When Fantasies Hurt

I have seen a few different search terms in my stats that indicate people are searching for resources around what to do when a particular fantasy is hurting their relationships. I think the idea behind this scenario is that a partner has shared a fantasy with you and perhaps now you feel insecure about yourself or your relationship and maybe you wish you didn’t know about the fantasy. Maybe your partner is so insistent on sharing the fantasy, or even making it materialize, that you are closing yourself off from your partner and are starting to feel like you are sexually incompatible.

That is a tricky, and probably painful, situation. What do you do?

First, I think it’s important to recognize that everyone has fantasies. We probably have different fantasies, but we are entitled to our own. They are ours, just like our feelings and thoughts are our own. Try cultivating your sense of independence around your fantasies and work on respecting your partner(s)’s imaginative boundaries as well.

Second, it can be helpful to view the sharing of fantasies as an intimacy-building component of a relationship. Viewed from this light, when a partner shares a fantasy, they aren’t doing it to make you feel less-than or insecure about yourself or your relationship, but because they feel close enough and safe enough with you to share a vulnerable part of themselves. It could even be viewed as a form of coming out, depending on how deeply someone has held onto a fantasy, and how much it makes up their sexual identity.

Third, it could also be helpful to work on assessing your own sexual intelligence and your ability to be GGG (Dan Savage’s acronym for good, giving, and game), in addition to your sexual soft and hard boundaries. Is the fantasy initially squicky to you? Can you imagine indulging it in some way, in some circumstances? Are you willing to talk about it or try it? Is it something that is absolutely non-negotiable to you?

Fourth, I think that Dan Savage has it right regarding the idea that people deserve to evaluate relationships not just based on traditional compatibility measures (personality, finances, living, kids, religion, etc) but on sexual compatibility as well. Try thinking of sex as a distinct category that you can use in evaluating your relationship with someone. It doesn’t make you shallow or ungrateful to evaluate a relationship based on your sexual compatibility: it makes you honest and it shows you are invested in assessing the long term sustainability of a relationship. (Obviously, determining how important a sexual incompatibility issue is to you is important in this as well. Maybe the sexual incompatibility isn’t that important to you, and maybe it’s a huge deal. Only you can answer that.)

Fifth, approach your partner with your honest feelings and thoughts around the fantasy sharing and start brainstorming possibilities for moving forward. Is the fantasy triggering some insecurities for you? What do you need from your partner? Do you need your partner to stop sharing the fantasy with you? Do you simply need some emotional reassurance? Would it be helpful to have some boundaries around sharing- for instance, we can talk about the fantasy a few times a week, and other times need to be reserved for other erotic play/talk?

Lastly, if the fantasy is taking up a large amount of space in your relationship (maybe it’s turned into a “third partner”) and it’s not a presence you want at all in any way, maybe it’s time to come to terms with the fact that you are not sexually compatible and move on to more compatible relationships. (And: if your partner is pushing you to do things that you are not comfortable with, that is another flag that your relationship is not sustainable. If you are uncomfortable, that is a sign that the fantasies may not be for you and maybe that your partner is not respecting your feelings and boundaries, which is not a healthy or satisfying way to be in relationship with someone.)

I’ll say for myself that J and I have gone through a little bit of this. Not in terms of really sharing fantasies that hurt one of us (at least to my knowledge) but in carving out specific times for specific kinds of erotic play (“we’ve talked about that a lot this week, I want to talk about this other fantasy tonight”). I have also had flashes of jealousy before in hearing some of J’s fantasies, but those feelings have largely been founded in fears that the fantasy would turn into reality and feeling like I wouldn’t be able to handle it right then. When I can ground myself in the moment and see the hotness of his fantasy myself, I have calmed myself down quite a bit, and been able to enjoy our erotic sharing (and, am also able to emotionally calm down over the long run with the confidence that I could handle it if the fantasy turned into a reality).

Have you ever shared a fantasy that has hurt your partner in some way? Have you ever been hurt by a partner’s fantasy? How have you negotiated that?


Equality & Sex

J sent me this article, and I’ve seen it posted in other places as well; it’s worth a read: “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?”

It’s an interesting proposition, and seemingly substantiated by well-known researchers in the areas of marriage, sexuality, and attraction: relationships marked by sameness and a high degree of intimacy are also marked by less heat. Thus, they tend to be marked by less sex.

The question that I still have after reading this article, though, is: Even if equality between two partners is correlated with less sex in the relationship, shouldn’t we be looking at other factors that lead to less sex?

