There’s a relationship problem that often surfaces with my younger clients. The increasing connectedness of modern technology means that you can keep in touch with many people from the past. It also means that your exes, friends with benefits, and one-night stands, never go away! It may seem harmless...but it's not.Read More
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I answered two common sex questions in the March issue of Pacific San Diego Magazine. These questions delve into common misunderstandings and fears about sexual health and communication. The first one was from a young man whose girlfriend told him he came too quickly. And the second question is from a woman who doesn't know how to initiate sex with her husband without feeling ridiculous. Check out my answers below or at the At First Blush page.
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sex Sociologist, Sexual Health Speaker
If you thought the Fifty Shades of Grey book series was Fifty Shades of HOT, then you’re likely excited about the movie version release Valentine’s weekend. The trilogy created a stir a few years ago with its sexually explicit content and portrayal of BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism). While kink caused the controversy and media coverage, I contend the main appeal of these books for women is something much more mainstream and traditional. Anyone who wants to sexually please a woman can learn a thing or two from author E. L. James.
Anastasia Steele is a 21-year-old virgin at the start of the story. She is the shy girl next door. This character seems to resonate with American women of all ages because her sexual awakening gives us all permission to be sexual without shame or embarrassment. In her role as a sexual submissive, Ana allows Christian Grey to control and pleasure her body in ways she didn’t know were possible. Through surrendering to Christian, Ana can still be a “good girl” yet also sexually adventurous.
At the most basic level, Christian makes Ana feel desired. Although Ana is insecure about her appearance, Christian is overwhelmed with desire for her. For many of us, feeling desired by someone we admire makes us feel more worthy and attractive. The reader can embody the raw, insatiable desire, and perhaps recall their own experiences with this prior to other priorities and life stresses getting in the way, or the newness of their relationship wearing off.
All of this makes Ana feel special. With Christian’s good looks, fortune, and power, he could woo many women… yet he chose to seduce Ana. This must mean that she’s special in some way. Then, despite his desire for a non-emotional sexual relationship, he falls for her and begins to change and open up. This further indicates how extraordinary she must be and the female reader feels this excitement and power through Ana.
In spite of the sexual kinks, this is a traditional romance story in many ways, which makes it familiar and safe. This also means that anyone who wants to sexually please a woman can glean some sexual insights. The first take-home message is that women like confident lovers. Sure, it’s unlikely you are a fantasy man who is attractive, sexy, wealthy, powerful, philanthropic, and aged 27, like Christian Grey. Deal with it and own what you’ve got. Fake it until you make it when it comes to confidence. Channel Christian Grey if you have to.
The next lesson, if your partner is game, is to introduce new aspects of power play and sensual play in the bedroom. You can practice dominance by removing your partner’s senses, such as tying her up with a scarf, using a blindfold, or putting in ear buds with carefully chosen music. Be slow, teasing and in charge. Let her experience how much you desire her.
Finally, make the object of your desire feel special. Let her know through words, actions, time, and attention that you think she is amazing. Never stop courting her, so she always knows she is a top priority. This may sound cliché, but what would it take to actually prioritize this every day?
There are warranted critiques of this story, like the poor writing, imprecise depiction of BDSM, and portrayal of an unhealthy relationship. But Fifty Shades unexpectedly pushed the right buttons for many women. If you found yourself stirred by the steamy scenes, think about what this indicates about your sexual interests. And consider if 2015 is your year of sexual awakening.
(This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of Pacific San Diego Magazine.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sociologist, Sex Speaker
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” ~Humor Columnist, Harold Coffin
Want some help counting your own blessings? I’m a huge proponent of doing “daily gratitudes,” where you write down three to five things you are grateful for in the past day. This activity is a keystone of the burgeoning science of happiness field, and there is mounting evidence that such activities have a profound impact on increasing optimism and improving happiness. (In my field, this is quite related to building happy relationships and fulfilling sex lives.) When reflecting on your day, your appreciations need not be the big things in your life, such as your partner, job, or car, but can be the little things, such as a seeing a spray of wildflowers on the side of the road, cashing in your “10th one for free” on your coffee card, hearing your favorite song on the radio, or eating at a delicious Thai restaurant.
If you struggle with accountability when starting new habits such as this, you can now sign up for an online gratitude journal called grateful160. Reminders are sent to you via email or text to assist in recording your daily gratitude list. When you reply to this correspondence with your gratitudes for the day, they are stored online for you. Every Friday you receive a review email listing all your daily gratitude entries for the past week.
I’ve been using this program for the past three weeks, and I’ve found the gentle nudge to record my gratitudes through email keeps me more accountable. I really enjoy the weekly recap and I’ve been surprised by how much of the week I had already forgotten. This review of what I appreciated was also an experience of savoring my positive experiences, which is another hallmark of the happiness research. I’m not sure what the “160” represents in the title, but grateful160 can support you in appreciating your life, 365 days of the year.
(Originally posted as part of Pacific San Diego Magazine's Love & Sex Blog.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexologist, Sex Therapist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker
Animal costumes are always popular attire at Halloween, both for kids and adults. An interesting thing happens, though, in the transition from children’s costume to adult costume – the attire often becomes sexy. While this is often to get attention, once you learn these fascinating (and scary!) sex facts about animals, the shift from cute cat to sexy kitty makes sense in a whole new way.
Speaking of sexy kitties, did you know that when a male cat penetrates a female cat, he bites into the back of her neck? The female is further held in place by his penis, which becomes lodged inside her with its horny barbs. This will ensure ejaculation, but there’s also speculation that the “rough play” may initiate her ovulation. Ouch!
But “bee” glad you’re not the poor male drone bee. When he mates with the Queen Bee, his genitals are ripped off after orgasm, leaving him to die within hours. Or how about the male red-back spider? After copulating with a female red-back spider, he selflessly somersaults into her mouth to become her post-coital meal. Those males make the ultimate sacrifice for their offspring!
Lest you think all animal sex facts are painful, let’s switch gears to the humorous. In a creative attempt to encourage panda mating in captivity, Chinese zookeepers got film of other pandas having sex and played this panda porn for their panda bears. Did this aphrodisiac work? Yes! However, it’s unknown whether their increased passion was from the visual or auditory cues.
This final animal sex fact about the male anglerfish is perfectly ghastly in the spirit of Halloween. The male anglerfish is tiny compared to his female counterpart, and reproduces by attaching his teeth to the female’s side. Over time, his face becomes absorbed into the female’s body, until he eventually becomes just a reproductive appendage. Talk about attachment issues!
So this Halloween, consider the animal kingdom as a source of inspiration. If you’re taking a classic animal costume and imbuing it with sexy vibes, read up on the sexual predilections of your chosen animal. Then add an air of credibility to your choice to sexualize the animal, by including an unexpected detail (such as a hacksaw for a Queen Bee!). Impress your friends, because whether sexy or scary, animals really know how to get it on.
(Published in the October, 2012, issue of Pacific San Diego Magazine.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sociologist, Sex Therapist, Sexologist, Sexuality Speaker
Can you give too much during sex? I was asked to write about "giving in the bedroom" for the Philanthropy Issue of Pacific San Diego Magazine this August 2012. You might be surprised to read that a give, give, give approach isn't always the best.
Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker