How to Not be “That Guy” Review

A few weeks back I was able to attend a seminar by Charlie Glickman and Sabrina Morgan entitled How Not to be “That Guy” at Playground conference.  If you’re a twitter follower of mine, you already know I was tweeting a bunch that weekend; but I didn’t feel right live tweeting in that space.  For me, “creepiness” is such a loaded and often shameful topic for people I didn’t want to risk people feeling like they couldn’t share honestly and openly.  So instead I made notes to share with y’all.

As someone who is super enthusiastic – yes, sometimes to the point of making other’s uncomfortable – and has a lot of strong, forward energy, creepy is an issue near and dear to my heart.  I know I’ve left a creeper impression in some people’s minds, and I’m often aware of managing my energy  lust so that people I’m interested in aren’t feeling uncomfortable around me.  So despite the gendered title, the workshop was of interest to me for personal reasons – it’s good to know how to not be “that guy”.  Plus, the (visible) gender split it the room was about equal, and during a poll everyone expressed concerns about being seen as creepy.  The desire to not be taken as creepy?  Pretty universal.

Space RulesFirst we set some rules for the space – my own addition, compassion, is covered in the photo; but was accepted gratefully.  I’m not sure if it’s my own awkward past, or just my general nature, but it’s been my experience that people making effort to not be seen as creepy do so with some big emotional investment, which is important to honor; I’m happy our space did that.

Next we got right into discussing what it means to be creepy.  This is always a bit of a tricky exercise as most people, noted Dr. Glickman,  rarely define creepy stating instead they know it when they see it – but opening up the floor for brainstorming gave us this:

  • Hyper attentiveness or focus on one person
  • Over exuberance
  • Selfishness / lack of consideration for “me” in a conversation
  • Inauthenticity, or sensing that someone is hiding their true intention

I would add:

  • Unexplained knowledge about the other person or over-familiarity; social media can often make us feel more intimately connected to someone; but unless they’ve been engaging back, that’s only one way.  You might feel you know then, but they don’t know you
  • Disrespecting social norms; particularly around personal space, eye contact, and conversational flow.
  • Repeated passive hinting without a direct ask.  Especially if the hints get more aggressive.  Women, I think, are most likely to fall into this trap; if one has been raised with  good girls don’t ask for it ideals, it can be difficult to be upfront with their desires, leaving them do to this pseudo coy dance around questions they clearly want to ask, but won’t.

After that we moved onto some strategies of engaging with people.  The focus was definitely on providing invitation and then creating space (as opposed to pressure) for the other person.  I love the invitation for two reasons; first it lets people opt in to what’s happening, and second it pushes people to step up and take part in their own sexual experiences.  Too often I think we move the conversation towards how to win people over instead of expecting to step up and claim their desire.  Some great asks were provided by Charlie: If it works for you, if you’re interested, if you’re available; – the “if” making it clear that you’re only interested in doing an activity if the other person is too.

Can I be honest?  I haven’t mastered the art of if/then asks yet – I feel like such a goober when I say that; I’m more direct/forthright/blunt/selfish – which is great in some ways,  but can also be really off putting for people who aren’t used to that level of forward.  After all, if flirting is playful game of catch, hurling a ball full force at someone isn’t going to be fun for them.  Luckily Sabrina had my favourite tip of the session:  coating direct asks within general banter can make obtaining consent more mainstream friendly.  Banter to soften the ask?  That I can do!

My other favourite sessions bits came from discussing why we’re engaging with others; how seeking sex/relationships/connection as an external method of validation puts so much pressure on asking, and affects how we take being turned down.  This is so true!  When getting that laid/dates/whateva become a way of measuring our desirability or worthiness as people we invest so much into the outcome that we can’t see that a no is always more about someone else doing what’s right for them than.  Instead, we internalize it as hit against our self-worth.  Did I say this was so true? Y’all – simply by being you are worthy of connection and love.  Someone not wanting to have coffee with you, or cuddle with you, or have sex with you does not diminish this.

We rounded out the hour by talking about exit strategies – how to gracefully excuse ourselves from conversations: thank people for the conversation, let them know you enjoyed chatting with them; perhaps even provide them with information about how to get in touch – or find you later – should they want to.  And no, giving someone your room number is not a graceful exist strategy; employ that one with caution.

My one frustration came from the Q and A period; because as always the conversation turned to the feelings of the people who don’t mean to be creepy, but are; and the convo shifted a bit to giving people more chances, and really, asking people to put aside their gut instincts, which frustrates me.  I know I take a firm line on this, so it’s hard to hear that conversation without it reading to me like back peddling; so while I don’t completely begrudge that discussion I’m super over it.   How do you sit for an hour talking about how to make space comfortable for others, and switch immediately back to expecting people to manage your feels?

We need to remember something.  Statistically speaking; it is almost guaranteed that if you’re talking with a woman, you’re talking with someone who has experienced some form of non-consensual experience; be that street harassment, be that assault, be that sexual assault – or an attempted sexual assault.  Almost guaranteed.  So instead of being mad at women have their boundaries up, show the same consideration you would want for yourself and consider why she’s behaving as she does.  Consider it an opportunity to prove you aren’t a creeper simply by respecting where she’s at.  It is a low bar; I have faith you can clear it.

Let’s Talk About (Safer) Sexy Baby!

You know this is something you have to talk about with your lovers right?  No.  Really.  It’s pretty amazing to me that people manage to work past the awkward enough to get to this stage – but then flounder of this conversation.

It doesn’t have to be super longer; it doesn’t have to break the mood – and if you know your facts on STI’s it doesn’t have to freak anyone out.  In the video below I lay out the 3 things you need to cover before you get down, so you focus on feeling good – not your health risk.

Q&A – Mismatched Sexpectations

What happens when what you want sexually isn’t what your partner wants?  In this viewer question we’ve got a person whose partner is okay with a little kink; but not as much as they have been hoping for….

Happy International Fisting Day!

Sprung out of attempted censorship, International Fisting Day is all about shedding light on an activity that is fun for some, scary to others, and definitely a topic that doesn’t get much airplay.

So today we’re boosting that airplay and talking about fisting!

Fisting falls under the category of hand sex – using the fingers, hands and fists to fuck with – and you can do it vaginally or anally.  It’s a super safe way to have sex (zero risk of pregnancy and STI transmission), and doesn’t require anyone to maintain an erection, which is a selling point for some people.  This is an activity that takes some warm up; even if you’re an experienced player, so be prepared to make a night (or two) of it.

My one single beef with fisting is that it’s often a goal focused activity for people.  Much like some only consider sex “successful” if an orgasm happens, some people only consider fisting “successful” if you get the entire fist in.  Phooey on that, says I.  Hand sex, just like any other type of sex, is just as much about the journey and the pleasure that comes with that journey rather than any fixed point.  Feel free to rename this act to something less goal focused if it helps you (me?  I like vaginal spluenking), and take a moment with your partner (or partners) to affirm that this is about exploration and pleasure – not meeting a goal.

fisting-dos-and-donts

Whether you’re a fisting veteran or new to this particular sex act, today is an awesome day to learn more!  Here are some places around the web that you can do that:


Happy explorations – and don’t forget the lube!

No. You cannot have this.

You know what?  I get that out there it isn’t safe™.   Being in the wrong area of town could put me at increased risk of harm.  Walking alone at night could put me at increased risk of harm.  Wearing the “wrong” outfit could put me at increased risk of harm.  Drinking with anyone who seems like they might be fun to get tispy with puts me at increased risk of harm.

Can we just be honest?  Everything puts me at increased risk of harm.

Every.  Damn.  Thing.

Let’s be really honest here:  the biggest risk to my well being is being a woman who lives in a world where not everyone believe I have the right to bodily autonomy.  My biggest risk factors come from beyond myself and I will never be able to control them.

I make choices each and every day to mitigate those risks.  My life includes balancing my perceived of safety with my actual potential for risk, with my feelings of insecurity with my frustrations with being a walking target just for leaving my house just as naturally as it balances breathing and walking.

Why?  Because I’ve been getting the message since I was little.  It’s not safe™ to be a woman out there.

So in here?  Here in my body, in my spirit and my feelings and my soul?  This space is mine, and if you think you, or anyone else gets to say a damn thing about how I feel in my body, you’ve got another think coming.

My body is not dangerous simply for existing.  My desire isn’t dangerous simply for existing.

Not unless everyone else’s is too – and that includes men.

If something were inherently dangerous it would need to be dangerous for all people – not just certain people.  And there definitely wouldn’t be a danger-within-a-danger for subgroups within that larger group (women of colour, indigenous women, disabled women).  As Jaclyn Friedman points out: “Rape is not a risk inherent in unregulated partying or sexual behavior. Need proof? Consider this: It’s not a risk for nearly half the population”

I’m sick of the bullshit double standard, my desire for adventure, my desire for passion and sexuality the way I like it puts me at risk because someone might “mistake” what makes me happy in life for an open invitation to my body.

Unless that is that what you’re talking about?  That you believe people can’t actually control themselves?  That you believe we run on pure instinct and impulse with no ability to apply logic, rationale or restraint.  And if that’s the case, are you actually a part of this thing we call society; or are you off learning how to be the next General Bison?

The very reason I expect just as much respect from men as I do from any other gender is because I believe them to be capable of things like rational and restraint.  I believe that they can view people beyond themselves as human’s deserving of the same rights and respect that they too have.  Nothing about seeing men as people and not animals should be shocking.  Nothing.

I keep hearing that feminism hates men; and yet when I see it pared with the argument of women take care, men are dangerous, I have to wonder who really hates men.  Me, or you?

Upcoming Workshop: Playing with Dirty Talk

Want that mouth to match your mind?talk-dirty-flirting-ecard-someecards

Wishing you had the courage add more delicious dirty talk to your sex life? Want to play with some fabulous filth – but lacking inspiration? Time to put whatever’s been holding you back behind you and get ready to blush, cuz we’re going there.

We’ll cover:

  •  How to tailor your talk for any situation
  •  What improv has to teach us about talking dirty
  •  Tools to tackle your shyness and mental blocks
  •  Heather’s latest whacky paradigm shifting like-sex-but-not metaphor [Last year it was all about why sex should be more like baseball…]

———————————————————
Details:
Where: Studio 2B, 7 Fraser Ave, Toronto (Liberty Village area)
When: Tues Oct 29, **doors** open at 7pm. Class at 7:30.
Cost: $20

Space in this venue is limited, so make sure you e-mail me (heather@authenticsexualyou.com) to get tickets!  Sliding scale options are available for those with low income.

5 Things I’ve Learned about Closure

I’ll be fine once I get closure – it’s a funny word, eh?  Closure.  Like once we get past some line in the sand we’ll never feel hurt when thinking of that ex, or that relationship again.  Of course that’s an oversimplification though, isn’t it? The distancing and moving past relationships that didn’t work out as we hoped  (be they a madcap weekend affair, or a marriage that’s fallen apart) is part of a larger process of self-care and healing….but it can be really difficult to keep that perspective when you’re right in the thick of it.    Here are some of the things I’ve learned about that process, both in my own personal life, and through helping clients find closure.

1.   Time doesn’t always heals wounds, but it will dull them.
Funny thing about humans.  We have a habit of glorifying the past – I think it’s a survival mechanism.  We keep fond memories fresh by reliving them through thoughts and daydreams – sometimes even embellishing them to be even more fantastic.  Hurts and painful memories, however, we shove away, not wanting to dwell there.  Unfortunately that method doesn’t allow us to work through our pain; but it does create space from the sharpest, most intense pain.

2.   You can’t suddenly be friends with someone you never were friends with.
We’re still going to be friends!  How many times have you heard or said that affect after a break up?  How many times have you actually meant it?  I don’t bare many of my exes ill will, but few of us are friends either.  Friendships are like any other relationship that needs to be developed, and when I meet someone attractive, I often choose to nurture the romantic connection over the platonic connect.  So when the romantic connection fizzled, often nothing remains.  Why try and force a new connection?  Do you really need more friends?  It’s okay to let people leave your life when they don’t really have a place in it anymore.

3.  You can choose to walk away

Tupac

Tupac Shakur was a wise man.  At some point you need to clean up your shit around past hurts, and relationship baggage – but that doesn’t have to be today; and you most certainly don’t have to stop your life to do it.  Sometimes calling it like you see it and walking away is exactly what you need to do.

4.   Walking away is not the same thing as running away.
There’s a difference between recognizing problems you can’t fix right now and ignoring them.  Nowhere above does it say pretend nothing has gone wrong; pretending there is no crap leaves us at risk of walking right back into it.  Being aware of a problem means you can recognize its tell-take signs and learn how to avoid walking right back into that mess with your next relationship.

5.   The best person to give you closure is you.
When we look to other people to provide solutions to our problems we give them our power – not even remotely the healthiest choice to make when getting over anything.  Tying your closure to your ex-partner/lover/spouse/whatever keeps you linked to them when what you really need to be focusing on is forging ahead on your own path.  If they weren’t helping you when they had a vested interest in the relationship, they certainly aren’t going to help you now.  It’s time to take your power back.

There are things we can do to speed up the process of finding closure and moving beyond the pain and disappointment of a relationship that didn’t work out as we hoped.  Facing our fears and insecurities head on, actively removing your ex from your daily life, or working with a coach to keep yourself accountable are just a few.   If it’s time for you to start working on your closure, check out my Closure Checklist for a great way to kick start the process.

 

 

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Sex, Sexuality and Sexual Success

Curious about how these terms play into and influence each other?  Think sexuality equal sex and nothing more?

Sexuality is the topic this week – we’re mapping out just what that covers.

 

 

Think I missed anything or curious about interplay between spheres?  Feel free to ask away in the comments below!

Want a copy of the map?  Grab that here.

 

 

What Can Pop Teach You About Hooking up With Friends?

Turning friends and acquaintances into lovers can be a tricky path.  After all, there’s a line between appreciation and objectification.  There’s also line between making your interest clear and making someone else uncomfortable.  And most certainly there’s a line between flirty and creepy.

It’s not always easy to walk those lines, sometimes it’s not even easy to see them – but I think part of being an person who both gets lots of sex and is an awesome person is learning how to do just that. So check it:  me and some sexy songs have tips for  helping you find, and walk those lines!

One:  Check your boundaries
If you want me baby here I am
Get Off; Prince

get pff clip

I’m willing to admit bias, but I think Get Off is sex on a stick.

Do you know this Prince song?  Not only is it ridiculously sexy, it’s got some great advice when it comes to hooking up with friends and acquaintances.  Seriously, listen to this lyrical content:

How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve?

Starting the conversation is by far the most delicate part.  You want to let someone know you’re interested, but if you aren’t certain the other party is interested in you, how do you find that out without completely blowing up the relationship that already is?

You ask casually where the boundaries are.  I like to say things like: Do we have the kind of relationship that could include extra friendly benefits? – which is an indirect way of asking if that person is interested in being a friend with benefits.  Or, Would you like it if our friendship included sexy benefits?  Or even, Do we have the kind of relationship where I can occasionally send you random dirty e-mails on a Tuesday afternoon?

Relatively direct but not outrageously explicit asks let the object of your desire know exactly where you stand while providing an easy way for them to opt in or out.

 

Two: Respect What’s Being Said

I hate these blurred lines
Blurred Lines; covered by Caela Bailey and Dalisha Phillips

Blurred lines?

Who needs Robin Thicke when Mod Carousel is around?

I hate these blurred lines too – because they have no place here.  If the answer you get is no, you need to respect that – immediately, as a full sentence.  No doesn’t have to come with an explanation, nor provide a reason for their lack of interest.  Acknowledge the answer you’ve been given and show it some respect.

Respecting the answer you get is absolutely key to keeping whatever relationship you do have with the person you desire intact.    That means not only hearing any negative answer you get, but also not asking constantly just to see if things have changed.  I have friends who state the FWB ask can happen once every 5 years.  I’d probably say 3 myself – but we should definitely be talking multiple year periods.  Believe me; you don’t forget being propositioned; no matter how respectfully it’s been done.  If something happens and the object of your desire now desires you the onus is on them to approach you.

 

Three: Question what’s not being said

Think with your heart
read between the lines
Between the Lines; Bonobo feat. Bajka

The absence of no is not a yes; neither is maybe.  If the answer you got wasn’t a clear yes; you need to figure that out before you go any further.  Stating boundaries, “rejecting” someone, or disappointing people can be hard for people.  Do them a favour – and the current connection you’d prefer not to jeopardize – get clear.  It’s okay to tell people you need active consent before you make a move; or help someone enforce their boundaries by letting them clearly know it’s okay to say no (Nervous giggle eh?  Shall I take that as a no?  Because it’s a completely acceptable answer).  While it’s true that this might not get you lots of sex in the short term, it will help your awesome person cred which directly relates to you getting lots of sex in the long game – here’s why:

 

Four: Find like-minded people

fast love

If I had that clicker I would not be looking so tormented George.

I do believe that we are practicing the same religion
Fast Love; George Michael

People talk – and when they’re looking for hook ups they turn to their friends.  If you’ve proven yourself to be an awesome person who is respectful of consent, and dtf – you’re going to get recommendations.  And the people who seek out recommendations for casual connections?  They hang out with people who also look for recommendations for casual connections – it’s a web that builds and builds upon itself, and as long as you stay awesome, you stay in it.

 

 

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On Ending Relationships With the Respect They Deserve

The video  below inspired me so much this morning that I feel compelled to share it.  It’s a recording of an unwedding ceremony for a couple who realized their time together in that style of relationship wasn’t serving them anymore and that it was to part with their marriage.

The video below is set to start right right before Nathan asks to be released from his word, so that he can believe in his word again.  If it doesn’t cue up nicely, it starts at 14:34.  Trust me, you want to see this. What a powerful ask – what an empowering ask.

I think what they’ve done is brave, and fitting (and I only know half of the couple) – and so very powerful.  It’s also got me thinking: how many promises do we make when we are young (physically, emotionally and mentally) or with an immature mind?  And in no way do I mean immature as an insult; but simply not developed yet.  Even as adults we can find ourselves in situations where our mind is child-like because we’re experiencing something new.

The child-like mind is a wondrous things; it has an amazing ability to accept and believe and hold fast. But it isn’t always a critical mind; those skills don’t come until our mind matures by learning. And sometimes as we mature and question and grow in ourselves we also find that we grow out.  Out of  beliefs, out of relationships, outof patterns and habits.  Sometimes even out of our old selves.  Nathan makes such a good point; when our old selves made promises our new selves are expected to keep, we trap ourselves into a no-win situation.  Either by forcing us to keep things that no longer work for us, or making us think we can’t trust our word.  It’s not that we can’t keep our word – it’s simply that that word no longer reflects where we’re at in life.  And that’s okay – forever is a long time to stay the same.

How beautiful that these two are giving the end of their marriage at least as much love and respect as they started it with.  That they were able to recognize what no longer served them and make new choices before they felt trapped and resentment towards their partner crept in.

How courageous of them to share this in the way they have – to publicly show that there are as many ways to have (and end) partnerships as there are people out there. I’m inspired; and I hope you are too.