love

The Gentleman’s Guide to Post-Hookup Etiquette

A must-read for men. Originally published at GQ.com. illustration by Cecile Dormeau. 

You’ve probably done a lot of research on what to do during sex. Which is to say, you’ve probably watched a lot of porn. But porn doesn’t teach you much about what to do after you’re done hooking up (usually in porn they just do more sex). When a new lady in your life invites you back to her place, there is post-coital etiquette you must follow to show that you are not only a good lover but also a decent human. So read on to learn how to politely dispose of condoms, when to head back to your place, and why you must text the next day—even if it’s just a one-night stand.

When can I go home?

To spend the night or not spend the night post-smashing is a personal decision. As an insomniac, I empathize with people who don’t spend the night after sex. Plus, I have cats. I don’t bring my Ambien with me or leave out food for my cats unless I want to marry you or, like, you flew me to an Airbnb in Paris. Try to make it clear, before you go home together, that you’re not staying over. If she invites you over but you know you want to sleep in your own bed, just say, “I’d love to come back with you, but I have to get up early for work and have trouble sleeping in new places. Do you mind if I don’t spend the night?” If you’re sincere, it shows. After sex, cuddle and bask in the afterglow. Talk. When your heartbeat has returned to resting and you’re both getting sleepy, say something like, “I had a wonderful time with you. I’m going to head back to my place now, but I’ll text you later.” Leave, and actually text her. Add a rose emoji.

What if I want to sleep over?

Ask her if she’s cool with it.

What if she has roommates?

Good for her, she sounds like a hardworking and self-sufficient woman without a trust fund. Her roommates are adults and they know the drill: You’re the boy who just banged their friend. Put on a shirt (yes, even you, you gym rat) on your way to the bathroom. Smile and wave. You can say, “Hi, I’m Pat” (or whatever). But don’t make it weird. Don’t try to be cute or chime in on what’s going on if they have Riverdale on. Just smile and pee (in the bathroom, with your shirt on). PUT THE SEAT DOWN.

What do I do with the condom(s)?

Don’t just yank the condom off and throw it on the ground like a child angry at a tie his mother made him wear to church. Definitely don’t flush it down the toilet, because that could clog her pipes (keep that for the bedroom, heh heh). Tie the condom up so your manly expulsions don’t spill everywhere, and throw it in the trash like an adult.

What if I want to take a shower?

If you’re a Virgo or a Catholic, you might be itching to shower after sex. But don’t bounce off to the shower the second you pull out. That will make your bedfellow feel like a used receptacle instead of a wanton sex goddess. Don’t shower alone at her place, either. It reeks of “I’m going home to my wife.” Why not extend the naked time and shower together? If you’re tuckered out, you don’t have to bone again, just scrub-a-dub-dub and then return to bed so fresh and so clean.

What do I do the next day?

Text her. Yes, even if it was casual. Yes, even if it’s a one-night stand. Why? Because intimacy is not exclusive to “serious” relationships. Casual sex, when done properly, is insanely hot and lustful but still intimate and respectful. You just have to be an adult about it, and understand that the person you’re boning is also an adult with thoughts and feelings. So text her to check in, to simply say you had a nice time, to ask if the hand prints from the spanking are still there, or to ask her out again.

Advertisements

How to Date a Rape Survivor – Latest Article for VICE Broadly

Originally published in Broadly.

We’ve all got baggage. Adding an extra layer to the muddled waters of dating is the highly common and formidable post traumatic stress disorder that can arise from a sexual assault. For me, help came through medical cannabis and a partner down to go down on me while I watch Planet Earth and sip valerian root tea while listening to the calming voice of David Attenborough. RAINN estimates an average of 293,066 Americans (age 12 or older) are victims of sexual violence each year, so it could happen to you or your partner as well.

“Chances are very good that they will date a sexual assault survivor because the rates are so high,” says psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg. “When you are dating or having sex with somebody, you’re interacting with them on the same level which they were violated. So that makes it so tricky.” While all relationships, individuals, and healing processes are different, there are certain general things one can do when dating a survivor of sexual assault.

