Does pegging make you gay?

I get a fair number of emails and messages from men who are interested in trying pegging.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “pegging” was coined by Dan Savage to describe when a person (usually a woman) penetrates their partner (usually a man) in the butt with a strap-on.  And it seems like a lot of you guys are interested in this particular sex act, because it’s one of the topics I get asked about most often by readers.

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Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

 

I’ve noticed something really interesting about these messages though.  When the author of the message is a guy, it usually goes something like “I’m not gay, but I’m really curious about pegging.  I want to ask my girlfriend to use a strap-on on me, but i don’t want her to think I’m gay”.  Or “I am really turned on by the idea of my wife having strap-on sex with me.  Does that mean that I’m gay?”.  Occasionally I will also get a woman asking for tips for successful pegging who also throws in a question about her partner’s sexuality.  So I wanted to unpack that question a little, and ask if pegging, or wanting to be pegged, means that a man is gay?

 

First of all, let’s talk about the reasons why someone might like to be pegged.  The most obvious answer is “because it feels good”.  The anus is packed with nerve endings which, when stimulated, can feel incredibly pleasurable.  Anal penetration is a great way to engage the prostate, which can feel amazing for the receptive partner.  Pegging also allows for multiple avenues of stimulation at once, as the partner wearing the strap on can also use their hands to play with their partner’s genitals or nipples.  So from a purely physical level, pegging feels great and that’s one reason why people like doing it.

 

Secondly, pegging creates a scenario that is mentally stimulating.  For a heterosexual man who has a penis, being penetrated is not something they typically get to experience.  Pegging flips the sexual script somewhat, and this can make the receptive partner feel vulnerable and even submissive.  Pegging often features in BDsM play where a male partner wishes to be dominated or “taken” by a female partner.  In addition to this, anal play is still considered something of a taboo, and so there’s the excitement that comes with doing something that we feel is illicit or naughty.  Pegging can be very intimate and romantic, and for some couples it’s an opportunity to try something new, to share a novel and special experience together. The emotional and intellectual stimulation is as much, if not more, a part of why people enjoy playing with strap-ons.

 

Just as anal play is still thought of as being “risque” there’s also a stereotype that anal penetration is “gay”.  There’s this idea that anal sex is a favourite pastime of all gay men, and so if you’re a man who craves butt sex, maybe that’s a sign that you’re secretly gay? Anal play has become stereotypically intertwined with homosexuality, so for a lot of people, wanting it up the butt is inherently gay.

 

I find this idea interesting for a couple of reasons.  First of all, anal play isn’t exclusive to men.  Literally anyone who is willing is able to experience butt play.  Everyone has a butt, and so anal play is one of the least gendered types of sex play available.  And yet it’s become so deeply linked in the public psyche with gay male culture.  Furthermore, anal sex isn’t as popular among homosexual men as you might think.  In a 2003 study of homosexual experiences in Australia, Andrew Grulich et al reported that only one third of their participants who identified as homosexual men engaged in anal sex.  On the other hand, three quarters of their gay male participants reported that they regularly engaged in oral sex.  So in actual fact, blow jobs are much more popular among homosexual men than anal sex.  Although some gay men do enjoy and engage in anal play, many do not.  And many people who are not gay men like having their butts played with.  The idea that anal sex is “gay” just isn’t correct.

 

Further to that, I don’t think that wanting to do particular sexual acts is an indicator of your sexuality.  I think what’s more important is who you want to be doing those acts with.  What defines homosexuality is being attracted to people of the same gender as yourself.  So if you’re a man, and you’re not attracted to other men, then you’re not gay.  If you’re a man who wants his wife/girlfriend/female sexual partner to bone him with a dildo, you’re probably not gay.  What matters here is who you’re attracted to, not which acts you include in your sexual repertoire.

 

And finally, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, although I completely understand the confusion and fear that comes with questioning your own sexuality.  If you do have an inkling that you’re attracted to members of the same gender, that’s ok.   I think the fear that many people have of being “secretly gay” is one that stems from a worry that our identity is fluid, that things we feel are true about ourselves might not always be so.  In my limited experience, I’ve never met a person who was personally surprised to realise that they were not heterosexual.  Generally, people who are homosexual or bisexual tend to have an inkling that this is the case, even well before they’re willing to take on that label.

 

So no, I don’t think that wanting to try pegging means that you’re gay.  It could mean that you’re interested in exploring a new sensation, or you already know how great prostate stimulation is and you want more.  Or maybe you’re drawn to the power dynamics and sexual rebelliousness that pegging represents.  Whatever the reason, I don’t think that being curious about or turned on by pegging means that a man is harbouring same-sex tendencies.  (or that same-sex desires are something to be feared or ashamed of, but that’s a whole other blog post).

