Saturday, October 8, 2011

Married Sex -- Making Lust Last

How to rekindle passion for the husband you still love.

Source: Keith Ablow M.D.
People sometimes tell me they know a couple married 20 years whose sex life is still as good as it ever was. Here's what I tell them in return: "There are only three possibilities. One: This couple is lying. Two: They are telling the truth, because they didn't have good sex to begin with. Or three: Sex is all they really have together. They never connected emotionally."
I've drawn that conclusion by listening to the many dozens of husbands and wives I've counseled, almost all of whom have admitted that after 10 or 20 years of marriage, passion became elusive.
Sharing lives is different from sharing dinners and long walks and weekends away. When you were dating the man you ultimately married, you were both acting much of the time (consciously or not), putting your best feet forward in order to be attractive to each other.
When you were sick or had a bad headache, you probably pretended it was no big deal. So did he. Now when your stomach is upset, you feel free to tell him you're about to throw up.
When you had an argument with a close friend or your sister, you might have told him, "It really wasn't the best day, but it's getting better now that we're together." He might have smiled, taken your hand, and said, "Tell me what happened. I want to know." Now when he asks how your day was, you might just say, "Fine," and leave it at that. And he might be happy to leave it at that too.
Nobody would write that kind of dialogue into a romantic movie unless it was a sad or serious one. But that's how married people generally talk because no one can always act adoring or keep up an air of mystery while sharing the same space with his or her spouse, year after year. Here are the truths about sex, as I've learned from years of counseling, for most married couples:
Love is constant; passion needs recharging
No surprise: Everything in the universe eventually demagnetizes when left in proximity to something of the opposite charge. Magnets do, and men and women do too. Some people fall out of lust in seven days, never mind seven years or 17. Basic animal attraction is a force of nature that seems designed to make us mate or not mate for life. Relaxing in our marriages and freeing ourselves from the pressure of trying to impress our partners has a predictable outcome: Our partners are not impressed. The magnetic spell we once cast on them begins to lift.
Cozy is comfortable, but not sexy
To the extent that men and women become real to each other, they cease to be princes and princesses, gods and goddesses who inspire romantic fantasies or amorous worship. Since couples lucky enough to be emotionally genuine with each other share so many real moments, they need to pay special attention to creating magical ones because great sex requires magic. I'd never suggest that a couple trade their warm, safe home life for better sex. Why keep your distance just so you can make love with abandon? I believe you can have a close marriage and recapture a good sex life but only once you admit that reigniting romance takes creativity and a commitment of time and energy.
Intimacy doesn't equal sex
When a man and a woman reveal themselves to each other, it makes each person feel more vulnerable. And, particularly for men, it's hard to have amazing sex while feeling emotionally exposed. Our earliest experiences with being close come from our relationships with parents. And those relationships aren't (in any normal scenario) linked with sexual passion. That's why some husbands and wives are open about what pleases them sexually only when they have affairs. They feel as if they have to be free of "family" to be free with their amorous impulses.
Having kids definitely doesn't lead to better sex
Children in the home define husbands and wives as parents first and foremost, not lovers. That further sets the psychological cement that reminds us we are in a family home, not a love nest. Most couples get caught up in the momentum of deciding who's going to drive which child where, how everyone will end up getting dinner, who's doing laundry because there's no clean underwear for tomorrow, and more. It's hard to switch gears and end up in overdrive in bed.
The love nest you create often feels a lot like the family nest you left
The way we behave in marriage frequently ends up resembling how we acted with our parents and siblings rather than the way we acted on our honeymoon. We wind up expressing jealousies transplanted from sibling rivalries, or we shut down because we feel like we aren't getting the attention we missed as children. And when childhood dramas take over a marriage, the spouses start to drift apart, especially sexually, because powerful, conflicted emotions from the past siphon any pure passion from the present.
What turns him on? You may be the last person in the world he'd tell
With all the talk about the difference between sex and intimacy, the two are powerfully connected. That's why what moves us sexually is usually one of our most closely guarded secrets. It's a window to our soul. In a marriage, opening that window means being seen emotionally naked 24/7. That's why many people don't open it at all. And that's a big loss. In working with couples for more than 15 years, I've rarely met anyone who doesn't welcome hearing a partner's sexual fantasies, once that person summons the courage to reveal them. I've seen lots of people blush, but I've never seen anyone get angry.
5 Ways to Put the X Back in Married Sex
Luckily, with so much passion locked inside us, there's a lot to unlock. It's just a matter of finding the right key. For most couples, being married makes being passionate together more difficult, not less. Admitting this is happening is the first step toward making it stop. You can change your sex life this week. Pick one item from this five-point plan and try it out. Have your husband pick another for next week. You'll be on your way to married sex that works. Trust me. Not only am I a doctor I've been married for 12 years.
1. Assume you don't know everything about each other sexually.
As I've said, very often a husband and wife can be married for many years without ever telling each other what they find most exciting in bed. This is partly because many people remain painfully embarrassed about their sexual needs. But it's also because too much is at stake — namely, the emotional bond between husbands and wives — to gamble it on fulfilling a need that might be seen as odd, selfish, or simply beyond the comfort level of their partners for life. And after years pass, it often becomes more and more difficult to reveal a "hidden" desire, because it feels like introducing something very foreign into the relationship (or admitting that you've been fibbing about your sexual desires all that time).

 2. Offer up an emotionally safe way to explore each other's fantasies.
The walls separating husbands and wives romantically do not dissolve spontaneously. They have to be dismantled piece by piece. You can start by inviting your husband to slowly reveal aspects of his sexuality. I recommend my patients say something relatively nonthreatening, like, "I had the craziest thought. Why don't you tell me something you think would really surprise me about what you wish we could do in bed? Then I promise to tell you something I think would surprise you." Putting it that way assures the other person that you anticipate being taken aback, and welcome it. And that means your husband doesn't automatically have to edit out the most erotic parts of his fantasy. If saying anything out loud is just too embarrassing for you, try putting a block of Post-its in an envelope for him with a note that says, Leave a fantasy under my pillow, and I'll wake you up in the middle of the night.
3. To make sex less intimidating, turn it into a game.
Ask your partner to tell you three of his fantasies, and you get to choose one to act out. Then it's his turn, you tell him three of yours, and he selects one. If he wants to pick two from your list, and you take him up on that offer, he also gets one of the two remaining fantasies on his list. Bargaining builds romantic tension. Being playful will be a welcome reminder of how energized the two of you once were and could be again. As an alternative, you could simply say, "I know you haven't told me everything you like in bed, even though we've been together for years. So give it up: What have you been dying to do?"
4. Provide examples.
In order for your spouse to believe that you want to hear his real fantasies, you'll have to prove it by giving a believable example. Otherwise, he'll think you expect him to say something nice about you falling asleep in his arms. Try something like this: "You know, whatever really excites you — being tied up, pretending I'm someone else, you name it."
5. Give real-life routine a rest.
Monotony (not to be confused with monogamy) is the enemy of passion. In order to see your mate as the prince, and for him to see you as the princess, it helps to set the stage and put on the right costume. Tell him to meet you at a restaurant for a date. Dress to impress each other. Then surprise him with a key to a motel room or a secluded beach cottage — no packing allowed. Even if an overnight isn't possible, you can alter your look to be "new" for your partner. A different style of clothing or different hairstyle or even a tiny tattoo on your ankle might trigger new feelings in him. Being "different" for him in bed doesn't mean he won't love you for everything you've always been outside the bedroom. But part of him (you know which part) wants to believe he just met you. And there's nothing wrong with your wanting to meet him for the first time too. Feel free to suggest that a beard or more closely cropped hair might look cool on him for a while.
Ironically, the kind of fantasies we try to keep so private are the kind of scenes that actually do appear in movies. That suggests that all of us have some potential to write true romance into our lives. We just have to decide it's time to start. My guess is you won't get too far down that road before you notice the passion wasn't really gone from your relationship. It was just hibernating.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to protect your naked photos

Scarlett Johansson is the latest star to have nude pics leaked by hackers, but celebs aren't the only ones at risk.

It isn't just Scarlett Johansson and other recently exposed celebrities and politicians who should be concerned about protecting their naughty cellphone snapshots. The FBI may be investigating hacks of roughly 50 celebrities, but many more ordinary folks have had their naked photos hacked and stolen within the past year. So, how do you protect yourself?
Well, as purity-pledgers like to say: The only 100 percent effective form of protection is abstinence. But no amount of horrifying STD slide shows or pseudo-scientific preaching about oxytocin will stop people from having premarital sex -- and the same is true of porny self-portraits. Quite frankly, I'm sick of the finger wagging at starlets for being so stupid as to take nude photos of themselves -- it's a little victim-blame-y, no? Dirty texts and emails are simply part of how we have sex now, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, and thankfully there are safe alternatives to total sextual chastity.
Before we get to the technical nerdy stuff, a photographic pointer: Keep your face and any identifying tattoos or birthmarks out of the shot. Should someone hack your Facebook account, find those naked photos you sent your boyfriend and then post them on your profile for all of your friends, family and colleagues to see, you can at least claim with some plausibility that it isn't a photo of you.
Now for the unsexy talk of good passwords, which might have prevented at least some Hollywood Leaks attacks, based on the group's claims. A good place to start is making sure that yours aren't among the most popular ones. Don't choose words that are in the dictionary or use the same password for multiple accounts. For a great primer on how to make a strong password, check out this video, which explains how you can easily remember a seemingly random and nonsensical jumble of characters.
For starters, you'll want to apply these beefed-up passwords to your phone, so that if it's stolen, the thief will be locked out (and, again, dont use one of the most popular codes). "On most smartphones now, the phone will automatically erase information after a certain number of failed attempts to unlock," Frederick Lane, a cyber security and computer forensics expert, tells me. He also points out that there are apps, like Photo Safe, that protect pictures with a password and sometimes even encrypt them. "Again, if the wrong password is entered multiple times, the content is wiped out," he says.
Then there's all manner of virtual accounts -- from email to Twitter to Facebook. Not only should you apply strong passwords, but you absolutely must have a strong series of security questions. This likely would have prevented the recent hack of Rapper Kreayshawn's Twitter account and the release of her topless shots. There's also the case of a California man who stole X-rated personal photos by scouring women's Facebook profiles for their email addresses and the basic information required by their email provider's security questions. Also, you might recall that this is how a hacker got access to Sarah Palin's Gmail account in 2008. Make the questions and answers so difficult that even your mom wouldn't be able to answer them (not that she'll be trying to snoop on your amateur porn, I hope). If you've ever shared dirty photos through email, all a hacker has to do is search through your sent mail folder for messages with photo attachments. As for your computer: Not only should you password protect that mofo at logon, but Lane also suggests encrypting and applying passwords to specific directories.
The next concern is malware. "Hackers have demonstrated in the past that it is possible for someone to access your smartphone's content remotely, by luring smartphone users to corrupted websites and executing malicious code," says Lane. "There are also some reports that malware producers are trying to develop apps to either send copies of photos to remote locations as they're taken, or to give hackers access to all of a phone's content. However, it's unclear whether those apps actually exist." The threat is even greater on computers: "The heightened risk for illegal intrusion into PCs stems from the fact that the architecture and software of PCs is much more well-known than phones, and the myriad programs and operating systems create numerous vulnerabilities," he explains. "It is amazing how frequently people visit sketchy websites [and] download files their friends supposedly sent them." (Last year, I wrote about a hacker who used malware to access dirty photos and videos on women's computers and then blackmailed them into filming and sending more.) So be careful about what websites you visit and what programs you install, and get "both firewall and anti-virus protection," he says.
Of course, most important is whom you choose to share your private photos with in the first place. If they don't take the same security precautions -- or if they just might turn out to be the sort of jerk that would post them on an ex-girlfriend porn website once you break up -- then your ironclad passwords and malware won't mean much; and, yes, it's true that the only fail-proof protection is to not take nudie pics at all. Ultimately, after considering the risks and the many ways to reduce them, it comes down to a personal decision of which is greater: The threat to your privacy or the threat to your sex life.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pleasurists Edition 145

Welcome to Pleasurists, a round-up of the adult product and sex toy reviews that came out in the last seven days. If you like what you see and want more of it be sure to follow our RSS Feed and Twitter.
Did you miss Pleasurists 144? Read it all here. Do you have a review for Pleasurists 146? Be sure to read the submission guidelines and then use the submission form to submit before Sunday September 4th @ 11:59pm Pacific.
Want a shiny new toy? All you’ve got to do is enter.
Editor’s Pick
  • Fresh Beaded Nipple Huggers by CLP
  • Since there is no tension, they just fall right off every time I lean forward or shake too hard. They don’t ‘hug’ the nipple, but instead balance like paperclips on a pencil eraser–which is every bit as unsexy as it sounds. I did try to tighten the loop a bit, but the metal was pretty stubborn and did not budge enough for me to bend to size. I stopped just short of breaking them.
    Note: It’s not the I love negative reviews, but often bad products lead to good writing and fun ways to say “it sucks.” Accompanying this review are some gorgeous pictures, it’s unfortunate they look far better than they work or actually are.
Scarlet Lotus
This week’s reviews:
Anal Toys
Sleeves, Rings, & etc.
Lube, Massage Oil, Bath Stuff, & etc.
Adult Books & Games
Adult DVDs & Porn
Lingerie & Shoes