Monthly Archives: June 2014

5 Kinky Sex Moves from a BDSM Expert

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We can’t say for sure if chains and whips excite you (cue Rihanna’s hit song “S&M”), but we do know that kinky sex can definitely be hot. Because even if you’ve already mastered each of these 36 positions, fantasies and experimentation can keep your sex life feeling fresh and exciting. So if you’ve ever thought about tearing a page out of Fifty Shades of Grey, we’re here to help.

First thing’s first: You have to have a discussion with your partner before you venture into BDSM territory. “There are two ways kink fantasies can go,” says sex educator Cassie Fuller (also known as “Madam Cassie”) and founder of Touch of Flavor. “You can find out this is something you’ve been missing in your sex life or that the idea was better left as a fantasy.” While it may not sound like a sexy conversation, you need to discuss your interests and “hard limits” (anything that you’re absolutely uncomfortable doing) with as much detail as possible. You should definitely keep an open mind to things, but of course, never do anything that you’re not OK with just to please someone else, says Fuller.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your dos and don’ts, then you should head to the closest sex shop for props, right? Not quite. When you’re a beginner, you want to start slow with items you can find anywhere in your house. If you’re a newbie, start with these first few tips before upgrading your bedroom play to more advanced maneuvers.

Bind, blind, and tease. Grab a few scarves or old T-shirts and tie your partner’s hands (or have them tie yours) to the bed or a chair. You want the knots to be tight enough to restrict your movements but easy to break out of if you need to, says Fuller. Next, cover the eyes so that the person being bound can’t see what’s coming. Then stimulate their erogenous zones with an ice cube, feather, candle wax, or vibrator. You could also try oral or manual stimulation.

The point is that the person tied up is totally relinquishing control, which can be a turn on for many people. “A lot of people have this misconception that the person who’s in control in life all the time wants control in the bedroom,” says Fuller, “But often that’s quite the opposite. They want to sit back, relax, and give up [control] to their partner.” Just make sure you pay close attention to see how your partner is responding to your moves.

Get hit on. Interested in spanking? While an open-hand touch can work fine, using something a little firmer—say, a wooden spoon, paddle, or spatula—adds a new and unusual element to sex. Test out different rhythms, says Fuller. Go from slow to fast and soft to hard—you can always switch it up depending on you (or your partner’s) comfort level.

You can also have your partner tap different areas of your body—like your breasts—using the object-of-choice while they’re performing oral sex. This creates a sensual mixture of light pain and sexual stimulation at the same time, says Fuller. (Just make sure to wash those tools when you’re done!)

Go all day long. Sometimes 15 minutes (or an hour) just isn’t enough to satisfy your fantasy. If you want to prolong the fun, ask your partner if they’d be comfortable with an entire day’s worth of role-play, says Fuller. A longer period of domination will feel a lot more real and intense than short bursts of spanking.

If both of you are up for it, Fuller suggests moving from kink activities to a power-exchange scenario where one person is at complete service to the other—crawling on the ground and kneeling at their feet are fair game. Bringing the power play out of the bedroom for a little while can up the intensity and build the sexual tension even more. But remember, this is a fantasy the two of you are playing. Make sure you set a time limit so that you know when you need to cut the act and get back to real life.

Spring for better equipment. If you’ve given kink a thorough shot and you want to take your game to the next level, the best way to up the ante is to upgrade your gear. Ditch your paddle for a flogger and your scarves for leather shackles or handcuffs (with a spare set of keys!). These kink-designed props provide sensations that you’ve never been exposed to before.

…Or go equipment-free. Consider this the ultimate test of self-control: Lie completely still on the bed—as long as you’re in a comfortable position—and let your partner have at you. They should be free to control your body and movements—you’re basically the human version of an inflatable sex doll. As difficult as it might be to silence yourself or resist wiggling around, this technique builds up the sexual tension between you and your partner until you can’t keep cool any longer. “By letting them be your ‘doll’ or vice versa, you’ll learn what the other person wants to do in the bedroom,” says Fuller. Who knows, you might discover a hidden pleasure of theirs you never suspected. But if your partner tries to do something you’re not into, it’s obviously alright to break character and let them know.

Billionaire Tory Burch’s Seven Lessons For Entrepreneurs

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Walk down any sidewalk from New York to Shanghai and you’ll see women wearing ballet flats with Tory Burch’s distinctive double-T logo. They’re also wearing her patterned tunics, handbags, clutches, and bold country club–chic pants, skirts, dresses, and tops. Tory Burch hasn’t just made preppy clothes hip and modern, she’s built a multi-billion dollar fashion empire in less than a decade. And she’s leveraging her experience and influence for the greater good with the Tory Burch Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering female entrepreneurs.

Recently named to Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Burch has helped change the world’s notion of what being a female entrepreneur means—the fashion mogul has proven that it doesn’t have to be hawking cupcakes or launching a Mommy blog. At just 46 years old, she’s part of a growing group of women who are newly minted, self-made billionaires, like fellow power woman & Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. Including Burch and Blakely, 16 of this year’s Forbes Power Women founded their own businesses.

I recently sat down with Burch at the inaugural Forbes Women’s Summit where she opened up about her dazzling journey to the top of the fashion world—and offered some entrepreneurial advice and leadership lessons she’s learned the hard way on her journey to incredible success.

1. “Follow your passion.” Although Burch grew up as a self-described tomboy, she became interested in art history and fashion in college at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to work for influential designers like Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang. And when she decided to launch her company, she dreamed big—she wanted a global brand. “I never designed before this company,” Burch says. “[You have to] take a risk and put yourself out there.”.

2. “Thicken your skin.” Burch went through 10 names (including Tory by TRB) for her company before reluctantly settling on using her own. And while she’s proved wrong all of the naysayers who thought she’d fizzle out in a flash, having her own name on the brand makes her acutely sensitive to criticism. Which is why she relies so much on the advice of her parents to thicken her skin. “Being a sensitive, thoughtful person opens you up for criticism and being affected by it,” Burch says. “I heard and tried not to listen to a lot of negativity. The noise and negativity were just the sidebar.”

3. “Put the right people in the right positions.” Burch describes herself as a very loyal person, and one of the toughest business lessons she learned was that loyalty—a strength in most circumstances—can also be a weakness for her. Loyalty made her reluctant to make staff personnel changes. “When you have the wrong people in the wrong position it affects the entire company,” she says. “It’s a hard lesson to learn. It has a ripple effect.” Be aware of the potential for your strength to become an Achilles Heel.

4. “Create relationships.” As part of the programming for her Tory Burch Foundation, there are 10 mentoring events a year. That’s because Burch believes that networking, collaborating with, and rooting for other women helps you make lasting relationships that organically further your career and set you up for success. “Every job that you have might not be the perfect job, but you really take away different things, and you create relationships,” says Burch, who counts Saks’ Ron Frasch, Google’s, Eric Schmidt, as well as her older brother and company’s co-president, as major mentors in her life.

5. “Go big.” On the one hand, Burch had a five-year plan of opening just three stores. (She has launched dozens around the country and world, including stores in Portland, Oregon and Dubai.) On the other hand, from the beginning, she knew she wanted to build a global brand. Just as she’s had to roll with setbacks, she’s also embraced the happy boosts that come along the way, like the Oprah Winfrey show “Next Big Thing” shout-out that gave her 8 million website hits, and media coverage from her editor friends in the magazine world.

Luck is important, but the power of networking and collaboration helps you make your luck.

6. “Be authentic.” While talking about her personal life and her children are off-limits, she is an open book when it comes to her business, her foundation, and the Tory Burch brand in general. One for instance? When her company changed operating systems, they endured a glitch-y six-month period where they couldn’t track shipments. But rather than hiding the snafu, Burch decided to embrace social media and be transparent with customers about what was happening. The result? Her customers became her advocates.

7. “Buckle up.” When you see someone as successful as Burch, it’s easy to view that success as a destination she’s reached, instead of an ongoing journey that takes hard work, creative solutions, handling setbacks, and constant innovation. Burch admits that being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone: She works long hours and remembers the early days when her business was launching when she would put all of her children to bed and then be on the phone until 4am with her Hong Kong office. “Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it,” says Burch. Setbacks are always going to be there—some of them even bigger than the challenge of launching a business in the first place—and it’s crucial to think of them as learning opportunities.

Originally published on ForbesWoman 5/22/2013

The STD You May Have and Not Even Know It

Why the CDC is sounding the alarm on this scary infection

PUBLISHED: JUNE 16, 2014  |  BY ESTHER CRAIN

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No wonder chlamydia has been nicknamed the silent stalker: After analyzing the latest data, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than one in 100 U.S. adults currently have this sexually transmitted disease. That works out to 1.8 million cases—yet only 1.4 of those have been reported. In other words, 400,000 people may have it and be clueless about the risk it poses to themselves and their partners.

But it’s not necessarily their fault they’re in the dark. Most of the time, chlamydia has zero symptoms. “In men and women, it can trigger signs such as abnormal discharge and pain, especially during urination, but the most common symptom is actually none at all,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale University.

For men, it rarely develops into a more severe condition, yet having it means they can spread it to their partners. For women, the consequences are much more serious. If left untreated for months or years, the bacteria will move past primary infection locations such as the urethra, vagina, and cervix and into the uterus and fallopian tubes. There it leads to scar tissue that can quietly harm your fertility, all while you have no idea what’s going on, says Minkin. At that point, it can bring on a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which often causes intense pain and cramping. But by the time PID strikes, irreversible damage may have been done. “Chlamydia and PID are huge causes of infertility in women,” says Minkin. Untreated chlamydia infection can also make your system more receptive to HIV.

But here’s the good news: A simple test at your gyno’s office (either a cervical swab or a urine test) can diagnose chlamydia, and if you have it, a quick course of antibiotics will cure the infection. Ob-gyn guidelines call for all sexually active women under age 25 to be tested yearly, but if you’re over 25 and aren’t sure (and we mean really sure) of your partner’s status, consider getting tested, just to play it safe.

Book to Read… Dust

by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta)

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African fiction is booming, Chimamanda Adichie, No Violet Bulawayo and Taiye Selasi last year alone set the bar pretty high; this year new books by Dinaw Mengestu, Sefi Atta, and Teju Cole have continued the momentum. Dust has received rave reviews in the US and refreshingly doesn’t fit into the migrant novel industry at all.

Dust is a story of the Oganda family, a troubled bunch who are mourning Odidi, a brilliant engineering student gunned down by police in Nairobi in 2007. His yournger sister Ajany, a gifted painter, has returned from Brazil to bury him but the murderous chaos of Kenya’s 2007 elections so disturb her, she sets out to ‘find’ him again by piecing together the last years of his life. Much of Dust is concerned with silence and the stories that don’t get cold, in a political as well as emotional sense.

Owuor is very good at slowing down and speeding up time yet her writing is often ugly in it’s imprecision. Owuor is a welcome new voice but you may wish she hadn’t buried her story under so many words.

 

6 Moves for Better Sex

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Missionary is the Jan Brady of sex positions—dismissed as plain and boring, never picked first, forever in the shadow of flashier poses such as girl on top, from behind, and reverse cowgirl.

But it shouldn’t be. “Most people don’t realize that because missionary allows for a lot of variation, it exposes your nerves to a wider range of sensations and is surprisingly orgasm-friendly,” says Lori Buckley, Psy.D., a licensed sex therapist in Pasadena, California. Which explains why 33 percent of women say missionary is their favorite position, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. (Guys dig it too—being on top typically lets them control the pace and prolong their orgasm.) Amp up the experience with these hot new twists to the carnal classic.

Rock the Boat
Missionary gets flack for not allowing for much clitoral contact, but one simple adjustment can remedy that. Experts call it “the coital alignment technique” (a.k.a. “the cat”). While he’s on top of you, have him scoot up two inches so that the base of his penis is directly aligned with your clitoris, says sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First. Then, with your legs wrapped around his thighs, press your genitals together so you create pressure and counterpressure, moving in a gentle rocking motion (as opposed to in and out). Your clitoris will let you know when you’ve got it right.

Go Deep
While he’s on top, draw your knees toward your chest (you can grab the back of your thighs for support) and place one or both of your feet flat on his chest. “Doing so puts the tip of his penis in direct contact with your cervix, a sensation many women find pleasurable,” says Sadie Allison, D.H.S., author of Ride ‘Em Cowgirl.

Take Control
Just because you’re on the bottom doesn’t mean you can’t call the shots. Throw one of your legs over his shoulder while you keep the other one stretched straight out on the bed (or bent, with your foot planted firmly on the mattress). At your own pace, keep switching your legs so that one is over his shoulder and the other is on the bed. The up-and-down motion of your legs creates a pleasurable sweeping sensation over the G-spot zone, says Kerner.

Bring Him to His Knees
Awaken a whole new set of nerves by tweaking the angle of penetration. “Lie down and have your guy kneel between your legs while sitting back so that his butt is resting on his ankles,” suggests certified sex educator Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook. “He can use the strength of his thighs to push forward and thrust, or grab your hips with his hands to control the pace.” This position stimulates your lower vaginal wall, which contains nerves that are often neglected during plain old missionary. If orgasm still eludes you, grab a vibrator or squeeze a little lube onto your fingertips and give yourself a hand as he thrusts.

Straighten Up
It sounds counterintuitive, but keeping your legs closed can actually boost your pleasure. Once he’s inside you, bring your legs together (keep them straight) so that his legs are on the outside of yours. Then squeeze your thighs together to create friction against his shaft and your vaginal lips while he grinds (not thrusts) into your goods. “The entrance to the vagina—namely the outer and inner labia—is packed with nerve endings that are activated by this type of shallow penetration,” says Allison. You can also reach back and grab your headboard or place your palms against the wall for even more resistance and friction.

Give Yourself Props
The hottest sex toy is sitting right there on your bed. “Place a pillow under your lower back to tilt your vagina upward,” says Paget. “His penis will hit that top frontal wall where the G-spot is located.” For extra pleasure, try placing your palms on his butt to control the pace and rhythm of movement.

ISSUE DATE: OCTOBER 2010

Which of Us Are the Most Trusting?

There’s a surprising new way to predict who will trust you.
Published on April 29, 2014 by David DiSalvo in Neuronarrative
 
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A new study is giving the mistrustful something to consider:Intelligence strongly correlates with “generalized trust,” or the belief that most people can be trusted—that, on average, your fellow man or woman is probably a good egg. 

As it turns out, a fair amount of research has been conducted on the connection between intelligence and trust, and perhaps surprisingly, intelligence and trust appear to move in lockstep. In the latest study, researchers from the University of Oxford analyzed data from the General Social Survey, which assesses a representative swath of Americans about a range of attitudes, trust among them.

Participants were asked, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?”

Answers to that question were correlated against two measures of general intelligence. The first was a test of verbal ability—verbal ability, specifically vocabulary, being a consistently strong measure of intelligence. The second was a test of “question comprehension.”  The first is a more objective measure, since question comprehension relies on the interviewers to assess how well they think each person understood the questions. But both measures—vocabulary and comprehension—are well-established indicators of mental ability.

Researchers controlled for a range of variables, including social status, race, and parental education, since any one could conceivably throw off the outcome. Even with those variables accounted for, the results were clear: Individuals with the highest verbal ability were 34 percentage pointsmore likely to trust others than participants with the lowest verbal ability scores. (Individuals with the strongest question comprehension were 11 percentage points more likely to trust others than individuals with the lowest comprehension.)

Not only do those results hold true regardless of socioeconomic status, marital status, race, age, or religion, they are also consistent throughout the four decades the General Social Survey has been in existence.

Why this correlation exists is open to debate. The researchers suggest that smarter people may be better at evaluating others’ trustworthiness, so they tend to select people for relationships who are less likely to betray them. Another possibility is that intelligent people are simply less likely to offer things that someone might have a strong incentive not to reciprocate.

It’s possible that smarter people tend to interact with people who are materially well off enough that they have less to gain from being untrustworthy—but this is unlikely since the study controlled for socio-economic status and found the same result whether someone was rich or poor.

Then there’s the possibility that intelligent people are less likely to buy into black-and-white absolutes, and more likely to realize that generally people aren’t purely “good” or “bad”—most of us fall well within the broad, blurry area between.

The study also tracked a few other trust-related outcomes and found—again quite consistently—that people with more generalized trust are more likely to report good or excellent health, and are more likely to describe themselves as “very happy.”

The study was published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

 

You can find David DiSalvo on Twitter @neuronarrative and at his website, The Daily Brain. His latest book is Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain’s Power To Adapt Can Change Your Life.

How to Avoid 7 Common Mistakes on the Road to Success

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When you’re smarter about how you set goals, you’re more likely to succeed.

