02 Dec

Polyamory Relationships

Explore alternatives to monogamy.

For the most part, monogamy has been the default setting of relationships for the last few hundred years. However, attitudes about what relationships can look like are changing. People are becoming more and more open to relationships that aren't traditional heterosexual couplings. 

Polyamory, also called Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM for short), is becoming increasingly popular. If you've ever wondered if non-monogamous relationships are for you or if they're something you're interested in exploring for yourself or with a partner, keep reading. 

What is Polyamory

Polyamory is not the same as polygamy. For starters, polyamory isn't illegal like polygamy is, and it's becoming a more common lifestyle. Polyamory doesn't involve any legally binding contracts. It's all based on consensual agreements between legal adults. Both partners are welcome to participate and have outside relationships, some that they share and some that they keep just to themself. 

Polyamory is only one form of CNM. Swinging and open relationships also fall under the umbrella of consensual non-monogamy but have subtle differences. Swinging focuses on sexual encounters outside of your core relationship; polyamory focuses on romantic and sexual relationships independent of your primary partner. Open relationships and polyamory are relatively interchangeable, except that open relationships have a core partnership. Polyamory doesn't require you to have a primary partner. Instead, you can have a web of people you choose to surround yourself with or a select few. 

Quote ""The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways — relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person" Credit: Kate Kincaid / Lion's Den logo in bottom right corner

Quote courtesy of Time


How Does it Work 

As we've established, polyamory is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships. Everyone has full knowledge and has freely consented to the arrangement. It's also not gender-specific. Anyone in the polyamorous setup can identify as any gender. 

Dynamics vary from couple to couple, and there's no wrong way to have a poly relationship. In some setups, both partners see other people. In others, only one couple seeks extracurriculars. And some don't have a core couple pairing. So it all depends on what you and your partner(s) agree to how your relationship(s) will work. 

Polyamory comes from the Greek prefix poly, meaning many, and the Latin "amor," meaning love. Polyamory, at its core, is about having multiple romantic/sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all involved. 

Quote ""Implicit in that is that [there are] very clear conversations about sexual health that are happening in consensual non-monogamous relationships that may not be happening in monogamous relationships.” Credit: Amy Moors / Lion's Den logo in bottom right corner

Quote courtesy of Time


How to Talk to Your Partner About Polyamory

Polyamory, like all relationships outside of monogamy, breaks from the norm. Breaking from the norm is enticing to some and intimidating to others. But if it's something you're serious about, the best way to approach this conversation is by being honest about what you want and leaving room for discussion. 

Dr. Zhana is a professor of Human Sexuality at New York University. She is also the author of the online course Open Smarter, a resource for individuals and couples who want to learn more about non-monogamy and open relationships. On her website and blog, she offers this advice to people seeking to open their relationship up:

"Open relationships are more complex than monogamous ones; there are no role models, and there is very little information. It's easy to fuck up open relationships and cause a lot of pain and suffering for everyone involved."

You have to be forthcoming about what you're looking for, your expectations, and any limits or reservations you might have. Before you ever get started, discuss your boundaries and rules with your partner. If there are activities or topics you want to preserve for certain people, both partners must be aware of this. 

Be prepared that CNM might not pan out exactly how you envision it. Pew Research Center found in a recent study that men are statistically less satisfied with their attention on dating apps than women. When evaluated by gender, 57 percent of men reported disappointment, while only 24 percent of women reported feeling dissatisfied. So keep this in mind when you're considering opening up your relationship and what kinds of activities you're looking to engage in with current or future partners. 

Quote ""In consensual non-monogamous relationships, jealousy is expected. But [poly people] see what feelings arise and actively work to navigate them in a proactive way.” Credit: Joanne Davila / Lion's Den logo displayed in bottom right corner

Quote courtesy of Time

While polyamory can be for anyone, not everyone is interested in exploring it. Some poly couples only have one partner who sees other people, which is a valid form of poly. But if your partner has no interest in seeing other people and would prefer that you didn't either, you either need to respect their wishes or reconsider if they're the right person for you. Bullying or coercion is not a good foundation for building this new part of your relationship. 

The important thing is that everyone is consenting and conscious of participating. 

If you need more resources on starting or enhancing your CNM relationship, conciouspolyamory.org has a helpful list.

26 Nov

Give Thanks to Your Sexual Self

You are worth celebrating.

If you stop to think about it, it's a pretty miraculous thing that our consciousness exists in a physical body. 

Humans are very tactile creatures, and we have our bodies to thank for that. Taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight are what inform our experienced reality while we’re still on this side of the hereafter. Our senses are what allow us to experience pleasure. 

Aside from being tactile, humans are sexual creatures. We are born sexual beings! Our sexual identities, sexual desires, and sexual pleasure is an important part of the human experience. These aspects of ourselves shape our relationships with each other and ourselves. 

quote: "Humans are born sexual beings!" lion's den logo featured below quote.

The ability to explore and enjoy your sexuality deserves to be celebrated. You can show appreciation for your sexuality just by enjoying it, and acknowledging that you’re in control of what it is that makes you feel fulfilled and empowered. There’s something exciting about knowing you have the power to grant yourself your own satisfaction. That’s special. The next time you’re getting down with yourself or with a friend, keep that in mind. 

A mindset of appreciation will help to combat feelings of awkwardness or shame you might be harboring around sex. You get to be a sexual being. You are a sexual being. And you are unique in your sexuality while also being very human. While your sexuality is personal to you, it’s natural to humans. Your sexuality is something worth integrating into your mental health and wellness practices instead of isolating it. 

Quote: "A mindset of appreciation will help to combat feelings of awkwardness or shame you might be harboring around sex." Lion's Den logo featured below quote.

If you don’t feel in touch with your sexuality right now, or even if you don’t feel that connected to your body, you can still find ways to find gratitude in your body. Your senses help you experience that which gives life pleasure. You can taste, see, smell, touch, and/or hear all of the wonderful things in the world around you. It’s the little things. Enjoy them. 

Editor's note: We recognize that not every person has the same abilities. While we list all the senses above, some may experience sensations and pleasure differently than you, and it is worth examining ways in which we can create pleasure outside of heteronomativity and ableism. We encourage you to explore beyond what you already know about pleasure to understand all the magificant ways we can experience it.

While appreciating your own body and sexuality, remember to express your gratitude for your partner if you have one. It’s a big deal to allow another human access to your body. Let them know that you understand this, and you’re grateful to have been allowed into this deeply personal part of their life. 

