Your Ex Doesn’t Want You Back And Other Ways Movies Lied To Us

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Whenever people talk about porn they are at pains to point out how it is not a reflection of real life: porn stars’ behaviours are modified to be camera friendly, their positions and moves are tricks finely honed after years of practice, they are not mirrors to our own experiences and feelings. It would be hard to disagree with any of this, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Porn is an alternate fantasy land where things almost totally out of our comprehension happen for our amusement. In fact I see very little difference between rom coms and pornography. Instead of the fade to black and cut to ‘next morning’ porn fills in the gaps, figuratively and literally.

Anti porn activists claim that porn gives us unrealistic expectations for sex. That watching these films makes us think that every man can bang for 45 minutes straight, then pulls out to come on his partner’s face. They say it creates unattainable beauty standards and fetishises women and their desires. But surely the same things can be said about romantic movies? The meet cute has inspired people all over the world to think that love happens on a crowded train carriage, or after accidentally head butting someone in the face. They tell us that marriage is a single golden day in a shady grotto, followed by twenty years of bickering. Are they not to blame for our unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships?

Last week I found myself near an ex’s workplace dying to talk to him. We broke up on bad terms and I had tried hard to reconcile with him but he had made it clear that wasn’t what he wanted. In a moment of foolish lust and unrequited love I told myself I would go in, while it was quiet, and demand he spoke to me. This would show how committed to him I was: it would be a grand gesture of pure romance that couldn’t fail to win him over. Strings would swell, the people around us would go quiet, and his face would soften as I, straggly from the wind and rain outside told him I wanted him back.

Or would it?

Walking into his workplace, when he’d made it clear to me that he wanted nothing to do with me was such an act of aggression. It was ignoring his feelings, the fact that his life had moved on, the idea that he knew what was best for himself. My grand romantic gesture was actually a selfish moment where I wanted the spotlight on me and my supposed heroism. Demanding he listen to my apologies and care for me again was the vainest thing I could do. There would be no strings or quiet bystanders, just my ex imploring me to leave.

Later the same week I was the recipient of a long emotional text from someone else in my past, saying they were near my birthday drinks and if I wanted them to come, despite not talking to them for months, and making it clear I was not likely to forgive them any time soon, that they would be there in a heartbeat. I thought about my intention to turn up at the ex’s work and have that dashing moment of forgiveness and realised how it felt on the other foot: horrible.

It was hard to look beyond the soft focus ending rom coms had promised me, but by doing it I avoided a terrible emotional scene that would only upset me and my ex, as well as humiliating us both. The person who texted me bought in too hard to the idea that grand gestures mean more than actions, and pushed me further away from them than ever.

Real life isn’t as pat as the movies: there isn’t always a reconciliation, you don’t always manage to come directly onto her tongue without hitting her in the eye; but once you accept the fantasy for what it is, an alternate reality, you can look back at your real life and enjoy it.

Do I want my ex back? Possibly, I think I want the romantic movie idea of it more than the reality. But I understand that if there is even a 1% chance of us ever being on speaking terms again it is predicated on my respecting their feelings and allowing them to be their own person. Even if it means no tearful dramatic moments soundtracked by Berlioz.

Sometimes You Just Have To Do You

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A weird thing happens when you write a blog about relationships for 4 years: people ask your advice. They want to know what you think about this guy who won’t call them ‘girlfriend’, or why the read receipt on that text is 4hrs old but there’s still no response. For some reason they think I’ll know how to soothe their broken hearts, or how to ask out the cutie in the beigel shop. On the one hand it’s flattering: 4 years of writing about my own attempts to find true love (or a good bang) alongside having crippling anxiety means that I’ve probably reached a level of relationship introspection that most people will never have the time or energy for. On the other hand, if I want to convey anything with my blog it is that I have no idea what I’m doing. Basically I’m just throwing around some shit and hoping some of it sticks.

Every time I write a post I want to come to you with some new epiphany, and I’ve had so many and you’ve shared so many parts of your souls with me that it’s been a wild ride raking through my sexual mishaps. However this ‘epiphany’ is a little different. Recently I realised I just cannot date right now. In fact I’ve been ‘off’ dating for the last year. Every single date I’ve been on I’ve come home and thought “Meh. That was… ok.” It’s not that the people weren’t lovely, or smart, or beautiful, or fascinating. It’s that I just wasn’t into it. Ever.

I thought being dumped would give me the kick into gear I need but instead it’s cemented my need to pull the duvet up to my chin every evening and get stuck into a good Twitter argument. Having no motivation to date people is a strange place to be in. I know that I would like to be close to someone emotionally and sexually. I also know that it’s nice to be in a relationship when it’s going well. In fact if someone wonderful strayed into my life and I felt that zing with them, then I would tentatively put aside my reservations and try being with them.

As things stand now however I’m just not concerned. There is so much happening in my life, and with my mental health, that there is very little room for a relationship. I know what you’re thinking: typical career driven feminazi, sacrificing her ovaries and future babies to A JOB or A FULFILLING LIFE. But it’s not even that: when I’m in a relationship I like to give it my best. At the moment the best of me is a very tired lady who just wants to watch 3 episodes of Seinfeld and have a nap. It’s not fair on my mental health, and it’s not fair on someone else’s feelings.

To be honest I’m starting to really enjoy being single. The loneliness I used to feel when un-partnered drifts away when I realise how much fun there is to be had in pleasing me me me. If I were with someone else and spending so much time working on my happiness, my emotions, my well being, my feelings, then this would be selfish. But when my world revolves around myself, for this brief moment in time, then it feels good to be so committed to making myself the best person I can be.

There’s no shame in taking some time out to be by yourself. In fact I believe learning to love your own company, deal with your own emotions, and understand your own body and mind, is the best thing you can bring to a relationship. Because if you can’t even begin understand or love yourself, you are going to make it so much harder for you to love or understand someone else.

On Breakups, Friendship, and Other Women.

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They say the best revenge is living a good life. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not that I particularly want ‘revenge’ on anyone, it’s such a cold hard word. It makes me think of Kill Bill, and ridiculous noir villains. No, revenge isn’t the right word at all. There’s a feeling that I’d like someone to understand how their actions affect other people, how what they thought was doing the right thing was actually doing the wrong thing all over and hurting everyone in the process.

What I’m basically saying is that even the ‘easiest’ break up sucks. When I wrote that post a few weeks ago I was fresh in the haze of new singledom. It was, and is, bliss. In fact in the month or so that’s passed I can already see my life has become immeasurably more enjoyable. Clinging on to a relationship which is doomed, whether you realise it or not, is draining emotionally and physically. And even though being dumped should be the end of the story it isn’t. Whether you discover you were being wholesale lied to, or that all the special moments you cherished were false, it’s the start of a whole new chapter of bullshit.

How I would be coping with this without my friends I don’t know? The night I got dumped I went straight over to a pal’s and slept over. We talked until the early hours of the morning fuelled by endless cups of tea. After that I filled my calendar to the brim. My friends listened to me over dinners, cakes, pints, and mugs. While I had felt so alone, ashamed to admit my relationship wasn’t working, over the last few months, I realised now I had a network of people who were ready to get me back on my feet.

I had been told over and over in my life that women weren’t there for me, that I had to hate them as they were out to backstab and ruin my life, but nothing could be further from the truth. The women who’ve helped me over the last few weeks have been kind, gentle, caring, and understanding. I’ve had woman after woman come out and say they are there for me if I need them and it has been humbling to see how wonderful some people can be. They also helped me realise that feeling angry at my partner, feeling angry at the way things turned out, and even feeling angry at his other partner was ok. I had been so deeply ashamed to admit that I wasn’t comfortable with their relationship because I wanted to be ‘good’ at being non-monogamous. I wanted to try and get over the feelings of discomfort they brought into my life, because I wanted to make my relationship work. When it all collapsed I felt bad: bad at poly, bad at being a feminist (how can you dislike another woman??), and bad at relationships in general.

The women around me reminded me I was being ridiculous. To find a relationship, poly or monogamous, untenable is natural. To feel upset at the people who made it this way is also understandable. And to want to find resolution, whether that be through venting, or just reflecting, is natural. I believe wholeheartedly that the more we share our feelings, the good and the bad, the better life becomes. The constructive criticism we can get and give each other is valuable beyond measure, and something we all too often shy away from. My friends, my wonderful, indescribable friends, have supported me without patronising me, and if it took a breakup, as unpleasant as they are, to realise this, then maybe I am grateful for it, heart ache and all.

How To Take, Send, And Feel Good About, Naked Photos of Yourself

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There are those of you who read that blog headline and sighed. You sighed because you miss the mystery of lewd texts, you sighed because you find genitals bewilderingly odd to look at, and you sighed because you’re a prude. This blog post is not for you. Go back to your quill and parchment, and enjoy crafting magical soliloquies to your lovers.