 

 

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How to stop menstrual cup leaks

I had a question from a reader a few weeks ago about menstrual cup leaks.  This reader was discouraged from using her menstrual cup because she was experiencing frequent leaks, particularly when she wore her cup on the heaviest days of her period.  The potential for leaks is one of the main deterrents from trying a menstrual cup.  However, during my experience I’ve found leaks to be very uncommon, provided that you’ve chosen the correct cup for your body and you’ve inserted it correctly.  To help you out if you’re experiencing leaks with your cup, I’ve created a little troubleshooting guide for you to run through.

 

Are you sure your cup is actually leaking?

I’ve had moments when I’ve thought that my menstrual cup has leaked, but it was a false alarm.  Sometimes, if you’ve removed the cup, emptied it, and then reinserted it, or if you’ve inserted the cup after a period of not wearing it, there can be traces of blood left on the walls of the vagina that wind up on the outside of the cup after it’s inserted.  If this is the case, you might get a small amount of blood in your underwear even though you’re wearing the cup.  If you notice a little bit of blood on your underwear, this is probably what’s happened.  However, if there is a lot of blood or the amount of blood increases throughout the day, you might have a leak that needs to be addressed.

 

Has your cup opened fully after you’ve inserted it?

One of the main reasons a cup will leak is that it is not inserted properly.  If the cup hasn’t popped open fully after insertion, it won’t create the seal it needs to work effectively.

 

If you’re not certain if your cup is properly opened, it’s very easy to check.  Once you’ve inserted the cup, insert a finger into your vagina alongside the cup.  Gently feel all the way around the cup.  If it is open, it should feel smooth and round.  If you feel any puckers, folds or dips, then the cup has not opened up fully.

 

Another way to check is to very gently pull on the base of the cup, being careful not to pinch the cup (which will break the seal).  If there is resistance, then the cup is properly sealed in position.  If you can easily move the cup, then it’s not properly inserted and you need to take it out and try again.

 

There are certain cup folds that make it easier for your cup to pop open.  Every body is different and some people find that certain folds work best with their bodies.  I personally find that the often-used C-fold makes it harder for my cup to pop open.  I have three favourite folds that work best for me:

The Punch Down fold is achieved by pushing one edge of the cup down inside the cup and then pinching the two edges closed to hold the punched-down edge inside.  This fold pops open the most easily once inserted.

The 7 fold is where you flatten the cup and fold one of the upper corners down diagonally to meet the opposite lower corner.

The Labia or Diamond fold is achieved by taking hold of the rim on one side and bending it to meet the lower edge of the cup.  Then pinch the two outer corners of the cup to fold the cup in half vertically.  This one is a tricky fold to master, but it’s one of the best because it gives you a really narrow width to insert.

 

Both the Labia and 7 folds have the added advantage of having the rim of the cup folded downwards.  This makes it really easy to feel if the cup hasn’t opened, because you’ll feel that ridge with your finger.  And if it hasn’t opened, you can just nudge that rim up with your finger to open the cup.

 

This fantastic video gives really clear instructions to help you find a fold that works for you.

 

 

 

Is your cervix inside your cup once it’s inserted?

Your cervix is the point where your vagina opens into your uterus. It’s the opening where menstrual blood comes out during your period. In order for the cup to catch all your menstrual fluid, your cervix must be contained completely within the cup.  Before you insert your cup, it’s worthwhile checking the position of your cervix.  To do this, insert a finger into your vagina and feel for the top of your vagina.  Your cervix feels like a little dimple, and has some resistance to it.  Feel for something that has roughly the same resistance as the tip of your nose. This is your cervix.

 

You might notice that your cervix is off to one side, or tilted back rather than dead centre.  That’s ok and totally normal.  But you will need to take this into account and angle your cup accordingly to make sure that your cervix is inside the cup once it’s inserted.

Is your cup large enough for your body?

Most menstrual cup brands make their cups in two different sizes.  This is done to accommodate variations in cervix size and vaginal depth.  Generally, it’s advisable to purchase the larger of the two sizes if you have given birth.  The reason for this is that after giving birth, the cervix tends to be softer and wider, and the vaginal canal may also be wider.  This is true even if you didn’t have a vaginal birth, because the muscle contractions experienced during labour still dilate the cervix, even you didn’t end up pushing a baby through that opening.

 

Even if you haven’t given birth you may want to try a larger sized cup.  This will help you to make sure that your cervix is fully contained inside the cup. Additionally, if you know that you have a heavier flow, a larger cup will accommodate that and make leaks less likely.

 

Is your cup firm enough for your body?

One thing a lot of people don’t really consider when shopping for a menstrual cup is how firm the cup is.  Although all cups are made of silicone, silicone can range in texture from very soft to quite rigid, and cups come in a variety of levels of firmness.  Many people prefer to buy a softer cup, because they believe it will be the most comfortable, but softer cups can be tricky to insert as well as being more prone to leaks.

 

If you have strong pelvic floor muscles, it’s really important that you choose a firmer cup to avoid leaks.  During activities where your pelvic floor is engaged, such as during yoga, pilates, weightlifting or using the bathroom, your kegel muscles can squeeze your cup.  If the cup is too soft, this squeezing might break the seal of the cup, and cause a leak.  So if you know you have strong kegels, or you are very active and enjoy sports like yoga or pilates, a firmer cup might be a good choice.

 

It can be tricky to know how firm a cup is without feeling it.  This is especially hard when you’re shopping online for cups.  Luckily, the awesome folks at Put a Cup in It have created this fantastic table comparing the firmness of most of the popular cup brands.

 

 

Have you left the cup in for too long?

It’s perfectly safe to leave a menstrual cup in for up to eight hours.  However, if you know that your flow is on the heavy side, you’re going to want to empty it much more frequently than that.  Once you use your cup more, you’ll get to know how often you need to empty it in order to prevent leaks.  But if you are leaking, then you might want to try emptying your cup more often.

 

Hopefully once you’ve run through all these tips, you’ll be able to put a stop to menstrual cup leaks.  If you choose the right cup and use it correctly, leaks are very rare.

 

Do you have any further menstrual cup questions that you’d like answered?  If you do, leave a comment down below.  Also, if you have any other tips for preventing leaks, I’d love to hear them.

 

Coming too soon? Dealing with premature ejaculation.

I’m excited to be answering another question from a devoted reader today.  I received a message from one of my single heterosexual male readers who is experiencing premature ejaculation.  He’s feeling ashamed about this and is hesitant to initiate sex with new partners because he’s worried that he won’t be able to satisfy them or that they will think he’s bad in bed.  I thought a lot about this and I can offer several suggestions for dealing with premature ejaculation and the shame that comes with it.

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What is premature ejaculation?

The International Society for Sexual Medicine has defined premature ejaculation as “ejaculation which occurs before or within one minute of penetration”.  However, popular opinion suggests that a lot of men consider premature ejaculation to be “coming too soon”.  For some, they feel that reaching orgasm well before their partner does, or sooner than they’d like, is premature ejaculation.  So it seems that while perhaps many people don’t fall within the medical definition of premature ejaculation, their expectations of how long they “should” be able to last colours their perceptions of their sexual ability.

 

Why is it a problem?

There are a few reasons why premature ejaculation is seen as an obstacle to great sex.  Firstly, there’s the idea that sex = penis in vagina.  And so if the “P in V” part of sex doesn’t last long, or if both partners aren’t satisfied during intercourse then we think that the sex was bad.  Secondly, we are constantly presented with sex scenes in movies and television shows where a couple having sex falls into bed, rolls around a little and then orgasms in unison.  So when our sexual responses don’t synch up with our partner’s, we feel like we’ve done something wrong.  And finally, a lot of the time premature ejaculation is the punchline of jokes in movies, so there’s this idea that men who come early are losers.

In actual fact though, premature ejaculation doesn’t have to be a barrier to awesome sex.  The way I see it, a lot of the time men feel like they’ve come to early when their body’s performance doesn’t match their expectations of how long they should be able to last in bed.  And so there are two ways to tackle this issue: either change the way your body performs or change your expectations (or a combination of the two).

 

Change the main event

A huge part of anxiety about premature ejaculation comes from the fear that once ejaculation happens sex is over and one party is left unsatisfied.   To overcome this idea, try switching up your perceptions of what “sex” entails.  It doesn’t have to just be about penis in vagina.  Expand your definition to include oral sex, mutual masturbation, kissing, humping and exploration.  Once you no longer consider “sex” to be just about penetration, the need to last longer becomes less important.

 

Get your timing right

It’s a well established fact that women usually take a lot longer to reach climax than men do.  The physical process of arousal tends to take up to three times longer for women, and actually reaching orgasm can take even longer.  If you know that you’re a bit of a quick-draw, try spending more time on your partner’s pleasure before you begin penetrative sex.  Use mouths, fingers or toys to bring your partner close to orgasm before you start boning.  Then, once she’s ready and close, you can begin P in V sex.  This closes the orgasm gap, making it a lot more likely that you’ll come in close succession.

 

Edge yourself

Some men have become conditioned to orgasm quickly from years of masturbating in secret, and trying to reach orgasm without getting caught.  Just as we can train ourselves to speed up our sexual climax, it is possible to learn to slow it down.

One way to do this is with a technique called “edging”.  To begin with, you want to masturbate on your own, ensuring that you have plenty of time and privacy.  Masturbate until you are right on the edge of having an orgasm, and then stop touching yourself and breathe slowly until the intensity dies down.  Then do it again, masturbate until you’re just about to come, then pull back from the edge.  Do this a couple of times before you allow yourself to orgasm. And then try this exercise a couple of times a week.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to stop in time, just try again later.

 

This exercise does two things.  Firstly, it makes you aware of what your sexual response cycle looks like.  It gives you a clear picture of the signs that you are about to orgasm.  And then secondly, it allows you to practice recognising those signs and controlling your orgasm.  So when you are having penetrative sex, you will be better at noticing that you’re about to come and be aware of how to control your climax.  Over time, this can help slow down your climaxes, as well as building your confidence in your own ability.

 

Have a rehearsal before the main performance

Remember the part in There’s Something About Mary where Ben Stiller jerks off prior to his big first date?  Well, silly as that scene was, it actually had a valuable point.  If you know that you’re going to be having sex later, it can be very helpful to give yourself an orgasm before you leave for your date.  Not only will you be more relaxed, but typically men come most quickly the first time they have an orgasm within a 12 hour period, with each subsequent orgasm taking a bit longer to be reached. Having an early orgasm by yourself can draw out your stamina for a sexual encounter later in the night.

 

 

Wrap your junk

Condoms are a great tool for prolonging your orgasms.  Not only are they vital for safer sex, but they can dampen sensation so you don’t get too aroused too quickly.  Choose a thicker condom such as Lifestyles Extra Strength to reduce sensation and help you last longer.  Don’t be tempted to wear two condoms at once for this purpose.  During sex the two layers can rub against each other and this friction can cause tearing.

 

Diffuse the shame

Think about the way you talk to yourself about your sexual performance.   Instead of thinking about your propensity to come quickly as a deficit, try thinking of ways to view it more positively.  You are sexually enthusiastic!  You’re passionate and easily excited.  Reframe the way you talk to yourself about your performance and change the way you feel about yourself.

 

Talk it out

If you’re anxious about having sex with a partner because you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly, the best thing you can do is talk to them about it.  Shame, stress and fear all play a role in premature ejaculation, and studies have shown that these emotions can make it more likely that you’ll orgasm faster than you’d like to.  Fears thrive in darkness, and one of the best ways to deal with them is to shine a light on them.  If you’re feeling anxious, tell your partner that you feel nervous and awkward.  Mention that you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly and that they’ll think less of you if you do.  Believe me when I tell you that most partners won’t be fazed by the prospect of a speedy climax, and will be able to reassure you. Plus, you’ll be able to decide what to do if it does happen, so you won’t feel so nervous about the possibility of impending disaster between the sheets.  Communication is vital for good sex, and talking through your fears will solve about 95% of them.  Your partner will also be charmed by your willingness to be honest and vulnerable with them.

 

Premature ejaculation happens to most men at some point in their lives and it really isn’t that big a deal.  But if you’re feeling anxious or ashamed about your rapid climaxes, there are plenty of things you can do.  Be gentle with yourself, be honest with your partner, and find new ways to express yourself and make your sex life amazing regardless of how long you last in bed.

 

 

How do I approach people online for fetish play?

Today’s post is quite exciting for me, because it represents something I’ve been itching to do for a while.  I love helping people and providing sex education, and one way to do that is to answer questions that people ask about sex and sexuality.  I recently had a reader write to me with a question, and although I replied privately, I also wanted to take this opportunity to address the subject on my blog so that all of you can read about it.

 

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The reader who wrote to me is a heterosexual man who has a foot fetish.  He is interested in finding female partners online who are interested in indulging his fetish by chatting and sending pictures.  He wanted to know how he could go about finding receptive partners in a respectful way.  I had a number of suggestions for him that I wanted to share with you.  These don’t necessarily apply only to foot fetishists, but anyone who is online seeking partners for sexual or fetish play.

 

The mere thought of looking for partners for fetish play can be nerve-wracking.  For starters, most fetishes are still looked upon with a degree of fear and many are misunderstood.  A lot of people who have kinks also hold a lot of shame around those desires.  Add to that the nerve-jangling fear of rejection and social anxiety and you get a kinkster who would prefer to cower in the corner than put themselves in the vulnerable position of looking for a play partner. Luckily, the internet has provided a multitude of options when it comes to looking for someone to explore with.  But there are a few things to consider before you throw yourself in headfirst….

 

Choose your platform carefully

One of the biggest mistakes people make when searching for partners online is not looking in the right places.  There are so many different social media platforms that allow us to connect with other people, but not all of these are ideal for finding partners to engage with sexually.  Instagram and Facebook are fantastic for sharing pictures with your friends, but they’re not the place to trawl for people to play with.  If you imagine the internet as a city, then Instagram and Facebook are like the public park.  Just like people don’t go to the park looking for a hookup, most people aren’t using these sites to find sexual partners.  Therefore, approaching strangers on Facebook or Instagram with requests for fetish play is likely to cause distress.  You wouldn’t walk up to a strange woman at the park and demand that she shows you her genitals, so you shouldn’t message a stranger on Facebook asking the same.

 

On the other hand, there are a number of sites and apps that are filled with people who are actively looking for people to explore with.  These are like the kink clubs, the singles bars and the hotspots in a real life city.  If you look on these sites, you’re automatically off to a better start because you’re working with a pool of people who are open to meeting people to talk about kinks, who are interested in hooking up or online play.  Fetlife is a great place to find like-minded individuals who share your fetishes.  You can join groups devoted to particular kinks, find events nearby and make friends.  Tinder is good if you’re looking for dates or hookups and dating sites are a good place to meet people who are interested in meeting potential partners. For fetish play though, I’d start with Fetlife to meet people who are interested in your specific kinks.

 

Treat people as whole, not just a collection of body parts.

When you send a message to a new friend or potential play partner online, it’s really important that you treat them like a whole person, not just as the life support system for the particular part you want to engage with.  That’s objectification and it’s not cool.  Rather than leading with a message that says “I want to see your feet, send me a picture” open with something a little more casual.  Introduce yourself, ask what they’d like to be called and see if they’d be interested in chatting.  Ask questions about them and answer their questions honestly.  This helps your new friend to feel more comfortable and makes them much more receptive to a request for play when you offer one.

 

Respond to rejection gracefully

It’s likely that you’ll experience some rejection when you begin chatting with potential play partners.  There are going to be people who are not interested in your particular kink, or who are not looking for someone to play with. Whatever their reason, if they do turn you down, accept it gracefully.  Resist the urge to demand an explanation, call them names or plead with them to change their mind.  Treat their “No” with respect and thank them for chatting with you.

 

Bring in a professional

If you’re not looking for an ongoing relationship, it might be worth bringing in a professional play partner to fulfil your fantasies.  Many escorts, adult performers, pro-dommes and cam models specialise in fetish work.  A bit of research online is likely to turn up a few professionals who will be able to indulge your kink and give you the play that you’re craving. This is especially true if the play you’re dreaming of is very specialised, unusual or requires particular equipment or training.  In the case of a foot fetish, there are loads of camgirls and porn performers who will sell pictures of their feet to you, and many even sell their socks and stockings to their customers.  If you’re shy about meeting people online, paying a professional can be a great option.

 

Finding play partners for fetishists can be a minefield.  But the internet has given us so many avenues to search for likeminded people who may be interested in exploring with us.  As long as you’re looking in the right places and treating people with respect and courtesy, you’ll be off to a great start and hopefully you’ll find that special someone who will share your erotic kinks.

 

Do you have any suggestions for meeting potential play partners online?  If so, please feel encouraged to leave a comment.

 

 

 

How to avoid topping from the bottom

“Topping from the Bottom” refers to an instance in a BDsM scene where the submissive partner, or bottom, seeks to control the scene.  It’s a frowned-upon practice in the BDsM community and a somewhat controversial topic.  Today I wanted to unpack the idea of “Topping from the Bottom” and discuss some of the things I’ve found help to avoid it.

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What does “Topping from the bottom” actually entail?

One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to discuss topping from the bottom is that there isn’t a universally agreed-upon definition of the kind of behaviour that it involves.  What some dominants consider acceptable, others will be angered by.  For example, some submissives indulge in “bratting” during a scene, where they refuse to do what their dominant orders until they are made to comply.  For some people, bratting is part of their dynamic, and having the dominant “make” them submit is an important aspect of play.  For other players, this type of behaviour is deeply disrespectful to the dominant.

 

So it’s difficult to say “X behaviour is topping from the bottom, while Y is not” because what is acceptable varies from person to person and scene to scene.  There are a range of practices that might be considered topping from the bottom depending on the circumstances.  But generally speaking, any instance where the submissive partner tries to manipulate play in a way that has not previously been agreed upon would constitute topping from the bottom.

 

Why does it matter so much?

Topping from the bottom is so frowned upon because it violates the power exchange that is the core of most BDsM scenes.  Usually, when a scene takes place, the submissive party gives up some of their power and control to the dominant, who promises to look after them and drive the scene.  For many dominants, when their submissive tops from the bottom, it can be seen as a declaration that they do not trust them.  It can also be extremely frustrating for a dominant who has carefully planned a scene to have it disrupted by a submissive saying “No, use the red flogger, not the black one”.  Planning and executing BDsM scenes is mentally and physically draining for a dominant, and it can feel like the submissive doesn’t appreciate that hard work and effort if they interrupt or manipulate the scene.   At it’s core though, topping from the bottom is seen to matter because it means that the submissive has failed to carry out their role in the scene.

 

So, how can we avoid topping from the bottom?

Clear and comprehensive negotiation is the best way to avoid topping from the bottom.  Negotiation is an important part of BDsM scenes, and there are a few things that should definitely be touched on to diffuse a situation that could give rise to topping from the bottom:

  • A lot of the time, when a submissive won’t submit or tries to manipulate a scene, it’s because they’re afraid.  They’re worried that they might get hurt or that their dominant will harm them in some way.  Discussing fears, phobias, triggers and limits is a vital part of negotiation and if the submissive party feels that they’ve been heard in this realm, they’re a lot more likely to be able to hand over the reigns to a Dom.
  • Sometimes, people have a very clear picture in their minds of how they want a scene to play out.  Perhaps they have a particular fantasy that they’re trying to recreate, which means that certain details have to be just so.  If you’re trying to do a fantasy role play scene, discussing these details and planning out how to achieve them beforehand can help.
  • Set out rules and limits that all parties agree upon as to what is acceptable during play.  For example, if you know that you like to be a bit of a brat during a scene, speak up and decide if this is ok.   Whatever works for you, just make sure that you’ve set out the rules for the scene clearly before you begin.
  • Finally, agree on a safeword or signal and decide what will happen if the safeword is called.  Many submissives will have one safeword that means “Slow down and check in” and another that means “Stop right this second”.  Both parties should commit to following the rules you set out for safewords.

– Trust is another important factor in BDsM in general, but it is a huge component in avoiding topping from the bottom. When a submissive feels secure in their relationship with the dominant, and they are confident of their top’s abilities, it’s so much easier to put themselves in that person’s hands:

  • Build up scenes slowly over time.  Don’t leap right into a suspension rope scene or heavy impact play with a new partner.  Start with something simple, a light spanking scene or some scarf bondage and build up to the heavy stuff.  Each time you navigate a new scene or type of play with your partner, your trust in them will grow.  Start out with play that involves a small exchange of power, and work towards the big, complicated power dynamics as your trust grows.
  • Talk about your individual skills and abilities, and don’t commit to doing scenes that are beyond your comfort or skill level.
  • Debrief after the scene is over.  Once everyone is feeling calm and you’ve done your aftercare, have a conversation about how things went, what was good and what could be better next time.

There is a lot of introspective work that goes into BDsM.  A huge amount of time goes into soul searching and self evaluation

  • Be very honest with yourself about your personal limits and desires.  And then be unwavering on your limits when negotiating a scene.  Don’t agree to participate in play that you aren’t comfortable with.  That way, you won’t be put in a situation where you’re afraid and anxious and trying to manipulate play to protect your ego.
  • Commit to your role in the scene. If you’re in the submissive role, your job is to submit.  Even if you’re a brat or you resist, your ultimate role is to submit and do as you’re told.  And if you don’t want to do that…then maybe BDsM play isn’t for you. Or maybe you’d be better off in the dominant role.
  • If you’re a submissive, it’s very normal to experience resistance to submission.  Even when I trust my partner and I’ve given my full consent, I still experience moments where Sir will tell me to do something and I hesitate.  In these moments I’ve learned to have a quiet word with myself, to remind myself that I trust my partner and that He has a plan for the scene.  I remember that He knows what He’s doing and that Sir would never harm me.  Reminding myself of those facts helps me to relax and give myself over when anxiety or fear creep in during a scene.
  • Manage your own expectations.  This is particularly important if you’re doing a fantasy role play, because fantasies rarely translate perfectly into reality.  When you let go of the need for the scene to go exactly the way you pictured in your head, it makes it easier to resist the urge to micromanage it.

Topping from the bottom is a very tricky topic to discuss, because it can mean many things to different people.  But ultimately it’s about a submissive who is either unwilling or unable to surrender and submit.  And I believe that honest communication and slow building of trust will go a long way to allowing that submissive to let go and hand control over to their dominant.  It’s not easy to submit, but once you’ve established that safety and trust, it’s so much easier to release your grip and just enjoy the ride.

 

Do you have any tips on how to avoid topping from the bottom?  Or any questions about BDsM scenes and negotiation? If you do, please leave a comment below.

 

 

Vegan transition tips

We are now into the third week of Veganuary and I thought that this would be a great time to share some of my tips for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.  I’ve been a vegan for around eighteen months now and I can tell you that the first six weeks are the most difficult. But those weeks were difficult for reasons I hadn’t anticipated.

I had expected that I would have to deal with strong food cravings during my transition period.  In particular, I predicted that I would have the most trouble separating from cheese, because it was my favourite food in my pre-vegan days.  In actual fact, food cravings weren’t that much of an issue for me.  What I found the most difficult was just navigating the shops and restaurants as a new vegan.  Tasks that had previously been second-nature took on a whole new dimension and became time consuming and difficult.  I had to check labels, ask questions and the whole process was kind of overwhelming.  Additionally, modifying recipes to make them vegan was tricky in the beginning.  But as time passed and I gained more knowledge and experience, these things became much simpler and less stressful.  Let me share with you some of the things I wish I’d known when I first became a vegan, as well as my top transition tips.

  • Go at a pace that feels manageable for you.  There is no rule that says you have to be completely vegan from the get-go.  You might find it easier to cut out meat one month, then progress to dairy and eggs when you are ready.
  • Don’t rely on meat substitutes.  In the early days of adopting a vegan diet, you might be tempted to replace your usual meals with the “meat free” version.  Although this sounds like a good way to ease away from meat, I found this actually made it more difficult.  Meat substitutes are great, but most of them don’t have the flavour or texture of meat.  This means they’re less likely to satisfy cravings. Use meat substitutes sparingly and instead stock up on fresh veggies, legumes, grains, pasta and spices.
  • Try new things.  This is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes and ingredients.
  • Eating out can be a bit of a minefield when you’re a new vegan.  But there are loads of options available, even at restaurants that aren’t specifically vegan.  Mexican restaurants have a huge range of options, pizzas can be ordered without meat or cheese, salads are served at most restaurants and most burger places have at least one veggie burger.  Even my local pub has a veggie stir fry with smokey soy sauce that is accidentally vegan.
  • Plan ahead when you go shopping.  Make a list and spend a little time researching at home which brands offer vegan options.  You can find lists of accidentally vegan snacks at Veggieful which are super helpful.  This will save lots of time and stress when you actually hit the shops.
  • Embrace home cooking.  If you don’t know how to cook, this is the perfect time to learn.  Even though it might be difficult to find vegan versions of your favourite foods in stores, it’s pretty easy to make your own snacks, sweets and meals at home.  It’s also so much cheaper than buying pre-packaged meals or eating out.

Image from mikimottes.com
  • Don’t stress out about protein.  A lot of people believe that meat, eggs and dairy are the only sources of protein.  This isn’t true at all.  If you’re eating a wide range of foods that includes nuts, legumes and grains, you’ll be fine.
  • Some folks love to be jerks to vegans.  It sucks, but it’s a fact.  Accept this, but realise that it’s not your job to respond or be an ambassador for the vegan lifestyle.  If you want to, that’s your choice, but you do not have to engage with someone who is harassing you over your diet.
  • Don’t be alarmed by portion sizes.  When I first went vegan, I got really worried because I had to eat a much larger meal in order to feel satiated.  This occurs simply because plant-based foods don’t have as many calories and therefore it takes a larger amount to make you feel full and satisfied. So if you’re eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, you might find that your serving sizes need to increase in order for you to feel full.
  • Make your own rules and choices.  You don’t have to be the “perfect vegan” and you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.  You get to decide how to implement your lifestyle and make choices that suit you.  For example, some vegans get rid of all of their animal-based clothing and only buy animal free clothes.  I still own wool and leather from my pre-vegan days, and I will continue to use these things until they are worn out.  I won’t buy new items that are made from wool or leather but I will still purchase second-hand items made from animal products because I believe in recycling and getting the most out of clothing that is still wearable.  That’s my choice, and it feels right to me, even if it might not be the “perfect vegan” choice.
  • You are going to make mistakes.  You will buy things that have sneaky animal products in them.  You will accidentally order a meal that you didn’t realise had cheese or cream included.  It’s ok.  Mistakes happen and we learn from them.  Don’t beat yourself up or expect to be perfect.

It’s true that the first month or so of trying a vegan lifestyle can be difficult, but I promise you that it does get easier.  And the benefits definitely outweigh the initial struggles.

 

Do you have any transition tips that you’d like to add?  Or any questions about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle?  I’d be happy to answer them.

Why I can’t teach you to orgasm

I love writing about sex.  It’s one of my favourite topics to blog about and I enjoy publishing posts about toys, BDsM and sexuality.  But I’ve never felt right publishing those Cosmo-eque “15 ways to have an explosive orgasm” posts.

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I was a passionate consumer of these types of articles for years.  I never had trouble finding my orgasm, but I was always eager to find new ways to bring on that pleasure for myself.  I felt compelled to try every new position, every technique that might possibly bring on a bigger, better climax.

 

And for years I found myself deeply disappointed.  Because each time I read one of these articles I wound up feeling broken.  More often than not, the fail-safe techniques contained therein didn’t work for me.  They didn’t bring me an earth-shattering orgasm.  In fact, most of the time they didn’t bring me any orgasm at all, just a feeling that I was inferior, that my body wasn’t working right and that I was missing out on untold pleasures as a result.

 

I vividly recall one holiday I took where my hotel room was equipped with a spa.  I was excited because I’d read so many stories of women who had masturbated by allowing the water from the jets to stimulate their clitorises or by letting a running faucet flow over their vulva.  Eager to try this method out, I ran myself a bath, scooted in line with one of the jets and waited.  And waited some more.  And shifted position.  And then began to wonder “at what point does this start to feel good?”  It wasn’t doing a darn thing for me.  I pulled out the plug, towelled myself off and went to bed feeling disappointed.

 

This pattern repeated itself over the years in so many different ways.  It even popped up when I was given my first ever sex toy.  I jumped into bed, eager to play with it because I was sure it was going to give me an earth-shattering orgasm.  I pressed it to my genitals, turned it on and waited for the magic.  And turned up the power and waited.  And finally gave up.  I thought my beautiful new vibrator was a total dud because I hadn’t wanted to scream with pleasure as soon as it made contact with my body.  How wrong I was.

 

I think the problem I had was twofold.  Firstly, I was taking a purely mechanical approach to pleasure.  I was reading the techniques in these articles and following them stringently.  But the thing is, our erogenous zones can’t be manipulated by pressing the right series of buttons in the right order.  You’re trying to have an orgasm, not operating a coffee machine.  And a lot of the time articles that promise to show you a new technique to help you come are written like an instruction manual.  So even if you follow all the steps, you still might not reach the desired end result because most of us need more than that to orgasm.  We need to be sufficiently relaxed and we need to feel safe.  There are hormonal fluctuations, physical rhythms and stress patterns that come into play.  Our body is a hugely complicated system, and so many factors come into play when you’re talking about physical pleasure.

 

The second part of the problem is decidedly more personal.  It’s taken me a while to be able to articulate it.  But a few days ago I listened to a lecture by Sonalee Rashatwar that set off a lightbulb in my brain.  In the lecture, Sonalee pointed out that in many non-Western cultures, people hold the idea that each person is born with all the knowledge they need to be happy and fulfilled, and that it’s merely a matter of accessing that knowledge.  This is different to the more western notion of a person looking outside themselves to learn what they need to know.  This statement resonated so fiercely with me because it so beautifully described how I feel about learning to orgasm.

 

I believe that for each of us, our body already knows what it needs to feel pleasure.  Think about it.  When we’re hungry, often our body will give us a signal of what kind of food we need to satiate ourselves.  If we are feeling agitated or upset, often an idea will pop up of something that will feel good or comfort us.  And I think that our bodies know what we need to bring us physical pleasure and orgasm.

 

In my experience, the times when I’ve learned a new way to orgasm, whether that be using a different sexual position, a different technique for touching myself, a new kind of toy or whatever, the orgasm has been a result of finding something that feels good and moving towards it.  In the case of my first vibrator, the way I eventually got it to work for me was when I was playing around with it one day, noticed that one of the settings felt really good against my body, and just relaxed and ran towards that feeling.  Finding that spark of “Oh, this feels nice” and then pursuing it has always been the way that I’ve achieved climax.  I’ve learned to look for the signals that my body throws up when I’m enjoying myself, or listen to those ideas that pop into my mind about different ways to move or play that might feel good.  It’s that experimentation and willingness to listen to my own body that have allowed me to learn how to have great sex, not from rigidly following the instructions in an article I read in Cosmo.

 

And that’s why I don’t feel comfortable writing articles that set out techniques that “guarantee” amazing orgasms.  Because I don’t think that approach to pleasure is helpful.  Sexuality and pleasure is intensely personal, and varies so much from person to person.  Although I can give you suggestions for things to try, or recommend toys that are great to play with, I don’t want to offer guarantees or step-by-step instructions.  Because by doing that, I’m discouraging you from being creative and playful in bed, from listening to your own body and chasing pleasure when it pops up.  I don’t ever want to write something that makes someone feel ashamed or broken.  I want to write posts that inspire you to try new things and look for the ways you can achieve pleasure that work for you.