More On Sexual Agreements

Okie dokie, more discussion on Amara Charles’ Sexual Agreements.

Like I do, I have pulled out my favorite passages to share with you all, and bolded sections that I found particularly powerful. I enjoy sharing directly from the author, so you can get a true sense of their words and intentions.

Adding on to my general impressions from last week, I will emphasize again that while Charles has a specific viewpoint of what open relationships look like (you always put your partner first, having multiple partners has no name and is necessarily casual, etc), this book is a fresh and fast read for thinking about how, when, and why one would have honest conversations with partners about sex, freedom, and security. I recommend the book as another approach to kick-starting sexual honesty within relationships.

Favorite passages and notes:

“…there is no simple answer to the question of sexual freedom within a relationship. It is a very private and personal agreement between partners. One thing I do know is that when one begins exploring outside the accepted rules that most people live by, serious questions arise. As soon as some of the long-held inhibitions about sex start to shift, a new curiosity sets in. Many partners want to try different things and explore new sexual possibilities. An idea of greater sexual freedom arises. There is the idea of greater communication and more sensitivity, but there is little experience. A lot of miscommunication, fear, and deep emotions can rise to the surface.” (pxv)

“For whatever reason, honest communication about sex can trigger emotional upheavals within our relationships. When we begin to express intimate sexual feelings our fear, jealousy, possessiveness, or anger can easily arise. Sexual energy is very powerful, making it important that we be patient and tolerant with our self and our partner. It takes time and great care to make changes in our sexual ways. There are going to be doubts and mistakes. I haven’t met anyone who started creating sexual agreements without making some mistakes along the way.” (pxvi)

“Consciousness within our relations is the great awakening. It is only because of fear that consciousness remains cluttered. At some point, however, one notices how much of our precious life is wasted by living in the confusion and doubt we carry about sex.” (pxvii)

“Broken agreements can foster tension and mistrust. There is a way, however, to bypass all the drama and emotional battles that ensue. Rather than argue over who did what or who said what, determine why the agreement is not working in the first place. In other words, it is useless to blame each other. Take another look at the agreement itself.” (p4)

“You will know when you have created an understanding between you that is mutually beneficial because living these agreements will generate greater trust and intimacy, and more love between you.” (p5)

Common mistakes made when making agreements: misunderstanding the agreement, boundaries versus agreements (analogous here to to what Veaux and Rickert in More Than Two would call rules versus agreements), making agreements at the wrong time, keeping true feelings hidden, assuming the agreement is finished, ignoring small transgressions, forgetting agreements between self and spirit,

“Treat the fulfilling of agreements as sensitive journeys into new territory, even if you have had the agreement for years.
Talk to each other every time something within an agreement is put to the test. Do this all the time, not just the first time. Even though this may seem obvious or trivial, many forget to connect intimately and thank their partners for their trust and care.” (p15)

“A powerful way to alter patterns of broken agreements in your relationship is to completely honor all your personal agreements. The more care you give regarding your own honesty, truth, and integrity in all matters, the more grace you will have within your intimate sexual agreements. Honor the spirit and the letter of every single agreement you make, and the level of integrity with your intimate partner will increase.” (p16-7)

Sexual agreements within monogamous relationships:

“Agreements that are mutually beneficial nourish each part- ner and allow the deepest gifts of both to flourish. They are not about trapping one another into staying faithful or roping each other into a tangle of heavy obligations. A good agreement is continually clarifying why you want to be together.
To stay with anyone, it is important to keep asking yourself why you want to be together. Most people assume they know. It seems obvious because there are children, a house, and career(s). All these things may be the fruits of your relationship. But if outer things are the reasons you are together, then monogamy will get stale and old—and the sex gets boring.” (p29)

“Being faithful and loyal, making a daily decision that “this is the one person I want to be with intimately” is a profound choice, but only when it’s chosen consciously.” (p30)

Sexual agreements within open relationships: “Freedom in relationships is a consequence of under- standing, care, and sharing good experiences with each other. Freedom does not come from demanding it. Neither does love.” (p41)

“Statistics show that most car accidents happen within 25 miles of home. Something similar happens with the people we are closest to. We relax our communication and we get lazy. We will often say or do things to an intimate partner we wouldn’t dream of saying or doing to a stranger. While we often reserve our “best” for our loved ones, unfortunately we dole out our worst qualities as well.” (p61)

“It’s important to have patience with this, because we were taught that agreements are about telling each other what we can and cannot do. We were not included in making the rules we live by, and we were not taught to create the kind of lives that include enjoying our lovers’ happiness and freedom. Most of us have inherited agreements that were attempts to limit, regulate, and guard what we think belongs to us. We have very little experience with being generous, tolerant, or wise with regard to each other’s feelings and needs—especially when it comes to sex.
Most agreements are efforts to make something turn out the way you want it to. They are attempts to possess someone, maintain the status quo, avoid discomfort, and lessen the shock of the unknown. The desire for some kind of guarantee that “we will be together forever” is actually the ego’s way of expressing its infantile, self-centered feelings of entitlement. Especially in the sexual arena, deep down one feels entitled to affection, love, and sex. The ego tries to protect itself by seeking to obtain a guarantee in hopes of getting what it wants. Making agreements from this position is nothing more than an attempt to get from people what you think they owe you.” (p61-2)

“As a thunderstorm leaves clear fresh air in its wake, the upheavals in our intimate relationships generate waves of opportunity that carry the promise of improving our lives considerably.” (p64)

“The secret to keeping casual sexual experiences as harmonious and empowering aspects within our sexual life is to be clear about what each encounter is, what it is for, and to be clear about what it is not.” (p74)

“…the sweet intimate companionship that an enduring love relationship provides, a casual encounter cannot. Whereas waves of sexual passion will ebb and flow like seasons during the span of an enduring partnership, the whole beauty of a casual encounter is its brevity.” (p75)

“Transformational sex can range from enjoying a cozy evening with our lover, to self-pleasuring with images of the moon and stars, to an unusual encounter with a stranger. It all depends on the intention you carry in your mind.” (p80)

“It is important to understand the difference between our body’s need for sex, and the need we have for intimacy in a relationship. When we are healthy our body has surges of sexual feeling. Totally ignoring the body’s needs is as harmful as carelessly indulging in every sexual urge. Women and men need both emotional intimacy and physical sex. There is no need to feel guilty about either one. At times our needs for intimacy and sex may converge, but at times we can satisfy them separately. It is beautiful when they are met at the same time with the same person, but this may not always be the case. Be clear about the differences and do not mistake one thing for another. What matters is understanding that both our sexual needs and intimate needs are equally important yet different. Sexual passion is as important as sensuous intimacy. They may not always be equally expressed or satisfied and may be met together or separately in different ways.” (p83)

“It is as if we are simultaneously wired to seek the safety of an intimate relationship while at the same time we also want the freedom to enjoy whatever we find attractive. Unless we learn to consciously create both the security we need as well as the room to explore the variety of what arouses us, our agreements are destined to confine us rather than become platforms for lift off into deeper experiences of life. Good sexual agreements ensure that we will have the comforts of intimacy and the freedom to explore our natural sexual attractions as well.” (p85)

FlowerDrops

Using Craigslist Safely

In light of this awful piece of news, I wanted to offer some advice on using Craigslist safely when looking for sexy encounters.

Basic technology and online dating safety considerations also apply to using Craigslist. Here are the guidelines J and I use. Abiding by any set of rules are honestly probably not going to keep you safe from sociopaths, but they will help you feel at ease when meeting strangers. Meeting strangers off of Tinder or Craigslist or Grindr or any other online platforms is risky, but most people are not sociopaths (and, honestly, every time you leave the house poses some sort of risk!). Even so, minimizing risk to your health and well being is a good idea.

1. Use an email address that is not connected to your legal identity. Set up your profile name as different than your legal one, and don’t use your last name. Craigslist at least now assigns a craigslist email to every user; you have to intentionally swap real email addresses with those you are corresponding with.

2. If you are sending racy photos, I recommend sending naked photos that don’t include your face. If you want to send photos with your face, you can blur out your face or use a black bar to cover your eyes. When J and I send photos, we have one album of racy photos with no faces, and one album of just our faces so that the two aren’t immediately connected.

3. Be cautious when sending videos. We have primarily shared videos with friends we already know pretty well. Once, we were chatting with someone who answered an ad of ours and “she” really wanted to see a video I had made. We ended up sending it to her through Google Drive, and then deleting it about six hours later. It’s possible the person downloaded it in that amount of time; I don’t think I would share a video again with someone I hadn’t yet met in person.

4. Think about using Google Voice as a second phone number. You can receive this number at your regular cell phone, but as long as it doesn’t become your phone number through your carrier, I don’t think it can be tracked in the same way. You can choose whatever area code you want.

5. When planning to meet potential dates off of Craigslist, meet somewhere public and preferably in an area that you are familiar with. Tell at least one person where you are going and when you think you will be home. Have your buddy text or call you at a prearranged time to check in with you. Have a safety plan in place that your buddy can enact if they can’t get in touch with you (calling the police would probably be a good move).

6. You know what they say about first impressions? I think it’s true: J and I usually know within a a millisecond whether we trust or basically like someone, or whether we don’t. Trust your gut and your instincts. Know that there are plenty of potential dates out there and don’t ignore your instincts in favor of a potentially sexy time. (This also applies to the nice person-jerk spectrum, and not just to those you think could potentially physically hurt you)

7. If you decide to go with somewhere after meeting in public, I recommend another more public place if you can, like a swingers club or hotel. Having more people increases your safety. If you decide to bring someone back to your place or if you decide to go to theirs, have separate modes of transportation and let your buddy know what’s going on. If you’re going to their place, send your buddy the address.

8. If the energy changes, your skin crawls, or your hair stands up when you get back to the place of residence, once again trust yourself. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings; your physical safety is far more important.

Stay safe, have fun!

Any other pieces of advice that you want to share?

We’ll Do It In My Car

I’m dancing. Twirling, spinning, bending over, dropping down, crawling around. Shaking, bouncing, touching, spanking. Eyes, eyes, eyes. Smiles and smirks. Words when they count, silence when it’s better.

The heat is building. You give me more and more of yourself. I slowly draw you out; I can feel your shell breaking slowly, one small piece at a time. This is addicting, this process- this process of seeing your more real self. Finding the gooey center that I can connect to. And today, we’re both red hot, too hot to touch, too hot not to.

You ask for a private dance. I don’t expect anything different. I take your hand and lead you back. I begin, and all I want is to be close. I grab onto your shoulders, your hair, your legs. I breathe softly on your neck and ears. You shiver and squirm ever so slightly and sigh. You want more and so do I.

Wait for me. We’ll do it in my car.

We lock eyes and the intensity is palpable. You nod and I feel the adrenaline in the pit of my stomach and my pussy uncontrollably clench and release.

We leave the private dance room. You sit at the bar, breathing deeply, ask for a drink. I go to the dressing room, breathing deeply, put on more perfume.

And a little later, my shift is done, I’ve locked eyes with other people and danced and made my money. But my focus is undeniably on you and my promise. Wait for me. We’ll do it in my car.

And again, I take your hand, but this time I lead you out to my car. We get in, I drive around the block. It’s dark out, the stars peeping out, the moon large. It’s a quiet night, no one else out. We sit in silence for a minute, before letting the drive take over.

I am in ecstasy and completely succumb to your hands. I lay back as you kiss my neck, my ears, and everything else. Your skin is on fire, your cock is throbbing. And when we can take it no longer, I slide myself on top of you and ride you harder and harder, the waves of coming are overwhelming. I want you on top of me or behind me, but being in a car has its limitations. We plan, in whispers, for our next time. In a minute, you come too, and we are sweaty and exhausted.

Until next time.

One Night Stand

I get ready: shaved legs, shaved pussy. Sheer lipstick. Striking eye make up. Tight, short dress. Heels. Soft hair, soft skin, painted nails. Perfume. I feel like an aphrodite, a tigress, on the prowl to take what’s mine. What’s mine for tonight.

We go out, me, you, and her. You two will sit at the bar, flirt, talk, drink. I’ll be there, too, but I’ll be looking. Looking, hunting, scheming, wanting. When I spot him, I’ll slowly make my way to his side. Sit down, smile. He’ll offer to buy me a drink. I’ll accept. We’ll sit at the bar, flirt, talk, drink.

