Author: Saint Thomas

What to Say When Your Girlfriend Gets Cosmetic Surgery

Read my sexy lips.

This article was originally published in GQ. Illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

Recently I got lip fillers. I did it for myself, not “for a guy,” and my new lips look great (they look like my usual lips, but fuller and with a little Cupid’s bow). But when I told the men in my life what I was up to, they didn’t really know what to do with it.

From Donald Trump’s sexist tweet about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s supposed facelift to Rob Kardashian’s bizarre social-media meltdown about Blac Chyna’s plastic surgery, there are a lot of examples of how not to speak to and about women who elect to get cosmetic procedures. Maybe you’d be stoked if your girlfriend announced that she wanted to get work done. But you might also feel apprehensive, especially if your lady is planning a nose job or a breast augmentation, more drastic procedures that require anesthesia. You respect her and you love the way she looks already, and that’s beautiful. But when she brings up getting work done, give her the benefit of the doubt: Trust that she’s put thought into this and done her research. If all she wants is a little Botox or lip fillers, chill. Ask her why she wants it done, and listen. Express your thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her choice. Ultimately, you should support it. It might end up turning you on.

Don’t be like Donald and Rob—here’s what to say and do to be supportive each step of the way:

Before: Don’t Overdo It

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” is at its core a supportive sentiment, and an important (albeit Bruno Mars-y) one. However, if your partner is telling you that she wants work done, please don’t undermine her intelligence and right to choose her own aesthetic by defaulting to praises of natural beauty. I, for instance, already have pink hair and eyelash extensions. Whenever a dude waxes poetic about how lovely I’d look if I let the pink wash out and opted for my natural brown hair, I feel like he’s undermining my decisions. I don’t feel like myself with long brown hair, I feel like myself with a messy magenta bob, damnit! The same goes for getting work done. When I first announced that I was going to get lip fillers, one guy said something mean about how I “just wanted to feel better about myself.” Well, in a sense, yeah—I wanted them because I enjoy feeling hot and powerful and I like how they look. Please don’t patronize me, or any woman, by assuming the desire to get work done is to fill some soul hole. Respect that this is my body, my choice, and my money, and if I want some Lana Del Rey-esque pouty lips, then that’s up to me. Don’t assume or say anything that infantilizes a woman’s choices about her body. And for fuck’s sake, don’t say something plain mean like “that’s gross,” because I know you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram.

During: Be There in Person or in Texts

If your lady is getting something done that requires anesthesia, such as a nose or boob job, it might be nice to go with her, but injections are so quick that it’s not necessary. If you can’t join her on her beauty expedition, encourage her the day of and check in throughout in a supportive—but not annoying—manner. She’s about to experience a teeny bit of pain. Feel free to ask her, “Does it hurt?” and then laud women for having such high pain tolerance. Sitting in a comfy chair in Dr. Dara Liotta’s pristine Manhattan office, I loved getting my lips done. I have ten tattoos and enjoy BDSM so I may not be the best judge of pain threshold, but injections are truly no biggie. If you’re curious and want a fair comparison, I went to the dentist earlier that week and that sucked a million times more. Dr. Liotta’s office was sexy. Getting work done really does feel sexy, so totally amp that up—either verbally, if she allows you to accompany her, or through texts. Ask her things like, “How you holding up, champ?” or joke around about celebrity sightings. Truly the best things you can say during the procedure are words of encouragement, such as: “You got this! You’re going to look even hotter, if that’s possible.” Those newly plumped lips will reward you.

After: Give Her Soup and Space

If you want to score all the points after her procedure, bring her things like delicious soup, frozen yogurt, and ice packs. Snuggle up with movies or a House of Cards binge-watching session. Know that she may not be able to continue a conversation because her lips are sore. And if she wants space, give her space. Regarding lip augmentation, it takes a day or so to go from swollen to sexy—for other procedures it can take a lot longer. You know in High Fidelity, when John Cusack talks about his girlfriend’s plain cotton underwear “hanging on the thing,” and how there are parts of intimacy that aren’t inherently sexy? John Cusack fantasizes about other women, knowing that they too probably have cotton panties, but he only sees them in lingerie. Your girlfriend might not want to taint the sexy intimacy with this moment of puffy-lipped un-sexy intimacy. If you are allowed over to watch her attempt post-procedure ramen slurping, make sure she’s comfy, and if you make any jokes about how she looks puffy, do it with love. And then, yes: Please let go of any hang-ups you might have, and enjoy her beautiful newly plumped lips, which she elected to get done just because she wanted to. Since you’ve been so supportive of her choices you get to have fun with those suckers!

7 Things You Should Know Before Trying Butt Plugs

I wrote a butt plug bible for Allure. Image courtesy of Allure.  

If you’re not familiar with the joys of butt plugs, allow me to introduce you to a versatile toy you can enjoy regardless of gender, orientation, or genitalia. If you have a prostate, butt plugs can stimulate it, and if you have a vagina, a butt plug can create incredibly pleasurable pressure on the back vaginal wall. That’s not to mention that the anus itself is also surrounded by nerve endings. Whatever the reason you’re keen to dive into the world of butt plug play, there are a few things you should know first for a comfortable, safe, and sexy experience.

That’s just the intro. Because this article comes with seven must-have butt plug recommendations and corresponding images, I’m going to make you head over to their website to read it….so, click here

Missionary Position Is the Kinkiest Sex Position

This piece was originally published in Glamour. Photo courtesy of Stocksy. 

I have a controversial statement to make: The kinkiest sex of all happens in missionary position. Hear me out! When films present a female character as a takes-what-she-wants, raunchy femme fatale (think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct), she’s usually on top during sex. Yes, pinning down your partner while using your hips to ride them can make you feel powerful. It also can allow for some intense clit-to-bod contact, which rules. But is it the hottest? I’m inclined to say nah. For me, despite society’s insistence on dipping missionary in vanilla, it wins the kink (and feel-good) contest.

But first, here’s my theory on why men love it when a girl gets on top: They’re lazy. Being on top is a CrossFit-level workout (or so I imagine—I’ve never tried CrossFit). The structure of the heteronormative missionary position—although the same idea is applied to sex between two people with vaginas when one is wearing a strap-on—requires some serious upper body strength, not to mention nailing the proper speed and rhythm of thrust (no jack-hammering, please). While there are no scientific studies at this time to back up my theory, I’m convinced that when a dude says, “Now you get on top,” it’s usually because his arms are sore, not because it’s the sexiest or kinkiest pose—even if it’s hard to argue with the spectacular boob view that girl-on-top provides.

But it’s hot to be on the bottom! Feeling someone’s body on top of you, thrusting, drenching the both of you in sweat, all the while maintaining eye contact? While doggy-style often gets the credit for being particularly kinky—and hitting it DS is dope for deeper penetration—you can risk some neck injuries turning around to throw some sexy eyes at your partner. When you’re on your back and want to get kinky, you can ask your partner to call you the dirty bedroom name of your choice without hurting yourself! And while being on top means you can control the depth of penetration—great if your partner is on the bigger side—in my experience (all vaginas are different, after all), missionary means more profound penetration than girl-on-top.

What’s more: Missionary is the best for masturbation. It’s a fact that at least three quarters of women need clitoral stimulation rather than vaginal penetration alone to get off during the deed. Many a sex position guide will tell you that when you’re on top, you can rub your clit or add a vibrator. Maybe it’s my poor coordination, but when I’m on top I’m focused on hip thrusting, booty bouncing, and perhaps a set or two of squats. Now I’m supposed to also add a hand or a toy? Too much multitasking. I’ve found that adding clitoral stimulation with my hands or a vibrator (and thus, orgasms) becomes far easier when I’m lying on my back. Kink for me usually means toys, and I’ve found using handcuffs and nipple clamps (they can slide off when you’re bouncing up and down) is far easier and thus more kink-friendly, in missionary.

I’m not done yet! While on the bottom during missionary sex, you can switch it up endlessly. You can lift one leg (or both!) for such intense stimulation you may need a quick breather. You can throw a pillow under your butt. You can wrap your legs like a pretzel around your partner and pull him or her closer to you. Yes, missionary can be a little vanilla. But have you seen the sheer array of toppings available?

And if you’re in the mood for something other than vanilla, missionary is the ultimate transition position. With a simple flip, you can turn over onto your belly for doggy-style, or get on top for cowgirl to give your partner a workout break. If you want to get a little selfish (and you totally should), missionary makes it easy if you want to ask your partner to pull out and go down on you for a bit.