My fear with this article, is that it will lead readers to say “equality causes less sex” (the correlation versus causation problem), rather than diving into the other factors that mark modern long-term relationships: sameness, intimacy, and an expectation that a partner meets 100% of our needs and vice versa. These factors seem to be the real erotic/passion “killers,” not equality.

Perhaps it is not men engaging in “feminine” housework that leads to a decrease in how much sex they have with their female partners, but the structure of the relationship which requires each partner to do everything for one another, as opposed to relying on other people in their social network. Modern LTRs are founded on the idea that one person will complete you and fulfill all of your needs, desires, and wants- they will be your best friend, motivator, spiritual coach, workout buddy, financial advisor, mechanic, and a sexual ATM (and perhaps a co-parent or business partner and more). Putting that kind of pressure on yourself and your partner is destined to kill some erotic energy- talk about stress and stretching your attention and focus, not to mention gluing yourselves together. Space seems invaluable in retaining the individuality and separateness necessary in order to still want one another.

The closing quote from Esther Perel is pertinent to this:

““It’s the first time in history we are trying this experiment of a sexuality that’s rooted in equality and that lasts for decades,” Esther Perel said. “It’s a tall order for one person to be your partner in Management Inc., your best friend and passionate lover. There’s a certain part of you that with this partner will not be fulfilled. You deal with that loss. It’s a paradox to be lived with, not solved.””

Except I would say that we can at least brainstorm around this paradox. I think ethical nonmonogamy does quite a bit to transform this paradox of LTRs into more of a continuum, in which you can choose a structure that matches the pros and cons you want out of a relationship: how much intimacy and closeness and eroticism and heat do I want in my relationship, and how am I going to go about getting those things? Will we live together? Have separate bedrooms? Share details about every minute of our days? Invite other people into our bedroom? Date other people? Travel and vacation separately?

What do you think?

This is another piece worth reading: “No Sex, Please, We’re on Medicare” Don’t fall into ageist baloney about older people not needing, desiring, or deserving sex, and heed one of the last lines: “Sexual health is part of health.” No, duh.

Performance Anxiety During Group Sex

My next DatingAdvice post is live today: What If You Can’t Perform During Group Sex?

I think this is a common thing for people (not just men) to be concerned about. Female bodies just have the luxury of hiding their physical arousal or non-arousal more easily.

What have you done during a group sex encounter when you experienced performance anxiety? What helped you?

Here’s the conclusion of the article; go read the rest if you’re so inclined! :)

“If your cock isn’t hard, there could be a number of reasons.

In a group sex situation, often a non-erect cock has more to do with self-pressure to perform, nervousness or unfamiliarity with the situation or partner(s) than it does with attraction or interest in the situation or people involved.

Simply talking about it with your partners can help redirect your attention and energy away from one of your body parts to engaging with the people in the room. Offer to go down on someone or make out with someone.

Do your best to be present and if you become physically aroused, awesome. If you don’t, awesome.

If you are in the presence of other sexually intelligent people, then they will respect your body and communication and go with the flow, too.

Just have fun, relax and enjoy yourself. How many people get to experience group sex, anyway?”

Random Things

I’m not sure what this post is about, but I realized I haven’t posted anything in a few days so I felt compelled to write something.

Here’s a cute self care thing I did a couple days ago: I wrote affirmations on individuals pieces of paper and put them in my heart coffee mug. They say things like:

I now affirm that I love others without expecting anything in return.

I now affirm the gratitudee for everything in my life.

I now affirm that I can assert my boundaries and still be loved.

I now affirm that my body is always changing and always beautiful and always perfect.

I have been picking one in the morning and one in the evening. It’s been a way for me to meditate and keep positive thoughts in my head throughout the day.

Also, I have had a number of job interviews this week and another lined up for next week. That is exciting!!

I have been waiting for my sex drive to pick back up. Since I met with my professor a month ago and J had his vasectomy, between my stress and his pain, our sex life took a bit of a plummet. I can feel my sexual energy gearing back up, but it hits me at random times. I can’t count on it yet.

If you want any random reading, here are some fun and interesting articles:

Friends with Benefits

What is Compersion?

The Year in Sex- Continuing in 2014


Virginity & Hookups

J had passed along these two articles a couple weeks ago, and because of my deluge of school reading, I just read them this week:

Does My Virginity Have a Shelf Life?


In Hookups, Inequality Still Reigns

So many points I want to make. But the main takeaways from both for me were:

-Debra Herbenick rocks. Definitely check out her blog, My Sex Professor. Her point in the second piece about why we are so focused on women’s orgasms, if women aren’t as focused on orgasms themselves, is spot on to me. If orgasm is important to someone, and they aren’t satisfied with their current sexual relationships and encounters because they aren’t having orgasms, then it could be rich to explore that. Otherwise, what’s the fuss?

-This also points to a larger lack of sexual intelligence in our culture. Orgasm does not equal sexual perfection. Yes, orgasms are pleasurable and connecting and relaxing and cathartic. But not having an orgasm does not necessarily mean that the sex was unsatisfying, unwanted, or otherwise negative.

-The first piece left me a bit speechless (a rarity, really). I felt sad and shocked reading it. Not because virginity is sad to me, but because a lack of sexual intelligence is sad to me- it points to a lack of sexual education and self awareness, pieces that everyone deserves to cultivate and benefit from. The author seems clear on defining virginity as no PIV sex, and it seems like she has engaged in other kinds of sexual acts with partners. Why is the penetrative PIV act the epitome of virginity? Who does that serve? In this instance, it seems that the concept has done a pretty big disservice to the author, creating discomfort and insecurity, and perpetuating an idea of “the soul mate” for whom she can finally give up her (PIV) V-card.

-I had a (woman) customer at work this past weekend, who was so fabulous at differentiating at different types of virginity.

“Yeah, this guy I’m dating is a threesome virgin. Crazy, right?!”

“What about a private dance? I’m a lap dance virgin!”

I appreciated my conversation with her so much, and even more so after I read the above articles.

It adds richness to our lives to broaden our definitions of what sex is, of what being sexual means. Have different definitions for “virgin.” Know why you hold onto certain definitions, dig into them. Try being sexual without reaching orgasm to experience a different range of your sexuality. Let me know your thoughts on the above articles; there’s a lot there to chew on.

Recent Posts I Dig

I ran across both of these blog posts/articles recently, and I wanted to share them! They are both brief, which I think makes them even more effective and helpful.

On Journals of a Polyamorous Triad, Simon posted this article: “Feelings Matter.”

Favorite line (make sure to read it for context!):
In effect, the practice of ethical communication becomes a license to do as they please without fear of accountability or being told no.”

And, on DatingAdvice, I was pleasantly surprised to find this very straightforward article: “Why ‘You Complete Me’ is BS.”

Favorite lines:
“So instead of looking for someone to complete, and for someone to complete you, be complete in and of yourself first.
When you bring your complete self to the relationship, instead of having the relationship or your partner define who you are, then you’re able to really recognize if you’re compatible with the person you’re with.”

And another one: on Psychology Today, “Don’t Wait for Desire: Reverse the Equation.”

Favorite lines:
“If you wait until you feel horny to have sex, you may never have sex again! So, don’t wait to feel horny to engage in a sexual encounter. Instead, put it on your schedule and allow the sexual encounter itself to get you horny…
Just as it isn’t comfortable to put on the wrong size shoes, it isn’t going to work to rely on a model of desire that no longer fits your current life stage.”

Peyronie’s Disease, Cock Sheaths, Swinging, & Sex IQ

“I ran into your blog online the other day after finding a few postings on DA.com.  My searching for these types of articles will become apparent by the end of the e-mail.  I realize you are not Dan Savage or whatever but thought I’d go ahead and give it a go.  Hell maybe it will give you an idea for a column.  If not all I did was waste some of my time by sending a e-mail into the net ether.

After looking at the postings and some of your replies I’ve got a question about a certain… ahem product that you seem to speak highly of.
I think it is called oxoballs cock extender sheath.  So I took a look at the website these are from, but that didn’t really answer my unique circumstance/question and I don’t think my doctor is going to be privy to the information I require. Here goes with a bit of story included….
I’m a happily married guy and I do everything to please my wife (toys, rope, clamps, riding crop, etc. etc.).  The amount of towels we need to put down before sex would suggest that she is having a good time, but I would love to see if the oxoballs would give me some of the extra length I’m looking for.  However, I’m hesitant to drop cash on something that might not fit on a curved penis.
Any thoughts on if the oxoballs would bend easily around a curved penis or is it quite rigid?…
Without getting into graphic pictures, etc. wikipedia provides a good overview of the kind of curvature I have (peyronie’s disease).  Long story short over time the penis bends, which results in quite crappy side effects and some shortening of the penis…. And also there is no cure currently except some rather drastic and scary surgery (for the love of God! do not google that… you don’t want to know).
I have been exploring the long term option of seeing if I might enjoy watching my wife have sex with other men / opening our relationship so she can get what she needs from time to time that I will be unable to physically give her.  Sad thoughts for me, but it could be a reality and it seems rather selfish for her not to pursue things.  We have already talked about this and are very open with our communication.  Right now we are still in the information gathering / talking stage, but we might give it a whirl at some point with the right guy. 
We also thought about swinging with another couple, but I have doubts about how other wives would react to a curved penis.  It works fine, feels good to her, and she comes like crazy.  However, visually it seems like it might be a shock and / or draw comments (sort of my nightmare scenario).  Also… would one bring up this issue before play starts?” 
From J:
The Oxballs brand cock sheaths are quite flexible.  To give you some indication of how flexible they are, it is quite easy to bend them completely back on themselves with just the force of one hand. I am quite confident that they will easily fit comfortably on even a VERY curvy penis. We have both the “Dude” and the “Gym Boy” models and they are both made of TPR Silicone blend which is basically just flexible silicone. The “Gym Boy” is fun because it is longer but the “Dude” is slightly thicker. If you are quite curvy, I would probably recommend starting with the “Dude” as it will be less likely to exacerbate your curvature since it is a bit shorter. 

Also, I just wanted to add in some information about swinging and swinging couples. Since we started playing with other couples over two years ago we have seen tremendous variety in sexual organs. Everyone has pretty uniquely shaped, colored, sized, et cetera parts. If you engage in more of the “progressive swinging”, which is to go on a few dates with couples and get to know them first before playing, you may feel comfortable enough to hop into bed with those people knowing that they are not the kind of people who are going to make disparaging remarks about your unique cock. OR, you may feel comfortable simply telling them that you are a bit self-conscious about your curvy cock; my guess is that they will respond by providing some reassurance. I will tell you that I have personally struggled a lot with performance anxiety when swinging with other couples and I have found it really helpful to just put it out there before anything happens. I know this isn’t really what you asked about but…I just wanted to give you my two cents.

From K:

I thought it made most sense to have J respond to your questions about cock sheaths, since he’s the one who has actually used them :) As the recipient, I can tell you that being able to play with size is fun! However, if your wife is already pretty sensitive to size, make sure to warm up her pussy really well before trying to ram your cock + sheath inside. Both sheaths that J recommended definitely add girth, as well as length. The first number of times we played with them, we had to warm up really well, take things slow, and use a whole lot of lube. A big barrier for me, though, was mental- I looked at how big the sheath was and thought “No way that is going in me!” I was wrong, haha. Now that we have played with those toys many, many times, the mental barrier is no longer there and it takes less warm-up to get J’s cock+sheath all the way in.

I really wanted to commend you for how unselfish you seem in considering your wife and her sexual needs. I think it is really amazing to hear that you would be willing to open up your relationship so that she is able to continue having intercourse with other people. 

You mentioned the possibility of you watching her with other men- does this turn you on? What are the goals of watching? Do you want to feel included or do you want to participate somehow? I only ask these questions because it seems important for you to know, as best you can, how you will feel watching your wife with someone else. (Of course, experiencing it can be something totally different. Proactive thinking and talking is the best you can do, and it sounds like you are engaging in that!) 

I also wanted to reiterate what J mentioned about bringing up your cock shape and sensitivities about it before playing with other people, especially in the context of swinging. My hope for you is that talking about it beforehand will alleviate your anxiety, because you will know before playing with someone whether or not they will be respectful, kind, and whether or not they are sexually/erotically intelligent. (Also, if you are able to have intercourse, enjoy other kinds of sex, and your wife has a good time, I am sure other women would be receptive to having sex with you.) In a traditional swinger space, I would bring it up once you have plans to play with another couple (I would say something like: “Yeah, this sounds really fun and hot! Let’s do it! I do want to let you know that my cock curves quite a bit. I can totally have intercourse and my wife always has a good time, but I just wanted to let you know.” This gives the other people a chance to respond before everyone is naked, and you a chance to relax. Getting turned on while anxious is almost impossible.) In a progressive swinger space, I think you would have ample opportunity and a lot of room to bring it up, whether it is during an email conversation or over your first date or two before things get hot. And, if anyone is rude or mean, you probably don’t want to play with them anyway.