Over here in the 21st century we’re going to discuss sending naked photos to someone you are, or would like to be sexually involved with. For a concept so basic (take photo, send photo, loop ad inifinitum) it seems to come with a lot of rules and expectations. So let’s break them down.

1. All flirty texting leads to naked photo sexting.
On the one hand, yes this is kind of true. There is a point where if you continually ramp up the sexual tension in your communications, one of you is probably going to think that a photo of the effect this conversation has had on your genitals is a good idea. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but it’s best to test the water with these things. Does the person you are messaging want to see that photo? If you ask them nicely, albeit hornily, then you are more likely to get a positive response. On the other hand if they seem coy, or downright disgusted by the idea, you can back up and continue being a textual perve.

2. If you are sent a photo of someone’s genitals, you have to reply in kind.
You’ve been asked, nicely, gently, if you want to see a photo of someone’s bits and you said yes. You looked at it and it aroused you. Or maybe it didn’t arouse you, but you looked at it anyway, and were gracious in response. You do not have to send a photo of yourself. I repeat YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SEND A PHOTO OF YOURSELF. A nude selfie is a gift and you give gifts for the joy of giving, not because you expect something back. If someone sends you a pic of their dick and then bombards you with SHOW TITS SHOW TITS until you want to cry they are a douchebag. They are also the kind of person no-one should get into bed with as they clearly don’t give a fuck about your feelings. BLOCK THIS PERSON.

3. Your nude photo will end up on the internet somewhere and you will be mocked mercilessly for it.
This could happen. In fact, it does happen, regularly. And I wish I could ban every motherfucker who does this, from the internet permanently. There is no way to ensure this won’t happen to you, I’m sorry, but there are ways to minimise the risk. Firstly if you don’t know someone well, or don’t trust them (even though you want to bang them… it happens), don’t send them a photo. If this means they get mad at you, call your names, or won’t sleep with you, so be it. There is other sex out there for you with people who aren’t cunts, and you are free to enjoy it at your leisure.
Secondly, if you do send a photo it is often best to send one that does not have too many identifying features in. For example, a headless naked shot, though not the pinnacle of artistic achievement is often preferable to one with your face in. If you have tattoos that would easily identify you to others, try not to include those. Use stockings, creative arm placement, or snazzy cropping to keep them out. Remember: you don’t have to be nude for it to be sexy. If that was the case no-one would ever buy fancy underwear.
On the other hand, accepting that you and millions upon millions of people are out there, on the internet, baring your vulvas and your souls, can make you feel better about this. It won’t end your life, the only people who’ll be mean about it are cunts you didn’t want to be friends with anyway, and it doesn’t change a damn thing about you.

4. Sending a photo of yourself naked means you are a skank, or a slut.
Skanks or sluts don’t exist. They’re not real. I’m sorry they’re just not. There are people who enjoy having sex with multiple people, and there are people who don’t. There are also fuckheads who enjoy making other people feel shitty about their choices and these are the people who use words like skank and slut. If you associate with people who call anyone else skanks, sluts, whores, slags, etc etc, don’t send them naked photos of yourself: they don’t deserve them.

And now how to take a naked photo of yourself…. It is a lot harder than you would think, and so we don’t over think it I’m gonna break it down into handy bullet points.

  • Mirror shots are legit, but make sure your mirror is clean, you don’t have the flash on, and that the background of your photo is at least reasonably aesthetically pleasing. I get really irate about nudes that have piles of washing in the background, it really ruins my boner.
  • Take multiple photos and see which one you look best in. If you take one photo and your tits look lumpen, or your legs are at a strange angle, it’s not you, it’s totally the photo. Keep going, switch position, drop a hip, pretend you’re Tyra (or an alternate universe Tyra who won’t slutshame you), and really werk it.
  • It is legit to have one photo taken in advance that you know you look really awesome in. It is not legit to have entire folders of naked photos that you send out to people. It’s about spontaneity and reciprocating a feeling. It’s not about your best angles.
  • Acknowledge that what you think is a photo of you with your gut out looking stressed is probably the sexiest thing your recipient has seen all day. Don’t stress!

But, I hear you cry, how do you feel good about it? Well, once you send a well cropped photo to someone you can trust, just wait for their response and revel in the intense arousal you created. That golden glow of satisfaction is how you feel good about it my friend.

Three’s Company

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For a year or so now I have been dating in a non-monogamous manner. I have met married couples, triads, quads, single dudes, and even been in a ‘serious’ relationship. One of the reasons I didn’t talk about it on this blog is because I wasn’t sure how to, or whether I was qualified to. There are people who have been ‘doing’ non-monogamy for decades, others who ‘always knew’ they didn’t enjoy monogamy and people who had dozens of relationships all stacked in a beautiful hierarchical pyramid. I am none of those things. It is almost as if I stumbled sideways into poly by mistake.

In the past I had been a serial monogamist. Boyfriend had followed boyfriend, with flurries of gleefully slutty behaviour in between. Monogamy seemed like something I was terribly good at: I’d never cheated, not even felt tempted to. Last summer I went through a little flurry of self discovery: I realised that there were so many things that were central to my life’s enjoyment that I was not exploring. My sexual life was beginning to flourish with a partner who’s needs tapped into my own perfectly, and yet who nudged me forward towards things I wanted to try yet was frightened of. He was in a poly relationship and I thought to myself that it was lovely for him to be so ‘modern’ so ‘free spirited’, all the clichés.

As I began to go to sex parties, and meet kinksters who didn’t look like they belonged in a prison cell, I began to wonder what I would do when I met someone who I wanted to be in a relationship with. Finally accepting my queerness meant that now I would have to go backwards and stick to one sex. The one niggle that crept up in monogamous relationships began to preoccupy me: this person could be the last person I ever kissed. How could this person be mine? My best friend, my most skilled lover, my confidante, my rock, my soulmate, my everything? Would I ever feel the gleeful frisson of making out with someone new ever again?

When I met someone who I wanted to get close to I told them that I wanted to try out a poly relationship. We agreed it would be weird as it was the first time for both of us, but that we were both willing to try. Was it perfect? No. Were the problems that caused us to break up due to being poly? Yes, in part they were. But do I think that I want to go back to being monogamous? No.

In the past I had always been needy and clingy. I had never felt truly loved by someone because I felt that talking about a relationship’s intricacies made it less special. When being monogamous I had waited till a problem grew so big it affected my whole life before I could mention it. Now that there were 3 of us in a relationship I felt like I had to tackle things head on. The responsibility I felt for 2 other people’s happiness felt like a joy rather than a burden.

When it came to dating other people I put myself in less crappy situations because I realised that if it worked out badly, as often risky situations do, that my unhappiness would trickle out across my partner and his other relationship. This level of reflection made me more aware of how my behaviour could affect people positively and negatively. It also helped me realise how much joy there is to be had in seeing someone happy, whether you created that happiness or not. I realised love is not a finite thing.

My partner and I talked about things. We felt uncomfortable and got over it, I realised what I wanted from a partner, and what I was willing to compromise on. The joys in my relationship came from the brutal unflinching honesty that I had always hidden from.

Had you told me last year if I would be here, post break up, writing about how excited I am to look towards a single yet polyamorous future I would not have believed you. I’m not here because it’s been an easy ride, but because it’s been the right one for me. It’s also something I realise you don’t have to be ‘qualified’ to speak about because it’s so not a skill you can excel at. It’s a way of living, a thing you do, and keep doing, and eventually it stops feeling like a maze you’re blundering through, and more like a walk in the park.

A Rant About Orgasm Hunting

Picture the scene: your author naked, sweaty, in the midst of a sexual encounter so intense she is delirious with joy, next to her is her partner, with a look of sheer crazed passion in their eyes…

Partner: “I’m gonna make you come. I’m gonna make you come so hard, and then I’m gonna do it again, and again, and again, till you beg me to stop.”

Me: tumblr_m6nje6TwC11r5r8duo3_500

Because no partner, you’re not. You might! You really could maybe possibly get there. The chances of you doing it are good. It’s happened before, not with you, but it’s happened, and it could happen again. It really could. But it won’t. Because I’m tired, and it’s late, and we’ve been drinking, and tomorrow I’ve got to hand in an essay, and you’re not really good at keeping a momentum going, and you keep saying you can make me come with vaginal penetration, but I can’t, so whenever I’m about to get there, you switch it up and put your fingers inside me and I want to kick you in the head, and now most of all I’m just really annoyed because we were having a fucking good time and you had to make this some kind of Pokémon hunt for my orgasm, when we could have just stumbled across it naturally and enjoyed that as it came.

If I could burn every magazine that says that an orgasm (especially for the female identified partner) is the holy grail of sex, it would burn bright enough to warm the blackest recesses of my heart. This isn’t to say that I hate orgasms, only a fool would hate them, but that they are not the goal of sex. They do not prove anyone was a skilled and attentive partner, and they do not prove I really enjoyed the sex I was having. My orgasms are half the result of button mashing and half the result of me being relaxed enough to think ‘if it happens it happens’.

Naturally we should give a fuck about our partner’s satisfaction, in fact I say we shouldn’t be having sex with anyone if we don’t. But an orgasm isn’t a marker of success or satisfaction. An orgasm isn’t a destination you’re journeying to, it’s a beautiful cherry on top of a wonderful cake. It’s a treat, a joy, a fun moment, that is in no way the end of the evening.

I have been with too many partners who have rubbed my clit like they were cleaning a silver spoon, looking up at me with eager eyes, and then when it seemed like I was having an orgasm (seemed being the operative word) they were quickly done caring about my enjoyment, because surely I was done now, and could be used as a human sex toy to pump away at till they were done. If your enjoyment lives in a world that is devoid of your partners, or where you believe that since jizzing in a warm receptacle makes you happy then coming near a warm body will please the other person, then just don’t have sex. Stop having it, get a fake genital of some kind, sit it in some warm water before use, and watch a porn.

No More Nice Guys

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Just over a year ago I was friends with a Nice Guy™. We met and hit it off immediately. I thought he was funny, gregarious, and a bit silly, but harmless. For once I didn’t beat around the bush or act coy I told him straight up we were never ever, not in a million years, going to hook up, and he agreed that this was ok. That said, the course of our friendship wasn’t smooth. He regularly told me that the guys I dated were useless, ugly, or stupid. At one point he stopped speaking to me because I was arranging a threesome with a guy I was dating. When I pushed him to elaborate why he was upset he cut off all contact with me for a week.

There were multiple red flags throughout our entire friendship that I ignored. The fact that he spoke frequently about how his friends suggested we should date annoyed me. He also got angry with me because I didn’t enjoy hugging him. Each time I did so begrudgingly I felt nervous and unsafe. But I ignored it because I was lonely and I wanted a friend. We shared interests, he was there for me when I was dumped. He understood my mental health issues. I needed a friend so much that I clung onto him despite all my misgivings and he abused that trust.

The final straw came when we went away together. The first day was fine. We ate dinner, wandered round the city and drank beer. We went back to our shared hotel room and laughed about how weird it was that our beds were barely an inch apart. As I fell asleep I thought about how lucky I was to have a platonic male heterosexual friend who I could share a room with and not feel uncomfortable. The next day was similarly lovely, we spent hours wandering around enjoying ourselves. In the evening we got drunk. Like ohmygodwhereamI drunk due to heroin strength Belgian beer.

When I got back to the hotel he was in a foul mood. I went to bed and started to try and fall asleep in my boozy haze. The next thing I felt was him stroking my arm. Sitting bolt upright I told him not to do that, he apologised and rolled over. Just him touching me had set off an alarm and I lay in bed freaking out. What I remember of the next few hours is hazy and scary. He kicked my bed, pulled off the covers, shouted at me, refused to let me sleep, kept trying to grab me. It went on and on and I was hysterical. When he finally decided to go to sleep I lay awake for hours terrified it would happen again, with no idea what to do.

The next day I forgave him. He had our train tickets and I didn’t know how to get back to England if I ditched him. I wanted to forget about it, and I wanted to enjoy the last day of the first holiday I’d had in 3 years. He apologised for upsetting me and asked me to cheer up. I felt guilty for ruining our good time. I did my best.

However back in London he told me he was mad at me. On the 6am train out there he had been talking about a girl he’d been chasing for months who seemed to have no interest in him. I flippantly told him I was tired and that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I said that it was unlikely they’d ever date, that I was bored of it then shut my eyes and tried to sleep. At the time he’d laughed and not mentioned it again. But now back home he brought it up and accused me of being jealous he was attracted to other women. For some reason I just snapped. I told him never to speak to me again. He sent me text after text after text. He called me dozens of times in the middle of the night. He emailed me. He rang me again. I began to worry he would turn up outside my house and was terrified.

Part of me is outraged that the incident at the hotel wasn’t the last straw. I’m ashamed I considered being friends with him after that. Are there bigger red flags than a man ripping the covers off your bed while shouting “I don’t know why I bothered bringing you here when you’re going to act like this?” while you cower and cry? Probably not. But he made me feel as though somehow it was my fault. Even now writing this I’m worried. Not because I fear him physically but because he instilled me in such a terrible feeling of guilt every time ‘I’ upset him.

I’m sure he’s reading this and he can’t see himself in it. He thinks I am in the wrong, and he’s made the few friends we had in common believe it too. This is what Nice Guys™ do. They wear you down till you feel guilty for their actions. And this is why you should learn from my lesson and avoid anyone who tells you’re they’re a ‘nice guy’ straight off the bat.

The Single Life

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Last week my boyfriend broke up with me. As he walked out of my flat, probably for the last time, I wondered what I was supposed to feel. Sadness, I supposed, deep horrible, soul hurting sadness. I cried a little, but when I woke up the next morning there wasn’t that ache in me. You know the feeling, the one that feels like a bruise on your soul? It just wasn’t there. The next day I was very busy, I had errands to run, people to see, paninis to eat. People sent me texts and tweets and emails and pictures of kittens, and it all felt lovely but I wasn’t sure I needed it. A few nights later while sat in bed thinking about it just seemed obvious we’d break up. It wasn’t the usual guff of ‘compatibility’, and he didn’t treat me incredibly badly. Our relationship wasn’t a car speeding out of control about to crash. It just happened, and then it stopped happening.

I deleted him from all my social networks, unsubscribed from his Google Calendar and felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Looking forward into all these blank spaces across the rest of the year I felt happier. For weeks I’d been wondering how to tell him I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in New York with a friend, knowing he couldn’t afford to come. Now I could spend a summer living in Italy if I wanted, trying to understand the twisted crueller that is my ancestry. I could grow out my leg hair, eat nothing but devilled eggs for days, spend weeks not hanging out because I have too much work to do and not feel obliged to change. Essentially I could be me: the most me I ever can be, without any restrictions.

Much as I do not want children because I cannot see a future where I have the time, mental energy, and altruism to have them, I don’t know if I want a traditional relationship again. There are perks to having a long-term partner obviously. Hugging is something I find wildly awkward, and to be comfortable enough to do that with someone is a beautiful thing. Having sex with someone you can be honest and open and wild with is transcendently beautiful, in fact I am a person who when in love cries after sex, big hot salty stupid tears of love and connection. Not wanting a relationship doesn’t mean I don’t want love and that I am jaded by this relationship. It just felt like a beautiful jacket that didn’t fit: everyone told me it was great, but I couldn’t see it myself.

I started this blog almost 4 years ago because I felt like I wanted something different from relationships but I didn’t know what it was. The world I was in made me feel like the interactions I had with people were wrong, and that not believing there was or is a ‘one true love’ made me a horrible cynical person. As I’ve written this blog, I’ve realised that the only thing that ever made me unhappy was trying to bend myself to fit someone else’s ideas of what love is. And so on my first night alone as a single person I realised that this is me. This is who I am. I am a single person. I identify as a single person like you might identify as queer, or butch. It is a part of me that I love and that I am not ashamed of.

The relationships I have found most fulfilling have often been the strangest or most fleeting. A fling with someone who I never got past third base with, the person who I had sex with for a year and only hugged once, the date that lasted 15 hours but felt like a lifetime. I was told over and over again that sex outside of a long term relationship was crass and unpleasant. That there was nothing for you there but shame and STDs. But I didn’t feel it and it made me feel like the freak. So I chased the idea of a relationship, I told myself my only non-partnered sexual encounters had to be sad or shameful or blackout drunk because those were the rules. That if someone fucked me on a first date it was embarrassing and that they didn’t respect me. I made myself want them to call me back and cried when they didn’t even though really I didn’t want them to call at all. I told myself this was how life was and I had to work by those rules and learn to like them.

Having realised I don’t want this thing, I don’t want this role I feel happier than ever. Will I be in relationships in the future? Be in love? Get married? Maybe. Why not? But will I always be a bachelor at heart, yes. Always.

A Rush Of Blood To The Bed

 

There’s something about periods that make even the most gobby person turn down the volume of their voice a few notches, look around, and lean in. Is it the blood? The uterine lining? Or just the fact that you’re miserable, spotty, in pain, and oozing goop out of a previously sexy orifice? While I’m not ashamed of it, I’m also not going to start painting with my blood or claiming it’s a spiritual time for me. It’s not. I’m bleeding and cramping and my stomach hurts and everything smells terrible, I probably have a migraine and no-one wants to bang me.

Some of you may have done a double take at that last sentence. You’re probably men. Sometimes despite the vile inconvenience I am ridiculously, nay, rabidly, horny. It seems that the times I am most crazed with this blood lust are when I am alone, around 3 in the morning, and jacked up on a heady combination of insomnia, period cramps, and peppermint tea. And so you reach for your stash of sex toys… and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. The joy that is period stains and sex toys. Staining your favourite sex toy is a miserable thing. It’s a mark that doesn’t go away, ever, and no matter how many time you wash it, it’s there, staring at you, judging you. This recently happened to me: my favourite sex toy (the cheap as fuck and hilariously named ‘Horn o Plenty‘) was looking a bit grimy and so I scrubbed and scrubbed until I realised it was never ever going to look beautiful again.

Googling what to do about sex toys and periods threw up almost nothing, and then I realised I could do something very old fashioned: I could ask a real person for advice! Those of you who covet sex toys and dream of having an arsenal of amazing implements at your disposal will know of Epiphora‘s awesome sex toy review blog Hey Epiphora. I can honestly not even begin to count how many nights I’ve stayed up reading her hilarious, snarky, and ridiculously thorough reviews. I have entire wishlists that are full of things she’s recommended.

Epiphora answered my question about sex toys, stains, how to clean toys in a way that won’t give you thrush or burn your genitals, and which toys are better for periods than others:

“It’s my personal belief that consumers should always have high standards and insist upon non-porous toys, and period blood is one of the many reasons for that. With no pores, there can be no staining. Since almost all of my toys are non-porous, my period doesn’t limit which toys I can use really at all. If you stick to 100% silicone, glass, stainless steel, hard plastic, or sealed wood, your only concern will be whether you have to scrub harder because you were lazy and let the blood dry up on the toys. But it will come off with simple soap and water, and it will leave nothing behind. The only exception would be if the toy has crevasses that are impossible to clean, or parts that are made of other staining materials (such as the fabric string on the LELO Luna Beads).

Sex toys made of porous materials such as jelly, rubber, elastomer, and other invented materials such as Cyberskin, are the ones that can stain. Not always, as I found with the PVC James Deen dildo, but it is definitely possible. Porous materials can hold onto bacteria, colors, and smells, which is why I avoid them like the plague. If you stain a porous material, you can try soaking the toy in a 10% bleach, 90% water solution (and then rinsing it thoroughly), but there are no guarantees. Mostly, you should replace that toy with something higher quality, or use it only with a condom.”

If you’re worried about staining the sheets, the Hairpin has us covered on that one, and now there is no excuse not to dim the lights, put on the Barry White, and get down on a solo date. Unless the bleeding, cramping, nausea, and migraines, are putting you off that is…

 

Thank you so much to the awesome Epiphora for answering my question! If you ever want to know what a sex toy is like before you buy it, check her blog she’s almost certainly been there before you (in a good way).
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Your Feelings About The ‘Porn Block’ Are Irrelevant

As a sex writer the topic that is most on my mind lately is the ongoing debacle over the blocking of porn by Internet Service Providers. Article after article has popped up in the media with writers alternately admitting with a sly wink and a nod that they watch it, or gleefully bleating they would never ever partake in it but that you should still listen to them. Both of these attitudes infuriate me. The first implies that pornography is a akin to a cheeky fag round the back of the sheds; that we know is terrible but that we’ll let slide by. It infantilises our attitudes about the subject, makes it a jokey game we’re all playing, downgrading the fact that this is work. Hard demanding work that requires immense amounts of skill and effort.

The knowing wink is however somewhat better than the ‘I don’t watch it but here’s how I feel about what I think happens in it’ brigade. I haven’t read a lot of Dickens but I have a lot of opinions about him. I have a lot of feelings about Ayn Rand too. However as yet no-one has asked me to talk about them to 1000s of people, write articles on popular newspaper sites, or create legislation that will affect the lives of millions of people. The people who work in these industries or even the consumers who fuel them are being blindly ignored but why?

This blog post was initially going to be a short screed about how sick I am of ~feelings~ leading the way in debates about pornography but as I started I realised it was too much for one post. And so I’ve decided to break it down a little further. This post will mainly deal with the background to the ISP porn block issue.

As most of you will know David Cameron and some of the major leading internet service providers will soon start asking us to ‘opt in’ and access porn on our devices. We’ll also be automatically blocked from ‘suicide related websites’ ‘violent material’ and ‘esoteric material’. As someone who frequently stays up all night listening to tapes of the Jonestown Massacre, has discussed (and been talked out of) suicidal thoughts online, and occasionally spends a while researching ‘healing crystals’ this is pretty much cutting out everything I enjoy. On a more serious note many of the filters are so clunky and unfit for use that they categorise LGBT resources alongside porn and block access to them.

The idea pushing the block forward despite its obvious flaws is that we need a barrier between vulnerable young people and images of abuse. People think that the internet is a lawless environment where images of rape and abuse come zinging up onto our screen like errant pop up boxes. Stories like the Steubenville rape show us how easy it is to distribute these images and how nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions. The problem is that in the UK we already have legislation that covers this.

Section 63 of 2008′s Criminal Justice and Immigration Act deals with the distribution of ‘extreme’ pornography. It covers both actual abuse and consensual porn, and can be used to prosecute both people who possess or create this and shut down the sites that distribute it. Depictions of child abuse are covered by the aptly named Protection of Children Act (and the Coroners and Justice Act) which makes it illegal to take, make, distribute, show or possess media showing children under the age of 18 in a sexual context.

Is the legislation we already have in place fit for use? Honestly no, it is certainly not. People are convicted for possessing and creating BDSM pornography that is created safely and consensually. Material showing female ejaculation is banned leading to many women believing they are incontinent and feeling ashamed during sex. The fact that ISPs are free to self regulate regarding images of child abuse is also open to misuse.

Then there is the fact that pornography finds itself in the hands of children far too often. Only recently a 13 year old cousin of mine found himself bullied by his peers during summer camp because he didn’t want to look at the porn they were watching on their phones. Teenagers have always found a way to access illicit material, I for one remember first watching porn when I was 12. It isn’t always a negative experience: watching videos of women making out first alerted me to the fact that I wasn’t as straight as I thought I was, and later material made me realise that my tendencies toward kink weren’t the freakish terrible things I worried that they were. However it is much easier for teenagers to access pornography than it was. While my generation dealt with dial up porn and copies of Razzle found in bushes (and in drawers we weren’t supposed to peek in) the current crop of teenagers know that porn is only a click or swipe away.

When you’re watching context free porn it can be terrifying as an adult or as a child. If you don’t have the 15 minute pre and post session interview (as kink.com and other fetish sites do) how does your impressionable mind know that the woman being hung from her feet and caned consented to this? How do you know about her safe word system or the fact that she refused to do certain acts? When you don’t understand the power dynamics in a relationship, be it real or fictional, and your only experience of ‘violence’ is abusive and non consensual it is easy to look at niche pornography and be appalled. Disgust, displeasure, and simply losing your boner are all valid reasons to turn off pornography. They are not valid reasons to ban access to it.

Ultimately I do believe porn needs to be regulated better: illegal porn is context free and can allow people to create viewpoints that are negative and dangerous towards other people, especially towards marginalised groups. The illegal distribution of porn also takes away revenue from well produced pornography meaning that there is less money going towards ethically made work with well paid, well looked after performers in. It means that children (who are routinely banned from paid sites’ content as they do not have a credit card to pay with) are able to access material that is in all honesty probably not suitable for them.

The distribution of images of abuse, whether that be abuse against children or adults, needs to be handled better and by people who understand how the internet works and how we can best deal with people who produce, distribute, and possess this media. A block which encompasses a great swathe of the internet simply because we don’t understand it and we don’t want to talk to our children about it is wrong.

I started this piece off by saying I’m sick of people who have a lot of feelings on pornography writing about it, and I stand by that. I have a lot of feelings about it sure, but that is because porn is something that is woven into the fabric of my every day life. My friends are producers of it as well as consumers. I have a lot of feelings about it because it is something I study as well as consume. I have a lot of feelings about it because pornography is a vital and fascinating form of self expression. I have a lot of feelings about it that I am willing to research and back up with facts and evidence. And I have a lot of feelings about it because a countrywide block of it like this can be simply the thin end of the wedge when it comes to regulating what the government feels is and isn’t acceptable for us to view.

 

Photo by Driven By Boredom