Until I want more. You’ll watch as I trace my fingers on his lower back, his thigh. He’ll lean down and whisper something. I don’t know what exactly, but it doesn’t really matter. There’s heat and danger and excitement. You’ll watch as he comes in a little closer, as I bend my neck ever so slightly back, and he kisses it. There’s heat and danger and excitement. I let his hand meander from my upper back down to my lower back down to my thigh. 

Until I want more. You’ll watch our mouths move, as he asks me if I want to leave, and I tell him Yes. I make my way back to you to let you both know- I’ll be home late, or tomorrow. Have a fun night. I wink, I smile. I flirt, talk, drink.

We leave. I’ve never done this before. I want it. I want this electricity and fire. We start to make out in the car. It’s building deeper and deeper, the aching growing stronger and stronger. 

I don’t know what the place looks like, I don’t know how long I’m there. All I know is the heat and the excitement, the fire. The licking and the sucking and pounding and moaning and the yelling. Fingers and mouths and tongues and pussy and cock and come. Do it again. 

I don’t leave until I’m ready to leave, until I’ve licked my plate clean. 

Tinder Update

So I’ve been on Tinder for a couple of weeks now… and my bottom line feelings are:

It’s just another mindless social media app.

I think this article sums up many of my feelings well, and it was written by an older guy.

That being said, there is much more activity as a woman looking to meet women than there is on OKCupid. It is nice that you can see who you have matched with, and I have received far more messages on Tinder than I do on OKC. So that’s cool and worth something. I haven’t yet actually met anyone off of Tinder, although a couple of connections look promising.

I think it’s also important to remember that Tinder may be used in different ways by different people. I haven’t tried using it for casual sex, although I *hear* that is how it’s used most successfully (as opposed to simply making friends or dating). I heard from a good friend who asked his Olympic athlete friends what their experience was like using Tinder- and it was a surefire way to get laid within an hour at Olympic Village. I just want to be a fly on the wall and see all that go down, you know? Maybe because I have super limited experience with really casual sex, I just can’t imagine scrolling through Tinder profiles, matching with someone, exchanging a few messages, and then getting down within an hour.

Any other thoughts and feelings that you all have about Tinder?

Tinder & Hook Ups

I recently got on Tinder. My short reaction is: it’s a weird app. It’s like “Hot or Not,” but more confusing: are people on there for hook-ups? Or dating? Or friend dating? Are the women I see actually interested in being with women? Or am I being shown women because I want to meet women, and are those woman more interested in hooking up with guys and friending with women?

And, in the vein of “Hot or Not” I am struck by the over-simplification of Tinder. How can I possibly tell if I want to meet someone, have sex with someone, or date someone based on a few profile pictures from Facebook? Most people have few words on their actual profile so it’s difficult to tell interests, hobbies, work and play activities, and personalities from profiles.

That being said, it’s a much better platform (so far it seems) than using the Casual Encounters section from Craigslist. Time will tell if from using the app I actually meet any fun and sane people.

So far, my strategy flipping through profiles is: too many selfies (particularly pouty face selfies) get a swipe to the left (no thanks) and smiles, outdoor pictures, and matched interests get a swipe to the right (sure, I’d meet them). One match has resulted in the start of a conversation. Who knows what may come of it 🙂

(Side note: I have two dates this week with women! Who is stoked?? This girl!)

Have you used Tinder? What has your experience been like?

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Keeping Score?

Someone on FB posted this a week ago, and I found it pretty interesting and entertaining:

Why I Keep a Spreadsheet of Everyone I’ve Slept With

It was sort of funny to read, because when J and I were “celebrating” our first year of having an open relationship, I decided I wanted to make a spreadsheet of all of the people we had met in the open community, and whether we had had a romantic, sexual, and/or friendship type of relationship with them. I did it chronologically and systematically. I felt like I was being an excavator of my own wild sexual self, uncovering and reliving all of the memories we had made. It was also helpful in remembering all of the lessons I had learned from each person we had encountered.

I haven’t kept up that list but it’s still an interesting idea to me. And the author brings up several points that resonated with me. For one, even if I had a casual sexual relationship with someone/people, it was an intimate experience that we shared. I don’t walk around the streets naked and I don’t share my vulnerable, sexual self with everyone. Undressing and showing people how to pleasure me and learning how to pleasure them is an intimate act, even if the emotional and mental connection isn’t sufficient enough for me to call it “intimate sex.”

Like Barry expresses: “Sex is still an intimate experience for me, even if at times the circumstances in which I’m having it are casual. I form a connection with those I sleep with, and there’s a fundamental respect I have for all of them. I tend to remain friends with those I’ve hooked up with, or at the very least amicable.”

And, for me, the process of legitimately keeping track is not about belt-notching/quantity/numbers. It’s about having a way to really keep track of the connections I have made, lost, and regained with people.

What do you think? Is keeping track (and not just in your head, but on paper) who you have sex with, had a relationship with, dated, etc a neutral act? Or does it introduce some kind of score-keeping into the intimate landscape of relationships that shouldn’t be there?

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?

and

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.

Schemas, The New Sex Rules, and Women Liking Sex

Taking notes for my basic psychology class has been a good thing for me, especially when I get to learn about and relearn basic concepts. For example, schemas are cognitive structures for perceiving, processing, and organizing information. Scripts are sequential schemas (for example, going to the movies, or going on a traditional straight date: most people understand these scripts and act in accordance with them without needing explicit instruction).

In his most recent blog post, Marty Klein discusses The New Sex Rules, and how even though we (as a society) have worked past old, harmful rules about sex (you shouldn’t tell your partner you masturbate, real women orgasm from intercourse, etc.), we have new ones floating around (everyone should masturbate, you should be able to orgasm from oral sex, etc.). All of these rules introduce scripts for sexual relationships that can provide “easy” ways of going through the motions of having sex, but also mean that sexual relationships may not have explicit communication embedded within them, resulting in sex that is not satisfying or fun for either or both (or more) individuals. 

J also passed along this NPR article about an interview done with Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying. In the summary about the interview, Jong also introduces her own schematic understandings of sexual relationships, some of which are more progressive than others. Her own ways of structuring sexuality and sexual and romantic relationships, although progressive for when she wrote her book 40 years ago, clearly impact her perception of kinky relationships (ala Fifty Shades of Grey) and “college hook-up culture” (which I place in quotes because I think it is completely overblown).

She says something like “If you look at Fifty Shades of Gray, it’s a very, very retrograde book, because if you’re tied up and aroused, what are you really doing? You’re giving up all responsibility for your sexuality. So, you cannot be a bad girl, because you’re tied up. … You can be a victim.” And with regards to college hook-ups: “I think that [young] women today — particularly in universities and so on — are doing hook-ups… But I don’t think that they’re getting much joy out of it. If you look at Girls, Lena Dunham’s program … in many ways is very dark — these girls are not getting any pleasure. They’re watching the men get pleasure. And so if hook-ups are so wonderful, why are these shows so dark and disappointing?” It’s pretty clear to me that even if you create and act on a new and revolutionary schema for yourself that women can and do enjoy sex, you may get to 2013 and not have a cognitive structure that allows for kinky sex to be enjoyable or for casual sex to be enjoyable. Maybe I am out of bounds here, but that’s what it seems like to me from this interview summary. 

Any other thoughts out there?

Recent Articles & Resources

Some recently seen articles I wanted to pass on:

J found these great (/annoyingly funny) pieces on The Onion:

On a family watching sexually explicit movies
Abstinent only sex education
Marriage counseling is a scam
Hatred of marriage counselor

For those of you as fed up as me with all of the hype about “hook up culture,” here is a study that discusses how it’s a bit (and by “a bit” I mean very) overblown: Study dispels notions of ‘no-holds barred’ sex on campus

Anyone want more of Marty Klein’s great wisdom? Sign up for his teleseminar series!! (Probably most interesting to those working in the mental health/psychology/counseling field)

And, lastly, today Dawn Davidson and Kathy Labriola are offering a free teleseminar on managing jealousy! It’s going to be awesome! RSVP even if you can’t listen live so you can listen to the recording later!