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On Open Relationships and the Exclusivity Slider

“Infidelity”

Comedienne Rosie Wilby tours a one-woman show titled, Is Monogamy Dead? As background research for the show, she conducted an anonymous online survey, “asking what behaviors would be considered infidelity. Seventy-three out of 100 respondents thought that falling in love with someone else with no sexual contact still counted, 31 percent selected staying up all night talking to someone else, while a scary 7 percent decided that merely thinking about someone else was unacceptable.”

Over the last few months I’ve asked people similar questions. If you are monogamous, where do you draw the line, and why? If you are in an open relationship, where do you draw the line, and why? And my conclusion is that… the question is irrelevant.

One easy way to think of relationship rules is as a slider that marks the dividing line between things your partner is free to do with anyone and things they are expected to reserve for you. Run the slider one way for more freedom, or the other way for more security. In truth it’s two sliders — one for your rules and one for your partner’s — and they’re held together with a stretchy rubber band. Because of course if they’re set too far apart, well, that wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be reciprocal. (Right?)

With this metaphor, the concept of monogamy vs. open relationships lives inside the bigger question of where we set the slider on, as Wilby put it, “behaviors that would be considered infidelity.”

Only one stipulation

I called that an easy way to think of relationships rules. But it’s not how I think of it. At all. I’m in a committed relationship. We have boundaries for each other, but not about exclusivity. We communicate and we’re responsible. My girlfriend being the passionate, fiery human being she is, our relationship has a lot of intensity but little to no bullshit drama. We’re quick to apologize, and we’ve got each other’s backs.

My best gauge for how things are between us is… how things are between us. Outside of that, I’ve really only been able to come up with one stipulation.

If she’s doing something that consistently has her come back to me in bad shape, or worse off than she was, then I’d ask her to stop doing it.

That’s it.

The intent of most people’s exclusivity rules is to prevent their partner returning in significantly better shape.

Wow. How does that kind of thinking affect your relationship with someone?

Desperately turning the knobs

Ok, I get it. I totally get why people would think open relationships are difficult, dangerous to the heart, hopelessly complicated, and impossible to maintain. I get why they might think open relationships lack depth, intimacy or commitment.

I watch people testing the waters, “opening up” their relationship. I watch them adjusting and re-adjusting their exclusivity slider, multiplying it into a complicated panel of knobs and buttons, trying desperately to dial in the settings that will maintain their sense of security while adding richness to their lives.

“NO, I wanted to be told BEFORE you did it! We agreed to that. It’s not enough to technically send a text just before you’re about to do it — you didn’t even wait for an acknowledgement from me or anything! So I get out of my meeting and I’m reading about it while you’re in the middle of doing it! I felt totally sideswiped, dishonored and violated! Honestly, what were you thinking?? I’ve been going crazy! From now on, I want at least a 6-hour window. Oh, and if I text you, I don’t care what you’re doing, you better make it a priority to text me back within 5 minutes! Understood?”

It’s hard to convince them that the exclusivity slider is the problem, not the solution. They can adjust all they want. It isn’t going to adjust their sense of security. Or their partner’s level of commitment. Or the quality of their relationship.

Relationship without control

At this point you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. In order for this to make sense, we have to travel back in history. To a time when I’m young, successful, riding the tech wave in Silicon Valley… and completely clueless about women or relationships. I haven’t been with very many women, and I’m basically terrified of them. (Give me a break, ok? I was a nerdy software engineer.) The path from that man to who I am today is long and storied but for the purposes of this conversation I want to introduce you to Jennifer, my first experience stepping into the emotional firestorm that is non-monogamy.

To put it in the archaic language of the man I was: this woman is way out of my league. Confident, beautiful, charming, generous with her smile, completely comfortable with her sexuality, great in bed. I wasn’t really sure what she liked about me, but she did. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was, I wasn’t the only one.

She spent time with me when she wanted, and with someone else when she wanted that. Time and again, I would be overwhelmed in her presence, in heaven, hearing the angels sing, more blissfully happy than I’d ever imagined… and then crushed, heartbroken, devastated, and left in a broken, sobbing pile on the floor. And each time I was faced with the choice to see her, or not. And I always chose to see her.

Our time together was the most fulfilling, gratifying, healing experience I could imagine, and made me feel alive. And the reality of our relationship was that I would never control her to meet the demands my long-standing connection deficit, or shrink her to placate my insecurities.

After riding that emotional roller coaster numerous times, I learned something. There would be no threats or extortion to get what I wanted. No molding and shaping her to meet my expectations. Instead I started to discover what it takes to build a relationship with another human being.

I began to realize that it didn’t matter what she did with other men. Our relationship was either doing well or it wasn’t, and that depended solely on us. Since it hinged on how I felt, how I was showing up and how I treated her, I found I had a great deal of say in the relationship indeed.

This was my first step in learning how to forge a truly great, unshakable relationship, one that didn’t need a rickety fence around it to ward off marauders. We were together for a number of years. And, crucially, when in time we saw each other less and less frequently, it wasn’t because of some other guy. It was because our relationship had evolved, we had each evolved as people, and it was time for the relationship to take a different form.

Build a strong relationship

So that’s why I don’t think of my girlfriend having a rich, happy, successful, abundant life outside of our relationship — a life full of connection and intimacy and love and sex — as infidelity.

It’s why I see no clear relationship between exclusivity and commitment. I’ve seen monogamous relationships that fail, and open relationships that are resilient and solid.

So my advice is to set aside the exclusivity slider and build a great relationship — one that’s better than anything you or your partner can find elsewhere.

Because freedom and security aren’t opposites. A great relationship, even one that includes a great deal of freedom, can create the kind of deep security that shackles never can.

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The Self Empowering Monogamy Pledge

The part of monogamy that I was completely missing.

This year many of my friends and clients are newly monogamous, after single life, dating, or being in an open relationship. My conversations with them have had me realize that I’ve been ignoring something important about monogamy. It’s as if I had only considered half of the equation.

In the past I’ve written about monogamy in terms of fidelity, because that’s how I’ve always understood it. There are some things you can do with anyone — like commute to work — and some things your partner will want you to do only with them — like have sex.

In other words, the purpose of monogamy is in the effect it has on the partner. You are monogamous so that they feel secure, safe, committed, etc.

But what about the effect that monogamy has on the self?

I don’t believe that exclusivity is a fundamental requirement for love, or sex, or intimacy, or commitment. I see all of those things in abundance with and without exclusivity.

But recently when my friends talk about monogamy, they talk about letting go of their addictions —  to sex, to love, to novelty. Or about ending their eternal search for something that they are sure to find in the next lover, something that will sate the hunger — something that deep down they know they have to find within themselves. They talk about breaking their cycle of escapism and avoidance. Or about losing their taste for drama or intrigue.

And so they are choosing to be monogamous not just volitionally, but out of self-interest. Their reasons often have little to do with their partner’s comfort level or emotional needs, at least not directly. For them monogamy is a practice of cultivating connection and intimacy and depth with another human being that requires them to “play against type”, to break their patterns.

Speaking with them has given me a different kind of appreciation. Since I’ve never been one to exhibit addictive personality traits or compulsive sexual novelty-seeking, it’s all the more valuable for me to experience it through their stories.

It’s also given me a new understanding of my own relationship to monogamy. Being someone who was once plagued by low self-esteem and low self-worth… as that changed, there came a day where I said to a girlfriend — lovingly, honestly, and with no lack of commitment or investment in our relationship — “If you can find someone who’s a better fit for you than me, I want you to be with them.” It wasn’t cocky — it was more humble than anything else — but it was spoken from a newfound confidence and groundedness in who I was, as a person and in relationship. In that liberating moment I shed doubt, fear and clinginess. And I was able to step into the relationship in a whole new way.

Since then I have come to believe that third parties don’t break up relationships. Relationships thrive or fail because of what happens in the relationship. That flies in the face of all the beliefs of the fearful, clingy ones (like I once was), but it’s something they desperately need to know.

And to the same degree that the old me was threatened by my partner’s amazingness, the new me decided never to ask a woman to shrink or diminish herself in order to fit my tiny box of comfort. I don’t require her to have less, or be less, out in the world in order to have more with me.

So my relationship to monogamy is this: I don’t demand it from my partner.

And I’ve adopted that stance for myself, volitionally, because of its deep ties to my own sanity, my own clarity and solidity. Something I had to find within myself after years of searching for it in others. And what was initially my practice of playing against type has made me a much, much better boyfriend.

And in that regard… I am very similar to my newly monogamous friends after all.

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Men Want Sex and Women Want Love? Not Exactly.

This is the single most frequent topic I talk about whenever I give a talk or a workshop, because it ties in with so many other things that I teach.

If you want to see more videos like this, please leave a comment below.

Sex As A Bargaining Chip: The Bad, The Good, And The Very Naughty

Take commerce out of your sex to improve it. But once that’s established… let the games begin!

We’ve been trained from practically day one to view sex as a commodity. For her: “Don’t give it away.” (No matter how much you want it!) For him: “Be a good provider and protector, and you’ll get love.” (Buying your way around actually becoming a great lover!) This could be the exact thing preventing you from ever having great sex — sex that pulls you both back into the bedroom again and again. The more you’re having sex for some other reason, the less you’re having sex for its own sake.

Sure, learn to pleasure your partner beyond what they thought possible. Absolutely, have sex for the positive effect it has on you. But while you’re at it, keep an eye out for all those places where you’re using sex as a bargaining chip, where you put any kind of price tag on it.

Then, watch the quality of your sex life skyrocket when you make a pact with your partner to stop doing that. Let nothing attach to your sex — no politics, no reward or punishment, no extortion or bribery. Just sex for sex’s sake. Some examples:

  • I know we pretty much want to kill each other right now, AND we both want sex. I’m not going to hold out on you because we’re arguing. I’m not going to say, no sex for you until you do what I want, pretending I’m not feeling the spark as much as you are.
  • We both thoroughly enjoyed putting our combined attention on your sexy bits for maximum sensation. There’s no owesies; I don’t want any portion of your brain preoccupied with what you’re going to have to do to me in return. I totally got off on doing that. My body wants the attention it wants when it wants it, but that’s true anyway, not as payback for what we just did.
  • I will never bring up all the nice things I’ve done for you when I want sex. I acted out of love and generosity, not to buy you, and that’s not going away. I vow to use my seduction skills instead of my extortion skills. You have your own sexual appetite, I never need to convince you.

There’s a quality that your sex life can get to with someone when you both fiercely protect it from being pulled into any type of commerce. A quality that has to be experienced to really get what you’ve been missing. Your bodies open up to each other that much more, your brain shuts up and gets out of the way, and there’s a deep, visceral YES to sex — raw, experiential, animal; not doled out, rationed, bought, sold or tallied on a balance sheet.

Once that’s understood and completely established in your relationship, there’s a TON of fun games that can be played at the opposite extreme. Like taking your partner right up to the very edge of going over, then slowing your stroke way down to a crawl and extracting all kinds of promises from them that they would never say yes to otherwise, in order to have the next… exquisite… stroke. Don’t take them over until they’ve surrendered every ounce of self-control and handed over the keys!

[Originally posted to YourTango. Used with permission.]

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Chocolate Cake and Climax

When I was a kid, my mother would get our favorite cake for our birthday, whatever kind the birthday kid wanted. She’d either make it herself or order one special from the local bakery. My older brother’s favorite was always this one mocha cake. I still remember the flavor. It was a chocolate cake with a mocha frosting, which was a slightly lighter brown than the cake itself and added a twinge of bitter roasted-coffee flavor to the rich sweet chocolate. Most of my “favorites” at the time defaulted to whatever Danny’s favorites happened to be, and this was no exception.

One day, on nobody’s birthday in particular, my mom made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. It had a sour-cream tartness like really good cheesecake, but this frosting was buttery-smooth. (A top-notch carrot cake or velvet cake will sometimes have a decent cream cheese frosting.) It was the perfect complement to the chocolate cake—even better than the mocha, which suddenly seemed too obvious and monochrome.

This combination became my new favorite. To this day I occasionally seek it out in the local bakeries. It’s hard to get right but when they really nail it, man, there’s nothing quite like it. If someone asks me what my all-time favorite food in the entire universe is I’m likely to say chocolate cake with a good cream cheese frosting.

But I don’t have it very often, in spite of its status as one of my all-time favorite foods.

If I ate too much of it, it would quickly fall off my list of favorites. It’s striking how the amount I want it and the amount of it I want don’t necessarily correspond. It’s a huge desire that gets full quickly.

These days, if my “favorite” food corresponds to what I eat the most, it’s probably a green drink I have every morning. It just makes me feel good, every single day, day after day. I enjoy drinking it and feel good for hours afterwards. (Unlike chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.) There was a time when pastries and other rich, sweet foods were my primary diet. I was voraciously hungry all the time and ate a huge amount. I had a theory that if I just injected highly nutritious food into my diet, that alone would shift how I feel and how I eat. And that’s what happened. I eat way less cake and get way more pleasure from it since I stopped relying on it for sustenance.

I think climax is the same. There’s nothing wrong with it, but our sense of how much of it we need gets exaggerated by the absence of other kinds of nourishing orgasmic connection.

So let’s distinguish between “not having climax” and “not having climax as a goal.” The value of not having climax as a goal is that you end up having as much or as little climax as your body actually wants and you’re not using it as the measuring stick for how good or successful your experience is. You get to find out what your body’s actual appetite for climax is. And it’s a first step for moving into territory that isn’t even on your radar where you might find your new favorite—maybe even something beyond climax.

Ken on P.E. (Q&A)

Q: I’ve never really been able to last long in sex without coming but recently in the last 6 months or so it’s actually been worse. Its putting stress on my relationship with my girlfriend. I was wondering if you had any suggestions?

A: Here’s my thought and my experience on the subject. First of all, I think you have the cause and the effect reversed. Because PE is stress-induced. PE (“premature ejaculation”) is any ejaculation that happens before you wanted it to. Making it a big deal creates a vicious cycle, because the more you try to control it — the more you think you’re supposed to control it, or think you should be able to control it — the more sex becomes subtly or not-so-subtly stressful. And that stress causes the “problem” to get worse. We’re at our worst when we stop remembering that our bodies intrinsically do the right thing. Sex and especially climax is supposed to be an involuntary experience. To the degree you are not fully able to let go and go fully into your involuntary, the sex will start to get clenched and tight and the flow gets blocked like a kinked hose.

I can tell you how it goes for me, you can modify to fit your situation and your relationship. Generally when everything else is good I don’t have the feeling that my ejaculation is a surprise or happening at the wrong time. On those occasions when I could feel it coming on quickly, I’d let my partner know—

Hey, if you keep fucking me like that I’m going to go over.

And just me saying that would shift something in the energy between us that would have us keep going. I got into the habit of doing this before it got to the point where it was stressful and both of us are blaming me for something I was supposedly doing wrong.

I’ve had a ton of conversations with partners about what we each were experiencing in those moments. I highly recommend this. I was surprised at how often it was performance anxiety on my side combined with a drop in sensation on her side. Sometimes, upon reflection she realized she was feeling done and had started to fuck to go over, and in the process took me over instead. Or it was a point where she wasn’t feeling as much and was fucking harder-and-faster to compensate… but meanwhile her partner (that would be me) was still feeling a lot.

So where most guys focused on PE try a bunch of different things – whether it’s a physical technique or a mental trick or a penile salve or whatever – that are all basically various ways to desensitize, our focus is actually on sensitizing her body so she’s feeling as much during sex as I am. (OM is a great way to do this.) So that during sex, all the tiny, subtle movements and skin contact becomes amplified, and barely moving at all becomes intensely pleasurable for both of us. And in the process, being that sensitized we feel deeply connected, so much so that our bodies are basically responding in sync. Because our antennas are way out to here—they’re reached out so far that we’re living inside each others energetic bodies.

Hope that helps.

 

 

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Vibrators and Porn

These two technologies reveal a critical difference between men and women—that may surprise you!

Men’s “machinery” isn’t all that hard to operate. Rub, rub, rub, squirt squirt squirt. Not complicated. A typical adult male has easy access to as much climax as he wants; he doesn’t even need a partner.

Is that a gratifying experience? Well frankly it can definitely feel like something’s missing.

Now we used to think that women’s machinery was much harder to operate. That’s not true. But it certainly is different from men’s. They may not have quite as easy access to climax as men but they certainly have easy access to willing partners — if a partner were all that was needed. A typical adult woman can, in about 30 seconds or less, manifest a man willing to have sex with her.

Is that a gratifying experience? Well frankly it can definitely feel like something’s missing. Women can quickly find themselves in situations where they’re producing more pleasurable sensation in their partner’s body than what they’re experiencing in their own.

(This can be seen in everything from the so-called “orgasm gap” between men and women, to the predominance of women in the sex trade, to the fact that women are more likely to moan during their partner’s orgasm—to accelerate and enhance it—than during their own.)

It’s revealing to notice how men and women turn to technology in search of their respective missing ingredient. The technology women turn to most commonly is a vibrator. And the most common technology men turn to is is porn.

Think about that.

What these women are seeking out is proper clitoral stimulation.

And men are hungry for and seeking out exposure to other aroused human beings, other human beings in a state of sexual pleasure.

Put a different way, men have easy access to direct somatic pleasure, but what they crave, the vital nutrient they hunger for, is what we can call empathetic pleasure.

Whereas women have as much empathetic pleasure as they could possibly want, they have it coming out of their ears. And their sex lives with men often default to that, ie, vicarious enjoyment. Their missing ingredient, their vital nutrient, is direct, visceral bodily pleasure. That’s what’s harder for them to come by.

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Orgasm and Climax

Let’s start with a concrete description of “female orgasm.” We have an intuitive sense of what orgasm is, and an inkling that it’s different in women than in men. So let’s begin with how men’s bodies respond, because it tends to be pretty consistent:

  • First, there’s a spike in sensation.
  • Then there’s what’s called the point-of-no-return. That’s where you know you’re going to go over the edge, but before you actually do. So there’s this period of time where you’re in this involuntary, out-of-control state, with intense sensation.
  • Then there’s ejaculation, there’s contractions, etc.
  • And then a rapid loss of interest in continuing, loss of engorgement, a general feeling of done-ness, etc.
  • Then possibly hyper-sensitivity, and a recovery period before your genitals are back in action.

So let’s call this climax.

Many women experience climax—some readily, some under certain conditions. But a much higher percentage of women experience the major components of orgasm—certainly the same intensity of sensation, the contractions, activation of the involuntary musculature, going into an out-of-control state, etc.—but in a more extended, rounded way, without that spiky, sneeze-like quality, or the feeling of passing through a one-way door. This kind of orgasm can continue for long periods, come and go in waves, etc. The endpoint isn’t necessarily marked by climax but by feeling totally gratified.

As far as we know, most if not all women are capable of experiencing orgasm. And recent studies of Theta waves in the brain have led some researchers to conclude that a woman’s orgasmic experience is up to ten times the intensity of a man’s.

So if we define orgasm in terms of how women’s bodies actually work, we find that it’s broader, longer in duration, more intense, more continuous, and actually easier to achieve than the climax that we’re familiar with from men’s experience.

By far the most common and most effective route to female orgasm is direct stimulation of the clitoris. Given the proper stimulation, all women are capable of experiencing orgasm, from the first stroke to the last.

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Ignition

 

They gather outside the locked, guarded door. There is an eager, impatient mulling. There’s chatter; and watches checked too often, as if time were an unruly child in need of constant monitoring; and a gentle press into each others’ personal space, forcing unintentional body contact. Apparently the waiting, the anticipation, the nervousness, weren’t irritating enough already.

The doors open and people pour in. The Coaches do their best to keep the crowd orderly and in sequence, but a certain tumesced chaos ensues anyway as people attempt to keep track of their partner, their supplies, their nest, their personal belongings, and wrangle all of these into one location.

Finally everyone is in place. Maybe there’s a straggler or two still getting ready but the Coaches step in to make sure they’re quiet and unobtrusive. The Instructor takes the mic and guides the pairs into position, then into connection.

At this point something happens that very few people get to experience. Even the OMers themselves won’t catch it; their attention (if it isn’t on their cramped leg or their performance anxiety or their violated propriety) is on their partner and the business at hand. It’s something only the Instructors and Coaches, those few who are allowed to be in the room but aren’t actively participating in the OM, will notice.

The room settles and quiets, a temple of sitting meditators. In this silence, index fingers make their way to clits. I feel it even if I’m not looking. A minute or two of settling in, finding the resonant stroke.

And then there’s a moment when ignition kicks in.

It’s a distinctive hum, but soundless. Nothing has changed, the room is as still as it was. No one has shifted their body or moaned or sighed to announce the event; there are no tells. But something palpable has happened, the room no longer feels as quiet as it is. The lighting has changed… but not.

I experience it as a syrupy feeling in my throat; a gentle, velvety electrical current caressing the small of my back. It has the feeling of a cat purring contentedly at the foot of the bed, eyes closed. It’s more felt than heard. It’s a wispy vapor arising from the dewy ground at dawn. It fills the room but it isn’t in the room, it’s a resonance between all our bodies.

One of the Coaches looks over at me and nods. If the strokes prior to this were like trying to turn over an engine that won’t seem to catch, now the engine is humming smoothly at idle and ready to drive. All the Coaches in the room feel it. (That sensitivity is part of being an OM Coach.)

Whether, and when, and to what degree this moment happens in an OM correlates with the experience level of the participants. For example, in morning practice in the final months of the Coaching Program, the students file in quietly, get into position, begin the OM together, and within seconds there’s ignition. In a private OM Training session with first-time practitioners, on the other hand, the whole OM will turn on a single stroke where all three of us, the clients and their trainer, feel the spark at the same time. After that stroke, whenever it happens, they know. With real-time corroboration the experience is incontrovertible. Now we have a reference for conversation, and they have a guidepost, a landmark, that will serve their practice more than any amount of technique.

I stand quietly in a room full of occupied nests. Liquid warmth pours into my body cavity, gradually rising from the base of my spine up to the back of my head.

Over the course of this group OM the feeling will wax and wane, changing flavors and colors, soaring and dipping, before finally coming in for a landing at ground level at the 15-minute mark. But the moment when the ignition first kicks in holds special meaning for me. It has been so revealing, so instructive to me. Because in that moment, nothing else has changed, save the unmistakable presence of that one thing. It becomes discernable, distinct. It’s no different than what I’ve felt countless times in sex, in OMs, in make-outs; but the role of OM Instructor has given me the unique opportunity to get to know it, to taste it, to experience it separate from the act that fosters it. I’d only been unconsciously aware of it as a participant, not knowing that was the thing I was actually there for. (Or, at times, hoping for.)

Orgasm researchers have recently been pondering the difference between what they call erotic touch vs. prosaic touch. What makes some touch arousing? Not all contact is—even genital contact can be utterly flat; as uneventful as grabbing a door knob. (I remember as a youngster wondering if my sister got stimulated inserting a tampon. “Not even a little bit???”) At the other extreme, simply holding hands or the slightest brush of the arm can produce feelings of ecstasy. (I have a vivid memory of this too—the intensity of pleasure of my first time holding hands with a girl.) “Erogenous zones” don’t really exist the way we thought. As an adult, once I learned that my stroking fingertip, my hands, my whole body could feel as good as my cock—could feel like my cock—my sex life changed, it became a whole-body experience. And not just in the bedroom. My partner and I could stand next to each other in the museum and have sex with each other, without anyone knowing. Researchers are dying to understand this—to know what factors determine what has body contact sometimes feel like sex, what imbues it with ignition.

Here’s what I’ve noticed.

  1. Ignition is a body state; the sensation is distinguishable from the act and contributes to it.
  2. A lot of what we do feels good because of the ignition. (And that’s why we’re doing it.)
  3. It can be clicked on by physical contact—but not necessarily!—or by other things. Flirting, romance novels, porn and Tango are all attempts to access ignition.
  4. The most potent trigger of ignition is another person’s ignition. (“Empathetic orgasm“)
  5. The primary thing that takes place in an OM is a feedback loop of shared ignition.
  6. Ignition is always a decision. Just as no stimulus is guaranteed, no stimulus is necessary.
  7. The ignition matters more than the act. Once we realize this we seek it everywhere.

I‘m setting my stuff down in her room as she changes out of her work clothes. We both had a long, full, busy day. Surely tonight will be the night we’re out cold the minute our heads hit the pillow. This has yet to happen, mind you. I’ve been wondering when it will. It has to eventually. (Right?) Well, here we are. We’re both out of juice and exhausted. It still feels good to be together. What will it be like, what will happen? Will one of us wake up buzzing in the middle of the night and rouse the other? Will our morning activities be delayed as we play catch-up? In any case, I must say it’s been one hellova run. This will be a new experience for us, just going to sleep.

In bed, our bodies come into contact and that quiet hum kicks in.

It’s like a gentle electrical flow of current running between us. We’re not doing anything. There’s no effort. My body is slowly being recharged… but so is hers: the contact is generative, not zero-sum. Gradually I start to feel more awake, more alert, more energized physically. Caffeinated. Except clear, and on, rather than wired. If it can be said that our effect on each other is chemical, it’s a chemistry that is not diluted with time or length-of-exposure. And this run is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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“Yes Means Yes” is the Sexual Burial Ground of the Connection Avoidant

“Yes Means Yes” is a sexual and emotional cemetery for connection-avoidant people.

It is a way of punishing women for the irresponsibility of both men and women by requiring overt sign-off on everything.

If I wanted to vindictively punish a woman I was with, if I wanted to make her suffer, I would play sexual Simon Says. I would refuse to do anything with her or to her that she didn’t overtly, verbally sign off on. I would withhold all of my initiation, all of my intuition, all of my lust or desire, all of my capacity to play, all instigation… subject to the gateway of her overt consent, at every juncture.

“Yes Means Yes” is a CYA insurance policy, appropriate for when people who are completely disconnected from themselves and from each other attempt to interact.

I can’t think of a single woman I know personally who wants this for herself. What I see more often is women who are dying for men to take the lead. (Google “please just fucking fuck me already!”) Yes, of course, they want men to do it skillfully, and yes it helps if men are willing to learn / ask / PAY ATTENTION / make offers; and women are willing to speak up / train / make requests / give adjustments / not fake enjoyment to please their partner.

But considering the epidemic of sexually anemic men that already exists, “Yes Means Yes” is one of those fixes that’s worse than the problem it’s meant to address.