Friday, November 6, 2009

Fear and Clinging

We all borrow trouble when approaching relationships by imagining problems and bad outcomes that haven't materialized--the relationship monster under the romantic bed. Other times, to avoid loneliness, we grasp and cling as if to a lifeboat in a threatening sea.

Both of these, fear and desperation, are turn-offs to a partner. And, in turning off a partner, the fears and aversion and grasping become self-fulfilling prophecies and self-reinforcing dynamics. Turning worse can push a relationship to be worse still. The relationship can get sucked down a vortex.

Yet, few things feel better than having an appealing partner approach us with interest and a desire to please. And in being pleased and desiring to please in return, the positive, harmonious aspect of a relationship can also become self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing. Reaching pinnacles of intimacy and joy can pull a relationship even higher.

And thus, romantic relationships become roller-coaster rides. Commonly, the crashes are more destructive than the pinnacles are positive. Experience enough cycles, and one becomes resigned to solitude of one sort or another. This can be actual solitude, or the solitude of a lifeless relationship, or the solitude of a life consumed by work and responsibilities, or the substitute of a pet who is at least constant.

The overall picture, for so many people, is just sad. With the right mind-set, good attitudes, and some healthy habits of interacting, we could all do so much better with each other.

We are a social species. Positive relationships with others are as vital to health and a good life as vitamins or exercise or oxygen. We resign ourseleves to eating spam in the dark, when--with a little insight and emotional courage--we could be enjoying feasts in the sunshine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

An Aborted Relationship: Trying Too Damned Hard

We had such an awesome, fun, invigorating first date. This doesn't happen on first dates. Like, ever. Connections on levels of mind and humor and openness and affection--heady stuff!

Then follow-up texts and IMs and e-mails in a massive flurry. Not talking on the phone, I don't like phone conversations much. Something about the lack of body language makes the diembodied voice less comfortable than words on a screen, for one who writes easily.

I zoomed down pathways of thought that didn't jibe with her. Not seeing the widening disconnect--no moment-to-moment dialogue for course correction. Then, a collision and instant sudden fatigue from the stress of what bewilderingly turned into instant, distasteful drama.

Damn. damndamndamndamndamndamn.

I feel sad and guilty and ashamed. Not that I did anything malicious or hurtful or even rude. But I'd stumbled headlong into being tedious and distasteful, and completely spoiled the promise of a remarkable, lovely relationship. Trying too damned hard. Way too hard.

Shit. shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshtishitshit.

It's sad. Because I know how hard it can be to face life's challenges alone, how much easier and happier life is with a good life partner. I know from experience that a good life partner can help me be a happier, healthier, more effective person. I know from experience that I can help a partner in the same way.

Failed beginnings are common. There wouldn't be anything special in this failure except the start seemed so great. And "great" doesn't mean "fall instantly and insanely in love." No, it means seeing myself and another in a realistic vision of shared joy and laughter and personal growth--likely with a lot less pain and grief than most relationships. An exceptional match that not only felt right with the heart, but looked right with the mind.

This, an aborted beginning of a hugely promising relationship, for the second time in a year. Sigh. I'd give up on trying and join a monastery, except I'm virtually already in one. I'm well-versed in making lemonade when life throws lemons. But what to do with bitter ashes?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Supernatural Efforts

                            Supernatural Efforts

She had to make a supernatural effort
not to meet him again.
And she failed in that effort.
Betrayed by her own passions,
Seduced by his desire for her.
"Screw the cats," he exclaimed.
"Screw next month or next year,
for that matter."
The interred spirits in the graveyard
feigned outrage at the disruption,
as scents evoked memories of passions past.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sexuality, sexual minorities, BDSM, relationships, and neural science

Sexual minorities are forced to think about sex, applying reason to an area of human experience that most people seem unable to discuss with maturity. That is, if what I do and what I like is very different from what most people seem to do and like, then I'm constantly challenged by myself and others to explain "why?"  

If you think about what's important to humans deep down inside, sex would probably average priority #3 or #4, at least from puberty to late middle age. But if you think about the greatest pinnacles of human achievement and advances in understanding, they lie in areas that would rank in the bottom 1% of any normal person's priorities: science, technology, physics, mathematics, engineering, information technology.

In 5,000 years of civilization, we went from invention of the wheel to walking on the moon. It took those same 5,000 years of civilization to reach a rough consensus that women have a G-spot. Un-freakin'-believable. Try to examine these two contrasting facts from the perspective of an alien being studying humanity. It's not that human's don't spend time, money, and effort on what's important to them; sexuality is the foundation of most industries in one way or another. Apart from watching TV, sexuality is surely is what drives much of our leisure interests, directly or indirectly. We just seem to be, as a species, incapable of applying our reasoning abilities to one of our top personal priorities:  sexuality.  

You see this in day-to-day life all the time. Take a group of the smartest, most mature, most respected persons, bring the topic to anything frankly sexual, and everyone generally blushes and giggles and turns into 12 year-olds.

My interpretation, coming from a medical/scientific/biological mindset, is to explain this on the basis of complex neural mechanisms. One set of our brain parts is the primitive brain and "limbic system" which drive emotions and drives of hunger, fear, anger, sexuality, sleep, etc. A different area of the brain (frontal lobes mostly) drive reason, thought, logic, abstract thinking. No neurologist has found connections or mechanisms between limbic system and frontal lobes that inhibit each other's activity (as far as I know), but our brains seem to act as if there are.

So, when you're hungry, cold, or angry, you have a very hard time calculating the square root of 8. Or translating the Declaration of Independence into Latin. On the other hand, when you're immersed in an intense game of poker or engrossed in a page-turner novel, you might not notice that you haven't eaten in 12 hours. Activity on one side of this thought/drive divide suppresses the other.

Now, me, my brain seems to be wired a little differently than most. I think about everything, all the time, in ways that seem to strike others as unusual. Viva la difference. We all bring different strengths, weaknesses, and gifts to the world. When in the heat of passion, no, I'm not likelty to be thinking about the tissue pressure inside the corpora cavernosum, but I'm probably a heck of a lot quicker to have that thought cross my mind than most people. Or how the surge of prolactin in the brain is likely to affect emotional experiences.

So I've gotten interested in the people and behviors of minority sexual groups, like BDSM. In part, because less-common behaviors and perspectives are still an important part of this poorly-understood realm of human sexuality. But also because people in it are more likely to have something intelligent and interesting to say about sexuality and their own experiences than people whose preferences and experiences are more narrowly average or typical.

I don't get turned on by specific activities or roles. But as a prospective partner to a woman, I am very interested in what different kinds of approaches, roles, techniques, or mindsets might be desired or needed to please her and enrich the relationship. Personally, what turns me on is turning my partner on. If her being blindfolded and in four-point restraints allows her a fuller experience, I'm eager to go there. If being severely spanked turns her on, then I need to get my head around the paradox of lovinginly inflicting pain on a loved one to please her by inflicting a kind of violence. That's not easy for me to get into, but I know that for some individuals, that kind of experience *can* please, can satisfy, can give joy, and can enrich a relationship. So depriving a loved one of experiences like that is unkind.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Worrisome Correspondence

A reader forwarded a very disturbing e-mail from a BDSM site.  The sender's profile describes a woman, but the sender is clearly a disturbed male.  See profile of  "needhelp2" :

The e-mail sent was as a novice sadist seeking advice from an experienced dominant.  Disturbing:

From: needhelp2 
Dated: 9/27/09 2:54 AM   (GMT -5)

