Monday, November 4, 2013

A Case for Premarital Sex

Premarital sex is a fairly controversial topic. Based on our best research, it's exceedingly common (95%, based on this pretty good study.) Yet we still have a cultural tendency to vilify it. Maybe it's that Puritan heritage. Maybe it's our schizophrenic view of religion. Maybe we just like being rebellious, and frowning on premarital sex gives us a rush. 

Regardless, here are seven reasons to kick the tires before buying the car:

1. You get practice. We don't learn to ride a bike during the first stage of the Tour de France, do we? Of course not. Why should sex be any different? We could probably solve a lot of our world problems if only people learned to be better lovers.

2. You can assess sexual compatibility. You like sex four times per week and enjoy some light bondage. Your partner wants sex one per month in missionary only. This is a problem. Post-marriage is not the time to discover this.

3. You can explore your own sexuality. This is related to the previous item. We never really know what we like until we try some stuff out. In the absence of experimentation, we have to rely on guessing. Getting to know what YOU like is a prerequisite to a fulfilling sex life.

4. Abstinence is much more difficult than it used to be. Back in the day, kids reached puberty (ad the accompanying drive to have sex) around age 15-16, then got married around 16-17. Premarital sex was easy to resist because they didn't have to wait long... maybe 10-15 months. Today, kids reach puberty around 12-13, but don't get married until mid-to-late twenties. Is it realistic to resist that drive for 10-15 YEARS? Of course not. 

5. Abstinence promotes an association between shame and sex. Abstinence vilifies our sexuality by associating it with shame. I'll let Kristen Howerton speak to this one.

6. Abstinence promotes a sense of ownership over your significant other. The idea of "saving" virginity for our spouse has traditionally been a function of our religio-partiarchal heritage and encouraged a sense of ownership over our significant others. We could solve a lot of relationship issues if only we saw our spouses as autonomous beings that aren't bound by a contract.

7. Life is short. Sex is fun. No explanation necessary.

There you have it- seven reasons to test the milk before you buy the cow.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Are You an Alpha or a Beta?

Are you an alpha or a beta?

This is a topic that's sprung up a lot lately on Facebook, and it fascinates me. Before we dive into the specifics, let's develop a nice operational definition of "alpha" and "beta." I like to think of this construct as a continuum, or pecking order, present in masculine personalities. 

Alphas are at the top. They are the leaders. They are confident, cool under pressure, and care little about what others think of them. They live life on their own terms. They don't ask for what they need; they take what they need. They fit the masculine stereotype, even though sex is irrelevant.

Betas are the followers. They're pleasers. They are self-conscious and rely on passive-aggressive means to get what they want or need. They whine. They complain. They play the role of victim. They're easily offended. They fit the feminine stereotype.

Does This Dichotomy Really Exist?


In short, not really. The idea is borrowed from the cousins of our best friends- the wolf. Specifically, wolves in captivity. In the latter third of the 20th century, researchers noticed wolves in captivity (that part's important) developed a strict social "pack hierarchy." The strongest male, through force, assumed the role as leader. The strongest female assumed the role of alpha female. They mated. The rest of the pack helped raise their baby wolves. Pop human personality theorists borrowed this concept and applied it to humans. 

Psychologists struggled to actually validate this idea. As it turns out, human behavior is far more complex. In fact, the entire field of personality psychology is plagued by weak correlations and exceptions to rules. There are A LOT of theories out there... some better than others. None adequately explain the depth and breadth of humanity.

This shouldn't be a huge surprise because... it turns out wolves are more complex, too. Captive wolves act differently than wild wolves, which seriously damages the fundamental basis of the alpha/beta dichotomy.

Be that as it may, we still like to make sense of our world. We like convenient categories as they provide valuable mental shortcuts. It's important to remember that all of us have some alpha qualities and some beta qualities at least some of the time, and this is usually dependent on the situation. Even though the concept of alphas and betas may be fantastically over-simplified, it can still serve a useful purpose.

Why We Care

Our society heavily favors alphas. They get the first pick in pretty much everything. Betas... they fight over the scraps. Normally, we fall into one of these two roles- leaders or followers. Active or passive. Strong or weak. The role we play at any given time is inconsequential, as long as it's the role we want to play. Problems arise when betas decide they want to become alphas... usually with really bad results.

The fundamental problem is betas assume being an alpha is a set of behaviors. Do the behaviors -and- POOF! You magically become an alpha.

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Alphas aren't alphas because they act cocky, brag, or exclaim their strength. In fact, nothing shouts "I'm a beta" for males than peacocking. You know, the "Jersey Shore" male strutting. It's all just an act, which is painfully evident to true alphas. Real alphas don't need to peacock. For women, it's more common to proclaim strength, which is also a distinct "I'm a beta" cry. Again, real alphas don't need to proclaim their strength. Both of these behaviors are nothing more than facades to hide insecurities.

The real secret to being an alpha is inner contentment. Once you really accept who you are and recognize you're at the helm of the ship that is your life, becoming an alpha is easy. Needing the affirmation of others is the hallmark of being a beta. 

This, of course, is easier said than done. If you're a beta and you want to be an alpha, here are some tips:

1. Introspection helps. If someone hurts or offends you, plumb the depths of your psyche to figure out why. There's a root cause, and it has nothing to do with the other person. You're allowing yourself to be offended and/or hurt. 

2. It's okay to act the part until you achieve inner contentment, just make sure you know how alphas really act. In any given social situation, observe. Try to figure out who is the true alpha in the situation. In a room full of alphas, everyone immediately knows where they fit in the pecking order. True alphas accept this.

3. Develop the ability to lead. Alphas, above everything else, are leaders. They care deeply for their pack and take every opportunity to help them. 

Conclusion

The dichotomy of alphas and betas may not be statistically verifiable, but it is a useful schema we can use. This is especially true if we're a beta and wish to become an alpha. I've always had a lot of alpha traits, but was raised in an environment that more or less required me to learn beta behaviors. It's taken awhile to learn to effectively play the alpha role, but it worth it. Being an alpha is a Hell of a lot more fun. ;-)

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Difference Between Writing Nonfiction and Fiction

About three months ago, I decided to start a new book project. The chosen topic: sex. I needed to get away from writing about running, especially considering I rarely run these days.

Why sex? Well, back in my undergrad days, I was planning to be an experimental psychologist (the folks that do research.) Specifically, I was focusing on social psychology. Even more specifically, I was focusing on sexual behavior as a function of social influences. You know, how does your environment affect your horniness, adventurousness, etc.

Long story short- I got a job teaching high school, then spent about two years traveling the country. I've slowly fallen into a writing "career" during the last five or six years. It started with prolific blogging (~1000 posts averaging 1,000 words/ post), and morphed into two running-related books.

I wanted to start a new project, and writing this blog helped me connect to my roots. The first plan was to write a nonfiction book using the tone and voice of Squirrel Wipe, which was basically tackling the sport of ultrarunning with sophomoric humor.

I wrote a mission statement. Or "thesis statement" for you language arts-types.

I made an outline of topics I wanted to cover.

I wrote an introduction.

I wrote the first 5,000 words.

And it sucked.

The Nonfiction Writing Experience


For me, writing nonfiction has always been pretty easy. Doing experimental write-ups, historiography (I regretfully majored in history, too), and blogging all honed my skillz. My nonfiction methodology is simple- leverage my experiences to figure out what information the audience wants to know, then deliver it in an amusing way.

The process itself was straightforward. I thought about a given topic, then wrote it down. In the case of blog posts, I'd immediately publish. In the case of books, I'd do some rewriting usually to make the material funnier.

This process resulted in a huge volume of work. The lack of editing meant I never second-guessed the material, which created a degree of edginess. My various blogs became my diaries.

The methodology worked well as long as I was sufficiently inspired... which occurred in roughly two month cycles. A persistent case of writer's block led me to the extreme decision to... God forbid, write fiction.

The Fiction Writing Experience

I'll admit, writing fiction scared me. It seemed so much more intimidating. My friend Pete had dabbled in fiction (he wrote this excellent book available as an ebook... if you like crime-based fiction, check it out) and tried convincing me to take the plunge. 

I resisted.

I did do some cursory research, which led me to one of the most widely-regarded book for fiction writers- Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird." I did some other research on the Interwebz, too. It led me to a conclusion-

Writing fiction wasn't necessarily the process of making up stories; it was the process of documenting the stories that play out in your head.

All of a sudden, fiction got a lot less intimidating. I spend A LOT of time daydreaming. About ten percent of that daydream time is spent on actual real-life problems and issues. About forty percent is spent on weird random shit, like wondering how a supercharger differs from a turbo charger or where the weaved top of apple pie crusts originated. That last 50% is spent in an entirely fictional world.



It's hard to describe my own personal Land of Make Believe... mostly because of its plasticity. It's ever-changing. Some facets have been around since early childhood. Some elements were added yesterday. The best way to describe it would be to use a comic book universe analogy:

Lot of characters, lots of settings. Sometimes it's pretty normal, sometimes it gets bizarre. The characters from different settings can interact, but rarely do. 

I am deeply fascinated by human behavior. I like to observe people... try to figure out what makes them tick. My Land of Make Believe serves as a bit of a "sandbox" where I can apply what I learn.  Sometimes people would ask how I could run 100 miles without getting bored. The simple answer- I spent A LOT of time in my Land of Make Believe. 

I digress. Back to writing fiction.

I came to realize all I had to do to write fiction was describe what was happening to the people that populate my Land of Make Believe. It's basically a technique Lamott discusses in her book. The tricky part is actually observing what's happening. Actions happen far faster than I can type, and I don't have the luxury of having trained as a writer. The actual mechanical process is pretty slow.

The solution was a faceless intermediary that closely observes everything all the characters do. For the sake of this discussion we'll pretend he's Karl Childers, Billy Bob Thornton's character from Slingblade. Karl has a deeper understanding of their thoughts, beliefs, motivations, aspirations... whatever. To fully capitalize n Karl's knowledge, the events must have already occurred. As such, the entire story has already been determined. Only I don't know how it ends... yet.

The actual story being written is a function of the imaginary conversations with Karl. I observe the characters. Karl observes the characters. We discuss what we saw. I write.

The problem occurs when we get it wrong, which we realize after something has already been written. For example, most of the story revolves around a woman named Julia. She has a good friend Andrea. As the story progresses, the nature of Andrea's character has changed. Karl and I got it wrong in the beginning. That kind of shit happens a lot.

The fluid nature of the interpretation will require at least one or two rewrites. Normally I despise editing, but am actually looking forward to it this time. The more I learn about the characters, the better I can describe them in the early pages. 

My Land of Make Believe also throws some interesting curve balls. Early in the story, Julia has a brief encounter with a neighbor. Both Karl and I assumed this character didn't really play a role aside from being a convenient literary device to describe a particular facet of Julia's personality. 

Then they ran into each other and decided to chat. The ensuing events came as a complete surprise. Neither Karl nor I would have ever predicted what happened. I was bizarre to be writing while thinking "I cannot believe this is happening!" It was quite exhilarating AND it fundamentally changed Julia, the formerly minor character, and the nature of the relationship to those around them. Of course, that will require some rewrites, too.

What About the Audience?

When I wrote The Barefoot Running Book and Squirrel Wipe, I was acutely aware of my audience. I had interacted with them extensively. I had written hundreds of blog posts and closely studied traffic data. I knew what they wanted to read, what voice I should use to communicate the information, and how to deliver it to them. Writing them became a matter of melding that information with writing I enjoyed doing. The end result was a mutually-beneficial product. I knew each book would sell a minimum number of copies simply based on this information.

Fiction... that's an entirely different animal. I have no idea what my potential audience wants. I know I would like to read the book... but that's about it. It could only sell five copies. Critics could hate it. Worse, critics could ignore it. An easy way around this problem would be to take the same approach I did with the nonfiction books and start a blog of short stories. Experiment with different ideas and story lines; introduce different types of characters. I could then study the traffic patterns and solicit opinions from readers. I could begin to build a profile of the target audience. 

There's a problem with this approach, though. 

Karl doesn't like it.

Trying to please an unknown audience invariably interferes with the process. It pollutes the characters. The audience would want the characters to behave in a certain way. The good people should be good. The bad people should be bad. But that's not how real life works. Neither does my World of Make Believe. Bad things happen to seemingly good people. And vice versa. To fully allow this process to happen, I have to ignore the audience. 

So... Where Am I Right Now?

As of today, I have about 40,000 words written of the first draft. Based on where the story is right now, I would anticipate another 10-20,000 words will be needed to finish. The first draft will require a significant rewrite, which will probably add another 10-20,000 words. 

As far as the specific story, I still don't know exactly how it will end. In the beginning, I thought I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going to go... but I was wrong. Really, really wrong. Two characters dramatically altered the entire story. The events are building up to something... I just don't know what that something is. 

Oh, and for those of you that are wondering why I'm writing about this on the Sexpressionists blog- the idea started as a book about human sexuality, ergo there IS a lot of sex in the story. It's basically erotica. ;-)

Conclusion


This entire process has been a blast. I never expected fiction to be so much fun. I like writing nonfiction because it's a lot like teaching- it's a process of sharing information in an entertaining way. Fiction is different... it's more like drawing or painting (a hobby I haven't dabbled in since college.) It's a chance to let a few of the people from my Land of Make Believe see the light of day.

I'm curious- for those of you that write fiction, how would you describe your process? Share in the comments section!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Reader Question: My significant Other Wants Me to Rape Them. HELP!

Rape fantasy. In my experience discussing human sexuality with others, this particular fantasy shows up on a surprisingly regular basis. However, it's not quite common enough to generate much discussion among the general population.

I recently received an email from a reader. Their significant other shared a fantasy of being raped. The reader felt like this particular fantasy was too far outside their comfort zone, so they were seeking some guidance.

