Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ask the Sex Doc 16: Consent queries, sex addictions versus "sex addictions," and freshening your daisy patch on the go

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

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Oh, are you new here? Here's the run-down: One IU Kinsey Institute Ph.D., one smartass, once a week. Got a burning question? That's how we keep this crazy train chugging along, so send 'em in! askthesexdoc@nuvo.net or use our magical anonymous Tumblr inbox. 


Calling Robert Palmer


I'm a woman, and I'm worried I might be a sex addict. How do you diagnose sex addiction? -- Anonymous, from Tumblr

Sarah: Look down at your legs. Is there a person between them? If yes, is that person a different person than the one who may have been there a short time earlier? If yes, you may have a sex addiction. Or not. I'm just the girl who comes out and does a silly dance to get your attention before the real learnin' happens, so I don't really know my ass from third base here. Then again, I knew a lot of self-diagnosed "sex addicts" in college who just didn't know how to build real intimacy in relationships and got confused within the hookup culture of undergraduate relations. Just make sure you don't abuse the term as an excuse to hurt your partner emotionally or participate in unsafe sexual behaviors. Maybe you just like sex and you like a variety of partners and there's nothing wrong, but it always helps to have a professional opinion give you a solid answer.

Debby: Many therapists wouldn't even use the term "sex addiction" (it tends to be more of a media term and/or a term used by some professionals who devote a large portion of their practice to writing books, leading seminars, and doing therapy based on an addiction model). More often, the sex therapists and researchers I know talk about "out of control sexual behavior" or sexual feelings or behaviors that concern a person or a couple in some way. Sometimes the feelings or behavior can be traced back to childhood issues. Other times, it's linked with just a really high sex drive. Certain kinds or frequencies of sexual feelings or behavior are also linked with some mood states, anxiety, and/or other diagnoses (e.g., bipolar disorder). If you have concerns about your sexual feelings or behaviors, I'd suggest meeting with a sex therapist (search the Therapist Directory on sstarnet.org for starters).

Newspaper for the Vagina, Wallpaper for the Soul

I want head NOW but I'm pretty sure I have pieces of TP stuck in and around my vulva from the shit powdery work TP and it's awkward. Any suggestions for wipes or something that's discreet and don't taste like chemicals or smell like weird fruits of the forest? - Anonymous, from Tumblr

Sarah: While working for my mom flipping houses one summer, I learned that it's usually the most basic supplies that give windows a streak-free shine with no residue, which for us was newspaper and vinegar solution. That's what we're after, here: no fuss, no fuzz. Since we're a green-minded organization, I'll suggest just a plain-old cotton washcloth in your purse. It's reusable, doubles as a napkin or hanky, could get the dust off of your dash if the boss needs a ride to lunch, and washes clean in your load of laundry. Pick up a reusable spray bottle and fill it with water and a couple of drops of essential oil if you're feeling fancy (shake it before you spray it), and a teaspoon or two of witch hazel if you want to treat yo' self to something a little soothing. Spritz the washcloth and get booty-ready in a few minutes. And I'm with you, girl: nothing breaks the mood faster than your dude pausing to eject TP from his mouth like he's spitting seeds in a watermelon eating contest.

Debby: If your work toilet paper sucks that badly, why not bring your own pack? Tiny travel sized rolls are available from drug stores like CVS - I have carted them around the world with me to places where it's not always easy to find bathrooms with toilet paper (e.g., parts of India, Kenya, South Africa). We're talking name-brand, soft-on-the-vulva toilet paper. Small enough to slip inside your purse and use at work. You might also fold up some toilet paper and stick it in your pocket for workday bathroom breaks. Or, when you're ready to go home for the day, why not just stop in the bathroom and do a once-over? If you have time for wipes, you certainly have time for that. And while there are many wipes on the market, I can't think of one that is generally considered scent or taste-free. If readers want to suggest one, we're all ears!

Consent Form(alities)

Whenever I'm sleeping with someone, I absolutely want verbal consent 100% of the time and I make sure my partner knows and respects that. However, I've been dating someone I like and trust and we go the route of non-verbal "trust consent" for lack of a better phrasing (ie, we're making out and I'm touching his boner so it's clear I want him and don't need to pause and state it). I do trust him and am comfortable and safe and know he would respect me if I said no, so I'm okay with this consent, but I still feel kind of weird I guess. Any suggestions for my own emotional transition into the world of non-verbal consent instead of talking? - Anon, from Tumblr

Sarah: Suggestions? How about read aloud everything you just typed out, friendo. You "know" he would respect you if you said no, so take a big ol' deep breath and relax about this. One of the more unfortunate realities of being female is that some part of your lizard/emotional/human brain is always on guard for the guy who doesn't take no for an answer - the tragedy there being that it could be a stranger, date, boyfriend, spouse, or anyone else you might know or love. And, #yesallwomen have a story about a man who felt entitled to her body or her sexuality, but you picked this one dude, and the best you can do is remind yourself that this person values you, your trust, and your body. If that doesn't work, just wait until you're naked, cuddled up in bed, trembling with anticipation, then pull out this column and read it in your best Alan Rickman (as Snape) accent. He'll be both extremely turned on and informed, which is what we're all about around here.

Debby: How refreshing to hear such a love of consent! Consent is often ongoing in longer term dating or relationship situations. Sort of like how when you're first starting to hang out with someone, you wouldn't just drop by their place unannounced. But after a while, good friends sometimes swing by each other's places. Obviously sexual consent is different, but there's something about two people getting to know one another and feel comfortable - which means feeling comfortable enough to push back when things go into not-okay territory. If this lack of verbal consent worries you, why not tell your partner that and say that you're feeling a little weird about things and want 100% for sure to know that your partner feels comfortable stopping things if he's not into it, and reassuring him that you feel comfortable and confident enough to do that too. If either of you doesn't, keep going with the verbal consent until you feel like you're in a surer spot. 

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Sarah Murrell covers all things food, beverages and sometimes gives decent sex and relationship advice. You can stream her consciousness on Twitter, if that's where life has brought you.

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