VALENTINE’S DAY SURVIVAL GUIDE: WHAT TO DO ONE WEEK BEFORE V-DAY

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

Look, we tried to warn you already: Valentine’s Day is imminent. Whether you’ve already laid some of the groundwork, or the appearance of hearts and cherubic figures in shop windows has you in panic mode, here’s how to be a hero.

Sort yourself out
Yes, this is about you too. This week should feature haircuts, beard trims, waxes and whatever else you need to be your most smokin’ self by the 14th. According to Uni K Wax, a hair removal chain in New York City, this is a solid call: demand for waxing services increases by 40 percent in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and sales in this period grew (ha!) from $250K in 2014 to $460K in 2015.

For those who prefer the DIY route to smooth, use this week to recover from razor burn, accidental nicks, and ingrown hairs. Prevent the latter by exfoliating first and applying a serum after, so your skin will look extra fresh by February 14.

If you’re a dude looking for more of a rugged 5 o’clock shadow, shave two days before to achieve the perfect amount of scruff. When it comes to haircuts, get that trim you’ve been putting off one week before, but don’t overdo it and try an entirely new style. Remember that school photo?

Do your chores
The devil is in the details, so in these last seven days, make a list of mundane tasks you need to check off day-by-day, and give yourself no excuses to skip them.

For example, figure out what you want to wear (because you should know where you’re going by now). Make sure to drop your stuff off at least seven days in advance or you’ll be stuck wearing your gym clothes to dinner, or, possibly worse, at the mall. If you’re driving anywhere, pencil in a car wash the day before. Same goes for the extensive apartment clean; save it for the final days so your space will be in peak condition — and you’ll be peak chill — come the big day.

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

Work on a killer playlist
Get inspiration by checking out your date’s own playlists on Apple Music and Spotify. If they’re not public, check out Facebook, where Spotify songs also come up when your date is logged into the service. If all else fails, stick to the classics — Frank Sinatra was pretty good at this.

Incidentally, a 2015 Spotify study found that Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” scored highest among the 700,000 playlists created for the holiday. If your date doesn’t like it, hit them with that fact and hope they’re attracted to your nerdiness.

Two words: chocolate delivery
A heart-shaped box filled with chocolate has become the ultimate Valentine’s Day cliche for a reason. Because everybody loves them. In 2015, it was reported that $1.7 billion was spent on buying candy, with consumers ordering a grand total of 58 million pounds of chocolate and 36 million heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day. So yeah, if there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget to do, it’s this.

Lock in a chocolate delivery seven days in advance. There are tons of options at different price points, but expect to pay around $15 for a basic box of twelve fine chocolates and up to… whatever you’ve got once you add in extras like flowers and champagne. If you’re still not convinced that this is important, let us remind you that chocolate is also an aphrodisiac. Enough said.

Learn how to give a decent massage
To prep for a sensual V-Day rubdown, start things off by making your own massage oil. Use three parts unscented baby oil mixed with one part unscented baby gel and store in a container for safe keeping. Add scents like lavender and lemon to take things up a notch. Make sure to heat the oil up before use and always put it on your hands first.

As for the actual massage, experts say you should always use an equal amount of pressure to make the recipient comfortable.

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

Check in on your restaurant reservation
If you followed our advice and made reservations at the two week mark, confirm that your reservation and any accommodations are on track. Valentine’s Day is like the Super Bowl of the restaurant industry (covers are up an average 520% from the same day the previous week), so things can easily go awry.

If you’re still scrambling, it’s worth checking in for last-minute cancellations. With 43% of people booking their tables one week before the holiday, you could get lucky. The easiest way to keep tabs? Download Resy, a restaurant reservation app currently available in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC, and San Francisco that tracks open tables in your area. If you’re not located in a major city, OpenTable could also help get you the res you’re looking for. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Build anticipation
If you plan on letting your date in on your Valentine’s Day plans early, don’t be part of the 52% of people who settle for a measly card; get the romance started early with a romantic scavenger hunt that reveals what you’re doing.

Brainstorm 10-15 riddles (extra points if they’re cheesy sayings that also rhyme), and have each printed on heart-shaped cutouts. After hiding each card in their corresponding locations, buy a bouquet of roses and have the rose petals lead to the first card. Tie the final note to a bottle of champagne detailing what you do will be doing on the big day. Once the reveal is complete, pop the bottle early to celebrate; you really can’t mess up now.

Read the original article on Thrillist.

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VALENTINE’S DAY SURVIVAL GUIDE: WHAT TO DO TWO WEEKS BEFORE V-DAY

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

Editor’s Note: While expressing undying love, or at least “we just met, but I’m digging it,” may not come naturally to everyone, try telling that to your date. Valentine’s Day matters. So to make sure this year’s goes off with the right kind of fireworks, we’ve put together a three-part guide to staying on track. First up: you have two whole weeks left, let’s do this.

Valentine’s Day may seem pretty far away still, but don’t be fooled: you’d better get a game plan. If you’re the type who just took down the holiday decorations, don’t panic! From drawing up a game plan and perfecting the necessary skills, to finding the perfect gift (of course), and making sure your wallet doesn’t burst into flames, we’ve got your back.

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

1. Start putting money aside
In 2016, the National Retail Foundation reported that the 55% of Americans who celebrated Valentine’s Day spent $19.7 billion, with nearly $12 billion going towards gifts, $1.7 billion towards sweets, and $4.5 billion towards romantic dinners. Each individual shelled out an average of $146.84 last year, and under-35s splurged an average of $185. It’s not exactly chump change, which is why it’s a good idea to start saving now before you have to throw it around like a Rockefeller in two weeks.

For those who can’t say “no” to Seamless coupons or after-work happy hours, money saving apps like Digit and Unsplurge will do it for you. Digit is an automated savings account that monitors your income and spending habits, and socks away about 5.5 percent of users’ income on average. In two to three days, Digit takes anything from $2 to $17 and puts it in a separate savings account you control. If you request to withdraw $13.22 daily, you’ll hit $185 in 14 days. Save $20 a day and you’ll have a nice cushion to spend over if needed.

Unlike the automatic savings account, Unsplurge sets actual monetary goals. By setting a goal of saving $100 per week, you’ll have an additional $15 to spend on chocolate by the end of week two. Get encouragement from the app’s community coined “the Town” to help reach your goal quicker. Who knew peer pressure could be so lucrative?

2. Creep, a little, on your S.O.’s social media
If you just started dating, we strongly advise that you keep your social media stalking light; you don’t want your V-Day to turn into an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. But even if you’ve been together for a year, remember that falling into a routine is equally as hazardous as not having anything planned at all — so do due social media diligence.

Lots of outdoorsy photos and shared travel articles? Opt for something more original than making reservations at a restaurant, like a romantic picnic in the park or a day trip. If your date’s Instagram feed is filled with food porn and perfectly-lit brunch photos, find yourself an eccentric restaurant that offers a tasting menu so they can try a little bit of everything. If their Snap story is just one, long night out, plan a romantic night at a cocktail lounge with a dress code.

3. Make restaurant reservations — stat
According to the restaurant app Reserve, 25% of Americans celebrate V-Day by going out to eat, meaning reservations at fancy schmancy restaurants are already hard to come by two weeks out. According to Google Trends data from 2010 to 2015, Italian restaurants are the most popular choice amongst couples, with French and Spanish coming a close second and third. Moral of the story? If you’re already behind on reservations, this top three will be tough, so have a backup plan.

If you can’t get a reservation at your first choice, research apps and sites like… the one you are reading now (!) for spots that opened within the last three months; they’re more likely to have open tables and Valentine’s Day specials to get you in the door. Regardless of where, keep one super important thing in mind: if you want a special accommodation, make sure to mention it when placing your reservation so the staff has time to adequately prepare.

4. Test run your romantic homemade meal
Whether rustling up your date’s favorite romantic dishes or unchartered culinary territory, have a tried-and-tested game plan. If you’re lacking basics like a decent pan, large knife, and eating utensils that aren’t plastic, head to a home goods store — now is the time to stop living like a caveman. When you’re all set, start cooking it up, and take notes along the way so you can make any necessary adjustments come V-Day.

For those who think dumping out your Seamless order onto real plates is the equivalent of a home-cooked meal, fake some culinary skills with meal delivery services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, which provide simple step-by-step recipe, complete with photos, for personalized meals.

5. Learn how to make a legit cocktail
While a bottle of wine is sure to set the mood, impress with some newfound bar skills first. Pencil in a mixology course two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Classes are often sold at discounted rates on Groupon and Living Social, and will make you an impressive party host ever after.

For further inspiration, head to your favorite cocktail lounge or bar on off hours (early afternoon tends to be the best time) and have a candid conversation with the bartender over a drink. Any tips on simple cocktail recipes, complimentary flavors, and presentation will help you in the long run.

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Thrillist/Jen Kahn

6. Book with a florist
In 2014, an estimated 257 million roses were grown specifically for Valentine’s Day. To put that astronomical number into perspective, if you aligned each rose tip to tip, they would circle the Earth approximately four times. So yeah, buying roses on V-Day isn’t going out of style anytime soon.

However, it’s also not helping your wallet. A dozen red roses cost about $20 more than any other color, and a bouquet on Valentine’s Day is often priced twice as high as on any non-romantic day. While you could save a few bucks by heading to the grocery store, chances are the bouquets aren’t as fresh and thus won’t live as long, making them a waste of money in the long run.

While red roses are always on point, nonconformists can buck the trend with red tulips. Not only are they cheaper (you can probably grab a bunch for as little as $10), but according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, they’re also a declaration of love. You’re not being a cheapskate, you’re being symbolic.

7. Check shipping times
If you decide to purchase your gift online — as 27.9% of consumers did last year — keep pesky shipping times and costs in mind. Free shipping means the product could arrive anywhere from four to 12 days after purchase, and even expedited shipping gets risky: not only do the rates get higher (you can pay as low as $7 for 2-3 day shipping or as high as $25 for next day), but if there’s any service issues, there’s no way you’re getting that delivery before V-Day. Our advice? Start looking — and buying — now.

It’s also important to keep in mind that while one-of-a-kind pieces are thoughtful, they also sell out quicker than products bought at a department store. Assume that anything you see now will be long gone next week. If you’re going way fancy, and looking to get something engraved, make sure the proprietor has at least two weeks to finish the job. Trust us — you’d never live that one down.

Read the original article on Thrillist.

If You’re Looking For Dating Advice, Look No Further Than Chad Johnson

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If you’re a Bachelorette fan, you know exactly who Chad Johnson is. Given the name “Bad Chad” by fans and “villain” by the press, you’d expect him to be a complete ass in nearly every situation he’s in, but when talking to him about his dating life, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the reality star actually has a heart of gold — he just has a really big mouth.

“The fact of the matter is, all of the hatred in the house… Everything all snowballed from me initially calling the other guys out on the fact that they each walked in the door already pretending to be in love with a girl that they knew absolutely nothing about,” he explained, referring to his time on The Bachelorette. “People just have to realize that when cameras are around, none of these people are themselves, they have nothing to talk about, and the only way for them to make themselves seem good is to demonize someone else.”

Thus, Bad Chad was born.

“At first I thought [the nickname] was pretty cool until I realized that some people actually thought I was a terrible person,” he said. “I mean when you have 25 guys who all absolutely hate you, and are trying to ruin your relationship with a potential significant other and get you kicked off of a TV show that could lead to other opportunities, I’d like to think any smart person would want to fight back.”

True that, Chad. So how has his dating life been since the show?

“The one thing I have to deal with now is trying to figure out whether girls like me for what they saw on TV or simply because I was on TV,” he explained. “But I’m currently still living in Oklahoma so I already know everyone here and my dating life hasn’t really been that affected.”

The good news? Johnson is still on the market and knows his way around the dating world. We asked him his thoughts about sex on the first date, f*ckboys and various other situations us singletons face on a daily basis and he certainly delivered. Check it out — and maybe take some notes.


First Dates
“My ideal first date is something simple like appetizers and a couple drinks… If things are going well, I would follow that up with something relaxing like wine on the beach or under the stars. Conversation is very important to me on a first date and I don’t like to bring a lot of activities into the scenario that take away from the whole reason we’re here, which is to have fun and to really get to know each other. On first dates I typically don’t ask a lot of questions about the person’s past, future, goals, or family. I try to pretend that I’m already in a relationship with this person — I just try to find out whether or not I generally like spending time with them.”


Sex on the First Date
“I’m fine with sex on the first date. I think all guys like to feel like the girl wouldn’t have sex on the first date with anyone else and that we’re just so special that she made an exception. One thing for me is, I don’t like it when a girl specifically makes it a point to not have sex until a certain time when I can tell that she wants to have sex already. When you want to have sex, you should just have sex.”


What He Looks For in a Girlfriend
“I look for a girl who’s positive and likes to have fun. I want someone who can wake up everyday and try to make it the best day possible. Obviously someone who is beautiful, and, being that I take care of myself and my body, I also respect a woman who can maintain her health and image.”


F*ckboys
“I find that I’m constantly having to deal with the damage these guys have caused women. I guess that’s why on The Bachelorette I said, ‘Stay away from the nice guys.’ It’s always the guy who says exactly what they think you want to hear and act like the friendliest, best guy in the world, who have the worst intentions. I may come off like a jerk sometimes and I may be a straight shooter, but in the end, I’m the type of guy who’s not going to string you along and lie to you. I will tell you straight-up what I want out of the relationship and I will never cheat because if I felt the urge to, then I would just end the relationship.”


Online Dating
“I’ve done online dating and I know quite a few people who have as well. I have met a few girls online that although I am no longer dating, I still remain close friends with. Online dating can work, but you have to read between the lines. Look closely at who they hang with; Are they with family? How are they dressed? What’s their demeanor? A person’s pictures will always tell you far more about them than their bio.”


Biggest Turn-Offs and Turn-Ons
“My biggest turn-offs are a girl who doesn’t smile, someone who’s really negative, someone who can’t carry a conversation, and someone who takes everything too seriously… I mean we’re talking brains covered in skin suits standing on a carbon sphere spinning around a fireball. Biggest turn-on is a confident, positive girl with a great sense of humor… but honestly, a great smile and beautiful eyes does it for me.”


Relationship Rules To Live By
“Most importantly, I always look for a girl who has spent a significant portion of her life being single and spending time with herself. Getting into a relationship with someone who is hopping from one guy to the next is a big no-no and in doing so, you will never know whether she wanted you, or just wanted someone. In order to love someone, you have to first love yourself. I spend a lot of time going to dinner, the movies and the gym by myself because I enjoy spending time with myself. If I choose to bring a girl into my life, it’s because I want — not need — her in my life.”

Read the original article on College Candy. 

THE PULLOUT METHOD IS MAKING A COMEBACK. BUT WHY?

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JASON HOFFMAN/THRILLIST

“Pulling out”: the contraceptive of choice for high schoolers the world over; and commonly touted as the absolute dumbest strategy around for pregnancy prevention. Yeah, many of us have used it. But it’s a REALLY bad idea. Right?

Well… it appears pulling out isn’t just for horny 17-year-olds too immature to wander into a CVS for a pack of condoms. Despite years of sex ed, magazine articles, and personal experience warning against it, the pullout method is gaining popularity among actual adults. So why the comeback?

Pulling out is rebellious

“[The pullout method] allows for impulsive, spontaneous sex,” says Dr. Robert Axel, a New York sex therapist. “It’s a rebellion against traditional values. Men and women have been using the pullout method for centuries. It can account for preventing births, as well as to reckless conception and pregnancies because it does not work much of the time — many, many times.”

As a means of acting out and pushing (very literal) boundaries, it’s not surprising that teenagers choose pulling out as their second-most common form of birth control. But 60% of ADULT WOMEN in the US have used the pullout method at least once. For the latter, what’s more believable is that a lot of us get caught up in the heat of the moment and can’t be bothered to think rationally. Except…

It’s better than you think — if you do it right

Here’s one you didn’t hear in sex ed: pulling out can be just about as effective at preventing pregnancy as condoms. But hang on — for this statement to ring true, the practice has to be done perfectly (aka BEFORE ejaculation). So long as a man pulls out before his full arsenal of swimmers leaves the gate, only 4% of couples using this method will get pregnant within a year. If guys withdraw too late, the number jumps to 18%.

I don’t know about you, but something that’s only 82% effective doesn’t feel sexy… and doesn’t take into account the whole STD issue, because nothing rains on your sex-filled parade like an open sore.

It’s easy to rationalize pulling out

“The pullout method becomes an easy way to rationalize that you are doing something to prevent pregnancy,” says Dr. Madeleine M. Castellanos, a holistic psychiatrist who specializes in sex therapy and functional medical counseling. “If a person convinces themselves that the pullout method is enough for them, they don’t have to have the more difficult conversation about using an effective barrier method, like a male or female condom, that prevents both pregnancy and transmission of STIs.”

Dr. Castellanos calls this “a false sense of security,” because “there’s no perfect science to controlling orgasm and ejaculation. So there’s a high chance of not being able to pull out in time every time, especially if you’re trying to keep the action going to the last possible moment. Most people aren’t aware that there can be live sperm present in pre-ejaculatory fluid that is present way before ejaculation, and is being secreted during sexual arousal and activity.”

Women are going off birth control

Many women, present company included, initially got on birth control for reasons having nothing to do with the bedroom: skin problems, mood swings, ovarian issues… and while the pill still manages to be the leading form of contraception used by women in the US, a lot of women are now uneasy about being indefinitely on a synthetic birth control that messes with their bodies’ natural cycles. That — paired with changing relationship statuses, transitioning feelings about getting pregnant, and a host of other personal reasons — means countless users are deciding every day to ditch the tablets in favor of alternative forms of protection. Or lack thereof.

“I was on the birth control pill for seven years before I decided to take myself off of it,” says Mel, 26. “I had just gotten out of a relationship at the time and decided I wouldn’t really need it anymore, or at least not for a while. It also made me moody and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t planning on jumping back into anything, so I stopped taking it.”

Of course, this doesn’t cover one-night stands

“I remember using the pullout method once,” Mel says. “I never liked condoms and the guy wasn’t exactly begging to put one on, so we had at it. I woke up the next day pretty freaked out and incredibly guilty. But when nothing happened — I got my period on time and came out STD-free — it was way easier for me to do it again.”

Pulling out can help with sexual issues

The easiest solution to the age-old condom problem (you know the one: “I can’t get hard with this damn thing strangling my penis!”) is to ditch it altogether. In short: the pullout method is helping your sexual prowess when men need it most. Let’s also not ignore the fact that condoms aren’t women’s favorite feel, either.

“Sensitivity of skin-to-skin of the penis and vagina increases if there is no barrier,” explains Dr. Axel, “and with that comes a greater sense of intimacy. If a man fears that taking the time to put on a condom will decrease erectile function or take away from the spontaneity of the sex, it may seem easier and less distracting to enter [a woman] without a condom, then pull out as orgasm nears. For women who want the contact, who want to feel the man inside, then the pullout method helps.”

I’ll grant that a huge plus to having sex is having everything work correctly. But again, it just seems like such a small price to pay until you’re in a committed relationship, both tested for STDs, and on birth control.

Ultimately, though, pulling out doesn’t replace condoms

Even if pulling out can help prevent pregnancy, it’s doing nothing to prevent STD transmission. Bottom line? Until both partners have up-to-date testing done, it’s still advisable to adhere to the “no glove, no love” rule. And although we’re making advances every day in STD prevention and treatment, we’re just not there yet.

So before you go running out touting the benefits of pulling out or using any of this information to enjoy some skin-to-skin contact, it would behoove you to spend some serious time mulling over the very real possibility of pregnancy; and just how pleasant you’d find a chlamydia, syphilis, or herpes diagnosis.

Maybe it’s not time to give up on condoms or birth control just yet, after all.

Read the original article on Thrillist.

Men are Less Likely to Use a Condom if You’re Attractive, According to Horrifying New Study

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Shutterstock

If you’re anything like me, you have an overbearing Italian mother who scared the living sh*t out of you when it came to the repercussions of unsafe sex. Between pregnancy, STDs, and the expected bout of hysteria men assume will happen after you sleep with them (LOL), maneuvering through a newly budding sex life can be tough. But regardless of how you grew up or what you learned in school, there was always one lesson that remained the same: no glove, no love.

Naturally we’ve all heard the protests from whiny partners (“I can’t feel anything!”) pre-coital mediocrity. But according to a new study from the CDC, guys are more likely to refuse a condom if their partner is attractive.

Researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol presented 51 straight men with 20 photographs of women’s faces and asked the men to rate their desire to have unprotected sex with them. Participants ranged in age from 19 to 61 and all spoke English. The majority also lost their virginity at the age of 18, with one participant having sex at 13 and another at 30. Their amount of sexual partners varied, but the general average was 10.

Scientists discovered that men were much less interested in wearing a condom if they found their hypothetical partner had a prettier face. How charming!

From the Washington Post,

While looking at a black-and-white portrait of a woman’s face, each man used a sliding scale, from of 0 to 100, to rate a) the woman’s attractiveness b) how likely he would be to sleep with her, if he were single c) how likely he would be to use a condom d) how many men like him, out a group of 100, would have unprotected sex with the woman and e) the odds he thought this woman had a sexually transmitted disease.

Not surprisingly, the closer a man rated a woman to 100, the higher his willingness was to have sex with her. But the study subjects were split on whether or not the attractive women were more likely to have a sexually transmitted disease.

Wow. Not that this comes as a total surprise. I mean, women are expected to me more responsible with sex anyways, with their use of birth control and what not. So is there really a difference? Other than the fact that the stupidity of man was confirmed yet again?

Ladies, as always, keep protecting yourselves.

Read the original article on College Candy.

EGYPTIANS AND YOGA: A BRIEF HISTORY OF GUYS TRYING TO BLOW THEMSELVES

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ANDREY PLIS/SHUTTERSTOCK

As a straight woman, I’ve never wanted to perform cunnilingus. Especially on myself. So it’s never been a life goal of mine to get so good at yoga’s plow pose that my tongue could reach my labia. Yet, I’ve noticed men — even heterosexual men — don’t seem to share this ambivalence. Scientific fact: guys love blow jobs. And no matter what anyone says, I suspect every man on this planet has at least tried to S his own D. But why?

It turns out the answer is part of a long, complicated history.

Autofellatio, the proper Jeopardy term that means “sucking your own dick,” can be traced back to a bunch of frisky Egyptians’ creation myth.

Based on the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus, scholars like Egyptologist David Lorton have argued that Atum, the god of creation, produced his children Shu and Tefnut through autofellatio. According to Lorton, the twins were created after Atum spit out his own semen.

Conception by autofellatio: a story WAY more traumatizing than the one in which you figure out you’re a New Year’s Eve party baby.

A store clerk in 1938 became the subject of an American Journal of Psychiatry article when the 33-year-old let Yale psychiatrists Eugen Kahn and Ernest Lion write a piece about his “sluggish” gag reflex. Standing at only 5’2″, the man had successfully blown himself when he was a spry 14 years old. He loved it so much, he occasionally performed the act in front of an audience. You can imagine how well this went over with his highly religious family… or his fellow prisoners when he spent 60 days in jail for sexual assault.

Then there was the infamous sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who covered self-fellatio in his groundbreaking Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Kinsey posited that many young men in early adolescence try self-fellation (proving my theory!); but added that only two or three eager men out of 1,000 were able to achieve their climactic goal.

Pop culture perpetuated the mythology of a man’s ability to blow himself with figures like Marilyn Manson, who was rumored to have removed several of his ribs so he could autofellate; and Will Ferrell, whose amazing SNL skit proved that yoga is actually good for something. Movies like Clerks and Scary Movie 2 created a legit visual (more than you probably wanted to see), and then there’s porn — where it’s actually an art that well-endowed actors are extremely proud of.

And now the real question: what do real guys say about the whole thing? A lot of people didn’t want to talk about it; others denied having ever tried it. But with a little goading, I got a few guys to go deep.

The guy who doesn’t get it, but tried it anyway

I don’t really find autofellatio appealing. The idea is meant to be a relaxing time, so if I’m forced to position myself into a way that seems uncomfortable, that would completely take away from the pleasure aspect. And this is coming from someone who isn’t opposed to having a penis in their mouth. However, with that being said, I of course tried it when I was 9 years old, and failed miserably. Like smashed my head on the cabinet and knocked toiletries over. I wouldn’t try it again but guys will probably continue to try. I feel like you actually need to be missing bones in your body to get it right though, which sucks. Like, really sucks. — Mark, 24

The guy who’d rather find a doppelganger

“What do I find most appealing about being able to suck your own dick? It can create a situation where you’re less dependent on a woman — and that’s one less reason to have a woman around, which is a dream of all men. I’ve talked about it with my girlfriend before and she responded the way most people do: with laughter.

“It’s a funny thing and for most people, completely hypothetical. You need to be flexible! REALLY, REALLY FLEXIBLE! I’d know since I tried it myself but could never reach. You need to be a contortionist or at least a very limber gymnast to even come close. My advice would be to just meet a nice young man who looks like you and suck his dick. You’ll get that desire out of your system, then you’ll be able to relax and probably get your blow job (from him) in return.” — Dwaine, 33

The guy who wants to succeed for bragging rights

“I find nothing unappealing about it — it’s hilarious and a win-win for everyone involved (so really, just me). It’s like an alternative to jerking off. What drew me to it? I have a penis and a mouth, and there’s not always a girl around, so… you can see where this is going.

“I’ve talked about it with a few girlfriends before who told me the whole thing is kind of gay, which I don’t really understand. Is jerking off to porn gay? No. But when I used that to defend my point, I always got, ‘finishing in your mouth is kind of disgusting.’ But like, that was never the plan! Obviously I would be finishing this whole thing off with my hand. And at this point, I would have no choice, considering how this turned out for me last time.

“When I was 17, I had to download pornos overnight. I had to run a phone line from the telephone jack in the kitchen to the basement, where my room was. So I tried one morning before school, because I was really excited to see everything I downloaded the night before. I wasn’t exactly flexible and I had scoliosis, but I was determined to make this work. I had to position my clunky computer a certain way so I could see what was going on, while trying to fling my legs behind my head. I figured climbing the wall would be best, but after a lot of neck pain, I settled for a regular, sad jerk-off session. Whatever, I still got mine. But guys will never stop trying — mostly because of bragging rights.” — Matt, 31

The guy with a proud success story

“Of course I tried it. I even succeeded once, which I am very proud of. And also kind of sad about; I fear I will never be able to bend my back like that again. But oh well! It was worth it.

“I was 14 and just watched Chloë Sevigny go to town in Brown Bunny. Of course I was like, I want that to happen to me as soon as possible. But considering I wasn’t allowed out past 9pm and no one my age knew what this movie was, I was pretty much stuck. So I came up with a brilliant idea: to do it myself. Being that I was an athlete and straight-up determined, I did it. It was weird at first, but I got over it pretty quickly. And honestly, it made me feel better knowing what to expect when I got my first real blowie from a girl. Unfortunately since that one time, I haven’t been able to make it happen again. I blame the fact that I spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk. But you know how awesome it is to say, ‘My dick is so big, I could once blow myself?’ Pretty fucking awesome.” — Nicholas, 36

After hearing these stories, I’m wondering why I never had so much as a moment’s curiosity over my own powers — I mean, is autofellating really that different from manual masturbation? And don’t all kids (and adults) wonder at the human form? Still, I can’t help but feel that self-fellating belongs in the annals of weird sex behaviors many people have wondered about; some have tried, and almost none have succeeded — or enjoyed.

Read the original article on Thrillist.

WHAT IT’S LIKE LOVING SOMEONE WITH A PORN ADDICTION

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BRIAN A JACKSON/SHUTTERSTOCK

Porn is everywhere. Today it’s more or less taken for granted as something everyone just kind of looks at at one point or another. In sex therapy, porn is even frequently “prescribed” to help clients loosen up. Porn’s prevalence has helped it become normalized.

Except for when it goes too far.

Tom is an attractive 31-year-old digital designer who shops at Whole Foods and goes home to a spacious one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn he shares with his blonde girlfriend named Lindsey. But what people strolling by at the organic market or passing the handsome millennial on the street don’t realize is this: Tom hasn’t been able to focus on anything around him for years. Instead, he’s totally preoccupied with pornography.

“I would watch porn six times a day”

“I started watching porn when I was about 14,” said Tom. “At my most extreme, I would watch porn six times a day and would finish every time. The more free time I had, the more I became attached to it. I would watch it whenever I was bored or not doing something else. It gave me something to do and made me feel good, obviously. So it was a win-win.”

Tom spent most of his down time jerking off in front of his computer screen, a practice which kept him from meeting women except through Kik, an app he frequented to request nude photos from ladies of cyberspace. Tom worked, came home, watched porn, and went to bed. The daily cycle repeated until he met Lindsey, with whom he would have his first serious relationship. He was late to the table: despite what he had to offer — good looks, a successful career, intellect — he had, until that point, chosen to stay cooped up with porn stars instead of date around and bar hop.

And neither Lindsey, who didn’t know about Tom’s extracurricular activities at all, nor Tom — who had no idea how serious his addiction was — was prepared for how tumultuous things were about to get.

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NIKITABUIDA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Overuse of porn can stem from easy access

Of the 21.2 billion visits to Pornhub in 2015, the US was responsible for 41% of the traffic. And 60% of Pornhub’s US user base was made up of millennials between 18 and 34; roughly 76% of whom were men on their phones.

“In the last number of years, porn has moved away from just the computer to all sorts of technologies used for sexual turn-ons,” explained Dr. Dorothy Hayden, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist who has been treating sexual compulsives and their partners for the last 20 years. “Interactive chat rooms, live streaming, smartphones, sexting, paid interactions with live models: the reality is that sexual content and contact are readily available to anyone at the touch of a digital button.”

For Tom, this kind of access was a godsend… at first.

“I’ve always been pretty shy and I never liked going out of my way to meet people,” he said. “When it came to sex, I was nervous around girls and had no idea what I was doing. Watching porn made me feel satisfied without having to do much, which helped me later in life when I started working. I would come home stressed and really wound up, and porn helped me relax with little effort.”

Porn addicts are hypersensitive to stimuli. They typically become hypersensitive to what’s going on around them; what most would consider nonsexual, a porn addict can turn around and craft into something erotic.

“There was a time when everything in my daily life could be manipulated into a scene I’ve watched,” Tom said. His triggers varied from boredom and anxiety to crowded subways and department stores. “I have to avoid lingerie stores — they are still too overpowering for me. Seeing all of the women go through the racks and imagining them putting it on… I can’t. I can’t.”

Once, Tom was riding to work on the A train when a woman pressed up against him in the overcrowded car. Tom had a clear view of her cleavage. He remembers being able to see the upper lace of her bra, the way it looked against her skin, and the way her breasts perfectly filled out the cups. At this point he was staring — and the woman began to notice.

“I was getting turned on and I had to get out of there,” he said. Tom got off the train five stops before his office and walked the rest of the way in order to cool down. It didn’t help. He thought about the woman for the rest of the day.

This is how so many adult videos start — a seemingly normal situation escalates into a sexual fantasy. Tom’s perception of the congested car was nearly expected; if this was a video he had been watching, it wouldn’t have ended with the man getting off the train alone.

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ONEINCHPUNCH/SHUTTERSTOCK

… and numb to real intimacy

But in addition to having hyper-sexualized responses to otherwise unerotic moments, there’s also a desensitization for porn addicts that happens in actually sexy moments. “The viewer wants more and more,” said Dr. Robert Axel, a New York psychologist who specializes in the treatment of sex addiction and other sexual compulsions. “And then different. Things can get over-saturated. The more porn consumed, the less activity in the reward center, and the less sensitivity to pleasure. So they may have a numbed pleasure response to their partner.”

Supporting this is a 2012 study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, which found the amount of time spent watching porn directly correlated with decreased grey matter in regions of the brain associated with the reward system. Less grey matter = less activity in another part of the brain called the left putamen, which typically lights up in response to sexual images. The less it lights up, the less “regular sex” is going to cut it.

So Tom was wrong when he thought having a girlfriend would fix his… preoccupation. His cravings failed to subside. Tom was still watching porn at least twice a day, in the early mornings and late at night, often when Lindsey wasn’t around or was asleep in another room. When his obsession caused impotency with his girlfriend — think whiskey dick without the whiskey — Lindsey tried desperately to figure out what was going on.

“I was sure it was me,” she said. “Things would start out great, and then all of the sudden he wouldn’t be able to keep it up. The only thing I could think was, I am the problem. And I tried literally everything to change it. I was open to anything — he just had to ask.”

“Sometimes when it gets extreme, they’d rather be alone and masturbating rather than interact with their partners,” said Dr. Axel. “Ultimately, what happens with a lot of younger people is they may have problems ejaculating or holding an erection or a lack of desire in their partners. And it can have an impact on the them.”

According to Lindsey, it had such an impact that it almost ended their relationship. Her self-esteem plummeted and she spent months trying to figure out solutions to an enigmatic question. She lost herself, and by then, she had had enough.

“I had no idea what was going on,” Lindsey said, “but I figured he wasn’t attracted to me. I even questioned his sexuality and talked with my friends about the possibility of past abuse or even if he was cheating. When I would ask him about it, he would get upset. No guy wants to talk about his sex issues, especially with someone he’s dating. There was little for me to work with and it was becoming a huge problem. I was doubting myself. So I tried to break up with him.”

The night Lindsey ended their relationship, Tom came clean. He said he wasn’t fully aware if what he was doing was the cause of his sexual dysfunctions, but figured it might be. And when he started researching, he realized that it played a major role in ruining his sex life. The couple recognized it for what it was: Tom had a porn addiction.

So he decided to quit cold turkey.

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SIMOS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Finding treatment for porn addiction

Ironically, though technology in some ways has helped turn porn into a crutch, tech can also act as an addict’s biggest supporter for recovery. Internet forums like NoFap andFeed the Right Wolf are ways for porn and masturbation addicts to put an end to their ways and come back down to the real world of sex… where everything doesn’t end with a money shot and all women aren’t squirters.

Tom joined NoFap for help and consistently posted on his progress, reveling in the support and eventual jealousies from other members. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

“If you can get through 90 days, it gives you a chance to realign the brain chemistry,” Dr. Axel said. “You have a good chance of resetting those neuro-pathways.” But for Tom, seeking out those 90 clean days were nearly impossible.

“I was going out of my mind the first week,” he said. “I was really on edge and very, very angry. Partially because I was going through a type of withdrawal, and partially because I automatically assumed that I was going to fail. I was pissed off at the world. I was giving up something that relaxed me — and trying to replace it was difficult, to say the least.”

It wasn’t a smooth transition. Tom relapsed 10 times before finally going to see a therapist. These days he utilizes therapy and online resources. Still, denying his cravings remains a challenge. As in any addiction experience, there is no “cure” — only ongoing treatment, and a commitment to take it one day at a time.

Lindsey has stayed with Tom. The couple has now been together for more than a year. 

Read the original article on Thrillist.