Before we get into the mechanics of "rape play", we need to come up with solid operational definitions for the term "rape fantasy." Fantasy rape is almost always significantly different from actual sexual assault. Some hard-core practitioners may blur the lines, but do so only after a significant amount of trust is developed between the involved parties. Sexual assault rape (rapey rape) involves unwilling sexual activity usually carried out in a violent manner with no regard for the victim. It's a horrible, traumatic crime. Despite the opinion of some members of the US Congress (talking to you, Todd Akin), all rape is forcible rape. Consensual rape (fantasy rape) is carried out between consenting individuals that have discussed the issue beforehand and taken precautions to assure the fantasy doesn't cross a line to actual assault. So...


  • Rapey Rape: The unlawful or undesired compelling of a person through physical force or duress to engage in sexual activity. It's a horrible crime that has serious psychological, sociological, and anthropological ramifications. 
  • Fantasy Rape: Sexual fantasy involving imagining or pretending being coerced or coercing another into sexual activity. In sexual role-play, it involves acting out roles of coercive sex. (thanks Wikipedia!) Worth noting: people can fantasize about being the "attacker" or the "victim." 
Victims of rapey rape never want the act repeated and people that have rape fantasies never actually want to experience rapey rape. I have never encountered an exception to this. Again, there's a very distinct difference between the two.

Thankfully, many of us have grown up in an era where we've had the lessons of consensual sex hammered into our heads. Well, at least those of us that were fortunate enough to sit through a freshmen college orientation. However, our hyper-sensitivity toward sexual assault also makes us a bit gun-shy about admitting or engaging in fantasy rape.

The solution, like pretty much any relationship issue, is solved through communication. The person that would like to enact the fantasy should initiate a discussion about their desires. This can get tricky as a novice probably won't know where their own lines are drawn, thus cannot effectively communicate with their partner. In that case, go slow. Set up a deliberate, simple scenario. Maybe the "attacker" tears the "victim's" clothing then holds their hands down as they have sex. 

Once a few scenarios have been enacted, the person with the fantasy should begin to get a handle on the exact nature of their desires.

Before the first scenario is enacted, develop safe words. This is good practice in any sexual relationship, but critically important in rape play. I recommend using something goofy that will obviously stand out when things get heated. I also recommend practicing the safe word for a day or two before testing it out. An even better system is to have a series of safe words to indicate comfort level. The most common in BDSM play is:
  • Green light: Fuck yeah, keep it up!
  • Yellow light: Okay, I don't like where this is going. Change course.
  • Red light: Stop immediately.
The most important rule: When the "stop immediately" safe word is used, the "attacker" MUST stop immediately with no exceptions. If they do continue, this moves the act to the sexual assault category AND ruins the necessary trust between the participants. Also worth noting- since yelling "green light" may be a bit distracting, it can be implied.

Follow those rules and you'll be able to safely and confidently explore your fantasies.

Yeah, but doesn't the discussion and safe words ruin the fantasy?



To some, maybe. However, I see it as the price of admission. Rape fantasy toes a dangerous line, and the consequences of miscommunication are too great. Talk. Develop safe words. Start slow. If all goes well, you can discuss pushing the boundaries. 

I have a rape fantasy... how do I share it with my significant other?

In a perfect world, we'd all be involved in relationships where we felt a level of trust and intimacy to discuss any topic AND we'd have a willingness to try anything at least once or thrice. At the very least, it would be nice if we all shared the same dark sense of humor that would allow us to discuss fantasy rape in a humorous fashon. Sadly, we do not live in said perfect world. 

"I want you to rape me" or "I want to rape you" may be a little too intense for some. I would recommend taking a slightly more politically-correct route of mild domination/ submission and working from there. The mediocre book "50 Shades of Gray" ('Murica, damn it!) is a good, socially-acceptable way to acquaint someone to the concepts. Read it aloud to each other.  

These are the basic points of rape fantasy. This is far from an all-encompassing guide, so feel free to ask questions in the comments section!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Open Source Sexuality Project: Curious People Needed

What are your most significant sexual issues?
  • Do you ever wonder if your thoughts and behaviors are "normal?"
  • Do you wish you had more or more enthusiastic sex?
  • Do you wish you had more a more intimate connection to your partner?
  • Do you want to improve your flirting skills?
  • Are you curious about trying something that interests you, but are held back by inhibitions?
  • Do you have problems with arousal or orgasm?
  • Do you question your gender or your sexuality?
  • Do you want to improve your skills in the bedroom or just have an insatiable curiosity about all things sexual?
Many people in our society struggle with these issues. The answer to all of these issues is education. We live in a pretty miraculous age- all of the solutions to these specific issues can be found by communicating with the right people and the Interwebz makes it exceedingly easy to do so. 

Unfortunately there's no single comprehensive resource that covers all major topics and the vast grey area in between. Many resources cast sexuality in a negative light by inducing shame or guilt in an attempt to control a populous (common among strict religions, some medical pratitioners.) These groups doesn't really solve issues, they just force repression, denial, and "treatment" of supposed "illnesses" which leads to even more serious issues.

Other groups focus on one particular lifestyle or demographic (like heterosexual male exhibitionists in Sweden.) This can be great for learning about particular behaviors, but there's little cross-pollination of ideas. Sexuality is compartmentalized, so there's no opportunity to learn from people that may engage in dramatically different activities.


This project couples the crowdsourcing principles of the open source movement with the sex-positive movement.

The open source movement is a philosophical approach to the sharing of information. Historically, knowledge has been treated like fossil fuel. It was to be hoarded and tightly controlled. A select few (academics, the information industry, etc.) would provide access to knowledge for a fee. The open source movement democratizes knowledge. It treats information like an abundant renewable resource. As such, everyone has free access to knowledge. Anyone can contribute; anyone can learn. Wikipedia is the best current example of the power of open source sharing to create a robust body of knowledge.

The sex-positive movement is a philosophical approach to sexuality. It promotes open, honest expression of sexuality and pleasure as long as the activities are safe and consensual. It encourages people to explore their own sexuality to improve health and happiness. Comprehensive sexual education is one of the hallmarks of the sex-positive movement. The more we know about sexuality, the more fulfilled our lives become. Also, associating beliefs or activities with individuals humanizes the breadth and depth of human sexuality. This makes us far more accepting of people that are different from us. 

The Open Source Sexuality Project joins these two emerging social forces. Because both movements flourish when barriers are removed, it's important to set as few ground rules as possible. The project is based on a few simple guidelines:
  1. Participants must have a genuine curiosity about human sexuality.
  2. Participants must be open to discussing and learning from anyone sharing experiences between consenting adults.
  3. Given all of us have different interpretations of sexual morality, participants must be willing to suspend judgement of others. 

How Will the Project Grow?


I'm not interested in creating a movement that will change our entire society. I'm more than happy to limit growth to the truly curious that embrace both the open source as sex-positive movements. However, there is a certain threshold that is required to develop good conversations. Once this happens, the project becomes a self-sustaining entity where the cultivation and sharing of knowledge is fueled entirely by the curiosity of the participants. 

My vision for growing the project is based on reaching as many like-minded people as possible without diluting the original intent. To that end, I need 25 volunteers that are willing to plant the seeds for the project. These 25 volunteers have to be willing to do the following:
  • Register as a user on the forum (can be anonymous.)
  • Visit the forum at least twice per day for 30 days; start at least one thread per day respond to at least one thread per day.
If you would like to volunteer, there will be formal process. Simply visit the forum, register, and create a thread or two. I don't want to give directions beyond this, nor do I want to plant "seed" topics. I want the conversations to go wherever the volunteers wish to take them. 

If you know of someone that may be interested in participating but won't likely see this post, please forward them the link. My friends-of-friends network is far more diverse than my own friends network.

Preemptively, thank you to everyone that does take part in the project. Together, we can build a positive network of like-minded people that will serve to create a great resource to educate each other. I sincerely appreciate your sense of curiosity and adventurousness!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is My Partner Kinky? A Method to Assess Your Sexual Partner's Willingness to Engage in Sexual Activites

Here's the situation- you want to try something in the bedroom, but you're not sure if your partner will be up for it. In a perfect world, you could simply ask them. Unfortunately, relationships rarely follow the "perfect world" ideal. We worry about our significant other's reaction. 

Will they be upset? Will they feel threatened? Hurt? Embarrassed? Will they think we're sick perverts? Will they be so offended they decide to leave us?

All are legitimate fears. 

Since it's unlikely all of us will go through the steps to assure we have a perfect relationship where we feel absolutely safe to express ourselves openly and honestly, there are "shortcuts."

When it comes to kinky sexual activities and determining our partner's willingness to partake, one great tool is what's known in psychology circles as a consensus scale. It works like this:


  1. You're given a list of items (in this case, sexual activities.)
  2. You rank each one using a five point scale to be discussed in a moment.
  3. You then discuss the answers with your significant other.
The five point scale is designed to assess agreeableness to activities, or how open you are to trying stuff. By rating agreeableness, you can then see how each other feels about any given activity.

In short, you'll know exactly what's on and off the table. 

So the scale: For each activity, there are five possible choices:

  • 5 - I would LOVE this and would jump at the opportunity to do it!
  • 4 - I think I would like this and want to give it a try.
  • 3 - I'm not sure how I feel about this but would like to discuss it.
  • 2 - I'm pretty sure I would dislike this but may be willing to give it a try at least once.
  • 1 - I do not want to do this activity.
For the list of activities, I would recommend making your own. I Googled "list of sexual activities" and found a few very good lists, including this one from cafemom.com, this list from mysexprofessor.com, and this list from guyspeed.com. If you really want to push their boundary (or make other items on the list seem more "normal") add items from this list

Want an easier option? I'm in the process of compiling a list via Google Docs that's set up for this specific purpose. All you have to do is print out two copies, then each take the inventory. It can be found here:


The list isn't entirely comprehensive, so I could use some help. Look over the list. If there's something I should add, leave a comment on THIS post. It can be general or specific. I'll add it to the list ASAP. 

Have fun with it!


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Give Me Oral! A Concise Guide to Convincing Your Partner to Perform Cunnilingus or Fellatio

In my ethically-questionable post "How to Convince Your Partner to be More Sexually Adventurous", I gave quite a few "tactics' to reduce inhibitions. A reader commented and asked specifically about methods to convince her boyfriend to perform oral on her. He had tried it in the past and it made him throw up.

This situation isn't at all uncommon. Stereotypically, we usually think of guys trying to convince their ladies to give head... but the problem seems to be evenly spread among genders. There are lots of possible solutions, not all of which may be viable. I'm going to frame the solution for women with significant others that won't give them oral, but the genders can be interchangeable. Let's look at a few:

1. Dump him. If the relationship isn't terribly serious, you don't have much invested, and you really like receiving oral, this is a simple, straight-forward solution. When it comes to performing oral, people seem to fall into one of three categories: 

  • They love it. This group usually finds oral to be incredibly exciting and will perform it whenever possible. They're getting enjoyment out of the process.
  • They will perform if asked, but won't initiate. This group could take it or leave it; it's usually a means to an end. They see it as a chore.
  • They hate it. This group will avoid oral at all costs. In most cases, they're grossed out by the mere thought of it and probably have a strong involuntary physiological reaction (like vomiting.)
If your partner is in the last category and you really love oral, it may be easier to find a dude in the first group.

2. Bargain. If your partner is in the middle group, this can be as easy as a simple negotiation. "I'll cook you your favorite dinner in exchange for a little licky-licky." Or, "I'll spank you with that hair brush if you go down on me." Whatever. You get the point.

This method probably won't work for the last group since they're probably not gong to get over their negative physiological reaction based solely on the promise of a reward.

3. Extort. If your partner refuses to preform oral, you can always withhold sex until they comply. You could also threaten to scratch their Celine Dion CD collection, shave their dog, or send embarrassing photos to their relatives. I definitely DO NOT recommend this method, but it's an option.

4. Find a pinch hitter. There are plenty of dudes out there that fall in that first category. Depending on the nature of your relationship (or your loose morals), you can always find a willing tongue.

5. Use science. Okay, so I'm a psychology geek... but it's incredibly useful in the bedroom. If the boyfriend is willing to try to overcome their negative reaction, this method will work exceedingly well. We're basically going to move them from that last group to the first group using classical conditioning (I wrote about this before in this post.)

Odds are good the boyfriend developed the idea that the vagina is gross at some point in his life. Could have been friends, relatives, movies, just ignorance... whatever. He's likely developed a taste aversion, which is nature's way of keeping our ancestors from eating poisons. It's involuntary and stubborn. 

Our goal is to get him to love vagina. We're going to accomplish this by making the smell and taste highly arousing during multiple sessions over the course of a few days or weeks. The theory is simple- the boyfriend will masturbate. Immediately before orgasm, he'll be exposed to first the taste, then the smell of his girlfriend's vagina (taste isn't as sensitive as smell, so it's a "smaller" step, so to speak.) Repeated exposure will create an association between the taste and smell and the endorphine and dopamine dump that occurs in the brain at the point of orgasm. Here's the process:

Day 1: The couple will work out a "I'm going to cum in five seconds" signal beforehand. Have the dude plug his nose with a nose clip or plug, then masturbate. The girlfriend will insert her finger in her vagina. When he gives the signal, she'll place her finger in front of his mouth and he'll lick it. Do this once in the morning and once at night.

Days 2 and 3: Repeat this process.

Day 4: Use the same process, except remove the nose plug. This will add the smell to the mix. After the six trials from the previous three days, an association should already be forming so the smell should be registered as pleasurable. Even if it's not, the orgasm will trump and residual negative physiological reactions. Do this once in the morning and once at night.

Days 5 and 6: Repeat this process.

Day 7: By now, the boyfriend should have experienced 12 orgasms in the presence of his girlfriend's scent and taste. Over the next few days, the length of time between exposure of smell and taste and orgasm will be stretched out. Also, instead of just having him lick the finger, the girlfriend will place it in his mouth. The "I'm about to cum" signal should be given about 10 seconds before orgasm. Use the same "morning and evening" pattern.

Day 8: Same deal, but give the signal 15 seconds before orgasm.

Day 9: Extend the warning to 20 seconds.

Day 10: Extend the warning to 25 seconds.

Day 11: Extend the warning to 30 seconds.

Day 12: Place the finger in his mouth as soon as he begins masturbating. The girlfriend should touch herself multiple times to reapply the taste and scent.

Day 13: By now, the boyfriend should have developed an exceedingly powerful "fetish" to her scent and taste. Blindfold the boyfriend. Have him lie on his back on the bed. He will begin masturbating. The girlfriend will straddle his face but not actually come in contact with him. She will keep her vagina directly over his nose and mouth about 2 inches away. Remain in this position until he orgasms. Repeat twice.

Day 14: The day of truth. Assume the same position and setup as the previous day. This time, the girlfriend will lower herself onto his mouth about 15 seconds before he orgasms (bust out the warning signal again.) Do this twice throughout the day. 

After two weeks, the taste aversion to vagina will have been converted to a strong vagina fetish. If he's still squeamish about the sight of vagina, he can keep wearing the blindfold for a few days.

Yes, fourteen days IS a long time. Yes, it does take persistence and work. It's an enjoyable process, though. If you have a significant other that doesn't like oral and you happen to love receiving, I bet you wish you read this two weeks ago, huh? I guarantee he'll be going down so hard, James Cameron will want to make a movie about it. ;-)

Conclusion


Like most sexual matters, this problem has multiple solutions. The five I gave WILL solve the problem. If your partner really hates giving, start with the last method. If they're not willing, then consider the other options.

Life is too short to not enjoy some good oral.

Good luck!

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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Sex Robots Were Great Until They Became Clingy Psycho Stalkers

courtesy Huntington Post

Warning- lots of nonsense in this post. Read at your own peril. ;-)

Earlier today, I re-posted this article on Facebook:


The article was satire, but still funny. And intriguing. As technology develops, we'll inevitably come to the point of producing machines that can closely approximate humans.

And in all likelihood, we'll use those machines for sex. Isn't that what electronic vibrating devices, motion pictures, telephones, the VHS cassette, and the Internet taught us- we'll adapt technology to use for sexual purposes?

Contrary to popular belief, capitalism doesn't drive technological advancement. The desire to have better and/or more sex drives technological development. 

So the sex robots- how close are we? As it turns out, the Japanese are leading the way:


This idea brings up some interesting questions. Some may harp on the morality of the whole issue, which I personally believe is dumb. What you do in the privacy of your own bedroom blah, blah, blah. A sex robot isn't going to precipitate the downfall of society. I'm more interested in more likely issues, such as:

  • Would it be more economical to own, or would a lease-with-option-to-buy be more realistic? [this topic was discussed in the last "morality" article linked above]
  • If you're married, would it be considered a threesome? Or cheating if one spouse wasn't involved?
  • If you're single, how would you introduce the FuckBot 3000 to potential mates?
  • Would the State of California figure out a way to tax you for every sexual act?
  • Would you fall in love with your robot? Personally I doubt this would happen in the absence of pheromones, but  suppose those could be released by the robot.
  • Would the robot fall in love with you, ala the original linked article?
  • Would the robot eventually start nagging you for dumb shit?
  • Would this be mostly a male phenomenon, or would females also be interested in the robot? Am I sexist for assuming that? Worse, am I THAT out of touch with what's really going through women's heads?
  • Will we end up like this dude?
What do you think? Would you buy a sex robot? How would any of these issues be resolved? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Explanation of the Foot Fetish Dudes?

Since becoming involved n barefoot running around 2005 or so, I've fielded a million questions covering all aspects of life without shoes. Most questions involve the logic or logistics of barefootedness. One group of questions, however, buck that trend.

I get a fair number of female friends that report a sudden increase of friend requests (on Facebook) from dudes asking to post more pictures of their feet. The requests are usually framed in a way that implicitly or explicitly indicates the piictures arouse them sexually. Almost all of these women have been creeped out by the phenomenon. After all, getting random requests from strangers that are obviously using your pictures for masturbatory practices can be a bit disconcerting for some.

I've always found this to be humorous and suggest they just block the friend requests. I also suggest the women (or other men) take it easy on the foot fetish fellows. We all have our unique turn-ons, and it's a good practice to avoid judging others. It's like offensive TV shows- instead of freaking out and calling for silly things like censorship, simply change the channel.

Anywho, the book I've been reading (How We Do It by Judy Dutton... which I would recommend for the sexually illiterate) discusses an article published in 1998 titled "Sexualization of the Female Foot in Response to Sexually Transmitted Epidemics." The authors note there seems to be an increase in female foot fetishes in response to historical STD epidemics. According to this hypothesis, the current increase in female foot fetishes is a direct result of the AIDS epidemic. 

If this is the case, the current crop of men (any maybe some women) that have developed a fetish for the female foot hit the jackpot. The barefoot running movement has produced an huge influx of easily-available female foot pictures easily accessible via the Interwebz. The ease of availability would theoretically add even more fuel to the fire that is female foot fetishes.

What do you think? Many of my readers are also current or former barefoot runners OR dudes that may have a foot fetish. Is the theory plausible? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Feeling Down? Unmotivated? Depressed? Try Swallowing. Or Perhaps a Nice Creampie?

I've been reading the book "How We Do It: How the Science of Sex Can Make You a Better Lover" by Judy Dutton. [Note- if you're interested, used copies are available for a Bareefoot Running Book-esque price of $0.01 via Amazon] The book discusses a wide variety of fascinating sexuality topics derived from research. It's an infinitely better basis for sexual knowledge than that bullshit published in puppy cage liners like Cosmo, Redbook, and Men's Health. I highly recommend the book based on what I've read thus far.

One of the first studies the author discusses is a correlational study by Gallup, Burch and Platek (2002) that discusses a positive correlation between condom use and depression. The authors of the study hypothesize the cause of the correlation could be due to prostaglandins present in semen that are absorbed into the recipient's body which wards off depressive symptoms.

I'll take a moment to let all the dudes rejoice.



If you think this is the greatest idea ever stop reading here. Print out the Gallop et. al. abstract and tactfully give it to your significant other... preferably when they're in a bad mood. Offer up a nice "deposit" for... you know, humanitarian reasons. Better yet, all the guys can now add "Bringer of Happiness" to their resumes or CVs. 

If you're more of a research geek, read on.

Like all sexuality research, it's a good idea to read the fine print. The Gallup study was correlational in nature, which means the results can't say if the lack of condoms (and accompanying creampie) caused the decrease in depression. The authors of the study did control for a variety of extraneous variables, which does increase the validity. Still, causation can't be established with correlational research.

Psychology Today posted a nice critical article, which is worth a read. The PT article does note Gallup et. al. have replicated the results with a larger sample size, but the same correational issues will still be an issue.

Could causation be tested?

It would be somewhat difficult in the lab, though I could imagine groups of subjects ingesting caplets filled with either semen or a placebo. 

It would be much easier to test this hypothesis at home. After all there's nothing more reliable and valid than the n=1 experiment. This home experiment requires a "donor" and a "recipient." If you're in a relationship without a donor, you're fucked. And resigned to spend a lot of time being angry. ;-)

Bad jokes aside, the experiment s very simple. Have sex (vaginal oral  or anal... all are acceptable methods to absorb the hormones in the semen.) About half of the time the donor will finish up inside the recipient. For the other half, the donor will finish up outside (note- some believe semen also has positive effects on skin health.) Otherwise they to keep every other variable the same. If the recipient normally orgasms as part of the sexual acts make sure they continue in both conditions. 

Record the mood of the recipient in the hours after the experiment. After a few weeks, you should see a pattern developing if one exists. If there is a pattern, congratulation! You've stumbled upon an easy route to happiness! If there is no pattern, at least you've had a lot of sex. 

It's a win-win!

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine's Day: Pffft!

Valentine's Day always pissed me off. No, it's not the flood of red and pink that invades storefronts. No, it's not the mushy greeting cards. No, it's not the crappy-ass chocolate wrapped in cardboard hearts. 

Valentine's Day pisses me off because it's a day set aside to show your love and affection to your significant other.

What's wrong with that?

Why do we insist on displaying more love and affection on a predetermined day? If we were really concerned about relaying our feelings, why wouldn't we do this every day?

Of course, some people will defend the holiday. They'll talk about liking being pampered, getting the extra attention. However, this reliance on a holiday to get what you need from a relationship is problematic. If a person needs more love and affection, why don't they just ask for it?

We all have needs. We have to feel comfortable asking our partner to fulfill those needs. We shouldn't rely on a holiday to meet those needs.

What are your thoughts? Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Why is it different than any other day? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

America: We Hate Nudity and Love Violence

Ever notice this trend? Many parents have little or no problem exposing their children to violence via video games, TV, moves... whatever. The same parents also flip out if their kids see a nipple. 

What the fuck is up with that?

[For the record, I don't care if my kids view violence or nudity... Shelly and I take it as an opportunity to explain context, the difference between fantasy and reality, etc.]

Anyway, why exactly DO we "protect" kids from nudity? To the best of my knowledge, there are no controlled experimental studies that suggest exposing kids to nudity has any negative effects. In fact, I would suggest teaching children to feel shameful of nudity is definitely harmful. Think how much better our society would be if more of us could shed the shame and guilt we feel about our bodies?

Shelly and I go to great lengths to expose our kids to things they need to know as adults, which includes fielding any questions that arise. Sometimes we're nude in front of our children. It's not a big issue.

As far as I can tell, our anti-nudity obsession is a direct result of Puritanical religious beliefs that have been generalized to the entire population. 

Bastards. 

Wouldn't it make more sense to teach kids to celebrate their bodies? Teach them that the human body is a beautiful thing, no matter the shape or size? Wouldn't this be a more healthy approach? Couldn't we use nudity as a teaching tool... sort of like what we should be doing with violence?

Ah, America and our mixed-up priorities.

What do you think? Are we too protective? For those parents that actively shield their kids from nudity, what is your rationale? Leave a comment!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why is Confidence Hot? A Discussion on the Need for External Validation

Ever notice confidence makes people appear much more attractive?

Why?

Most of it comes down to our hatred of neediness. We don't like needy people because they require constant attention. They have little or no ability to provide their own validations. It's exhausting to constantly answer "Am I pretty" or "Do you really love me" questions.

There may be a subset of people that DO like neediness, but they're simply meeting their own need to be needed. In that case, it may be a workable symbiotic relationship. For the rest of us, we despise neediness.

Quite possibly the best thing we can do to make ourselves more attraction is to boost our self-confidence by eliminating the need for external validation. Get to a point where we can give ourselves all the validation you need.

The idea of being more confident will help you whether we're single or in a relationship. Confident single people get action. Confident "taken" people have better relationships. In either case, it will improve our lives.

Here's a few tactics to teach yourself to be more confident:
  • Don't complain. Nobody likes a whiny bitch.
  • Self-analyze. Spend a few minutes every day asking why we do what we do. If we're brutally honest, we'll admit when we did something to impress others or elicit validation. Consciously stop those behaviors.
  • Crush your fears by embracing the uncomfortable. Put ourselves in a position to do things that make us uncomfortable on a regular basis. This is the idea of BRUcrew.
  • Assume rapport with strangers. When we meet someone new, a simple trick to avoiding the awkwardness is to assume they're an old friend.
  • Don't be a perfectionist. Perfection is a way self-handicap. We beat ourselves up when we can't reach an imaginary level of proficiency, and it affects our self-confidence. Learn to be okay with "good enough."
  • Believe you can do anything. Having 100% confidence our abilities is a powerful method to project confidence. This takes considerable practice, but will allow us to achieve far more than we think is possible.
  • Use confident body language. Stand up straight. Look people in the eye. Use hand gestures. Talk with authority. Don't mope.
  • Always learn. Lifelong learning keeps you mentally sharp. Smart is confident.
  • Celebrate your strengths; ignore your weaknesses. We all have things about our bodies or personalities we don't like. Fuck 'em. People notice what you put on display. Accentuate your strengths.
  • Don't be offended. Ever. People that are easily offended are reflecting their own insecurity. They need to feel like they're right. When confronted with contradictory information, they either evaluate their own belief or disregard the source of the information. Being offended is one such method. The solution- be okay with people having different values, beliefs, and behaviors. In other words, don't judge. Practice unconditional love.
  • Focus on the successes, learn form failures. Then forget them. This is sort of like accentuating our strengths. If we focus on our failures, we'll feel a lot less confident. We should definitely learn from our failures, but also learn to forget them.
  • Learn to take a compliment. Nothing says "I'm not confident' like responding to a genuine confident with a depreciating statement. If someone says "Damn, you're hot!" respond with a polite "Thank you, I appreciate the compliment."
  • Learn to fake it. If any of these previous suggestions are too difficult, just fake it until you can actually do it. I learned this tip from my friend Christian- if you're not awesome, fake it until you are. 
 All of us have the power to be more confident. Like any skill, it takes practice. The more we eliminate the need for external validation, the more confident we become. The more confident we become, the more attractive we appear. Give it a shot. The benefits are well worth the effort. ;-)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Contrast Effect: An Easy Way to Become More Attractive

As a society, we spend countless dollars (somewhere in the ballpark of several hundred billion dollars) on products to make us more attractive. Cosmetics, dental work, plastic surgery, fancy clothing, perfume and cologne... the list goes on and on.

Why?

Attractive people are treated better.

We all know this, even though it is difficult to admit. Beautiful people have it easier. They make more money, get more perks, and are considered to be more friendly, empathic, outgoing... whatever. It's known as the halo effect.

It's easy to justify our expenditure on products to make us more attractive because it actually works. There's a solid return on investment. 

There's a flaw in our thought processes, though. We assume we're always being compared to some preset cultural standard of beauty... like the pictures we see on the cover of magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store. 

But we're not.

We're compared to the people around us. It's known as the contrast effect. If you are in a group of five people, everyone will rate your attractiveness based on the attractiveness of the other four. How exactly does this work?

Let's assume you're a solid "7" on a 1-10 scale. You're hanging out with another seven, a five, and 2 fours. The presence of the five and 2 fours will make you and the other seven appear more attractive... maybe like nines. People will treat you accordingly.

The idea can be turned around. Let's say you're a six and you're hanging out with a bunch of eights and nines. You'll be perceived even lower than you would if you were alone... maybe a four.

You don't even have to be in the presence of others for this effect to work. If you enter a room after someone more attractive enters, you'll be perceived as being less attractive. If you enter after someone less attractive, you'll be considered more attractive. It's a concept called priming.

So what's the lesson from this post? 

If you want to seem more attractive, it can be as simple as being in the presence of less attractive people. Or entering a room after a less attractive person. It may seem like an exceptionally shallow concept, but it's how we operate. Knowledge is power. 

Give it a shot. Notice how people treat you when you're in the presence of more attractive and less attractive people. Post your experiences in the comments section!

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thoughts on Therapy

A few days ago I received a comment requesting my thoughts on therapy. I frequently recommend people seek the help of a therapist, but never really do into detail beyond that. Having relationship problems? Odds are good those problems are a function of your own problems. Fix those problems before tackling relationship issues.

The Importance of Therapy


Mental health interventions can be invaluable to improving quality of life. As much as we would like to believe we have a firm grasp on our own thoughts and behaviors, we're more or less blinded by the biases inherent in our frame of reference. It's sort of like a fish not recognizing it's in water because it's the only frame of reference it's ever experienced. 

People around us, like friends and family, can provide a different frame of reference, but their perspective is often flawed by their own self-interest. They may offer advice, but it will likely be skewed because they will always keep their interests in mind.

A good therapist will provide that unbiased frame of reference that will help you see yourself in a different light. They train extensively to observe, understand, interpret, and offer opportunities to change your thoughts and behaviors in an unbiased manner. 

When confronted with unpleasantnesses about ourselves, we tend to get defensive and do what we can to avoid admitting our faults. If our friends are pointing this out, we'll make excuses, deflect, or employ some other strategy to evade actually changing.

Good therapists recognize that pattern. They call us out on our bullshit.They're not fooled by the facades we build. That ability is what makes a good therapist invaluable. We can't fix what we don't acknowledge, and they guide us toward acknowledgment.

What is a "Good" Therapist?


Therapy comes in many different flavors based on the theoretical framework the therapist studied. Like anything else, a therapist from one school will insist their approach is best. The problem is different types of therapy work better for certain types of people or certain problems. In short, we're all individuals with different needs, so our therapy needs will vary. There's no "one size fits all" solution.

The key is to find a therapist that will actually help, which may take some time. Good therapists will be completely honest about their abilities and will be more than happy to set up an initial consultation to assess the situation. If they think they can help, they will. If not, they can refer us to someone that can.

Understanding the basics of the major schools may help narrow that initial search. These are the major categories. Note I'm really generalizing these schools of thought. Many specific therapies would fit under one or even more of these general umbrellas. 

Psychodynamic school: This is the stereotypical "therapy." Couches. Taking about your childhood. A therapist silently nodding on occasion while taking notes. Remember the show "Frasier?" He was a psychoanalytic therapist based on the theories of Sigmund Freud. His brother Niles was a psychdynamic therapist based on the somewhat related theories of Carl Jung.

This therapy is effective at helping people understand the connection between past experiences and current thoughts and behaviors. Once these connections are understood, changes could be made to make positive improvements.

I was very skeptical of this method until actually going through it. I can credit much of the progress I've made in improving my life to this approach. 

The negative- this approach takes time. As such, it can be expensive. Insurance may not cover this therapy in its entirety, but most psychdynamic therapists have adapted to that limitation.

Humanistic school: The humanistic school is based on a simple idea: Humans are fundamentally good. Bad behaviors are a function of bad choices. Humanistic therapists teach personal responsibility and decision-making skills to help people reach their full potential, usually utilizing our motivations to meet our own survival and social needs.

This is an overwhelmingly positive approach to therapy. It emphasizes the idea that we have free will, and we can learn to use choices to maximize our potential. One of the hallmarks of the humanistic school is the tendency to resist diagnosing "problems." The other schools usually identify a problem, name it, then work to fix it. The humanistic folks empower us to improve. 

This specific school is also known fr the tendency to look at the human potential to always grow. As such, humanistic therapy would be appropriate for anyone, not just those experiencing problems. 

I actually utilize many of the tenants of humanistic psychology in everyday life, namely the idea that we always have the capacity to grow and learn. Furthermore, we have the capacity to help those around us [spouse, kids, family, friends, blog readers :-)] continually grow and learn. It's a major motivation to continue doing what I do.

Cognititve-behavioral school: The cognitive-behavioral school is an umbrella term that covers A LOT of different methodologies. Back to Frasier- remember his life Lillith? She was a behavioral experimental psychologist. As an experimental psychology student, I trained under a bunch of behaviorists. 

The cognitive-behavioral approach is heavily rooted in fixing problems. If you have a specific problem, these therapists will create a strategy to fix the problem. There's little concern for the past or underlying causes of the problem, they focus on solutions.

This type of therapy is especially effective for specific problems that may be holding a person back, like phobias or negative thoughts about a certain issue.

Potpourri: Okay, this school isn't really called "potpourri." It's usually called something like "eclectic" therapy. It's essentially a hybrid between different schools. Each of the above has distinct advantages and disadvantages. a therapist that can utilize all methods can be extremely effective.One specific method may be effective for some issues but not all.

I'll use myself as an example. After about six months of therapy with my psychodynamic therapist, we had pretty much solved all the relevant problems related to my earlier years. The last two months or so were mostly done in conjunction with Shelly and her psychodynamic-based theorist solving our relationship issues. Our last two individual sessions were spent geeking out about the field of experimental sexuality research. 

At that point, a cognitive-behavioral psychologist could have helped with very specific issues I was having that weren't easily addressed with the other methods. A humanistic approach could have helped improve my decision-making skills. [sidebar- my therapist was actually capable of that, but we agreed I had enough understanding of the concepts to do it myself.]

Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist


This is another important consideration when looking for a therapist. The major difference- psychiatrists are medical doctors, psychologists are not. As such, psychiatrists can prescribe drugs. 

My personal recommendation would be to seek out a psychologist first unless there's alife or death situation related to mental state. If they determine there's a need for drug therapy, they will refer you to a psychiatrist. Drugs work by screwing with brain chemistry. Before taking that leap, trying non-drug therapies is a good idea.

The Searching Process


Therapists, at least honest therapists, welcome the therapist-shopping process. They understand a comfortable fit is necessary for successful outcomes. The best method is to do more research beyond this post. Find therapists in your area. Check out their websites. Give them a call. Or email them as I did... I hate the phone. Yes, I still have issues. :-)

Once you contact those that seem like they'd be a good fit, I would recommend meeting in person. They will probably go through an assessment process that will vary based on their theoretical background. That process should be enough to determine which therapist would be the best fit.

What About Couples Therapy?


Couples therapy, or marriage/relationship counseling, can be an incredibly effective means of improving relationships. In most cases, the therapy involves learning good relationship skills. I highly recommend it for any couple experiencing troubles.