In conclusion, the words missionary position may invoke visions of awkwardly losing your virginity or your parents conceiving you to the smooth sounds of Steely Dan’s Aja. But don’t be fooled by these unfortunate images: Missionary is the kinkiest.

This article is part of Summer of Sex, our 12-week long exploration of how women are having sex in 2017.

 

Shibari Is A Beautiful Form Of Japanese Bondage — & It Demands Respect

This article was originally published in Refinery29. Image courtesy of Refinery29.

For the average person who dabbles in bondage, adding a pair of handcuffs to their sex life is just a fun way to mix things up. For those who practice shibari, a specific type of Japanese rope bondage, it’s not just BDSM — it’s an art form.

Shibari is a Japanese word that literally means “to tie,” says Lord Morpheous, sex educator and author of several books on rope bondage, including Bondage Basics: Naughty Knots and Risque Restraints.

But let’s make one thing clear: If you’re new to bondage, (a.k.a. restraint play), shibari is probably not the best place to start. Simpler forms of bondage, like sex handcuffs or bed restraint kits, are easier to learn and use safely. “An absolute beginner might want to get a wider taste for several bondage styles and techniques before they focus on shibari,” Morpheous says. However, shibari instructors say that, for those who are more advanced in bondage and drawn to the visual delight of shibari rope patterns, there’s nothing better.

Unlike many forms of bondage within BDSM, shibari isn’t usually meant to foster a sense of helplessness and humiliation for the person who’s tied up (which many submissive people desire). “Shibari, conversely, focuses on the art, beauty, and geometry of the tying style over and above these things,” Morpheous says. But shibari practitioners’ emphasis on the craft itself doesn’t mean it can’t be an intensely erotic and spiritual sexual experience. “It fosters a real connection with your partner or partners, even when there is no other contact or erotic content to the play session,” Morpheous says. (But again, there are plenty of easier ways to achieve this connection, like using scarves or belts as basic restraints in a consensual dominant/submissive scenario.)

While it’s okay for anyone interested in shibari to safely explore the practice, it’s important to understand that shibari has a deep and rich cultural history. “I personally think one should study its history and origins, both Eastern and Western, because it’s interesting and helps one understand certain cultural meanings to why things may be done a certain way that doesn’t necessarily apply to our modern sentiments anymore,” says Kissmedeadlydoll, a New York-based rope bondage educator.

Morpheous says the practice originated from a Japanese martial arts tying style called “Hojōjutsu,” which the samurai used as a method of restraining captives. From there, it merged with “kinbaku,” the erotic practice of rope bondage. Jimi Tatu, a shibari and kinbaku educator, says that kinbaku is a prominent term still used in Japan to describe the act of binding things tightly. “In the West, these two terms have been merged into one, so what we refer to as shibari now is basically erotic, artistic rope bondage,” Morpheous says (though he says that “purists hate that”).

Along with learning about about shibari’s history, it’s important that people interested in trying it take the proper safety precautions — someone’s going to get tied up using heavy duty ropes, after all. Not to mention, shibari is often used in suspension situations, in which the person who’s tied up is dangling from the ceiling, so a lot could go wrong. “It is risky and requires attention to the details,” Kissmedeadlydoll says. If you’re interested in learning and practicing shibari, start by reading a book on the practice (Morpheous has written many) or attend an in-person workshop or class. Kissmedeadlydoll also suggests always keeping safety shears nearby, and both she and Morpheous recommend using rope made of a firm vegetable fiber called Jute.

Does this all sound complicated? That’s because it is. So, if you’re champing at the bit to give shibari a try, just make sure to do your homework before inviting someone over for an evening of beautiful, erotic bondage.

How to Tell Your Girlfriend You Still Talk to Your Ex

This handy heap of advice was originally published on GQ.com

Deep breath in, then exhale: It’s not cheating if you still talk to your ex girlfriend. Phew!

If you’re like, “Her? Gross! Meg broke my heart. Why would I want a reminder of that period I pretended to like Dave Matthews Band? I don’t WANT to talk to her”—great, you’re in the clear. But perhaps you shared a deep love with your ex and even though the relationship didn’t work out, you still want to catch up every once in a while. That’s totally chill.

Which is to say, it’s totally chill if your current partner knows you’re still talking to Meg. If she has no idea, you’re being a sneaky dick. Sorry. So here are three tips for telling your current partner about your friendship with your ex in a manner that will allow you to keep them both in your life.

1. Make Sure You’re Over Meg

Here’s the thing: Women know everything. I’m not going to tell you how, but it’s true. If your girlfriend doesn’t already know you’re secretly waxing poetic with your ex via late night text messages, she will soon. So be up front about it. First thing’s first: Why are you up late texting Meg “Crash Into Me” lyrics? Are you miserable in your current relationship and perhaps harboring some unresolved romance for the one that got away? If so, you need to have a larger conversation. But maybe you’ve just had a late-night recollection of the time the Dave Matthews Band tour bus shit all over Chicago and you want to tell Meg because you know she’ll laugh. Go for it! We should never stop talking about that great moment in American history. But even if you just want to be friendly with Meg and maybe get lunch with her when she’s in town, you still have to tell your partner. If you’re wondering if the nature of your friendship with your ex is appropriate, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if it would make you uncomfortable if the situation were reversed.

2. Don’t Tell Her, Ask Her

As stated, your new lover probably already knows that you’re talking to Meg. So just be chill, upfront, and honest about it, as soon as possible into your current relationship. Say this, casually: “Hey Sasha, after Meg and I broke up we kept in touch. She won’t be a huge part of our lives or anything, but we text from time to time and occasionally we grab lunch or coffee and catch up. Does that bother you?” Chances are Sasha won’t be thrilled, but if she’s an understanding, mature human, she’ll understand and allow it. Asking her if she’s okay with you and Meg keeping in touch gives her an opportunity to be Cool Girlfriend. (She’s probably also been in touch with her exes, and your honesty will guilt-trip the crap out of her.)

3. Never mention Meg again.

Never.

Why Aftercare Is The BDSM Practice That Everyone Should Be Doing

You can read out all my articles for Refinery29 here. PHOTOGRAPHED BY ISA WIPFLI.

If you’re unfamiliar with the BDSM scene, you might think it’s all whips, handcuffs, and pleasurable pain, but there’s one important element that BDSM practitioners have built into their sex lives to make sure that everyone involved feels safe and cared for after play time is over: a practice known as aftercare. And whether you’re into BDSM or have more vanilla tastes, aftercare is something everyone should be doing.

In the BDSM world, aftercare refers to the time and attention given to partners after an intense sexual experience. While these encounters (or “scenes,” as they’re called) are pre-negotiated and involve consent and safe words (in case anyone’s uncomfortable in the moment), that doesn’t mean that people can forget about being considerate and communicative after it’s all over. According to Galen Fous, a kink-positive sex therapist and fetish sex educator, aftercare looks different for everyone, since sexual preferences are so vast. But, in its most basic form, aftercare means communicating and taking care of one another after sex to ensure that all parties are 100% comfortable with what went down. That can include everything from tending to any wounds the submissive partner got during the scene, to taking a moment to be still and relish the experience, Fous says.

“Specifically, with regards to BDSM, the ‘sub-drop’ is what we are hoping to cushion [during aftercare],” says Amanda Luterman, a kink-friendly psychotherapist. A “sub-drop” refers to the sadness a submissive partner may feel once endorphins crash and adrenaline floods their body after a powerful scene (though dominant partners can also experience drops, Fous says).

Of course, you don’t have to be hog-tied and whipped to feel sad after sex. One 2015 study found that nearly 46% of the 230 women surveyed felt feelings of tearfulness and anxiety after sex — which is known as “postcoital dysphoria” — at least once in their lives (and around 5% had experienced these feelings a few times in the four weeks leading up to the study). Experts have speculated that this may stem from the hormonal changes people (particularly those with vaginas) experience after orgasm, but many also say that it can come from feeling neglected. The so-called “orgasm gap” suggests that straight women, in particular, may feel that their needs in bed are ignored. And Luterman says that people in general can also feel lousy post-sex if they’re not communicating about what they liked and didn’t like about the experience.

Clearly, taking the time to be affectionate and talk more after sex — a.k.a. aftercare — can make sex better for everyone, not just those who own multiple pairs of handcuffs. So what does that mean for you? It depends on the kind of sex you’re having, and who you’re having it with.

Like we said, there are lots of guidelines for BDSM aftercare, specifically. If you’re having casual sex, aftercare can mean simply letting your guard down and discussing the experience, something that can be scary to do during a one-night stand. It’s definitely dependent on the situation, but Luterman says that you can just express that you had a good time and see if they’re interested in seeing you again (if those are thoughts you’re actually having). “People want to be reminded that they still are worthwhile, even after they’ve been sexually gratifying to the person,” Luterman says. If your experience didn’t go well, it’s important to voice that, too.

And those in long-term relationships are certainly not exempt from aftercare, Luterman says. It’s something couples should continue to do, especially after trying something new (such as anal sex), she says. Did the sex hurt? Do they want to do it again? What did they like and not like about it? You can’t know what your partner is thinking unless you ask them. Plus, it can be easy for long-term partners to feel taken for granted, so making sure to cuddle, stroke each other’s hair, and savor the moment after sex can make even the most routine sex feel special.

One thing we should all keep in mind? It can also be helpful to continue these conversations when everyone’s vertical (and clothed) and any post-orgasm high has faded.

At the end of the day, aftercare is just a fancy term for making sure everyone’s happy once the sex is over. And while communication needs to be happening before and during sex as well, having these discussions afterwards comes with an added bonus: You can learn from the experience so that the sex is even hotter the next time.

3 Easy Ways to Impress Your New Girlfriend’s Friends

Illustration by Cécile Dormeau, originally published in GQ.

It happened. After seeing each other for a few months, your girlfriend has invited you to meet her friends, and you’re apprehensive. They’ve heard all about you (yeah, they know what your dick looks like). You’ve heard all about them: Ashley intimidates you. You’ve already met Molly through other friends and are worried you made a pass three years ago at a holiday party. You like your girlfriend—maybe you even love her. Now you need her friends to like you, too. Here’s how:

Show Up

Once I was dating someone we’ll call Trevor, who didn’t want to meet my friends. I was young and in denial. Of course, it turned out he had another girlfriend in another New York City borough. Before I figured this out, my friends warned me: “We haven’t met Trevor—is this an actual relationship? Are you sure he’s real?” Then one day, when I was taking Trevor to buy a coat (which is a major girlfriend request from someone playing me, by the way, Trevor), we ran into one of my friends on the street. She said out loud in complete disdain, “Oh, my God, you are real. Nice to meet you.” Women are smart. It’s a major red flag if someone doesn’t want to meet your friends. Don’t be like Trevor, who has since been banished from the city. If you’re exclusive and/or have been going out for more than a few months, you have to show up when your girlfriend invites you to meet her friends. And once you’ve shown up (on time), really show up: Make some jokes, ask sincere questions about her friends’ interests, and act affectionate toward your girlfriend. They’ll love you.

Know When to F*ck Off

Avoiding meeting your girlfriend’s friends is suspect, but not knowing when to step back and give her time sans boyfriend is even more annoying. No one likes a significant other who comes to every single happy hour or brunch. Sometimes women can be complicit in dragging their boyfriend everywhere, and if that’s the case, talk to her about it. She needs alone time with her friends. You need alone time with your friends. One of the secrets to a successful relationship is having time with your buddies to bitch about said relationship. Don’t be the clingy boyfriend at all social events wearing an Apple Watch that alerts you whenever your girlfriend tweets (I’ve seen this happen, and the relationship did not work out).

Know That They’re Watching You

Regardless of how amazing you are, your girlfriend is going to talk about you. There are glass-half-full people who can’t stop raving about their perfect relationship, but most of us are cynical assholes who only open our mouths when we want to bitch about something. If she finds out you’ve been texting with your ex, her friends will hear about it. If you come home after taking mushrooms with your friends and start humming “Your Body Is a Wonderland” during a hand job, her friends will hear. A measured appreciation of early-aughts John Mayer is normal. So is getting into a tiff over an ex. However: Acting controlling or overly jealous, or screaming at her, is neither healthy nor normal. If you act like that, she will tell her friends and they will tell her to dump you, regardless of how good your jokes were at brunch. The real secret to winning over your girlfriend’s friends is treating her with respect.