Blogs relating to sexuality, sexual orientation including bisexuality, power dynamics, LGBTQ+

LGBTQQIAA+ Where do I fit in?

When I was first coming out, the acronym was LGB and even then, B was not much talked about.  In graduate school there was the Lesbian and Gay student organisation and I remember being invited to a party early on but not feeling comfortable since I wasn’t gay.  As a bisexual woman, I was not sure where I fit.  I wanted to attend events that gave me the opportunity to meet women but when I would say I was bisexual, there was an atmosphere.

By the time I came to the UK, T was added to the acronym to recognise the Transgender folks as LGB was not an adequate description.  Q was added to represent both Queer and Questioning in 1996.  These are very different identities!  Questioning is as it sounds – people who are questioning their sexual identity.  On the other hand, Queer is an umbrella term that is used to describe people who are either not heterosexual or not cisgender.  However, queer can be more of a world view than an identity (click on the highlighted word Queer for a discussion of this).    Sometimes people use two Q’s so that Queer and Questioning are added.  Since 2000’s many people add I for Intersex and A for Asexual.  And some use A for Ally – those people who support all the people who fall under the LGBTQQIA + rubric.

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How do you figure out where you fit best?  And what does it matter?  It matters how you understand your own sexual and gender identities as well as your attractions.  It helps to be able to explain to others you meet as well.    There are some other ways of looking at gender identities, sexual orientation and attractions that might make it easier to figure out where you fit.  I like them because they create more detailed picture that allows for more people to find themselves in the model being presented.  This increases the ability to communicate between groups of people and also increases the information that can be given easily to allies and professionals we interact with on a daily basis.  Research highlights that when a group is invisible, poorer services (like health care) are available.

You can look at gender identity as running from genderqueer (or non-binary) through to male or female.  The way you express your gender may be different from how you identify.  For example, I can identify as a woman and express my gender in a butch (or more masculine) manner.

For the next continuum, you can look at your sexual orientation or the people who you are attracted to.  This can run from straight through asexual, bisexual, pansexual and to gay.  For the next continuum you can look at the expression of your sexual attraction.  You can move from monogamous through to monogamish to non-monogamous to polyamorous to relationship anarchy.  Expression of sexual attraction can also be measured on a continuum that looks at how often you wish to have sex from rarely to all of the time and on a continuum that looks at power dynamics in your relationship from dominant through to switch through to submissive.

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Are you confused?  If so, perhaps some examples will help.

John is biologically male.  Their gender identity is non-binary and they use the pronouns they, their, them.   They express their gender differently at different times.   They are heterosexual in orientation.  (They are attracted to women.)   John likes lots of sex.  John is polyamorous.  Finally, when it comes to power dynamics, John switches depending upon partner and situation.

Rachel is biologically female.  Her gender identity is female.  She is bisexual in orientation (attracted to men, women, genderqueer, transgender).  Rachel is monogamish.  She prefers to have one central relationship where there is very limited permission to have sexual experience outside of the relationship.    When it comes to power dynamics, Rachel is dominant.

Dara is a transsexual male.  His gender identity is male.  He also identifies as transgender though he has already transitioned.  He is gay in orientation (attracted to men – cisgender and transgender).  He practices relationship anarchy.   When it comes to power dynamics, Dara is submissive.

All of these identities can shift over time.   I find it useful to have clients spend some time thinking about how they identify now and how they have identified in the past.  This can help people put issues from the past into better perspective and also frame current issues differently.    Just because identities can shift does not mean that they will shift.  I like to remind people not to make assumptions about other people.  Most people prefer to be asked.  It can feel awkward to ask someone about their attractions but with practice it gets easier.    Asking is far more respectful.

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Where do you fit in?  Here are a few questions to help you consider what letters identify you.

  1. When you think about yourself, do you see yourself as male or female or sometimes one/sometimes the other or neither?
  2. What pronouns resonate for you?
  3. When you fantasise, who do you fantasise about? Are they always the same gender?
  4. Do you want to find one romantic and sexual partner to share your life with?
  5. Does the idea of only one sexual partner for the rest of your life feel stifling?
  6. When you fantasise do you like to be the one who is in control or do you dream of surrendering to someone else? Maybe this changes depending upon your mood?

If you find it difficult to come up with single answers to these questions, don’t worry.  You are not alone.   These can be very deep questions.    There is no problem with exploring and trying various ideas out to see what feels best to you.

If you find that you are really confused, it can help to see a therapist who is experienced working with gender and sexual diversity.

If you would like to discuss sexuality and sexual orientation further,  book here for a free 30 minute consultation.  For my podcast Sex Spoken Here series on non-monogamy, start with part 1 here.   Write me here with any questions.

When Does Female Sexuality Peak?

I remember clearly being told that I wouldn’t come into my fully bloomed sexuality until I hit the age of 35 as women didn’t peak sexually until they were older.  As I was enjoying myself then, I didn’t really think about when I might ‘peak’.

As I started seeing more clients who wanted help with their sexual lives, this was a topic I thought more about.   I see women in their 30’s who have not yet experienced a sexual peak.  I also see women in their 30’s who feel their best sex is definitely behind them.    So I began to wonder if the idea that women don’t reach their sexual peak until their mid-30’s was a myth.

Unless it is in the consulting room or amongst really close friends, when people talk about their sex lives they talk of the best times.  I listen to lots of people wearing rose tinted spectacles, looking at only the positives in the past, present and for the future.     Clients come to me and talk about their struggles with sex and sexuality so I had their stories to draw on.  Close friends were willing to talk more frankly too so I had their stories to draw on.

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Research seems to suggest that actually sex for women in their 30’s is extremely conflicted.    In fact, sex for men and women in the 30’s age group is often problematic.    There is a difference between married (or partnered) women with children and single women.  Female sexual drive is very connected to hormone levels.  When women are in their 30’s they are right in the middle of their child bearing years.  The biological clock is no myth!  The intensity of the drive to procreate should not be minimised.  Many ‘accidents’ occur in the 30’s.  Many single women suddenly become partnered (and often inappropriately so) and find themselves pregnant.

The drive to have lots of passionate sex is highest at ovulation.  For married women and women with children,  after ovulation passes there is little hormonal drive.  It appears that things may be a bit more stable over the month for unpartnered women.  Once women have children, the additional stress can cause a severe dip in libido.

Why am I talking about libido?  Because libido is what drives us to seek out sexual experiences.  If you have no or low libido, you may not even think about sex.  You won’t seek sex out.  When libido has completely gone, you probably won’t be upset by not having sex or opportunities for sex.  Low libido can be caused by stress, a number of health problems, various medications (some antidepressants, some blood pressure medications), low testosterone (in men in particular) and low oestrogen (in women).  Low libido is a big problem for menopausal and post-menopausal women that is rarely talked about in detail.  With most causes, there is a lot that can be done to bring libido back and when libido comes back so does the possibility of an exciting sex life.

When does female sexuality peak?

For women, sexual desire and sexuality is intimately linked to emotional elements.  Research continues to highlight that women become turned on more via their minds and emotions than by a pretty/hot/sexy visual.  Women who are stressed lose interest in sex.  If there are emotional issues in the relationship, women will find it really hard to connect sexually.  Women find men who are emotionally available very sexy, for example.    Many women find intelligence very sexy.  This isn’t to say that men don’t also find these things sexy but rather that men tend to look at the physical form first.  Also many men will use sex to create emotional closeness whereas many women need to feel emotionally close in order to become physically close and have sex.     As a result, it appears that women have a variety of sexual peaks during their lives.  Rather than have a sexual prime in the 30’s, many have one in the 20’s and then another in the 40’s and 50’s.

Scientists don’t agree about the depth or description of ‘normal’ sexual response in women or whether women even have a sexual peak.  Rather than being upset by this information, I encourage you to see it as liberating.  This means that however you are is fine.  Seek help if you are not happy with your sexual drive, desire or any aspect of your sexual life.  Seek help if you and your partner are not well matched or are having sexual issues.

when does female sexuality peak?

There are currently no particular drugs to increase female libido.  There is no equivalent to Viagra for women. A number of researchers have suggested that lower levels of testosterone after menopause are responsible for the drop in desire.  Lots of drugs are being trialled but thus far nothing has worked well enough with few enough risks to be brought to market.  However, there are quite a few doctors who are prescribing testosterone off label to increase female libido.  I know a number of people who have taken testosterone for this reason.  They have all reported increased sexual desire. They have also reported a variety of side effects including some increased facial hair growth, some increased hair loss, increase in anger and acne.  It is thought that part of the reason for high levels of side effects is that the dosages are too high.

When libido is not being negatively influences by low testosterone or low oestrogen, there is evidence that many women who have decided not to have children and/or are post-menopausal experience a sexual prime.  Sex is not related to procreation at this stage and is primarily for pleasure, love, power or other motivations.  Cindy Meston and David Buss found 237 reasons in their 2009 book Why Women Have Sex.    Is this THE sexual prime for women?  After listening to women and looking at the research, I think not.

The idea of one sexual peak or sexual prime is outdated.  After all, this idea came out of research on married couples in the 1940’s and 50’s.  Dr Kinsey’s research was ground breaking at the time.  There had been almost no research on sexual behaviour.  Relationship behaviour has changed significantly since then.   There is evidence from an evolutionary perspective that suggests an additional reason for women to have more sex in their mid 30’s to mid 40’s.  Pregnancy is much harder to achieve as women move past the child bearing prime of the 20’s.  In order to achieve pregnancy, often much more sex is necessary.

Women have more than one sexual peak and the peaks are influenced by evolution, hormones, emotions, relationship and family status and stress.   Orgasm creates more sexual desire.  So in times where stresses contribute to decreased desire, I often advise clients to push through the indifference and either masturbate or have sex with a partner.  Reaching orgasm will almost always create a desire for more orgasm which means more sex.  The feel and look of women’s sexuality changes over the life span so rather than looking at peaks perhaps looking at it as a wave with ebb and flow creates a clearer picture.

If you want to explore the tides of your sexuality, email me here or schedule a free 30 minute strategy session with me here.

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When Bisexuality is Seen as a Cop Out, Damage is Lasting

Some say bisexuality, like fibromyalgia, is imaginary.

Both straight and gay find those of us who have attractions to both or all genders difficult to deal with.  People call us greedy, tell us there is no such thing as bisexual, tell us we only need to meet the right  *insert gender here * and we will know who we are.    When we try to be authentic, we are encouraged to return to the ‘down-low’.  We are told we are indecisive or worse yet, the only ‘valid’ bisexual people are those who are 50/50 – attracted 50% to one gender and 50% to the other.

The damage this causes is insidious.  Bisexual people have higher rates of depression and suicide than straight or gay counterparts.   We are more likely to question our sexuality than others and this questioning reduces confidence and self-esteem.   Bisexual people experience biphobia – from both straight and gay folk.  Finding a place where they fit can be extremely difficult.  Despite the acronym LGBTQ, bisexual issues and problems are often not addressed.  It is estimated that 2/3 of people who identify as bisexual don’t mix with the lesbian and gay scene regularly so often research misses the bisexual group.  However, from the research available:

Bisexual people are less likely to come out to siblings, family and friends meaning they are more likely to be isolated.

They are less likely to be out at work and more likely to feel that the LGBT networks are less than helpful.

Bisexual people have higher rates of substance abuse issues

Bisexual people of colour are more likely to experience hate crimes

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What causes some of these issues?  Invisibility.

People assume your sexual orientation based on your last or current partner.  Being invisible means that agencies don’t provide for you.  Being invisible means that you don’t have adequate access to support networks and/or you don’t feel welcomed by support networks.  When being invisible translates from your sexual orientation or group to being invisible as an individual the damage is more profound.  If my sexual orientation isn’t seen as valid or my sexual behaviour isn’t seen as valid (but is seen as problematic), then I can cease to view myself as valid.  If I feel invisible, I am likely to feel isolated and unsupported, separate and different and this can lead to depression and ultimately to suicide.

In one study, bisexual women were found to be more 64% more at risk for eating problems than lesbian women.   Research highlights that negative societal attitudes towards bisexuality leads to people feeling more negatively about themselves and expecting more social rejection.

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When you tell someone who is bisexual that they are copping out and that they should really just ‘pick a side’, you are telling him that he is a liar.   You are suggesting that he is choosing bisexuality because he isn’t brave enough to live authentically.  This is one of the worst insults a person can receive.  It causes people to question their own needs and desires.  The rejection causes lasting pain.  Some people who are bisexual then try to choose a side and this leads to a host of problems and on-going pain.  There is copious research that highlights the increase in mental health and physical health problems in people who try to live contrary to their actual sexuality.    Staying closeted impacts self-esteem and self-perception.  Closeted bisexual men have been labelled as sexual addicts in recent years.  Wives who find that men are watching gay pornography and having encounters with other men are advised that their husbands are sex addicts.     In fact, this could not be farther from the truth.  These men are bisexual but unable to accept their bisexuality and unable to discuss this with their spouses.  As a result, they are engaging in ever more risky behaviour in order to satisfy their core sexual desires.  Even those who are single can find themselves suppressing their true sexual desires and identity in order to conform to the wider society’s expectations.  It seems that heterosexual or homosexual have become the choices now (rather than simply heterosexual) in many segments of society.  Unplanned promiscuous behaviour is very risky (as unsafe sex is usually a part of this behaviour).

Are there any positives to being bisexual?

Yes there are.  People who are bisexual report feeling more able to create the relationships that work for them. Those who are out and proud feel better able to accept the sexuality of others and to define their own sexuality.  People can be bisexual in behaviour but not identify as bisexual.  People can identify as bisexual and find their attractions are 50/50 and others identify as bisexual and find that their attractions are 90/10.   Bisexual people can be monogamous.  Others are polyamorous.

Those of us who are comfortable in our bisexual skins experience serenity with our self-acceptance.

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Here’s How Female Orgasms Happen (or in some cases don’t!)

For the full article, please go to Yourtango.com

Orgasms come in so many shapes, sizes, and patterns!

How much do you really know about orgasms? I personally had painfully little knowledge when I started having sex with others.

The first orgasm I remember happened when I masturbated by rubbing against my teddy bear when I was 5 or 6. For years I could only reach orgasm during masturbation, on my stomach, rubbing against something pressed between my legs.

This wasn’t really useful when it came to having an orgasm with a partner. My first consensual sexual experiences were delicious, but orgasm was not a part of them. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I had regular orgasms with a partner.

For years I thought there was something wrong with me. However, I now know that there was not.

Up to 37% of women either are unable to have an orgasm or have extreme difficulty having an orgasm.

Read that statement again. I know that when I first saw that figure, I was floored.

To find out about the three main types of problem that women have with orgasms, head over to read the full post on Yourtango.com.

In order to have an orgasm, you have to let go of control.

You cannot control an orgasm and that is one of the joys of the experience. Your partner doesn’t cause your orgasm. You are the one in control so you have to relax and let your body, mind, soul and heart respond to the stimulation, touch, love that you are experiencing.

If you have trouble relaxing, try releasing some of the pressure. If you don’t reach orgasm, you haven’t failed. Just enjoy the experience you are having.

If you practice meditation, this is a good time to employ your strategies to quiet your mind. Allow your breathing to deepen. Focus on one sensation only — that point where your bodies are connecting, the smell of her, the taste of his lips. Breathe into the sensation and just enjoy.

Kegel exercises do lead to better orgasms. It appears that the stronger your pelvic floor muscles are, the better your orgasms are likely to be.

It takes an average of about 20 minutes of stimulation for women to reach orgasm. Some women are able to reach orgasm within 30 seconds of self-stimulation, but this is unusual. Keep in mind that stimulation doesn’t only mean physical stimulation, but includes mental stimulation as well. Orgasms last on average 18 – 22 seconds.

It is interesting to note that four pairs of nerves are involved in the orgasm process for women. 

These nerves all take information back to the brain and provide differing sensations and types of orgasm. This is one reason why all orgasms don’t feel a like. If you stimulate all four pairs of nerves, the ‘blended’ orgasm will be far more intense than an orgasm that is the result of stimulating one pair of nerves. Three of the pair of nerves first transmit information to the spinal cord which is then sent to the brain. The vagus nerve transmits straight to the brain — which means even women with complete spinal cord bisection can experience orgasm if this pair of nerves is stimulated.

There are so many ways for us to get off!

Many women ask how often they should be having orgasms, and if their current frequency is “normal.”

When I was in my first, sexless marriage, I thought I was the only married woman who was having no sex at all. Even the clients I was seeing reported having sex at least monthly. When I finally plucked up the courage to talk to a friend, I found out that I was not alone.

In my practice, I see that rhythms vary over time, mainly related to health, stress levels, how relationships are going, and whether or not a woman is single. One thing I can clearly say is that when in a relationship, more sex and more orgasms are definitely better.

More orgasms increase emotional intimacy, as well as positive feelings about your mate, your relationship, yourself — and often the whole of your life.

The good news is that research suggests a clear relationship between the age of the person and the likelihood of experiencing orgasm when having sex.

This means it isn’t too late to get yourself into your maximum orgasmic prime!

Here is a look at just some of the various and wonderful ways women can orgasm:

  1. Some women can have orgasms through fantasizing alone.

You can have an orgasm without having your clitoris or your vagina touched at all, as the brain is one of the most important erogenous zones.

  1. Some women have orgasms from having their nipples or anus stimulated.

You might have another particular spot on your body or activity that causes you reach orgasm or at least come very close.

  1. Some women learn to ‘come on command.’

In these scenarios, a woman will come as soon as her partner says, “Come now!” This is actually not difficult to learn, as it is simply a matter of conditioning.

The same way that Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate at the sound of a bell, we can learn to come at the sound of our lover’s voice. Since orgasm is a more complex response, it is likely to take more trials before the association is made, but eventually, the association will be created.

  1. Some women can ejaculate when they have an orgasm.

The fluid they release comes from the urethra, but is not urine. It may feel like there is a lot but in reality it is only usually about a teaspoon of fluid. It is sweet tasting as it is made of lots of glucose, as well as an enzyme called prostatic acid phosphatase.

Though it is not universal for a woman to ejaculate (also known as “squirting”), it is more common that was previously thought, and is perfectly normal. Women who do this routinely report that it feels extremely pleasurable.

There is some research that suggests that G-spot stimulation is more likely to lead to female ejaculation, although many women report that clitoral stimulation will lead to ejaculation as well.

  1. Both men and women can have multiple orgasms.

It’s really all about timing. Men who learn not to ejaculate when they have an orgasm can have multiple orgasms before finally ejaculating. When men do ejaculate, they usual feeling overwhelmingly sleepy. This is a physiological response and therefore difficult for them to resist.

Hence my advice to women who are having sex with men — make sure you attend to your satisfaction first and then look to his, or you may find that you are left to finish yourself off.

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What I Learned from Men Who Find Bisexual Women Smokin’ Hot

Because they think that this means they might get to indulge in two of the most common male fantasies:  Watching two women getting hot and sexual together and having a threesome with two women.

It’s the fantasy that most men bring up as soon as they find out I am bisexual.   Question 1 is usually ‘Do you have a bisexual girlfriend?’.  Question 2 is ‘Will you bring her to bed with us?’.  If the answer to 1 or 2 is no, the next question is still ‘Can I watch?’ or ‘Will you tell me about what you do together?’

I had a look to see if there is any science to explain why this might be and I was not able to find any research.  There is plenty of research that places the fantasy of sex with two women together ranking in the top fantasies of men.    But nothing about what they find so exciting.  So I decided to do a bit of research of my own.  So far, this is only an informal poll but I may do a more scientific survey soon.

So here’s what I found out talking with a small number of sexually adventurous men from the US and the UK between the ages of 30 and 70:

I asked what makes bisexual women so attractive to them.  Here’s what some of them said:

Author Shakir Rashan replied ‘The fact that they enjoy the female form as much, if not more than I do. Being married to a bisexual woman, to have her react to a woman I am attracted to without feeling like I am taking away from her is an aphrodisiac like no other’.  Two men said that it was the fact that they are comfortable being with men and women and feel happy being who they are.    All the men spoke of these women as ultra-feminine in part because they appreciate women.  All the men who responded to the survey find two women having sex with each other exciting.  One man replied that by watching women together he has learned how to better please a woman.

I asked about experience with threesomes.  In my sample, all but one respondent had experienced a threesome.  The final respondent replied that he enjoys watching but does not prefer to have sex with more than one person at a time.    Of the men who had experience with threesomes, all of them enjoyed the experience when everyone was into everyone else.   They all mentioned the ‘dreaded pillow princess’.  In threesomes, pillow princesses always want to be the centre of attention.  The men I interviewed said that this changed the energy in a negative way.

I asked about unicorns.  In the polyamory and swinging worlds, a unicorn is a bisexual woman who likes to have sexual relationships with couples or who will bond with a couple and be monogamous with that couple.    The unicorn is as opposed to the straight or heteroflexible woman who approaches the couple because she wants to be with the man and she thinks by doing this, the man will look favourably upon her.  All the men I spoke to enjoyed unicorns when they could find them and preferred to avoid straight women who approached them when they were in a couple.

All of the men said they enjoy watching women together.  One said ‘One woman is beautiful, two women equals twice the beauty and sexiness’.   Even the men who have had lots of experience with two women rated this high on their fantasy hit parade and said that they still watch woman on woman pornography.

A few of the men made it very clear that they did not like to watch women play with strap on’s with each other.  They emphasised that the women need to be ‘very feminine’ for them to be interested watching them together.  A few of the men said they really enjoyed the opportunity to direct the action between the women.  Others liked either the pure voyeur experience or being completely involved in the action.

Here are a few tips to really heat your man up that I got from doing this survey:

  1. Invite another woman along to put on a show. Make sure it is someone who you are really into and who is really into you.
  2. Tell your man a detailed story about you and another woman and what the two of you would do to each other and to him if given the chance. Pick out a movie that has a good threesome in it and watch it with him, all the while whispering to him what you would like to do.
  3. Get a girlfriend to join you and do to her all the things you wish your man would do to you. Make sure he is watching closely…

Finally, if you are single, consider being a unicorn at least once!  But don’t be a pillow princess.  Shower the couple with all of your attention.  Show them how much you desire both of them and then enjoy!

If you’re curious about bisexual women, bisexuality, kink or other alternative sexual lifestyles, I can help and here’s how. Reach out here for individual coaching. You can also listen to my Sex Spoken Here podcast. Or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, email, Yourtango.