Published on June 5, 2014 by Matthew B. James, Ph.D. in Focus on Forgiveness

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”—Michael Korda

Everybody and their grandmother (and probably your grandmother) will tell you that setting goals is the key to success. I was taught goal-setting at an early age and I’ve taught goal-setting and goal-getting for many years, to thousands of students.

And for the most part, my students get really stoked as they work with goals and see the amazing results they can create. But every once in a while, a student approaches me and says that theyhate goals, and that goals just make their lives miserable and stressful!

How could setting a goal and pursuing something you desire make you feel lousy? I’d never had that experience so I checked some books and articles to try to figure it out. I cam to realize that there are certain goal-setting, goal-getting errors that can make the process backfire on you.

Here are seven:

1. Your goals aren’t aligned with who you really are. As Brain Tracy says, “Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” Do your goals really reflect what’s important to you?Are they the things you think you should want but don’t actually want? Pursuing a goal that isn’t who you are is like wearing shoes two sizes too big or too small—you’ll be miserable. Find goals that fit who you really are, and who you are becoming.

2. You’re pursuing someone else’s goals. You look around and see what a great relationship a friend has or the amazing new career your cousin has. You may see others winning awards or getting paid bundles of money. So you set your sights on what they’ve got. But as Marcus Buckingham says, “We can never achieve goals that envy sets for us. Looking at your friends and wishing you had what they had is a waste of precious energy. Because we are all unique, what makes another happy may do the opposite for you. That’s why advice is nice but often disappointing when heeded.” You aren’t here to live someone else’s life, no matter how good it looks from the outside. Only your own internal voice can tell you what will really bring you joy and fulfillment.

3. You want something different but you’re not willing to bedifferent. Change is an inherent part of goal-getting. When you set a worthy goal, it automatically stretches you and makes you confront some of your limiting beliefs and decisions. It forces you to become the kind of person who has or does whatever your goal is. As Les Brown said, “You cannot expect to achieve new goals or move beyond your present circumstances unless you change.” If you’re determined to remain the same old you, expect to achieve the same old results.

4. You don’t appreciate the present. If your happiness is always “out there” somewhere, you’ll never be happy. Waiting to be happy until you reach your goals is a sucker’s game—because there’s always a new goal just out of reach. It’s okay to be a bit discontented with where you are. But you’ll make yourself miserable if you don’t look around and feel gratefulfor your life as it is now. As long as your heart is beating and you can take a breath, as long as you can experience a new sunrise, you have plenty to appreciate. As Bo Bennett says, “Success is about enjoying what you have and where you are, while pursuing achievable goals.”

5. You don’t really believe you can achieve your goal. Are you trying to do something you believe is impossible for you to achieve? That’s like shackling a 200-pound weight to your ankles before a race. It doesn’t matter how brilliantly you design your goals or how tenaciously you pursue them. If you don’t really believe you can reach them, you’ll be fighting yourself the whole way. As Ralph Marston says, “Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.” You’ll certainly create misery for yourself if you insist on dragging your doubts along with you as you work toward your goals.

And here’s the thing about “impossible”: You can never prove it. Think about it: We can prove that something can be done. We know that we canbreak the 4-minute mile and walk on the moon—both things once considered impossible. But there’s no way to prove that you can’t do or achieve something. Even if a million people try and don’t succeed, the 1,000,001st person might. So why believe in impossible at all?

6. You’re trying to get there too fast. People often say that life is a journey—but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone describe life as a sprint! Goals can propel us forward. But natural momentum is not the same as a frantic chase. Andrew Bernstein writes, “We need to distinguish betweenstress and stimulation. Having deadlines, setting goals, and pushing yourself to perform at capacity are stimulating. Stress is when you’re anxious, upset, or frustrated, which dramatically reduces your ability to perform.”

7. You haven’t built in smaller wins along the way. Some people have goals that are huge: Eradicate world hunger. Create peace in the Middle East. Marry George Clooney (wait, that one’s been taken). I would never discourage anyone from having big goals. But we all need to make sure we have steps along the way so that we can feel progress. You won’t eradicate hunger all at once. But you can come up with a good project to feed the homeless in your community. You can inspire conferences and brain trusts to develop new approaches. Give yourself bite-size pieces of your large goals. As John Johnson said, “If you make them too big, you get overwhelmed and you don’t do anything. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals.”

Setting goals and pursuing them should make you feel inspired, not tired; enthusiastic, not discouraged; and confident, not insecure. I’ll end with a favorite reminder about goals: “When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live.”—Greg Anderson

 

Until next time. . . Mahalo!

Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where students learn Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna and Hypnosis. To learn more about using NLP to set goals click here.

Here’s What Every Man Should Know Before Having Sex With A Woman

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Women’s bodies are totally overexposed and still seriously misunderstood. Hey, scientists didn’t even really know how the clitoris worked until 2009.

So it’s not really surprising that when it comes to heterosexual sex, women still don’t always get an equal opportunity to have a great time.

So, men, get your pencils out. This is a crash course in being the kind of partner any woman would want to date (or at the very least, have no-strings-attached sex with again).

How a woman feels about her body can directly affect how much she enjoys sex.

This isn’t about vanity — body image can have a serious impact on a woman’s sex life.Positive body image is associated with having a satisfying sex life, and the reverse is also true. A growing wealth of research suggests that negative body image can make women distracted and self-conscious during sex, which can seriously detract from pleasure.

 

These sentiments may seem absurd to men who think the women they sleep with look amazing. But it’s important to remember that just because you think she looks good doesn’t mean that she feels good.

Our culture values male pleasure more than female pleasure.

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Research has shown that women are less likely to enjoy sex than men — and young women are about half as likely to orgasm during sex as young men.

Some of this is the result of our cultural prioritization of sexual acts that are most pleasurable for men, like vaginal intercourse. While only 8 percent of women can reliably reach orgasm through vaginal sex alone, nearly all men can. And other research indicates that younger women spend more time attending to men’s sexual needs than their own. In one 2012 study of college students, a participant described feeling like she didn’t have a “right” to orgasm, particularly when it was a first-time hookup.

The more invested a man is in his female partner’s pleasure, the more likely she is to enjoy herself.

The “orgasm gap” between the sexes is particularly pronounced when it comes to initial sexual encounters. On average, men show less investment in giving women an orgasm when it’s a first-time hookup. The more committed men are in the relationship — in other words, the more invested a man is in his female partner’s pleasure — the narrower the orgasm gap becomes.

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And just because she’s not speaking up in bed doesn’t mean she’s actually enjoying sex.

A 2012 study of college students found that in casual sexual situations, some women may worry about whether it is considered “acceptable” to speak up about their sexual desires. One study participant said, “It’s just not comfortable enough to be like, ‘You know, hey, this isn’t doing it for me.” Women, at times, may also fear that men will think they’re too experienced if they clearly communicate what they like and don’t like, relationship counselor Debra Smouse told The Huffington Post.

It’s worth staying engaged with your partner and speaking up if you sense that she’s not saying something. A simple “tell me what you like” can break down barriers and create a comfortable space where you both can both truly enjoy yourselves.

Women can enjoy casual sex just as much as men.

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Stereotypically, men are seen as eager to acquire more notches on their proverbial bed posts, while women are perceived to be looking for true love over physical pleasure. However, a growing body of research has confirmed what most women already knew: Women aren’t actually less “open” to casual sex. In fact, a 2011 study found that women are just as likely to engage in casual sex as men, as long as the situation meets two requirements:

A. They will not be slut-shamed about it.
B. Their sexual partner will be skilled and make the experience pleasurable.

When these two factors are accounted for, the disparity in men’s and women’s willingness to have casual sex completely disappears.

The average woman takes about 10 to 20 minutes to reach an orgasm during foreplay and vaginal intercourse.

Men, on the other hand, typically take seven to 14 minutes to climax. And most women who do orgasm during a sexual encounter don’t do so through your typical penis-in-vagina sex alone – many women require a variety of sexual acts to induce an orgasm. So make sure to ask her what she finds pleasurable.

But if she doesn’t orgasm, don’t think it was all a waste of time.

Sometimes, making orgasms the sole focus of a sexual experience can actually detract from sexual pleasure. Many women develop anxieties about reaching orgasm with their partners, which only makes it that much harder to have a good time.

So don’t expect a woman to orgasm every single time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a 2014 study suggests that orgasming may not be the chief measure of sexual satisfaction for every person. Again, communication is key. The value of an orgasm — and a woman’s ability to regularly have one — varies with each individual.

If you feel like your touch isn’t turning her on, you probably just haven’t found the right place to touch yet.

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In a piece writer Jill Di Donato wrote for The Huffington Post in 2012, she asked 7 women about their erogenous zones. The responses ranged from the mouth to the ears to the arches of the feet, which one reader attributed to the 7,000 nerve endingswe have down there. But it wasn’t just about the number of nerve endings — some women said they enjoyed being touched in areas of their body that they feel particularly confident about. It’s worth taking the time to figure out what a woman loves most about her body and giving it more attention in the moment.

And for some women, unfortunately, sex might not ever really feel good.

Simple explanations for not having sex like “I’m tired” or “I don’t feel good,” could suggest much more complicated issues. So it’s important not to dismiss these statements as “excuses to avoid sex.” Though, sometimes a woman is just genuinely tired. And that’s ok, too.

For some women, pain or discomfort during sex can be the result of couples prioritizing vaginal intercourse over other sexual acts. For other women, this discomfort may come from medical conditions which may make it difficult to fully engage in and enjoy sex. Researchers have consistently found that nearly half of women suffer from sexual dysfunctions of some sort, ranging from pain during sex to a consistently low libido. Then of course, there are specific conditions that make sex legitimately painful, such as vaginismus, which causes involuntary muscle spasms around the vagina, making it tighter and even closed at times. If your partner is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important not to take it personally and to be understanding.

When in doubt, talk about it.

Above all, to have good sex, you need to be able to have good, honest communication. If you’re unsure how she’s feeling, just ask.

First posted on The Huffington Post  | By Amanda Scherker & Gabriela Kruschewsky

14 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time

June 11, 2014

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Lack of sleep isn’t the only thing sapping your energy. Little things you do (and don’t do) can exhaust you both mentally and physically, which can make getting through your day a chore. Here, experts reveal common bad habits that can make you feel tired, plus simple lifestyle tweaks that will put the pep back in your step.

You skip exercise when you’re tired

Skipping your workout to save energy actually works against you. In a University of Georgia study, sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising lightly three days a week for as little as 20 minutes at a time reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after six weeks. Regular exercise boosts strength and endurance, helps make your cardiovascular system run more efficiently, and delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. So next time you’re tempted to crash on the couch, at least go for a brisk walk—you won’t regret it.

Health.com: 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

You don’t drink enough water

Being even slightly dehydrated—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—takes a toll on energy levels, says Amy Goodson, RD, a dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, explains Goodson, which makes the blood thicker. This requires your heart to pump less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs. To calculate your normal fluid needs, take your weight in pounds, divide in half and drink that number of ounces of fluid a day, Goodson recommends.

You’re not consuming enough iron

An iron deficiency can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, weak, and unable to focus. “It makes you tired because less oxygen travels to the muscles and cells,” says Goodson. Boost your iron intake to reduce your risk of anemia: load up on lean beef, kidney beans, tofu, eggs (including the yolk), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and peanut butter, and pair them with foods high in vitamin C (vitamin C improves iron absorption when eaten together), suggests Goodson. Note: an iron deficiency may be due to an underlying health problem, so if you’re experiencing these symptoms of iron deficiency, you should visit your doc.

Health.com: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

You’re a perfectionist

Striving to be perfect—which, let’s face it, is impossible—makes you work much harder and longer than necessary, says Irene S. Levine, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. “You set goals that are so unrealistic that they are difficult or impossible to achieve, and in the end, there is no sense of self-satisfaction.” Levine recommends setting a time limit for yourself on your projects, and taking care to obey it. In time, you’ll realize that the extra time you were taking wasn’t actually improving your work.

You make mountains out of molehills

If you assume that you’re about to get fired when your boss calls you into an unexpected meeting, or you’re too afraid to ride your bike because you worry you’ll get into an accident, then you’re guilty of “catastrophizing,” or expecting that the worst-case scenario will always occur. This anxiety can paralyze you and make you mentally exhausted, says Levine. When you catch yourself having these thoughts, take a deep breath and ask yourself how likely it is that the worst really will happen. Getting outdoors, meditating, exercising, or sharing your concerns with a friend may help you better cope and become more realistic.

