Friday, December 19, 2014

Stop Blaming Technology for Your Problems

A former colleague of Beau's, and a friend of both of ours, posted an article from Thought Catalog to Facebook.

Like basically everything else on Thought Catalog, "This is How We Date Now" is full of generalizations while taking zero responsibility for your own life choices.
We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.

Bullshit. Beau and I met on OKCupid. I moved to New York, where I had every intention of dating women via OKCupid, but I chose to see what would happen with Beau. And if I had decided to keep dating casually in New York? It wouldn't have been my need to order up the perfect human being, but my need to explore my attraction to women and become more comfortable with bisexuality. 

Beau asked me to be his girlfriend over email. I accepted over text. This worked for us. Then we had the next month to wait in agony to see each other in person to say, "I love you," since we didn't want to first say it over skype. Romance isn't dead. We have reinvented it, just like it gets reinvented every time the world changes. That's life.
Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.

Most of my friends and family are pretty darn happy. Hell, my mom has cancer, my twin brother is in remission from cancer, my Crohn's has been really shitty lately (ha, literally and figuratively), and my last grandparent died this year. ETA: Beau just reminded me that he lost his high-paying job in October, just a week after my grandmother died. I'm still pretty darn happy with my life. My little brother is a little moody and drinking too much, but he's also channeling that post-collegiate, stuck-at-home taking care of Mom, angst into some truly amazing songwriting. I don't know if he's "miserable," but if he is, he's at least doing something about it.

Instagram is not the problem. Stimuli is not the problem. Other people's happiness is not the problem. Aside from being clinically depressed, which is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from general unhappiness or sadness, then your happiness is up to you. I'm not saying you need to be a ray of sunshine every single day, but your misery is your own problem, and your own choice.
And, even if we find it. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.

Actually, a shit ton of people share the 3am fights and tear-stained bedsheets, and then another Thought Catalog article will include them in their round-up of "Most Annoying Behaviors on Facebook." I mean, most people call that TMI or overshare. In fact, I'm actually surprised at the amount of (shitty) relationship advice out there that says to NEVER complain about your spouse to other people. Apparently you can ONLY work on your marital problems with your spouse, and maybe a marital counselor. You can't ask your mom for advice, or confide in your best friend, or anything like that.

So basically, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And sorry, but you're an idiot if you think the happy portrayal of a couple on social media is the equivalent of a perfect relationship. Beau and I rarely fight. That is the honest-to-goodness truth. But we have to work through small issues and big issues, just like any other couples. I'm just pretty sure no one is interested in hearing a summary of how I convinced Beau to eat carrots twice a week, or how we divide up housework. And frankly, the last time we DID fight involved people other than the two of us, and even if I'm comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of our relationship, I think it's inappropriate to talk about how other people affected that fight.
We realize that this more we want is a lie. We want phone calls. We want to see a face we love absent of the blue dim of a phone screen. We want slowness. We want simplicity. We want a life that does not need the validation of likes, favorites, comments, upvotes. We may not know yet that we want this, but we do. We want connection, true connection. We want a love that builds, not a love that gets discarded for the next hit. We want to come home to people. We want to lay down our heads at the end of our lives and know we lived well, we lived the fuck out of our lives. This is what we want even if we don’t know it yet.
Actually, I don't like talking on the phone. I enjoy it with some people, but it's usually not my thing.

I'd love to see the faces of people we love not on my computer. Except that requires the money to fly to France, to Australia, to Canada. Just getting enough vacation days to visit my parents is difficult enough. Skype and Facetime mean I can see my loved ones in real time, not matter our distance.

I don't want slowness. My life is balanced. Some weekends are relaxed and slow and leisurely. Others are busy and fast-paced. I want both.

If your life requires validation on social media, that is YOUR PROBLEM. Don't blame the existence of social media.

True connections can happen online. I fell in love with Beau over text messages, emails, gchats, and skype. We're still together, more than three years later. I've taken Internet friendships and turned them into real-world friendships. Some of my blog readers, Twitter followers, etc. have become my friends. I haven't met them yet, but I want to, desperately. Amanda, Betsy, Lola, Carolynn, Elle, Dana, Jess, and so many more.

If you're unhappy, if you're lonely, if you're unsatisfied with your life, I am truly sorry.

But technology is not to blame.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's Talk About (Married) Sex, Baby!

Beau and I have been married almost nine months already. It feels like we've been married forever, but our wedding also feels like just yesterday.

Married sex has been great. I'm a huge fan of coitus!

I've definitely learned a few things, though, that no one tells you when you're saving sex for marriage. 

Dry spells are normal and okay.

When you save sex for marriage, regardless if you save coitus like we did or save all sexual activity for marriage, the common narrative is that married sex will be very frequent. At the very least, it will be frequent prior to kids.

No one talks about dry spells. 

No one even defines dry spells.

For Beau and me, a dry spell is going more than 8 or 9 days without sex. We usually have coitus at least once a week. Due to recent travel and illness, we just had our longest dry spell of about two weeks. And that's okay! It's not ideal, but it's okay. It's not indicative of a problem in our relationship. It's not a permanent status. It's a dry spell, and we got over it.

For other couples, sex frequency will vary greatly. A dry spell might be a month without sex, or it might be more than 3 days without sex.

Engaging in premarital sexual activity doesn't diminish how special married sex can be.

Obviously, Beau and I saved coitus for marriage, but we engaged in other premarital sexual activity. I believe sexual purity is bullshit, but most people waiting for marriage think it has some sort of merit.

Every time Beau and I have coitus, I'm amazed that we're married and having married sex. Even though we did fun naked stuff prior to marriage, it doesn't make our married sex life less special. Even when we don't have coitus, and we do the non-sex sex like before, it's still different because this time, we're married. 

Sometimes seduction isn't necessary.

Yeah, it's nice when Beau wakes me up on a Saturday morning with sexy cuddles, rubbing my back and playing with my hair. It's nice when we take a hot bath together with wine or hot tea and exchange massages. 

But sometimes I'm like, "Hey, wanna have sex?" And he's like, "Okay." We strip down and hop into bed and start making out. 

There's definitely more that we've learned together, but these three points are things I noticed missing in conversations about saving sex for marriage. 

If you're married, what surprised you about your sex life? Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honesty is Not an Ultimatum

This is fast and disorganized because I'm tired, but I'm inspired by two recent Internet interactions.

The first is this relationship thread on Reddit. Basically, a young couple has been together for 3+ years and discussed marriage. The dude told his girlfriend he wants to get engaged/married later than they'd originally planned. She responds that if their engagement/marriage timeline changed, it would hurt her feelings.

He described that as an ultimatum.


It's an ultimatum to tell a person that if they make a big, unexpected decision that changes your life, you're going to have feelings about it?!

No, it's not. That's called honesty. That's called communication.

The second is a comment reply I received. I commented (under my real name) on a blog post about women burning out from trying to do everything. It was pretty standard stuff about asking for help and learning to say no. So I commented that I'm pretty good about saying no unless Beau wants us to attend something as a couple. Basically his family (especially lately) invites us to do stuff with them all the time, often at the last minute. Our friends also invite us to parties and dinners and happy hours and whatnot. 

I said that occasionally I'll tell Beau that we can go to whatever social event he wants to attend in a weekend, but then I won't have time for sex that weekend.

It's really not that difficult to understand. In a typical weekend, we already have at least one thing on the calendar from well in advance, whether it be a party or a play or whatever. Then I need time to blog, especially if it's a weekend before or after a particularly demanding weekend. I also need time to do stuff around the house, like laundry. Add in time for daily chores (cooking, dishes), a proper amount of sleep, and sex, and the weekend is pretty full. If Beau then receives a last-minute invitation for the two of us, something has to give for us to go.

I want to be a writer. Blogging is not a hobby. I have one paid column already. My eventual goal is to quit my current job and be a full-time freelance writer. I cannot do that if I'm not writing at LEAST 3-4 days a week. My blog will not grow if I do not spend at LEAST 7 hours a week promoting it. I usually write every single day, and I usually promote 10 hours a week. I devote 20+ hours a week to my blog. I will make money from it one day, but only if I work my ass off on it.

So no, not blogging is not an option.

I also need freakish amounts of sleep. Giving up sleep is not an option.

So yeah, if Beau's family invites us to do something (which will inevitably take 3-7 hours of my day, easily) on the weekend at the last minute, then sex is not happening.

That's not an ultimatum. That's being honest with my time and my priorities, but it's also asking Beau to be accountable for his time and his priorities. 

I'm so sick of the narrative that accuses women of making ultimatums. 

Ultimatums are a two-way street. Is me saying, "We can have dinner with your parents, but then we can't have sex this weekend," an ultimatum? 

Then how would you describe the opposite, that is, "I want us to have dinner with my parents, and I want to have sex with you, so you have to give up something important to you because my needs are more important than yours."

(I hope it goes without saying that Beau is always totally understanding when I give him choices about sex, or when I tell him the parameters necessary for sex to happen).

So can we stop with the sexist bullshit assumption that anytime a woman gives a man a choice, she's giving him an ultimatum?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Extended Thoughts on Coitus and Consent

Tonight I joined director Therese Shechter for a Q&A following a screening of her kickass documentary How to Lose Your Virginity. As is often true when I answer questions regarding my thoughts on sex, virginity, and everything in-between, I always wish I could have said more. But we had limited time, and I didn't want to drone on and on with my Christian feminist bisexual former virgin wisdom. 

Luckily I have a blog, so I can expand upon a few of my points!

Healthy, Consensual Sexual Relationships

As is probably apparent in my blog, promoting consent is my feminist passion. A discussion about what is sex, what is virginity, how do I define my sexual relationships is irrelevant without first establishing consent. Consent is necessary for every step in a sexual relationship (and as I've discussed before, nonverbal consent counts), from kissing to sexy touching all the way to coitus or kink.

But the conversations that Therese and I hope to inspire regarding attitudes of the female body and female sexuality also include consent. By challenging the idea that a woman's body is not her own, that her sexuality is nonexistent, we also promote the idea that a woman must consent to sex. When women have sexual agency, consent becomes a necessary part of the conversation. 

While male virginity is not the focus on the documentary, it is an important topic under the conversation about masculinity. When masculinity is no longer tied to sexual prowess, they will be more free to pursue healthy, consensual sexual relationships.

Self-Labels and the Limitations of Language

I think it's very important to accept labels that people choose for themselves. That said, we should choose our labels carefully, and we should also acknowledge how limited they are. Prior to marriage, I used the label "virgin" to describe myself, primarily because I placed value on my decision to save coitus for marriage. Once I discovered the French phrase "demi-vièrge," I preferred to use it. 

But whatever labels work for you or for me, one label doesn't provide moral superiority. My sexual choices are NOT tied into my goodness as a person, my integrity, or my morality. (Except for the choice to ONLY engage in consensual sexual activities, obviously).

Multiple Virginities 

What's great about changing the conversation regarding virginity is the acknowledgement of all sexual milestones. Especially for LGBTQ+ people.

I married my first boyfriend. I never had a chance to have sex with a woman. In a way, I will always be demi-vièrge, because I've never had any sort of sex, by any definition (except French-kissing), with a woman. 

I know I haven't blogged much about being bisexual. It's honestly something that I'm still working through myself, especially since I'm not out to my family, Beau's family, and most of my friends. 

But my attraction to women is important to me. It is part of who I am. 

The decision to be in a monogamous relationship with Beau is important to me. Our marriage is part of who we are. 

So while demi-vièrge is an imperfect label, it continues to reflect my sexuality and my sexual choices. 

What do you want to add to the conversation about sex and virginity?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How I Used Sex Toys to Prepare for an Awesome Wedding Night

Contains Amazon Affiliate links. No, I will not know if you decide to buy the same sex toys. That data is not tracked.

If you caught me on Fusion's airing of How to Lose Your Virginity via their show "Documental," then you also had the chance to hear me describe some of the sex toys that Beau and I were using at the time. The filming of "Documental" was two months before our wedding, but Beau and I actually spent about six months with my toys to prepare for our wedding night.

So what toys did we use?

1) Clone a Willy kit
2) A set of dilators 

We actually ordered the Clone a Willy kit first. The idea was for me to slowly learn to adjust to an object approximately the same size as Beau's, um, penis.

Y'all, it's so much easier for me to describe my body and my feelings about sex than to write about Beau.

Luckily Beau had ordered the beginner's kit version which had extra plaster material, because it was really difficult to do. It took us two tries to make the dildo correctly. 

All our assembled tools to clone a willy

It was impossible not to make a mess. That is only some of the plaster that spilled everywhere.

Once it completely set, we were really excited to try it out. We started with our regular non-coital sexy routine, lots of kissing and touching and whatnot. Beau reached for the toy, positioned it, and...


You know how some people joke about "just the tip"? Yeah, we could barely get the tip in me, and even that hurt a little. Pushing more than that hurt more than I could manage, so obviously we stopped. And this was with lube.

So then I had this idea for a nesting set of dildos. Like when I explained it to my friends, I described what I wanted as nesting dolls, but dildos. I had no idea what I wanted actually existed, though, so when Beau and I went to our local sex shop, I instead looked for dildos smaller than my personalized one, but bigger than my other toys.

Y'all, the poor guy who helped us was so bewildered by our virginity, but he did suggest the dilator set for us! It was everything I wanted and more! 

The main part is a very thin vibrator. Then it comes with sleeves that attach over the vibrator, one-by-one, expanding both the width and the length. You end up with an option of four different sizes. 

The two small sizes were fine, but we spent a lot of time over our engagement working on the two big sizes. 

I've read the sex literature; I know that a vaginal corona is already elastic and expands with arousal. But I also know that every vagina-holder is different, and our vagina coronas are different. Some might need time and practice to stretch to accommodate an object like a penis.

As Hanne Blank wrote at Scarleteen:
Occasionally, women don't have imperforate hymens but do have very thick or very inflexible hymens. There is a lot more variation in types of hymens than you might think, and while some of them are so fragile that doctors can't even examine them without having them literally fall to pieces, some are so sturdy that they cause problems when women want to use tampons or have penetrative sex.

Most of the time, thick hymens can be gradually stretched by using fingers or objects that can be inserted into the vagina. Doctors sometimes prescribe vaginal insertion devices called stents, but some women bypass that and just use small dildos instead, since both accomplish the same thing. Over time, the hymenal opening gets stretched sufficiently that it no longer causes a problem.
This is actually why we started with the sex toys so early. I wanted enough time to experiment with "stretching my hymen" so that if we still had major problems, I would have enough time to see a doctor in case medical intervention was necessary. 

And it definitely took time. At first, I couldn't insert the second biggest all the way. Getting just part of it in hurt a little, and trying to go further hurt way too much to try. But eventually I was able to insert the biggest size about halfway without pain, which was slightly bigger than we needed. So then I was able to use the Beau-shaped dildo without pain, although it was easier to insert sideways. 

On our actual wedding night (technically, afternoon), we started with the kissing and the touching. We then moved to the toys, slowly, not rushing the process, making sure everything felt good for me. Once I was completely relaxed and comfortable with the toys, we then got ready for IT.

Our big moment.

The moment you've all been waiting for.


We started with me on top so I could best control the angle and the speed of entry. We moved bit by bit, pausing every 1-2 inches. On our first "pause," Beau looked up at me and grinned.

"I think we're officially no longer virgins."

I laughed. It was pretty fun!

Once I got all adjusted, we were able to move back and forth. I forget which other positions we tried that first time, but over the course of our honeymoon, I think we tried at least one new position per day. Basically we were sexperts at the end of our honeymoon.


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