Despite the fact that they may look somewhat alarming, penis plugs, otherwise called urethral sounds, are a famous instrument for sexual experimentation and arousal, and are helping the two couples and men to arrive at new degrees of sexual pleasure. Feeling somewhat doubtful? Here are …
Author: Tisha Murrell
As society becomes more sex- and pleasure-positive, sex toys are making their way into bedrooms all over the world. Once, poorly-made, shady-looking objects that could only be found at equally shady places, sex toys have come a long way. All you have to do is …
Every relationship experiences issues and pressures at one point or another, from arguments to problems with sex or worries over money. Here, Relate counsellor Rachel Davies addresses the 10 most common problems people have in relationships and how they can be worked out
Have rules for rows, such as taking time out, not swearing and sticking to the point. Make a time to talk about any issues before they build up. Ask yourself what you’re really unhappy about. Arguments about whose turn it was to load the dishwasher are often about deeper issues you haven’t been able to express, such as anger or sadness.
Some couples have different communication styles, such as talkers versus non-talkers, or people who deal with things via talking versus people who like to get on with things. Other couples used to communicate well but have stopped listening to each other; instead they try to fill in the blanks and mind-read. Sometimes every conversation becomes a battle.
All of these problems can be overcome if the couple is willing to identify what goes wrong and make some changes. You can even do this by yourself if your partner won’t talk to you about it. Ask yourself: “What happens when I want to talk about something important?” “When did I last try hard to really listen and understand my partner?”
Think through what you want to say first. Choose your time and place. Practice “talk time”, where you each have three minutes to say what you need to say uninterrupted and then your partner responds. Use email or write a letter if you have something important to say that you can’t find the words for. Try to use “I” statements and avoid blaming the other person; when people get defensive it’s hard to listen well.
3. Growing apart
“Some couples change together, but it can be difficult when one of you seems to do most of the changing”
t’s normal to change over time. Some couples change together, but it can be difficult when one of you seems to do most of the changing. It’s important to think about how you can have a successful relationship with this “new” person and not spend your energy grieving over the person they were. This has the potential to be exciting, as you can discover new ways of being together. If you talk to each other and really feel you want different things as individuals, your relationship can still work, as long as you have enough that keeps you connected as a couple.
Relationships can be rebuilt after affairs, but it takes honesty and a willingness to respond to the wounds that are left. Affairs don’t usually happen out of the blue, so it’s worth spending time trying to learn lessons, such as were you both happy before, were you talking, did you feel you had lost intimacy? Sometimes these conversations are hard and you may find talking with a neutral third party such as a counsellor helpful.
Life events and external pressures can have an impact on your relationship. Some people cope by pulling together, but it’s just as common to find that events pull you apart. Try not to clam up and battle on alone. Let your partner know how you feel. For example, they may not realise that you’re awake at night worrying about your dad’s health and that’s why you’re grumpy in the morning. Try to see life stressors as something you face together as “team us”. But remember that in a long-term relationships, other things take priority at times and that’s OK.
You can end up feeling unappreciated or neglected when one partner isn’t giving enough time to the relationship, by working long hours or prioritising children, for example. Discuss this. What do you both offer to the relationship? How does the division of labour work for you? Sometimes it’s about communication – for example, your partner values what you do for them but doesn’t say it. Help yourselves feel appreciated by noticing and telling each other.
Some sexual problems may need specialist medical help, either via a conversation with your GP or through seeing a trained sex therapist (find our more here). Sometimes how much sex you want or what you want your sex life to be like can become a problem. It’s worth considering how you communicate with your partner about sex and how you might be able to talk more openly. Also ask yourself whether the sexual issue is a symptom of other difficulties in your relationship or whether you are getting on really well apart from this one thing. If this is the case, talk about what you want and don’t want, and be kind and respectful to your partner’s wants and desires.
“One in 10 people argue with their partner about money, debt or finances at least once a fortnight”
Financial pressures can be a burden for many, according to Relate’s recent report, “In Too Deep”, which found that one in 10 people argue with their partner about money, debt or finances at least once a fortnight. However, keeping issues such as debt from your partner can also cause problems such as mistrust. There is no right or wrong attitude towards money, and some people are more naturally savers or spenders. If your attitudes are similar, there’s unlikely to be a problem. But if they’re different, it could be a source of tension in your relationship. Many couples find it helpful to have some shared money for their shared expenses as well as some financial independence.
Look at some strategies to deal with financial stress
Most long-term partners go through phases of feeling stuck in a rut or where you love each other but do not feel “in love”, and it’s natural that your relationship changes over time. Companionship, compatibility, shared history and knowing someone inside-out are often the things people value in long-term relationships, yet sometimes these get taken for granted. If these things don’t feel enough for you and you want to create more excitement, try to think about what needs to happen, then talk to your partner. Try to be part of the solution to getting out of the rut rather than complaining about your partner’s role in getting you stuck.
It’s very easy for parents to become polarised, with one being the good cop and the other the bad. Co-parenting doesn’t always feel co-operative when you have different styles. Often this happens as we have firm ideas that we get from our upbringing and assume this is the norm. House rules that you agree as a family can be helpful; presenting a consistent position on as much as possible can avoid the bad cop/good cop scenario. There’s lots of evidence that children pick up on parental conflict, so it helps them if you minimise this. Also remember that there’s more to your relationship than your family – you will be a couple even after the kids have left home. So try to find time for each other – it will benefit your relationship and that’s good for the whole family.
I[/dropcap. WAS EXPOSED TO the sex-toy market a lot earlier than most. My mother started an adult toy business when I was in my mid-teens. In the beginning she specialised in hen’s nights and Tupperware-style parties, replacing plastic containers with rubber fists, rabbits and vibrating …
Sex toys comes in myriad shapes and sizes, but one women fully conversant with the gamut of offerings is Sarah Jane Banahan, founder of sex party collective The Play Experience. Who better to review the latest offerings from high-end manufacturer, Perlesque? Eris Rabbit Vibrator: the …
Masturbation, sadly, is an act overwhelmingly associated with men. Women today may well be far more sexually liberated than their grandmothers were, but it’s still taboo openly talk about self-pleasure. Bashing the bishop, jerking the gherkin, even the amount of slang terms available for women’s masturbation is nil compared to men. There is, however, a small, but vital loophole in this strange social setting: sex toys.
Sex Toys: The Background
Over fifteen years ago, Sex and the City’s Charlotte bought a rabbit vibrator and lived happily ever after. It was a defining moment for womankind. What this iconic TV episode did was give women permission to talk about sex toys, and it has undoubtedly contributed to the reclamation of female sexuality in our post-Fifty Shades world. Almost two decades since Charlotte’s shopping trip, the words ‘sex toy’ conjure up an image of a strong, sexually independent female and her trusty rabbit vibrator. Success! Nearly.
Sex Toys: The Problem
But what about men and sex toys? There are loads of toys for men, and there are many men out there who use them, but they don’t seem to admit it. If you’ve never come across (ahem) male sex toys, you’re not alone. There aren’t as many out there for guys as there are for women, but the industry has cottoned on, and the number of male sex toys is rising fast.
Sex Toys: What to Try
The most commonly-known male sex toy is the humble cock ring; you can pick a basic one up in your local pharmacy, alongside the lube and condoms. Placed at the base of the shaft (and sometimes behind the testicles), cock rings restrict blood flow to the penis and create harder, more impressive erections. They also delay ejaculation, making him last longer – which is great for both partners. Many cock rings come with stimulators for his perineum (that little sweet spot between his balls and his anus), or even attached anal beads or butt plugs.
Sex Toys: Getting Serious
Sex toys designed to be penetrated are less commonly known about, as these toys simulate the sensation of intercourse. One of the most successful male sex toy brands on the market is Fleshlight. These guys have developed a range of ultra-realistic masturbators which look scarily like actual vaginas (or bottoms or mouths, depending on your preference). They use soft, flesh-coloured material which is incredibly lifelike to touch. Penetrable toys are textured internally to replicate different orifices, and some are even modelled on famous porn stars’ private parts.
Less lifelike but equally stimulating, the stroker is another big seller. It’s quite simply a stretchy hollow tube, usually made from jelly-like material, which is textured inside with little bobbles and ridges. The user penetrates the tube and away he goes!
Sex Toys: The Taboo
Despite all these sex toys being suitable for use with an open-minded partner, there’s still a perception that men who buy sex toys, especially realistic masturbators, can’t get ‘the real thing’.
It’s confusing. If wanking = men, and sex toys = women, surely there must be a cross-over. Men are using sex toys, and they are enjoying them. So why aren’t we talking about it?
Sex Toys: The ‘Strength’ Debate
There’s an old-fashioned preconception that women are virtuous and men are not. Women are weak, men are strong. Women ‘need’ help, men do not. The truth is, many men I’ve spoken to are afraid they’ll be seen as weak, pathetic or lonely for enjoying sex toys. If they’re into prostate play, you can add fear of being branded ‘gay’ to that list too (the prostate is located a few inches inside the bottom).
Luckily, as people’s attitudes to sex lighten up a little, we’re just about getting our heads around the fact that sex toys aren’t meant to replace intimacy with a partner – but to enhance the whole sexual experience. In fact, they can even help prevent a whole host of medical issues in both men and women.
Sex Toys: The Benefits
Although the NHS are yet to say that prostate massage prevents cancer, many men claim that regularly massaging their bottom’s wondergland (or P-spot) helps with bouts of inflammation and keeps them feeling healthy. Online prostate resource, www.Prostate.net, claims that massage can improve urinary flow, increase blood flow, and help keep the prostate a normal, healthy size. It’s not for nothing that treatment for prostatitis (a painful swelling of the prostate) is regular digital massage by a doctor. Like any part of your body, the better you know it, the more likely you are to recognise a problem.
The Journal of the American Medical Association also recently found that nearly 43% of women experience ‘sexual dysfunction’ (i.e. struggle to orgasm) at some stage in their life. It’s now not uncommon for doctors to recommended sex toys to ease emotional stress and frustration – once known as ‘hysteria’. As somewhat of an expert in the sex toy world, I’m regularly approached for advice by NHS educators, relationship counsellors and psychotherapists who are urging their patients to explore sex toys, despite many older professionals knowing very little about them. One sex therapist I recently worked with educates NHS practitioners. She commented that during her talk “I didn’t come across anyone who recognised the stroker”. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the health benefits of male sex toys are also recognised as widely.
Sex Toys: The Future
From my years speaking with ‘average’ sex toy users, I believe that men who use sex toys have better, longer relationships than those who don’t. They’re more likely to learn what their partners enjoy between the sheets – and ultimately get to enjoy a higher number of orgasms with them. It’s a gateway to communication – and generally couples who play together, stay together.
Men who use sex toys by themselves are also discovering their own preferences and are actively training themselves to last longer. Many strokers are branded ‘Stamina Training Units’ and are recommended by professionals to help with premature ejaculation issues. Sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox has even developed an iPhone app called ‘EDGE’, which men can download to ‘train’ themselves to last longer – one of the ‘levels’ includes using a stroker to get used to more intense sensations.
Times, they are a-changin’. Male sex toys are selling fast, and as a category have seen some of the highest overall growth in the past 2 years.
It’s about time men realised that being open about sex makes you open about life – and whether you’re paired off or single, being happy sexually makes you a happier person overall. Now go forth and play.
You might have encountered the term “penis extender” before. But, maybe you are still not sure what it is or why would anyone use it. However, there are hints in the term itself. Penis extenders are plastic or rubber sleeves that go over the penis …
Relationships are hard. They take a lot of dedication, focus, and work. Finding the right person to settle down with can often feel like a very frustrating game of chance. And even when you do find the right one, you’ll still have your work cut …