What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

A few days ago, I received several messages from friends saying they heard a segment on NPR about kink that mentioned me. Naturally, I was curious to give it a listen, but mostly because kink is a topic that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard covered on NPR—and I listen to NPR a lot! It turns out that the segment is all about what the kink community can teach us about sexual consent and communication, and it’s pretty well done.

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How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

As a sex educator and researcher, one of the more common questions I get asked is when and how to talk to your kids about sex. Case in point: a reader of the blog recently asked, “At what age should parents talk about sex to their children—or at what age do children need to know about sex?”

So when should you start? And what the heck do parents need to know about navigating this discussion? Here’s a brief guide to help you get started.

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7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

Sex scientists have found that people’s sexual satisfaction seems to depend on a wide range of factors, from how often they’re having sex to the types of sexual activities they’re practicing. Here’s a brief review of some of the key factors that are linked to higher versus lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

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What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

What keeps passion alive in a long-term relationship? According to a recent study of nearly 40,000 adults (all of whom were heterosexual and currently in romantic relationships), there were five key differences between people who said they were able to keep the passion going and those who weren’t. People who kept the spark alive were more likely to (1) spend time setting the mood, (2) practice sexual communication, (3) receive oral sex, (4) be happier with their relationship in general, and (5) engage in more acts of sexual variety.

While there’s a lot to be said about each of these factors, I want to focus on just one of them in this post—the role of sexual variety.

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How Sexual and Non-Sexual Communication Differ

How Sexual and Non-Sexual Communication Differ

Communicating early and often about sex is one of the keys to a successful long-term romantic relationship. Indeed, research has consistently found that the more sexual communication couples engage in, the more sexually satisfied they tend to be. However, despite the powerful role that sexual communication plays in our relationships, surprisingly little is known about the way people navigate sexual discussions with their partners.

Studying sexual communication is important because by looking at how people feel about and approach it, we can come to understand why some people avoid sexual communication altogether, but also how struggling couples can facilitate effective communication in their own relationships. Fortunately, a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some valuable insight.

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What You Think You Know About Men’s Sexuality Is Probably Wrong

What You Think You Know About Men’s Sexuality Is Probably Wrong

One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that guys want sex ALL the time. They're always in the mood because they're constantly thinking about it. After all, men think about sex once every seven seconds, right? Er, well, not exactly. Research has found that men don't think about sex nearly as often as that (it's more like twice per hour, at least among college-age guys).

Another common stereotype of male sexuality is that sex and emotion are totally separate for guys. In other words, it's widely believe that men's sexual desire doesn't have a whole lot to do with their emotional connection to their partners. As it turns out, though, research suggests that this belief isn't true either.

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The Unique Benefits of a Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationship

The Unique Benefits of a Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationship

In a consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationship, the partners involved agree that having more than one sexual and/or romantic partner at the same time is permissible. Although interest in CNM relationships appears to be on the rise, these relationships continue to be widely stigmatized, with people tending to see them as inferior to monogamous relationships in most ways [1]. This is interesting when you consider that research comparing the quality of CNM to monogamous relationships reveals few differences and suggests that CNM relationships are not inherently less satisfying or stable. Findings like this suggest that perhaps those who view CNM relationships as inferior simply have a difficult time imagining the potential benefits that these relationships afford.

So what exactly are the benefits of a CNM relationship anyway? And how are the benefits similar to or different from those afforded by a monogamous relationship?

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How Do You Make A Long-Distance Relationship Work?

How Do You Make A Long-Distance Relationship Work?

A reader submitted the following question:

"I'm in a long-distance relationship and it's tough. Are there any tips or tricks to help keep a relationship alive when you can't physically be with your partner very often?"

Great question! You're not alone in finding the experience of a long-distance relationship to be difficult. However, while these relationships undeniably pose some unique challenges, it's definitely possible for them to not only work out, but to be just as strong as relationships in which the partners live close to one another.

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How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

How Do You Manage A Herpes Infection In A Long-Term Relationship?

A reader submitted the following question: 

“I have had one sexual partner and contracted herpes from him. Though I haven't had sex in 5-7 years and no recurrence of symptoms, I am scared about it recurring and giving it to a partner who will freak out on me and curse me. I want to get married, but I am never going to be comfortable telling my partner about having this infection. What do you think I can do so that recurrence doesn’t occur and I can enjoy condom free sex with my partner?”

Thank you for sending in this question. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—in fact, the CDC estimates that about 16% of the U.S. population has it. As a result, you are far from the only one out there who wants to know more about how to manage this infection, especially in the context of a relationship with a partner who doesn’t have it.

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Why Doctors Need Better Education About the HPV Vaccine, Too

Why Doctors Need Better Education About the HPV Vaccine, Too

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that has the potential to cause a wide range of cancers, including cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat. A vaccine that can prevent HPV (and, consequently, its associated cancers) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized. For instance, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among teens aged 13-17, just 39.7% of girls and 21.6% of boys had received all three of the recommended doses of this vaccine in 2014. This is far lower than the rate of other recommended immunizations for people in this age group. 

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Sex Question Friday: What's The Secret To Making Friends With Benefits Work?

Sex Question Friday: What's The Secret To Making Friends With Benefits Work?

A reader submitted the following question:

"What's the secret to making a friends with benefits situation work? How do you avoid things getting complicated?"

There's no doubt about it--friends with benefits (FWBs) sometimes turn into complicated situations, often because one person ends up wanting more from the relationship than the other. As a result, it is perhaps not surprising that the development of unreciprocated feelings is one of the most commonly cited concerns people have about starting FWB relationships [1]. So what can you do to reduce the odds that this will happen? A growing body of research suggests that the key to a successful FWB is up-front communication.

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Sex Question Friday: How Safe Is "Safe Sex?"

Sex Question Friday: How Safe Is "Safe Sex?"

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a female reader who wanted to know the following:

"Everyone talks about practicing safe sex and I do, but how safe am I when I'm using condoms and is there anything else I should be doing?"

Thanks for this great question! Condoms can indeed be very effective at preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used properly; however, studies suggest that people overestimate how effective condoms are in practice [1]. This means that when you're practicing "safe sex," you may not be quite as safe as you think.

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Sex Question Friday: How Do You Keep A Long-Distance Relationship Sexy And Strong?

Sex Question Friday: How Do You Keep A Long-Distance Relationship Sexy And Strong?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer readers’ questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week, I’m answering two related questions that came in on the topic of long-distance relationships:

“Can long distance relationships actually work?”

“Are there any tips for keeping long distance relationships (that can't touch as often physically) sexy or strong that are supported by any psychology or science?”

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Sex Question Friday: I Want More Sex Than My Husband. What Should I Do?

Sex Question Friday: I Want More Sex Than My Husband. What Should I Do?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a female reader who isn't satisfied with the amount and type of sex she is having with her husband:

I have been married for 11 years. We are good together, but our sexual drive, what I want, how I want it, and how frequently I want it does not match. Talking to him has not helped. I get frustrated. I masturbate but don't feel satisfied. What can I do?”

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Is It Better To Hide Porn Use From Your Partner, Or Own Up To It?

Is It Better To Hide Porn Use From Your Partner, Or Own Up To It?

Imagine that you’re sitting in bed watching some porn on your smartphone or laptop. You look up to see that your partner has just entered the room. What do you do? Do you try your best to hide the porn from your partner and pretend like you were doing something else? Or are you just up front about what you were looking at? For many of you, your immediate reaction is probably to try and disguise this and every other instance of porn viewing in the hope that your partner doesn’t find out; however, research suggests that this kind of deception may not necessarily be in the best interest of your relationship.

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Sex Question Friday: How Can I Help My Girlfriend Reach Orgasm?

Sex Question Friday: How Can I Help My Girlfriend Reach Orgasm?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who wants to know what he can do to help his new girlfriend have an orgasm.

How can I help my girlfriend climax? I thought that after 2 relationships in which I thought I was pretty good in helping my girlfriends experience orgasms, I would know how it “works.” Are women really so different from each other? My new girlfriend has never reached an orgasm in her entire life. How can I teach her?

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Doctors Spend Just 36 Seconds Talking To Teens About Sex During A Typical Visit

Doctors Spend Just 36 Seconds Talking To Teens About Sex During A Typical Visit

Although most teenagers in the United States receive some form of sex education in school, teens have no guarantee of receiving comprehensive or reliable information about contraception, safe sex, or STIs from their teachers. For example, it is well documented that many abstinence-only programs not only teach outright falsehoods about condoms and birth control, but they completely fail to address the sexual health needs of LGBT youth [1]. Compounding this problem is the fact that many parents are reluctant to talk to their kids about anything related to sex at all. So if teens can’t get the information they need about sex at home or at school, surely they can at least get it from their physicians, right? Not necessarily. A new study finds that sexual communication is compromised even inside the confines of the doctor’s office.

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The Flavors Of Casual Sex

The Flavors Of Casual Sex

People have a tendency to equate terms like “casual sex” and “sexual hookup” with “one-night stand.” However, this greatly oversimplifies that nature of casual sex in the modern world. The reality is that casual sex, like ice cream, comes in a variety of flavors, and each is important to consider in its own right. In this post, we will take a look at four distinct types of casual sex that have been identified by researchers.

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Sex Question Friday: How Do You Navigate A Friends With Benefits Relationship?

Sex Question Friday: How Do You Navigate A Friends With Benefits Relationship?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know what advice I would offer someone who is interested in having a “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationship and wants to avoid the seemingly inevitable complications.

Are there any secrets to a successful friends with benefits arrangement? It seems like they’re usually great in the beginning, but then one person develops feelings and things just get messy. Is there any way to keep things from getting so complicated?

 

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Sex Question Friday: Is Sex Better If You Do It With Someone You Love?

Sex Question Friday: Is Sex Better If You Do It With Someone You Love?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether the quality of the sex you have depends upon how you feel about your partner.

I have often heard sex is better with someone you love, always from people who have had many sexual partners, so I am wondering is sex really more pleasurable with someone you love?

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