Health.com: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

You skip breakfast

The food you eat fuels your body, and when you sleep, your body continues using what you consumed at dinner the night before to keep your blood pumping and oxygen flowing. So, when you wake up in the morning, you need to refuel with breakfast. Skip it, and you’ll feel sluggish. “Eating breakfast is like starting a fire in your body by kickstarting your metabolism,” Goodson says. Goodson recommends a breakfast that includes whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fat. Good examples include oatmeal with protein powder and a dab of peanut butter; a smoothie made with fruit, protein powder, low-fat milk, and almond butter; or eggs with two slices of whole-wheat toast and low-fat Greek yogurt.

You live on junk food

Foods loaded with sugar and simple carbs (like the ones you’ll find in a box or at the drive-thru window) rank high on the glycemic index (GI), an indicator of how rapidly carbohydrates increase blood sugar. Constant blood sugar spikes followed by sharp drops cause fatigue over the course of the day, says Goodson. Keep blood sugar steady by having a lean protein along with a whole grain at every meal, says Goodson. Good choices include chicken (baked, not fried) and brown rice, salmon and sweet potato, or salad with chicken and fruit.

You have trouble saying ‘no’

People-pleasing often comes at the expense of your own energy and happiness. To make matters worse, it can make you resentful and angry over time. So whether it’s your kid’s coach asking you to bake cookies for her soccer team or your boss seeing if you can work on a Saturday, you don’t have to say yes. Train yourself to say ‘no’ out loud, suggests Susan Albers, a licensed clinical psychologist with Cleveland Clinic and author of Eat.Q.: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. “Try it alone in your car,” she says. “Hearing yourself say the word aloud makes it easier to say it when the next opportunity calls for it.”

You have a messy office

A cluttered desk mentally exhausts you by restricting your ability to focus and limits your brain’s ability to process information, according to a Princeton University study. “At the end of each day, make sure your work and personal items are organized and put away,” suggests Lombardo. “It will help you have a positive start to your day the next morning.” If your office needs major reorganizing, avoid becoming totally overwhelmed by taking it one step at a time: start by tidying what you can see, then move through your desk and cabinets drawer by drawer.

You work through vacation

Checking your email when you should be relaxing by the pool puts you at risk of burnout, says Lombardo. Unplugging and allowing yourself to truly unwind allows your mind and body to rejuvenate and return to the office stronger. “When you truly take breaks, you will be more creative, productive, and effective when you return,” says Lombardo.

You have a glass of wine (or two) before bed

A nightcap sounds like a good way to unwind before falling asleep, but it can easily backfire. Alcohol initially depresses the central nervous system, producing a sedative effect, says Allen Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine, P.C., in New York City. “But it ultimately sabotages sleep maintenance.” Alcohol creates a rebound effect as it’s metabolized, which creates an abrupt surge in the adrenaline system, he says. This is why you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night after you’ve been drinking. Dr. Towfigh recommends stopping all alcohol three to four hours before bedtime.

You check e-mails at bedtime

The glaring light of a tablet, smartphone, or your computer’s backlit screen can throw off your body’s natural circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles, says Dr. Towfigh. Sensitivity to the digital glow of tech toys can vary from person to person, but in general it’s a good idea to avoid all technology for one to two hours before bedtime, he says. Can’t avoid checking your device before your head hits the pillow? Then hold it at least 14 inches away from your face to reduce the risk of sleep interference.

Health.com: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

You rely on caffeine to get through the day

Starting your morning with a java jolt is no big deal—in fact, studies show that up to three daily cups of coffee is good for you—but using caffeine improperly can seriously disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, says Dr. Towfigh. Caffeine blocks adenosine, the byproduct of active cells that drives you to sleep as it accumulates, he explains. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed that consuming caffeine even six hours prior to bedtime affects sleep, so cut yourself off by mid-afternoon and watch out for these surprising sources of caffeine.

You stay up late on weekends

Burning the midnight oil on Saturday night and then sleeping in Sunday morning leads to difficulty falling asleep Sunday night—and a sleep-deprived Monday morning, says Dr. Towfigh. Since staying in can cramp your social life, try to wake up close to your normal time the following morning, and then take a power nap in the afternoon. “Napping for 20 minutes or so allows the body to recharge without entering the deeper stages of sleep, which can cause you to wake up more tired,” he says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.