Hi there. I have a cousin who is extremely hot. She is a female model. For over 5 years now, i have had an obsession with her, to the point of where i have had to quit my job. I have found that every single day i obsess about tying, enslaving and torturing her. I feel due to her looks, that she is 100% perfect for bondage and bdsm and should spend the rest of her life enslaved. She is extremely hot, and it has come to the point where i do not know what to do anymore. She has no personal interest in bondage at all, but in my mind, i dont care about that, and i feel she should be forced into it whether she likes it or not. I am looking for some advice on what to do. I am male, and my cousin is a 24 year old female model. I have blackmail information on herself and her manager which could be used to blackmail her manager into letting her go and helping, as he has her on strict contracts and basically controls all her actions currently, but i know blackmail is illegal. If you saw a few pictures of her i think you would understand my obsession and see what i mean. I am happy to provide some on yahoo messenger photoshare if you want to see a few.

I appreciate any advice anyone may offer. Thanks." 

That author's profile on the site would seem to describe the intended victim:
Description:             Female Submissive
Country:                   UK
Height:                      5'7"
Age:                           24
Orientation:              Straight
Ethnicity:                  Caucasian
Last Online:              09/30/09
My sane (if slightly kinky) reader reported this message to the site and responded to the sick guy:

BDSM is either consensual or a serious crime. You must see a psychiatrist for your obessive disorder. This is very, very dangerous for everyone.  

The site replied with only a canned response suggesting that posts describing illegal activities should be reported by the recipient to the authorities.  Of course, only the site itself can determine where the sicko lives, and thus which police to contact.  A response to the site administration pointing this out received no reply.

So, if anyone knows a hot 24 year-old UK model with an extremely disturbed male cousin, you might want to pass this information on to warn her--her life is in danger.  

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dr. Gräfenberg's area: The "Grave-Spot" ?

Mindboggling. Absolutely unbelievable. BBC World News website article:

The G-spot 'doesn't appear to exist', say researchers
The elusive erogenous zone said to exist in some women may be a myth, say researchers who have hunted for it. Their study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine is the biggest yet, involving 1,800 women, and it found no proof.

The King's College London team believe the G-spot may be a figment of women's imagination...

Pardon my ironic language, but I'll be happy to draw those "researchers" a F***ING MAP !!!
This isn't philosophy, religion, or social commentary, the issue here is basic human sexual physiology. Let me lay out some facts from a medical background, from widespread knowledge, and from personal experience.
1. In men, the prostate gland is, for some, a definite erogenous zone. Some men can reach climax by having their prostate gland stimulated. This simply factual, common knowledge. For complicated psycho-sexual-social reasons, this fact is widely acknowledged among gay males but remains true also true for many heterosexual men.
2. Some men don't find prostate stimulation to be arousing. This should not be surprising. Some men are aroused by nipple stimulation, some aren't. I'm sure there are men and women who can achieve climax by having their foreheads rubbed. Some women, and maybe a very few men, can achieve climax by mental activity alone, with no physical stimulation whatsoever.
3. Therefore, to say "erogenous zone X doesn't exist, it's a myth," is utter absurdity. There is a lot of individual variation in sexuality. There may be some people who get aroused by having their second left toe stroked. If there's more than a few such people, it's reasonable to speak of the "SLT-spot." To show that the SLT-spot doesn't exist, you'd have to work individually with many, many people and determine whether arousal happens in some through stimulation of this spot. Nobody has ever done such a study on any erogenous zone.
4. Back to the G-spot in particular. The anterior vaginal wall where this area is located is EXACTLY where a woman's prostate gland would be, if she had one. That prostatic glandular tissue isn't present here (just below the bladder neck) doesn't mean that the same nerve cells a man has in this area don't exist in a woman. It just means they don't have a prostate gland in particular to innervate.
5. Under sexual arousal, pelvic tissues in both sexes can be engorged, beyond just the penis and clitoris. For example, the prostate gland can swell with sexual stimulation. Presumably, specific autonomic nerves cause blood vessels in specific areas to dilate.
6. As a doctor, I've performed hundreds of "bimanual pelvic exams." This means feeling a woman's pelvic anatomy from my fingers in her vagina. I've also had, under completely different circumstances, the opportunity to feels these same tissues in a few women during intense sexual arousal. In some women (not all), the labia and areas in the lower vagina become engorged. They just don't feel like they do during a clinical exam, when a woman is (generally) not aroused.
Some of this striking, palpable engorgement is inside the anterior, lower vagina, just below the bladder neck, exactly where a woman's prostate gland would be, if she had one. Not all women seem to have tissue here that becomes engorged during arousal. Stroking this area commonly is experienced as intensely pleasurable by many women. Some of these women have no apparent tissue engorgement here at all, but still find the stimulation pleasurable.
The BBC article conflates "female ejaculation" with the G-spot. These are different issues, but not unrelated. In my experience, a women who achieves climax with stimulation of her G-spot commonly has prodigious release of vaginal secretions. Sometimes, this is in a sudden rush. Whether some of these experiences might be urination is commonly debated. It's clear to me, though, that many experience of large fluid volume release have nothing to do with urine. I strongly suspect a rough correlation in women among the tendency of this tissue to become engorged, the degree to which simtulation of this area is pleasurable, the amount of vaginal secretions released in total, and the likelihood for a rush release to happen that corresponds to "female ejaculation." In essence, though women don't have an actual prostate gland, some seem to come fairly close to having some of the functions of one, including the area being erogenously sensitive and involved in release of secretions during arousal and orgasm.
The quality of the stimulation is of some relevance. Stroking the mucosal surface here with minimal pressure doesn't seem to do much. Somewhat firmer pressure of the deeper tissue is what arouses. This is, again, exactly as with the prostate. Lightly stroking the anterior mucosal surface of the rectum doesn't do much for a man with a sensitive prostate; massaging the gland itself with deep pressure is what arouses (so I've heard, anyway).
The very same woman who typically has a lot of fluid release around orgasm with stimulation of her G-spot may have very little fluid release with orgasm achieved mostly through clitoral stimulation. Women fairly commonly report that they experience different kinds of orgasms depending on what kind of stimulation is used. There is no reason to doubt that this kind of personal experience corresponds to sexual physiology, though the physiological details aren't clear.
So, for the "researchers" in London: there most certainly is a G-spot in many women. It either doesn't exist or is of no importance for some women. It is intensely sensitive and important to many others. The location is in the tissues just below the bladder neck, exactly where a man's prostate would be. Note that this area is not well stimulated by intercourse for most women. When adequately engorged, however, stimulation during intercourse could definitely happen, but I doubt many women experience that degree of engorgement of these tissues. (Bladder prolapse might promote stimulation of this area with intercourse--perhaps one mechanism for a few older women becoming more sexual with advanced age). The only commonplace way that this area becomes fully stimulated is with skilled human fingers. Appropriate physiological studies to prove the importance of the G-spot are feasible. However, attempting to demonstrate the sexual physiology of the G-spot through questionaires is simply ridiculous.
The study described by the BBC compared rates of self-reporting of "I have a G-spot" in women with twins, either identical or not. If identical and fraternal twins share the same rates, then identical genes do not add to the probability of a trait, and genetics are probably unimportant. This method is appropriate for determining the contributions of genes and environment to complex human traits, like mental illnesses or athletic ability.
However, the hypothesis they have failed to exclude, and which is plainly true, is that the majority of women have a G-spot, but that most have never "discovered" it, because they've never had it stimulated by appropriately skilled fingers (their own or another person's). Thus, genetic influences in the probability of "having" a G-spot (really, having "discovered" it), truly has almost nothing to do with genetics, and almost everything to do with personal experience. This is exactly what the researchers found, and they have utterly misinterpreted plain, simple facts.
The human species has been obsessed with sex for all of recorded history. How can these basic, simple, clear, straightforward facts about human sexual physiology not be clear to science? It is all simply mind-boggling.