Posts Tagged ‘sex


initiating a threesome

Reader S. R. writes:

I want to have a threesome with my girlfriend. How can I initiate this?

Dear S.R.:

The first rule about threesomes is: YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT THREESOMES.

Okay, that’s not really true, but the fact is, if you ask your girlfriend directly to have a threesome with you, you are very likely going to get a drink thrown in your face.

So my advice is that you wait for her to bring it up as her own idea.

yeah right

See? Her idea. And he's not happy about it. Image: graur codrin /

Of course, you can plant the seed in her brain and let it take root. Ask your girlfriend if she’s ever considered a threesome before. Gauge what she thinks about it.

Note that by suggesting you want a threesome, you could really hurt your girlfriend’s feelings. She may wonder if you don’t think she’s enough for you. And if you are a complete idiot and say you’d love to have a threesome with one of her friends, she will never ever trust you ever again. You’d basically be saying that you check out her friends when she’s around, and that is a huge no no.

Not everyone is open to that kind of sexuality. In fact, from my highly scientific IM research, most of my friends are generally opposed to it. Even the dudes. The most common answer to my scientific study via IM (“Would you ever participate in a threesome?”) was: it depends. Most of my friends who would be willing to participate in a threesome would only be willing to do so if it was with two people they’d never have to see again (i.e. not your girlfriend or boyfriend). And many of my friends said flat out that they don’t like to “share”. Furthermore, the ones who have done it say they’d probably never do it again.

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, not everyone is cut out to be polyamorous. It sounds fun and exotic, until you get down to how much hard work it really is. Dealing with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy and feeling like you’re comparing yourself to someone is really difficult. And don’t forget the awkward mechanics of a first threesome. It may just be a total bust.

You’ve also got to consider that she may not be into girls, if that’s what you’re thinking. Most of my girlfriends would only participate in a 2 guys, 1 girl kind of set up. So what if your gf only agreed to a threesome with another guy? How would you feel about that?

If you do find out that she’s open to having a threesome, remember that most of the time, these sorts of things have to be totally organic. Scheduling a threesome takes all the fun out of it, unless you’re going to join a swingers club or make this a regular part of your lifestyle. You can post an ad on Craigslist that you and your gf are looking for a third, but don’t be surprised if you get a lot of unsavory responses.

If you’re going to have a threesome without pre-arranging it or hiring someone to join in, you’re going to need to be in a setting where it’s probably going to happen. Your best bet is to play spin the bottle with a group after a night of drinking at a house party somewhere. Or something like that. The point is, don’t force anything. Let it happen. If your girlfriend wants to make out with another girl (or guy), then encourage it. You may find at the moment of truth that you’re too jealous to go through with it. Again, let her initiate it,

But realize that really desperately wanting a threesome is the worst thing you can do to yourself. The more you want it, the less likely it is to happen, and the less likely it is to be enjoyable if it does happen. And if your girlfriend isn’t open to it, you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.


feminist womanizer

Reader R.H. writes:

I consider myself a feminist. I have devoted time, energy, and money to a number of women’s rights causes. My staunchly progressive position has enmeshed me in innumerable arguments with friends and acquaintances. Romantically, I am also an inveterate cheater. I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a womanizer, a criticism I must acknowledge. I have found myself to be rather lucky in my dealings with the ladies, and frequently embrace this good fortune. I endeavor to be fair in my escapades, but have broken more than a few hearts. My position on social issues seems to run entirely contrary to my (ahem) biological imperatives.

Can one be both a feminist and a womanizer? If so, why? If not, how can the two competing inclinations be reconciled?

Dear R.H.:

I think your problem is one of terminology rather than ideology.

feminist or womanizer?

We all know what he's thinking. Image: djcodrin /

First off, I don’t think someone who “enjoys the company of women” is necessarily a “womanizer”. While most of the dictionary definitions I find simplify the definition to “a philanderer”, I think the term “womanizer” is generally accompanied by negative connotations of a man who lies to women to get what he wants. A womanizer, in my mind, is similar to a con man, although the con is worked entirely on the heart, and not on the wallet. Simply being a guy who sleeps around doesn’t make you a womanizer. In my mind, you’d have to be convincing them that you’re in love with them in order to sleep with them to be considered a womanizer.

At the same time, if you are calling yourself “a cheater”, you’re revealing that, while you may not be convincing women you’re in love with them for the sole purpose of getting in the sack with them, you aren’t being honest with them, either, and, I think more importantly, you’re not being honest with yourself. People who cheat have their reasons for doing so, but if you’re a long-time cheater, it may just be that you’re actually polyamorous and won’t admit it.

Yes, I know, what a dirty word, polyamory. It’s an ugly mix of Greek and Latin roots and it’s got a terrible reputation. It’s hard to be polyamorous, because most people (especially women) in our society think monogamy is the highest standard of sexual relationships, and by saying you’re polyamorous from the get-go, you’re basically saying you’re not interested in pursuing that higher standard, ergo hardly anybody will want to get into a relationship with you. But if you have absolutely no qualms with sleeping with multiple partners or being in multiple relationships beyond the qualms of a partner who only values monogamy as a relationship status, you are probably polyamorous. And it ends up, being polyamorous can be a very feminist occupation.

Being a feminist does not mean “abstaining from sex with women” or “not enjoying sex with women” or “not enjoying the female form” or “vowing to only sleep with one woman with whom you want to have children seriously” or any of that. There are differing ideas of what “feminism” means (just ask Sarah Palin) (ugh), but the foremost ideals of feminism are that women deserve to be treated as fairly as men are in society, including equal pay for equal work, equal representation in government, equal opportunity, etc.

I would argue that being a feminist means being aware of the disadvantages women face (which you obviously are) and doing work to try and change things for women (another thing you are clearly trying to do). In fact, some women believe that part of feminism is allowing women to be sexual creatures and enjoy their sexuality, rather than being ridiculed, maligned, or belittled for doing so. You may be advancing the cause of women more than you think. I think you’re right — you’re a feminist.

But another tenet of feminism is the “be true to yourself” idea — your sexual orientation, your gender, your size, your abilities, your beliefs. Most feminists I know think that regardless of what society thinks, you should be allowed to be true to yourself, whether you’re male or female (or any other identity between or encompassing the two that you may have). To be truly feminist in this sense, I think you should quit trying to fit yourself into the monogamy mold, and admit that you’re polyamorous. This way, you can quit being an “inveterate cheater” and just be someone who enjoys sex with multiple partners (all of whom happen to be women). Less guilt. Less personal internal judgment. And you’re open from the beginning with your significant other(s).

So go pick up a copy of The Ethical Slut (what I consider to be a rather feminist tome) and get to work.


leaving early etiquette for guys

Today we’re going to take a break from our normal format of question and answer and simply write an essay (thank you Mr. Noble for the suggestion).

It has come to my attention that dudes don’t really understand how a woman feels when you “act like a panda” (eat, shoot, and leave).  What I mean is, if you go over to a girl’s house, have sex with her, and then leave, it will inevitably make her feel bad unless at least one of the following three conditions is met:

  1. She’s a hooker and you’ve paid her.
  2. You’re just a booty call and she doesn’t care about you (in which case she may be somewhat hurt that you don’t at least pretend to care about her, but she probably won’t say anything).
  3. You’ve told her before the sex that you’re leaving and have explained why. (And it probably had better be a really good reason.)

For the sake of clarity, let’s define terms.

“Leaving early” means getting up, getting dressed, and leaving for your own abode or somewhere else before an appropriate night of sleep has taken place (or at least been attempted). This includes when you get up silently at 3 am because you’ve been tossing and turning and take off without saying goodbye. If you’re going to do this, you have to at least wake her up and/or kiss her on the cheek, or she’s going to be pissed/hurt/devastated when she wakes up alone.

“A hooker” is anyone who is paid for sexual acts.

Panda Bear

Don't be that guy. Image: Arvind Balaraman /

“A booty call” is a sexual partner whose intended role in someone’s life is just sex, when sex is desired. It can sometimes include dating, but more often than not, this is not the case. It tends to be a mutual agreement. No money changes hands, either (because that would make one party or the other “a hooker”).

“Feeling bad” in this case most often means you have made someone who is not a hooker feel like one, or made someone who thought she was not a booty call feel like one, and they probably want to cry about it and they might be really angry. For instance, if you have actually discussed pursuing an actual relationship with a girl, and told her you don’t think of her as just a hook up, you are going to make her “feel bad” if you leave immediately after having sex, regardless of what your excuse is.

Here are a few tips to avoid this situation:

– Tell her beforehand that you have to leave at a given time and for a given reason. Don’t just spring the news afterwards.

– If you know you’re going to be too busy to stay the night, maybe it is better just to tell her so and come over another time. Or avoid having sex during the short period of time you have before you have to leave again. This sounds hard, but it’s not really.

– As mentioned before, wake her up if you’re going to leave in the middle of the night and explain that you’re having trouble sleeping. She’ll still feel bad, but she won’t feel as bad as waking up alone without an explanation and possibly with your change still on the dresser.

– Have sex and then have dinner, watch a movie, or something else “active” yet “intimate”. This actually removes the “appropriate amount of sleeping time” clause, because you don’t sleep during dinner or a movie. She may still be sad that you’re leaving when you do, but she’ll probably be much more forgiving.

– Don’t tell hookers or booty calls that you’re interested in pursuing a relationship with them when you really aren’t. Even if you think you’re just joking, they might not. And hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. For serious.

If you have already trespassed and you’ve got a girl mad at you, and you’ve decided she’s definitely not a hooker or a booty call, here are some tips for making it up to her:

– Avoid offering “making it it up to her” via anything having to do with sex. Again, we’re trying to establish the idea in your head that sex is not a currency for most women. While you might be fine with her “paying you back” in sexual favors for something, she’s probably not going to feel the same way about it. This is why you’re in the situation in the first place.

– Surprises. Good surprises, not like, “Surprise! We’ve got the clap!” or “Surprise! I’m leaving town for a weekend in Vegas with my buddies and you’re not invited!” Try something like, “Surprise! I’m apologizing for being a dick, even though it didn’t even occur to me that you would think I was being a dick! Here is a bouquet of flowers!” or “Surprise! I got us tickets to the opera!” or “Surprise! I want to take you shoe shopping!” They don’t have to be mega huge amazing things, just events, services, or gifts that show you went out of your normal way to do something for her. Even just sharing your feelings and apologizing when you normally don’t will probably suffice. Personally, I would recommend a surprise pizza. Pizza is all I want in the world right now, and I know I have a few girlfriends who feel similarly.

– Make a good effort not to do it again. That’s usually a good sign you’ve learned your lesson.


breaking your own rules

Reader S. D. asks:

I have this friend who says she really doesn’t like being in a committed relationship. She always says she would prefer to just be free, especially sexually, and not tied down so much.  Recently she started seeing one guy, and now she’s calling him her boyfriend, and some of us are a little weirded out by it.  She isn’t really interested in getting married or having kids, so I don’t see why (and I think she sees it this way too) she even needs to be in an exclusive relationship.  I don’t want her to be in a relationship just because he thinks she should be, which I think may be the case. Should I confront her about this?

Dear S.D.:

I’m gonna’ use something from my degree in sociolinguistics to explain my opinion on this. It’s going to be a bit of an analogy, and it explains a lot about my world view as a whole, so hold on to your hats for a bit.

sometimes a BF isn't a bad thing

C'mon, how could she say no? Image: graur razvan ionut /

In language, there are two types of grammar: the one made of prescriptive rules, taught to you by your kindergarten teacher, and the one made of descriptive rules, which you actually speak. When most people hear the word “grammar”, they think of the the prescriptive rules: “You may not end a sentence with a preposition.” etc. Sociolinguists are far more interested in the descriptive rules: “People who speak English often end sentences with prepositions.” “Pre” means “before”; “de” means “after”. In this sense, prescriptive rules prescribe an ideal world and give an outline on how to get there; descriptive rules describe a natural process.

I apply these terms to life, as well. We have prescriptive rules, usually given to us by society (marriage is good; lying is bad; stealing is bad; exercise is good; etc), but if you look at the lives we actually lead, the descriptive rules sometimes say things very different (marriage isn’t always good; sometimes lying is necessary; sometimes stealing happens; sometimes cheeseburgers trump exercise). The natural flow of our lives doesn’t always fit with the rules we have for an ideal. And this doesn’t mean one is bad and the other is good.

So it sounds to me like what your friend has is a prescriptive set of rules about relationships, or maybe you have a prescriptive set of rules for her. “Free” and “unhitched” are what she’s said she wants, so that’s what you want for her, too.

However, maybe life has worked out differently than her prescribed rules (or your prescribed rules) have stated for her. It’s quite possible she’s come to the conclusion that she and this guy are already in an exclusive relationship, so calling it by its name isn’t really so terrible. Maybe having a boyfriend is a good thing for her right now.

Marriage and children aren’t the only things people get out of exclusive relationships, either. This is another set of prescribed rules I think we accept because society says so, but doesn’t really work all the time. The end goal of a relationship with another person is not necessarily producing offspring or standing in front of a priest and reciting vows. Sometimes it’s just enjoying that person’s company.

So, no, I don’t necessarily think you need to confront your friend about her being in a relationship even if she has sworn up and down in the past that she doesn’t want to be in one. (Didn’t you see “500 Days of Summer”?)

If she starts complaining about this relationship specifically, then that is when you need to talk with her about it. You apparently don’t know for certain that he’s the one pressuring your friend to be different than she wants to be. Her caving in to his pressures about the seriousness of the relationship is a touchy subject, and personally, I wouldn’t touch it unless she brings it up, first. Of course, I don’t think “confront” is the right word for how to react in that case; the word I’d look for here is “support”. Also, the old fashioned “I told you so” isn’t really the best idea, either. If she starts complaining about him, then by all means, encourage her to break the thing off. But only if she starts the convo.

But if she’s enjoying herself with this new fellow, and he’s not cramping her style, and maybe she’s actually happy, no. Let descriptive rules trump prescriptive rules (which they always will, btw), and go with it.


letting someone know about an STI

Reader H. G. asks:

I think I might have an STD. What’s the etiquette on telling past partners? I know I should tell them, but how far back should I go?

Dear H.G.:

You are a good, responsible person. Just so you know. If more people were like you, less ashamed of their situation than determined to stop its evil spread, we would have fewer drug resistant strains of whateverness floating around and wreaking havoc. So I applaud you.

Now, for your plan of action.


Whoops. Image: Darren Robertson /

First and foremost, you need to make sure you actually have the STI (BTW, they changed the acronym from STD to STI, to make it less heinous or something; even VD has good PR these days, FYI). Go find a clinic and get tested. Planned Parenthood is usually good, if you can wade through the anti-choice protesters. Your GP is an even better choice. Man up (woman up, either way) and get to a doc. Otherwise you’ll be spreading useless panic, which is almost as bad as the STI. And with how much hypochondria this country has over sexually transmitted infections, you may be panicking needlessly, yourself. If you’re a lady, it could just be a yeast infection or a bacterial infection — both easily cured and relatively tame. Keep that in mind. Sometimes what we think are weeping sores are just irritated skin.

If it does turn out you’re infected with something, you’ve got a bit of work ahead of you, and some of it can be really hard. Suck it up. You’re doing this for the betterment of humanity. While you’re at the doc, ask as many questions as possible about what the STI could be, when you could have gotten it, how long it takes to gestate, how easy it is to infect others while wearing that condom I’m sure you were wearing, etc. Some STIs manifest themselves as soon as seven days later; some take six months or more. With some, you may not even ever have symptoms, and the partner you got it from probably didn’t either; all the more reason for you to tell them so they don’t spread it around.

Next up, make a list of all the people you have slept with, in a safer manner or otherwise, in the past six months. Include people you’ve had any kind of  genital contact with, even if it wasn’t full on penetrative sex.  (Yes, hand jobs and BJs count here, kiddos.) If you’ve only had one partner, you’ve got an easy road and he or she has a lot of ‘splaining to do. (Not really. Unless you were in what you thought was a committed relationship for longer than six months and he/she gave you something there’s no way you could have gotten from a toilet seat… then there’s lots of ‘splaining and, I am assuming, breaking up to be done.) If you’ve been with multiple partners, you’ve got to decide how you’re going to tell all of them. Yes, all of them.

STIs can be passed regardless of how in love you are with someone or how long the relationship is going to last. What I mean is, they come from long-term partners and one-night-stands alike. The length of your relationship with someone should dictate how you tell them. If it was a long-term bf/gf, call them up. It’s the right thing to do. They’re not going to be happy, but they should be grateful you told them (eventually). Tell them where you got tested or where you would recommend they go, to help them out. And maybe offer your moral support. Having an STI can make you feel like a leper, as I’m sure you already know. Your ex will probably be feeling the same way.

For shorter-term partnerships, a text may be sufficient. “Hey, sorry to tell you, but I was diagnosed with [name of STI here] and I think you should get tested; I’d recommend [name of clinic here].” Done.

If you’re not on speaking terms anymore, or are just too embarrassed to bring it up in person/text/phone calls, there’s a wonderful site called INspot where you can send your (former) partner an anonymous email telling them they should probably get tested. The site will also recommend nearby testing sites, which makes things easy. I do not recommend using this as an anonymous tool to scare your hated ex– that’s not just cruel; technically, it’s also harassment. Furthermore, your ex will probably guess it’s you, and then you’re in trouble. And that brings up another issue with using this site — if you’re the only person someone has slept with in a while, they’re going to know it’s you, and having them call you up and ask why you sent it anonymously could be even more awkward than the text message would have been in the first place. So use this site wisely, kiddos.

The good news is, once you know what you have (or if you have anything), you can probably get treated easily. In spite of all the hype, the majority of STIs are curable and probably won’t ruin your ability to have babies some day. Also, you’ve got your head in the right place to ask what you can do to stop the spread of disease, and again, I applaud you.

But I’ll applaud you even more if you promise to use condoms and be careful about who you sleep with and what you do with them from now on. And, you know, if you swear to be abstinent until you’re totally cured. Please.


used toys

Reader I. F. asks:

I was in a long-term relationship for almost a decade with a partner who shared all of my favorite kinks and fetishes. When he left, I got to keep most of the toys, like harnesses, vibrators, dildos, etc. I’ve started seeing somebody new who’s into the same kink as me, but I’m not sure if I should bring out the old toys or not. What should I do?

Dear I. F.:

It sounds like you built up quite a repertoire with your last partner, and I’m sorry you two had to go your separate ways. That can be a very special sort of relationship, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. But it sounds like you’ve found someone new to play with, which is fantastic, too! So congrats!

Regarding the toy use: You’re going to have to search your feelings and those of your partner. Obviously, there can be a certain “ick” factor to using intimate items that, while they may have been sterilized, have been used for, well, intimate events. Also, there are a lot of memories that go into those toys — not just when you used them with your last partner, but how you got them. This is especially true if you were in a monogamous relationship. Are you really ready to try and have fun with a new partner while using your old partner’s toys?

Your new partner may have absolutely no problem using the same harness you shared with a lover for ten years. Or he may associate it with your ex. It’s important to take his feelings into account, even if you’re okay with recycling.

My gut says that you should consider getting a new boudoir going with your new lover, especially if you mean it to be a long-term, monogamous situation. A casual encounter with a vibrator that a hook-up has is no biggie, but using the strap on that you used with only one partner for almost a decade on a new partner can seem a bit… callous is the first word that comes to mind, and I don’t want to say weird, but it’s somewhere between those two.

If you use your toys with any one who comes to bed with you, by all means, feel free to continue sharing. (Make sure you’re safe about it! Clean clean clean and condoms condoms condoms!) But if these are emotionally-meaningful items for you, it’s somewhat disingenuous to use them with a new lover, even if he shares the same kink. It’d be like using the same wedding dress for your second wedding. Or your third. While functionally okay and probably really economically sound, it’s just emotionally awkward.

I do know toys are not cheap! Which is why I would advocate selling the really expensive, reusable ones. There’s got to be a market on eBay or Craigslist for slightly used leather, whips, chains, etc. You’re probably going to have to recycle the dildos and vibrators, no matter how clean you get them. Keep things you had before you met your ex, but anything that reminds you of him should probably go away.

I’d also like to point out that our love and sex lives tend not to care about how much money they cost us. What I mean is, yes, you’re probably going to have to reinvest in a lot of new toys over time with this new person. Sometimes money cannot be an object. Sigh as you give up the money you may have spent on these items, but be glad about the memories you had with them and the joy of having someone new to share upcoming excitement with.


homoerotic fantasies

Reader G. J. asks:

I’ve been maried for five years, and my sex life is pretty good.  But I can’t stop fantasizing about having sex with another man.  I don’t think I’m gay, since I love my wife and am very turned on by her.  But I’m not sure if I should tell her about my fantasies about men.  What do you think?

Dear G.J.:

I have to preface this by saying I’m not a psychologist or a sex therapist. But I have read a lot.