First and foremost, believe them. “When people tell you their stories, believe them,” says Dr. Greenberg. “The likelihood of someone making that up is probably very, very low. Listen and believe them, and don’t feel like you have to fix things for them, or that you can fix things for then…Let them speak.” In other words, shut the fuck up a bit and let them tell their story – in their own time. “If you love someone, or even if you don’t love them and you’re just trying to have a positive sexual experience with them, you need to let them really sort through it at a pace and level of detail that’s comfortable for them,” says Emily Lindin of The Unslut Project and UnSlut: A Documentary Film which explores sexual shaming, including interviews with the family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons was a 17-year-old Canadian student who reportedly hung herself after sexual bullying resulting from photos that surfaced of her alleged gang rape.

When it is appropriate to chime in, it’s important to ask the right questions. “The right questions are not: ‘What happened? Where did you get touched? Where were your parents? Were you drunk?’ Not any accusatory or judgmental questions. Don’t ask about details, ask about triggers,” says Dr. Greenberg. It’s important to go over triggers to prevent a survivor from having to relive an experience. A trigger is something that can remind you of the assault and cause flashbacks. It could be anything from seeing someone on the subway with a similar tattoo to your assaulter, or hearing a word or phrase they used during the attack, or being touched in an unintentionally similar way. It’s shitty for everyone when during sex you’re trying your hardest not to spiral into full panic attack because your boyfriend accidentally did something that surfaced flashbacks from your assault, and it’s also really frustrating to have to listen to them whine about how usually they are so great at getting chicks off with the exact move that’s causing your flashback.

When dating a sexual assault survivor, sometimes you just have to be patient and learn not to take things personally. “This is a tough one, but you really have to work on not taking it personally. Because it’s due to the trauma and not you,” says Dr. Greenberg. “You have to be patient. You’re going to learn how to be gentle, to avoid the triggers, and how to make it a safe and lovely experience. And be forgiving… as they trust you more, things will become easier.”

For some women (and yes – men can be sexual assault survivors too) you’re dealing with persistent old scars that just don’t want to fade. For others, like Kara*, who survived a rape in the past month, her and her boyfriend Jon* are having to navigate triggers bubbling up from a very fresh wound. “What’s so disheartening is that she’s blaming herself, and that she’s responsible for it, or maybe she didn’t do enough stuff,” Jon told me. “I have to encourage her that it’s not true.” The root keeping Kara and Jon strong is that, when they discuss her rape, he remains respectful and reminds her of the number one rule – it wasn’t your fault. Period. “He’s been really helpful, because I’ll sit here and get upset and blame myself and he actually reasons with me,” says Kara.

“When we brought [Kara] to the emergency room, she was covered in bruises, like big hand print bruises,” said Jon. “She [said] ‘I don’t know maybe I didn’t do enough… I bruise easily,’ and I was like, ‘We wrestle, all the time. In bed.’ I’ll put my butt on her face to fart on her. And I was like, ‘You try really hard not to let me fart on you, don’t you?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah, I try my best.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah every time we wrestle you’re trying really hard, but you’re not left with any bruises on you. So when you were in this struggle obviously you were fighting very hard not to leave these bruises.”

As Boyfriend of the Year as Jon seems, he understands that to get through this, Kara will need to see a professional trained in treating assault victims. “He’s been trying to get me to talk to a counselor, which, I will…” says Kara. In order to encourage her, Jon said, he “bribed her with a kitty.” “He did, he’s like you can get a kitten…but you can’t talk to it like your counselor, you have to actually go. It’s a really tiny kitty I think it will help just to take care of something. Putting the love and energy into it,” said Kara.

“You’re going to need to go to therapy and see a crisis counselor – as soon as possible. Because the sooner you see a crisis counselor the less likely you are to get post traumatic stress disorder. They found that with trauma victims are helped immediately they’re much more likely to have a positive outcome,” explains Dr. Greenberg. The healing from a sexual assault is a lifelong process. Even with patience, respect, and time, surviving a rape is something you have to carry with yourself for the rest of your life. Yet, you’re still you. You still want to drink herbal tea while your boyfriend eats you out, or you’re still are going to have to smell your boyfriend’s smelly farts. Life stops for nothing.

“Acknowledge that it is a really important part of their history, [and let] them know that you’re ready to listen when you’re ready to talk, and that you respect them,” says Lindin. “I think it’s important to remember that sexual assault survivors don’t stop being adult humans because they went through this.”

Is My Sex Life Emotionally Scarring My Cats?

I wrote this for Broadly. Image by Kat Aileen.

Dating is terrifying and breakups are agonizing, but thankfully humans have friends and the pharmaceutical industry (actually, cats have that too) to help us get through it all. I live with two marmalade tabby cats, Major Tom Cat (Tommy) and Mama Cat. You’ve got to be a very attractive person to lure me out on a Friday night when I could be home with them and a plate of nachos. Recently I went through a rather traumatic breakup and am back in the saddle (OkCupid). I know I eventually will be fine, but what about my cats? Are they doomed to a life of personality disorders and abandonment issues? To learn more, I spoke to Elise Gouge, MPH, owner of Pet Behavior Consulting, LLC and certified animal behavior consultant and trainer. I refrained from asking her about why Mama Cat sometimes tries to curl up on my legs when I’m using my vibrator, as I assume it’s simply because she wants a massage too.

Broadly: I co-adopted Tommy with an ex-boyfriend, who was a major part of his life until recently–how can divorce/break ups/the absence of one partner affect cats’ behavior?
Elise Gouge: Cats form strong attachments with their caretakers, and the loss of one or both can have a profound impact on behavior. It’s not uncommon to see grief behavior and distress such as vocalizing, searching behavior, restlessness, loss of appetite, changes in litter-box or grooming habits, and general malaise.

In the past month my cats have taken to licking and swatting me awake at night– is there usually any cause for this behavior other than wanting food?
Changes in behavior may be due to wanting more attention or needing more enrichment. If the cats were used to a certain level of activity, and that has now decreased due to one person leaving the home, they could be frustrated or stressed. The licking and swatting could be attention-seeking behavior or stress-related to the changes in the environment.

Can cats pick up on your emotions–in this case being very sad and hurts with lots of crying because you were dumped?
Absolutely.

If you are single and bring different men home, can the influx of strangers affect a cat’s mental health?
It depends on the cat. If a cat is by nature a social and friendly feline, then meeting multiple people will be exciting and fun. If you have a cat with a more reserved or shy temperament, having multiple strangers enter the home will be increasingly stressful.

It seems new partners can almost make a cat jealous! Is this a thing?
The concept of pets feeling jealousy is widely debated by animal behaviorists and consultants. Some feel that pets absolutely feel jealousy, and others believe that jealousy is a term that carries a lot of negative stigma that should be separate from how we define our cat’s behaviors. It is true that if your cat is used to spending 100 percent of his time with you and suddenly another person is occupying your time and the cat now only has access to you 50 percent of the time, he will most likely show some stress behaviors.

For cats, vying for your attention through vocalizing, knocking things over, scratching, etc. can be common. From the cat’s perspective, he is simply doing things that result in the desired goal of getting more attention from you. If a cat (or any creature) does a behavior and it creates a desired result, the cat is going to do it more often. This is called positive reinforcement.

When cats watch people having sex–do they know what’s going on?
Cats would be sensitive to the smells, the changes in energy, the sounds and motion. Sexual contact, heightened levels of emotional or physical arousal, are all things that can impact a cat’s behavior.

My older cat Mama has now had two different “fathers” (ex-boyfriends of mine) do such changes–along with moving apartments–have a detrimental effect?It depends on the cat’s temperament. In general, cats are not fans of change. They prefer things to stay the same. Some are better than others in adapting and changing as the environment requires.

My cat has seemed to like some men more than others! Should I consider this information when deciding to get serious with someone?
If you are a dedicated cat owner and plan to have cats in your life for many years to come, then I would advise making sure you pick partners that share your love of cats. Your cat will be happiest with a person who is genuinely fond of, delighted by, and interested in him or her.


It depends on the cat’s temperament. In general, cats are not fans of change. They prefer things to stay the same. Some are better than others in adapting and changing as the environment requires.

My cat has seemed to like some men more than others! Should I consider this information when deciding to get serious with someone?
If you are a dedicated cat owner and plan to have cats in your life for many years to come, then I would advise making sure you pick partners that share your love of cats. Your cat will be happiest with a person who is genuinely fond of, delighted by, and interested in him or her.

Sociopaths Confirm: They’re Great in Bed (But They Might Treat You Like a Houseplant)

I spoke to three diagnosed sociopaths for VICE about love & sex.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to relationship experts about what it’s like to date a sociopath for another VICE article. After the article was published, I received a few from actual, diagnosed sociopaths wanting to share their experiences. Writers are used to getting weird emails; I ignored them at first. But their words stayed with me, and eventually I gave in to curiosity and decided to hear what they had to say. I spoke to three diagnosed sociopaths—Jessica, Alexander, and Taylor—about what it’s like to date, fuck, and fall in love as a person with antisocial personality disorder.

Jessica Kelly is a transgender 30-year-old from the Midwest. Jessica runs the blog called Psychogendered and does not use a pseudonym. Alexander*, a 23-year-old man living in Los Angeles, proves that sociopathy isn’t binary, and that some sociopaths are very giving in bed. And Taylor*, a 40-year-old man living in Chicago, is in a happy and kinky relationship with his live-in girlfriend, whom he describes as a “budding sociopath.”

My conversations revealed that while the relationship experts weren’t totally off-point with their warnings, sociopaths are also very compelling individuals. They will probably make you come, but they also might view you as a houseplant.

VICE: So how were you diagnosed as a sociopath?
Jessica Kelly: My diagnosis story was a bit unusual in that I was diagnosed in my late 20s. My relationship with my ex-husband was fading fast. He gave me an ultimatum to either get help for what [we] thought was just simple depression, or get out. So I spent the past four years in therapy dealing with my own various mental health issues, and we noticed that depression just didn’t explain a lot of my traits. It didn’t explain my emotional indifference to other people, my inability to feel love, my various sordid experiences earlier in life, so on and so forth. [My therapist] had me read Confessions of a Sociopathbecause she wanted to introduce me to the possibility in a [gentle] manner. I read the book, I found that it resonated a little bit, and then we started exploring the possibility of antisocial personality disorder. As we started putting the pieces of my life together, it fit like a glove.

What has your experience with love been like?
It seems like love is one of those self-evident truths that a lot of people hold onto. Some people describe it as a pitter-patter or a deep conviction for another person. Whereas for me, it’s much more possessive. There’s no real emotional state involved, but there’s a feeling that it would be unfortunate if the partner would leave. It’s kind of alien, kind of like trying to explain color to someone born blind.

We were having sex one night, and he asked me point-blank, “Do you care if I enjoy myself?” I told him, “No, it’s all about me.”

So then what is the appeal of a romantic relationship that is more than just sex?
I do value companionship, but it has to be on my terms. The analogy that I like to use is that those around me are like potted plants. I like to water them, I like to look at them, but ultimately if I don’t want their attention, I want them to leave me the fuck alone. What may set me apart because I was in therapy—I still am in therapy—is the approach [I took] in my marriage and the approach I would take now are vastly different. Previously, I didn’t really care whether or not my partner’s needs were met. I don’t want to imply that I care now, but I realize that there is a self-serving interest.

Another thing that is common with a lot of sociopaths is what I like to call “bait and switch.” A lot of people with ASPD will be on their best behavior during the courting phase of a relationship, and then once the relationship is secure, they just say “fuck it.” I don’t want to use the term “lazy,” but they kind of revert back to their antisocial roots. That’s what happened with my husband. I was on my best behavior until we were engaged and then I kind of went back to my potted plant analogy: He’s mine now, I don’t have to do shit.

How did the relationship ultimately end?
It’s interesting. The fatal blow—and this ties into sex a little bit—is that one of my flaws is being honest at the wrong times. We were having sex one night, and he asked me point-blank, “Do you care if I enjoy myself?” I told him, “No, it’s all about me.” I think that’s how sex is experienced for a lot of sociopaths, as a one-dimensional and one-party experience. If the other partner enjoys themselves, it’s kind of secondary.

—————-

VICE: Tell us about your diagnosis story. Did you always feel different?
Alexander: I think part of me has always known. I think back to times when I was really young and certain social interactions didn’t make any sense to me. They still don’t. I was in a theater camp and someone asked me why I wanted to act, and I said because I always acted, which was true. I didn’t realize the significance of that until probably around my junior or senior year of college, when I started taking my mental health more seriously and started seeing counselors. My main disorder is an anxiety disorder rooted in ASPD tendencies.

Are you dating anyone at the moment?
No, I am not.

When you’ve dated in the past, did you reveal your diagnosis?
It’s difficult for me because I’m not necessarily a romantic person. But I did end up dating someone for four years. We were more friends than anything else, but we were monogamous. And yes, she knew. I ended up telling her about a year in and we talked about it.

What was her reaction?
Well, she understood, which was good.

Will you elaborate on what you meant when you said that you’re not really a romantic person? How do you think your experience is different in a relationship?
It’s a difficult question to answer because a lot of my friends will say, “Oh, I’m in love and I can’t stop thinking about her.” These are things that don’t make sense to me. I don’t have that sort of attachment to people. I have friends and I will have sex with my friends. I do, from time to time. But I don’t have the need to be in a relationship with someone.

It’s not like I don’t want to feel connected with people. I’m a lonely guy because I can’t connect with people on this basis.

So what was the benefit for you in staying with the same person for four years?
It’s a matter of finding someone who understands. In my case, she—well, it comes down to mental health. She understood that I wasn’t doing well, and in effect she wasn’t doing well, and we ended up bonding over that and became close. It’s the benefit that I think anyone seeks: not being alone.

What do you think are some misconceptions of ASPD and the dangers of dating someone with such a diagnosis?
There’s this reaction that people with ASPD or “sociopaths” or “psychopaths” don’t deserve humanity, don’t deserve to have the connection. And, for me at least, it’s not like I don’t want to feel connected with people. I’m a lonely guy because I can’t connect with people on this basis.

It’s often said that sociopaths are manipulative. Is this true for you?
I mean, I can be manipulative. I have been in order to pursue professional goals. Never in my relationships, but that’s because I value my friendships so highly, because I have so few of them.

Let’s talk about sex. I’ve heard that sex with sociopaths can be one-sided. Is this true for you?
Oh god, it’s the exact opposite of it all being about me. Sex was actually the first time that I connected with someone on a personal level. Because before that, I didn’t have any avenue to connect with someone in a way that I could understand. The way my ASPD manifests itself is more the reptilian brain, the part of me that is angry or fearful, or that has a need for sex. That part is still expressed, but the rest of it is muted. It’s like I’m emotionally colorblind.

But then when it comes to sex, it’s sacred. It’s one of those things that I thoroughly enjoy: providing pleasure. Being able to give someone something that oftentimes, because of the way we treat sex in our culture, people haven’t had.

——————-

VICE: So how were you diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder?
Taylor: I found out in therapy, in high school.

Did it come as a surprise? Had you felt different than other high school kids?
It didn’t come as a surprise when my psychiatrist said that. I remember being 13 and being asked what I was good at, and my reply was “manipulating people.”

Will you tell me about your current relationship status?
I’m dating and living with someone.

And she knows about your diagnosis, correct?
One hundred percent.

How did you tell her and what was her reaction?
It was an interesting thing. I was pretty honest from the get-go, and I sort of sensed it in her also. I wouldn’t say that she’s a full-blown sociopath, but she is certainly a budding one.

It’s the same with sex as it is with relationships: I pay attention more. If I’m pleasing them, they’re certainly going to be pleasing me.

Have you had any negative experiences sharing your diagnosis with previous girlfriends?
Absolutely. I had one tell me that I wasn’t a real person. That I was inhumane.

What is your perception of love?
I don’t have that surge of emotion that most people do. I feel things, but in a very quiet kind of way. The way that I look at it is that I do love her, but it’s about respect. It’s about seeing her and knowing her and appreciating her, I would say more on an intellectual level. But there is a romantic part to it as well.

What are some common misconceptions you’ve noticed about dating a sociopath?
One is that they’re trying to hurt people. I have the capacity to [hurt others] without feeling much regret or remorse, but it’s not something that I set out to do. Another is that we seek out weak-willed partners, someone that is easily manipulated. While I’m sure that’s true in some cases, I find myself drawn to intelligent woman with high self-esteem. A person that needs constant reassurance or can easily be beaten down doesn’t hold my interest for very long. It’s far easier to be with someone that knows how to accept a compliment and isn’t filled with self-doubt and self-loathing.

Can you tell us about your sex life? Some experts say that sex with a sociopath can be intense and passionate, but also selfish and one-sided.
Here is the part where I get to brag. I suppose that I certainly can be selfish, if I’m having a shallow one-night stand. But the things about sociopaths—at least for me—is that we’re very good at looking at people and seeing them and understanding them and using that to our advantage. On the other hand, when you actually can see someone and know who they are, you can prop them up as much as you can break them down. It’s the same with sex as it is with relationships: I pay attention more. If I’m pleasing them, they’re certainly going to be pleasing me. My current girlfriend and I have a pretty radical sex life. It’s incredibly kinky, and we’re very open. We have multiple partners. We don’t see other people but we see people together.

That’s a great set up. Have you used your sociopathic abilities to your advantage with sex and dating?
Absolutely. I mean to be honest I can’t tell you how many women I’ve been with. If you can have sex with someone and just blow their mind, they are certainly more willing to overlook other deficiencies. And it’s a good way to rope and reel them in.

VICE – FLIRTMOJIS ARE EMOJIS FOR DIRTY SEXTING FIENDS

For my latest sexy-tech reporting; I made friends, interviewed, and sexting with the creators of Flirtmojis, filthy emojis that encourage safe sext (and have more than one skin tone!) From VICE:

Traditional emojis have been criticized for their race problem. Does Flirtmoji reflect America’s diversity?
Katy:
That’s obviously a problem we’ve had with the present emojis. It’s taking an aggressive stance by just having one skin color. It’s not good for people. It’s not good for feeling like you’re represented. You can see that we’re thinking and using a variety of skin tones that we’ve developed. We have a light, a medium, a dark, and then this sort of alien option—this green option. It’s non-identifying; it’s open to everyone.

[Flirtmojis] we’re planning on launching soon are genitals and body parts, each one in every color. So you could go here, you could see [different colored genitals]—we have 20 pussies for example. There are different types of vaginas, there are different labial folds, and they’re in each color. And that’s really important to us—this idea that you could go to the site and you could find your genital that you identify with based on your anatomy and the color of your skin.

Girl Talk: Dating As A Sex Writer – First post for THE FRISKY

For my first post for The Frisky, I wrote about what my poor boyfriends have to endure while dating a sex writer.

As a sex writer, I can attest to the usefulness of personal anecdotes in writing. (See: This article.) People tend to be more interested in learning about “sounding” (the practice of inserting objects up the urethra) when you can describe a British man exhibiting such a kink in your bed after a tea date than simply an interview with a sexologist on the practice standing alone. Less clinical, more relatable, with a punch of humor. “The truth is stranger than fiction” said Mark Twain, although I don’t think he was referring to pinkies up pee-holes. While the general population tends to appreciate such tales, the one reader group that grimaces, perhaps secondary to my parents, are my boyfriends.

Enjoy the article in its entirety here.