Lastly, it seems important to mention sexual/erotic intelligence. It sounds like you are quite able to have intercourse still, but are considering the possibility in the future that you may not be able to anymore. I know that depression and withdrawal from one’s partner are common effects from Peyronie’s disease; I’m sure it can feel very depressing to not be able to engage in a part of sex that feels central to many people. However, penile-vaginal sex doesn’t have to be (and isn’t in my book) the be-all-end-all of sexual experience. Oral sex, anal play, playing with hands, playing with toys, incorporating dirty talk and porn and any other kinks all count as “sex” in my book. (And it sounds like you two incorporate many accoutrements in your sex, so, yay!) Think about how you define “intimacy,” too, and how you define physical intimacy. It doesn’t need to only include penile-vaginal sex. Broadening your definition may help you fear the loss of penile-vaginal sex less, or at least help you remember that there is still a lot that you can engage in that is intimate and meaningful and fun. I don’t want to discount your experience or minimize what you have gone through at all; but because sexual intelligence has been a really important part of what J and I have incorporated into our sex life, I wanted to be sure to talk about it here.

Good luck!!

Sexuality: Resting

I think I have mentioned Jaiya’s work on here before, but I am using her Stages of Sexuality to frame up this post. Within her Stages, she includes resting, transformative, adventurous, curious, and healing. I have found myself in that resting stage for the past few weeks now.

J and I have been managing a lot of stress right now- stress from trying to figure out what we want to do and where we want to go in a couple of months. We have been dealing with a lot of unknowns since the fall, really. In between me applying for school program, him applying for jobs, both of us craving our California sun, both of us sad to leave our community up here, and so much else, the variables are almost too complicated to manage.

The result for me has taken its toll on my sex drive. Lots of things sound sexy- fantasies, and many situations, theoretically, sound really hot. Group sex? Gangbangs? Dating a girl? All have in the past sounded amazing. Right now, they all sound sort of meh. I am pretty sure if I was dropped into a situation where I felt totally safe and didn’t have to think or consider the things I normally do pretty easily (emotional intimacy, mental connection, overall chemistry, etc. etc.), I would get turned on and enjoy myself. But all of the emotional and mental work it takes has been exerted elsewhere- it is being spent in my relationship with J, and in my relationship with myself. I have found myself needing to take extra time for self care so that I don’t fall apart (and I’ve done that, too). I have found myself craving both deep, deep intimacy and deep, deep aloneness. It’s confusing, and a little aggravating.

Because I haven’t experienced that many resting stages in my own sexuality, I find the experience a little unnerving. It’s like I feel antsy that I don’t want sex to the same degree that is normal for me. It’s strange. But I also know these things go in waves, and soon enough, I’ll be back to my more normal, adventurous and curious (and tiger) self :) 

Lubrication & Breast Size

I have noticed that I am not as wet as I used to be. J heard on one of his podcasts that this can happen as a result of taking oral birth control; supposedly, it can throw your natural testosterone levels out of whack. I took oral BC for two years before getting my IUD, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the systemic hormones, and even if the local ones in my IUD, have affected my natural lubrication.

It was surprising for me to feel somewhat inadequate once I consciously realized that I wasn’t very wet during sex. I have noticed more dryness with new partners, due to be less comfortable, but when I realized that I almost always use lube with J, I felt self-conscious. I am extremely turned on when I have sex with J, and so I don’t want him to perceive it to be an indication that I’m not into our sex. I also feel like there is a lot of cultural messaging that wetness is extremely sexy. And from personal experience, it seems like many people consider wetness to be sexy and a clear indication that the person is turned on, and being turned on is sexy. And I think all of that is fine, if the person is truly turned on, and if we remember that our bodies change. I think it is part of sexual intelligence: wetness/dryness does not automatically equal being aroused or not; lube is a perfectly amazing tool for going about the sex that you want; and our bodies change (especially as we age) and so our cues of what being aroused meant as teenagers does not translate into our cues as we age.

On another note of (sexual) body image, I have blogged before about breast size and size envy… I think I have finally am able to admit that my tits are a full A cup (maybe a small B). I am pretty sure I have been wearing the wrong size bra most of my life (or Victoria’s Secret bras have recently become bigger. Which may be possible, because I swear a B bra from there fit me really nicely in high school. Now I swim in them. Or now I just notice the extra room). Tit size is hard for me (much, much harder for me than natural lubrication), but I am committed to living a life journey where I honor my natural shape and size. It is who I am. And also- who doesn’t love tits? Sure, people can have preferences. But really, all tits are pretty amazing. And that includes mine.