised, so that at the same time I need to protect future partners, I also need to protect myself from aids because I have a greater chance of contracting it now. I didn’t even know of the greater aids risk until recently.

        Day-to-day life with herpes is actually pretty simple. The possible ramifications are not.

        • Anonyma

          Yeah, I’m pretty concerned about the idea of a doctor who is “too embarrassed” to frankly and correctly diagnose you. I hope you aren’t going back to him, and that you will find another doctor who can put his big boy panties on and talk to you straight up about your health.

          • Anon

            or hers!!

        • Anon

          I wrote him a letter afterward to let him know how disappointed I was, and that he created a possible health risk by not being honest. If I had not looked up the scientific name he gave me, I would never have known and I could have exposed future partners to it.

          When I asked him if it was the same thing as genital herpes, he said “It doesn’t matter; they are treated the same way.” I stopped seeing him after I sent the letter and he never answered it.

          Talked to a counselor at a herpes hot line who said my story isn’t unusual.

          • Anonyma

            The type of herpes that traveled from my ex’s mouth to my genitals is Type I, which is commonly associated with cold sores on the mouth. It is possible for it to be spread to the genitals, which then makes it for all intents and purposes “genital herpes” despite the fact that it is usually Type II which is transmitted by sexual contact. Once Type I is in the genitals, it can be spread by sex just like Type II, or spread back to the mouth as a cold sore. Apparently, Type I can be more likely to manifest as sacral herpes for whatever reason. The two viruses are so similar that it probably does not matter, but he should have been straight up front with you. I’m glad you called him on it, you might have saved someone else trouble down the road.

          • Anon

            If you can believe it, after I sent the letter, a friend of mine went to him about an outbreak also on her butt cheek. It was herpes and he wasn’t straight with her either!

    • AnonymousE

      http://captainawkward.com/2013/06/03/484-how-do-i-minimize-embarrassment-when-telling-a-partner-that-i-have-a-body-and-a-past/

      Here’s a good, positive advice column response about telling a prospective partner you have herpes (if they try to shame you for it, you’ve learned something unappealing about them right off the bat and you don’t have to waste precious time on them, awesome!), but many of the techniques within could probably also still work for the STD-test conversation. :)

      • Anon

        Thank you.

    • Anon.E

      Yep, I have herpes, caught from a guy I saw briefly but didn’t actually come to light until 6 months later. I was incredibly upset at the time (I’m a goody 2 shoes, things like this don’t happen to me, ha). I have to admit I didn’t discuss it with the next couple of guys but made sure we used a condom and that I was positive that I was nowhere near an outbreak at the time. Telling my now husband was… Hard. And we rarely speak about it, but over time the outbreaks have lessened and I’ve got used to managing it (lube, always live for sex. And apply a lem

      • Anon.E

        D’oh! Can’t edit:

        Lemon balm lips salve (called lomabrit here, think its made in Germany).

        Hope that helps.

      • Anon

        See, a condom would solve nothing for me, because I have it on my right butt cheek. I understand having it there has become more common than on the genitals.

        The other issue is that you can shed the virus without an outbreak. And you have no way to know when that is happening. That’s really how most people catch it. My ex never had an outbreak, but was obviously shedding the virus.

    • Anonyma

      Same here, got herpes from my ex husband, who had oral herpes, through oral sex. (Which we had like, three whole times during our entire 10 year relationship, FML) I had no symptoms for years, and then all of a sudden (two years after our divorce, actually) got a horrible painful sore on my lower back of all places, which I actually freaked out thinking was MERSA. I showed it to my mother, who works at a dermatology office, and she was like “Oh, no, that’s not MERSA honey, that’s Herpes.” If you can imagine that wonderful scenario. :) Apparently, sometimes herpes infections that enter the body through the genitals can manifest as a sore on the sacrum instead.

      The thing is, we’re so conditioned to feel like, ew, HERPES, this terrible STD! Unclean! When in reality, for the majority of the history of the world, herpes really wasn’t that big a deal. Up until the pharmaceutical industry invented herpes drugs and decided they wanted to sell them, so they decided to stigmatize this virus that a large portion of the population had anyway as some terrible thing that must be shamed and treated. I’m not at all suggesting that you should ever not tell a partner about it. I’m just saying…it’s really not a big deal, it’s not going to kill you, at worst it’s a little inconvenient sometimes, and if you reveal the fact that you have it to a sexual partner and they shame you or don’t want to be with you, well, herpes just did you a favor and saved you from an asshole. It’s painful, I’m annoyed that I have it, but it does not make me gross or dirty and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      I was straight up front from the get go with my soon to be husband, and he could not care less. If I’m having an outbreak (I take L-Lysine, and have an outbreak maybe once a year) we don’t have sex; otherwise, we don’t take any special precautions, we’ve been together 5 years, and he does not have herpes. He is certainly aware that it’s possible, but it’s not something that is so worrying that it disrupts our healthy sex life.

      • Anon

        Yeah, I have it on my right butt cheek.

        See, I don’t really have a problem with a potential partner not wanting to take the risk. While it’s true that most outbreaks are not that big a deal and you just live with it, it still hurts your immune system. Now that I know I could catch aids 50% more easily, it’s hard to dismiss someone not wanting to expose themselves to it.

        It would be a lot easier to date someone who already has it, but I heard that herpes dating sites sometimes bring out the worst men who think you’re just going to give it up because you’re desperate. I’m not desperate.

        And yes, it doesn’t mean you are promiscuous. I didn’t sleep with a large number of men and I caught it from my ex-husband after all. The vast majority of people who have herpes have no idea they have it, so many people who wouldn’t sleep with a herpes carrier are in the same boat already and don’t know it. Similar virus to cold sores, yet no one objects to dating someone with cold sores.

        • Anonyma

          It’s my understanding that the increased HIV risk is due to the open sores in the genital area that some people experience with genital herpes. If you are practicing responsible sex (ie, using protection, not having unprotected sex during an outbreak) or if you have lesions in areas other than the genitals (Right butt cheek, which incidentally is where mine is too) your risk is similar to an un-infected person. It’s not that the herpes virus lowers the immune response in such a way as to make HIV more infectious to a person with herpes, it’s that the open sores/lesions can make it easier for the HIV virus to enter the body. This is true of ANY sore or abrasion on the genitals. Not that it’s not something to be concerned about, and I certainly can understand someone not wanting to take the risk, but if you’re taking precautions I don’t think you should be losing sleep over it.

          The thing that is slightly concerning about sacral herpes (the technical name for genital herpes that travels down the sacral nerve and makes lesions on the lower back/butt) is that there is some evidence that it can lead to nerve damage at the sacral nerve. This can cause back pain, and in certain extreme (and very rare) instances, retention of urine that can be dangerous. The virus that causes herpes is closely related to the virus that causes shingles and chicken pox, so the potential for nerve damage and nerve pain exists with herpes just like it does with shingles.

          • Anon

            How did you learn all this? I’ve seen this information nowhere else! I hate that there was no explanation that it wasn’t the immune system that made aids a greater risk, but open sores. That makes sense.

            I have sciatica, but have had it since long before the first outbreak. I do have lower back pain, but will need an MRI done as I may need back surgery. When I lean forward, the pain goes away, so it may be a disk.

            Does sacral herpes make getting shingles more likely?

          • Anon

            I’m a bit terrified of shingles, because my grandmother had it and found it worse than childbirth. And her childbirth experience was traumatic.

        • Anonyma

          Anon, I couldn’t reply directly to your comment. I’m lucky that my mom works for a dermatologist who is awesome. I have also done a fair amount of googling. And I have a good gyno through Planned Parenthood who has talked to me at length about it. The “official” answer is No, sacral herpes does not mean you are more likely to get shingles. The virus that causes shingles is called Herpes Zoster, and it is a type of the virus that causes chicken pox that remains dormant in most people from the time they have chicken pox as a child; it tends to flair up in people who are immune-compromised, like the elderly and people who have other diseases. If you are young enough to be of the generation that got a chicken pox vaccine instead of having chicken pox, I don’t think you are susceptible to shingles at all. There is also a shingles vaccine that you can get if you choose and are worried about it. Because even though I can find no official link between sacral herpes and shingles, I HAVE had shingles, about six months after I was diagnosed with herpes. It was a very mild case, and it was on my collarbone, and it went away on its own in a few months, but it was unusual for someone my age to get shingles. My dad had it when he was not much older than I, though, so it’s possible that there might just be a genetic predisposition there somewhere.

          I’m not a doctor and I don’t mean to hand out medical advice, so take me with a grain of salt. It’s most likely that your back pain is probably just back pain. Not saying that the herpes might not make it worse over time, because it localizes in the same nerves. I think those complications are pretty rare, though. There are lots of blogs and forums on the net with people discussing their experiences and I have found them to be pretty interesting. Just google “sacral herpes” there is information out there. It makes me really sad that herpes is so stigmatized that we have to dig up this information on our own instead of it just being available from our healthcare providers and taught to us in school, but it is what it is I guess.

          • Anon

            Oops. Replied above.

          • Jess

            Had to step in here. I actually did my PhD thesis (and spent the last 6 years) studying herpes viruses and I just wanted to echo the above comment. It is because of the open lesions that the HIV risk is increased. Many herpes viruses take advantage of weak immune systems as well, but don’t necessarily weaken immune systems on their own. There is no definitive research that I’ve found that shows that you are more likely to get VZV (chicken pox/shingles virus) while also infected with HSV or any other herpes viruses for that matter. Sorry, I’m a huge science nerd that just so happens to know an obscene amount about herpes viruses :)

          • Anon

            Don’t be sorry, Jess. More information can’t hurt.

            I wonder why they don’t typically screen for herpes when they screen for all other stds. During the years I had herpes without a correct diagnosis, I had a full test done for stds by a gynecologist who wanted to rule them out because of some other condition I had. When he got the results, he came back and said “You don’t have anything and we tested for all the nasties.” Obviously he didn’t test for herpes.

            It was only after I got the herpes diagnosis that I read that herpes is seldom tested for unless specifically requested. It seems the medical community is dropping the ball there.

          • Mira

            Hey guys–

            I just wanted to add to what Jess awesomely added to the discussion.
            #1: studies indicate that having type 1 herpes (hsv) actually provides some protection from type 2 hsv infection.

            #2: shingles is caused by a similar virus (to be specific, VZV. Just so we’re all on the same page, VZV infection causes chicken pox. The virus can then go dormant in your body, and eventually be re-activated, causing shingles. Shingles is *not* the result of a new infection).

            #3: Because these viruses are related, they are treated with the same drugs. So if you’re taking a daily antivrial pill because you’ve been infected with HSV (trying to protect your partner and limit your outbreaks)….you’re actually already on the drug they use to treat shingles! Congrats! You actually have a pretty low chance of VZV reactivation (shingles)!

          • Anon

            Hmmm. I’ve been reluctant to take a daily anti-virus pill because of the fear of long-term side effects (whatever they are). I just take the L-Lysine.

            Wonder if that’s a mistake.

          • ferrous

            I have a question I’ve been hoping a virologist can answer: it is possible that I am immune to chicken pox (which I know is closely related to HSV). My mother never had it and neither have I, though I was directly exposed multiple times as a child (to chicken pox). I tried to get the vaccine but my body didn’t “take” to it, the titers came back inconclusive.

            My partner gets cold sores. We are careful about oral contact when he has one, but of course he could be shedding without symptoms. But… is it possible my risk of contracting HSV is lower because of the chicken pox immunity? We will be careful regardless, but I’ve been really curious about this. Any educated guesses would be appreciated!

        • Anon

          I have oral herpes (cold sores) and I’ve been really worried about passing it on (down, on myself, or to anyone else) for my whole life. I got it from my mum when I was a baby – I’d just started walking and fell over and grazed my chin, which, not realising she had an outbreak coming, she kissed to make it better. So not everybody gets it sexually! Also, to note – she was still breastfeeding and got it on her nipples. Not a fun idea.

          I guess I’m lucky that I’ve grown up having regular outbreaks (at least 2 a year, up to maybe 8, usually when I’m stressed or low, which really helps a lot) so I’ve never had a shock and had to get used to it. It’s all improved a lot in the last few years with the cold sore patches they’ve started selling – I feel much less like a leper with one on and they do help them go and keep it from cracking. I wonder if they might help elsewhere too? Though they don’t take away the shitty feeling ill bit or feeling conscious of having one on my face, especially at nice or important events. I hadn’t heard of taking regular pills for it, though I guess it might be different for this virus.

          Even though anyone in the know could tell when I have one on my face, I do feel embarrassed to actually tell anyone what it is – my ex is the only one I’ve openly talked to about it. He was kind (especially earlier on) about it but it was horrid to not be able to kiss him and so on for 10 days or so. It’s a tough one.

          • Anon

            You really should not be embarrassed. Cold sores are unbelievably common and most people don’t think anything about it. Also cold sores are not usually contracted from sex, even though it is possible for them to be contracted during oral sex.

            One of the most common ways people get cold sores is from parents with cold sores kissing them them they are little. Little known fact.

          • Anon

            not even HSV Type II (“genital herpes”) has to be spread sexually. I have a friend who got it as a baby in a day care center.

      • Anon

        I take L-Lysine too. Good stuff.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve heard you can spread it to your child during child birth or breast feeding, is that true?

          Replies seem to be funny so sorry if this shows up in the wrong place

          • Mira

            Yes, spreading genital herpes (whether its HSV1 or HSV2) to your baby is a possibility during childbirth — but there are things your doctor can do to mitigate the risk! I have never heard of spreading it by breastfeeding, but I suppose that it would be possible if you had open sores on your nipples (like anon’s mom above). Again, this is something to talk about with your doctor if you’re worrying.

    • Anon

      So I have herpes which I caught from my first boyfriend (I’m such a lucky girl!). I had a lot of trouble with outbreaks when I first got it and have been on daily therapy ever since. I definitely had a few relationships that bombed after I told my partner/ potential partner about it and I remember being really unhappy and thinking that I could never have a proper relationship/ would be stuck with whomever was willing to be with me. Ugh.

      I wish I had had that amazing Captain Awkward letter to make me feel better. When I told my husband (and my boyfriends before him), it was much like Captain Awkward suggested. A few ran for the hills, a few stayed (including, obviously my husband who is the most incredible person I’ve ever met), we talked about it, used protection and generally felt safe. Now that I have been with my husband and having awesome, condom-free sex with him for years without him ever testing positive, I wish everyone understood what a really not big deal it is. Seriously super-cute-guy-I-dated-five-or-six-years-ago-who-was-too-afraid-of-getting-herpes-to-get-serious-with-me, you really missed out, but I am kind of glad you did cuz I am way happier with my hubby than I would have been with you.

      The truth is that herpes really isn’t that big of a deal. Ok, some people will not be ok with it, and there may be a moment when that is really sad, but there are also plenty of people who are Ok with it, and you will find one and they will love you.

      • Anon

        I’ve been thinking about these replies.

        My hangup is that I definitely don’t feel like I can boldly stride out into the dating world (unless it’s a herpes dating site) like nothing’s wrong. I kinda feel like I have to wait until someone expresses interest in me first, and then have the conversation. It would feel less frightening.

        Probably ridiculous, but that’s how I feel.

        • anonymous

          I’m so glad this thread happened. My sister is in a similar situation, and her experience has been that there is not much of a support system for folks with recent herpes diagnoses (other than combing the internet for information, which, if you’re like me, generally results in a full-blown anxiety attack). For me, her diagnosis has really shed light on the overarching culture of SHAME that is prevalent in America, especially in relation to sexuality and sexual history. It makes me angry that the dominant cultural narrative is telling her that she is damaged, dirty, and broken, when in reality she’s a phenomenal human being who’s experienced a minor setback that has absolutely no bearing on her ability to be a great partner. Personally I would love to see an APW post addressing sex and relationships after STD’s, and it seems from these comments that there are many other readers who feel the same way.

          • Anon

            Yes, and the silliest part is that I have known people with herpes who only had sex with one or two partners in their whole lives. It only takes one exposure if the herpes carrier is shedding the virus and one tiny cut in the skin of the person exposed.

            The first friend I had who told me she had herpes, got it from her first boyfriend in college. They had taken a six month break from each other to date other people. She didn’t date anyone, but he did sleep with someone else. He caught herpes and never had a symptom. When they got back together, she caught herpes from him. She knew it was from him because she never slept with anyone else. He got tested and it was confirmed. When they broke up later, she felt devastated about dating and telling future partners.

            (I got it from my ex and we hardly even had a sex life!)

            Number of partners is a factor in transmission, which is not surprising. Obviously a greater number of partners increases your risk for all stds. But too many people are ignorant to the fact that you don’t need a lot of partners to catch herpes! I have seen some of the most stupid comments on the Internet regarding people with herpes. And it’s likely that many of the ignorant posters have herpes themselves, since only 1/4 of carriers know they have it.

            Despite education available on the Internet, the number of people with herpes continues to climb. I blame this on the fact that most carriers don’t know they have it and are spreading it, and the fact that herpes is not tested for in general std tests.

            The only good news I have is that researchers have recently made a breakthrough in their understanding of herpes. They don’t think they can cure it, but they will eventually be able to suppress viral shedding well enough that the transmission rate will drop dramatically.

    • Amy

      Oh, girl…sorry you’re going through this. All I can offer is this: if I met someone and really liked him, and he’d done his homework about how to prevent spreading it, I’d go full steam ahead. I’d be cautious and maybe a little nervous, but no way would I let a silly little (common) virus stand in the way of good sex with a guy I was into.

  • Rachel

    So my husband and I have been married for almost two weeks now. We both waited until marriage to have sex (although we admittedly fooled around a bit beforehand). We went on a two-day honeymoon and had great sex, a lot of it. But now that we’re back home I’m having a hard time feeling in the mood. I feel like he has a much stronger sex drive than I do, which is a major part of the problem. A couple times we have had sex when I was at least sort of feeling it, but it seemed to have made me want to prolong the time until the next encounter, so that I might be really ready to go. But I feel bad that I am not altogether up for it and that he has to get himself off. I mean, we waited all this time to haves sex and it’s still much of the same. Has anyone had a similar experience? How can I communicate better about this?

    • Anon

      First thing, check your birth control if you’re on the pill. Some forms of it can really derail your desire.

    • C

      Sometimes your sex drive can vary depending on what time of the month it is… I’m usually not in the mood/its hard to get off about a week before my period starts, but I usually have a week in the month during ovulation when I’m raring to go all the time. Maybe that has something to do with it?

    • Maddie

      In addition to what other people have said about hormone fluctuations, birth control, etc., I’d pay attention to time of day, and other factors that may have been in play during your honeymoon. My sex drive is sort of the opposite of my work drive: terrible in the morning, great in the middle of the afternoon, kind of meh at night. If Michael tried to initiate sex during the mornings, for example, my sex drive would be zero.

      It’s a long learning curve figuring out what you do and don’t like, and it’s OK if it takes a while to get it right (we’re going on ten years of sex with each other and we’re still learning a TON.) But don’t be afraid to speak openly about it.

      And don’t be afraid to let yourselves off the hook a little too. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure that comes with waiting that you have to make it “worth it.” It’s OK if it takes some time to figure out your rhythm. Just don’t lose sight of communication along the way.

      • Anonlalala

        ” terrible in the morning, great in the middle of the afternoon, kind of meh at night.”

        2pm. Every day. Without fail. Luckily we both have flexible schedules…

    • Amanda

      If you really do have different sex drives, then there is nothing to feel guilty about if takes care of himself sometimes. Though you may have waited for sex and feel like this is the time to grasp it all, remember that you married this person for forever. You have your whole married lives to figure it out. Maybe you will want it more sometimes maybe not. Him taking care of himself is a loving action towards you, and you allowing him to do so without him having to worry about you feeling guilty is a loving thing as well. Also, sexual desire changes throughout lifespan. Your peak of desire will probably be later in life then his. If you ever have children pregnancy and children will change patterns. He may eventually have an illness that inhibits his sex drive. So, while it’s hard now, learn to be respectful of each other’s bodies limits and desires. Learn to love in many ways that fill each other up. And communicate with your partner about your desires and drives and hear him out about his. The more transparent you are with each other, the better chance you have to come to solutions that support each other. Best of luck!

    • This Chick

      I’d say two weeks in, don’t stress too much. It’s good you’re being aware, but it’s only been *two weeks,* so cut your collective selves some slack.

      In terms of practical stuff, it helps me to pay attention to when I’m in the mood and what it takes. Do I need to just spend some time snuggling first? Reading something about sex? Have a drink to unwind? Honestly, any way to make myself relax is helpful, because I’m not that good at just relaxing, especially when I have a long to do list at work or home.

      Also, I’ve found that sometimes, even if I’m not one hundred percent in the mood, I can get there if he just takes his time and spends more time on foreplay. By the time he’s kissed me everywhere, and and touched me gradually from non-erogenous to super sexy places, I’m ready and warmed up and relaxed.

      Oh, and keep fooling around! It doesn’t have to be only sex now that you’ve gotten to that point. Sometimes please one person, sometimes please both, sometimes just fool around. Do what’s fun!

    • Kat

      Also if you’re only two weeks post-wedding day you could just in general be tired, worn out from the wedding and your body just might not be wanting to have ALL THE SEX right now.

      Take a warm bath, light some candles, break out some great body lotion for a back rub and just let things go from there.

      Give things some time and cut yourself some slack!

    • http://jpnadia.blogspot.com jpnadia

      Can I just say that masturbation is excellent?

      K, my almost-husband, and I both take care of ourselves all the time. Sometimes we get off separately, sometimes we get off together, sometimes one of us will be getting of and the other will offer to help. It has nothing to do with the sex we have– sexy “me” time is not the same thing as sexy together time.

      Your identity as a sexual being (or your partner’s, or either of your lack thereof) doesn’t have to be a function of only what the two (or more) of you do together. You can both have separate identities (if you want).

      Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what you do, if you have consent and it works for (both/all) of you.

    • Anony

      Just as something to keep in the back of your head, it’s a total myth that once you’re married you never get yourself off again. Masturbation is not necessarily a chore that you can only do if you can’t get sex.

    • Anon

      My husband and I didn’t wait until marriage to have sex but we didn’t have actual intercourse until about 3 years into our relationship (we did pretty much everything else beforehand though). After that, it took a few more years to get everything else worked out – he definitely would have sex 3 times a day if I was up for it and I could probably be satisfied with once a week, so it took a while to figure out how to compromise without hurting each others’ feelings. I don’t even know what kind of advice to give because I don’t even really know what we did other than just being honest and learning to not take things personally. One thing I will often do is if he wants it and I don’t is “help him out” – he gets the intimacy he is craving and my vagina gets the break it’s craving :p

    • nikki

      Communication! Communication! Communication! It could be physiological, emotional, whatever, but the important part is communicating to your husband how often you two want to have sex. Some partners expect that after they’re married they’ll have sex every day. Some partners only want sex once a week. The point is, you both came in with preconceived ideas about how often you might want to make love, so spell them out. Compromise on ensuring you have sex X times a week. Whatever the number, make sure it’s an agreement you’re both happy with. This may help get other lines of communication going, like what puts you in the mood? What positions do you like? etc etc.

      It’s an awkward and maybe uncomfortable and definitely not sexy way to approach sex, but it’s a great start to a marriage!

    • http://www.piercedwonderings.com Lynn

      So, my husband and I have been married for a little over a year, and just recently we had a discussion about our different sex drives…and what we found out was that it’s not the fact that we have different drives. It’s that he gets home 4 (in the summer, almost 8) hours before I do and has had all this time to decompress and feel frisky. I get home and by the time I’ve let go of the day, he’s ready for the bed (and not sexy times).

      So, we have *amazing* weekends that he waits for all week long. Friday night I get home early, we go for drinks and dinner and things are fantastic through Sunday night. And Monday brings the dry spell again.

      I love sex with my husband, and every time we have sex, I think, “Why don’t we do this more often?” but I just can’t shut off enough during the week to make it happen. When we try to make it happen and I’m not ready, it’s a bad situation for me. He understands, fortunately, and waits patiently.

      • anon

        Lynn darlin, don’t beat yourself up about this! If your weekends are what you have to work with and they are great, that is GREAT!

        It took me a while to become OK with ‘sex time’ mainly being on the weekends, but I’ve just had to realise that ‘enough’ sex is just what works for us, not what we think we should be having.

        Plus, I would have to agree with one of the first post-ers that being on medication can really throw you off. My darling is on anti-depressants, so he isn’t in the mood as much as I am. For a while I took this too personally, but talking things through has helped enormously. Even if that means talking things through repeatedly. Bringing something up once doesn’t have to mean case-closed.

        It’s not like I don’t have my own issues – my epilepsy seems to think it’s funny to interrupt with tremours and occasional full-blown seizures. I mean, mood kill or what?! Like everyone has been saying – a loving partner, acceptance and communication can make all the difference.

        And lastly – don’t dismiss non-sexual contact. I’m touchy-feely at the best of times and touch is so important in cementing relationships. Face rubs (i.e. giving my man a facial), or any type of massage it’s a great way to get the touch that I need without putting pressure on him. Plus he loves his facials! Just don’t let on that I told you!

      • Anon for this

        I totally get you here. I think FH and I have about the same sex drive actually but we just want it at different times of the day. He always wants it last thing at night, right before we go to sleep. By that point in the night I am usually feeling full from dinner, I have just spent the last 30 minutes picking up and laying out clothes for the next day and all I want to do is lay in bed and read or pass out. I usually lay there hoping he won’t initiate so I can just go to sleep. Which is terrible, because we have good sex and I never regret it once I’m into it.

        Through some talking it out, I have realized that I really just need to do it earlier in the day. I am horniest in the morning, which often doesn’t work for us b/c we are rushing out to work (he also works at 5 AM and I am so not trying to have sex at 3:30 am). We are both pretty happy to do it in the afternoon or before dinner when we first see each other. We have also been making an attempt to go to bed earlier so I am not ready to drop by the time we get into bed. (Though he’s the one who works at 5 AM he somehow gets this second wind around 9PM).

    • Anon for this

      I feel like you have to just rip off the band aid and communicated about it. (Lovingly, in a soft voice, while cuddling). At two weeks in FH and I were having fun getting to know each other’s bodies but the sex was honestly, meh. We were each other’s firsts and had both waited until later in life, though not for marriage, but there was still a lot of pressure to make up for lost time.

      At first I ignored it. Then I kind of gently started talking about it. I encouraged him to repeat things that were good. We talked about what was great when we had a great experience. I told him what I wanted and we could laugh if it failed. We threw around dirty words because some times that was the only sex vocabulary we had. Gradually he got comfortable telling me what he wanted. As much pressure as there is on women to be a certain way, I think there is a lot of pressure on men to be good at sex. Of course you will not be good together right away, everything takes practice. Good sex also takes a lot of trust and a lot of communication.

      Also, I hear you on not wanting it all the time. Sex is messy and time consuming. And now I sound like a cold, uptight, prude.

  • C

    My fiance and I have pretty regular sex, but we’re both busy people and have a tendency to stick to our usual routine, if you know what I mean. It could use some mixing up, but I think we’re both content. But we are very compatible with each other, but it took us both a while to get comfortable with each other. In fact, just recently, after 3 years of being together, he was able to make me orgasm using just his hands! So, in some ways we’re still getting to know each other. Personally, my ability/interest in sex varies depending on what time of the month it is… I’ve just learned to go with it, and not freak out if it doesn’t happen. We have the rest of our lives to have sex and explore each other, it doesn’t always have to be such a high pressure situation.

  • anonymous

    Oof. This is the hardest topic for me. I’ve never really been that interested in sex, and it has caused me a lot of sadness and – honestly? – shame. It’s not that the sex is bad – actually, sex with my fiance is usually pretty great physically. It’s just that sex feels emotionally uncomfortable for me, and I don’t really know why. I feel silly talking or acting dirty, and I feel embarrassed about enjoying sex. It’s like, being sexual doesn’t feel like me? I’m super shy in regular social situations, so I’ve considered the possibility that this is an extension of that. But I’m not at all shy around my fiance outside of the bedroom, so I don’t know why I still feel that way with him during sex. It’s hard to explain, but it’s caused some emotional turmoil for me, especially recently. In past relationships, the amount of sex I was having sort of fizzled and then the relationship ended so it didn’t really matter. But now, the amount of sex has decreased and we are about to get MARRIED. I feel pretty awful about this all of the time. Because even though my fiance has never said anything but kind words to me about sex and our sex life, I feel super guilty that he’s committing to never having sex with anyone but me knowing that we already do it very infrequently. We have a super amazing relationship in literally every other aspect, and I wish I could bring myself to change so that we could have it all, so to speak. I’m torn between feeling inadequate and at the same time not wanting to do things that make me feel uncomfortable.

    • Jessica B

      I’m really sorry that sex comes with this huge amount of feelings for you. We, as a society, put so much into sex–whether you have it or not, how it is, how much you should enjoy it or what a role is in it–that it can be pretty overwhelming and you end up feeling things that are totally legitimate, but then they make you feel guilty. I’ve been there is some ways.

      Have you talked to a therapist or trained professional about your feelings on sex? Sometimes having a person to talk to that 1.) can offer suggestions and positivity, and 2.) you’re not having sex with or have a social life with can do wonders for a person.

      • anonymous

        Thank you for your kind words! You make a really good point about the way our society views sex, and that does make me feel a bit less…crazy. :-)

        I know you’re right about talking with a therapist, and I’ve definitely considered it, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to actually do it. The idea of walking into a stranger and talking about sex just sounds mortifying. I know it’s their job, but…eek. I do think you’re right that this is probably the most helpful thing I could do for myself though, so I’m going to work on it.

        Thank you!

        • Carole

          Another alternative to a therapist is a life coach that specializes in sex/relationships. Life coaches are awesome resources, and for me seem very positive and without the stigma/seriousness that I associate with going to a therapist. I’m in the same boat as you – when I read your post, I thought “those could be my words.” I need to walk the talk and take some action around it, instead of just hoping it will change or go away.

          • SRN

            I totally like the idea of a life coach, but I also want to chime in and say there is absolutely NOTHING stigma-y or even serious about therapy. It’s just something people do to help them–for long or short periods of time–figure things out without having to do it all on our own. I’ve been in therapy on and off for years now, and I’m a regular, insightful, healthy person. And you know what? Therapy gives you a person and a time of the week to talk over anything that’s bugging you, so that the rest of the time if it comes up and makes you anxious, you can think to yourself, “I’ll just talk/think about this on Wednesday, with my therapist.” Boom. Less anxiety, more time to just be YOU in your life.

          • Anon

            @SRN– I totally agree with everything you’ve written. I’ve been in therapy on and off for 15 years now, and there is nothing stigma-y about it. I’m a perfectly normal, healthy human being, but sometimes it’s really nice to talk to someone who is trained to listen and ask insightful questions. The first time I went was for my parent’s divorce and that was a pretty serious need. I’ve also been for when I was diagnosed for herpes and totally lost my sex drive because of it. I’ve been thinking of going again for my anxiety surrounding graduation/job/identity frustration (I’m a 7+ year grad student). The FH and I are also going to go for some pre-marital counseling. Also, I think that for most therapists sexual concerns are something they handle regularly. However when I was looking for someone to deal with my sex issues, I did make sure it was someone I felt comfortable talking to (a woman) and I did ask, prior to seeing them, if they were comfortable handling my concerns.

        • also anonymous!

          you are my boyfriend’s feelings-twin! he’s EXTREMELY reliant on like a “shell” of outward behavior in social situations–like making sure he is behaving acceptably and not vulnerable–and a “recovering” catholic who definitely got the Shame Messages about sex. he has “solved” his problem of being a little bit uncomfortable about the vulnerability and silliness of sex by being a SUPER-giver in the sack who derives basically all of his self-permitted enjoyment from pleasing his partner. perhaps this is also an approach that would also work for you, in a less extreme dose? like maybe you would have a little mental space freed up to enjoy stuff if you’re giving, rather than receiving, because during that the focus is less on You and How Much You are Enjoying It and Everybody In the Room Is Looking At Your O Face (which IS very vulnerable!).

          also, in re: the “sex declines over time in my relationships” thing–i totally have that, and i feel like it’s because the more involved i get with someone–the more i want them to keep being around–the more i care what they think of me, so the less vulnerable or potentially off-putting i want to be in front of them…i know that’s like the opposite of our cultural narrative about sex (“you’ll naturally be so comfortable being your sluttayest when you’re committed, because it’s SO SAFE”), but i actually feel like the stakes are a lot higher with someone you depend on for emotional support. anybody?!

    • This Chick

      I also don’t always feel like myself when having sex. Reflecting now, maybe it’s just because I haven’t been sexually active as long as I’ve been, well, me.

      This can affect me in different ways. I don’t like having mirrors around (usually only an issue if we’re in the bathroom), I can easily get stuck in my head rather than being in the moment, it makes it hard to talk about sex or talk during sex sometimes.

      What definitely helps, every single time, is to SHARE with your fiance what you’re feeling. Even if it doesn’t lead to a “resolution” or anything. Even if he says the same nice thing back to you every time, it’s important for you that this doesn’t feel like some “secret” you’re keeping, and that he’s aware it’s an ongoing issue, that way you can work on it alone and together.

      Also? Cut yourself a break. There is no right way to do this, there is only what feels right for YOU.

      • anonymous

        “Reflecting now, maybe it’s just because I haven’t been sexually active as long as I’ve been, well, me.”

        YES! That makes so much sense. Thanks – this is all really good advice.

      • Alison

        I totally agree; it may be helpful ultimately to see a therapist, but as a first step/question, I was wondering if you have shared the thoughts included in your comment with your partner directly. Sometimes simply voicing these kinds of feelings/insecurities takes away their power, or you learn information that contradicts them.

        I would think that either your fiance is fine with the sexual relationship you have, and that’s why he’s committing to you in marriage, or he’s not fine with it, and it’s a conversation you two need to have.

        Either way, though, I don’t think you should feel guilty. Guilt is for when you go against your own moral standards, not just being yourself and feeling your (non-malicious) feelings. If your sexual appetite was strong and your partner’s wasn’t, or he had a physiological issue getting in the way, I’m guessing you wouldn’t blame him and hold a grudge and expect him to feel guilty. :-)

    • anon

      Aw, thank you so much for your honesty! I second peoples’ suggestions of therapy. It’s not that you can’t enjoy or desire sex, but it’s what has been taught (literally or psychologically thorough the messages you absorbed subconsciously) that is blocking you. I could talk tons on this subject…but I won’t. there are SO MANY MESSAGES sent about sex, many people have unhealthy views of it. It also can have a lot to do with your self worth, self empowerment, etc..things that are often deeply embedded in you.

    • Sarah

      Nothing will kill your libido quicker than stress, and honey, you sound stressed enough for 12 people! Time to give yourself a break :) It’s OK not to want sex or to have weird feelings about it. And it’s OK to try and figure out why that is. If it’s possible to stop being so hard on yourself, you might open up more mental space for exploring what’s going on. Big hugs to you.

  • Jessica B

    I love sex! The best 2 investments in my life were my first vibrator and an IUD.

    For anyone in the Twin Cities, do check out The Smitten Kitten. It’s amazeballs. Literally, there are toys that are balls and they are amazeballs. They have an online store and lots of advice on it too!

  • Kerry

    I seem to be experiencing a slump in my sexual drive/willingness. We have sex occasionally, but not as much as either of us would like. I’ve had a high sex drive in the past, and am bummed about this sudden decline. The trouble is, when it comes down to initiating, I just don’t. feel. like. it.

    I haven’t had any major dietary/hormonal changes recently, though we did recently move in together and even more recently got engaged.

    I know I can’t possibly be the only one who’s experienced this after having gotten engaged…any thoughts or advice, from this sage and helpful community??

    • Jessica B

      You are not the only one. The best explanation I’ve heard is that before you move in together you are most often staying the night together so you ‘get’ to have sex. And it’s great, because you might not get to spend the night together tomorrow or the day after. Sex is better than TV for people not living together.

      When you do live together, there is shit like laundry, dishes, sweeping, bathroom sounds, different bed times/rhythms/habits that you suddenly have to deal with and they are Just. So. Human. You are no longer to sexy sex machines going at it, you are two people living together and sexy is suddenly harder to achieve for both parties–whether you know it or not. At this point, sometimes what is on TV is better than sex because sex could be had at any time, and therefore isn’t as awesome.

      That’s the only thing that really made sense to me after the living together slump occurred.

      • Kat

        Thank you for this!

      • Crayfish Kate

        That….makes an amazing amount of sense.

    • Paranoid Libra

      Schedule sex. Highly unromantic but it’s like maintenance. Doing it more regularly helps to keep the motor going so to speak.

      • Anonlalala

        Yeah, I would add to this — sometimes I have to do it to want it, if you know what I mean. Like I get into it once we’ve started, even if I was too tired or not in the mood initially.

        • also anonymous!

          also doin it makes your brain release testosterone, which makes you want to do it more, say medical people i know.

      • cocoa

        It doesn’t always have to be romantic. My partner’s cue: “I need some sex, take a shower.” He puts it in his planner. Sometimes you just have to get it however you can to remind eachother of how you need each other in that way.

      • Copper

        Also scheduled sex makes me fantasize about it in advance, which makes me more into it when it happens…

    • Anony

      What’s helped me most is realizing that our sex life just goes up and down and that’s the way it is. Sometimes one of us has a lower sex drive, other times we want it every day. That’s life. (For me. Maybe not for you. YMMV. But it’s felt helpful to me to think of it that way.)

    • Kerry

      thanks very much for the advice and perspective. helpful!

  • Anonymous

    Something my partner and I have just recently started talking about is the possibility of our relationship moving into an open marriage at some point in the future. We both only dated one other person before getting married. We love each other so intensely, we support each other, we are each other’s safe place. But my partner has always fantasized about multiple partners and I am realizing a deep need for novelty in myself. We want to come home to each other and have that be a safe relationship, but we also think we might want to “date” again. This blog is super focused on monogamy so I’m not sure how many responses this will get but:
    Those who have been in/are in open relationships I’d love to hear how that works for you.
    Anyone who is also interested but hasn’t gone there yet? Thoughts?

    • AnonymousE

      It’s not something my partner would be okay with, but I’ve considered it in the past, and I’d say one of the best resources on the internet for open and honest talk about negotiating relationships, consent, kinky and non-kinky activities, and two+ partner relationships is pervocracy.blogspot.com. Genderqueer writer, long-term committed relationship, softer side of BDSM, assault survivor, polyamorous, super-articulate.

      • Anonyma

        I’m told “the Ethical Slut” is a wonderful book on the subject, though I have never read it myself. One of my close friends and her husband have had an open marriage for 20 years, and it seems to work out really well for them, and they recommend the book very highly.

        I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of an open marriage as long as you both are communicating clearly and honestly what your needs and expectations are. My community, being very hippie/pagan oriented, has had lots of variation on the open marriage, and the times that I have seen it go bad it seems to be because one partner was gung ho about it and the other was just going along to “make the other partner happy.” If it’s something that makes you both happy I say go for it.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for the recommendation! Research is my favorite way to get used to a new thing, I’ll have to order that book.

    • Anonymous Hippo

      Try reading The Ethical Slut a book on this type of thing.

    • http://jpnadia.blogspot.com jpnadia

      We’re now a three after about two years of negotiation, and it’s working well for us. I would like to second the “borrow negotiation advice from the kink community” advice.

      What I have is more poly than open, but I’m happy to talk about it.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you, I’m glad that’s working out for you. Actually I would love to hear more about it from your perspective. I guess… what are the most important things to make it work for you? How do you feel about being a three? Is there a difference in the emotional connection between the first partner and the new partner?

    • Anon Just This Once

      Okay, so I have been in a few non-monogamous or “open” relationships before as well as having been a “third” in a few other relationships and I’ll tell you what kept things as stress-free as possible.

      Rules. Lots and lots of rules. Also, talking and more talking. And more talking. Till we were blue in the face. But basically when I was part of relationship we approached it like this:

      1. Partner 1(P1) would bring up a need to Partner 2. Partner 2 (P2) then has the opportunity to determine if they can/are willing to meet said need. If they can, yay!! Sexytimes.
      2. If P2 cannot/will not/need a third partner to make need met, then P1 is researches ways to meet said need. P2 must then determine what are safe boundaries for meeting the need (ie, if a third person is involved do they want to meet them, should it be a stranger, do they want to help choose the person, what can you do or do not do).
      3. Once an agreement is met, both parties have to abide by them for the duration of the encounter. Once the encounter is over, reassess what worked and what didn’t. Adjust as necessary.

      I have found that swingers clubs and/or fetish parties are a great starting point for new to open relationship couples. You can go together and it’s usually low stress. The people are usually pretty outgoing and flexible. Sometimes you just need a good old fashioned make out with a new person and nothing further. Sometimes you want more. The point is to keep communicating and don’t rush into it.

      • Anonymous

        Interesting. I love lots and lots of talking but am less comfortable with rules (at least at first). But I think it’s a good point that rules are important. I’ll have to think some more about how capable I am of handling that…

        • anon for this

          I use “rules” because it’s helpful to know what your limits are. In one relationship we started with a LOT of rules. My partner was new to open relationships and I’m not really a threesome type person. Eventually, we only had one rule: ask permission first. No fair coming home all “guess what I just did.” The power of the veto was very important to keep things fair.

          Also, as someone who was the third party in a few relationships, clear rules for my behavior went a long way to creating harmony. Trust is hard but If all parties agree to the same rules, there is much fun to be had. :)

    • thinking the mouse names are the cutest

      I don’t have anything to add but wanted to say, although monogomous relationships are usually presented here I would be surprised if others didn’t want to discuss this.

      • Anonymous

        Probably true :)

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      just want to give a bit of solidarity here – what we’ve done is pretty minimal (and didn’t work out for reasons very unrelated to poly), so i’ve got no advice, but thought i’d chime in as a “marriage =/= monogamy” point of view.

    • Anonymous

      My fiance and I have been in this kind of arrangement since about 1 year into our dating life. I’ve always needed the novelty of new partners/more than one partner and in the past it had led me to cheat. I really didn’t want to do that to him- it was clear he was an amazing guy and I didn’t want to risk losing him.

      We had a lot of painful conversations about it. He’s always been very monogamous and was flabbergasted that I might feel differently. What eventually got us going was that I was invited to participate in a threesome with two of my best friends and was really into the idea. We talked about it, he set ground rules that he was comfortable with (no penetration, in that case), and off I went.

      These days, I have a group of people who I see when we’re in our home province (we live and work across the country), maintain one kind-of-poly relationship with a close friend, and my fiance has gotten much more comfortable with our lifestyle, even being able to talk about it to some of our closest friends. Open relationships get labeled as dramatic or ‘crazy’ so quickly, we want to serve as sort of ambassadors for doing it pragmatically.

    • Kat

      There is a reclaiming wife post about open relationships – http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/03/reclaiming-wife-respecting-the-foundation/

      The comments probably have some useful info too.

    • Anon

      Just want to endorse more discussions around these topics. My fiance and I have spent the past year of our engagement really hashing out this issue, and we are far from done doing so (and things will probably always evolve). We have reached what we consider monogamish rules. Essentially, from time to time, we may have sexual relations (anything from kissing to actual intercourse) with other people under certain conditions (i.e. when, what, where, how much should be shared before and after) and abiding by specific rules or boundaries (The big three being: no diseases (safer-sex a must), no babies (birth control a must), & no compromising our primary relationship).

      Communicating these things has been very difficult. We actually found that we are most successful when we email about the topic. It allows us to really digest what the other is saying and consider how to compose our responses in a respectful way. We both dislike seeing the other feeling hurt, which can make communicating in person very difficult. I’ve felt that communicating within a relationship through writing has generally been looked down upon as inferior by society at large, but honestly, it has been the most productive way of respectfully working through difficult relationship issues. We also live together, so this way, we can create boundaries that give us the time at home together as a more fun, conflict free, enjoying each other’s company time.

      Oh and finally, having this conversation has made us better at sex in our own life (which has always been frick’n fantastic if I do say so). But life is long and we are learning to have fun in different ways by sharing more about our inner desires.

    • http://www.mylifeasherbst.wordpress.com AutumnE

      I am way late to the game but, opening up by tristian tormino, the older version of ethical slut, (I think the newer one has more activities, which I found annoying but some might find very fun/helpful). I view being poly as part of my sexual identity, just like being pansexual although not related. I’ve been in an open engagement, an open marriage, and for the first time I am in a relationship with a former secondary partner who is now my primary/main/daily partner. I could talk poly/open marriage forever. I know people in all kinds of poly from monogmish to full triads. And I’ve done most of it. Seriously. I am happy to talk to anyone about it. Feel free to email me. Also, part of why I love apw is that all types of marriages are awesome and accepted on here. Don’t be afraid.

  • Anonymous Hippo

    Anyone have a book recommendation to help get over my raised as a Catholic guilt of sex being a dirty thing?

    • anon

      Oh geez! There sure does need to be one!!!

    • LMS

      Oh man, it’s so ingrained, isn’t it? I haven’t read it myself yet, but I’ve heard several recommendations for this one:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0826429246?ie=UTF8&tag=washingtonpost-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0826429246

      Not so much a self-help book, but apparently there’s some really interesting stuff about how the church’s established thinking on sex got to be so restrictive.

    • This Chick

      As a raised Catholic myself, I haven’t found a particular non-fiction book. But romance novels helped ease into hearing/using/wrapping your head around words to use and people doing it like bunnies.

      Plus, plumb the APW archives for the other sex discussions. Sometimes it’s about the guilt/taboo specifically, but I found that I really just wasn’t exposed to sex-positive words/stories/ideas. So the more I read (whether it’s a self-help sex book or a novel, or a blog post), the better I feel about it.