Thank them, and thank them specifically. Acknowledge exactly what it is you love about them and what you appreciate about them. This will not only boost their confidence but also help to create a dynamic where you see each other’s value and work to make them continue to feel valued. Gratitude has a way of reshaping your mental landscape, helping you to see and appreciate the good more than you’re bothered by the bad. 

quote: "Give yourself permission to indulge and luxuriate in your senses this holiday season" Lion's Den logo pictured below quote.

Give yourself permission to indulge and luxuriate in your senses this holiday season. Take some extra time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. You don’t get to enjoy the seasonal good food, good smells, and good vibes every day, so appreciate this festive time of the rolling year. You deserve it.

23 Nov

Talking With Kids About Sex

Be inclusive. Be accurate. Be honest. Be open.

Sex talk isn’t just for the bedroom. Although we tend to reserve conversation around intimacy for times of intimacy, you can build a better relationship with your sexual health and wellness at any time. 

When Talking to Your Doctor

If you feel that there is something wrong sexually, talk to your doctor. They are the best resource for treating any physical obstacles you’re encountering. And if they are not equipped to deal with your exact problem, they should be able to recommend you to someone who can help.

You have to advocate for yourself. You know your body better than anyone else, so if you feel something is wrong don’t let yourself be talked out of seeking or gaining access to treatment. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

When Talking to Kids

It’s one thing to talk with other adults about sex, but many have a hard time feeling comfortable having open and honest conversations with children about sex and sexuality. Some fear that they’re too young for the information, or that talking to them about sex might encourage risky behaviors in children. 

However, this is not the case. 

Understanding their sexuality and their body is just as important as understanding all other aspects of their health. For their physical and mental wellbeing, it’s beyond rewarding to put aside your personal awkwardness and mentor your child. 

Quote: for kids, Understanding their sexuality and their body is just as important as understanding all other aspects of their health.

Be Inclusive 

A lot of sex talks begin with “When a Mommy and Daddy love each other. . .” And while that might’ve been sufficient 40 years ago, that’s not enough for the new generation. A growing percent of the younger population identifies as LGBTQ+. Nearly 16% of Generation Z identifies as LGBT+, and this percentage is expected to rise both in Gen Z and in the following demographic cohort, Generation Alpha. 

America has never been more queer. Concepts of gender and sexuality are changing every day, and the heteronormative explanation for sex and sexual health doesn’t keep up with this reality

When you talk to your kids, make space in the conversation to talk about all kinds of sex. It’s important they know that all kinds of people have sex. Sex, as many have first understood it, begins and ends with a penis penetrating a vagina. But this explanation leaves a lot of important information out. Sex can include any combination of body parts, belonging to any combination of people. 

It’s also important to include pleasure during this conversation. Female pleasure and the female orgasm (along with pleasure for all vulva-owners) are often entirely left out of the conversation but deserve to be part of human understanding of what sex is. It’s important for all individuals to know that their bodies and their satisfaction matter. 

Be Accurate

On that same note, when teaching your child about their sexuality, call their body parts by their medically accurate names

Teaching kids the proper names for genitalia is more awkward for you than it is for your child. They have no frame of reference to feel awkward or embarrassed or confused, and that in itself makes this conversation all the more rewarding. Your child can grow up already familiar with their body and can potentially completely bypass the awkwardness that you and scores of other adults feel when talking about their own bodies. 

If that’s not enough to convince you to have this conversation, teach your child about their body for their safety. Race Against Abuse of Children Everywhere reports that teaching a child the proper names for their body parts “helps your children build a positive body image and opens the door for an honest, open dialogue with you on any questions they have about their bodies or sexuality.”

It’s been proven that nicknames confuse children and muddy their understanding of their own body, or what is acceptable touching. It helps to explain what is and is not acceptable touching, and who is allowed to touch that part of their body. 

When your child understands their body and what’s happening to it, they can accurately express when something is wrong. They’re equipped with the knowledge to advocate for themselves. And they’re more likely to be understood by adults. Nicknames and codewords aren’t universal so not everyone will understand what your child is saying. But proper names are universal and there will be no doubt what the child is expressing. 

RAACE advises parents to not make a big deal out of the conversation. If you treat it like something normal (and it is), their understanding of sexuality will be that it's a normal and natural thing they shouldn’t be embarrassed by. They’ll also understand what sex is supposed to look like, so if they should ever experience inappropriate contact they will be equipped with the knowledge that they’re being mistreated and should speak up. 

Editor’s Note: Consent should be a mandatory topic of conversation when answering questions about sex, sexual activity, touching, dating, or communicating with potential partners. Teach children early they have the autonomy to say no, other people have the autonomy to say no to them in any situation, and that the no is to be respected, not negotiated. When we are clear about consent as children, we take that knowledge with us as we experience more complex situations in the future.

Check out our piece on Consent as a resource to share with your children. 


Quote: Teaching a child accurate names for their body parts helps build a positive body image and creates honest, open dialogue with the parent.

 

Be Honest

When your child asks you a question, answer it honestly. They don’t need an in-depth explanation, but they do deserve honesty. Answer as accurately as you can using language they will understand. 

“I don’t know” is an acceptable response to questions. If you truly don’t know something, it’s ok to tell them that. But let them know that you’re going to research and find out for them, and when you have the information requested circle back. 

Honesty is always the best policy. If you hide information from them, that won’t be enough to hide their curiosity. They are likely to look for answers somewhere online, and the information they receive might be incorrect or actively harmful, but they’ll have no way to separate what’s right or wrong. 

Children pick up on your nonverbal cues. If they can sense that you’re irritated with them for asking or that you feel awkward answering the question, they could intuit that they’ve done something wrong. This could lead to them believing it is wrong to talk or ask about sex. 

Be Open

Making your kids feel comfortable talking about sex is important for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons to have these conversations when they’re young is because they won’t be young forever. If you can foster an environment where your child is comfortable and empowered in their sexuality, you’re paving the way for your children to become confident and well-adjusted adults. 

They could start their adult lives with some things it takes most adults years to curate, and that some eventually never achieve: knowledge of consent, boundaries, understanding of self, and a healthy relationship with their body and sexuality. 

And that isn’t even the best part. When you open a judgment-free line of communication with your child, you’re making yourself a safe place for your child to share their personal lives with you. If they know they can open up to you, odds are that they’re more likely to do so. And when you’re able to have open and honest conversations about sex, you can be sure that the information they’re getting is safe and accurate. 