HOWEVER, there is a serious caveat to couples therapy. If one or both partners have significant baggage from past experiences, it's unlikely couples therapy will be effective. Each partner has to figure out their own issues before they can tackle their relationship issues. This is why I always recommend both people in a relationship seek individual therapy prior to seeking couples therapy.

This is a general rundown on my take on therapy. When done properly, therapy can result in amazing life-changing outcomes.

Questions?


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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shitty Guy Skills: Determining Female Interest

A Facebook friend recently asked me about stalkers, which made me think about the nature of attraction, which led me to think about our ability to recognize attraction. Some guys exhibit stalker-like behavior because they mistakenly believe a woman has romantic interest in them. Unfortunately most dudes tend to be woefully bad at assessing if a woman genuinely likes them or is just being friendly. Men will often say women put out "mixed signals." 

This "mixed signal" phenomenon, however, is a problem with the receiver, not the sender. The woman is sending crystal clear signals. The man is the one butchering the message on the receiving end. The problem- we (men) don't always know the specific nuances of physical attraction.

We've all seen (or experienced) this situation- a cute girl smiles at a dude, then he assumes she's totally into him. In reality, she was just trying to be friendly. Worse, a woman is working as a waitress, bartender, or even an exotic dancer, flirts a little to get a better tip, and the dude assumes she's totally into him.

How do guys learn to discriminate true attraction from friendliness or playful "I'm not really interested in you" flirting?

Physical attraction is a biological phenomenon that occurs in the brain... lots 'o chemicals being released. That biology results in predictable behaviors. Knowing those behaviors is the secret. If you see them, she's into you. If not, she's just trying to be nice.

Before we get to the specifics, let's talk about default settings.  If you're a dude lookin' for love, you're better off assuming all women are disinterested as your default setting, then alter course if you detect the reliable signs of attraction. Too many dudes put out the desperate vibe when they're looking for a mate, which causes them to interpret friendly overtures as romantic interest. The result- you come off either creepy, desperate, or you scare away women that may be sitting the fence.

Okay, now that we're assuming all women are just being friendly, let's look at the reliable indicators of attractiveness.

Signs She's Interested

  • Eye contact: If a woman is interested in you, she will make direct eye contact. The more the eye contact, the greater the level of interest. Furthermore, our pupils dilate when we view someone we find attractive. If the lighting is consistent, this can help conform attraction. Warning- eye contact varies greatly among individuals. Just because one woman gives more eye contact than another isn't a good indicator she's interested. Her level of eye contact with the amount of eye contact she maintains with other people.
  • Open body language: Leaning in, opening legs, keeping arms uncrossed... all of these subtle body movements are indicators of attraction. If you're sitting at a table, look where she places stuff. Warning: If she places objects directly between the two of you, she's building an unconscious barrier. That's a bad sign. Also, if you're in a loud environment, leaning in may just be an attempt to hear you better. Consider your surroundings.
  • Asking questions: When we're interested in someone, we want to know more about them. The best way we do this is by asking questions. Most of us, when meeting someone new, will ask a predetermined set of questions. "What do you do? Where did you grow up? What's your favorite MM color?" If the questions seem like they're being read from a script, she's probably not in to you. If she asks follow-up questions based on your answers, she's genuinely curious, which is a good indicator of interest. Warning: Many people are inherently curious about others. Like eye contact, it's best to compare one person's questioning behaviors to other people they interact with.
  • Touching and invitations: If a woman touches your hand, arm, leg, neck... pretty much anything, it's a powerful indicator of interest. This is especially true if combined with open body language and eye contact. Same deal with "invitations" such as licking the lips (unless you're in a desert), biting lips, and playing with their hair.
  • Sympathetic Nervous System Responses: Sounds dorky, I know. But it works. When we're attracted to someone, our heart rate increases, face becomes slightly flushed, palms get a little sweaty, and we get a little more fidgety. It's our body preparing for fight or flight... or in this case- sex. It will most often appear as slight nervousness.
  • Laughing and smiling often: This is a good "supporting" clue that can go along with the rest. If a woman smiles and laughs a lot, it's a good sign she's interested. BIG warning: We're socially trained to smile a lot anyway, even to people we may not like. That's why this is more of a supporting cue than anything else.
  • "Jealous" behaviors: When both men and women are interested in someone, their behavior will subtly change if someone else threatens to take their place. We're not talking about catfight level behavior changes, they will likely become somewhat hostile toward the newcomer. I knew this dude in college that would bring one of his female roommates to the bar and act as a litmus test. If he met a woman and was gaging interest, he would give a secret signal and his female roommate would approach and start talking to them for a few minutes. The subtle reaction from the woman could help determine if she was really interested or not.
Okay, now let's look at the other side of the coin. What are signs she isn't interested in you?
  • Comparing behaviors with other dudes: I mentioned this above, but it's worth repeating: If a woman acts the same way with you that she acts will all guys, she's not interested. Re-read that sentence multiple times until you memorize it. This is especially important for women that might not be very good at flirting. Especially shy women may do the exact opposite of everything I noted above when in the presence of someone they may be interested in. The only way to determine interest would be to compare their behaviors around you with their behaviors around other men. The same? No interest. Different? There may be romantic interest there.
  • Looking elsewhere: If a woman is actively looking around when either of you are talking, she's not interested. She's looking for an out. Or she's using you to determine the interest of someone else by judging their reaction. Either way, it's not going to lead anywhere.
  • Lack of questions: If a woman is giving more statements than questions, it's a good indicator she's not interested. She's not getting to know you. She's engaging in small talk.
  • Closed body language: Crossing the arms, turning away, crossing the legs, and leaning away are all good indicators that the woman isn't interested in you.
  • Mentioning of other romantic interests: If a woman mentions she has a another interest (crush, boyfriend... whatever) repeatedly she's not interested. If she's complaining about another love interest, you've been friend-zoned. She's not interested in you romantically, she's just looking for a sympathetic ear.
A note about seduction: Seduction is the art of increasing and decreasing interest to increase attraction. Done well, it's a subtle but obvious game. Most women are very good at playing seduction games. They will give obvious signs of interest, then back off a bit. That cycle will repeat itself to build tension which increases attraction. 

The problem: Guys will often misinterpret initial interest followed by disinterest with seduction. A woman may meet a guy, show interest, learn more about him, realize he's not right, then back off. The guy mistakenly believes she's being seductive and will pursue despite very obvious signs of disinterest. That's where some dudes take it to the creepy level (cough, cough, stalkers, cough.)

The solution: Guys can employ a simple test. If the woman is interested then backs off, pursue for a short time, then back off yourself. If she's into you, she'll go back to showing signs of interest and both of you can play the seduction game by showing more and more obvious signs of strong attraction. If she doesn't respond with signs of interest, she is no longer interested. For the love of Raptor Jesus move on. Don't become a creepy desperate dude that gives the rest of us a bad name.

Conclusion


All men should be well-versed in observing and interpreting these signs of interest. They aren't especially difficult to understand, especially when multiple signs are used. Women rarely put out mixed signals... guys are just really bad at interpreting them. 

Both men and women readers- have anything to add? Have an interesting experience to share about misinterpreted signals? If so, leave a comment!

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