      Still working on seeking knowledge that I pretend I’ve always known so I don’t look like a naive prude when I’m actually clueless.

    • Sharon

      Lauren Winner’s ‘Real Sex’ and Dillow and Pintus’ ‘Intimate good if you want to see the ‘sex is good!’ issue addressed from a Christian perspective. Or read ‘Song of Songs’? Nothing like reading the sexiest book in the Bible to get over the Catholic guilt! ;-)

      • Sharon

        Damn, edit button isn’t working for me. That should be ‘ Intimate Issues’. That’s what I get for replying on my phone!

      • http://alifeworthwritingdown.blogspot.ca Juels

        Oh yeah, Song of Songs is RACY! *fans self* ;)

    • also anonymous!

      david burns’s FEELING GOOD can help with any and all kinds of thought-crazy, not just catholic-sex-brain crazy.

    • Heather

      “Kosher Sex” by Schmuley Boteach. He’s a rabbi, but it’s still coming from the Judeo-Christian tradition and applicable to all. Very sex-positive.

  • Anon

    I just want to give a shout out to how switching to a good LUBE has improved our sex life IMMENSELY. We tried several different lubes for a good 3 years before my husband read a thread raving about coconut oil on Reddit or something. With all of those garbage lubes, sex was fairly painful for me at least 75% of the time, now it is rarely painful and so much more fun for both of us. And as an added bonus it also removes any lingering off-putting smells or tastes…

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      Is there anything coconut oil can’t do? I have a jar in my kitchen for cooking, and a jar in the nursery for cloth diaper safe cream. And I guess I should get a third for sex, eh? (Don’t want to mingle the three jars, I don’t think…)

      • Sarah

        I try to keep a straight-face when talking to people at work or the grocery store about coconut oil. Cause I bought it after a tip on a sex thread here. And I do use it for cooking. But most of it gets poured into smaller jars for the bedroom ;)

    • Anonymous

      Best lube I’ve tried by far? Vagisil Feminine Moisturizer with Vitamin E and Aloe. It’s not technically a lube (designed for women experiencing vaginal dryness…I learned about it from my post-menopausal MIL, lol) but it works fantastically and doesn’t leave that icky coating that I’ve noticed from others…

    • Anonymous

      We love Aloe Cadabra! http://aloecadabra.com/

      • anon

        (Op of this comment) We were using aloe cadabra right before we switched to coconut oil. It was the best one we’d found so far but I didn’t like the residue it left. And coconut oil still puts it to shame :)

        • Ann Onymous

          Coconut oil as lube?!? Is it really safe to go inside you?

          I love it for so many other uses (cooking, moisturizing, hair product…), that I think we’ll have to give this a try. Amazeballs.

          • This Chick

            I’m excited to try it, too. I figure if you can eat it, I’m sure you can put it inside you through other orifices, too. (Ah, so funny that it’s kind of topical, but really not)

  • Ms Marie

    I love this thread. For a lot of reasons, 1) I grew up in a conservative Christian culture and 2) still have a lot of friends in this circle though I no longer identify with that circle. SOOOO usually no one really talks about sex. Not even married people. It really bugs me. I love sex, and toys, and all sorts of “out there” stuff (but still not extreme), but I doubt any of my friends would be able to handle that topic. I’ve had friends who got married (who stayed virgins before) and then tried to go from barely kissing to intercourse in one day and felt horribly ashamed when that did not work out so well (and I’m like “duh” and always try to jump to make it feel more okay for them to talk about sex etc at least with me because it’s great and awesome and is something we grown in over time). It was actually really hard for me to figure out what was normal with consensual sex because none of my friends talked about their experiences, and I am a survivor of abstinence only education. I knew the basics, but I didn’t know what was “normal” or what things were supposed to feel like. When I had consensual sex for the first time I never told anyone because most of my friends thought sex outside of marriage was wrong. Which I now think I very sad, I would have loved to share that moment with a close friend, to not feel like I have to hide that.

    ANYWAY, for me, a sexual abuse survivor, I didn’t really have great sex until my now hubby came along. He’s super caring, patient, and a great listener, and SO SO very happy to get me off first and put my needs first. He also never pushed me, and still doesn’t the second I use our safe word or if he sees me tense up, he backs off and makes sure I’m okay and won’t even think about continuing unless I say so (and sometimes we don’t). So TRUST and SAFETY are huge, obvious maybe. But I think it takes a lot of trust to be that intimate with someone, also humor and non judgment, because often sex role play can be corny (but awesome) and sometimes you try a new position and you fall off something and you just have to laugh, and sometimes a new thing doesn’t work, but you both risked trying it and whatever sometimes you risk your fantasies and they are f-ing amazing.
    I also my amazing vibrator (a bullet type from Jimmy Jane) is awesome and my partner loves to bring it into play as well. We also have various tie-up contraptions, gags, bondage gear, other assorted s&m type stuff. Our motto is try anything once, worst case is we don’t like it, stop, and move on.

  • Addie

    Maybe I’m just a clothes horse but seriously, good lingerie is like the best thing for getting me in the mood. Something about looking sexy (even if I don’t feel it) helps move things along when the partner wants sexytime and I’m all “meh, I guess.”

    Lingerie on the bed is a signal to each other that sexytimes are coming. Also, I will send pics of a bit of lace to the partner at work just so they are prepared for later. :)

    • Jessica B

      How titillating =)

    • This Chick

      YES to leading text messages. My thoughts and moods run so quickly, that if I start feelin excited for sexy times later while I’m at work or my partner isn’t home, a nice text reminder of why he shouldn’t stay out too late helps keep me pumped, and lets him know what’s going on so we can get to it faster.

      • also anonymous!

        grrrr, my otherwise-excellent boyfriend actively dislikes sexy texting (he thinks it’s “cheesy”?), and i am DISPLEASED ABOUT IT, firstly because anticipation totally gets me in the mood and secondly because i do secretly wonder if i should just break out my copy of “he’s just not that into you”–like, if he ACTUALLY found me attractive would he find sexy texts from me sexy instead of laughable?

        • happy anon

          I also find those sorts of texts to be cheesy, but I love pics/agreeing to have sexy times later…not in detail, cause that will turn me off, but just enough to know that we’re both excited. Maybe the dude would be ok with shorter stuff like that?

        • cocoa

          Aw, that’s too bad. Maybe he would get with it more if the language in the texts is very coded? So that it could easily be a text about something else so it doesn’t come off so cheesy, but you get the thrill of sending it. Highly coded language was how I got into sexting because I was uncomfortable writing more explicit stuff. Does he object to pictures too?

        • This Chick

          I sometimes use “cheesy” language. But mostly I like being direct. Like if I know he’s out with friends: “Don’t stay out too late. I need you home ;-)” or times when APW is having a sex thread:” Reading about sex on APW, and I’m getting a bit ditracted. Don’t stay late at work”

          To me, that’s just some good ol’ fashioned honesty :-)

    • Anonymous

      I love lingerie even if my fiancé could care less! I always wear sexy and matching bras and panties for me, because the sexier I feel the more confident I am with him and the more I initiate. I hate when women my age wear bright striped teeny stuff, you are a sexy woman! Not a 14 year old virgin!

  • anon obvi

    I consider myself game for just about anything sexually, but I just. can’t. enjoy….. (anal sex). Can anyone help me out here, supposedly it can be great, but I have not seen the light.

    • AnonymousE

      It’s one hundred percent okay if you never enjoy it. I (female) would be totally up for it, and in fact occasionally do some anal stimulation as part of solo play, but for my partner (male) it is a hard-line limit, completely off the table, the anti-sexy. Which is his absolute right. Everybody gets a dealbreaker or three, and if it’s off the table, whelp, there’s a whole world of other sex out there for you and your partner.

      However, if you’d like to learn to enjoy it for yourself…
      1)clean well beforehand. so well. and no play if you feel like your colon is currently engaged in its intended purpose.
      2)lube lube lube lube lube lube. also lube. and more lube.
      3)lots of just finger stimulation, outer edges of the anus, first. For women this is where all the nerve endings are; men are blessed with the prostate, so they have an extra happy surprise further in. But for women it’s all the outer rim, and then potential muted g-spot stimulation when penetration is happening.
      4)careful, slippery, one-finger penetration, just to the first knuckle. don’t move on until it feels amazing.
      5)and slow stretching from there. don’t move on until it feels amazing.
      6)if it never does, that’s okay. Maybe you’re not wired for it, and there’s a whole world of other sex out there.
      7)small toys before real penises. The first time won’t be awesome for him because he should be focusing so hard on you.
      8)shallow shallow shallow thrusting. Deep porn-style thrusting is advanced stuff. Remember, all the great nerve endings are in the rim. Don’t move on until it feels amazing.
      9) if it never does, that’s okay. Maybe you’re not wired for it, and there’s a whole world of other sex out there. (Yes, this is repeated deliberately.)

      Good luck!

    • Anon (for this one)

      I have weird struggles over anal sex. My then bf, now husband, started bringing it up about two years ago. He wanted to try it, but even thinking about it was hard for me. There was some stigma in my mind that it was dirty or sinful or something…

      After about six months of talking about it and researching it, I decided I would try it. It wasn’t great for me, but he really enjoyed it. Over the last 1 1/2 years, I’ve discovered that if I use my vibrator and focus on what feels good, just like I would during regular sex, I can actually have fun doing it. I like to use my rabbit-type vibrator during it so that I get some pleasure. My husband can feel the vibrations too, which is fun for him. He is also very, very responsive when I say that something is uncomfortable or hurts, which helps a lot. Having safe words or phrases that your partner knows to respond to immediately will help ease your mind if you worry about it hurting.

      Also, I recently discovered that me on top worked so much better than d-style, which we had read was best for beginners. That night we had also had a little to drink, which always helps (;

      • Anon (for this one)

        OOPS! I should have included all that was said in the comment above mine!

        Make sure you use a really good quality lube. We started with one kind, but it seemed to disappear, which made things get uncomfortable fast. We really like System JO H2O for lube; the water-based anal kind is great!

      • Anonymous

        I second that last bit. We’d tried it a couple of times and it never really worked for me, but the last time we did we had both had drinks and I was on top. Made it so much better. Then the next time after that, no drinks, I was on top, still super good.

        • anonymous

          Just wanted to add this to the anal sex thread…. it works the other way around too. I recently had my first experience “pegging” (where a woman gives a guy anal sex with a dildo / plug or other such sex toy) (Admittedly, my husband and I are both pretty kinky ;) It was really amazing for both of us. I’d always had fantasies of being the dominant one, the penetrator, but had held myself back from this for years … cause I was just so ashamed to want something so freaky. (In general I’m pretty comfortable with sex – but I realize that comfort with sex comes in layers – just when I think I’ve conquered shame forever, it rears it’s ugly head again, ugh)

          But I was so glad I overcame my shame about this. For me the key to good anal sex is really frank, honest conversations beforehand, NO EXPECTATIONS (cause it might not happen tonight – or ever) and of course, lots and lots of lube!
          On a side note – I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I also think that being the recipient of anal sex is a really good experience in giving men empathy for what anal sex is like for women. I think a lot of misunderstanding and hurt often ensues around anal sex when the penetrating partner has no idea what it feels like to have something up their own ass. Even if a man, or penetrating partner of any gender, isn’t turned on by the idea of pegging per se, I think experimenting with a but plug on themselves before penetrating their partner really helps to set realistic expectations.

      • Anon

        Really, for anyone reading this it’s ok if you don’t want to. If you do, see above/below, but don’t feel like you have to because it’s the big thing at the moment. It’s something that I have been harassed about refusing to do in a previous relationship, so I just want to give support to anyone who feels like saying no that it’s ok and your right.

    • Anon

      Like others have said, it’s totally okay that you don’t like anal sex. But if you do want to try it again, here are some additional tips:

      1. You should be the one to guide penetration. That way, you can stop if you get uncomfortable.

      2. Take it out as gently as you put it in!

      Also, it’s been my experience that anal sex works best with partners who just don’t give a crap (heh, see what I did there?) about the fact that it’s the butt. If you’re both pretty comfortable with that, and with having frank discussions about sex, it’s so much easier. The first time I did it, I didn’t really want to and I was totally grossed out. It obviously was a pretty terrible experience. But I subsequently had much more open, understanding partners and now it’s awesome!

      Finally, I second pegging. It can be fun! Look it up!

  • Caitlyn

    My husband was my first, and I was his even though neither of us were like waiting for marriage or anything, and for the most part, I really love that, but sometimes I’m frustrated at how little we both know since we didn’t experience much sexiness with others. Early in our relationship, everything was fine, then all of a sudden, and for a very long time, sex was painful, and now I’m on an anti-anxiety medication that makes it nearly impossible to orgasm. So generally that makes me not even want to bother with sex at all. I don’t think the meds are affecting my libido, I just have kind of a low one in general. Like someone wrote, most of our sex is ok, sometimes it’s great, and less often it’s bad. I would like to have more really good sex. And have sex more frequently. But I have years of a low libido, painful sex, and anxiety meds working against me.

    Since sex our sex life has been a bit out of whack for a while now, I feel a bit awkward about sex. I feel almost as if I have no sexuality and like I don’t even know what I want or what I would like to try. I was in a Victoria’s Secret to check out swim suits recently, and they just happened to be having one of their huge sales. I started looking at sexy-wear, but then I just felt awkward and embarrassed and left.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on resources on how to discover your sexuality? When you’re a teenager the idea of sex is fresh and exciting, and now I feel like I have no idea how to be a sexually expressive adult/woman. I used to frequently and openly talk about sex with girlfriends, but I’m close to few women where I live now, and most of them have yet to even have sex!

  • anonny

    Anybody have recommendations for a rather inexperienced husband. He’s mostly enthusiastic, but not persistent. I can’t get him to continue to do enough of the same pleasurable thing consistently to actually orgasm with him. He feels pretty guilty about it, and yet in the moment, he still won’t do it. It’s like he thinks it’s not working if it takes over 3 min.

    • This Chick

      I’ve found really honest “here’s how my body works, which is different from yours” has helped when I try to explain what I want and need. So rather than “I like that, don’t stop!” more like “You know, my body takes longer to respond, and it’s more a marathon to get to the finale (or even to be ready for the starting blocks), so when you stop, that feeling is killed and I have to start at the beginning”

      And if it’s appropriate, remind him that while he may be frustrated in the moment to have to spend extra time, imagine your frustration when you’re constantly thwarted from getting to the finish line.

      • also anonymous!

        yes! the thing i have used successfully to get this point across in the past is the metaphor of the microwave and the pressure cooker, as in “baby, you are like a microwave, and i am like a pressure cooker.”

    • Anonymous

      Plenty of narration! Talk to him – he can’t read your mind. Let him know what feels good, what doesn’t, and above all use the words “don’t stop” if you don’t want him to stop. Also – a HUGE help is not ever faking an orgasm. You can moan, talk, show enthusiasm or whatever, but don’t pretend you’re coming if you’re not. All this will do is confuse your poor man, make you unhappy and ensure he never learns what really turns you on.

    • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

      so, this might not be it at all, but i was totally in his boat until recently, and for me it was related to anxiety – like “oh shit, this isn’t working -> oh no, i’m doing it wrong! -> panic” and, you know, panic is not sexy, so everything would stop or get weird. for me, i had to start at the end of the path (panic/anxiety in general), and once i started to address that, our sex has gotten a lot better.

  • Marta

    So, I am a pretty sexual person. My husband used to be a pretty sexual person. Now, we are getting older (late 20’s, he’s early 30’s so not THAT old) and we’ve been together a long time, and he doesn’t have as much interest in sex these days. Like, once every 2-3 weeks. The lack of interest is usually brought on by busy schedules and stress, which is understandable, but still, I want to get laid!

    I’ve brought the subject up many times – blatantly (Hey, I need to get laid, have sex with me), more suggestive seductions… and I get nothing. He’s healthy, not over weight, just a very in his head gets stressed easily kind of guy. Any thoughts, experiences or suggestions?

    • Addie

      Maybe he’s stressing (among other things) about the lack of sex and it’s kind of psyching him out. Have you tried making the goal not sex, but a lower stress intimate time/ naked cuddling is highly underrated.

      Also [puts massage therapist hat on], maybe treat him to a nice relaxing massage. No sex strings attached. Try to reteach his body that physical touch by you releases his stress. It’s like muscle memory. After a few massages, his body will usually automatically relax when you touch him and then he might be more inclined for sex. This helps with some of my clients who see me for that sort of thing. [takes off massage therapist hat]

      • Addie

        And “by that sort of thing” I do NOT mean for sex. I mean stress and tension issues related to touch.

        Just wanted to be clear.

        • Marta

          You know what’s weird? He HATES massages. In our six years, he’s let me rub his back one time because he had a bad pinched nerve. Any other time I’ve tried, he shies away.

          I’ve tried initiating just play stuff, kissing, etc, and there’s really just no interest. I know it SHOULDN’T affect my psyche, but after awhile, it makes you feel kind of shitty and un-sexy.

    • Anon

      Hopefully he’s not a smoker because smoking is a major cause of impotence and lack of desire. Just throwing it out there in case anyone is going through it for that reason.

    • Not Sarah

      With a past partner, let’s call PP for past partner, I felt like I had a way stronger sex drive. Eventually we talked about it a bit more and it turned out that he was masturbating every morning and then he had no interest in having sex with me in the evening. So he stopped masturbating in the morning and then he wanted to have sex all the time…without listening to me at all first. But at least we solved that problem!

      Do you have more sex when you go on vacation? We had somewhat better luck if we went away somewhere together.

      If stuff gets in his head easily, you probably need to find some way to help de-stress him. What does he normally do to de-stress? Could you try seducing him after such an activity? It’s also possible that he feels really embarrassed about this, which is why he isn’t really talking, which in turn just makes it worse…

      What does the situation look like when you *do* actually have sex? Can you create that situation more often?

      • Marta

        We do have sex on vacations! But as far as helping him de-stress, I am at a loss.
        He tends to fixate on things until they are done/resolved. It doesn’t help that he’s gone back to
        School and is working full time, so there’s always SOMETHING to be working on. I’ve got a full schedule too, but sex helps me relax, so I don’t know.

    • Anon

      This is us, exactly! Seriously… ages, together a long time, used to have a lot more sex, gets in his head, stressed easily kind of guy who does not like massages. It sorta comes to a head and we end up having a discussion about this every couple of months, sometimes with crying, sometimes not, but we haven’t figured it out. I try different approaches in between and when nothing works, that’s when it comes to a head. No solutions for you, just showing some solidarity and hoping someone else has worked through this.

      • Marta

        Glad to know we’re not alone :)

    • Anon

      We are kind of in the opposite position right now, with me being the one who isn’t as interested. Honestly, it causes me a LOT of stress and guilt, which in turn makes me less interested. Vicious circle. I feel terrible because he makes it clear he wants to have sex and I end up kind of brushing him off. For me, it has somewhat to do with painful sex which has made me hesitant, but more often it’s just the guilt of not feeling like it that makes me shy away. Like, the more he pushes me, the less I want to be touched because I just feel pressured. I don’t know a solution. I’m still trying to work this out myself, but I’m thinking of trying to work up the nerve to talk to him about just…taking a break from sex altogether. I think part of the problem is that anytime he touches me I get freaked out that he’s going to want it to lead to sex and that maybe my body/mind won’t react the way I/he wants. I think having a set time where I know that I won’t feel that pressure might help. I don’t know. But maybe talk to your guy about whether he needs to be off the hook for a couple weeks or so. It also kind of puts the ball back in his court, which might make him more interested (again, less pressure).

      • This Chick

        Anon, instead of working it out yourself, I’d encourage you to work it out together with your partner. Give him a chance to be compassionate. Maybe he’ll be totally down with making out/ fooling around without expectations for sex. Allow him the chance to be good to you, especially if physical pain is causing you guilt and stress. You don’t have to come up with a solution yourself. You two can do it together over time. Hugs, and good luck!

        • Anon

          Thank you for the reminder. :) I’ve never been someone who had an easy time talking about sex, so this is a challenging subject for me, but I know I need to!!

    • Anon

      What about just trying for a quickie? Recently I was coughing for several weeks after a nasty cold and el hubs was getting a little impatient so I told him I was game for sex but all I wanted was a quickie – no foreplay just some lube and lets get to it (I could not cough for a quickie but making out & such threw me into coughing fits) Totally surprised him but I have found that it has helped jump start my low sex drive. Lucky for me I can get off on penetrative sex so even if I’m not really in the mood I still enjoy it (and if I’m still not into it – really a quickie isn’t long so it’s not a big deal)

  • Mezzanine

    Getting married AND losing my virginity in six weeks…

    Does anyone have suggestions for how I can ease myself into having a sex life? (I know a lot *about* sex, so not really needing sex-ed per se…)

    • http://turningtoward.blogspot.com Kara H.

      I’d get a vibrator.

      I was in your shoes (lost my virginity on my wedding night). And the best thing I did before hand was to start figuring out what I liked, what felt good, and what I didn’t like. Plus, loosening things up down there before you try penetrative helps A LOT. So, get a basic bullet vibrator and play around a bit with your own hands. Try slipping one finger in, then adding another finger, slowly. Work your way up to three or four before your wedding.

      Finally, remember that good sex can take a while. Don’t freak out if it isn’t awesome the first time. You’ll get better at it.

    • Not Sarah

      Lube. I really wish I’d known lube existed when I first had sex. Things are often awkward the first time and if your partner’s anatomy is larger than what will easily fit inside of you, it can just not work. Lube makes all of that easier.

      I like Kara’s suggestion of getting a vibrator. I personally have two dildos. One is fairly thin, but good enough and the other vibrates and is thicker. They both have their uses, but using the thicker one within a few days of having sex can be helpful sometimes.

      Communication. The primary factor to whether I have good sex with a partner is how well we communicate. Talking about sex can be really hard. But just keep trying. It will be worth it.

    • Anon

      I feel you! Spent out whole dating life stoked to finally have sex, and the last month leading up to it TERRIFIED. I’ve since learned that a) my birth control was waaaaaay too strong for me (other symptoms include being wet frequently, nipples hurt) and b) I was definitely over thinking it.
      What helped was communicating well, and movin slowly. We didn’t have successful penetration until day 3 of our honeymoon, and it took a couple months after that for me to figure out about the bc issue. But there was still plenty of intimacy and fun to be had! I mean, we had never seen each other naked! Snuggling close, hot tub time, showering together, touching each other, massages, WINE, and lots of coconut oil helped.
      I definitly felt like I wasn’t blowing my husband’s mind (he wasn’t a viegin) but the majority of the problems was that I was in my head about all the expectations. Don’t worry about taking your time, if you need to. It’s a marathon, and you’ll have your whole marriage to get crazy! :)

    • This Chick

      Take your time, and slowly build up to penetration. Don’t force it if you aren’t super ready to go. Fool around, use hands/mouth absolutely everywhere. Relax however you like to (drinks, bath, massage, chocolate, music) and then take advantage of having all the luxurious time in the world to explore each other’s body every way you can.