You don’t have to know everything to be a good mentor for your child. What matters is that you keep putting in the effort. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn and grow with your child. 

Consent is described using the acronym FRIES: Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Embodied, and Specific

Talking To Yourself

Getting comfortable with your own sexuality is a journey. You’ve got your own timeline, and what feels right for you might be totally different from other people you know. Give yourself permission to develop your own sexuality in your own time. 

Your relationship with your body is important. You only get one body, and it's yours for life. Finding ways to invest and feel comfortable and empowered in it will make all parts of your life more rewarding, not just your sex life. 

Learning is a great way to feel more comfortable. Find resources to educate yourself about sex. A whole world of TikToks, YouTube seminars, books, sex therapists, blogs, and (shameless plug) The Lion’s Den social media channels exist on the wilds of the internet all designed to help you live your best life. 


21 Nov

Shower and Bath Sex

Get down and dirty while getting clean 

There’s a reason the bathroom is a favorite location for many movies, books, tv shows, and adult films. It’s a location that poses a lot of potential for pleasure but also poses a lot of logistical problems. 

Nothing sounds less romantic than falling and slipping a disk. 

But, like a lot of good things, it's worth the work and extra effort. Keep reading for some tips on shower and bathtub sex, activities to try, and tools to help really steam things up.

Shower Sex

The cascading water, the showerhead, the easy clean-up, the full view of your partner’s glistening skin. . . there’s a lot to love about shower sex. Especially if you’ve ever wanted to try standing sex, or that’s already your jam. 

Unfortunately, not everyone has a spacious shower. If your stall at home is small, it could get a bit cramped with two people in there. Make sure you’ve got enough space to accommodate both of you and consider bringing in a shower stall for some extra stability and to aid in positions. 

Standing sex is a go-to but isn’t the most stable. Depending on how much room you have, doggy style is also a great choice for the shower. Both partners can find stability and satisfaction. 

The shower doesn’t have to be all about penetration. It’s a great place for oral sex. Both parties are typically able to find a more stable position, and it makes for an easy clean-up before or after (or both). A shower is also a great place for a little massage or manual stimulation. Another great tool is body-safe soap that will not affect your pH balance. Use a little bit to give your hands some extra lubrication and go on a journey of self-discovery.

A shower is a fantastic place for solo players. You’ve got more room, and don’t have to navigate the space with another person. If you’ve got a detachable showerhead, use it to your advantage. 

Quote, "Shower Sex do's:  Find a stable position use anti-slip stickers silicone lube is best use water-resistant or waterproof toys"

Bathtub Sex

The bathtub is a much more forgiving option. If one or both of you are disabled, a fall-risk, or prone to fatigue, a position where you can remain seated or closer to the ground is going to be much more comfortable. Bathtubs are also great for partners with a dramatic height difference. Height and ability differences can pose a challenge logistically. But in the bathtub, you’re both on a fairly even playing ground. 

The bathtub is not an ideal place for oral sex, but it is a great place to give each other a massage or try out a number of positions. Reverse/Cowgirl, doggy style, and missionary are all bathtub-friendly positions. And if you did want to indulge in some oral action, the receiving partner could always sit on the rim of the tub while the other kneels in the water. 

The bathtub is great for partners and for singles. It’s a great place to get down with yourself, using just your hands or a waterproof toy (we’ll get into those later). 

Although you’re much less likely to fall and injure yourself in the bathtub, you do have a higher chance of getting an infection. If you plan on having sex, avoid bath salts, bath bombs, or any kind of bubble bath mixture. These are great if you’re just planning on chilling, but they could totally throw off your body’s chemistry and cause infection if you’re planning on anything sexual.

And just like showers, you run the same risks compromising the effectiveness of contraceptive devices and lube. There unfortunately isn’t a great way to apply lube underwater, so that’s something to take care of before you’re both fully submerged. 

Shower Sex don'ts:  using oils and soaps from the shower as a lube using non-water-resistant toys in shower or bath using bath salts or bubble mixture with penetration.

Tools and Tips

You can do whatever you want, but anti-slip stickers and lube are must-haves. The shower is plenty slippery as is when you’re the only one in there. Adding another person into the equation could tempt fate, so plan ahead to avoid any accidents. 

Another thing to be mindful of: barrier methods are more likely to break down in the bath or shower. While water won’t affect latex condoms or dental dams, they are more likely to slip or tear in the shower. Shower oils or gels, or even soap, can cause physical contraceptive methods to break down. 

Lube is always required, even when you’re in the shower. The oils and soaps you use in the shower are not suitable replacements (and could seriously affect your body’s natural chemistry). Invest in some quality lube for your aquatic activities. Water-based lube might not be the best for shower or bath sex, as it could prematurely dissolve. A silicone lubricant is the way to go. K-Y TrueFeel Silicone Lubricant offers a long-lasting, silky feeling that can be enjoyed in or out of the shower. 

Do test drive silicone lubricant out beforehand. Some people might find silicone-based lubricants irritating. Silicone lubricants also break down toys quicker, so plan what you’re using out beforehand. 

Speaking of toys, bringing one into the shower with you is a great way to turn up the heat for you, or you and your partner. Just make sure you choose something water-resistant, and that you have a compatible lube. 

The brand B Swish has a few different water-resistant vibrator options, like the BCute Classic Curve and the BCute Classic Pearl. They come in bright, beautiful colors and can be used in and out of the bathroom. 

pink bcute classic, box, blue bcute classic toys pictured on a white background

If you want to really make the most of your bath, the Waterslyde Aquatic Stimulator might be the perfect investment for solo vulva-owners. This universal faucet attachment, perfectly angled for your pleasure, helps direct water wherever you want it to go. It’s great for anyone who likes external stimulation, and it's disability-friendly. All you have to do is attach to the faucet, sit back, and enjoy.

blue waterslide, illustration of vulva-owner using waterslyde in bathtub, hands covering breasts, and pink waterslyde are all pictured on a white background.

16 Nov

Consent

Boundaries can be sexy

 

Rainn explains consent as “an ongoing process of discussing boundaries and what you’re comfortable with.” The discourse around consent usually begins and ends with a discussion of sexual assault or intimate partner violence, but we don’t give a lot of airtime to how integral it is to healthy relationships. Informed consent and honesty are the strongest foundations to build all relationships on, be a romantic or platonic relationship.


Quote "Consent comes with fries / F: Freely given / R: reversible / I: informed / E: embodied / S: specific


How to Evaluate and Establish Consent

The FRIES acronym offers an easy way to view and evaluate consent. 

F — Freely Given

You are participating of your own volition. You have not been pressured or coerced, and are in a state of mind where you’re able to make an informed decision. 

R — Reversible

You can stop at any time. If you or your partner decide they want to stop, the other one will not retaliate in any way and will respect their choice. 

I — Informed

Your agreement has terms. You have both specified what exactly it is you are agreeing to and have disclosed any important information beforehand. 

E — Enthusiastic/Embodied

You have given express and tangible consent. This can be done through speech, writing, sign language, or a physical gesture. 

Everyone’s ability is different, but affirmative consent is always a must. 

S — Specific/Sober

“Yes” to one thing does not mean “yes” to everything. When you’ve decided to engage in any variety of sexual or romantic activity, you should agree on what you’re doing beforehand. And if one of you thinks of something they’d like to try while you’re in the midst of things, ask first. 

Sober does not have to mean totally sober. It means that if you have enjoyed any alcohol or other controlled substances, that they are not impairing your mental or physical capabilities. How much you can have and still be mentally and physically competent will vary from person to person. 

Establishing real, authentic consent requires some vulnerability. You have to be direct about what you want and are willing to do, and disclose any information that might cause your partner to change their mind about having sex. If you feel the need to conceal some personal information in order to make sex appealing, that is a violation of consent. People are agreeing to a specific act, not hidden fees and clauses. 

And when you’ve both laid out what you want, you have to respect what the other one says. Of course, you’re welcome to let them know that they are free to change their mind if they decide they do actually want to try that one thing you mentioned but don’t try to force them into it or bully them into changing their mind. It can be embarrassing to get shot down, but those are feelings best unpacked by yourself. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is that consent means an affirmative agreement, not the absence of a no. Speak up when something sounds unappealing or you’d like to stop, and listen to them when they say no.

Quote "Consent means an affirmative agreement, not the absence of a no."

Consent is an Ongoing Contract

Consent stays an important part of long-term relationships. When you get to know someone well, and when you have a history with them and a running list of boundaries, it can be easy to forget that you’ve still got to ask permission and check-in with your partner. No matter how long you’ve been together, your partner can still rescind permission for something or change their boundaries. Consent is fluid, not static, but should always be respected. 

Consent keeps lines of communication open. It’s a built-in way to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and things you’d like to try. People’s needs and interests change over time. Building a relationship where you can freely communicate your needs and boundaries is going only going to strengthen the best parts of what you already have and help combat whatever issues may arise. 

Quote "The conversation around consent shouldn’t solely be centered on sex. Consent is part of all healthy relationships."

Consent is For Everyone

The conversation around consent shouldn’t solely be centered on sex. Consent is part of all healthy relationships. Every person has their own terms and agreements, and it's best that everyone is on the same page about what works and what doesn’t.

Consent is not solely physical in nature. The conversations we agree to have, the words we agree to use, the activities we agree to participate in are all based on what we are allowed to do with other people. The way you behave with one friend might not fly with another friend, and that’s important to establish. 

Consent is also something to teach children. Learning to respect our bodies, the bodies of others, and boundaries is not often a part of teaching children how to behave in a community. However, it's vitally important that all humans, no matter how young or old, learn that they deserve to have their limits respected. 

If your child doesn’t like to hug their relatives or does not want to share a toy with someone, that’s ok. Children are asked to share in a way that adults never are. As we get older, we are not expected to give away parts of ourselves or things that we love to other people just because we should “share.” Of course, encouraging generosity in children is great and makes for happier and more well-adjusted adults, but forcing children to do things they’re uncomfortable with has the opposite effect. Kids are allowed to have limits too, and those limits deserve to be respected.

 

Consent is Sexy

Consent is often (wrongly) viewed as a mood interruption or the thing that slows down a heated moment. Talking about your boundaries in sexual activities never has to be boring. Like sex, you or you and your partner are what make it great. You can certainly keep the mood going by asking for consent, especially when you start asking your partner what they would like done to them.

Start by asking, “What would you like me to do to you?” or “How do you like to experience pleasure?”. Both of these examples can be steamy with a little effort, and once you get into the conversation, you may realize how much of a turn on asking for consent really is.  Continue by stating sexual activities you really like to do or receive and ask about the ones they like to do or receive. The simple act of talking about sexual activities you like can be erotic and informative. Consent doesn’t need to be boring -- you get to decide that. 


Remember: Consent is a non-negotiable part of sexual activity, so if you are going to be turned off by asking for consent, then you need to analyze how you treat partners in sexual activity, and if you are capable of respecting boundaries. To fully enjoy sex, it is important to understand limitations you may have or a partner may have to ensure everyone is having a good time.

12 Nov

Body Hair

Body Hair

We’re nearing the end of 2021, and while many things have gone back to normal by now, some people have adopted totally new lifestyles they’re taking into post-pandemic life. Since the initial lockdown in March 2020, many people of all genders have cut down on shaving and other forms of hair removal, or given it up entirely. 

No Shave November is well underway. Maybe you’ve decided to ditch your razor just for the penultimate month of the year, or you gave up hair removal a while ago. 

If you’re curious about the backstory of humanity’s complicated relationship with body hair, or you’re looking for some advice on going au natural. We’ve broken down body hair and how to take care of it or part with it. 

A Brief History of Shaving

For as long as humans have had body hair, we’ve been thinking of ways to remove it. 

The Ancient Egyptians indulged in all sorts of beauty rituals and treatments: wigs, milk baths, makeup, and of course hair removal. It varied from person to person, but many Ancient Egyptians opted for full-body shaves and wore hair accessories instead. Both men and women shaved, or tweezed—they had options. We still have relics from their grooming routines that can be seen at museums like The Met

Shaving and hair removal was mostly preferential for human history. Of course, styles would go in and out and some things stayed the same. A high forehead was a beauty marker during the Elizabethan Era, leading people to pluck their hairlines further back. And while abundant facial hair has been mostly frowned upon for women, facial hair has traditionally been viewed as a sign of virility in men. Through the years, styles of facial hair have changed and evolved. The popularity of the mustaches and beards in the Edwardian Era gave way to a clean-faced look after World War One. 

That all changed in 1915. King Camp Gillette wanted to pivot into a new, previously untapped marketing in the shaving world: women. In 1915, Gillette introduced the first razor marketed specifically to women, called the Milady Decollette. 

With the popularity of sleeveless tops and rising hemlines, women’s bodies were more visible than ever before. Instead of focusing on the “shaving” aspect of the Milady Decollete, which was considered a masculine practice, marketing focused on appearing “smooth.” It is here that hairless began to be a marker of femininity. 

Shaving became an expectation of women after the introduction of the women’s safety razor. This was due in part to women’s clothing options becoming increasingly revealing. 

With the rise of Second Wave feminism, came the push to make women’s shaving optional. The au natural look was reintroduced in the ’80s shortly before Brazilian waxes became mainstream. Hairlessness, especially hairlessness around the genitals, became all the rage. 

That brings us to today. Lots of people shave, but lots of people don’t. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasingly larger number has cut down on their shaving routine. It seems like we’re migrating toward an ideology of personal preference. 

Quote "Shaving body hair gained popularity in the united states in 1915 when a women's razor was introduced into the market."

To Shave or Not to Shave? 

That is the question hundreds of thousands of people have pondered over the years, and are mulling over right now. 

Some people feel that they look better without hair or with minimal hair. Some people don’t naturally have a lot of hair, and the freedom to shave or not shave should support these people as well. Plentiful hair is not the human standard for everyone. Mileage may vary, and that’s okay. 

No one should ever feel pressured to shave. Body hair is a natural feature of the human body, regardless of what type of human body it is. You don’t need to shave to earn respect, to earn sex appeal, or to be hygienic. The presence or absence of body hair really doesn't influence your level of cleanliness as long as you’ve got a solid routine. 

Of course, there is still certainly some stigma around body hair. Most medical illustrations of adult bodies and features do not feature any body hair. For over a century, women’s razors have never featured body hair in shaving ads. Razor brand Billie was the first to include body hair in ad campaigns, starting in 2017. 

Slow progress, but something we’re likely to see more of. Body positivity and body neutrality are making strides in increasing acceptance of the body’s natural forms and features. Body hair is personal to you and you should wear it or take it off depending on what makes you feel your best.

(Left) image of black woman with right arm raised showing armpit hair, (middle) asian woman with tank top is blow drying armpit hair on right arm, (right) white woman in bodysuit with bother arms raised showing arming hair.

Images courtesy of Billie: Project Body Hair

Forgoing The Fuzz

Shaving is the classic method of hair removal. It’s fairly easy and cheap, and can be done at home. You can up your shaving game by choosing a quality shaving cream (we’ve got a recommendation further down) and a durable razor. 

Waxing is another popular hair removal option. While shaving will only provide a few stubble-free days, waxing can give you up to a few weeks of hairlessness. There are plenty of great and user-friendly DIY wax kits available online and at most big retailers like Target and Ulta. But depending on your skill level and what you want waxed, it might be best to book an appointment with a professional. It’s likely to be more efficient and less painful if an expert does the waxing. 

If you want a more permanent option, consider laser hair removal. While this option is pricier and does require some dedication, it can dramatically cut down on the coarseness and abundance of your body hair. Laser hair removal can be performed anywhere. If this is something you plan to pursue, make sure you seek this treatment from a licensed expert or a quality at-home product. 

Quote "Body hair is a  natural feature of  the human body.  You don’t need to shave to earn respect, to earn sex appeal, or to be hygienic."

Maintaining Your Hair

If you decide that you want to keep most or all of your hair, that’s totally valid. But just like their hair on your head, the hair on your body also needs some care. 

The Coochy collection by Classic Brands has some fantastic shaving creams and hair care products. All hair needs to be moisturized, and the coochy creams contain wonderful hydrating ingredients that will maintain and elevate the health of your hair. You can read more about the brand here

Trimming might also be an option if you want to keep your hair but still manage it. Adding a comb to an electric razor or using a small pair of sheers will be the best tools for this job. If you invest in tools to manage your body hair, keep them dedicated to one task. What you use on your genitals should not be the same tool you use on your face. It is also crucial to keep all your tools very clean.

Whatever you choose to do with your body hair, we hope that you’ll find a way to feel your most confident. You’ve got a whole world of options for styling and grooming. To shave or not to shave is up to you, and only you.

06 Nov

Sensuality and Care

Sensuality and sexuality, while related, are not interchangeable. 

According to Merriam-Webster, sensuality is “relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite,” or to be “devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites.” 

Contrasted with sexuality, the human capacity for sex-based attraction, sensuality is the human desire for pleasure of all kinds. Sensuality is how we experience the world through our senses, interpreted through the lens of our sexual interests and needs. We perceive sensuality through stimulation of the senses and of the mind. It informs our ability to enjoy sex, intimacy, and relationships with others and ourselves.

What is Sensual Care

Sensual the practice of building intimacy. You can build physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, and spiritual intimacy. 

You can build this intimacy with a partner or just with yourself. It can manifest as self-love or love of another person. Mindfulness toward sensuality homes your attention on invoking the senses, helping you enjoy your relationship on a deeper level. 

A sense of pleasure is what gives life its joy. Aesthetic pleasure, physical pleasure, emotional pleasure. . . learning how to feel good just makes everything better, from your relationship with others to your relationship with yourself.

Quote "sensual care is the practice of building intimacy with a partner or yourself."

Why Practice Sensual Care

There are a number of benefits to sensual care. If you are not currently in a place where you can have sex or even want to have sex, it’s important to find a way to inhabit physical and emotional intimacy with your partner. Even if sex is a regular part of your routine, it’s still nice to find a way to express desire without sex. 

And if you don’t have a partner or you’re not sexually active, nurturing your own sensuality is still important to your mental and physical health. Sensuality tends to carry a sexual connotation, and it can certainly overlap with your sexuality, but it is a different part of yourself that still needs attention. The ability to enjoy the body you inhabit and the mind you operate, and to appreciate these features of other people, is deeply important to building successful relationships. 

Sex is often a by-product of intimacy, and intimacy is often a by-product of sex. They feed into each other and build off of one another. Therefore, to enjoy either or both at their fullest potential, it’s best to cultivate both. 

If you feel that your life is too hectic to worry about your sensuality, that’s all the more reason to dedicate time to renewing your relationship with yourself. Falling into a slump of self-image can grate on your self-confidence, which in turn can erode your capacity for joy. 

Quote "Sincerity is incredibly sexy. Transparency can feel awkward, but it's important and worth investing in."

Tips for Sensual Care

There are a number of ways you can care for sensuality. Everyone’s needs are specific to them, and all methods and tips can be customized to your personal preference. 

Communicate With Your Partner

Communication is always the best place to start. If your needs are different than they used to be, let your partner know so you can reassess what is and isn’t working for you. 

Circumstances change over time. Mental health, physical health, age, and a myriad of other things can inhibit your ability to have and enjoy sex. Whatever you’re experiencing, it’s good to let your partner know how you’re feeling. 

Open and honest communications spare feelings and allow you both to work toward a solution and figure out what direction you want to take. 

Be Vulnerable With Your Partner

Be open, be honest. Sincerity is incredibly sexy. Transparency can feel awkward, but it’s important and worth investing in. 

Letting yourself experience vulnerability, and accepting the vulnerability of someone else, solidifies honesty in your relationship. You’re letting someone see a private version of yourself, usually the version you keep purely to yourself. Sharing this part of yourself is a big deal, and if your partner is opening up to you in this way, that’s an honor. They’re placing a lot of trust in you. 

Tools and Activities to Try

Massage is a great starting place. It requires physical closeness and attentiveness to the body’s sensation, whether you’re giving yourself a massage or massaging a partner. You can wear as much or as little clothing as you like while giving a massage, but skin-to-skin contact allows you to appreciate the body and can trigger a hormonal response, helping to alleviate your anxiety. 

We’d recommend something like Me and Your Luxury Massage Oil. Not only does it contain great ingredients like coconut oil and Vitamin E, but it also comes in a variety of beautiful fragrances and hyperglide technology. Try warming it up a bit beforehand to add an extra element of indulgence. 

Six bottles of Me and You Massage oil are displayed in a row, showcasing all six different scents.

Depending on what you’re interested in, you might still want to engage in sexual activity as a way to care for your sexuality. If you’re not up to the actual act of sex but still want to indulge, outercourse and mutual masturbation are physically satisfying while being easier on the body than regular sex. 

(Pssst! Whatever you’re doing, use lube. Wicked has some fantastic options.) 

The written word has a history of being leveraged to enhance sensuality. Reading erotica is fun, and for some people being read to is even more fun. 

Dipsea, marketed as “sexy audio stories that spark your imagination and get you in the mood,” helps you unwind while luxuriating in the sexual corner of your brain. They’ve made it their mission to empower people in their sexuality by enhancing intimacy and sensual confidence. These stories can be enjoyed by yourself or with a partner. They cater to all preferences and interests with a focus on being equal parts relatable, entertaining, and empowering. 

Colorful image of person listening to audio platform "Dipsea" with text saying "celebrating 500 stories"

Image courtesy of Dipsea


However you care for sensuality, if you make it a consistent part of your routine it will help you get in better touch with yourself and with others. The senses let humans enjoy the world. And when you learn to mindfully enjoy and enhance your innate senses, the second part of your sex life begins.

Quote "When you learn to mindfully enjoy and enhance your innate senses, the second part of your sex life begins."


03 Nov

Role-Playing and Fantasy Ideas

The human mind is arguably the most powerful and most important sexual organ. It’s what registers what looks good to us, what feels good to us, and what sounds good to us. The body might be the main actor, but the critical reception is entirely up to the mind. 

Fantasy is fun, but if you’ve ever wanted to explore your fantasy in real life, role play might be just the thing for you. Our friends at Kinkly define role-playing as

“the act of changing one’s behavior, and possible clothing, to assume the role of a different person. Role-playing during sex is used to fulfill fantasies.”  

It’s essentially acting for an audience of just you and your partner. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Some incorporate fake names and personas, costumes, props, and even a change of scenery. You pick a fantasy and let yourself step into the roles to experience it for yourself. 

Role-playing is also a great way to keep things lively between you and your partner. Having a partner is fun for a bunch of reasons, but one drawback is that familiarity and routine might land you in a rut. It’s still very much about you and your partner, but it also incorporates an element of the exotic. It’s not just you and your partner—you’re also the Phantom and Christine, or Batman and Catwoman, or whatever floats your boat. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone except for you. It’s just supposed to be fun. 

In this post, we’ll go over how to introduce role-playing into your routine, give our best tips, and suggest some scenarios and how to get started. 


Bring Up Role-Playing

You don’t have to be elaborate, but you do have to be upfront about what you want. You’ve both got to be on the same page if you want to enjoy it. Tell them what you like, what sounds interesting, and what your hard and soft limits are. Likewise, you want to be aware of your partner’s feelings and what is and isn’t on the table for them. 

You can try broaching the subject with a segue, like showing your partner a sexy costume and asking how they’d feel about you wearing something like that. But when you bring this up, you need to guide the conversation toward trying role play. 

There’s also nothing wrong with just saying that you want to try role play. But when you bring it up, pick a time your partner is willing and able to have the discussion. 

Just because a school teacher/student scenario sounds fun to you doesn’t necessarily mean your partner will be on board with that particular scenario. Honesty is always the best policy, as is respecting their boundaries. 

And if your partner wants to try role play, that’s probably not their way of saying they’re bored with you. It’s something that sounds appealing to them that they want to try with you. It’s not easy for everyone to talk about their sexual fantasies, even with their partner. Even if you’re not into it, try to be understanding of your partner’s needs and wants. They feel comfortable enough with you to share intimate details of your sexuality and that’s a big deal for long-term relationships. 



Editor’s Note: Consent is vital to all aspects of sexual activities. Just because a partner may agree to a fantasy, does not mean they will agree to every aspect of the fantasy. A great idea for discussing fantasies and role-playing is to utilize a “Yes, No, Maybe” list. A couple of our favorites come from Autostraddle, an LGBTQ+ resource, and Doctor of Human Sexuality, Dr. Emily Morse, also known as Sex with Emily. We will talk more about “Yes, No, Maybe” lists in a later blog.



Tips for Role-Playing

A word of advice from the theatre: good actors don’t break character. It’s totally fine if you feel a little silly or self-conscious at first, but we promise that you and your partner will have more fun if you take the fantasy seriously. You want to avoid breaking the suspension of disbelief. Commit to your role.

Saying that, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your partner. Your costume or faux accent does not have to be perfect. Nothing has to be perfect. Of course, you want to put forth your best effort, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be fun. 

Making your fantasy “real” can be done a number of ways. Some people like to dress up, and some just like to establish a premise and improvise the rest. If a costume or special clothes help you get in touch with the fantasy, incorporate some. But if it detracts from your enjoyment, no worries. You and your partner can customize the execution. 

Operate within your skill and comfort level. 

One of the best ways to ensure everyone has fun is to go over the particular details of your fantasy before you ever attempt it. Spontaneity is fine, but be clear on what beats you’re trying to hit. If you want to be restrained, tell your partner beforehand. If you do not want to be restrained and gagged, tell your partner beforehand. They can’t read your mind, and having a loose script to follow takes the guesswork out of your fantasy so you can focus on execution and enjoyment. 

Speaking of your partner’s mind: participating in a fantasy is a great way to get inside their head. It gives you a glimpse of what kinds of things appeal to them and what they enjoy. You can take these revelations out of the fantasy and find ways to incorporate them into other aspects of your relationship.

But a note about you and your partner’s fantasies: they’re just that. They are fantasy. Just because it's something you fantasize about does not mean that it’s something you’d want to happen in real life or that you personally condone. It’s just about having fun and exploring fictional scenarios in a safe space. 


Fantasies to Explore

Some classic role-play scenarios include Instructor/Student, Doctor/Patient, Vampire/Victim, Owner/Pet, Homeowner/Hired Help, and total strangers. 

Role-playing is often used to explore different kinks. Because it’s not just you and your partner engaging in the activity, you can incorporate elements of these premises that sound erotic to you. Medical kinks, discipline kinks, praise/humiliation kinks, or anything else you like that could align with these fictional set-ups are free game for incorporation. A different or more pronounced power dynamic is also usually a part of a role-play scene. 

It’s also fun to just step into a different part of yourself instead of stepping into a character. Letting a repressed aspect of your personality take the lead for the night can be fun and empowering. It allows you and your partner to experience a different side of each other. If you’re shy, it could be fun to be bold and the instigator for the night. If you’re usually the instigator, taking a night off to be the more passive party can be a breath of fresh air for your relationship, and just for you. 

Alternative personas also make great role play premises. You don’t have to be anyone in particular, just someone different. Sometimes it's fun to pretend you’re someone else, or that you’re having sex with someone else. It’s still you and your partner, but different. 

Some fantasies might be shared by a bunch of people, but fantasy is specific to you. You’re more than welcome to recreate a book or movie or historical figure you’ve always really loved. Or if you just want to put on a wig or fake mustache and go by a fake name for the night, have at it. There’s really no wrong way to role-play. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of deal.



27 Oct

Sex with Cancer

One of the most memorable plotlines from HBO’s Sex and the City followed Samantha Jones, a vibrant woman with a passionate sex life, as she deals with her breast cancer diagnosis. Her libido, arguably Samantha’s most memorable character traits, dissipated as she went through treatment and took a while to return once she went into remission. 

Samantha Jones might not be real, but the character’s struggle depicted something millions of people deal with every year: the effects of cancer on your sexual health. 

Cancer takes a heavy toll on the mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual health of those living with it. The stress from a cancer diagnosis can affect your physical health, and your physical health can impact your mental health. Some cancers directly affect sexual organs and the reproductive system. Surgeries, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy can be intense. 

Cancer and its different treatments have a profound effect on the body’s hormones. Low libido is one of the more well-known side-effects of chemo. Depending on your type of body, other symptoms may include hot flashes, irregular periods, dryness of vaginal tissues, early onset of menopause, erectile dysfunction, and lower sperm count. All types of bodies will experience illness and treatment uniquely. 

Your sexual wellness is a key piece in your overall wellness, not something separate. Finding ways to stay in touch with your sexuality and nurture that part of yourself—whatever it looks like for you personally—is equally important as restoring the other atrophied aspects of your health. 



Talk It Out

Good communication is always the best place to start. Cancer can be an isolating experience. Allow your loved ones to be there for you while you navigate your diagnosis and treatment. 

Let your partner know how you’re feeling and what you need from them. While it’s always good to be aware of other people’s feelings, you do have to prioritize your own health. So if sex is not something you are emotionally or physically capable of, tell them. Sex should never, ever be an obligation or a chore. A good partner will understand that your sex will look different for a while. 

Don’t just talk with your partner: talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing. Unfortunately, sexual dysfunction is not usually a topic that gets a lot of attention when designing a care plan. 

Time will help set things back to normal, but in the meantime, your doctor might be able to recommend some medications and therapies to help rekindle your sex drive. Macmillan Cancer Support, a UK based cancer charity, recommends these tips for talking with your healthcare providers about your sexual wellness:



However you choose to talk with your health care providers, it’s important to be honest with them about what you’re experiencing and what your goals are. 

Practice Self Love

For those who are single and have lost their libido, this can affect your dating life if that’s something you’re interested in. Love does not have to strictly come from a partner. Indulge in your other relationships: family, close friends, pets, self-love. Just because you are single does not mean you are alone. 

You can still nurture your own sexual health, with or without a partner. No matter what your relationships with others look like, your relationship with yourself will always be one of your most important. Learn to find ways to refill your cup. 

Cancer can also affect your appearance, which in turn can affect your perception of yourself. If you’re experiencing this, it's completely normal and you’re not alone. Take time to reacquaint yourself with your body and reintroduce yourself to the things that give you pleasure—in all aspects of your life. You’re experiencing something physically and emotionally draining. Give yourself permission to indulge in things that make you feel good, whatever this means: nail polish, a favorite shirt, some new lipstick. 

It can be hard to feel beautiful under the best of circumstances. Don’t pressure yourself to love your body, and don’t shame yourself for any disappointment you might currently be experiencing. When finding beauty in ourselves feels a bit out of reach, it can help to take a neutral view and try to appreciate it as it is and what it can do for us. 

You are so much more than just your body. 

Stay Connected 

Sex is fun, but it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. And if you’re tired from working to combat a serious illness like cancer, it’s totally normal to be too tired for sex or for sex to longer be a priority.  

You and your partner can be intimate without engaging in physical sex. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recommends activities like intentional relaxation, giving each other a massage, or sharing a bath as ways to be intimate without sex. Physical touch and quality time can go a long way toward making your partner feel loved. 

If you are ready to engage in partnered sexual activity, you might need to rethink how you go about it. As always, lube is your friend. It is the best way to decrease pain and discomfort and increase pleasure. If penetration is something you are struggling with, consider adding external stimulation to the line-up. 

Dana-Farber offers some more helpful tips for partnered sex, such as planning time for intimacy when you’re well-rested, utilizing positions that require less energy, and strategizing who plays the more active role during sex. 

Don’t push yourself more than you are able to. Try new things, a little bit at a time, and see what works for your comfort level. 

Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. There is no timeline you have to follow other than your own.

 

This too shall pass.



 


25 Oct

Red Flags in Sex

There’s something exciting about a new person, whether that be a FRWB or a new relationship. It’s tempting to romanticize this new person. But those rose-colored glasses can make it harder to see red flags. 

All new relationships are bound to experience their fair share of road bumps. Sometimes the difference between a regular rough patch and a red flag is hard to differentiate. And sometimes relationship red flags stand out. But red flags aren’t exclusive to new relationships. In some cases, the issue doesn’t arise until months or years later. 

No matter when you notice the red flag, it’s important to address it when it arises. Whether that means working together to compromise or deciding that maybe it's best to see other people, that’s up to you. 

Our readers have sent us in their own stories of their relationship red flags which will hopefully help you learn to see and address the red flags in your life or that might come up later. 

Violating Consent:

While some red flags are harder to see, violating consent is hard not to notice and should be taken as a sign to reevaluate your relationship. 

As always, we recommend establishing boundaries with your partner, even if you’re just hooking up. In every scenario, every person has their own rules of engagement that deserve to be respected. If your partner isn’t going to respect your boundaries, what else might they disrespect?

Violating consent can include lying and manipulation. Using a bait-and-switch tactic to get you in bed is not acceptable. When you agree to have sex, you agree on certain terms. And when those terms are ignored, you’ve entered a scenario that one party didn’t agree to.  

One reader wrote,

“In the middle of consensual vaginal sex, dude turned the experience into surprise anal sex. We did not talk about it prior, I did not ask for it, and I did not like it. And that's the story of the last time he got my goodies. Bye Felicia ???? .” 

Consent to one act doesn’t necessarily mean consent to another act. Both partners need to sign off on the specifics of sex. Everyone’s got to be on the same page about what kind of sex you’re going to have. 

Another reader shared this story:

“In the middle of a blow job, I asked if he had a condom (he'd said prior to this that he did). He told me he did not, ‘but we could still do it.’ I got dressed and left. Safety first. [Because] if he'll lie about that, what else did he lie about?” 

We’d agree that this reader did the right thing. Lying, especially lying to manipulate you, should never be ignored.



Ignoring Their Partner’s Pleasure:

Sex is a collaboration. Almost the entire point of partnered sex is sharing the experience with your partner. We’re all for self-pleasure, but if you’re having sex with another person it’s best if you cater to their pleasure as well. 

Several of our readers said their red flags were a partner’s inattentiveness to their pleasure. One wrote that their partner said,

“You don’t need lube or foreplay. Let’s just get to it."

 Another reported that their partner told them,

“‘I don't want to give you foreplay every time we have sex’ after never giving me foreplay during sex.”

Human sexuality isn’t a switch that can be flipped on and off. Most people need to build up to the act if they’re going to enjoy it. This is especially true for vulva owners, as they’re not guaranteed to produce enough personal lubrication. 

It’s a mistake to view sex as just the act of penetration. Think of sex as the whole thing: initiating the encounter, foreplay, the actual act, and anything that happens after. There is an array of pleasure to be experienced. Indulge your partner. Let yourself indulge. Learn to enjoy the ride instead of rushing to the finish line. Your partner will have more fun, and we’re willing to bet you’ll have a better time too. 

Lube is the unsung hero of good sex. It’s the easiest way to ensure you and your partner both achieve orgasm. This is true for everyone: single, in a relationship, married, and every single person who has sex. It’s not a kink. Lube is a facilitator. Women and anyone with a vulva produce natural lubrication, but they might not always produce enough to make things easy. 

Heterosexual couples, especially ones in long-standing relationships, tend to be among the most resistant to lube. This is a combination of a lot of things: people are too embarrassed to ask, partners taking it as an insult, or people think it’s not for them—that lube belongs to really daring sexual activities. This is not the case. Lube is for everyone. It minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure. With lube, your activities can last longer and be more fulfilling. 

If a little slickness is good, a lot is even better. Just try lube. We promise you’ll like it, even if you don’t want to admit it. 

Constructive criticism is good. We had readers tell us that their partner’s unwillingness to take constructive criticism and collaborate turned out to be a red flag. Fortunately, this is the kind of red flag that can be overcome. Good relationships and good sex all require effective communication, and for people to utilize the information they’ve been given.

Listen to your partner—they’re trying to tell you something. 


 


Shaming Their Partner:

If your partner is shaming you in any way, shape, or form they might not be the right person for you. A good partner will build you up and encourage you to live your best life. They will want you to do what’s right for you and be open to learning ways they can help improve your relationship. 

Body-shaming in any form, whether that be about your body hair or your weight, is a big red flag. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. 

Body shaming is essentially bullying, and it’s not too far from metastasizing into verbal abuse. No one deserves to experience that. You deserve someone who can appreciate you as you are and won’t try to emotionally manipulate you. 

A partner being a bully is typically not something you can talk through, but you can possibly talk through your partner’s apprehension about sex toys. 


Psst: Editor's note: If your partner is bullying you, abusing you, or manipulating you in any way, please contact the

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE or texting "START" to 88788.

For more information on identifying abuse: visit www.thehotline.org.


Like we mentioned earlier, some people reported their partner getting squeamish about introducing lube or toys to your activities. Some partners might take offense at the suggestion to use lube or a sex toy during your activities, as they’re worried you might find them to be inadequate partners. But this is simply not the case. For people with a vulva, it’s difficult to experience an orgasm without external—especially clitoral—stimulation. 

A vibrator is an assistant, not a replacement. Make this clear to your partner and let them know what you need to feel satisfied. 

Good communication might be just the thing you need to clear things up. It’s not an excuse, but your partner’s hurt feelings might manifest as snide comments and being passive-aggressive toward you. Setting things straight and hearing them could pave the way to work things out (after they apologize, of course). At the very least, if you want to make things work it’s worth it to have a talk about what you need, what’s working well, and what’s not working at all. 

If you’ve tried talking and they’re still taking issue with your needs, then this might be a red flag you can’t unravel. 

Aside from our readers telling us their partners have shamed them for wanting to introduce sex toys into their shared activities, some have also said they were shamed by their partner for wanting to masturbate. 

Just because you’re in a relationship does not mean you or your partner won’t want alone time anymore. We all need a little “me time” and self-love every now and again. Establishing an identity separate from your partner is only going to make your relationship better. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you need some space, and shaming your partner for wanting room to breathe is not acceptable. 


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