Many religious institutions posit that thinking something sexual is tantamount to doing said sexual thing, i.e. if you’re fantasizing about committing adultery against your wife, then you’re basically doing it. If you or your wife subscribe to this religious point of view, you’ve got a world of counseling ahead of you that I can’t help you with.

Outside of the religious sphere, most sex therapists and psychologists agree that sexual fantasies are a natural, healthy part of life. Part of what makes human beings so interesting is that we can have an entire world going on in our brains that never has to come out in the “real world”. In fact, many people enjoy sexual fantasies in their minds that they would never participate in, even given the opportunity to do so.

Sleeping woman

Who knows what she's dreaming of? Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

You’re not weird for having homoerotic fantasies while still maintaining an attraction to your wife. If these fantasies were stopping you from enjoying sex with your wife, then I’d say there’s something else going on. There are studies out there that would tell you that men are only turned on by the kind of sex they enjoy — either homosexual or heterosexual — leaving no room for bisexual men. But I think that there’s a lot more going on in the individual psyche than these studies allow. I don’t think you’re gay, either. You may be bisexual, or you may just have homoerotic fantasies. Sexuality is a spectrum, especially when you get down to each individual and his or her own preferences. I firmly believe no two people are alike, and categorizing people, while it may make it easier for us to find partners (you’re straight, I’m straight; you’re gay, I’m gay), doesn’t necessarily help us in our sex lives.

In terms of telling your wife about these fantasies, I endorse it wholeheartedly. An intimate sexual partnership only gets stronger when you divulge your inner life to your partner. Sharing fantasies is one reason people have intimate sex in the first place. Maybe your wife has always had a fantasy about a threesome with another man. Who knows what her fantasies are?

Of course, as I’ve said in other posts, most people don’t get married so they can have sex with other people. (Some make arrangements to that effect, though.) She may, however, be willing to indulge your fantasy in other ways. Perhaps she’d be up for getting a strap on? Or maybe she’d be up for watching gay porn with you? (Those same studies that say there are no bisexual men have shown that women are turned on by any kind of sex. Like, watching animals have sex turns women on. The only problem is, most of the time the women are just not aware that they’re turned on. Go figure.) It depends on how open your wife is to experimentation, and how comfortable you are including her in it.

Furthermore, if these fantasies are bothering you, talking about them with her can only help you. Getting them out in the open is the best way to decide what to feel about them. There may be something else going on in your head you’re unaware of. While homoerotic fantasies are not unusual or unhealthy in a straight man, they may not be based on something as simple as attraction to other men. Is there a specific man you’re fantasizing about? Are they fantasies about dominance or being submissive? These are all things you may want to discuss with a real therapist.

In terms of how to tell your wife about this, it all depends on your relationship. You have made it clear that you’re not dissatisfied with her, and I would make sure that she knows that when you divulge this information to her. Some women are very touchy about this sort of thing — if you’re having fantasies about someone else, how can you possibly be satisfied with her? Let her know that these are fantasies, and have nothing to do with reality. Let her know you haven’t acted on them, and that you’re not planning to, but that you wanted her to be part of your interior life. Sharing your fantasies should be an intimate, warm time, not a fight. She should be aware that this sharing makes you completely vulnerable. In fact, I would set it up so she has to share an equally intimate secret with you in return.

I wouldn’t be surprised if your fantasies regarding men change after you tell your wife. They may grow stronger or they may dissipate completely. That’s another interesting thing about the human interior life — it is constantly morphing, often without our notice or permission. It’s actually rather wonderful.

Good luck!



Reader J.H. asks:

I recently heard about the phenomenon of “Vajazzling”, and was wondering how ladies feel about it. As a guy, I think I would be freaked out if I ever came across it.

Dear J.H.:

First, we must define terms here.

According to Wikipedia (the most reliable source EVER):


Imagine these, but all over your hoo haa. Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Vajazzling is a spa treatment that involves decorating the skin (mons pubis) above the female genitalia with Swarovski crystals and letter stickers. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt brought the term into the public domain when she used it as the name and topic of a chapter in her book, The Day I Shot Cupid (2010). The name is a portmanteau of the words vagina and the “as seen on TV” product the “Bedazzler“. The procedure was popularized by the Completely Bare Spa in New York City.

If we take this definition apart piece by piece, I can come up with at least a few reasons why I would personally avoid this process like the plague:

– Swarovski crystals ain’t cheap.

– “Letter stickers”? Are we seven?

– Jennifer Love Hewitt always looks like she’s going to cry.

– The “Bedazzler” makes me ill just by merit of its existence.

Of course, this is a personal taste issue here. Every woman (and every dude) is going to have a different take on this. Some ladies are totally into spending tons and tons of money on a procedure that probably won’t last longer than a week at most. I can’t imagine it lasting even that long, given the amount of rubbage from underoos and other clothing items that normal people’s mons pubises must go through. Perhaps the concubine of a wealthy sultan in a very warm nation could stand around naked for several months and the Vajazzle would last, but most of us don’t have that kind of time or the willingness to stand out in the cold shivering to protect our Swarovski crystal glue-ons. Also, there’s showering to consider.

The fascination with decorating our vaginas is extremely interesting to me. I understand the utility of a clit piercing — more stimulation, right? But sheer decoration, with no real purpose or residual pleasure, baffles me a bit. You can’t even blame the Vajazzle on personal grooming, like you can with a Brazilian wax or shaving (“It feels cleaner!”). And furthermore, can you even see it without the aid of a hand mirror?

We’ve seen this before to some extent with the rise (small though it was) of pubic hair designs and dyeing, a trend that’s apparently huge in Brazil. (I seriously want to study pubic hair in Brazil. There must be a grant for it somewhere. It’s clearly a sociological issue that needs a case study, at least.) I can understand how it might be liberating to trim your pubes in a design of your choosing, a design that few or no other people may ever see.

But gluing crystals to your snatch seems a little far fetched. And perhaps even dangerous.

Is it feminist to want your coochie snorcher to look like a princess? Does it make you feel more confident throughout the day? Or is it just about doing something a bit scandalous that could titillate a partner upon “discovering” your Vajazzle? And is that inherently feminist in any way?

I think I’ll chalk this one up to people with too much money and time on their hands, but I’d like to hear what some of my fellow lady friends think.


Oh, and guys — what would you do if you got down to bidness with a lady and discovered she had, like, your name above her vajayjay, spelled out in crystals?


drop it like it’s hot.

Reader M. U. asks:

I’ve kind of been seeing this girl for a while, and she’s nice, and she’s pretty, and she’s smart, and all that stuff you’re supposed to want. But she just doesn’t ring my bell. We’ve kept it pretty casual, and I have no idea if she expects more out of it. Full disclosure: we have slept together a few times, and the sex was fine. But I just can’t envision anything long term.  I know girls tend to want more out of relationships than guys. Should I break it off now?

Dear M. U.:

I fully accept it’s a cultural assumption that women are geared to want totally different things than men, like commitment and a family and all that jazz. It might be true in a general sense — as in, if you take account of all the women in the world, more of them want more commitment and a family than do men — but on an individual level, some girls want exactly what some guys want: an easy physical relationship with no strings attached. (And yes, some guys want commitment, too. And families.) My first point here is that I think you’re generalizing too much. If she hasn’t actually told you she wants a long-term thing with you (or with anyone, for that matter),  and she hasn’t tried to step it up with you from a casual relationship, she may be as non -plussed with you as you are with her, whether she subscribes to those stereotypical feminine desires or not.


This may not actually be what she wants. Image: graur razvan ionut /

Beyond that, the thing about breaking up with someone is that it’s a formal affair. You can’t throw a formal affair over a casual relationship. Breaking it off formally will just make it more serious than it was to begin with. If you are honestly afraid that you’re going to waste your time on her, or that your own drive towards intimacy is going to thrust you into a relationship you’re not ready for (which is much more important than your fear of her desires), then by all means, quit calling her and let the casual relationship come to a casual end.

If she thinks your relationship is more serious than you do, she may want an explanation. You should certainly give her one, if she asks. It doesn’t have to be, “I’m a catch, and you’re not,” or anything so cruel. It could just be, “I don’t see this going much further.” Please don’t be ridiculous and tell her that you don’t want to hurt her feelings. No matter how true that is, it always comes across as disingenuous from the person doing the breaking up.

Some girls prefer the cut-and-dry method, where you have a nice yelling fit over the phone or throw a drink at him and say you’re never going to see him again. I prefer the “suck up your pride and delete his phone number since he hasn’t called in three weeks” method. It all depends on your girl. If she is as traditional-sounding as you seem to think she is (in the “what I want from a relationship” sense, I mean), then giving her an explanation is the noble thing to do. Otherwise, you’re just stroking your own ego, thinking that you’re the one guy who could make a casual relationship worth having a real break up for.


how will i know

Reader J. H. asks:

How can I tell if a girl likes me? I’m trying to get together with one, and I really like her, but I don’t know if she returns the feelings. Is there a way to tell?

Dear J.H.:

Human beings, while being complicated and very interesting, are often completely predictable, especially when it comes to attraction. There are definitely signs that someone will give off when they’re interested, regardless of whether they intend to or not. This is part of what we call “chemistry”.


Image: Francesco Marino /

When I was a good church-going girl, I can remember one sermon a youth pastor taught us on “The Five Ways People Show or Accept Affection”. The idea in this sermon was that most people show how they feel or understand how someone else feels based on five different ways of showing affection (easy enough, right?). Everyone  has her own special combo of the five ways, and will understand that you love her if you show her love the way she shows you love. It’s not just romantic love here, but also that platonic stuff between family members and friends.

The five ways were physically (not just in a sexual way — it also includes hugs, innocent touching, etc); by spending time (just sitting, or watching TV, or running errands with you); by talking (BSing on the phone, over a meal, whatever); by doing services (unloading the dishwasher, say); and by giving gifts (a mix CD, or a cookie, or, hey, a car).

I found this to be an interesting idea then, and I still believe in it to some extent now. If you can figure out how someone shows their affection, you can figure out first of all if they like you, and secondly how to show that affection back. This latter clause is important, because she may be wondering if you like her, too. It’s a two-way street most of the time, and if you show her you like her in a language she can understand, she may return the favor.

I always make note of a few things when I’ve met someone new, whether or not I have romantic feelings for them myself.


Usually someone who’s at least physically interested in you will find an opportunity to touch you, even unconsciously; for instance, after you’ve told a joke, she’ll hit you lightly on the arm. She probably won’t even realize she’s doing it. Take note of what happens when you go to touch her — does she touch back? Does she shy away? Obviously this is something you should notice.

Effort to spend time

Are you the one doing the texting/emailing/phone calling/date planning? If she likes you, she’ll want to hang out with you, and she’ll make the effort to do so,  preferably on an equal basis with you. I have sometimes looked at a relationship and realized that I was the one doing all the calling and planning. When that happens, I cut ’em loose!

Telling her friends

If she likes you, she’ll probably talk about you with her friends. If you know her friends, they may mention this. If you don’t know her friends, she may mention it in conversation: “I was talking about you (or us, or that thing we were doing yesterday) with Suzie and her opinion is…” While this isn’t necessarily about showing you affection, it does mean you’re on her mind.


I often look at my “relationship” with people to see if they are returning my texts, IMs, or phone calls, or if I’m the one doing all the talking. If the latter is the case, I tend to delete their number from my phone so I won’t be tempted to call or text, and see if I hear anything from them.  I’ve lost contact with a few people this way, but at least I know how they really felt about me. While some people don’t necessarily enjoy talking, most people who are interested in someone will at least return the IM or the text, and generally do it in a quick manner. If she’s a talker, she’ll be calling you all the time.

Special services

This one’s rather rare in someone who you haven’t been dating for a while, but if someone offers to help you clean your house, get your dry cleaning, wash your car, or to pick you up from the airport, she probably likes you. If you’re moving in the next few weeks, see if she volunteers to help. That’s a sure sign.

Little gifts

As I said before, if someone likes you, they’ll be thinking about you. If she hands you something one day because “I saw this and I thought of you”, it’s solid gold — she likes you (and you know she’s a gifter). Other “little gifts” can include posting things on your Facebook wall (Youtube videos of a band she thinks you’d like, say), texting you when she sees something that reminds her of you (maybe a picture message of an inside joke), or IMing you links to Webpages that back up her point of view on a conversation you were having the day before.

Figure out how she shows affection, and if she’s showing it to you. Then figure out how you can show it back in the same way she’s putting it out. That way, the lines of communication are as clear as they’re going to get, without you having to ask her, “Hey, do you like me?”

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