For most men, meeting the right woman is an idea that’s nice in theory, but not top priority for quite some time, especially during your 20s when you’re building your career. But whether you credit meeting your girlfriend to the universe, chance luck, some online dating site or to nothing at all, when you reach that point when you’re ready to take it from Facebook official to legally binding — it’s a big step.
In fact, that one question is what’s so essential — and no, not the one you’ll ask her — ‘will you marry me?’ but the one you’ll be asking yourself: ‘how will I ask her to marry me?!’
While a spontaneous proposal has it’s merit, most men have to think carefully, do some research, examine their finances and ya know, make sure that it’ll be a special memory for their relationship, and a story to tell their families (and ahem, future children). Figuring out how to propose doesn’t have to be so anxiety-provoking that you take all the magic out of the once-in-a-lifetime moment, though.
Here, relationship experts and therapists give you their best advice on how to approach, plan and consider your game plan for getting on one knee and hoping for forever…
The on going battle between the sexes is masturbation…the new “leaving the seat up or down” fight. Many clients schedule appointments over “sex addiction” and then reveal one partner’s desire for self-pleasure and the other partner’s dissatisfaction with this behavior.
Well, ladies and gents, I’m here to help relieve the anxiety and fighting. First, masturbation is a healthy and normal behavior for both men and women. It is unclear at exactly what age masturbation begins though reports show male babies touching their genitals in the womb and all babies showing interest with “what’s down there” while infants and toddlers. Although our genitals main function is for reproduction, stimulation of the genital or genital areas (including the anus) can create a soothing or calming sensation. Some cultures rub babies genitals in order to calm them while other cultures rub a baby’s butt to calm them. Therefore, we learn from an early age that “what’s down there” feels good. However, as we grow and show more interest in our genitals, we are often scolded and begin to associate our genitals with shame or stigma.
At what age does one begin to masturbate? There is no clear answer since very few studies report on infancy and early childhood sexual development and behaviors. However, The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) studied males and females from ages 14-70+ regarding a range of sexual behaviors including solo masturbation and
masturbation with a partner. In this study, 62% of males ages 14-15 reported masturbating. Male masturbation rate increased until age 40 when the rate began to decrease again…though not by much compared to females. The study also revealed that 40% of females ages 14-15 reported masturbating with slight increases until age 30-39 when the female masturbation rate begins to decrease. This study also shows that males are more likely to masturbate with a partner than females and the percentages are much lower than solo masturbation.
Why Masturbation becomes the Enemy
Many societies create negative connotations around masturbation. We learn it is a “dirty” activity for “horny boys.” Girls receive messages that masturbation or touching their genitals is “not lady like,” and sexual play is for marriage or only with a partner. Therefore, our brains are embedded with messages that men can masturbate until they have a partner, and women have no need for masturbation or sexual pleasure without a partner. Once two people couple up, there is this expectation that the male will completely cease masturbation, only masturbate seldom, or masturbate when his partner is not available. Many women will also internalize a sense of worthlessness if her partner masturbates instead of seeks her out for sex. However, masturbation and intercourse are two different activities just like fried chicken is different from sushi. I enjoy both fried chicken and sushi and would hate if a new partner told me I couldn’t eat either or both anymore.
Jokes aside, it is acceptable for women to feel disappointment if her mate pleasures himself and she was hoping for playtime with him. This is not masturbation’s fault though a lack of communication about each other’s needs. Going back to my food analogy, remember that your partner engaged in activities (including masturbation) prior to your relationship just like you both probably ate fried chicken and sushi before the relationship. Instead of asking your partner to completely eliminate an enjoyable activity, let’s look at how masturbation can benefit your health and relationship.
Benefits of Masturbation
1. Stress relief: One of the biggest benefits of masturbation is alleviating stress through the release of endorphins or the “happy” chemical.” This applies to both men and women.
2. Self exploration: Masturbation also always men and women to explore their bodies and learn new erogenous zones. Erogenous zones are areas of our body that increase sexual arousal. Since all bodies are not alike, what stimulates one person may not even affect another person. Therefore, I encourage clients to use masturbation as a time to learn about their own bodies in order to teach your partner. Just like women are encouraged to perform at home breast exams, masturbation can also help you find possible medical concerns such as a new lump or tender spot.
3. Improve erectile dysfunction (ED): Like many other body parts, the penis can atrophy if not used. Many men seek therapy reporting difficulty obtaining or maintaining erection. More times than not, they report lack of sexual intercourse and minimal masturbation. Once we discuss the function of the penis, I encourage increasing masturbation and men report a significant difference in ability to obtain and maintain erection. Masturbation also helps with premature ejaculation. The longer a man goes without sex, the quicker he may ejaculate due to the renewal of stimulation and pleasure with arousal. He may also feel a
loss of control with less frequent orgasms whether with masturbation or intercourse. Although this could be a one-time instance, anxiety could arise exacerbating further sexual encounters. Therefore, masturbation allows a man to maintain a sense of control and prolong ejaculation.
4. Less boring sex with partner: Masturbation is a form of sexual behavior and activity. Although many people associate it as an “alone time” activity, partner masturbation can be extremely fun and erotic for some individuals or couples. Partner masturbation could be oral sex on your partner or stimulating yourself with your partner present. Couples can also introduce sex toys for added fun and to help prolong your playtime session together. Sex toys can do the work while you rest and get ready for the next round. Many clients complain about either their sex life entering a rut or not being aroused before intercourse. Partner masturbation not only spices things up, but can help prepare both partners for intercourse (if you so choose to add this into your masturbation session). Orgasms are beneficial for women as it can relax the vaginal muscles to prevent tightness upon entry. Masturbation can also help the penis become fully erect by helping pull blood into the penis.
Interested in adding masturbation into your sexual play script? Click the the toys below to get the party started!
As a sex therapist, I’m always asked about sex positions. I also provide feedback for clients who may be engaging in positions not appropriate for comfort and well being of one or both partners. In this post we will explore positions and their benefits. For those readers who are visual learners, Carvaka Sex Toys created an infograph to better visual these and many more positions.
The G What?!?!
One position, and a very popular position for some couples, is the “G Whiz.” This position will be described using a heterosexual couple, though this can be tried by a female couple with a strap on. The female partner lies on a platform that is hip height to her male partner. The male is standing facing her while positioning her legs over his shoulders. Named for the G-Spot, this position allows for maximum g-spot stimulation increasing chance of female, internal orgasm. Men particularly like this position as they can get a deeper feel and thrust. The “
G Whiz” also gives men more control over thrusting and therefore is not recommended for women who need to control the speed and depth of thrusting. Dr. Shelley DiCecco, PT, PhD, CLT-LANA with The Sports Rehabilitation Center based in Atlanta – and a very special guest on my “Let’s Talk Sex” podcast – advises women and men, especially those with pelvic or hip concerns, to avoid having legs over their partner’s shoulders. Dr. Shelley shares that this position increases “the rotation on the pelvis bones, the iliums, and increases the curve/pressure on the low back.” She also states the “G Whiz” increases the shearing or rotational stress on the iliums which can cause or increase pain. A person with low back or disc problems may have increased pain in the back and down into the legs, the Sciatica, with both legs and/or one leg over a partner’s shoulder.” Dr. Shelley also states the “G Whiz” can “increase the pain experienced internally by the female partner…” Dr. Shelley and I both recommend that if you or your partner experience any pain during sex, an evaluation from a physical therapist or other doctor is needed to rule out any medical conditions. For those who particularly enjoy the “G Whiz”, don’t give it up yet! Try legs around your partner’s waist as this gives a similar feel for the male though is better for women’s pelvis, hips, and back.
Here Kitty Kitty…
If you are looking for a position where the woman has more control with more pleasure,
check out the CAT (Coital Alignment Technique).According to Men’s Health and the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, the CAT increases female orgasm by 56%! The position is similar to traditional missionary position, though the man positions his chest near the woman’s shoulder instead of face to face as with missionary. This position can also work for both a heterosexual couple or female couple with a strap on. First, both partners position themselves into a standard missionary with woman lying on her back and the man on top. If two women try this position, the partner with the strap-on is on top. Now, the man or top partner will move his/her body slightly to one side so you are no longer face-to-face and your partner’s chest is aligned with your shoulder. The thrusting motion is the other factor for this position to increase female pleasure. Instead of thrusting in and out, the male/top partner will thrust up and down. Imagine thrusting from floor to ceiling instead of headboard to footboard. This allows for more stimulation of the clit with the up and down movement. Due to the change in body alignment and thrusting movement, I recommend trying this position slowly, at first, to prevent injury.
Would You Like a Cherry on Top?
Another position to increase female pleasure and control is the Banana Split, also called the Scissors or Sideways Straddle. I like the name Banana Split best! This position can be performed with a heterosexual or female couple using a strap on. Other than sounding
delicious, this position allows the female or top partner more control over speed and depth. According to Dr. Shelley, “Women with pelvic pain can experience pain with initial penetration, pain with deep penetration, and/or pain for one or more hours post intercourse. The pain can be in one or more of the following areas: the vagina or genital area, in the low back, in the buttocks, at the sacroiliac joint, or she may also experience a pressure symptom across the abdomen… By controlling speed and depth, the woman can minimize the pain experienced during intercourse.” The Banana Split also allows for more grinding action and the use of the male or top partner’s thigh to stimulate the clit. To get into this position,the maleor top partner lies on his or her back with feet flat on the bed or other supportive surface. The female or bottom partner positions herself facing away from her partner’s face while straddling her partner’s thigh with one leg between his legs and the other leg on the outside. If the male or bottom partner is an “ass man or woman,” this position allows for a great rear view!
This Isn’t Child’s Play…
Finally, if you and your partner are adventurous and in good physical shape, check out the Wheelbarrow. This position is just like the game we played in elementary school except our clothes are now off! The male partner enters from the rear while holding the female’s legs, and the female uses upper body and core strength to stabilize. This position allows the male more thrusting control so communication about comfort level is encouraged between partners. If watching yourself is enjoyable, the male also has a better view of himself entering his partner. When trying this position for the first time, I encourage a practice round with clothes on to prevent injury. As this position needs a strong upper body and core strength for the female partner, please consult with a medical provider.
To find out more about these and other positions as well as Dr. Shelley’s advice, take a listen to the Let’s Talk Sex podcast episodes 5 and 14! If you are in the Atlanta area and experiencing painful intercourse, click here to schedule with Dr. Shelley or her associates. Interested in learning more about Strap On play? Check out this great infograph from our friends over the pond at CarVaka Sex Toys.
Photo Credit: Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net It’s that time of year again! Yes, if you are from the south, it is college football season though I’m referring to the fact that college is back in session too. I reflected on my college dating experience and what advice would have helped me back in my college […]
If you’re in the dating world, you’re likely no stranger to online dating. From my personal life to my professional life, I hear and experience how people lose manners once a screen is between them and other people. At one point, my best girlfriends and I joked about creating a blog to record online dates-gone-bad.
As a therapist, I want my clients to feel comfortable going online to find a potential partner. Part of our discussion involves understanding how their actions impact the dating experience. As a person, I would love to report more positive experiences with online dating, and as a therapist, I want hear many more success stories. Without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind with online dating:
Politeness: If you wouldn’t do it in person, why would you do it online? In other words, if you called someone on the phone, and they did not answer, would you call back five minutes later and continue with multiple phone calls? Would you walk up to a stranger and state something perceived as obscene or rude? If you answered “no” to those questions, then why is it appropriate to exhibit this behavior online by sending multiple messages back to back to the same person or to engage in rude conversation with a stranger? If you’ve listened to my podcast, you are aware of my experience with online dating (and if you haven’t listened, then head over to sexandrelationshiptherapist.com to take a listen!). Just recently, I began talking to Chris, who first started out very respectful. After brief conversation, Chris began calling me “sexy” such as “good morning sexy,” or “Are you sweaty and sexy” after I told him I’d been at the gym. I’m thinking (and praying!) he would not greet a co-worker, friend, or other non-romantic partner in such a way!
Honesty and Directness: Going back to Chris, after his change in behavior in our conversation, I created theories including: 1) he had no understanding of appropriate and respectful conversation with a stranger, 2) he learned this was how you talk to some one he met on a dating app, or 3) he had an underlying motive. It turned out Chris was only looking for a hookup, which was not my intention for dating. After this discovery, our conversation ended. Now, why couldn’t Chris be up front with me in the beginning? If he had informed me that a hookup was his intention, we could have saved time and ended that conversation sooner rather than later. There are plenty of men and women who only want to hookup and plenty who are looking for dating or a relationship. One of my best dating experiences was with a man who was upfront with his intention for a non-serious relationship. I encourage people to be open and honest about their desires early on in conversation or meeting, and for each to respect the desires and wishes of the other person.
Mindful and Awareness: Our prior discussion on politeness correlates with mindfulness and awareness. I have experienced many interactions with different men where it appears they believe I am constantly monitoring my inbox or receiving notifications of new messages. When I don’t respond in a timeframe these men deem acceptable, I receive additional messages ranging from rudeness for not responding to multiple annoying messages asking if I’m going to respond or reminding me they are waiting for a response. Let us keep in mind that 1) some people may not check their messages daily or more than 1x daily, 2) some people may not use the phone app, 3) people could be doing other things such a working/hobbies/social engagements/sleeping and the list goes on, and 4) a person just might not be interested in you for any number of reasons. In regards to number 4, please don’t take this personally. As I discuss with clients, we aren’t going to like or be attracted to everyone we meet. The same goes for other people meeting us. This is not a reflection of who we are as a person though a preference.
Grammar: Face to face communication is ultimately the most important as one gives and receives different forms of communication from verbal words, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. With electronic communication, you lose all but verbal words and your grammar becomes your first impression. These days, emoticons enhance our electronic communication though it won’t ever compare to in person interaction. How many times have you received a text message or email from a friend where the grammar or writing was so bad you couldn’t figure out what your friend was trying to relay? This happens all the time in online dating. As I’m write this blog, I just received a message stating, “Dhali Llama?” That’s it, though I think he might mean “Dalai Lama…” This is not mindfulness or awareness in action. Is this person asking if I am the Dalai Lama? Is he asking do I like or know anything about the Dalai Lama? Could he be asking about my religious preference or if I am Buddhist monk? Is he trying to make a joke about my profile although my profile contains nothing to my knowledge about the Dalai Lama, India, Buddhism, or even lamas or farm animals! Your grammar doesn’t have to be New York Times quality writing, though please know complete sentences and spell check will greatly improve your chances of getting a response.
These are only few tips to improve your online dating experience though ones I feel are very important. Remember, your messages may be the first impression you give to another person. Stay tuned for a future blog (or podcast) talking more about how to make your online dating experience successful.
How many times have you gone on a date thinking, “THIS will be it! This person sounds great!” Then, you leave the date wondering, “what the heck went wrong…AGAIN?’ and “Why is it so hard to find a match!?”
Did you use your five non-negotiables and your relationship bucket list for this potential match, OR did you choose someone who SEEMED a great fit for you?
A relationship bucket list is similar to a life bucket list, but for qualities and characteristics you want in your partner. Many times, one creates a list of “don’t want” characteristics versus “do want” characteristics. As a good friend so wisely stated, “How the hell do we know what we WANT if we’re only looking at what we DON’T WANT??”
How do you create a relationship bucket list? There are many ways, but this is what I recommend to clients:
First, create your list of characteristics you WANT in a partner. This may be hard at first as you are used to creating a DON’T want list. If you find yourself coming up with more “don’t want” characteristics, ask yourself “what is the opposite of that characteristic?” or “Instead of this quality, what quality do I want?” It becomes easier as your list gets longer!
Second, take a look at your list and make each characteristic more specific. If you said you want an “athletic partner,” does that you mean you want someone who goes to the gym after work? Someone who cycles? Someone who plays a specific sport? Someone who will enjoy the same athletic hobby as you, or someone with his/her own athletic interest, or both? It’s “ok” to be very specific if that’s what you WANT. It’s also “ok” to be broad on characteristics. If it helps, create a scale of importance (i.e. very important to not important at all) to help complete your list.
Finally, identify your “five non-negotiables.” I must give credit where credit is due; I’m borrowing this term from Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker and host of the Bravo reality show by the same name. I thought it was great, and I use it with clients all the time. Your “five non-negotiables” are the five characteristics that you will not make ANY exceptions. Your “five non-negotiables” will decide whether you even go on date number one with a person. If a potential match does not meet even ONE of those five characteristics, politely decline a first date. Why waste your and the other person’s time if you know that one characteristic is a deal breaker?
The last part is FINDING your potential match! Where do you start? Take a look at your list! Based on your “relationship bucket list,” create a list of places in your area that you’ll most likely meet potential matches. If you want an athletic partner who enjoys swimming and hiking, go join a local swimming pool or join a hiking club! Looking for someone who enjoys craft beer and football? Check out local craft beer classes or find out where other sports fans watch the game.
Having trouble creating your list or finding matches? Give me a call and let’s figure out how to get you on the right track!