In the article 'Girls & Sex' And The Importance Of Talking To Young Women About Pleasure, Peggy Orenstein speaks about the importance of teaching girls about tuning into their own desires.Girls are socialized to give to their partners. The topic of receiving pleasure from their partner is sadly overlooked. Too often, girls share how they will give oral sex but they are never met with the same in return. Girls should know, that if they are always focused on the guy’s pleasure and never ask for pleasure in return, they are being used. I love the example Orenstein shares about a boyfriend who is always asking for a cup of water but never brings his girlfriend a drink. In this scenario we easily see the inequality. Why don’t we see the inequality when it comes to sexuality?
Sex and sexual pleasure should include both giving and receiving. But, It should not be tit-for-tat (no pun intended). Both partners should be thinking about how they can give their partner pleasure and at the same time how they can ask for pleasure. Some partners find themselves in a double standard, where one partner is always asking explicitly for what he or she wants in bed and the other partner shy’s away from asking for what he or she wants. Your Partner cannot mind-read (wouldn’t it be nice if he/she did?) therefore, asking for what you want is essential for both of your sexual pleasures to be met. If you partner turns down all your requests for pleasure... then we have a different problem.
I always enjoy reading articles where celebrities call for positive change and inspire positive behavior. I am particularly pleased when these messages begin to foster sex positive change. Though not a fan of her music, I am a fan of Nicki Minaj’s call for orgasm awareness. As a woman, you have the right for pleasure and never should you be too shy, too afraid, or too uncomfortable to ask for pleasure. If you trust your skill more than your partners, that’s cool to. Let it be a joint effort. But, hardly ever should you turn away, thinking, I wish I got more.
Are you wondering if orgasm is even your thing. Besides for the aw-awesome feeling, there are many health benefits to orgasms. Orgasms can relieve headaches, relieve stress, relieve anxiety, enhance focus enhance concentration, and best of all weight loss. An orgasm can burn 75 calories or more. Good orgasms can lead to healthy babies. The intensity of an orgasm makes it difficult for sperm to swim up the fallopian tube. This causes a natural selection process where the weaker sperm loses the race to the stronger and healthier sperm cells.
Speaking of orgasms, it would be unwise not to mention that very many women do not orgasm from vaginal sex. If you are one of the many who does not orgasm from vaginal sex with out clitoral stimulation, here is where vibrators, digits, and lube become your next best friend. And now, repeat after me: “I am worthy of pleasure, I deserve pleasure, I enjoy my pleasure, simply for being me.” If this isn’t ringing for you, design your own positive affirmation, say it, sing it, repeat it! Be an orgasm warrior.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, MHC-LP, CASAC is a psychotherapist in New York City where she practices individual therapy, couples counseling, and sex counseling. You can contact Sara at email@example.com and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc
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Have you recently gone through a breakup? Do you find yourself obsessively thinking about your ex-lover? Are your friends telling you too just move on and get over him or her?
Everyone knows that relationship breakups are emotionally painful. The advice people give one another is to “just move on.” While this may be good advice, the brain may not be ready to move on just yet. Research studies show that the brains of people who recently went through a breakup have higher levels of dopamine, serotonin, and the insula and anterior cingulate cortex are active. These three changes are related to addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and physical pain.
Dopamine is a chemical secreted by the reward system of the brain and this is what gives us that “feeling good” moment. There are many different times that dopamine is produced, one of them being when using drugs. The feelings of withdrawal from drugs are related to the reduced production of dopamine. Hence, cravings develop. The brain is yearning for more of the “feeling good” drug. When we fall in love, our brain produces high levels of dopamine which contributes to the great feeling of being in love. The downside to this is that when we break up, the brain stops producing the dopamine. Hence, the craving for our ex-lover develops! The brain of someone in the midst of a breakup looks very similar to someone who is going through a substance withdrawal.
The production of serotonin is also involved in the love and relationship breakup process. Low-levels of serotonin in the brain is related to obsessive compulsive disorder. The brain of someone diagnosed with OCD indicates low-levels of serotonin just as the brain of someone who recently broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The change of production of serotonin is what leads to obsessive thinking while someone is in love and continues during the relationship breakup phase.
The insula and anterior cingulate cortex are the areas of the brain that register pain. Researchers asked people who have recently broken up with their partner to look at a picture of their ex. The fMri brain scans of the participants showed that the areas of the brain that register pain were active. This indicates that the brain processes a relationship breakup as physical pain. When we say a breakup hurts, it physically hurts!
The next time your friends tell you to “just move on” you can tell them that it is scientifically not possible for you to do so. The brain needs time to adjust to this change before it goes back to regular productions of dopamine and serotonin. But, the suggestion of distracting yourself is a good idea. Keeping your brain busy with other activities will give it the boost needed to regulate itself again. If you still find yourself in pain a while after your relationship breakup, it is time to seek out a therapist who can help you find ways to get yourself (and your brain) back on track.
I began reading the article Ashley Madison Turns Loneliness into a Cash Cow and I had good expectations when I read the first few lines... but then the author and her wild assumptions completely lost me. She seems to have an outdated understanding of love, desire, and relationships. I agree with her sadness about people seeking out connection secretly and outside of their relationship. Unfortunately, she does a poor job at supporting her ideas and then runs amok with outdated assumptions.
Yes, love is not a mystery. Yes, therapists and counselors can help couples ignite their passion and desire toward each other. But no, love of others is not our greatest resource. Your greatest resource is love for yourself. We do not HAVE to have love of others in order to be successful at our life goals. It is nice to have love, it is important to be connected, but we can survive by loving our self and caring for our own needs. In fact, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sex is at the bottom, the most important, and love is further up in the hierarchy.
The author continues on with stating that ALL evidence shows that humans are hard-wired to mate with one partner. Humans are socially wired to mate with one partner, not biologically wired. All over the world there are couples that seek out connection, sex, and intimacy with more than one partner. Dossie and Janet, the authors of the book Ethical Slut, do a wonderful job writing about being in relationships with more than one partner. The book Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Jethá, highlights historical and current communities that do not subscribe to the social norm of being with only one mate. This is not about advocating for open relationships, polyamory, or alternative life-styles. It is about clearly highlighting that we are not biologically hard wired; we are socially hard wired.
Jack Morin, in his book The Erotic Mind, speaks about the need for space in order to create erotic desire. “After all, passion is all about erotic play and we play best when we feel safe and connected to others (Ashley Madison Turns Loneliness into a Cash Cow).” Jack Morin and Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity would take issue with the above statement. Passion is ignited when there is emotional or physical space between the partners, and passion dies when partners over identify or are enmeshed. Morin labeled this experience, “the desire of longing and anticipation.” Perhaps for some, the best erotic play happens when they feel loved and connected. But, what about the couples who have passionate makeup sex after a fight? Where would they fit in?
Again, I take issue with the statements Dr. Sue Johnson so blatantly throws out there and the very clear research bias that she has. The flaw she makes is that sex and connection must always be one. As she clearly says “...research studies say that if we emotionally shut down and separate sex from our emotional life, we end up actually enjoying sex less!” Many sexually active people would disagree with this. Often, people will be concerned about their “emotionless” sex because of their irrational belief that everyone’s sexual experience MUST be the same and the ONLY way to enjoy “true” sex is if you are in-love. And for that, I would suggest the book Sex without Guilt in the 21st Century by Albert Ellis.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, MHC-LP, CASAC is a psychotherapist in New York City where she practices individual therapy, couples counseling, and sex counseling. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC