Day 1 of 31 Days of #SexySanDiego -- Black's Beach! I think we're so lucky to have a nude beach in San Diego. It's warm, protected, beautiful, and liberating. Nude doesn't have to mean sexual or inappropriate, it just means nude....Read More
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World peace. It's a lovely goal. But how is it even possible in today's world of conflicting cultural beliefs, anger, terrorism, religious wars, poverty, fear mongering, and huge egos? I was put on the spot to provide an example of a peaceful experience for myself and how we can create...Read More
Do you know that feeling when you’re talking to someone new and they understand something deep and complicated about you that others don’t easily understand? Or you’re talking about something abstract that you don’t know how to explain clearly, and yet you know they just get you? Perhaps you’re chatting with someone at a party and after a short time you’re joking to others that this is your new BFF. To quickly feel like a new person knows you can feel deep, important, and special. I think it eliminates the boundaries between us and another human. We’re not alone because it’s like they’re unexpectedly in our head with us.
The allure of feeling known has been on my mind this week since reading the novel “Mrs. Poe” by Lynn Cullen. It’s historical fiction based in New York City in the mid-1840s, about Edgar Allen Poe, his dying young wife, and another poet, Frances Osgood, with whom he had an alleged affair. Poe was drawn to Mrs. Osgood (who was married to a philandering, absent artist) because of his respect for her poetry. This led to conversations in which he felt understood in the complexity of his existence and worldview in ways his wife didn’t and others couldn’t. For example:
He caressed me with a grateful gaze. “How well you understand me. I cannot say I have ever felt this from another person—I knew it the minute I met you. Thank you.”
Poe believed that their professional relationship, friendship, and eventual sexual relationship were meant to be, because their connection was unique and special.
He looked down at me. “You and I, we need no devices or codes to communicate over distance. You feel it, don’t you?”
I rested my cheek against his arm, storing up his scent and the feel of his shoulders as I gathered the strength to part from him. “Yes.”
His chest rose against my back. “I can be at work on a story, or walking to my office, or just brushing my coat, and I can feel your longing for me. If you ever need me, just bend your thoughts toward me, and, Frances, I shall come.”
For a tortured soul like Poe, haunted by his insecurities, loneliness, and obsession with death, I think this was deeply reassuring. Just like we all have our demons in one way or another, Poe was no longer alone in the world with his demons.
This book resonated with me because one way I feel known is through intellectually stimulating conversations. I’m drawn to people with whom I can hash out intellectual, philosophical, and emotional topics, in a respectful manner, building off the knowledge and insights of each other. It’s about the challenge of the discussion—challenging myself to think broader and more creatively, and challenging the other person with my additions. It’s building on each other’s worldviews, and considering the meaning and practical applications of our insights. It’s also play and fun. Feeling in sync with another human, like our minds are working as one, feels like someone deeply gets me. These are peak experiences.
What’s the opposite of feeling known? Feeling lonely, isolated, disregarded, dismissed, misunderstood, shut down, or silenced. These feel bad. For me, the former two feel sad, and the latter five feel powerless. I’m curious to hear about in what contexts others feel known? Certainly sexual intimacy is a realm ripe for such connection, but as I’ve explored here, there are many ways this can happen. How do you most feel known and understood?
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego -- Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker
There are A LOT of workplace romances. But is it a smart thing to do? I discuss some things to look out for around workplace romances on Wake Up San Diego, Channel 6.
Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus, PhD -- San Diego Sexologist, Sexuality Speeaker, Sociologist
This is not actually about MY vagina (sorry to disappoint ;), but that of a courageous reporter for the San Diego CityBeat magazine. Alex Zaragoza interviewed me this month about women's pleasure, masturbation, sensuality, mindfulness, and empowerment. She listened to my free 10-minute guided "Meditative Masturbation" audio file, and then set up a sexy date night for her personal sexual pleasure. My favorite line from her article? "Take my vagina out; treat her all nice; wine her, dine her, vibrator-time her."
Sex—it's great, right? I want it all the time. It's basically a vitamin that I really want to take daily because I know it will make me feel good. Unfortunately, like my actual vitamins, I'll go days, or sometimes even weeks, without getting my Vitamin D(ick), leaving me with a severe lack of bone density. Long workdays, general fatigue and laptops in bed seem to be the boner killers in my life these days. Laptop in bed, libido = dead.
As a result, I've taken matters into my own hands. I masturbate often. We should never feel embarrassed or ashamed about masturbating. Shame only strengthens fears instilled by prudish, women-hating jerks.
That said, I don't treat masturbating like something special, nor do many of the heterosexual women I asked. It's more of an I need to get laid but my boyfriend / husband / sex idiot is woefully tired / working / in the drunk tank. I guess I'll just knock one off the wrist before making dinner.