  • Ann Onymous

    My first two sexual relationships were highly abusive, and my ability to enjoy sex with my husband had been severely hampered. It’s odd to me that APW has not opted to discuss this mind of abuse and its impact on our healthy relationships. Regardless, I have been in counseling for years and my anxiety and inability to enjoy sex have only gotten worse. Thankfully, my husband is extremely understanding, but I am losing hope that partner sex will ever again be truly enjoyable for me.

    • also anonymous!

      hugs for what you’re going through.

    • Anonymous Hippo

      I honestly believe my ex somehow managed to have an affect on my sex life even though we did not have intercourse. I will straight up be honest about what he said that wrecked me “I feel like I can’t get your scent off of me even after showering” I do believe it was due to him cheating and that was his guilt coming through. I still get self conscious about it from time to time even though my now husband has assured me I smell just fine. That one sentenced damaged me so badly that my husband has asked me if I was sexually abused. I say no, but he knows my ex was an ass. I really should probably consider that line sexual abuse even though it wasn’t physical.

      If he would have just admitted to the cheating I don’t think it would have been so damaging. I did get fairly decent reason to believe my suspicion was true via an acquaintance that was friends with the other girl that I don’t think had any idea I had been dating him.

      Wow just getting that out there and acknowledging it was a form of sexual abuse feels freeing.

      • This Chick

        Dude, when you have the right partner, it’s wonderful and intoxicating in the best way to have that person’s scent on you and around you- pheromones, baby.

        Hugs and love to you in working through this shit. But I hope you know better is out there!

      • Aileen

        Would like to 2nd what “This Chick” says below. Not sure if you have a partner or not (All the anonymouses are confusing me) but maybe you could explain it to them and ask them to compliment how you smell? Something like..”I love smelling this, because it reminds me that’s turning you on”.

    • Aileen

      *hugs*. Could it be possible, that you are putting too much pressure on yourself? Find the point where you do enjoy it (holding hands? Cuddling? Kissing? Heavy petting? Oral? Masturbation? Vibrators?) and let yourself simply enjoy that.

  • Anon

    My ex bf and I had an amazing sex life. I’m talking, just the thought of seeing him, being with him, etc is enough to make me hot and bothered. Every time we were together it was fireworks, and I was hot and ready to go in seconds. Now, we only dated a year or so, and it ended due to his inability to recognize and accept love in his life. It’s been about five years now, and even still I have hot and spicy dreams of him weekly.

    Fast forward to now, and I’ve been with my FI 2.5 years and he is amazing in just about every way. He loves me, I love him, we connect, we enjoy each others company, I can see myself happily spending enternity with him. But there’s rarely fireworks. For the most part it’s good sex, but never reaches the same greatness. I just don’t feel the same heat as I did for my ex and it takes me a long time to get going when we are intimate. I’ve never had a spicy dream about him.

    Part of me thinks I’m settling in some way. Part of me thinks its my fault, I’m just not trying hard enough. Part of me thinks my ex and I were just the most sexually compatible you could be and I’ll never get close to that again. There’s also the tiniest part of me that wonders if I’d ever stray because of it. And the rest of me hopes not.

    • Anon

      This is me all over. Especially your last paragraph

    • K H I

      Oh my gracious – this EXACTLY. I love my wife dearly (married just over a month!) but my ex-bf was the absolute best sex of my *life* and sometimes it just makes me so sad that I’ll never have that again.

      I’m so happy to be building a life with her, and my ex was just generally a mess and it would have never worked out, but it’s so frustrating to know that sex can be so much better than what you’ve committed to. I wouldn’t make the trade but I do hate that I can’t have both, and I’m not above admitting that I’m jealous of those who have both.

      I think it’s mainly that with him our sex was almost totally instinctual – we enjoyed what we did and did it frequently and experimented constantly. My wife and I have to work at all aspects of sex and talk about it and it gets to where I just want to be able to have sex without communicating all the damn time!

      Love APW for giving me this outlet. Happy Friday, y’all!

    • Anon for this

      I’m just gonna throw out the rose-colored-glasses possibility. Is it possible that you are remembering things as better than they were? Are you mourning and dreaming about a version of you that felt younger, freer, sexier, more uninhibited?

      I lived in a big city from ages 22-26 and then moved back to my hometown. I spent the last 3 years mourning the loss of that city: throwing it into all of my conversations, comparing it to where I live now, even dreaming about it. I visited a few months ago and you know what? It is a freaking awesome city, but there are a lot of things that are not so great about it. I did not feel the same when I went back. I realized that part of what I was missing was the way I was when I lived there.

      Also, if your relationship with your ex was tumultuous and chaotic that might account for your more excited feelings during sex, more drama, more adrenaline. Your stable fiance is less exciting. Maybe that’s a good thing in the long run?

      • Anon

        You can be sexually compatible without loving someone, and you can love someone you’re not sexually compatible with. Both situations are survivable but not a perfect life. I envy those who find both in the same person. It’s not exactly a matter of rosé colored glasses always. I love my fiancé, but he doesn’t excite me in the same way as my ex did. I just wanted to know I wasn’t alone :)

        • anon

          Hello- not sure if you will see this, but I just wanted to comment and let you know you are 100% not alone. For whatever reason-be it age, hormones, life experience- I do not have nearly the same sexual appetite I used to, and in some ways this became very apparent when I met my now boyfriend, soon to be fiancé. Things just aren’t the same as they were with certain exes. Sometimes I really mourn my past, and especially the exes I dated where our sex life was almost animalistic, I couldn’t get enough of the other person.

          I love my partner so much. But I acknowledge that while things are great, bedroom or otherwise, it’s not that same red hot, can’t get enough of the other person type of attraction (though it may be for him). And of course I think about what things used to be like, and fantasize or wonder if I am settling. But I firmly decided I am not- I’ve never been happier or better taken care of- and we constantly learn new things and grow (sexually and otherwise). Just know, you are not alone. But for me I find so much comfort in knowing my overall happiness is at its peak, even if I can’t find my way back to the 23 year old firecracker I used to be. And I am able to use this information to motivate me to be more honest and forthcoming in our sex life now- to make sure we both stay satisfied. Striving to have good sex is just more deliberate and purposeful then it used to be.

  • Anon

    I’m gutted I’m late to the party. I’ve never watched porn before and I’ve been experiencing really low sex drive. Can anybody recommend a good site to start, or a good genre to start with? Feeling very lost!

    • Anonnnnnnnnnnnnn

      My husband uses xhamster so I will too when he’s not home for me to play with. It’s kind of like a youtube of porn. However some of the side ads can be a bit disturbing in my opinion (sorry but the animated stuff creeps me out and so does humiliation stuff) so when the weird stuff is on the side it does distract me when I deal with it. It has not caused our laptop any issues which can be a big problem with porn sites. They have a whole lot of variety there really I think damn near anything you could imagine.

      Best suggestion is try to try to find a guy and girl you both think are attractive. Sadly it’s much slimmer pickings in the case of attractive men in porn as it seems to just be skeezie looking 40-50 year olds that I suspect still live in their parents basement or those really d-bag looking types that hit on half of the bar when out cuz their shit don’t stink. But for me that definitely makes a difference. Also even though I am straight if the girl is just not at all a phyiscally attractive to me it’s a distraction.

      Sounds also help me. If the women is too quiet it doesn’t quicken things up at all. Same as if it’s just awful fake moaning.

      If there is anything you have ever thought would be cool to do you can always look that up like shower sex or pool sex. And don’t feel weird if takes a good number of videos to kind of scan through before you find one that seems good to you. You’ll know when it’s really gotten your interest ;)

    • Aileen

      literotica.com. You can either read the stories (Which are helpfully divided up by genre/kink. I love this so I can avoid things that weird me out) or follow the recommended links to video sites.

    • Anona

      There is SO MUCH terrible porn out there. It can take ages to sift through the crap to find one that’s worth watching. I highly recommend Digital Playground. Yes, you have to pay for it, but you can just buy one DVD so you’re not stuck with a monthly subscription showing up on your credit card. Never thought I would pay for porn until I came across this company. It’s high quality (ok maybe not the acting but I guess you can’t have everything in life) and never fails to do the trick for me and my partner.

  • anonymous

    Even though I like to think that I’m GGG and sex-positive, masturbation is an ongoing area of anxiety for me in relationships. I think it started in college when I felt like my then-boyfriend continually chose to watch and get off to porn instead of having sex with me. Last year, I dated someone who was on medication that impacted sex drive and ability to orgasm consistently. The only way he consistently orgasmed was from watching porn and masturbating by himself, and while I knew it wasn’t a direct result of anything I was doing or not doing, I ended up feeling anxious and inadequate. I’m currently in a very sexually compatible relationship, but am still finding that anxiety about porn and masturbation creeps in more often than I’d like, and that every time he seems less interested than I am in sex, or takes any longer to get off, or basically anything seems less than ideal, I find myself wondering if it’s related to how much he’s been masturbating, watching porn, etc. While I definitely understand the importance and need for taking care of your own needs, I also find that I’m more apt to wait until I’m with a partner or to hold off on masturbating on my own. Anyone have suggestions on how to handle this? Or very different perspectives on it? When I have talked to friends, differing sex drives have often come up as their comfort with significant others’ porn/masturbation habits (e.g., my friend not wanting to have sex 4x/day and being fine with her boyfriend taking care of himself), but more often than not in relationships I end up feeling like I’d be open to having more sex but my partner doesn’t seem to have the same level of interest/desire.

    • Aileen

      Since we are all different, here’s what I do and some ideas that I can think of. Take what you think you can hopefully use.

      Ask him if he would be willing to see if you’re in the mood before he resorts to masturbation. He might be assuming that you’re not in the mood as often as he is (There is the stupid idea that women don’t want it as often as men do.) Or, if masturbating is his “alone time.” For me personally, I enjoy masturbating even if I have no desire to have sex. It’s very relaxing to be able to have pleasure, without having to give pleasure.

      Another idea, is to consider watching porn and/or masturbating together. I dated a guy who no matter what, we could not get each other off. So after some serious foreplay (This was when I was a virgin) we would masturbate at the same time. It was actually surprisingly intimate.

      My point is, talk to him.

  • K

    This sounds kind of dorky, but my husband and I have “educational sex” sessions. Every once in a while we pick a position and then ask questions and talk our way through the whole thing. Do you like my hands here or here? Would you rather I move like this or like this? Do you like it slower or faster in this position? It was weird the first time we did it, but now I love when we do this because it gives each of us an opportunity to try something different and a very non-threatening time to say “I’d rather you do this…” or I like that sometimes but not all the time… or even to say “Yeah, I used to like that, but not so much anymore.” It’s very relaxed, very fun, and it’s completely focused on communication. Because of the “educational sex”, I am better at saying what I want and don’t want in the moment and I also remember “Oh wait! He really likes it when I…” Again, we don’t do this all the time, but every once in a while. I think it can help if you’re shy about communicating what you want sexually, but it can also help if you’re in a sex rut. I always end up learning something new about him or about myself every time we do it.

    • AnonymousE

      You are freaking brilliant.

      • Ann Onymous

        Seconding that. BRILLIANT. Can’t wait to try it this weekend!

  • mp

    Just wanted to thank all you APW types for constantly bringing up things that I keep trying to ignore and forcing me to face/deal with them. My sex life with my fiance has gone totally down the drain over the last two years, and I blamed it on myself for a long time. I’m too busy, I’m too stressed, my birth control is killing my sex drive. Over the last two years I’ve switched to a non-hormonal IUD, worked hard to get my work-life balance in check, all kinds of stuff. But after reading this thread yesterday I finally admitted something to myself – there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s the sex. It’s not great, and I’m not getting what I want out of it, and I think I’ve started avoiding sex because I get very little out of it. I told my fiance that this morning, and he was kind of upset and it sucked, but I think now we can at least actually work on fixing it instead of me sitting around asking what is wrong with me.

    This relationship thing is hard. But I’m glad that this website/the APW community inspires me to constantly work on it.

    • Cee

      MP, I commend you on your bravery for proactively dealing with this unpleasant truth and having a difficult conversation. I hope you feel it was worth the hurt feelings and awkwardness. Kudos for taking action!

      I think in issues like these, it’s easy to start blaming our partners…..even when we really love them and we understand how complicated it can be to sexually please someone on the regular. I know I certainly have harbored anger and resentment when I wasn’t fully satisfied– misdirected resentment, because it wasn’t their fault and because all those bad feelings bled into the discussion and it just turned into an argument. So tread gently as you work on fixing this. Maybe even excessively so. Good luck, and keep us posted on how you make things better. I bet it would be educational for a lot of us!

  • Anon

    I have a question about multiple orgasms – can all women have them and how do I teach myself to get there?
    In exchange, I have some advice to offer those of you who struggle with frequency/sex drive issues: keep a diary. I use my period tracker to log when we have sex and it extremely helpful to me to look back and see how often we have been having sex and to analyse what level of frequency works well for us. It also helps to keep me accountable (oh we haven’t had sex for 3 days, better get on that if I want to maintain our weekly average) without the pressure of a schedule. I also feel very satisfied each time I fill it out – its like a star chart for sex! It has definitely helped to increase the frequency with which we’re having sex.

  • Cee

    Feel like I’m way behind on this already (2 days later), but OH WELL! Hopefully Teh Sexysex Thread will have lots of lurkers reading belated comments.

    Okay, so two ‘good sex’ breakthroughs I’ve had with the love of my life. All the lesbians will probably laugh because it will be glaringly obvious to them already….I guess you’re all just precocious compared to bumbling heterosexuals like me. ;)

    1. Heyyyyy, how BOTH of you are getting off doesn’t matter too much as long as you’re satisfied! My dude was in a long-term relationship with his right hand before we got together. Alas, this led to him habituating to such a high level of friction that my lady parts don’t really send him over the edge. Like, it would defy the laws of physics for either of us to thrust that vigorously. (Also, ow.) So he always finishes by masturbating. This was a big blow to my self-esteem for a while. I asked him a lot if he was happy, if he liked what we were doing, if he was satisfied, etc. etc. etc. He has always said yes. Eventually, I learned to trust him and just embrace the fact that he knows what gets himself off and he seems happy doing it. We wouldn’t begrudge a woman doing that, right– going from PIV to manual stimulation? Applying similar logic (as well as the occasional self-pep-talk) did wonders for my confidence and security in bed. And, like others say, communication is integral!

    2. Relatedly….I now have no qualms about pleasuring myself before, during, or after. I remember feeling sooo nervous one night after he finished himself off, when I piped up, “My turn!” and started masturbating. And it was NO PROBLEM! In fact, he loved it. Sometimes he tells me to do it (uhhhh, don’t need to convince me, honey). So that’s really helped make sex good. Sure, I think we all have sessions in which we know an orgasm isn’t in the cards for whatever reason….but if I’m still feeling hot and bothered, then usually the best thing is to take five more minutes and have a wank while he’s fondling the appropriate body part (ass cheeks, boobs, feet, etc) until we’re both quite pleased. Sex should be win-win, amirite? So don’t deny yourself pleasure because you don’t have the energy for another 45 minutes of him trying to figure out exactly how to stroke your clit. Own it!

    • ANON

      Long-time lurker, your #1 compelled me to de-lurk to say how happy it made me to read it. This is exactly my situation as well. My rational brain is all “He’s super generous in bed! He can keep going for ages and you always come multiple times! This is waay better than the opposite extreme of finishing prematurely! He says there’s totally nothing you’re doing wrong!” But there’s something about that finishing moment that I really crave, that just isn’t the same when he does it himself. Maybe it’s just my ego, I don’t know.

      I can’t say I’ve completely reached the level of acceptance you have, but it makes me feel soo much better to read that other people are dealing with this. He would be understandably mortified if I talked about the situation with anyone, so I haven’t talked about it to a soul, which does make me wonder sometimes if we’re the only ones or if it’s more common than I think. So, thank you!

      • Cee

        Hey lurker! I’m so glad this helped you. And thank you for responding, because it helps me too! You’re right, it’s a lonely experience. I’ve told a friend or two about it, but feel uncomfortable sharing it because so much of it involves him and him privacy.

        Full disclosure: it took almost a YEAR for me to feel okay about it. I guess it’s exactly like what you said– the ego kept getting in the way. (Well, and also because for a long time this was exacerbated by erectile dysfunction, which was pretty miserable.) (Side note, we figured the ED was probably from too much porn/jerking off….so, basically the same sort of thing. If anyone else out there is going through that, you’re definitely not alone!)

        What helps me is to regularly ask him how he feels about our sex life, and if there’s anything in particular he wants to do or ways to make it better. Like I said, he’s always said he was happy. The whole exchange helps for two reasons: one, it assures me that he’s fine with finishing himself off, and two, it gives us the space to address it if he’s not fine with something. Beyond that….I mean, he’s a grown-ass adult, he needs to speak up if this is all really due to some deep-seated sexual inadequacy of mine. ;)

        If you want to reach the point of full acceptance, I’d also suggest other ways of stroking (heh) your ego. My partner has gotten better at telling me I’m sexy….compliments help so much! And if yours is slow to pay you compliments, then pump yourself up! I look in the mirror when I’m getting dressed and announce, “World, I am hot shit.” Spending more time thinking of all the ways you are one hell of a sexy woman gives you a constant underlying confidence, no matter what his man parts do from night to night.

        Good luck, and major solidarity! This is one reason why APW rules.

        • Anon

          I can join in the club here! I don’t have much else to share, but know you’re not alone in your circumstances. The one thing I will say we do is when he finishes himself off after we have been intimate, we make sure to include me in some way. He usually finishes on my stomach or chest, so that it feels more purposeful and inclusive. That may sound dumb, but there’s a different feeling when someone takes over and just quietly finishes beside you versus pulling out and finishing on your body. It seems more like, that was the planned ending and it had nothing to do with what I could or could not do for him.

          The first few times it was more like I could only do so much for him, and he had to take himself the rest of the way. Now I feel more like, he finds my body so attractive that it makes him crazy and he has to concentrate on just a single part of me to not have a melt down.

  • Anon Anon Anon

    I only have one revelation to share:
    Good sex is loud sex, loud sex is good sex. Two halves of the same coin, people!

    The rest of the world seems to understand this simple relationship, but I was a latecomer (ew, worst pun EVER, sorry!) to this concept. I didn’t realize how my preconceived notions of quite, demure, tasteful sex had really put a cap on how good it could get. I imagine that once you’ve mastered great sex you could come up with a quieter version, but until then, don’t hold back.

  • Anon

    This thread is so intriguing- and helpful! This is kind of an overwhelming topic for me to think about. I’m 27 and have never experienced an orgasm- ever. I love my boyfriend dearly (been together over a year), but it still hasn’t happened, even when I’m alone. Plus, we only have sex about once a month- or less! I feel like I’m at a loss- everything I’ve tried doesn’t work, and I don’t know where to go next!

  • ANONYMOUS

    I know I’m way late to the game, but THANK YOU FOR THIS! I started reading this thread last night while hanging out with my fiancé, and it led to us talking about everything (well the 6 shots of vodka helped too). it started as us talking about why the idea of an open marriage confuses him, to sex toys, and eventually to me blurting out “what was the best sex you ever had?”

    I’ve been curious about that question for a long time – fiancé is my first and only, and I’m far from his. I’ve never asked because i was always a little afraid of the answer. Poor guy stammered out “It’s not with you” while visibly cowering at first – I knew in the pit of my stomach it wasn’t me, but it still hit my insecurities. I held in a Pinnacle induced freak out and pushed him as to what exactly it was. He told me in detail about the hook-up, and i realized we’ve had this exact scenario before! when i pointed that out he finally loosened up and got a big grin on his face. we sat there for awhile discussing why he thinks this was so great, which led to a few other topics we’ve been scared of – mostly his anxiety that he “can’t tell” when i orgasm, and the fact that while hes already past his sexual peak, i’m just starting mine. We also briefly hit on the fact that sometimes i feel like my inexperience means hes gonna be bored with me, but honestly, im not ready to tackle that quite yet

    It was really good to have this conversation with him. we both came to the conclusion that we need to be more open with each other. This is the man i want to spend everyday of the rest of my life with, so we need to get over the awkwardness of such topics and be better partners to each other

    • This Chick

      You’re not the only one hanging here late (I’ve been checking back on the thread since it posted). Last night my partner and I had a sex conversation, too- he’s my only, and though I’m not his, his sexual past before me was moderate at best.

      We had a good talk about where my insecurities come from (I grew up as a goody-two-shoes rule follower in Catholic schools) and I asked him about masturbating and porn. I showed him the fantastic advice upthread about how to ease into anal sex (pun kind of intended), since we tried that once and had a poor outcome.

      So, I think our already really good sex life is definitely going to get better and better. Solidarity fist bump for hot sexytimes :-)

  • anon

    Another late to the party question – that’ll teach me to let my APW feed fill up!

    My sex life with my husband is fine but not great. He’s very understanding and willing to communicate and try things, but none of it has worked. I think I’ve got two problems:

    First, I really only orgasm when I masturbate and can fantasize my way to it. I come close sometimes during sex when I’m super relaxed or in the mood, but it just doesn’t happen (it’s too brief, I give up, etc.) We’ve tried some of the fantasy stuff a few times in the past (me being taken, him dominant – nothing painful) and we’ve watched that kind of porn, but, for some reason it’s really upset me (like, breaking down sobbing) and that, understandably, has freaked him out. It’s made us both worry about what’s going on in my head. (I have no history of sexual abuse or assault.) That gap between my arousing fantasy life and what I seem to be OK with in real life is unnerving.

    Second, I’m a terrible communicator – the best sex I’ve had has been with an experienced, take charge partner whose skills have just been a coincidental match to my needs. So I never learned to communicate and feel stuck because my fantasy of him taking charge runs against the grain of telling him what to do, if you see what I mean. Telling him just takes the wind out of my arousal sails.

    So there we are. I know he’d love to please me, but I feel like we’re speeding through sex now because neither of us is sure how to solve this. I’m afraid I might never sort this out, and I really don’t want to find that out – it would feel like a big failure for me. I’m wondering if I need to go talk to a therapist about this or is it a more straightforward fix?

    (We have an arsenal of toys that we don’t use much anymore – there too, I feel weird using them with him. Like the implication is that there’s a deficit in me or him that I would. Or that it’s too public. Who the hell knows???)

    • Anon

      I’m WAY late to the party, so I don’t know if you will check back for this, but I have a similar issue with telling my husband what I like getting in the way of my fantasies about him taking charge. One thing that has helped me is that when he does something I like, I make sure to tell him – either in the moment, or afterward. Also, in reading some of the other posts in this thread, I think I might suggest to my husband that we try having an “instructional” session where the point is more talking about sex and what we like than arousal and orgasm. Good luck figuring it out!