Top Polyamorous Dating Rules to Live By

How does polyamory work? There are a lot of ludicrous ideas whirling around out there on the internet, so we thought we'd take a moment to clear


6 Sexy Experiments to Try in 2017

It’s that time of year again. Time to promise ourselves we’ll lose 30 pounds in a month, get ripped, go vegan, jump out of a plane, quit that


5 Tips for How to Buy Sex Toys WITH Your Partner

The holidays are on its way, and we are about to be inundated with serious sales! The good news is – these offers include sex toys! All your



Top Polyamorous Dating Rules to Live By

How does polyamory work? There are a lot of ludicrous ideas whirling around out there on the internet, so we thought we'd take a moment to clear things up with some good polyamorous dating rules to live by from our expert writer on the topic, Abi Brown.
Polyamorous Dating Rules to Live By
How To Make Your Poly Schedule Make Sense
There are a few things that poly people hear all the damn time. “I’d get jealous” is probably the most common of them; I’ve written about that often enough before. Another frequent comment, though, is “I just don’t know where you find the time”. Many people have firm ideas in their mind about how much time they’d like to spend with a partner, and it’s easy to see why they can’t imagine replicating that for more than one and still being able to hold down a full-time job!
The truth is that even those of us who have been running our relationships this way our whole adult lives feel a bit pushed for time occasionally. There are a few tricks of the trade that help you to keep everyone happy, though - and I thought I’d share a few of them with you all.
It’s mostly a question of priorities.
Stop for a moment and think about what you do on a day-to-day basis. Chances are, the things you spend your time on can be split up into a list of categories that looks something like this:
Chores, errands, housework and life maintenance Friendships and social engagements Hobbies, pastimes and volunteer positions Partners and romantic relationships Time alone, time asleep and quiet relaxation Working life, study and career development  
Different people will find that they need different amounts of time for these things. Anyone with children will probably need to spend a lot more time on the first category than the rest of us tend to, for example; some people need a great deal more alone time than others to be happy (and Lord knows I’m one of them!), while others spend a massive amount of time on their working life.
One trick for poly scheduling starts with figuring out how to juggle these priorities more efficiently. Both of my current partners are involved in one of the hobbies I spend a lot of my weekend time on, which means I tend to see them at those events and makes it easier for us to schedule time alone together around them. One of them has got to know my other friendship group and often comes with me when I socialize with those people. The other is self-employed like me and works from home like I do, meaning we can sometimes see each other at times most people wouldn’t be able to make because of their working schedule.
It can take a little conscious effort, but if you get your priorities in order it’s perfectly possible to fit everything in.
Not all relationships are the same.
One of my favorite things about polyamory is that relationships are allowed to find their own level.
Imagine, for a moment, that you find someone you click with right away. There’s a strong connection between the two of you, you’re hugely sexually compatible and you get on really well - but one of you wants to get married one day and the other doesn’t, or one really loves the idea of having kids and the other hates them. Or maybe the problem is more prosaic than that: you find that if you spend more than a few continuous days in each other’s company you begin to grate on each other’s nerves a little, or one of you has a habit the other barely notices on a date night but couldn’t tolerate living with.
This stuff is all really common; it’s the plot that launched a thousand romcoms. The traditional narrative tells us that either one of you has to change or the two of you should end it, stop “wasting time” in a relationship that isn’t “going anywhere”, and get back to looking for The One.
I have had and am having amazing relationships with people I couldn’t marry and spend every waking moment with, for whatever reason. I’ve had partners I want to see three nights a week and partners with whom I have a date once a month. I have friends I hook up with when we see each other who live hundreds and hundreds of miles away from me.
The beauty of polyamory is that you don’t need to spend the same amount of time with every partner, and you don’t need to quit a great relationship just because it doesn’t have everything you could possibly want. Let your relationships find their own level naturally, and you’ll soon figure out that the scheduling slots itself into place.
Make sure you’re all working together.
People’s conflicting schedules can be complex, but if you’re all in touch with each other it should be possible to find enough mutually compatible time. One easy way to do this is to share your calendars with your partners: most people store their diaries digitally now rather than using pen and paper, and if the people you’re seeing have access to your calendar it will be all the more straightforward for them to find a time you’re both free. It can be useful to add your metamours to this, too, as chances are you’re not the only person your partner is trying to schedule in!
As with all things in polyamory, the trick is good communication: keep talking to each other and keep in touch with everyone who needs to know when your dates are going to be, and you’ll soon find that you have more time for the people you care about than you’d ever realized.
Got more questions about polyamory and how it works? You're not the only one!
Make a comment below or send Abi a personal message and she'll answer you with an article.

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewelry. Find her at her Tumblr or @see_abi_write.

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6 Sexy Experiments to Try in 2017

It’s that time of year again. Time to promise ourselves we’ll lose 30 pounds in a month, get ripped, go vegan, jump out of a plane, quit that soul-sucking job, and all the other New Year’s resolutions we make every year.
More often than not, we give up after a few weeks or realize that we hate heights and jumping out of a plane will make us wet our pants.
Why not make some new goals (let’s not call them resolutions) that you can actually do next year and that will improve your relationships and your sex life? That sounds much better than starving yourself to lose weight.

6 Sexy Experiments to Try in 2017

1. Admit a Fantasy to Your Partner
We all have that one thing we really want to try in bed, but we’re too scared to admit it. Whether it’s anal sex, prostate massages, a threesome, or bondage, make this the year you actually admit one of your fantasies or desires to your partner. You never know how they’ll react, and there’s a good chance they’ll try it with you at least once.

2. Fuck in a Different Way
If you’re the missionary-with-the-lights-out type, this could be the year to try doggy-style. If you only have sex in your bedroom, try the kitchen table. Whatever your fucking routine, this is the year to do it in a different way. Let her ride on top while you pinch her nipples. Spank your partner’s ass while you fuck them from behind. Switching things up will make things hotter and more exciting.

3. Try Dirty Talk
I can type dirty talk all the time - and I do. Some of my favorite words to type are cunt, pussy, and cock. But saying the words is really hard. If your partner thinks the idea is hot and you’re willing, try it. It’ll be hard the first time but start slow. Say things like, “You make me so hot” or “I want you to fuck me.” Before you know it, you’ll be saying delightfully filthy things like, “Fuck me with that big, fat cock and stuff my juicy cunt!”

4. Buy a New Sex Toy
Maybe you’ve got your one favorite toy - a massager, a dildo, a vibrator. 2017 is the year to try something new. Maybe you’ve never played with a sex toy, and you’re a little unsure. Make this the year you buy your first one. There is a toy for every taste and every kink. Maybe you want extra stimulation on your clit. Maybe you want to try anal. Perhaps you’re curious about the hype over the Hitachi and other massagers. This is the year to start exploring sex toys!

5. Say What You Really Feel
How many times have you swallowed down an annoyance or a complaint with your partner to keep the peace or avoid an argument? Too many times. Relationships grow and get better when everyone involved communicates. That includes talking about problems and saying the hard things. Don’t go on the attack and try to stay calm, but tell your partner how you really feel. Things will either get better, or you’ll decide you both deserve a better relationship, but at least you won’t feel like you can’t say what you think anymore.

6. Masturbate Together
Plenty of people think masturbation is something only lonely single people do. Sure, they masturbate too, but masturbation can be a great way to get sexy together. Maybe you want to watch. Maybe you’ll be so turned on; you join in on their fun. You’ll definitely learn how your partner reaches orgasm and what kind of touches they like which only makes your sex better later. If you’ve always masturbated alone, it will feel awkward at first, but if you let yourself enjoy the sensations, you’ll likely relax and get into it.

Dump the boring old resolutions you make and break every year. Try sexy goals that help your relationship, give you more orgasms, and let you fuck better than ever before. Who doesn’t want more of that next year?
Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on Twitter @Kaylalords. Or help her get to Eroticon 2017 from her website.

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5 Tips for How to Buy Sex Toys WITH Your Partner

The holidays are on its way, and we are about to be inundated with serious sales! The good news is – these offers include sex toys! All your favourite shops will be selling toys at seriously low prices, and it is the perfect opportunity to try out something new! If you happen to be in a relationship this holiday season – it is also the perfect time to learn how to buy sex toys together!'s Holiday Guide for
How to Buy Sex Toys WITH Your Partner
Some people might suggest that you surprise your partner with a gift, but we would recommend otherwise. If your partner has a very specific wish list of sex toys that they have already approved of, then go for it. If your partner does not have a very specific wish list, then you should not purchase one for them. Instead, you should purchase one with them. You never want to assume what your partner will or will not like and put the pressure on them to feign interest in something you thought might be cool.  Instead, we have some tips for how to go shopping together as a couple. Yay!

1. Talk About It!
If you haven’t used sex toys together before, then you should definitely discuss the possibility and sort out any possible insecurities that might go along with that topic. It is totally okay not to use sex toys, but it should be discussed as they can make a great addition to the bedroom. You need to make sure that your partner is comfortable with the idea of using a toy. If not, explore the reasons in a gentle way but never push for it if your partner has said no. This can also be applied to partners that have used certain toys before but might want to try something new. Just because someone has one type of toy, doesn’t mean they want another kind. Shopping for sex toys should be comfortable for both people involved.  

2. Decide What You’re Looking For
If you agree to introduce sex toys into your relationship or to introduce a new type of toy, then you need to decide which type you are looking for. There are so many out there, which is the best part! Do you want to start off with some handcuffs you may have read about? Do you want a toy designed for penetration or focused on vibrations or both? Do you want to try some anal play? There are more categories of sex toys out there than you might think, so you might want to decide what you’re looking for before you actually start looking. It will cut down on feeling overwhelmed when you see how many choices there are online.

3. Shop Together
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection a little bit, it is time to start shopping for what you want!
You can start by browsing online stores. There are often pages dedicated to ‘most popular toys’, which can be a good place to start. If you aren’t entirely sure if you like the features of a particular toy, then you can search online for some sex toy reviews. Yes, this is really a thing! There are a bunch of bloggers out there that review sex toys and will go over every aspect of a toy, including what worked and what didn’t work. Of course, each will prefer different sensations, but you’ll get a better idea of how the toy works during actual use. If you live near a sex shop, it is a good idea to browse it in person. You’ll be able to check out some of the sizes and some of the materials that you are interested in. It will put some of the toys into perspective, rather than just a bunch of numbers on a screen. If you don’t live near a shop or if you can only find a certain toy online, then check out the dimensions and features of the toy as well as read some reviews. This should help guide you. The fun part about shopping together is that it builds excitement for the toy as well as might bring you closer together by discussing what you like or don’t like.

4. Use It Together
Once you have built up all of that excitement, use it! Of course, many toys can be used when you are solo, but there is a fun aspect of using it for the first time together – you’re discovering your purchase. There is something fun about sharing your first experience with it. Figuring out how to use it is part of the fun! If you’ve purchased an insertable toy or a masturbator-type toy, then make sure to add lubricant.

5. Keep Communicating
Just because you’re done experimenting with the toy doesn’t mean that it has to end there. You should talk about what you both liked or didn’t like, what you would maybe do differently, what you would want the toy to have differently, etc. You’re going through this and learning together, so make sure that you both get a chance to discuss the experience so next time can be even better.
The takeaway messages
The sales are about to start, and you should definitely buy sex toys. However, you shouldn’t purchase a toy FOR a partner; you should look to buy a toy WITH a partner. The communication and trust that goes into the purchase are bound to make the experience significantly better for everyone involved. Always make sure to purchase safe toy materials and have a good time! Communicate, communicate and communicate! Happy holidays and have an exhilarating shopping experience this holiday season!

Rebecca Dane is one-half of A Couple of Kinks – a sex-positive site that focuses on sex toy reviews, ‘how to’ guides and stories of their sex adventures. They are hoping to help impact the sex toy industry by focusing on safe, ethical and LGBT+ inclusive companies as well as help normalize sex and kink.
Help me and my team get to Eroticon 2017 in London!

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Sexting Tips for When Adulting Gets Too Dull

We once had phone sex, then email and chat room sex, and now there are all sorts of options under the title sexting. But what is sexting? Does it simply mean sending dirty texts through your cell phone? What about the gazillion apps that allow us to instantly connect with any mobile device and send our dirtiest desires via words, photos, and videos? Yes, it’s all sexting…
When Adulting Get to be too Dull:
4 Hot Sexting Tips
Sexting is something I love doing. It keeps me going during the day. Not only is it fun, but it also allows me to be the depraved little slut that I am. While I’d really love to play all day, like most people my age, I must be an adult. Which means work, chores, and other monotonous daily tasks. Receiving and sending occasional messages keeps things from getting too boring as I am ‘adulting’.

For sexting to be effective, there are certain methods that I find work better than others. For instance, when I send messages to some people:
I do it in present tense, 1st or 2nd person point of view. For instance, “I pinch your nipples.” Or, “You unbutton your pants. You touch your cock, stroking up and down slowly.” While it’s acceptable to sext in both 1st and 2nd person, I wouldn’t suggest the 3rd person. Referring to yourself in 3rd person is awkward. Past tense doesn’t work either.  So keep this in mind!  
Also, unless it’s a Dominant/submission relationship and you’re receiving instruction, make sure your messages go both ways. Give and receive. Fun must be had for all involved! If it is a D/s partner, there should still be responses. They may be of the nature of, “Yes, Mistress,” instead, though. Sexting is more fun with people you've met in person!
While sexting is some serious fun, there are pitfalls to engaging sexually via electronics. I only engage with people that I know are over eighteen and able to consent. That means I only sext with people I’ve met. This frustrates people on OkCupid and FetLife, but those accounts are easy to fake your age. Many apps don’t have any age verification process either. Which isn’t good, if I’m sexting. So this is something to keep in mind when engaging in any sort of sexual, electronic experience.

Another problem comes with connected accounts. I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve almost posted a nude picture on Facebook! I also know a lot of people and have a lot of professional contacts listed in my phone. I use extreme caution when I’m sending any naughty message. With caution, accidents have happened! So be careful!
The smartphone that knows me so well
Smartphones are also a problem when they autocorrect. While most change a cuss word to ‘duck’ or ‘shut,' my phone is sooo smart and knows me sooo well, that it changes everyday words like ‘programming’ to ‘orgasm.' I run an org and recently needed to send out updated programming through my phone, and almost sent ‘change in orgasm’ to all the attendees!

Sexting is exciting, and I love that we have technology that allows us to be with our partner, even when that partner might be on the other side of the planet. We can see one another, send naughty messages, and even video chat while we masturbate! Just remember age matters. And sometimes, your smartphone might be too smart for your own good!
Sienna Saint-Cyr writes erotica and blogs about kink, poly, body image, and most things relating. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @siennasaintcyr.

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The Good, the Bad and the Not-so-Ugly of Being Solo Poly

In the mass and confusion of dating triangles, circles, squares and other various arrangements out there, a new term has sprung up: solo poly. has asked our infamous Abi Brown to clarify exactly WTF that is.
On The Fence:
Reinterpreting the Line Between ‘Single’ and ‘Taken’
or The Good, the Bad and the Not-so-Ugly to Being Solo Poly

People who run their romantic lives the way that I currently do - the jargon term du jour would be ‘solo poly’ - exist in a liminal state. We’re right on the line between ‘single’ and ‘taken’. We can chatter happily about our relationships and swap stories about what we’re up to with our partners, but we’re also effectively single in many of the ways that count. We have both the best and the worst of both worlds.

I’ve chosen this life, obviously: it suits me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But there are things that come up from time to time that make me wish there was some kind of textbook; a guide for negotiating the tricksier parts of my own lifestyle choices.

The Good
Oh man, being single is great. At this point in my life, I’m very attached to my solo identity. If I want to go to a party and keep drinking till dawn, I just can. There’s nobody around who might want to leave earlier but won’t do so without me. I live alone, and everything in my flat is arranged exactly to suit me and nobody else - and nobody gets to be annoyed by how enormously particular and anally-retentive I am about it. There isn’t anyone who has any jurisdiction over the choices I make about my life or my body. My single friends and I can bond over how exciting all this stuff is and how much easier life can be when you’re staying solo.
You know what else is great? Being in a relationship. Being in a relationship is great. I can pretty much always get a date to an event. When some life crisis comes up and I want a cuddle I can generally arrange for that to happen. There are two excellent people in my life with whom I can share the joys, stresses, hobbies and confusions we all have. When people have mushy talks about how good their relationships are, I can join in with those as well.

The Bad
Some days I fucking hate being single. I occasionally panic about that whole thing where it’s plausible that I will die alone and get eaten by Alsatians. When friends plan group holidays I always end up with the crappy sleeping space, which many years ago I christened “the Bridget Jones bed” because all the fancy doubles in the nice rooms need to go to the Smug Marrieds. I’m secretly a big mushy romantic, and all that gooey stuff that doesn’t fit right in the relationships I have sometimes feels like a thing I wish I could get in on.
Other days, being in relationships feels like a stumbling block in ways that have nothing to do with the people I’m actually in those relationships with. Remember that ‘solo identity’ I’m so attached to? It’s absolutely not a constant. Sometimes I do need to leave that party with the person I arrived with, whether I’m ready to go or not. Sometimes I get an idea that I want to do a thing but the person I’ll be spending that day with isn’t into it. That’s not a bad thing - it’s how relationships work - but I’m kind of like the cat who walks alone. It doesn’t always come naturally to me and I have to work at it.

The Not-So-Ugly
Figuring all this out is hard, at least in a #firstworldproblems sort of way. One of the reasons it’s so hard is that there’s no culturally mandated road map for it. That textbook doesn’t exist, though if you’re still looking for it the excellent archive is a great place to start.
Those of us who are in this liminal place - whether by choice or by accident (or, like me, “sort of both and it’s complicated and stop asking such difficult questions okay”) - can see both sides of the line in a way that many can’t. We’re ridiculously lucky in that we can both have our cake and eat it, but like any poor-little-rich-girl situation we have our own challenges to think about.

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

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For the Love of a Hairy Man

How do you like your man? Smooth and shaved or do you prefer a hairy man? There's pluses to both sides. Find out why sometimes a little bit of fur can go a long way to turning you on.
For the Love of a Hairy Man


I love hairy men. Actually, a specific hairy man. I love to fuck him, to rub my body against his. To feel both the soft and crinkly hairs that cover his body under my fingertips. He’s warm when we cuddle and hot when he fucks my brains out. I blame the hair.

Damn, is it getting hot in here?

It wasn’t always so. In my pre-kinky days, I preferred my men smooth. Little to no chest hair. No back hair allowed. And I hoped they didn’t have those gorilla legs that shed worse than I do with my long hair. While there’s nothing wrong with the amount of hair, a little or a lot, on a man, these days, my tastes have changed.

I don’t just love the hair covering his body. The body I enjoy fucking and sucking, riding and being ridden by. Oh no. I can’t forget his facial hair.

We have an agreement around here. He isn’t allowed to remove his facial hair. At all. Ever. And I promise to sit on his face whenever he wants. I consider it a win-win.
Sit on my face and tell me that me that you love me...

When we met, he had a small goatee. The rest of his face was smooth and hair-free.

Then came November, and he declared he would grow his moustache out for Movember. An annual event that encourages men to grow moustaches to raise awareness about prostate and other forms of cancer.

Did I love his hairy self before or after the moustache? I’m not sure.

But I watched as his facial hair grew and he shaped it with his razor every few days. Now his moustache and beard are trimmed close to his face, and definitely one of his best features. The streaks of gray and silver aren’t signs that he’s getting older. Instead they’re signs that he’s got experience. The kind of experience that promises multiple orgasms, sex in different positions, kinky fun, and screams that will make the neighbors call the police.

My hairy man doesn’t simply look sexy. Oh no, there’s a real physical benefit to all that hair. The smell of my sex that lingers after a round (or three) of oral sex makes me wet and horny. The way my skin turns pink when I rub my chest against his chest because there’s so much hair covering his body gives me shivers.
It all started with a sexy moustache...

Oh yes, I love a hairy man, and to think it began with a moustache and a cancer awareness movement. Cancer affects millions of people around the world. Prostate and testicular cancer are very real threats to men everywhere. Growing a moustache, talking about cancer, and participating in Movember could save someone’s life.

But let’s not forget the other benefits. Arousal. More sex. And a lover (of any gender) who wants to be closer to your hairy self.

So the question is, guys, will you grow a moustache for Movember? You can tell people it’s for cancer. Or you can do it for the wet panties (or hard cocks) your hairy self will cause. It’s okay, either way, it’s for a good cause.
Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.

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Sex Stereotyping: A Halloween Reminder About Costumes

Sex stereotyping and subliminal racism is never more in your-fucking-face than at Halloween. What do people really want when they wear those kinds of costumes? What's okay and not okay? Are there better ways of expressing your opinion that catcalling?

In the words of the immortal Barney of How I Met Your Mother, probably one of the best television programmes of all time:
“You know what I love about Halloween?
It's the one night of the year chicks use to unleash their inner ho-bag.
If a girl dresses up as a witch, she's a slutty witch. If she's a cat, she's a slutty cat. If she's a nurse...she's a slutty nurse.”
The ridiculous thing about this quote is that, if the kinds of costumes you can find on sale at this time of year are anything to go by, it’s actually true. In addition to the usual mixture of nurses, pirates and thinly-veiled racism, you can also go to a party as...
    ■ Donald Trump!
    ■    ...a hipster bee!
    ■    ...50s-style Pikachu!
    ■    ...sexed-up sea turtle, giraffe or whatever the fuck this is!
    ■    ...a slutty fortune cookie!
    ■    ...thinly-veiled innuendo designed to ruin your childhood!
    ■    ...sexually-liberated Darth Vader and their Ewok friend!
    ■    ...literally sexy Oscar the Grouch I’m not even kidding!
Anything caught your fancy yet?
Why have we sexualised Halloween so much?
Halloween is the one time of the year when everyone is simultaneously expected to do 'The Fancy Dress Thing'. 'The Fancy Dress Thing' terrifies most adults, so we retreat back into societally-mandated coping mechanisms to deal with it. For men, that’s being funny to the point of self-deprecation. For women, that’s “sexiness”.
What do the people wearing these costumes want?
This might come as a surprise after all my concerted piss-taking, but I don’t actually hate these costumes. I’d wear some of them, and a few are actually quite clever. I’m firmly of the opinion that mostly everyone should just do exactly whatever the fuck they like, and if that includes dressing up as a disturbingly age-inappropriate pie then so be it.
However subliminally, people like to feel as though they’re living up to what society tells them is important - and a woman’s worth, as we all know, is in her looks. I don’t think that’s all there is to it. Though; frankly, positive attention is fun. In safe spaces where I trust people not to cross my boundaries or make leering remarks, I wholeheartedly enjoy the attention garnered by an outfit that’s as much underwear as it is actual clothing.

What do the people wearing these costumes get?
Someone - a woman, in fact - once spent a couple of long, awkward minutes with her hands down my top rearranging my breasts in the middle of an event that is usually the safest space there is. I didn’t quite feel up to making a fuss about it at the time, but surprised myself when she’d finally finished by being actually really quite shaky and unsettled.
I once forgot to take a change of clothes to a fetish club with me, and had to get the night bus home wearing less than was perhaps ideal. Doing this in the company of others often gives me a rush of excitement and energy- at looking fabulous and not giving a shit. Doing this alone is fucking terrifying. I’ve never been so catcalled or felt so predated upon in all my life.
It’s not just about harassment, though. All too often you hear people talking about the women who wear these costumes as though they’re the problem, which is clearly manifest bullshit.
The Bottom Line
We need to stop laying the hate on stuff like this, I think. By all means call out the people who choose to wear racist stereotypes, and never let inherent sexism pass you by. The slut shaming, though? The horrible idea that enjoying sexy, attention-grabbing clothes somehow negates your intelligence? The sense of entitlement some people seem to feel over other people’s bodies?
That can all fuck right off.

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.
Got a fucking question or weird scenario about, well... fucking? Our fucktastic Abi Brown, will answer any and all questions! Send her an email to and get your question answered on!

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Sexy Halloween Costumes - Yay or Nay

Halloween is just around the corner and that means it’s time to decide if you’re the Halloween version of Scrooge (like me) who doesn’t turn on the lights, buy the candy, or put on a sexy Halloween costume or if you’re more like Buddy the Elf (as I imagine he would be during Halloween): “Look at all the decorations! Buy more candy! I love your costume!”
The one decision that confronts all women (regardless of gender identity) is whether to go as something like a Queen, a duck, or a monster or the sexy version of that same costume idea. Like most things in life involving a woman’s body, people have plenty of opinions about it. 
Sexy Halloween Costumes - Yay or Nay

Different Types of Sexy Costumes:
We all know about the sexy nurse, the sexy schoolgirl, the sexy vampire, and the sexy witch. Of course, with a simple Google search, you’ll also find the sexy bumble bee (really?!), sexy fairies, and sexy convicts. In 2014, Playboy came out with a different variety of sexy costumes:
John Oliver

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Louis C.K.

Is there a point where we’ve gone too far? Or is it all good but slightly strange fun? I don’t have any answers, but no, I won’t dress up as sexy John Oliver no matter how funny I think he is.
Reasons to Go Sexy or Not:
Like everything we do regarding sex, the only thing that matters is consent, but it’s important to examine why we do the things we do. If Halloween is one of the few times of year you want dress in the shortest skirt possible, let your boobs hang out, and go out as a sexy Transformer or a sexy spider or whatever, and you do it because you enjoy it, go for it. But if you do it because you think you’re supposed to or it’s expected of you. Please realize that you can throw on a sheet with two holes cut out for the eyes and hide all of your curves and still have a fun Halloween.
On the flip side, there’s no shame in showing off your body if it’s something you enjoy doing. This is a bit like the slut discussion we’ve had before. Do what makes you feel good, what you like, and what you want to do while respecting other people for their choices. Sexy Joe Biden is a little weird to me, but hey, every time he says “Malarkey,” I get a little choked up so I get it. People will try to shame you for your costume choices (sexy or otherwise). Ignore the haters and do what feels right to you.
Sexy Halloween Costumes Aren’t an Invitation for Abuse
When someone wears barely there skirts or shorts, shows their cleavage, or purposely dresses a little (or a lot) sexier than usual, it’s not an invitation to do what you want. You can look, but you can’t touch - until you get permission. No, she’s not asking for it, and yes, she should be able to dress the way she wants without being groped, raped, or abused in any other way.
Your reaction to a woman in a sexy costume says more about you than it does her.
If you spent more time trying to talk to her and get to know her than you did gawking, you might stand a better chance of finding out whether sexy Wonder Woman wears panties or not. But if she isn’t interested, move the hell on and find someone who is. It might be the chick in a sheet with two holes cut for the eyes who isn’t showing off a single curve. You never know.
And yes, I find it sad that we still have to tell people not to touch other people without their permission, and that the rule applies on Halloween, too.
When Someone Else Calls You “Slut”
There are plenty of people, women and men, who think wearing the sexy or slutty costume makes you an automatic slut or desperate for attention. Maybe you are, but it doesn’t matter. In a perfect world, we could all do the things we want (that are legal, of course) without worrying about what other people think. We’re not there yet. Instead we have to realize that people are going to react to us in ways we can’t control. The only thing we can control is ourselves. I say wear the slut label proudly if what you’re doing makes you feel good about yourself.
When you pick out your sexy Elmo costume or your sexy firefighter uniform, wear it because you like it, because you feel good in it, and because it fits your idea of a fun Halloween costume. Don’t apologize if you like your butt hanging out or your boobs pushed up to your chin. If that makes you feel good, ignore the haters. (Ignore the haters anyway, but don’t feel pressured to wear or do anything that makes you uncomfortable.)
Halloween is about having fun. Sexy Halloween costumes are supposed to be part of that. Yes, people ogle a half-naked person (woman or man), and yes, some people react badly. Do what makes you comfortable, wear the costume you like, and hold your head up proudly whether you wearing a garbage bag or a sexy Mickey Mouse costume.
Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.

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Ask Abi #15: My Partner Came Out Bisexual!

Dear Abi,
My boyfriend and I have been together for three years, and we’re planning to move in with each other in the autumn. Over the summer, though, he’s decided to come out as bisexual. Something he’d never discussed with me until recently. He assures me that nothing about our relationship is going to change, but I’m worried. Now that he’s realised this, isn’t it only natural that he’s going to want to explore it? I’m concerned that I could be harming him by not letting him do that. I’m also scared that in the long term this might make it more likely that he’ll cheat on me. How can we get through this?

My partner has come out as bisexual!

There’s this series on Netflix called Lady Dynamite. It’s a semi-autobiographical look at mental illness as experienced by a female comedian, and it ought to be good. It’s clearly trying to be what Crazy Ex-Girlfriend actually is. I stopped watching it quite early on, though, because I couldn’t get past this thing that happens in the second episode.
The misunderstood 'Hollywood' bisexual:
The lead character is set up on a date with a bisexual man and she has some whole weird internal conflict thing about it. “It may be a little too complicated”, she says. “Too much for me right now.” I wince. Somehow the way she tries so hard to be ‘understanding’ makes it even worse. The message seems to be “it’s good to be tolerant, but it’s entirely normal and reasonable to have these doubts”. She has an excellent date with him and my heart is lifted. Maybe this is going to be a nice little side-plot designed to dispel biphobic notions of who we are and how we behave.
Then he cheats on her with a man (to whom he says: “We have our relationship, and she’s my woman relationship. I’m bisexual!”) and she shakes her head sorrowfully, disappointed to have been shown that she was right all along. Her friends apologise to her for not listening when she tried to explain why she was wary. The producers and scriptwriters give not even the slightest nod to why this might be a problematic storyline.
It's all about your perspective
Look, I can see why it’s concerning to feel like the parameters of your relationship are shifting under your feet. The thing to remember, though, is that they’re not. Your boyfriend has presumably always been bisexual - and he’s with you. The idea that bisexual people are less likely than monosexual people to have long-term monogamous and committed relationships in a healthy way is not only bollocks but also actively biphobic.
“But Abi”, I hear you cry. “You’re bisexual, and you’re not monogamous at all! You write about it here every damn week!”. Yes, well. I’m also both a vegetarian and a gamer, but I’ve never heard anyone try to use that as justification for saying that gamers don’t like bacon. Gamers love bacon.
You and your boyfriend don’t need to “get through this”
You’re already there. If there’s a problem in your relationship it might have more to do with the fact that you seem to doubt whether you can trust him than with who he thinks he might have slept with if he wasn’t with you. That might require some discussion - but I promise there’s nothing about bisexuality itself that makes your relationship inherently riskier.
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.
Got a burning question for Abi? Then send her a fuckin' message!

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Ask Abi #12: Lament of the Emotionally Unavailable

Dear Abi,
I’ve had a string of somewhat disastrous relationships in which I always felt more emotionally detached from the person I was with than I should have been - like I couldn’t properly be in love. I’ve been single for a little while now, and I feel like I don’t really want to live with anyone or give up enough control over my life to share it with someone. This is starting to bother me a bit - everyone else I know is in some big important Smug Married style relationship already. Is there something wrong with me? Am I incapable of being in love with people? I have the occasional one night stand and a couple of friends with benefits and I never really feel the lack of anything else. Should I look into counselling?
Yours singly,
Forever Without a Bond
The Lament of the Emotionally Unavailable:

Dear FWB,
The way you feel about traditional escalator-style relationships is very likely, I suspect, to be down to one of three things.
Option One:
Online communities and the social justice movement have led to a radical overhaul of the ways we define orientation. This has in turn meant that a whole load of groups of people who have always existed suddenly have the vocabulary to describe themselves and the ability to connect with each other. One of these emergent concepts is aromanticism: the idea that there are some people who simply don’t “fall in love”. I’m reasonably convinced that this group, while they clearly exist, are quite rare. It’s worth considering whether or not you might be one of them, though.
Aromanticism is not the same as asexuality (lots and lots of people who identify as aromantic are sexual), but the communities have some links. If you’d like to find out more about the concept, a good place to start is the Aromanticism page of AVENwiki, which has links to relevant community resources.
Option Two:

If you have a lot of interest in falling in love. If you’re sure you’re capable of it and wish you found it easier, or if you’ve been in love in the past, or if you daydream about it a lot - it may be worth considering the psychological factors behind the fact that you currently don’t seem to be able to. Are there experiences in your past that might be causing you to shy away from letting yourself feel those feelings now?
This is one time when maybe some kind of counselling could be of use, and as you mentioned it yourself I wonder if you don’t agree with me. A good place to start looking for a therapist is, who “aim to promote high quality therapy and training services for people who [...] identify as being gender or sexual diversities” and have an excellent directory of queer-friendly therapists worldwide.
Option Three:

If you’ve talked about this with friends and partners before, I can almost guarantee that what they said was something along the lines of “oh, you just haven’t found the right person yet!”. I can equally almost guarantee that this was really, really irritating - so I’m not going to say it. What I am going to say, though, is this:
I felt like that too, until I realised I’d been misclassifying my sexuality all along.
There are numerous combinations of sexual orientations, romantic orientations and relationship styles. It’s easy to conflate them with each other if you’ve never really had cause to think about this too hard. (See here for more of my thoughts on this.) I am clearly bisexual, which is why it took my own “string of somewhat disastrous relationships” for me to realise that I appear also to be homoromantic.
Honestly, you sound a lot like I do when I think about what my relationships with men are like. I’m not saying you’re wrong about whatever you think your orientation is, of course - I know nothing about that side of you - but it’s worth giving this some thought.
Have a burning question you'd like to Ask Abi? Then shoot her a fuckin' email:
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

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The Best Fucking Threesome Guide

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve been writing an agony aunt column, it’s that people are really really into the idea of having threesomes. I get questions about this all the time - so I thought maybe I could deal with the matter once and for all by consolidating all the advice I’ve ever given on the subject into one big handy guide.
This article is mostly aimed at established couples who would like to have a threesome with some third party, but I hope there’s stuff in it that will be applicable to a wider variety of situations than just that one.

The Best Fucking Threesome Guide
Why are threesomes such a popular fantasy?
Research suggests that practically everyone - especially men - sometimes fantasises about threesomes and group sex. Partly I think it ties in with the allure of taboo; we’ve spent our whole lives being told that sex is a beautiful moment of private, intimate connection between two people, so there’s something deliciously naughty and decadent about adding an extra person to that mix. There’s also a natural human tendency to want more of a good thing (think about how common it is to not stop eating delicious food till after you already feel a bit sick!), and the fact that a whole new world is laid open to the intrepid group sexer: simultaneous double penetration! Going down on one person while another does the same to you! FOUR BOOBS AT ONCE! The possibilities are endless.
What these fantasies always seem to forget is this: it can also be a bonding experience. It simply isn’t true that three-way sex is inherently “dirty”; it can be if you want it to be, obviously (I’m all about dirty), but it can also be just as personal and intimate as any candlelit love scene.
How do I broach the subject with my partner?
The very best way, in my experience, is to start the conversation in bed. Imaginary threesomes make for great dirty talk: once you’ve had an indication that your partner thinks the idea is hot you can share a fantasy together without needing anyone else there at all. Begin carefully; if they recoil a little at the mere theoretical hint of “imagine if you were licking someone out while I was fucking you right now”, you should probably drop it ASAP, but if you’re onto a winner you’ll know it before long.
Fantasy is not reality, however, and even if that little jaunt into story time made them wet/hard/likely to make deep moaning noises that doesn’t mean you should surprise them with a naked woman on their next birthday. You’ll have opened the door to a more serious conversation about it then, though; something like “fuck me that was hot; fancy making it come true sometime?” fits seamlessly into pillow talk.
The trick here - as with so many things - is not to be a dick about it. If they don’t like the idea, don’t pester them with it again.
Can we get some tips on finding our ‘third’?
I have a personal bugbear about this one. I have no idea how many threesomes I’ve had in my life, but it’s certainly “some”; if I had to guess I’d say it was more than fifteen and less than thirty. Ways in which I have found myself involved in a threesome include but are not limited to:
I’ve been out clubbing with two friends, and they’re both staying over at mine afterwards. One needs to sleep on the sofa and one in my bed with me, or there isn’t enough room for everyone to crash. They didn’t previously know each other, but I’ve had sex with them once each before. I can’t figure out how best to decide who sleeps where and both of them have quietly made it clear that they’d love to join me but won’t be offended if the other one does instead. We all somehow end up in my bed together.

It’s the end of a long and excellent party. The hard core of late-night drinkers consists of me, my boyfriend, my girlfriend and a married couple we’ve all known for years. One thing leads to another and before I know it my partners and I are putting on a show for a monogamish audience.

I’m hanging out with a couple I’ve known for a while. I’ve always fancied them both, but the woman in particular is someone I have a very large and very intense thing for. When her boyfriend reads the room and kisses me quite suddenly, I’m beyond thrilled. Next thing I know we’re turning the sofa we’re sitting on into its bed form and everyone’s giggling.

A woman I’ve been dating for a while realises how well I’d get on with this other friend of hers and invites us both round for dinner on the same night. We somehow drink twelve bottles of wine between the three of us. The next morning none of us can remember all the finer details of the night before, but we’re all very sure that we enjoyed it.
What about NSA thirds?

You know what has never, ever happened, though? I have never been anyone’s “NSA third”. I have never been on a pre-arranged date organised with the express intent of a threesome at the end of it. I have never responded to someone’s slightly sickly couple profile on a dating site to tell them that I am the unicorn of their dreams and will gladly play out whatever movie scene they’ve come up with before quietly leaving so as not to disrupt their post-sex cuddle time.
When you discuss your fantasies with your partner, the other person in them isn’t really real. You’re playing you and they’re playing them, but the additional person is pretty much just a prop; they’re the object of the fantasy, not the subject of it.
That’s fine, of course. Very few people write out a full character sheet complete with hard limits, favourite colour and shoe size for the fictional entities they fuck in their own minds, and nor should they unless they particularly want to. God knows I haven’t given names to any of the fifteen imaginary men in the rugby team in that locker room with the - anyway, yes, moving swiftly on.
They’re props, is what I’m saying. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re trying to make a fantasy a reality you have to understand that in reality people are actually people. They have needs and desires of their own, and they don’t exist solely to live out your imaginings.
Generally speaking, threesomes come about naturally. If you’d like to increase your chances of having one, meet more people: go to fetish events and sex clubs, attend munches, introduce yourself to anyone who looks interesting. The trick isn’t to meet potential sexual partners. The trick is to meet potential friends. A threesome can’t be the conscious end goal, but it’s definitely one likely fringe benefit.
What’s having a threesome actually like?
Of course, nothing is ever quite as you imagined it. Sex is a distinctly biological experience, sometimes: people sweat and muscles get cramp and things make noises you weren’t expecting. The threesome you have in real life will probably not be the red-hot, Vaseline-lensed threesome you dreamed about when you were bored on an overnight coach that one time.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be great, though. My best rule of thumb is to not worry too much about pleasuring two people simultaneously: that works out sometimes, of course, but it’s often better to give everyone their turn “in the middle” (as it were) and keep things fair and even that way. The important thing is to keep on communicating with and looking out for both of the people you’re with, and obviously to have a great deal of fun while you’re at it.
On the most basic level sex with two people isn’t actually all that different to sex with one person. It’s just that there are significantly more limbs involved, and if you’re really lucky you’ll up the total orgasm quotient by 50%.
Is there any extra post-threesome aftercare required?
Most people like a bit of attention immediately following sex: a cuddle, or someone to fetch them a glass of water, or just some company to laugh tenderly with after a wonderful shared experience. This is no different at the end of a threesome, and you’ll likely find that if it’s gone well you’ll be more comfortable and at ease with each other than ever. The important thing is to remember that if you’re an established couple who have been joined by a third person for the night, you need to keep including them in the aftercare bit too - instantly excluding them and focusing on nothing but each other runs the risk of making them feel like you’re not thinking of them as being a real person, and most people hate that feeling. (Sometimes it’s part of kink, of course - but by prior negotiation and enthusiastic consent only!)
You might also find that you and your partner have a bit of soul-searching to do once the fun’s over. Make sure you’re listening to each other, and don’t worry if you need to give or receive a little more validation than usual - it’s perfectly normal to have some processing to do following a new experience.
Threesomes can be a lot of fun, but they’re not quite the pornographic idyll we’re often sold. It’s a perfectly achievable fantasy - you might just need to reframe it in your head a little first.
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

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Fucking Solid Relationship Tips

Fucking Solid Relationship Tips
True Intimacy is Kind of Gross  
After one failed marriage and few purely sexual relationships that I thought I wanted to become more, I finally found a man who gets me, who makes my eyes roll back in my head with one orgasm, and who has earned my trust. Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? It’s the thing that most of us dream of and look for, right?
Now add in a mutual love of kink, a BDSM lifestyle, and constant communication - we tell each other everything, even the things we don’t want to admit - and from the outside looking in, it’s a recipe for total intimacy and bliss.
I thought so, too. I figured I was in the perfect relationship, that while we would grow together as a couple, we were as intimate as two people could be. We’d stood by each other through stress with kids, deaths in the family, surgery, and cancer scares.

We’ve got this. We’re good. We’re tight. Our relationship is solid.
It wasn’t until the day we talked about our bowel movements, after I’d clipped one of his toenails, that I realized - up until that moment - I didn’t have the first clue about true intimacy.
Fucking, Loving, and Talking Only Get You So Far
When I was married, I would have sworn I was as intimate as two people could be with my ex. I knew his social security number. I knew his fears. I certainly knew all of his bad habits. He knew the same about me. We even finished each other’s sentences in those first few years of marital bliss.
Whether you’re married, living together, or pretending to keep it casual but pining for something more, how well and much you fuck, the depth of your love, and your ability to communicate only gets you so far. If you want to be happy and truly intimate with your partner, you need to be real about the most basic parts of your life - like poop.
I was married for nine years, and in that time, I did my absolute best to make it seem like I didn’t poop. I also didn’t fart, burp, have hair growing in strange places, or bad breath. Everything I did to take care of my body was kept private. No boys (or anyone else) allowed.
Do I think my inability to let him hear me poop brought about the end of our marriage? Of course not. But we lacked true intimacy. There was always a distance between us, and those small (but kind of gross) things were a symptom of the problem, and over the years, it was a distance we couldn’t (or wouldn’t bridge).
When Pee Brings You Closer Together
Fast forward several years, and here I am - a kinky submissive with a Dominant, living my BDSM dreams (which isn’t nearly as erotic as fiction would have you believe). For the first few months after we moved in together, I fell back into old habits.
I only pooped after he went to work which meant weekends were usually pretty miserable.
I clenched my ass cheeks together to hold back every fart. Okay, I admit it, I still do this one.
I didn’t pluck a stray hair, put on a face mask, or even blow my nose if I thought he was around.
Nope, those things were “private” and he didn’t need to know I did things that, you know, every human being on the planet does.
And then one day, I was peeing with the bathroom door only partly closed, and he walked in. I screamed. He jumped (because I screamed not because he was bothered at the sight of me on the toilet). I said, “Get out!”
Now, you have to understand. We’re D/s and we’re 24/7. There’s not a moment when he’s not in charge.
He crossed his arms. “No.”
My face turned red. Sweat beaded my forehead. I was mortified. Hello, I was on the toilet! I would likely fart soon, and I was pretty sure I was going to, as my oldest says ‘drop a deuce’ soon.
“I’ve seen you bent over with a plug in your ass and a dildo in your pussy. Do you really think I care if you’re going to the bathroom?”
Perspective is everything.
Think about it. If this is a person who has seen you squirt ejaculate out of your body or has bent you over to stuff toys in every orifice possible or been up close and personal with your entire vulva, how can what you do in the bathroom ever be a problem? It was a turning point.
Things Aren’t Always as Gross as We Believe
I can’t speak for every woman out there (nor would I want to try) but some things I do feel weird or gross or (based on every magazine cover I’ve ever seen) don’t happen to “normal” women. Over the years, I’ve hidden a lot of my grooming habits and bodily functions as a result. I have no doubt there are men with similar hang-ups but it seems to happen most often with women because we’re shown what a “perfect” body looks like and when we can’t match it, we hide it instead.
So yes, I used to wait until I was completely alone to pluck a chin hair (or five or fifteen). I cried when he teased me about farting in my sleep. Popping a zit in front of him or letting him see a breakout on my back was unthinkable.
Now, here’s the irony. When he asked me to clip his toenails when his back was bothering him (making it difficult to bend over) I didn’t hesitate. The day he asked, “What’s this thing on my back?” and pointed to a red, angry blotch, I didn’t freak out or hesitate. And, as the mother of two boys, I’ve learned that farting is almost always a reason to laugh.
It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t come with a big proclamation, but the things that have brought us together are the “gross” things that really aren’t that gross.
We know when the other is pooping - and to avoid the bathroom for a while.
We know how often one of us pooped in a given day.
I pluck every damn hair that’s not supposed to be on my face while sharing the mirror with him.
I farted in bed the other night and then giggled.
I now point out my own zit and say, “Would you look at this thing? Isn’t it huge?!”
What’s my point?
No matter how much we communicate about our life, our dreams, our goals, and our thoughts, no matter how compatible we are in bed and in life, and certainly no matter how kinky we can be together, we weren’t truly intimate with one another until we stopped worrying the other will find out that we actually do poop.
True intimacy, the kind that builds a happy, lasting relationship isn’t about how good the sex or the conversation is. It’s about the gross stuff that, for whatever reason, many of us try to pretend we don’t do.
I guess I’m saying that if you’re fucking like crazy, you’re living together, or you think you’re madly in love, taking it to the next level isn’t what you think it is. When you can poop with him brushing his teeth right next to you, you’ll know you’ve reached a whole new level of intimacy in your relationship.
Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.

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Polyamory 101: The Ethical Guide to Non-Monogamy

I get asked a lot of questions about polyamory and ethical non-monogamy. Not just by people who write into my column: by curious family members, by friends of my parents, by people I bump into in my local pub. As a lifestyle choice it’s becoming increasingly well-known, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly well-understood.
I write about poly a lot here on Over the eighteen months or so that I’ve been here, I’ve written about excrutiating poly jargon, the real meaning of relationship boundaries, how to be a better secondary partner and the mistakes that most poly people seem to make - to name but a few. You know what I’ve never covered, though? The basics. So here it is: the official Polyamory 101. This could get a bit long, so you might want to go make yourself a cup of tea first.

Polyamory 101:
The Ask Abi Guide to Ethical Non-Monogamy
The Many Faces of Non-Monogamy   It’s remarkably difficult to come up with a conclusive list of all the different ways that people run their relationships, though god knows plenty of people have tried. The way I see it is this: all relationships have rules. Different relationships have different rules. ‘Non-monogamy’ is a good catch-all term to use as an umbrella for all the different kinds of relationships whose rules don’t include “you will have sex with me and only me”.
Even that’s an oversimplification. Really every relationship is a special unique snowflake that is a law unto itself, but that’s not a useful thing to put into a listicle, so:
● One very common model is to have a “primary relationship”, which is the full-on relationship escalator experience with mortgages and priorities and all that good stuff - in addition to which you may both also have “secondary relationships”, which are often marvellous fulfilling endeavours just so long as everyone is okay with the idea that you’re never going to move in together and make tiny escalator-shaped babies.
● Not everyone does it this way, of course. There are plenty of people who practice what is sometimes called “non-hierarchical polyamory”, wherein they have multiple escalator relationships - they might live with more than one primary partner, or be raising a child who has more than two parents, or have commitment ceremonies to enable them to be married to more than one person in spirit if not in law. People whose relationships function in this way may or may not be “polyfidelitous”, which means that they don’t sleep with or date other people outside of their existing partners.
● The “relationship anarchy” crowd reject all traditional relationship models, believing that every connection you have with a person should be allowed to find its own level away from rules and labels. They don’t necessarily think of a relationship that includes sex as being intrinsically different from one that doesn’t, for example; by removing the boundary between ‘platonic’ and ‘romantic’ they can judge each bond on its own merits. I’ve been kind of harsh about this lot in the past because they tend to get a bit insufferable, but there’s something to be said for it as a core philosophy.
● There’s also the open relationship model, wherein people are allowed to have casual sex or go to swinging parties or whatever outside of their otherwise relatively conventional and monogamous relationship. This works well for huge numbers of people, but isn’t really in the remit of this article; it’s usually not considered to be “polyamory”, which focuses more on ongoing relationships.
● Then of course you’ve got the very large number of people who have done more than one of these things in the past, will probably do more than one of these things in the future, and mostly just make it all up as they go along depending on what seems best at the time. Because that is how humans work. I myself fit into this category, as does nearly everyone I know.
Many of these relationship models are sometimes called ‘ethical non- monogamy’, the flip side of which is of course unethical non- monogamy. Other things I won’t be covering here include cheating, manipulation and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’.
“But don’t you get jealous?”
I don’t know a single poly person who hasn’t heard this a hundred times. It’s the first thing anyone ever asks, and it’s almost always followed by the immortal “well, that sounds like a lot of fun for you, but I couldn’t handle it”.
The thing is, it’s been a long time since I was last entirely convinced that ‘jealousy’ is really a thing in and of itself. I’ve got a more in-depth article about this coming to soon, but the basic gist of it is that jealousy can usually be traced back to a core problem that isn’t “you slept with someone else” - it’s more likely to be something like:
● “You broke the rules and boundaries of our relationship and I’m feeling betrayed.”
● “I feel like we’re not spending enough time with each other, and I think it’s damaging the state of our relationship.”
● “My self-esteem is in a bad place right now, and I’m worried that you don’t find me as attractive/interesting/intelligent/kinky/whatever as I’d like to be.” Sometimes people in polyamorous relationships get jealous, sure - but it tends to be for a reason like one of those, and if your response to it is “so you’re never allowed to see that person again” then you’re treating the symptom rather than the cause. It’s much healthier to look at the root of the problem and see what you can do about it.
The Question of Orientation & Ethical Non-Monogamy
People sometimes talk about “being poly” as though it was an orientation in the same way that being gay or bi is. I’ve touched on this before in an early edition of my Dear Abi advice column; I’m not convinced those people are right. The trouble is, when we talk about ‘orientation’ in a broad sense, we’re really talking about at least four different things:
● your sexual orientation
● your romantic orientation
● your preferred relationship style
● your intrinsic sexual preferences
I am bisexual, homoromantic, polyamorous and submissive. All of those things are extremely important to me and inform the decisions I make and the way I live my life - but they’re not the same as each other. Talking about polyamory as though it is an orientation in a straightforward sense can lead to straight cis people appropriating queer culture and dominating queer spaces, which isn’t helpful or appropriate; it has also been used as justification for abuse and cheating in existing relationships, because “I can’t help it! You have to respect my orientation!”
I think people are resistant to the idea that polyamory isn’t an orientation because they think that will devalue the perceived importance of it in their life. I’m not sure that’s true, though; I’m also a vegetarian and a writer, and people are perfectly capable of understanding that those are intrinsic parts of my identity that aren’t going to change without needing to think that they’re genetic or whatever.
Which is really just a long-winded and SJW-sounding way of saying: “This is a complicated subject by which I am inordinately fascinated, and it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s more to it than there seems to be at first glance.”
Further Reading and Other Resources:
Long as though this is, there is of course a lot I’ve left out - I’ve barely touched on solo poly, or poly parenting, or how to broach the subject with your more traditional family members, or any one of a hundred other things that are well worth discussing. If you’d like to know more, I would shamelessly recommend that you keep following my articles both here on and over at our sister site; I write about this stuff a lot. There are plenty of other places to get information too, though:
● The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy is generally considered to be the seminal work on the subject, and it was certainly amongst the very earliest. Having been published twenty years ago some of it is now a little dated, but it retains a dear place in my heart - and in the hearts of many of my people. It’s absolutely still worth a read.
● Crowdfunded success story More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert is aiming to be sort of a modernised Ethical Slut. Much like its spiritual successor they take themselves a bit more seriously than I tend to take anything, but then I’m British; maintaining a dry, detached sense of humour about almost everything is our national pastime. It’s a good book, and it comes with my recommendation.
● If you don’t want to read an entire book, there’s also a lot of good stuff on their main site.
● If you’d rather do your learning in person, there are plenty of groups and events worldwide. If you can get to London I can recommend Polyday, whose website also contains some useful links and good information. To find out what kind of events are nearer to where you live, it can be worth searching for groups on or Fetlife. (Polyamory is not necessarily or intrinsically connected to BDSM, but it would be disingenuous to suggest that there aren’t some pretty clear links between the two communities.)
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

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Relationship Communication 101

Why do so many relationships fail? Basically it boils down to bad relationship communication. So we've broken it down for you to the basics of good communication and how to get what you want from a relationship.
Relationship Communication 101
Good communication is at the core of all healthy relationships. This is something that most people I know agree with. In fact, I’m convinced that if we don’t have healthy communication, then we don’t really have a relationship. But what does good and healthy communication look like? How do we go into a relationship, maintain that connection, then separate in a healthy and functional way if we find we’re not compatible?
Recently, I attended an event focused on communication in intimate relationships. There were several of us there and the first thing we did was come up with a list of things necessary for healthy relationship communication. The list included being direct, honesty, not taking things personally when receiving feedback, transparency, vulnerability, active listening, empathy, using ‘I’ statements, validating your partner’s feelings, ask—don’t assume, having healthy boundaries, and the list went on.  

What I noticed was that all of these things involved self-awareness, self-worth, and openness. Having great communication means that you have to care for yourself as much as your partner. 
Getting to Know Someone
For every dating site or in-person meeting I take part in, I find some people aren’t honest or direct a lot of the time. They want to show the person they’re getting to know who they wish they were, but not who they actually are. If we go into relationships by misrepresenting ourselves, it is a sure way to fail. The moment the person you’re getting to know discovers they’ve been lied to—even if it’s wishful thinking and not outright lies—that person is going to feel betrayed and the relationship is already in jeopardy. 
Self-awareness is key in the beginning (and all the way through too). We need to know what we want and who we are. There are times when we think we’re one way and were not. By being self-aware, we can avoid poor communication. 
When getting to know a new partner, be you. Be direct. Be honest. Be self-aware. If we follow these guidelines, we’ll be off to a great start. Go into the relationship with good intent and lay the foundation for a healthier relationship to follow.
Good Communication While in the Relationship
Once you’re in the relationship, you’re bound to run into issues. We are human after all and we all have things we need to work on. This is the phase where active listening, more honesty, ‘I’ statements, and a lot of the items I listed above show up. To illustrate, I’m going to give an example that really impacted me. I’m going to cover what happened in a non-detailed way to keep it relatable for readers, then discuss how my partner and I resolved the situation by communicating properly (which is the most important part). 
My partner and I hadn’t discussed an aspect of our relationship. We’d briefly touched on it, but hadn’t taken part in direct communication. This was despite our knowledge of healthy communication and taking part in the practice consistently. On this one topic, we’d just skipped over it.
At the time, it didn’t seem important. But it was.
I was under the impression things were one way, he was under the impression they were another, and I ended up getting hurt. I felt betrayed. My instincts were to jump to accusations, basing my beliefs on assumptions. As in, “He lied to me! He’s manipulating me!” But I knew better than to trust those assumptions. There was far more complexity to this situation (as I have Complex PTSD and have been betrayed horribly by others), but I knew from all my studies and actively taking part in proper/healthy communication that I needed to talk to him. 
I started with 'I' statements. As in ‘I feel’ rather than ‘you did this’. I shared how I was feeling betrayed and showed him my vulnerability by crying and being honest with how much the situation had hurt me, and then I talked about the feelings. The ‘I’ statements are important because they focus on how the speaker is feeling as opposed to jumping to ‘you’ statements that carry blame. While the word ‘you’ might need to be used, it’s never the right place to start. Especially if you’re adding name-calling to it. Stay away from name-calling at all times. 
The second key item here is that I shared my ‘feelings’.
Feelings are feelings. They can be completely unreliable and totally irrational. Just because I was feeling betrayed didn’t mean I was. I was feeling sad, and that made sense because I was hurting. But tying feelings to assumptions is where we have to watch ourselves. I still told him I was feeling hurt and betrayed, but by saying I felt that way as opposed to ‘you betrayed me’ made a huge difference.
When he heard my tone and realized that something had gone awry, he didn’t start by taking things personally and getting defensive. Instead, he told me he was sorry I was hurting. That it wasn’t his intent. We discussed my feelings, he validated me by saying he understood how I could’ve felt betrayed in that situation, and he had empathy for me and my pain. Even though what happened was a misunderstanding based off of unclear communication to begin with, he didn’t defend his actions. He simply said he was sorry. 
His response made me feel loved and cared for, and I was able to take a look at the entire picture and see that it really was an accident. He hadn’t meant to hurt me. Then I was able to see how I had not communicated affectively to begin with either. Otherwise we would’ve had a clear understanding of expectations and the situation wouldn’t have happened. So I apologized too. We both learned from it, grew, and know to address these things in the future.
This same situation in another of my relationships led to a failed relationship. That partner and I didn’t communicate effectively. The manner in which we handle things makes a difference in the outcome.
Healthy communication takes work and no matter how hard we try, we will all run into issues. We’ll face hurt feelings, have fights and misunderstandings, because we are all human and imperfect. Communication is about being open, actively listening, and dropping our pride when we are told harsh truths about ourselves. It’s about honesty, but honesty with empathy. The point is to grow together, not apart.
When Relationships Fail
One of the things I find frustrating about ending relationships is that there seems to be no nice way to do it. Some people want to breakup over the phone, others want to text, some want in-person breakups, and it seems to each their own. 
While I’m a huge fan of good communication—even during breakups—at times it can be hard if the other party is refusing to take part. This means we have to use discernment and decide what’s right with that person in that moment.
Recently, I saw a man ask if it’s okay to break up with his girlfriend via text. He asked in an online forum, and people jumped on him. Told him that was cowardice. To do it in person. What they failed to ask was why he wanted to break up that way. Was she hostile? Would she overreact and accuse? These were vital components to answering the man’s question and no one thought to ask. If you find yourself needing to break up with someone, ask yourself what the safest, most respectful, and most responsible choice is. Sometimes a text of, “Don’t contact me again,” is the right thing to do. 
If the person you’re breaking up with is sane and safe, then sure… do it in person.
And it’s okay to give details should you choose to. But remember to be honest, use empathy, and be direct. One of the hardest things to do is break up with people that have poor boundaries. If one of the issues has been that person crossing your boundaries, it will be important to be very firm and clear in your communication. Sometimes simply saying, “We’re not compatible,” is all you need. 
Remember, healthy communication involves self-awareness, self-worth, and openness.
Also, understanding that caring for others is equally as important as self-care. All parties matter and all parties should have the chance to be heard. 
Sienna Saint-Cyr writes erotica and blogs about kink, poly, body image, and most things relating. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @siennasaintcyr.

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Ask Abi's Secret to Online Dating

It’s been a long time coming, but the online dating section is finally here. If you’re thinking about signing up, you’ve probably got some questions - and online dating is one of the things I most frequently get asked about on my column.
There are a lot of guides like this on the internet, but they all seem to be aimed at a particular demographic - and they’re all very heavily skewed toward monogamous people searching for The One. Ifthat stuff doesn’t tend to ring true for you and you’d like to figure out how online dating can work for the rest of us, you’re in the right place.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about that we’ve not covered here, feel free to ask me by commenting on this article or by sending in your questions to!

Is online dating right for you?
I’m going to get this out of the way quickly: there are people who find that online dating isn’t quite right for them. Some of us aren’t great at forming intimate relationships online and others are wary of meeting people face-to- face too quickly if they’ve only connected virtually - and either of those things are surmountable.
If they both apply to you, though, this might not be the best way for you to look for new partners.
The success rates are pretty good, though. There’s an ever increasing amount of evidence to suggest that massive numbers of couples are getting together via the internet, with some sources saying it’s now the second most common way for a couple to have met.
You basically need to take one of two tacks for it to work out: you either need to put effort into developing a genuine connection with someone online, or commit to meeting them offline ASAP. If at leastone of those things appeal to you, internet dating is well worth a try.
How to write a killer profile
Now for the hard part: writing your profile. If you feel like you don’t know what to say, you’re not alone; hell, I sometimes freeze up trying to write things like that and writing about myself is my job. The idea of trying to sum up your entire self in three hundred words is pretty horrifying; how will they understand the nuanced depths of your very soul if all you can think of is your predisposition toward drinking fruity cocktails and taking walks in rainstorms? The trick to it is realising that you don’t have to.
You’re never going to fit all that stuff in, and it wouldn’t make sense to a stranger without the context of having met you anyway. You’ve got to write something, though, and there are a few simple rules of thumb for figuring out what that something should be:
● Write well. You don’t need to be Dostoyevsky, but decent grammar and a look over your text with a spell-checker is worth its weight in gold.
● Keep it brief - really brief. The best profiles are 200 words or less; nobody is going to want to read your entire life story at this point. Save it for the second date.
● Eliminate cliches as often as possible. Everyone likes watching sunsets and wants to date someone who has a good sense of humour; what have you got that not everyone does?
● Be clear about the things that define what you’re looking for with online dating. This is especially important for queer people and for those of us who have chosen non-conventional relationship styles: otherwise you’ll spend your entire time doing nothing but explaining to people that they’re not the right gender for you or that you’re not interested in “to the exclusion of all others”.
Received wisdom tells me that people like to have examples when they’re being given advice, so in a fit of self-revelation I’m going to show you what I mean using the “self summary” part of my own dating profile:
“I can down a pint in one, apply lipstick perfectly with no mirror in a moving vehicle and walk in six-inch heels. I write about sex for a living, because somebody’s got to. I like musicals and glitter and gin and debauchery. I want to be Jennifer Saunders when I grow up. Queer, kinky, poly. I can and do enjoy excellent sex with people of all genders, but I only fall in love with women. I suppose I'm what you might call an "experienced submissive", and I wouldn't be happy in a vanilla relationship for long. I'm secondary partner to two people and I adore them both, but in terms of capital-R- relationships I'm currently single. I'm a bit of a hippie under all this eyeliner.”
That wasn’t so hard, now, was it?
Figuring out who to message...
Once you’re out there in the online dating pool, you’ll want to start looking for people who mix well with you. It’s better not to just sit back and wait for the messages to flood in; they might, especially if you’ve signed up as a woman who is interested in men, but your chances of finding the right people are higher if you’re proactive about it.
Honestly, the trick to picking who to message is not to be too picky about it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of scrutinising every photograph they’ve posted and trying to imagine what their bedroom face would look like or scouring the far corners of their profiles for a hint of something that might put you off, but it’s not particularly productive. A lot of people don’t come across as well in text as they do in real life, and we all know people who are super attractive in person but you’ve still never seen a good photograph of them. If someone looks like they tick your basic boxes and could have some potential, drop them a line and see what they say.
...and who to message back.
There is, of course, a particularly complex social minefield involved in online dating - particularly if you happen to be a woman who would like to meet a man. If you haven’t yet been introduced to Bye Felipe, you should go have a look; it’s depressing and glorious all at the same time. My personal least favourite are the ones who kick off because you don’t respond to their messages within ten minutes and then get really really vile about it. Someone once told me that he’d post all my usernames and photographs to a lot of really sinister-sounding forums if I didn’t beg and grovel for him not to. I don’t know if he did or not - I blocked him right away and nothing ever came of it - but it freaked me out a lot more than I would have imagined it might. They’re not all like that, but there’s a whole range of irritating situations you could find yourself in if you went along with the idea that it’s rude not to reply to every message.
My advice here is simple: ignore those bitches. Dick pic you didn’t consent to? Ignore. Pestering dude who seems to think you should do nothing but respond to messages all day? Ignore. Someone who is obviously not your type and hasn’t bothered to look at your profile for long enough to figure that out? Ignore. If you struggle not to give in and reply to their bullshit, block them; you can’t worry about it if you can’t see it.
I mean, if you wanted to win some internet points and you had a spare half hour you could always troll them instead; god knows it’s good for a laugh and some of those women are geniuses. On the whole, though, I’d recommend pretending they don’t even exist.
Meet early, meet often!
The real trick to online dating is getting it offline as quickly as you can. There’s so much you can’t tell about a person from reading what they type on a screen: there’s a deep sense of who you are that we’re only really able to pick up on face to face.
You’re all sensible adults here, and I’m not going to give you a lot of patronising advice about public places and telling a friend where you’re going. Be sensible about it, sure - but don’t set the bar for who you’re prepared to meet up with too high. It’s just a drink; if it doesn’t go well you’ll simply never have to see them again. And if it does, well - the rest might be history.
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

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The three Cs of better sex: They’re not what you think...

Why being good In bed Is probably a myth

It’s the age-old question, overheard at shared hangover breakfasts and in post-date conversations with friends the world over: “yeah, but were they any good?” People spend a lot of time and effort worrying about whether their skills are up to scratch, but the more I think about it the more convinced I become that it’s a pretty meaningless statement. Having better sex, after all, isn’t a paint-by-numbers exercise: everyone has things that work for them and things that don’t, and everyone experiences things differently. What works for one person might be boring as hell (or actively unpleasant) for another; just because you can give one person the best blow-job of their life doesn’t mean the next will react the same way.

Circumstances, Chemistry and Connection

There seem to be three main things that result in really, really good sex, and for the sake of argument I’m calling them circumstances, chemistry and connection because - well, who doesn’t like alliteration, right?
Circumstances are often what make one night stands good. When you really get down to it, nobody’s likely to have the best sex of their life with a total stranger while they’re three quarts drunk - but those memories are great ones for a lot of people, because they’re often circumstantially excellent. The story about the time you left with the DJ and had to find your way home from their place at 7am in last night’s clothes is one you value having even if the actual sex was probably a bit routine. This goes double for fetish clubs and play parties, where a lot of the point of what you’re doing is the audience you’ve got and the environment you’re in not necessarily for better sex.
Chemistry is where the best sex starts, and it’s often responsible for the incredible firecracker sex people have with each other at the beginning of relationships. I’ve always been a bit dubious about the way we use the term. It seems imprecise and difficult to define, but it’s certainly the case that sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t. I’ve had some really terrible sex with partners who were probably great at sleeping with other people, just because something about the two of us together didn’t work out.
Connection takes a bit more time, but it’s worth the wait. If you keep an active and varied sex life going with the same person for an extended period, you find that you keep on and on figuring out new things about them - and in the best relationships, that means better sex is longer lived. There’s something pretty special about someone you’ve been sleeping with for years, actually; after a while you reach a point where you can read each other reflexively.

How to have better sex

I’m not trying to suggest that there are no hard skills (pun very much intentional) involved in having better sex; there’s still worth to honing your technique. I just think it’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of the time you’ll only be honing it to that person, and that every new partner or experience will require a whole new way of thinking about it. When you look at it that way, it’s really one of the best things about exploring your sexuality with a variety of people - you get to learn from each other and figure out new things, and try stuff that other people aren’t as likely to be into.
The real key to getting better at this seems to be confidence. Having the confidence to try something out without worrying too much about the humiliation of it not working is difficult, but it’s also worthwhile - and knowing that it’s not the end of the world when an encounter isn’t in your lifetime top ten without letting it knock your confidence to try again is a big help, too.
Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewelry. Find Abi at her website or @see_abi_write.

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The phenomenon of a post divorce sex revolution

Post divorce sex doesn't have to be a scary world of terrible dates and urban legends of lonely old crones in caves. There are, unfortunately, a lot of unexplained social taboos placed on divorcees, in particular women. Discover the revolution of communication and what your sex life can be after a divorce.

Not every woman who gets divorced was having bad sex or no sex, and not everyone is interested in or ready for a sexual revolution once their divorce papers arrive. But some of us knew we weren’t having decent sex and while divorce is the death of a relationship, it’s also a chance to be reborn and recreate yourself into the person you most want to be. For some of us, it’s about the kinky, freaky sex - and for others, it’s learning how to have sex with the lights on.
Sexual revolutions for divorced women aren’t all that uncommon. For me, it was a journey from fear and denial to bad sex and then deciding I wanted and deserved something better. Along the way, I found that I wasn’t the only woman who went through her own post-divorce sexual revolution.

The early years
My journey through my own sexuality begins not unlike a lot of women in my generation. We learned certain basics in school - as a Gen-X’er, I’m very familiar with the seriousness of STDs and specifically HIV and AIDS, (thanks to school-age “health and sex ed” classes) - but the mechanics of sex wasn’t exactly a topic for discussion. When I asked my mother about sex, in general, nothing even remotely specific, she shut me down. This wasn’t something we were going to talk about.

So I learned about sex the way any self-respecting bookish child would. I stole my mother’s romance novels. At age eight, I was devouring stories about Vikings plundering creamy white loins and Highlanders plowing love channels. I didn’t know what loins were, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out what a love channel was. All I knew is that I was mesmerized by these ravished women and all that desire.
To those who think it gave me a misguided picture of what sex is, I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but now I know that plundering and plowing can definitely take place. Back then it never occurred to me to touch myself or find out why those stories made me feel so squishy inside. I wasn’t incurious, but I was afraid of being “bad” even if I didn’t know or understand why that kind of pleasure was bad.
Before marriage
Somewhere along the way, although I wasn’t raised to be religious, go to church, or really believe in anything, I decided that my virginity was sacred. If I gave it away to a boy, I would be a bad person. Of course, there was also that very realistic fear of pregnancy and disease, and the potential wrath of my parents. Letting a boy touch anything other than my breasts was the epitome of torture (for both of us) and terrifying for me. Who knew what might happen next?

Was that desire I felt? Oh no! We’re both going to hell!
The summer before I left for college, I went rogue. In an act of drunken rebellion (to prove to myself I was finally an adult) I had forgettable and regrettable sex with a boy who, while he knew the mechanics of intercourse, understood little about a woman’s body. Unfortunately, I understood very little, too, and when he was done, I wasn’t sure we’d even had sex, but I was too embarrassed to ask.
Once that happened, I figured I’d already gone over the cliff so I should go for broke and just do what felt good, even if I was going to hell for it. I embraced the idea that sex could be fun, and soon learned that guys would pay more attention to you when you were willing to fuck them. I spent the rest of the summer fucking a new boyfriend, and twice fucking his well-hung best friend. After I went away to college, I gave guys I was dating blowjobs, found a nice boy who wanted to remain a virgin and corrupted him with my wanton ways, and finally met the man I would ultimately marry and divorce.

Those pre-marriage years, even with him, were filled with sex. Lots of sex. I wore protection most of the time, and then I didn’t, relying on my birth control to keep me safe. I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have any unpleasant surprises. What I ultimately discovered during those sex-fueled years was that sex was power, and sometimes, it was mine to wield. In what was a foretelling of my marriage, I, through some influence I still don’t understand, became consumed once more about all the sex I was having, even with my steady boyfriend-turned-fiance. Just like that, I cut him off. No fucking, no blowjobs, no handjobs, nothing. In one cold conversation with a man who was naked underneath me, I shut my libido off as if I were turning off a faucet. It was the precursor to what we could both expect in our marriage.
Before the divorce
Look at most failed marriages, especially with kids, and sex is somewhere in the mix of problems. Maybe your libido died once you had kids hanging on your ankle. Maybe one of you cheated because you weren’t getting something at home or the thrill was gone. Everyone will have a different reason, but somewhere in there is usually an issue with sex. For me, sex was power - and we both abused it.
The first time I had sex again with my husband was about a year before we were married - we were engaged for three years. It was okay, but I was always too tired and stressed to really get into it. I was a full-time college student working two or three jobs at a time and taking care of our home. He was a jobless guy who played video games all the time. Our wedding night wasn’t a passionate evening, either. If I recall, we bickered over something stupid.

Over the years, sex was used as a bargaining chip between us. On his birthdays, I might give him a blowjob but he couldn’t come in my mouth. If I fucked him, he’d wash the dishes or fold the laundry. Handjobs were mostly okay, as long as he didn’t come on me. I never wanted him to go down on me.
Those were our issues. Of course, kids, work, and financial stress killed what little bit of libido I had. My growing lack of trust and respect for this man I’d chosen didn’t help either. Eventually, we perfected the art of the quickie. Every couple who gets the hang of this one will do it a little differently. Some know the exact moment a child falls asleep and get busy. Others know the one room no one ever goes in, so that’s where you’ll find them.

Us? Well, about a year before our divorce, I discovered erotica, and I soon learned reading these stories gave me a nice warm feeling. I would ask for 15 minutes to read a story, and then he could come in the bedroom. Once I put my book away, we’d have sex - in the dark, with the lights turned out. Sad but true. When my youngest was almost two years old, and just after I turned 31, I told him I wanted a divorce.

The post divorce sex revolution
No matter who wants the divorce or your reasons for getting one, it’s never easy. My divorce had nothing to do with sex, at least not on a conscious level. I’d been unhappy for years. I’d waited for him to change. I was no longer my best self anymore, which means I didn’t help our marriage at all. It was a miserable lot in life, and my new philosophy was “I can do bad by myself, I don’t need any help.”

I struck out on my own - with two small children. New life, new outlook, new me. In the six months between asking for the divorce and receiving the final papers - and yes, I know how rare a quick divorce is - I didn’t date or even talk to anyone. I wasn’t interested, and I was too busy figuring out who I was in this new world.
But I didn’t stop reading my erotic fiction that I’d grown to love. I discovered sex blogs at about the same time - stories of married couples having kinky sex, stories of divorced women dating every man that appealed to them, stories of masturbation. So many stories, so much sex. The girl who’d been ashamed of her sexuality so many years before saw these tales of amazing sex through mature eyes.
While I wasn’t convinced I could have sex like that, I no longer thought there was anything wrong with it. Think about it - over the course of 20 years, society had accepted the idea that Murphy Brown could have a baby without being married, that Ellen Degeneres was gay, that Will and Grace could totally live together. Sexuality, in a variety of forms, wasn’t quite as taboo as it had been when I was a kid.

Oh, I know, there is still plenty of work to be done, and not every part of the globe has the same freedoms as others, but sexuality was (and is) now less a matter of shame and more a matter of fact (it’s not great but it’s so much better than it used to be). Hell, my mother became a widow when I was 22, by the time I was 25, she was remarried. In that time in between, I found her condom stash. I hadn’t matured yet so it freaked me out, but even my mother had figured out sex is supposed to be fun and a natural part of living.

Post divorce sex discovery: It’s not just me
As I began to explore my desires and meet men, I discovered other women like me. The late Bobbie Morgan of a Good Woman’s Dirty Mind was divorced in her 30s as well and soon discovered her love of sex, and her desire to teach others what she knew. Erica Jagger of A Woman of a Certain Age divorced later in life and learned to navigate her sexual desires. All three of us, at some point or another, used erotic writings as an outlet and shared what we’d learned about our own sexuality to help others.

For me, it began with reclaiming my sexuality. I masturbated. I finally had an orgasm - at the ripe old age of 32. Through my explorations, I discovered BDSM and Dominance and submission. I entered into my first D/s relationship - with heartbreak as a result, and finally met the man who made me believe in love again. Oh, I believed in sex and desire before I met him - I was self-taught by then - but love couldn’t possibly be real since so many of us are getting divorced.
From trashy romance novels to guilt, from sexual abandon through defiance to sexual abandon for pure pleasure, my personal sexual revolution may have more twists and turns and kink than some (not everyone who discovers their sexuality writes about it for a living, after all), but I don’t think I’m unique. A quick search for “divorce and sex” shows you how much women are talking about how to handle post divorce sex in this world., a site I frequent, may spend plenty of time talking about raising kids or dealing with asshole exes, but they talk about sex quite a lot. Hell, there’s even an app for that: Divorced Dating.

Is that we were all repressed and are now throwing off invisible shackles? Or that we’re making the same strange journey the rest of society is - an acceptance of our sexual selves? Does it even matter? Ultimately, rediscovering your sexuality after divorce can be empowering and liberating, leading to adventures you never imagined and a life you thought only other people had.

Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.

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7 First date ideas that don't suck

Brainstorming first date ideas is a bit nerve-wracking even for those of us who are already over most of the ridiculous Hollywoodised game-playing of modern dating culture. Sure, we know that there’s no such thing as the “three-day rule” and that a four course candlelit meal costing a full week’s wages is overkill to the point of creepy, but that doesn't mean we’re not a bit nervous about wanting to give a good first impression. Whether you’re looking for a serious relationship with a friend of a friend or a casual sex hook up with someone you found that day on an online dating site, here are seven tried-and-true ideas for an unforgettable first date that we hope will lead you directly into the heart and/or underwear of your intended..
1. Break Into Somewhere*

Urban landscapes are full of unexplored places - abandoned buildings, hidden alleyways, disused factories, little scraps of wilderness hidden on the other side of hoardings that have been up for so long nobody can see them any more. Whether you want to get into urban exploration, do something desperately romantic or just find a great place to have some outdoor sex that will leave you both with a story you’ll always remember, honing your break-in skills can lead to some of the best first dates you've ever had.
2. Try Something Steamy

Sex club saunas have been a good place to take a casual first date since the eighties - if you happened to be a cisgendered man interested in scheduling a hook up with another cisgendered man, that is. These days, however, some of the best are starting to branch out; you can now find sauna nights that are frequented by people of all manner of gender identities and sexualities, including several that are for female-identified and trans* people only. The atmosphere on these nights tends to be a lot more laid-back and relaxed than you might imagine - there certainly will be people playing and fucking, but there will be just as many simply hanging out with dates and friends in the comfort of a relaxed and body-positive atmosphere. It’s a surprisingly intimate and convivial experience, and it’s a good place to bond in any way you fancy.
3. Get Your Adrenaline Going

This is an increasingly popular first date idea, sure, but that’s because it’s actually good advice - sharing something exciting and active on a first date accelerates bonding, allows you to find out what your new hook up is like in an intense situation, and leads on to some truly great sex afterwards. Plus, you’re a lot more likely to find someone interesting on an online dating site if you've got a few solid ideas about activities you’d like to try than if you’re just after dinner and a movie. Some of the best options include trampolining, Zorbing, bungee jumping and good old-fashioned roller coasters.
4. Do A Little Shopping

Most sufficiently large cities now have their own monthly or quarterly fetish fairs and alternative markets. Even if you don’t buy anything, the window-shopping from stall to stall is a lot of fun all by itself - and most vendors will let you and your partner have a quick try of anything that isn’t disposable or a hygiene concern. What better way to make an impression on someone you met at an online dating site than to give them their first introduction to a violet wand? Even better, several of these markets turn into club nights at the end of the working day - perfect.
5. Learn a New Skill

We've all read a hundred articles explaining the benefits of taking a class in something on a first date with someone new, and that’s pretty sound advice - but there’s no reason that class should be about pottery or perfume-making. LGBT, kink, feminist and sex-positive organisations the world over are now offering courses and open days that focus on Shibari, edge play, tantra, suspension and anything else you can imagine - including how to give a killer blowjob. How’s that for a bonding first date experience?
6. Have an Outbreak of Class

Everyone should have the opportunity to do this at least once in their lives, if they’re someone who’s interested in casual sex: schedule a hook up with someone you know you desperately want to sleep with but wouldn't want to have a relationship with. Book the absolute fanciest and most expensive hotel room you can afford. Bask in the lap of luxury while screwing each other’s brains out all night and ordering room service. This one is almost better if you never see the person again; that way it can be a shining, glittering, “we’ll always have Paris”-style memory for you both for always.
7. Keep It Simple, Stupid

Finally, it’s important not to forget that sometimes the oldest tricks are the best. Those of us who live in big cities in the Western world are so saturated now with multi-sensory dining experiences and open-air cinemas serving hand-blended craft gin that we’re in danger of forgetting the joy of a few pints in your local pub followed by a post-coital Chinese takeaway eaten in bed. Sometimes it’s best not to overcomplicate things!
*This might be considered trespassing, breaking-and-entering, or something else equally illegal where you live. Be sure to check local laws before trying out this first date idea and definitely don't do anything illegal. And telling authority figures that you got the idea from will probably not get you out of jail.

© Warren Goldswain / Dollar Photo Club and goodluz / Dollar Photo Club

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.

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What your online dating profile says about you

If you haven’t met your soul mate (or fuck buddy, whatever it is that you are looking for) yet you might decide to give online dating a go and proceed to sign up on the website of your choice. Now comes the hard bit: setting up your online dating profile. Obviously you want to convey a certain image to attract the sort of people you are after, so it pays to put some effort into it.
First of all, the picture

Now let’s face it; for most people the picture is the most important part of the profile and it will be the first (and possibly the last) thing people will look at in your profile. If you choose not to display any picture, the changes are you are not getting many replies as people are bound to think you’re a dog. And not the cute kind either. When choosing a picture for your online dating profile, for some the aim seems to be to avoid being recognized in case someone they know would see the ad – cue pictures of a dark figure wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. Needless to say, this type of pictures are only marginally better than no picture as we still can’t tell if you’re a dog.

By all means choose the most flattering pictures – we all do – but also take a moment to consider what kind of image that photo conveys of you. If the pic of your choice shows you in a bar with a cocktail in your hand, that image will be “party girl!” Should you have a photo of you engaged in some outdoorsy activity, all rosy-cheeked and radiating wholesomeness, people are likely going to associate you with a healthy lifestyle. And if that picture is a bathroom selfie – well, I for one would think “pathetic!” Also, it is important not to look like a sourpuss since people generally don’t enjoy the company of one. Smile can tell a lot about you.
Next, we come to the description

Now this is very important, yet many people find it really tough to write. You might believe in the old cliché that a picture says more than a thousand words, but you also paint a picture of your mental capacities with your words and quite frankly, illiteracy is hardly high up on the list of desirable qualities in a partner. The lack of effort in this department demonstrated by some profiles is shocking. You have one opportunity to woo me with your words, and the best you can come up with is “dont no wot to write drop me a line if wanna no sthing”, really? This sort of description on online dating profiles  forces me to think that you are not a very interesting person. Surely there must be something you can share about yourself so that the potential daters can have an idea if you two might get along at all.

This takes us to your image and interests

Again, you wish to portray your good qualities, right? So you only went to that yoga class once about four years ago and nearly dislocated some pretty important body parts, but it sounds both trendy and sporty, not to mention spiritual – so you add yoga as your hobby. It sounds so much better than channel-surfing or compulsive facebook-updating, anyway. You started reading Les Miserables ages ago in an attempt to be more cultured – ok, you never made it past page 20 but you have seen the movie, so why not mark that as your favourite book? After all, you are only doing it to attract the more cultured type and that way some of that culture might rub off on you. First you need to get to rubbing distance, so to speak.

However much you gloss over details or outright lie in your online dating profile, the truth will come out eventually if things are going anywhere with your date. That’s alright, the chances are they also exaggerated something or left out something. The important thing is that you attract the right type to begin with and then take it from there, so it makes sense to take a good hard look at your profile and make sure it conveys the images you want it to convey – however fake it might be.

photo by Mattsy Flicks via Flickr under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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'The One' vs 'Fuck Buddy' - The importance of love and trust

Love and romance, cue music and flowers, hearts and lollipops! Is it real? Should you go all out to create this monogamous and committed life forever with one single person? Lives change and people develop over time, they mature and gain more wisdom as they have different experiences and jobs. So if you're looking for 'The One' nowadays it seems you may be in for a chain of 'ones' if marriage and divorce statistics are to be believed. So, is a 'Fuck Buddy' the answer to problems of creating long term and committed relationships? Guess this is a question you need to answer. And yes, the best fuck buddy should be someone you can also trust and love as a friend. Maybe you won't be planning to spend the rest of your life with this pal, but if you develop a close relationship you'll both be aware that you'll be there for each other when needed, and perhaps even still be in touch when you're both old, grey and wrinkled. Unlike the divorcee living next door who never sees her ex-husband.

Good sex isn't just about the athletic prowess of your partner, it's also about caring for the other person. Caring enough to give each other a great time and want to come back for more. Fucking loads of different people in a chain of one nighters can be hazardous to your health and you're unlikely to experience the highs of great sex. A regular sex friend you can contact when needed on the other hand gives you opportunities to learn each others bodies and ways to please one another.

Trusting your fuck buddy is another important aspect of the friendship. If they're into regular sex with different people and strangers then you may reconsider your decision to set up a friendship of this nature. If you set out guidelines for your friendship before moving into the sex side of it, then you'll both be aware just how far to take your relationship. And yes, it's perfectly possible to trust and adore your sex buddy and continue leading the kind of single lifestyle you need. You don't have to imprison each other with promises of true love, faithfulness and 'til death us do part' statements that are likely to be broken in the near future. Why bother? You can have the best of both worlds; a true and loving friend and still go out building your career, enjoying all the other aspects of your life and you're safe in the knowledge that you've got each other to provide that loving touch that's missing from the lives of so many singles.  

Perhaps this idea of true love and searching for 'The One' is all some kind of advertisers dream and old hat in the modern world. It seems safe to say that the more people you get out and meet in life, the more attractions and physical encounters you're likely to have. Aren't you just sick of all those hypocritical fat cats with their commitments to married life and loving one person until the next newspaper hits the shelf outing them as having affairs or even sickening perversions?

Life is for living and if you've got a good fuck buddy (or perhaps even two) then you can be sure you'll end up living it more fully than the guy next door who's been locked into romancing the same girl for the past few years. As you watch them squabbling while they wash his car or see them out in local pubs and clubs ignoring each other because they've had one of their stupid arguments about nothing, then hold your head high and be proud of the fact you've embraced your sexuality and physical needs, without locking yourself into what often turns into a childish love relationship purely for the sake of regular sex.

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A glossary of excruciating poly jargon

Trying to parse that poly jargon? Communities often have a need for a vocabulary of their own. When you’re trying to argue for mainstream acceptance of something that not many people know about or approve of you need something to call it, after all; “that thing where you get to like all the people and nobody minds” would start to sound a bit long-winded after a while.

Have you ever noticed, though, quite how many of those new words are frankly a bit ridiculous? As a community, we seem to be excellent at coming up with things that sound so stupid I can’t quite bring myself to say them out loud without cringing.

Here, presented with the best will in the world and my tongue firmly in my cheek, are a few choice picks. I use many of these words myself, and am probably guilty of almost everything I send up over the course of this glossary. But what good are we if we cannot laugh at ourselves, hmm?

1. Compersion

Compersion is the feeling of happiness derived from watching someone you love being adorable with someone else. Unfortunately, it also makes you sound like you work in a comedy-hour pastiche of a blue collar executive’s office. After all, you’ll never achieve your true compersive potential across the board unless you hammer out some actionable key performance indicators going forward. My least favourite thing about that sentence is that it is probably actually true.
2. Fluid Bonding

At some point, someone decided that safer sex discourse needed a phrase meaning ‘to have PIV intercourse without a condom’ carefully designed to come across (no pun intended) as biologically squicky and disgusting as possible. It doesn’t sound so much like the product of a mature decision based on mutual trust and respect as it does something a particularly disgusting pair of small boys might do in a treehouse that no girls are allowed in. On the other hand, making frequent requests to ‘fluid bond’ with someone is probably a uniquely effective method of contraception and STI prevention.
3. Frubbly

Many years ago, a friend of mine was drunk at a party and lamenting how much he didn’t like the word ‘compersion’. “It’s so cold and clinical”, he said. “Why can’t we have a nice fluffy word to mean that, like...I dunno...’frubbly’, or something?” A mutual friend who I later went on to date for a few years was instantly inspired by this and declared that she’d have it in the OED inside a decade. Admittedly she didn’t quite manage that, but it does pop up in a variety of poly glossaries written by people we don’t know and it was in the Guardian that one time.
4. NRE (or ‘New Relationship Energy’)

Some of the greatest pleasures in life are just too good to leave unchallenged, you know? Take, for example, that electrifying phase all good relationships seem to have for the first few months. There’s this bit where all you want to do is hang out with them and have sex with them and chat to them and think about them and talk about soon mellows out into something more sustainable, but it’s fun while it lasts. This is precisely why we needed to find a cold, soulless acronym to use for it. After all, what good is emotion left unanalysed?
5. Polyamory

I don’t know who originally chose the word ‘polyamory’, but I sometimes wonder if they didn’t do it on purpose to wind up irredeemable pretentious twats like me who have spent enough time studying literature and language to never quite stop being annoyed by the fact that it is a hybrid word. Hybrid words, as we all know, are mish-mashes of multiple dead languages that work perfectly well till some sod at a dinner party suddenly comes out with “Polyamory is wrong! It is derived from the Greek ‘polys’ meaning ‘many’ and the Latin ‘amor’ meaning ‘love’; it’s a bastard word!” I have been That Person, and while it is indeed true that really the word should be either multiamory or polyphilia we should probably all shut up about it already.
6. Polycule

Once there is more than one other person involved in your relationship life, it can get difficult to describe the connections without resorting to diagrams. Someone noticed at some point that those diagrams bear a striking resemblance to molecular structure, and if you extend the metaphor to include valency bonds and such it is actually quite an apt one. I have never been able to decide if this word is quite clever really or actively the most unbearable thing I have ever heard; I just know that it’s one of the two. Either way, I can’t bring myself to utter it aloud for fear of being branded One Of Those People: the ones so far vanished into their own subcultural arses that they no longer even realise how incomprehensibly stupid they sound to most people in the outside world.
7. Polysaturated

A word meaning ‘I don’t have room in my life for any more relationships at the moment’, usually used by smug twats who want everyone to know just how much sex they’re having without ruling out the possibility of a one night stand with you, you lucky soul. “I’m feeling a bit polysaturated at the moment and I can’t commit to anything new right now - but hey, I’m still free every third Thursday evening...”
8. Relationship Anarchy

The notion that there are no boundaries, there is no structure, everything is chaos and nothing hurts. This has something to be said for it, actually, as a core idea; the theory goes that there is no fundamental difference between platonic and romantic relationships, and that all dynamics between people should be allowed to find their own levels free from unnecessary rules and preconceptions. The principle is sound but, as with so many things, the execution tends to be sullied by how massively convinced of their own superiority most relationship anarchists actually are. “Speaking of abstract Russian art”, you say, laughing, during a late-night conversation in the pub one weekend. “I asked my girlfriend about Kandinsky the other day and she said  “Oh, I don’t have ‘girlfriends’”, interrupts the relationship anarchist. “I’m into Relationship Anarchy. We believe that relationships need no artificial terms or boundaries, and should all be allowed to find their own level.”

Every time, you guys. Every goddamn time.

Abi is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.

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The sexual fantasy of being thin

Back when I was eighteen and a recovering bulimic, Kate Harding changed my life forever. Until I discovered the truly incredible (and now late lamented) blog Shapely Prose it had never really occurred to me that being fat might not be so bad after all or that BMI is a bit incomprehensible in practice or that dieting might actually be the devil. One of my favourite posts of hers is entitled The Fantasy of Being Thin, which puts into words something that I’d never managed to get a solid handle on before.

Here’s the part where I come out as sleeping with the enemy: in the past year-and-a-quarter, I’ve lost coming on for 90lbs. I’m not going to go on about the hows and whys, because they don’t matter; I’m still in many ways the same person I was when Kate Harding changed my life. Part of the process, though, was that I’ve had to finally, finally let go of my own Fantasy of Being Thin - something that, perhaps ironically, I never managed to do before I started losing weight.
Now, I’m not thin - and I have no plans to be

I’m still very firmly inside the ‘overweight’ category, and my intention is to stay there. 90lbs is enough to have figured a lot of stuff out, though, and one thing I’ve realised is that there’s a sexual fantasy of being thin as well as the stuff Kate’s talking about. Here are a few excerpts from my own:
When I’ve lost weight, more people will fancy me When I’ve lost weight, I won’t be self-conscious in bed When I’ve lost weight, approaching people will be easier The trouble with those things, of course, is that they’re bullshit. Even the ones that are true are bullshit, and here’s why.
When I’ve lost weight, more people will fancy me

Far be it from me to blow my own trumpet (hurr hurr) but I’ve always done alright by myself; I’ve never had a lot of trouble pulling, and a lack of people I can get up to deviant things with isn’t something I’ve ever much suffered. The amount of time since I was sixteen that there hasn’t been anyone at all I’m sleeping with or dating is about six months total.

So I don’t know why I used to worry about this. I suppose I’m just not good at dealing with rejection, or something. Still, though, I guess it’s true; I probably do get hit on more now than I did a year ago. I don’t mean in a street-harassment way, either; I actually get a lot less of that now, which isn’t what I would have expected.

What I never realised was that it would make me so goddamn suspicious.When people I’ve known for a while suddenly start chatting me up for the first time I’m immediately wrongfooted - is it because I’ve lost weight? Do they think I’m only good enough now? What if people used to think I looked terrible and are now breathing a sigh of relief because it’s finally okay to tell me that? Protip: it fucking isn’t. The only answer I have to “you look amazing now!” is “bitch, I always looked amazing”.

Maybe more people do fancy me now that I’m thinner. But if you wouldn’t have wanted me then, I probably don’t want you now. That might be unreasonable, but it does seem to be true.
When I’ve lost weight, I won’t be self-conscious in bed

If you’d asked me a year ago about my major bodily likes and insecurities, I would have answered you instantly with something like this: “I really hate my stomach and I’m quite self-conscious about having a round face that tends to the double chin. I’ve got good legs and a great rack.”

My answer now goes something like this: “I really hate my stomach and I’m quite self-conscious about having a round face that tends to the double chin. I’ve got good legs, and my boobs are alright though I wish I hadn’t lost so much of them. My waist is fucking amazing, mind you.”

Other than the fact that I now have a higher waist-to-hip ratio than Marilyn Monroe (I will never stop showing off about that) and I’m still not done mourning the former glory of my once astounding cleavage, not a whole lot has changed. I still hate my stomach, especially because of the post-weight-loss loose skin thing that means certain angles send me flying into a panic at the mere notion that someone might see what I look like in that position. I still point my face weirdly and try to find some way to cover my chin when I’m lying on my back.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly better than I was, though there’s more to that than just the weight loss. I’m someone who gets quite self-conscious, though - both in bed and out of it - and being thinner isn’t a magic pill to fix that. It’s got a lot more to do with neuroticism than it does with numbers.
When I’ve lost weight, approaching people will be easier

The truth is, nobody is actually very good at flirting. I get questions about this to my column all the time - people wanting to know how to find their ideal partner, how to approach people they fancy at parties, what the magic words are that will make their love and sex lives suddenly click into place.

I always have to give those people the same advice. There are no magic words. There’s no way to guarantee something will work out. All you can do is keep trying, keep hoping, and keep trusting that things pop up from unexpected quarters.

I suppose I thought losing weight would help with this for two reasons: firstly because there would be a larger pool of people who would fancy me, and secondly because I’d be more confident in my own attractiveness. Both of those things have happened to a certain extent, but like I said earlier - it’s all a lot more complicated than pre-weight-loss me would have expected. Real life always is more complicated than our daydreaming selves want it to be, after all.

The problem with the Fantasy of Being Thin - sexual or otherwise - is that it’s just that: a fantasy. No matter which side of the spectrum you end up on, the misconceptions you’re carrying around with you about this simply aren’t true. You don’t need to fix your body to have a better sex life; you need to look at what’s inside your head. I can’t say this any better than Kate Harding did herself:

Abi is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.

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Swinging in a sex-negative world

When me and my boyfriend decided that “monogamish” was an adjective better suited for us than “monogamous,” we started seeing the world differently. Each outing was an opportunity to meet potential partners, every party a chance to hook up. But the world did not receive us this way. In fact, the biggest inhibitor to our newly acclaimed status as prospective swingers, was the fact that we are a couple.

While the nuclear family is no longer exactly a cultural standard, couples–should they consist of two men, two women, or none of the above–are still largely viewed as universally monogamous. A couple, as still defined by the masses, is a sturdy, wholesome unit, one in which collective strength and longevity are measured by faithfulness to each other, and to each other alone.

So when you walk into a party as a couple, no one flirts with you. Either of you.

Many of the preconceptions surrounding swinging and other non-monogamous practices can be attributed to the sex-negative culture we unfortunately still inhabit. Monogamy is pushed on us from various places: school, television, other forms of popular entertainment, and often our own families. Even with the sex-positive dawn that seems to be upon us (thanks to the internet), it’s still difficult to shake these more traditional ideas of what is right (or culturally acceptable) and what is wrong (or culturally unacceptable).

As a species, we’re generally okay at flirting—particularly heterosexuals—because we’ve been doing it and culturally promoting it for a long time. But no one grows up watching TV where swingers go on dates. Few movies have swinger protagonists. Even among the more open-minded and accepting segments of the population, most people just aren’t mentally prepared for being allowed to flirt with someone who didn’t attend the party alone. We’re taught that this is culturally unacceptable, and often a precursor to helping someone cheat. Because we don’t yet have established social norms for flirting with swingers, it tends to just not happen. Or at least, not in “vanilla,” or less sex-positive spaces.

When I asked swinging author, podcaster, and swinger himself, Cooper S. Beckett, the best way for beginners to dive into the non-monogamy pool, he told me to head straight for my laptop.

“Finding out where swingers congregate in your community is huge,” Beckett advises. “Hit some of the big swing sites, Kasidie, SDC, SwingLifeStyle, and look at your area. If they're not on one site, then another may be better. Look at people's profiles on OKCupid, apps like 3nder. Once you find the community, try to meet as many people who know each other as you can, this encourages safety, and community bonding.”

But online and in-app outlets for finding swinging partners should mostly be used as an entryway into one’s local community. Relying heavily on virtual connections can also increase the risk of walking into unsafe or unwanted situations, Beckett explains. “I’d suggest everybody use caution, and vet people properly before meeting up in a private space. You never know who people really are. Of course, you don’t know that at a bar either…”

The obvious bonus to using virtual experiences for initiating a connection, is that there are no surprises, no uncomfortable reactions to, “so, we swing!” Niche dating and hookup sites (and apps) create a space for people with shared desires. There’s no guessing involved, because everyone’s there (more or less) for the same thing.
For the shy types interested in swinging, tools like these can be a saving grace.

Flirting with strangers is difficult to begin with. There’s already so much that goes into it–reading reactions, choosing what words and body language are appropriate, figuring out orientation–that adding a whole other compatibility filter can be overwhelming. With swinging, picking up on the hint that someone is into you just isn’t enough–you need then to drop hints that will help you figure out if they’re into swinging. That is, unless they’re the one dropping such hints. “I do recognize little quirks of behavior that might indicate someone is more open than I initially thought,” says Beckett, “this does still require me to make that move, take that risk, and ask.”

And according to Beckett, although still challenging, just taking that risk and asking is a viable option. It just depends on where you are.

“You’ll have a lot more luck near a big city than in a rural area,” says Beckett, “and you’ll definitely have more luck near some big cities than others.”

Since culture varies from place to place, it’s easier to encounter a greater concentration of open-minded and sex-positive folks in bigger cities, where less conventional ideas about relationships and sex not only exist but are accepted by a non-minority.

Beckett goes on to say, “mostly though, it’s about finding where the swingers are hanging out near you. They’re everywhere.”

The world is as they say, your oyster. But first, you’ve gotta figure out how to crack the shell. We’re still working on it.

Zoë Tersche writes about sexuality and gender in culture, media, and tech. She also Find out more on her website.

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10 Completely ridiculous assumptions about polyamory

When my husband and I first went public about our polyamory/open marriage, we had no idea the amount of assumptions that would be made about our marriage. Some of them we laughed at, thinking people couldn’t be serious. But the looks of surprise upon hearing our laughter told us otherwise. So here is a list of things that we (as well as other poly couples we know) hear quite often. This list still makes me giggle, despite these being very real assumptions about polyamory that people make all the time.

10 Completely ridiculous assumptions about polyamory
1. You must have sex all the time
This one makes us laugh the most. Poly is not swinging. It’s about complex and intimate relationships with people outside of the marriage. About half the poly couples I know don’t include sex as part of their relationship. Kissing, intimate embrace, snuggling, yes, but not sex. When you’re balancing being an emotional support for multiple partners, there isn’t even a lot of time for sex.
2. You’re poly, so that means you’re fucking everyone you’re with
This one drives us insane! Yes, we have a lot of friends. I also have a lot of professional connections. Yet the amount of people we get accused of having sex with vastly outweighs (by about 98%) the number of people we actually have sex with.
3. You must not love your spouse
This is one of the most ridiculous assumptions about polyamory. I love my husband so much that I experience compersion when he’s with a partner. I feel this when my other partners are enjoying one of their other partners as well. I feel joy when the people I love are experiencing love elsewhere too.
4. Your spouse must not love you
My spouse loves me so much that even though he was raised religious and monogamous, he worked hard on his issues surrounding jealousy and judgment, so he could support me on my journey with others as well. When I’m down and his attempts aren’t helping, he’ll call one of my partners to see if they can help.
5. Your marriage must be broken

Another common assumption about polyamory. I can’t say that all poly couples have strong marriages going in. What I can say is that my husband and I didn’t open our marriage until we were in a healthy place, and the fact that poly forces us to keep communicating has only meant the reverse for us. The more we endeavor into polyland, the stronger and healthier our marriage becomes.
6. You’re poly, so that means you’re going to cheat with my spouse

This one I can’t get past. I get why an insecure person might assume something so silly, but aside from two people out of hundreds, I don’t know any poly folks that would take part in a nonconsensual relationship. If one party isn’t in the ‘know’ and/or doesn’t support an external relationship, then it’s not a consent-based relationship. All parties must be in the know and supportive. Affairs are not polyamory.
7. Love can’t exist beyond two people

Say what?! To this I usually cringe and hope the commenter doesn’t have family or friends.
8. You must love one more than the other(s)

No, I don’t. I love my partners equally, but sometimes in different ways. The things I love about my husband aren’t the same things I love about my other partner, yet both are equally important to me. Sometimes their traits overlap, but they are individuals and I love them separate as such. Separate, but equally.
9. Your spouse is going to leave you for someone else

Again, this is a weird assumption about polyamory to wrap your brain around. Considering we can already date whoever we want, this scenario is less likely to happen in poly and more likely to happen in monogamy where the person doesn’t have the freedom to explore other loving relationships.
10. Your spouse must be terrible in bed

I often brag about my husband’s skills in bed, so no! He’s quite fantastic in bed! Poly and open relationships—again—aren’t about sex. The point is the deep, intimate connections and those may or may not include sex and/or romance.
Sienna Saint-Cyr writes erotica and blogs about kink, poly, body image, most things relating. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @siennasaintcyr.

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Why there's nothing wrong with dating older men

Have you ever been judged for dating older men? When I was little I heard some family members joke about our neighbor being a sugar daddy. At the time I thought they were talking about the candy and was more than excited. I’d pictured a man made of yummy caramel, but I soon learned that was not what they’d meant. It took a teenager to explain to me that a younger woman and older man meant he was her sugar daddy and that the woman was likely using him for his money.
Dating older men: "He's as old as your father!"
Even as a child I realized how critical some people could be of these vast age gaps.
As I grew, this wasn’t something I cared much about. Several of my friends dated older men and they were in great relationships. No one was taken advantage of, whether it was my young friend or the older gentleman that (rarely) had money. They were simply dating and age didn’t factor in.
When I began attending writing conferences and fandom conventions I saw how common older men and younger women were. I’ve never seen so many large age gaps as I do in my current line of work. This applies to the kink community as well. Often times the man is in his fifties and the woman, in her early twenties. While a few I know have issues with this, most are accepting.
Personally, I’m drawn to older men
While my husband is only two years my senior, all of my poly partners have been no less than ten years older. The healthiest of all my relationships has a fourteen-year age difference. Despite the many critical comments I’d heard growing up, not once has my partner tried to take advantage of me or manipulate me, nor have I taken advantage of him or tried to manipulate him. My relationship has instead offered me a great deal of growth. The awful notions that were so ingrained into my head as a child are something I have yet to see. I’ve only seen healthy relationships with these age gaps.

This is not to say that in some circumstances there won’t be abuse. While all relationships have that potential, when an older partner—with more experience and/or financial means—begins abusing a younger partner, the dangers can be more severe. This rule applies no matter which gender is the older party. Personally, I feel any relationship where one person is taking advantage of another is unacceptable.
Age differences don’t mean abuse, abusive behavior does
In a time when feminism and equality are spoken about regularly, our right to choose the partner that makes us happy is an integral part of that. Maybe that means our partner(s) are the same gender, or transgender, or maybe twenty years our senior. No matter what type of relationship we seek, we all have the right to do what’s best for us and not be judged or labeled for it.
Sienna Saint-Cyr writes erotica and blogs about kink, poly, body image, most things relating. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @siennasaintcyr.

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