When it comes to sex, women tend to want some level of romance or excitement. We make a date special by dressing up, setting the mood with boot-knocking jams, wearing perfume and all that other good stuff that incites a bone session. However, when it comes to sex with ourselves, we often just go for the quick-and-easy fix in between the millions of things we seem to have going on at any given time.
I'll admit that my masturbation sessions usually involve lying in bed in a slovenly fashion with Parks & Recreation paused on the TV. It's not the sexiest thing in the world. But lighting candles and dimming the lights to rub one out seems cheesy.
Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus believes otherwise. The sex therapist says women should treat masturbation as they would sex with anyone. I visited Dr. Jenn's den, her Pacific Beach home, where she also sees clients, to talk about meditative masturbation. With a friendly, open expression, Dr. Jenn told me things I've always known: Masturbation not only feels amazing; it's also a way to understand and love your body. You gain insight into your sexuality and sensuality, and, over time, the sex you have improves. However, knowing those things doesn't mean you make the experience intimate, as is the case with my lazy ass.
Read the entire article "A Hot Date with My Vagina" by Alex Zaragoza at San Diego CityBeat.
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker
Looking for something better than chocolates and roses to give your partner for Valentine’s Day? Dr. Jenn has an idea for you to really let your partner know they're loved.
I love Valentine’s Day. But I hate what we do with it. Since when does showing your love involve how much money you spend or buying culturally-prescribed, unimaginative gifts? And how much time do you spend trying to find just the right card when the words from Hallmark don’t quite fit your needs?
If you actually want this Valentine’s Day to be about experiencing and celebrating your love for your intimate partner, I suggest you share 15 things you love about them. You can do this over dinner, while enjoying a glass of wine or beer, or wherever you can both relax and engage in this beautiful conversation. Here’s how to get started.
How They Take Care of You
Does your partner take good care of you when you’re sick, or do you appreciate their nurturing and selflessness overall? Do they provide financial stability or contribute financially in a way that betters your life? Perhaps they creatively cook and make each meal an adventure, or wash your clothes in the particular way you prefer. Do they edit your blogs before you post them? Maybe they are open to sexual exploration and fulfill your desires for physical connection. Consider how they make you feel safe, grounded, and cared for so you can face the world.
Traits You Admire
Does your partner make you laugh? Or perhaps your partner has much more patience with your children than you, and you admire their strength. Does a specific physical trait turn you on, or their intelligence stimulate you? Maybe you’re grateful for their emotional vulnerability and understanding. Possibly you appreciate their social skills in any context, or that they volunteer once a month to assist disadvantaged youth? Consider both the traits you have in common and those you don’t possess yourself, but are damned glad your partner does.
Are your weekends filled with activities together? Do you enjoy cheering on your football team, or reading and discussing your latest book? Perhaps you enjoy physical activities, such as hiking, yoga, or bike rides. Maybe home improvements create the context for the best of your mutual talents. In evenings after work, do you enjoy hashing out your political views, doing a crossword puzzle together, or watching your favorite drama series? Don’t just share the examples of the specific activities you jointly enjoy, but how it feels and what it means to you to be able to spend that time together.
Remember that time you hiked into a cave, got lost, and never thought you’d find your way out again, but now can laugh about that exhilarating experience? Did you share awe at the birth of your first child? Maybe there was a birthday party when you partied like rock stars or that time in church when you both couldn’t stop giggling. Was there a relaxing vacation that helped you reconnect and remember why you’re together? These are the best moments that have marked the passage of your relationship and your growing bond.
Big Picture Commonalities
Does your partner share your moral compass? Do you have similar spiritual beliefs, political opinions, or ideas about balancing finances? Perhaps you prioritize similar values in your parenting styles. Do you both fight fair, and believe respect and kindness should always be present? These may be reasons you got together in the first place, or commonalities which unfolded as your relationship evolved and made you love your partner even more.
How They Make You a Better Person
How does your partner challenge you to be the best version of you? Do they gently discuss your parenting style and help you break the patterns you’re unwittingly mimicking from childhood? Have you supported each other in eating healthier, drinking less, or exercising more? Do you feel affirmed in your dreams and passions, even if your partner has different goals? Ideally, intimate relationships create a synergy that elevates each individual to a higher level of themselves.
Be sure to give details and examples for all of your listed items. Your partner may not know the depth or meaning behind your appreciation if you don’t explain it. Love is appreciating your partner for the moments you enjoy together, who they are in the world, and how they make your life better. Brainstorming 15 things might have sounded daunting at first, but I hope all of your love items are freely flowing now. I’m reminded of that popular quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I hope you and your partner will never forget this Valentine’s Day.
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker