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sexual desires and pleasures

Why We’re Sometimes Turned On By People We Hate

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When you fantasize about sex, who do you usually think about? When I survey people about this, more often than not, they mention current partners, exes, and close friends. It’s not uncommon for the occasional celebrity crush to be mentioned, too.

So, by and large, when specific people appear in our fantasies, we usually imagine others we like or feel positively about. But what about people we dislike, even hate? How often do they become the object of desire in our fantasies?

In the survey of 4,175 American adults I conducted for my book Tell Me What You Want, I inquired about this, and here’s what I found.

How Many People Fantasize About Hated Individuals?

Overall, 31% of adults said they’d had a sexual fantasy before about someone they hate, with 3% saying this is something they fantasize about often. So it’s not uncommon for people to have ever had this fantasy, but it appears to be relatively rare for a hated individual to be a recurring character in one’s sexual fantasies.

Whether people had fantasized about a hated person depended on both their gender and sexuality to some degree:

  • 18% of heterosexual women had fantasized about this before, with 1% fantasizing about it often.
  • 31% of heterosexual men had fantasized about this before, with 4% fantasizing about it often.
  • 35% of lesbian and bisexual women had fantasized about this before, with 4% fantasizing about it often.
  • 35% of gay and bisexual men had fantasized about this before, with 3% fantasizing about it often.
  • 31% of trans and non-binary people had fantasized about this before, with 4% fantasizing about it often.

As you can see, fantasizing about someone you hate is more common among men and gender-diverse people than it is among women, and it’s also more common among non-heterosexual compared to heterosexual people.

Why We Fantasize About People We Hate

So why do people sometimes fantasize about someone they hate? Who’s most likely to do this? I looked to see how these fantasies are connected to other types of fantasies people might have as well as their personality traits, and here’s what I discovered.

These fantasies were linked to having more BDSM fantasies in general, but particularly fantasies about dominance and sadism. Thus, some people may find the idea of a hated fantasy partner arousing because, in that scenario, they have some degree of power or control over the hated individual or can inflict pain on them. At the same time, however, these fantasies were also linked to more masochism fantasies, suggesting that sex with a hated person may sometimes be a way that some people inflict pain on themselves.

Related to what I said about masochism, these fantasies were also linked to having lower self-esteem. Again, this suggests that for some folks, fantasizing about a hated partner may be a form of self-punishment. Some may feel as though they don’t deserve a partner who loves or respects them.

The Role of Personality and Attachment Style

These fantasies were linked to being lower on the personality trait of agreeableness, which refers to having less care and concern for the well-being of others. By contrast, those who are highly agreeable had more fantasies about current partners and people they like. This finding may partly explain the gender difference between heterosexual men and women: Several studies have found that women tend to be higher on agreeableness than men.

People higher in attachment avoidance (meaning those who are less comfortable with emotional intimacy) had more fantasies about people they hate. These folks had less emotional content in their fantasies in general, which may open the door to fantasizing about a wider range of partners, including disliked persons or individuals they don’t personally feel close to. Related to this, those with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation (that is, those who see sex and love as separable) fantasied more about people they hate. These folks may find it easier to check their emotions at the door.

Persons with more sensation-seeking tendencies had more fantasies about people they hate. For these individuals, fantasizing about a hated person might add a certain thrill because it’s something they’re not “supposed” to do. Sex with a despised individual is one way to flirt with sexual taboos, and we know that doing something taboo or forbidden is a popular theme in our fantasies in general.

Those with overactive imaginations also had more fantasies about people they hate. This makes sense because these individuals fantasized more about almost everyone and everything.


What all of this tells us is that, while we’re far more likely to fantasize about partners we love or like than those we hate, it’s not uncommon for someone disliked or even despised to appear in a sexual fantasy.

However, different people seem to have these kinds of fantasies for very different reasons. As with pretty much every other type of sexual fantasy, diverse psychological roots exist. It may sometimes reveal something about how someone feels about themselves—but it can also be about a desire to mix pleasure and pain, to add an element of thrill, or simply because you don’t see love and sex as necessarily going together. Yet other times, these fantasies can just be the product of a wandering mind.

One other potential possibility is that strong feelings of anger or dislike for someone else can potentially amplify sexual attraction. Social psychologists have long known that strong emotions can be mistaken for sexual arousal.

So if you’ve ever fantasized about someone you hate, you’re definitely not alone—and there are any number of possible reasons the thought might have crossed your mind, so avoid the temptation to overinterpret it.

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Erotic fiction: A Fresh Start

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I‘ve finally finished unpacking. Propping a photograph on the window ledge by my bed, I glance round at my new flat. The plant that Nicki bought me as a moving in present sits next to an empty bottle of Cava and two ancient champagne flutes, remnants of our celebrations last night. A bed, two stacks of books and a bulging clothes rail make this half of the flat look overcrowded already. A second hand sofa acts as a divide between the ‘bedroom’ and the ‘kitchen’, consisting of a coffee table, three deep purple floor cushions (borrowed from the café where I work) and a 1970s kitchenette that I can’t wait to repaint.

This is my new studio flat containing everything that I own in the world. To a stranger, it might look pathetic, but to me it’s perfect.

After a relationship that should have ended a lot sooner, I finally broke up with my boyfriend of three years three months ago. I’ve been couch surfing ever since I moved out and it feels incredible to finally have my own space. I’ve craved this opportunity for so long that I don’t mind forking out the extra rent for a studio flat. Now that I’ve finally bagged a serious job, it’s time to have a place of my own as well.

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The last year with my ex was unbearable. He’d always been jealous, but the further we grew apart, the more suffocating his possessiveness became. If I went out without him I’d have to ‘forget’ my phone to avoid getting fifty arsey texts and having to reassure him that no, I hadn’t danced with any guys, and yes, it was a crap night without him. It got so bad that I stopped wanting to see my closest friends – even a night with Nicki would result in a fight.

But the worst sacrifice I made was losing contact with Tom. Nicki’s my oldest friend, but Tom was my closest. I met him at my first Saturday job, waitressing at his Dad’s restaurant. He made me laugh on my very first shift and we were inseparable from that moment on, always slinking off on our breaks with bottles of half-finished wine and tasting each course, “just to make sure that it’s OK for the customers”. Little did I know that my weekend job would inspire my future career. But even then I guessed that my partner in crime would be a friend for life.

Tom is one of those drop dead gorgeous guys that every girl wants to go out with. Predictably, he’s had a string of pretty, dull girlfriends for as long as I’ve known him. There’s nothing between us, we’re just friends, but try telling my ex that. We had so many fights over Tom that I stopped seeing him and allowed us to drift apart completely.

“There’s nothing between us, we’re just friends, but try telling my ex that”

Alright, there was one time when I wondered whether anything would happen between us. We’d been on holiday together to stay with his aunty in Spain. We had so much fun spending long, lazy days on the beach, sipping cold beers with countless bocadillos. It was one of the only times in eight years of friendship that neither of us were in a relationship. In fact, I was only there to stand in for a girlfriend he’d broken up with days before.

The night before we went home he dared me to go skinny-dipping. We were sitting on the pier where one of the restaurants had placed a few tables up by the water’s edge. I knew he thought I’d never do it and I was more than a little tipsy so I pulled my strapless dress off there and then and jumped straight in. The water was freezing and I rushed to the surface, squealing.

Tom was bent over with laughter. Reaching down to pull me up out of the water, he gripped me in his tanned arms and a wave of electricity ran between us. I hadn’t been wearing a bra and, as I clambered up to him, I realised my tiny knickers were see-through from the water. Of course I felt self-conscious, but as his eyes flickered along my body, lingering on my hardened nipples, I almost forgot my embarrassment. I wanted him to look at me, I felt like it was the first time that he’d really seen me. A wave of energy rushed through me, tingling between my thighs. If I hadn’t seen the waiter walking over just then, well, I don’t know for certain, but I felt sure he’d have kissed me.

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I pulled my dress on before I was seen and we sat back down to finish our drinks, but the atmosphere had changed completely. Every other night we’d been howling with laughter and taking the piss out of each other. Suddenly we were quiet, the air between us heavy with expectancy. I remember how excited I felt, but also how frustrated I was that this was only happening now, the night before we went home.

On our way back to his auntie’s apartment, he put his arm around me, a gesture that he’d repeated a hundred times, but this one it was different, more tentative, his fingers gently circling my sun-kissed shoulder. My heart was pounding, my senses felt heightened. The smell of salt water in my hair was mingling with the subtle scent of his skin. The humid night air felt like it was closing in on me with sound of music and people and chatting in the restaurants that we passed. Everything was intensified and unreal. My mind was already in his auntie’s flat, me sat on the edge of her dining table with him stood kissing my neck, pushing my dress up to my waist and slipping inside me. Tom, my best friend Tom, licking the salt water off my skin and biting down on my breasts.

But none of that was meant to be. His aunty was waiting for us with a room full of friends and neighbours. In front of this crowd of people, we slipped straight back into our familiar roles, Jess and Tom, totally platonic friends.

“Tom, my best friend Tom, licking the salt water off my skin and biting down on my breasts”

I wasn’t able to sleep that night though; it was infuriating knowing that he was lying there in the next room, tantalisingly close. I imagined him naked in bed, fighting with the blanket in the heat, as sleepless as me. I couldn’t stand it, the desire that he’d awakened in me had to be released. I slipped my fingers between my legs and imagined Tom’s strong hands running up my thighs, his hot, hard lips and soft, wet tongue inside me. I bit down on my lip and clenched the sheets. With the thought of him, hard and thick, pulsing inside of me, I reached a shuddering orgasm, before falling into a frustrated sleep.

I kiss goodbye to Andreas and Peter and bolt the door of the cafe behind them as they walk out into the dark night. It’s been a long, busy day and they’ve earned their tips, showing every customer the enthusiasm that we take pride in at Te Quiero. When the owner told me that he wanted to take a step back to start a new venture, I wouldn’t stop at the pay rise he offered me, I reeled off my ideas for a renovation and insisted on being made a shareholder. It’s a tiny amount, but it makes a massive difference. I no longer feel as though I’m throwing my energy into someone else’s project. I’m doing this for me and it’s given me the confidence to turn my life around.

“I’m doing this for me and it’s given me the confidence to turn my life around”

I walk through to the little back office, checking off the changes I’ve made with pride. The wall that I’ve dedicated for local artists to exhibit their work on is constantly changing. A portrait of a proud, moustachioed man with friendly eyes reminds me of Tom’s dad. I log in to Facebook at the office computer, welcoming the mindless distraction that will help me to switch off after a busy day. I click onto Tom’s profile page and have a flick through his pictures. This has become a habit lately, before I know it, I find I’ve wasted half an hour looking at pictures of Tom on a beach in Thailand surrounded by bikinied girls, Tom on the back of a motorbike straddling one of his mates, Tom’s familiar, magnetic grin, Tom at a food market bartering. Then, “Hi stranger” – a live message from the man himself – pops up in the corner of my screen.

I blush guiltily; does he know that I’ve been stalking him?

Me: Hi you, how’s Thailand / Laos / wherever the hell you are?

Him: Back at Cassa Davidson. But they were all great thanks.

Me: Oh my god! You’re home? I’ve forgotten my embarrassment; I’m so excited to be talking to my old friend again.

Him: Certainly am. Want to meet up soon?

Me: Yes, I’d love to. It’s been too long. As soon as you’ve recovered from your jet lag you have to come round. I’m living in Holloway now and working in a gorgeous little cafe, Te Quiero, you’ll love it!

Him: I’ve heard. I miss you Jess, it’s been over a year.

Me: I know, I miss you too. I’m so sorry that I never came to your leaving – things were messy back then. When can you visit? Wednesday?

Him: Might have to help out at the restaurant, I’m skint, but I’ll let you know.

Me: Amazing, can’t wait! XX

Him: Me neither. X

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I walk to the bus stop with a spring in my step. I’ve missed Tom so much, the way he makes me laugh, his surprising shyness if I ever succeed in making him blush, the midnight feasts that we’d make after a night out. I’ve been kicking myself for sacrificing our friendship, all for my ex’s ego. I can finally see how futile it was. Nothing I did or didn’t do would have made him have faith in me. And Tom is the only guy that I’ve ever had a real, uncomplicated friendship with. Well, mostly uncomplicated.

I’ve got the next day off and spend the morning pottering around in Camden Market. In my mind, I plan what meal I’ll pick out for Tom when he comes to the café, deciding that halloumi with chorizo, apricot and a green bean salad will be the perfect combination. I try to see Te Quiero through his eyes. How will he see me now I’m finally realising my ambition to run my own restaurant?

After finding a 1930s mirror, a cashmere throw and a box of wine glasses for the flat, I cart my new purchases back on the bus. When I get to the door of my building there’s a tall, tanned man holding a massive bunch of sunflowers at my door. It’s Tom, grinning at me widely.

“House warming present,” he says as I carelessly drop my bags at my feet and wrap my arms around him.

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“Oh my god, thank you. How did you know where I lived? You look so well? These are so beautiful,” I cry, ecstatic and flustered and utterly surprised.

“I went to your café and you weren’t there, so I called Nicki and she gave me your address.”

By this point we’re climbing the stairs to my flat. I’m juggling the flowers and all of my bags. Tom looks awkward, as though he doesn’t know what to do with his hands.

I show him into my studio and feel suddenly self-conscious.

“I’ve only just moved in, there’s a lot of work to do on it yet,” I say, apologetically.

“It’s great, Jess,” he says. He’s not looking at the room at all but staring at me, really staring.

“You’re gorgeous.” I say. Not “You look well.” Or “How are you?” All I can come up with is the truth. He’s tanned, toned and bigger than I remember him being, he seems to fill the whole flat, towering above me.

He doesn’t say anything but cups my chin in his hand, stroking my cheek with his thumb. I freeze. I don’t know how to react, I don’t want to breeze over this gesture and spoil the moment. I want to press myself up against his hard, warm body. This is not the Tom that I remember. It’s disorientating that he can seem at once so familiar and so utterly new and exciting.

“I’ve missed you,” he says.

I can feel how much he means it and I rush towards him for a hug, but as I go to press my face into his chest he lifts it upwards gently and kisses me full on the mouth.

”As I go to press my face into his chest he lifts it upwards gently and kisses me on the mouth”

In that moment I’m undone. My desire floods to the surface and my hands run up to his face, kissing him fast and hard. He meets each of my kisses, pulling me closer, his hands up under my T-shirt, bringing every inch of skin to life with his touch. We pull each other’s tops off, hungrily, as he pushes me down to the floor, undressing and kissing me all at once. When I’m right down to my pants, opening my legs to him, he stops, kneeling above me, his chest rippling above the waistband of his jeans.

“I’ve waited so long for this moment, let’s not rush it,” he says, lifting my foot up to his mouth and kissing each of my toes. He moves up along the inside of my legs, licking and kissing and stroking my skin with his cheek. He is everything that I’ve ever fantasised about and more. As he kisses my stomach, he slides his hand inside of me and he must feel how aroused I am, because he groans.

“You’re beautiful, Jess,” he whispers in my ear, “so beautiful.”

And I feel it. More beautiful than I’ve ever felt in my life. My hips are raised off the floor, tense and expectant, willing him to go deeper and deeper inside of me. He answers each of my groans but then teases me, withdrawing his fingers with a stroke and entering again until I’m ready to explode.

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I reach into his jeans and tug at him, but he keeps whispering, “Not yet Jess, not yet.” He waits until I come, waves of pleasure surging through me, and with his hand still inside of me he turns me over onto all fours, pulling me up onto his lap so that I’m kneeling with my back to him. I expect him to take his hand away but he leaves it in there, slowly stroking me, reaching further and further with his fingertips whilst his other hand kneads my breast, kissing my back the whole time. Another orgasm shudders through me.

I’m still clenching and releasing in pleasure when he takes his hand away. I glance back over my shoulder and see that he’s pulled a condom out of his pocket. My mind reels, how did he know to bring a condom? Did he plan for this to happen? I expect myself to feel outraged but instead I’m even more turned on.

He slips inside of me, controlling my movements with his hands gripping my waist. It’s totally overwhelming, but at the same time, I never want it to stop. I swivel round and wrap my legs around his back, gripping onto the back of his neck and looking straight into his beautiful blue eyes. “Oh God,” he groans and speeds up, pushing me back onto my elbows so that he can lean forwards, and kiss my breasts.

“It’s totally overwhelming, but at the same time, I never want it to stop”

When I see that he’s about to orgasm I feel so aroused, so full of desire, that I climax again, clutching him closer as we shiver against each other.

We lie back on the carpet and Tom rests his head on my stomach, slowly stroking my legs. There’s so much to say but we’re both too exhausted to speak and I wouldn’t know where to begin.

After fifteen minutes of just lying there, he props his head up on one elbow and stares at me, his eyes twinkling with a smile.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” I laugh.

“I know, it’s crazy. I thought about you so much when I was away, and when I heard that you’d broken up with Sam…”

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But while we’ve been lying there in silence, my mind has been running away with me. I’m not ready to dive into another relationship yet; I don’t know what Tom’s plan is or even where he’s going to live. I’ve just got my best friend back and I don’t want to loose him again. But the idea of slipping straight back into being just mates, of him getting another girlfriend, is enough to make me feel sick.

“Tom, what’s going to happen? I’ve missed you so much, I don’t want to spoil our friendship, but I can’t lose you again. And I need this time, this place, to myself for a bit. But you can’t just waltz in here and do this and expect nothing to change. I don’t know what this means to you but everything is going to change.”

“Jess, calm down,” he says softly, placing a finger on my lips. “I understand. I don’t know what I’m doing either. I’ve only just got back from travelling. All that I know is that I’ve wanted for this to happen for a long time.”

“Since Spain?” I ask, tentatively.

“Maybe even before that. And there’s a whole list of things that I want to do with you before we start questioning this,” he says, running his fingertips over my lips.

The knot of anxiety that’s built up in my stomach ebbs away immediately. I reach across and stroke his muscular arm.

“What else is on this list then?” I ask shyly.

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He stands up and pulls me to my feet. Cupping my bottom in his hands he leans in for a long, slow kiss. I feel him harden against me and in one swift motion he’s pulled me up off the floor. Instinctively, I hook my legs around him. In between kisses and bites on my neck he starts to stream off his fantasies about us.

“I want to have you in the shower, on that coffee table, on every surface in your café, I want to kiss each inch of your body, I want to taste you, outside, in my car, on that beach in Spain, I want to watch you touch yourself.”

I groan as he drops me onto the bed.

Propping myself up on one elbow, I slip my hand in between my legs, not taking my eyes off him for a second.

“Let’s start there then,” I say, feeling more confident and sexual than I’ve ever felt in my life before, “and when we’ve crossed everything off your list…”

“Don’t worry about that,” he says, “it’s a very long list.”

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Does marijuana really improve your sex life, and if so, how?

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Here’s what you need to know.

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Since the dawn of medicine, people have sought elixirs, pills and countless other remedies to improve intimacy and sexual performance. Pharmaceutical companies have made leaps and bounds in this field, with several major achievements, most famously Viagra in the 1990s.

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While pharmaceuticals undergo significant tests and trials, herbal and natural remedies like cannabis often spread by word of mouth and personal recommendation. Cannabis, in fact, has been used to improve intimacy and sexual pleasure for generations.

As marijuana popularity increases and it becomes legal in more locations, tests and studies of marijuana’s benefits are slowly becoming more available. Does marijuana really improve your sex life, and if so, how?

Before looking at how marijuana improves sex, it is best to understand what the root of sexual problems is first.

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“A lot of the understanding that needs to go into a discussion around cannabis and sexuality has less to do with cannabis and more to do with sexuality,” Jordan Tishler, a leading expert on cannabinoid therapeutics, told SELF.

When you understand sexuality, desire and the mental and physical blockages that can occur, it is easier to see how and why cannabis can improve intimacy. 

What can often keep sex from being enjoyable are mental blocks. Anxiety and tension both factor into a lack of sexual desire.

When these sexual pleasure inhibitors are removed, intimacy can improve. In other words, marijuana may not only increase pleasure, but by removing elements that hinder sexual enjoyment it can make the overall experience much more enjoyable.

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As we’ve reported before, researchers have found that it’s not anandamide that’s released during orgasm, rather it’s 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), an endocannabinoid that plays a role in the reward aspect of sexual arousal and orgasm. Also, while under the influence of THC, a person’s senses are enhanced and they’re less likely to experience anxiety or other negative feelings surrounding sex.

Marijuana, it seems, can help the mind and body relax, simply allowing a person to enjoy the moment.

More and more, studies are finding that cannabis is leading many to have improved sexual function and better sex in general. According to one recently released study, “the effects of cannabis on heightened perceptions, time distortion, relaxation, and decreased inhibition were hypothesized as explanations for this improvement in sexual function.”

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While marijuana has shown it can improve intimacy for many, it is critical you consider your dosage and how you get high. Over-consumption of marijuana can lead to lethargy and a lack of desire to perform any task, sex included. If you plan to get high with your partner, be sure to consider the right method of ingesting cannabis to ensure you are both on the same wavelength.

The general consensus is that if you are trying to enjoy the experience with your partner, edibles are not the best bet. ”Edibles are too slow and unpredictable to be very helpful for sex involving two or more people who need to be ready at the same time,” Dr. Tishler told Insider. Edibles take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to take effect, which makes planning intimate time with your partner a bit difficult.

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Instead, maybe opt for a few puffs of a joint or a vape — something that has rapid effects, but is not so potent that you cannot control your dosage. Keep in mind that although these recent studies have shown cannabis can improve intimacy, other studies have shown the sluggish and negative effects of consuming too much THC.

Cannabis is by no means the cure for all intimacy issues. In fact, it is not currently prescribed by doctors to assist in that department. It is, however, legal in many states. So if couples therapy or other routes don’t sound appealing or aren’t working, you may want to take a trip with your partner to visit your local budtender.

The, a U.S. lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.

Subscribe to Weekend Dispensary, a weekly newsletter from The GrowthOp.

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You may not know the technical term, but I’m guessing many reading this will know the sensation: skin hunger. Humans are social animals, and one of our social needs is touch, and the (hopefully) pleasant sensation it brings. Expanding that into sexual desire, for most people, is also something craved, and the lack of it can lead to terrible psychological distress. So why shouldn’t people be allowed to pay for these services, and for someone to provide them, without shame or moral quandry? What happens between consenting adults is no one else’s business – but what happens when sex, which can be such an intimate act, is a business?

Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, Animals) once again turns her deft hand to people exploring their freedom, sexuality, and sexual desire in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. Written by Katy Brand, starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, this is an absolute banger of a (almost complete) two-hander, addressing sexual needs, sexual awakening, privacy, sex work, and intimacy in all its forms.

Nancy (Thompson) is just passed 60 years of age, recently widowed, recently retired, and as she readily admits, has lead a very mundance life. Her job was dull, her children bore her, she doesn’t seem to feel the loss of her husband. But she does feel the loss of time, specifically time devoted to her own sexual pleasure, which has been decidely absent her entire life. Enter Leo Grande (McCormack), a sex worker Nancy has hired. Leo has a varied clientele with a variety of needs and desires, not always centred around sex.

Leo Grande isn’t just a person, of course, but a performance. Leo knows that his clients each want a different experience; each experience requires a different Leo to perform for them, and, like any good sex worker, Leo knows his job well. He doesn’t always get it right at first, but he has a talent for sensing what his clients want. And he knows that, while Nancy craves the kind of sex she dutifully lists for him, she always wants intimacy of the more cerebral kind, that leads into good sex.

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Leo knows that Nancy needs care and confidence; he provides that to her. And even though she knows that she is paying him for this service, the result is the same. Almost every scene happens in one hotel room, almost in real time, and yet Hyde never allows us to be bored. With as much intimacy (arguably more) than a live theatre piece, we are privy to how Leo learns and teaches, and how Nancy adapts and grows. It’s a quiet joy to watch Nancy and Leo talk at one moment about blow jobs, and the next about the lies Leo tells his mother to protect her from the truth of his profession.

Even if Nancy thinks she’s educated and a feminist, she still has some rather arcance ideas of how women should behave, and how she thinks Leo should feel about his job. Even if Leo thinks he’s just performing a service, he often fails to see the effect that service can have in a negative way. Brand’s script does not shy away from a bit of skewering of heteronormativity and the rigid moral structure most cultures have placed on sexual pleasure and its connection to sex work, the need that most humans have for touch and connection.

It won’t come as a surprise that Thompson shines in this role, mixing her comedic and dramatic talents to portray a somewhat atypical character for the actress, with a bravery to showing this woman’s most vulnerable side almost immediately. McCormack more than holds his own; he shows Leo’s journey as the opposite, at first keeping his mask firmly in place until this maddening client forces it off him. Hyde knows exactly how to place these characters before the camera, allowing them to be free in their discoveries, both good and bad.

With a fierce honestly and a dry wit, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande asks us all why we can’t enjoy touch, sex, pleasure, the way we want (safely, consensually), with or without strings, as human needs demand. Deceptively nuanced, it asks us to confront our own ideas of what makes us strong and happy, and how we view those who sell this kind of service.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

  • Emma Thompson
  • Daryl McCormack
  • Isabella Laughland

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Taika Waititi on why Lightyear’s LGBT love story is essential after UAE ban

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Taika Waititi has opened up on the importance of Lightyear’s LGBT love story after the film was banned in the United Arab Emirates.

The Thor: Ragnarok director lends his voice to the new Toy Story spin-off film, focused on Chris Evans’ Buzz Lightyear.

The movie features a sweet romance between Uzo Aduba’s Alisha Hawthorne and another character in a series of scenes that has led to Lightyear becoming the latest movie to be banned in the UAE.

Speaking to at the Lightyear red carpet, Taika said of the same-sex love story: ‘I think it’s so awesome.

‘It would be wonderful to one day get to a place where it doesn’t have to be a talking point. The idea that, to go and watch a movie and that’s your big problem? That’s crazy!

‘You never hear people going, “Oh, did you see that movie where that man and that woman kissed?!” If we can just let that go, love is love, if we can normalise it, then we’re moving towards a good space.

‘And when studios make these tiny little steps towards that, just like having a same-sex relationship, it’s just steps towards normalising it and I think you can’t ask for more than that.’

Taika and Chris had a blast at the Lightyear premiere in London (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
He voices the new version of Buzz (Picture: Invision/AP)
Taika opened up about the same-sex love story (Picture: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock)

While the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office did not give a specific reason for its decision, it stated vaguely on Monday that the Disney and Pixar film was banned for its ‘violation of the country’s media content standards’.

The country criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults.


Lightyear follows Buzz’s adventures as a marooned Space Ranger (Picture: PIXAR)
Fans are set to see a whole new side to him (Picture: Pixar)
Uzo Aduba’s character Hawthorne is featured in a sweet same-sex love story (Picture: Getty Images for Turner)

Taking to Twitter, the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office posted an image of Buzz Lightyear in the new film, crossed out with a red line.

This action was taken despite the country declaring it would stop censoring cinematic releases and would introduce a 21-plus age rating for films it classifies for older audiences just six months ago.

Keke Palmer also has an important role in the film (Picture: Karwai Tang)
(L-R) Taika Waititi, Tim Peake, Keke Palmer and Chris Evans at the UK premiere of Lightyear (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The same-sex scene was reportedly originally cut from the film by Disney.

It was reinstated following the uproar surrounding a statement from Pixar employees claiming that Disney had been censoring ‘overtly gay affection’ and the company’s CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Last year, Pixar’s Onward, a 2020 American computer-animated urban fantasy adventure film, was also reportedly banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents.

Lightyear follows Buzz on his adventures as a marooned Space Ranger, in the movie a young Andy could have watched before the events of the Toy Story films.

Lightyear is released in the UK on June 17.

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MORE : Nicola Adams’ girlfriend Ella Baig bares baby bump at Lightyear premiere as couple prepare to welcome first child

MORE : Lightyear review: Toy Story spin-off remains earthbound, but there is a cute cat

Taika Waititi on why Toy Story spin-off Lightyear’s same-sex love story is essential after UAE ban

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review: Emma Thompson’s Sexual Awakening Comedy Is As Seductive As It Is Heartfelt

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Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review | Movie

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Retired teacher and widow Nancy Stokes (Thompson) hires handsome sex worker Leo Grande (McCormack) to help her achieve the sexual fulfilment long missing from her marriage. Over several meetings, Leo aids Nancy in working through her anxieties to find satisfaction while also trying to keep up conjugal appearances.

There is no shortage of sexual awakening stories centred on young ladies’ experience of the big O for the first time. Unfortunately, far too many women go through life without climaxing at all — and this is where comedian and screenwriter Katy Brand has stepped in to fill that orgasm gap. With Sophie Hyde on directing duties, this is an endearing, bubbly and heartening two-hander about female pleasure from a mature woman’s perspective. Together with Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, Brand and Hyde have captured that particularly dry style of humour and matter-of-factness so typical of the British romcom, with a sex-positive flair.

Thompson gives us everything. An award-winning screenwriter herself, it’s abundantly clear the actor has invested both personally and creatively in her repressed ex-schoolteacher. Nancy is a flood of contradictions: vulnerable and assertive, liberally minded but sexually conservative, straight-talking yet easily embarrassed by phrases like “anal sex”. She might be the older woman, but early on Thompson plays her almost like a 16-year-old about to pop her cherry, wide-eyed insecurity and nervous energy vibrating off her body. Like Aubrey Plaza’s feminist teen lead in The To Do List, she has a catalogue of carnal pleasures to experience for the first time, and Leo is the man to do just that.

Brand’s script takes great care to dissect the ambiguities around sex and sex work without shame.

A calming foil to his tightly wound client, McCormack serves as a charismatic receptacle to Thompson’s anxious stream-of-consciousness, as well as a mirror to her more generational, mother-knows-best prejudices. Even as you empathise with the chaotic way Nancy unpacks her fears and sexual desires, the patient mask Leo wears rarely slips; it’s only her questions about his life, aspirations and reasons for being in his profession that cause his poise to falter. The underlying tension doesn’t quite rip but ripples as McCormark’s placid demeanour shifts, forcing a deeper interrogation for them both.

A Norwich hotel room sets the stage for this tête-à-tête; its beige decor of muted colours doesn’t pull focus and dulls any erotic charge. 
It’s not without its sensuality — at moments, the camera luxuriates in both their bodies — but naturalistic lighting grounds the encounter in the awkward, transactional reality. Navigating the power dynamic between client and sex worker, older white woman and young biracial man, Brand might have probed a bit deeper instead of tying up things so neatly. But in avoiding racial clichés and exploitative moments, her script takes great care to dissect the ambiguities around sex and sex work without shame, a lot of compassion and welcome comic relief. With bold direction, this is a healthy, relatable romp every man and woman should make time for.

Deftly handled direction from Sophie Hyde and a thoroughly impressive dual performance from Emma Thompson 
and Daryl McCormack enlivens an electric script, tackling taboo sexual subjects with wit, flair and welcome realism.

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Erotic Cookbooks and Their Long, Naughty History

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A couple of years ago, Lizzy Young, a vintage cookbook dealer based in Newport, Rhode Island, began to notice a growing market for erotic cookbooks — books that typically employ naughty visuals and heavily entendred recipes in the service of seduction through culinary prowess.

“Every time I put one up it sells really quick,” says Young. “The newer generation is interested in fun, kitschy, slapstick stuff.” These days, she adds, vintage cookbooks of this nature can go for up to $100 in her online shop, almost double what she could sell them for a few years ago. While it’s tempting to tie this current demand to the appeal of erotic cookbooks as gag gifts, that misses the role they play as cultural artifacts of changing attitudes toward sex and sexuality throughout American history.

According to Katharina Vester, a professor of history at American University, it can be hard to define what qualifies as an erotic cookbook, since literature linking food and sex dates back to ancient times. But to Vester, the author of A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities, the erotic cookbook’s modern era began in the 1950s with the launch of Playboy’s food and drinks column, which the magazine subsequently spun into a series of cookbooks. (Food & Wine, for what it’s worth, began its life in 1978 as a Playboy supplement.)

“I would argue that the erotic cookbook is an invention of the male cook,” Vester says — specifically a midcentury “playboy bachelor-type who doesn’t yet have a wife to cook for him, so he performatively shows his dominance and independence through pseudo-gourmet cooking for seduction.” As such, midcentury erotic cookbooks “were all about insinuating that if you cook for a woman, you can get her to bed,” she explains. As Thomas Mario, Playboy’s erstwhile food and drinks editor, once wrote, “The smell of burning apple wood and the crackling fire beneath the thick prime steaks makes her secretly swoon.”

Due to the era’s censorship and restrictive societal and cultural codes, cookbooks with a premise of food as a pathway to sex weren’t explicitly sexual. Where titles aimed at men framed cooking as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink way to get laid, those targeting women upheld marital bliss as the ultimate prize. According to Vester, this impulse to cast food and cooking as a “stand-in for heteronormative sexuality” dates back to the end of the 19th century, a time when there was a cultural push for unmarried women to use cooking “to find husbands, and for married women to find ways to keep their husbands.”

That said, there were some exceptions. Twelve years before she became the New York Times’ first female restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton authored The Seducer’s Cookbook, a 1963 tome containing, as she wrote, “helpful and hilarious hints for situations into which men may lure women and vice versa.” Sheraton casts women as equal-opportunity seducers, something more or less unheard of at the time. “What we are concerned with here is the delectable and subtle art of luring, tempting, enticing, leading someone into going to bed with you in the most delightful way possible,” she writes. “For if the seduction is planned artfully, it can whet your sexual appetite in the same way that a piquant hor d’oeuvre prepares your palate for the main course to come.” Sheraton treats seduction cooking as perfectly acceptable outside of marriage, and offers ideas for what to make the morning after. There are cheeky illustrations of topless women sprinkled among the recipes for strawberries chantilly, shrimp bisque, and dandelion salad. Perhaps the most notable thing about this very notable book is the fact it was published at all.

In the ’70s, as sexual freedom filtered through American culture and the modern porn industry began to boom, erotic cookbooks also enjoyed something of a renaissance: Sex Pots…And Pans (1970), Fanny Hill’s Cook Book (1971), Lewd Food: The Complete Guide to Aphrodisiac Edibles (1974), Aphrodisiac Cookbook: Meals to Pep Up Your Love Life (1975), and Food for Lovers (1977) were just a few of the many titles published that decade. Some were campy, some pornographic, and some veered toward prudish, opting for coded language about love rather than direct discussions of seduction.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Goodspeed

Lewd Food, which falls at the campy/pornographic end of the spectrum, describes itself as a book for “bawdy love games from stove to mattress” as well as for the “sex maniac’s quick weightloss lust diet.” At the more demure end is Aphrodisiac Cookery (1970), which accompanies its recipe for simmered milk with honey with a description of sweets as “proper fare for the sweetheart,” able to open the “body and soul of the receiver.” Similarly, the 1970 Lovers Dining — written by Irena Chalmers, a prolific and award-winning cookbook author — contains recipes that wouldn’t be out of place on the typical Valentine’s Day restaurant menu (clams casino, apricot parfait) but no outright sexual elements. Its intent is largely signaled by its title.

Although erotic cookbooks, with the exception of Playboy’s titles, have remained on the fringes of the cookbook publishing industry, today’s aficionados have nudged them ever so slightly toward more mainstream appreciation. You can find them on Instagram, where the account @70sdinnerparty posts vintage cookbook covers with names like Cooking in the Nude for Golf Lovers (clothes-free cooking, for the record, isn’t inherently sexual), and through cookbook sellers like Lizzy Young and Brooklyn’s Archestratus Books and Food. Meanwhile, the demand for bakeries making sex-themed treats, though not a new concept, is surging again.

The genre’s legacy has seeped into unlikely corners of popular culture. To help create the look of the titular magazine for Minx, HBO’s show about a fictional 1970s porn magazine for women, designer Elizabeth Goodspeed looked to her collection of ’70s-era romantic and erotic cookbooks, which she admires for their illustrative elements. “I’ve always been interested in collecting work that is hedonistic,” she says. “Food and sex, things that tap into base parts of being a human, in design tend to be dialed-up and kitschy more than other areas.”

Illustration was a general trend across the cookbook industry in the ’70s but one particularly well-suited to the genre, given its content and limited budgets. According to Goodspeed, the graphic design elements that distinguish the bulk of the era’s erotic cookbooks track with its corresponding trends in illustration, which was dominated by the psychedelia-tinged style of illustrators like Peter Max and Push Pin Studios. The 1979 Aphrodisia: A Guide to Sexual Food, Herbs, and Drugs, prefaces recipes intended to make readers “horny, hungry, and happy” with an illustrated cover that shows a naked man and woman sprouting from flowers that grow from a plate.

The cover of Aphrodisia: a naked man and woman rise out of flowers that sprout from a plate. Illustration.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Goodspeed

Charming as they can be, erotic cookbooks are not without their (sexist) baggage — just like many documents of our changing sexual mores. Many of them, no matter the era, are written through the male gaze, and for a cisgendered-heteronormative audience. As Vester notes, the erotic cookbooks marketed to men promote the notion of women being discardable and ingestible, not unlike a meal itself.

The problem, Emily Contois points out, isn’t confined to the erotic cookbook genre: it’s in the “dude masculinity” that fills the pages of many cookbooks aimed at men. “We tend to think of men cooking at home as egalitarian, as sharing food labor, but these ‘men’s cookbooks’ show how that sense of equal power doesn’t actually materialize,” says Contois, author of Diners, Dudes, and Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture. That failure is perfectly (if unfortunately) encapsulated by this Amazon review of The Playboy Gourmet: “My first impression of this book was, ‘Damn, where are all the naked ladies’…If you are single and like to cook and want to have sex with women you cook for then buy this book.”

That isn’t to say women haven’t exercised agency within the erotic cookbook genre. Along with Sheraton’s The Seducer’s Cookbook, titles such as the aforementioned Sex Pots…And Pans, Food For Love: What to Eat and Drink to Arouse Your Erotic Power (1968), and Dirty Dining: A Cookbook and More for Lovers (1993) attempt to position women as being in charge of their sexuality, through cooking.

But that doesn’t mean they should be used as a mirror for contemporary progressive ideas. “Some of the earlier erotic cookbooks were in some ways radical, but don’t necessarily stand the same test of time,” says Rachel Hope Cleves, a history professor who is writing a book about food and sexuality, with a section about the history of erotic cookbooks. She adds that we perhaps “ask too much of them,” to fit in today’s feminism.

Whatever their failings, erotic cookbooks — much like the broader erotica genre — can also function as an outlet for marginalized people to express themselves and find empowerment. Vester, who, like Cleves, has written about the history of the queer cookbook, points to the 1998 Lesbian Erotic Cookbook as an example: Written by and for women, it features recipes intended to nourish, along with photographs of naked female bodies that reject notions of mainstream beauty standards. Or consider The Men of Fire Island Present Hot Cookin, its pages scattered with photographs of partially nude gay men; published in 1994, amid the AIDS epidemic, it reads as a defiantly joyous celebration of body positivity. (Young, for her part, says it continues to sell well for her shop.)

Self-empowerment is similarly a focus for the new generation interested in vintage cookbooks. “Some of what our zine is trying to do is turn those tropes [of cooking to get a husband] on their heads and endorse baking for our own hedonistic pleasure, instead of thinking about it as the sort of simple thing to be offered up to a husband or as a mode of seduction,” Tanya Bush, a baker and the co-founder of the self-published Cake Zine, whose first issue is called “Sexy Cake,” told Eater.

That kind of sex positivity has found its way into the food media, too. After leaving her job at the food blog the Takeout at the start of the year, the James Beard Award-nominated writer Allison Robicelli decided to bet on herself and start what she calls “a serialized NSFW food-centric erotic soap opera, with recipes” in the form of a Substack newsletter. “It’s like Fifty Shades erotica with food,” Robicelli explains. It’s been especially cathartic for her to create content about women 40 and older, who are too often left out of horny discourse.

Now, Robicelli is working on an erotic cookbook that she hopes to sell to a publisher. “Everyone knows food can be disastrous in the bedroom, [but] I love that playfulness and silliness,” she says — it’s something, she adds, that can be missing from food publications. Robicelli imagines that the recipes in her forthcoming cookbook will diverge from the conventions of what qualifies as horny food. “It goes beyond oysters and that kind of thing,” she says of aphrodisiacs. Later, over email, she offers a case in point: “A sloppy sandwich is the sexiest food known to humankind. Seriously, eat a pastrami sandwich in bed and tell me how good it feels. (You don’t need a partner for this).”

If Robicelli succeeds, her cookbook will be one of the scant few contemporary examples of the genre; so far, the younger generation’s love of vintage titles hasn’t translated to a demand for new ones. And no matter how much erotic cookbooks may wax and wane in popularity, they will emphatically remain not for everyone. When approached for comment for this story, the owner of a lauded New York City vintage cookbook shop replied, “Thanks, for asking, but—ick!” Nevertheless, she was later kind enough to share a list of titles that might be worth exploring.

“And,” she wrote, “that’s all I have to say on the subject (gag).”

Clay Hickson is an illustrator living in Los Angeles, California. He is also the owner/operator of Caboose, a small publisher of mediocre quality.

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Caroline Spiegel Is Rethinking Porn for the Next Generation

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Women have been struggling with how to have it all since, well, ever. For Caroline Spiegel, the answer may lay in the bedroom. Her view on it: We can’t fully show up for ourselves or others until we’re really, truly “served in the most intimate parts of our lives.”

It’s a mission that drives Spiegel, the founder and CEO of sexual wellness app Quinn. Built for women by women, Quinn is designed to provide an alternative to conventional visual pornography. 

In 2019, Spiegel was recovering from anorexia and one of the side effects she experienced was a lack of libido. Unable to orgasm, she turned to porn in hopes of getting back into her groove but became frustrated with the content available on major sites like Pornhub and YouPorn. Not seeing her arousal reflected in the content was, simply put, not sexy. 

“We can say that it’s an act and fantasy and play, but it’s actually contributing to a very large industry,” Spiegel says. “That is the sort of studio porn model that historically has really exploited women.”

She eventually found an audio erotica Internet community and fell in love with the medium. Captivated, she dropped out of her computer systems program at Stanford and moved to New York to start Quinn. By removing the often-degrading visual elements of porn, audio erotica allows listeners to focus solely on the fantasy at play. There’s nothing quite so thrilling as hearing someone focus all of their energy on you, whether you’re in the mood for some gentle aftercare or something rougher. Spiegel describes the experience as “closer to Headspace” than to Pornhub. 

For $4.99 a month, the app offers subscribers a library of various erotic audios uploaded by creators called “voices.” Content categories include gentle and rough, dominant and submissive, friends to lovers, and even historical for those looking to get their Bridgerton fix. Male and female voices are included in the library with MLM and WLW audios offered as well. 

“I can really get lost in these worlds,” Spiegel says. “Whether I’m in an audio about the Victorian era, or a fight with your ex-boyfriend that turns steamy…whatever it is, it really can transport you.”

For Spiegel, gender equality goes beyond equal pay and fights in the courtroom—it extends to the bedroom as well, and providing an imaginative ethical porn platform ultimately services women. “Zooming out, the public sector can only go so far,” Spiegel says. “At a certain point, it’s up to the private sector to be like, ‘Okay, what are the products and services women need to be more fulfilled, happier, and just served as customers in our society.”

For Glamour‘s Doing the Work series, Caroline Spiegel shares her experience navigating the porn industry as a female CEO, plus the advice and routines that help her along the way.

Do you have a morning routine?

Caroline Spiegel: I walk to a grocery store near me, and I sometimes bring my dog on the walk. I get two cold brews. One is for around 11 a.m., and the first one is for the morning time. I take a shower and whenever I take a shower, I listen to a podcast. My favorites right now are Pivot and Acquired. I have no routine other than those three things.

So beyond the two cold brews, are you a breakfast person?

I’ll get a breakfast burrito at Erewhon, or they have this really good almond butter smoothie. I can’t say I’m a huge breakfast person, but when I am hungry, I’ll do one of those.

What was your first childhood dream job?

Oh, I know this one! Olympic swimmer.

Did you swim?

I did—well, kind of. I just remember I loved swimming. I was obsessed with it. I thought Michael Phelps was the coolest person ever.

And what was your first actual job?

I worked in a robotics lab at USC, actually. It was called the human-robot Interaction Lab. I was an intern, and I was an assistant to researchers.

How do you typically deal with any rejection or setbacks?

I take a moment and ask, “What can I learn from this?” Are there any productive insights we can glean from this situation and why I was rejected? I pick those up and take them with me. The rest of it, I just throw away. It’s not of service anymore to sit and mope on or ruminate on why they didn’t like me, or why wasn’t a fit. If there are any concrete lessons I can take, then I’ll put those in my little metaphorical backpack and keep on trucking.

What is the best piece of career advice that you’ve personally received?

I think it was from my mom. It was something about how bees go to honey. That was the general premise of the advice, but it was basically: Be someone that people enjoy working with. Don’t be a dick. Just be kind to others—even and especially if you really don’t like them.

The porn industry is a very male-dominated one. What is your experience navigating it as a female CEO?

Whether it’s with an investor or just anyone I’m talking to about Quinn, a lot of their views have already been shaped by consuming Pornhub-type content once, twice, three, four times a week since they were 14. It puts me at a disadvantage going into that conversation, especially because I don’t even know: How does this person feel about porn? What kind of shame do they have? Do they have no shame? Are they interested in this? For some people, it can be a sensitive topic.

What is your biggest at-work challenge?

Something I’m working on is prioritization. Even if I think to myself in the morning, “What’s the one thing I need to get done today?” versus the nice-to-have. It’s kind of the name of the game because you could do really great work on something, but then it’s just not particularly impactful and not high-priority.

Explain a moment where you realized, “I might actually be successful.”

I’ll go on Twitter and search “the Quinn app.” Not people who have tagged us, but people who are talking about it. When we first started Quinn, all of them would be technical issues or, “This is such a stupid app, it’s broken and it’s not working.” Probably a year ago is when I saw, “Oh my gosh, every woman needs Quinn” or “Download Quinn.” I just felt so relieved and happy that it was working. That was a big moment.

After a long productive day, what is your favorite treat for yourself?

I love the Real Housewives. Every city, especially Atlanta and Beverly Hills. So I would say just really sinking my teeth into, you know, a reunion episode. Anything with a lot of drama.

What is your go-to thank you gift?

I have to say flowers. Particularly, tulips.

If you weren’t currently CEO of Quinn, what career do you think you would be in?

I think I would probably be working at a startup or in the tech space. I worked at this company called Protocol Labs in college, which was a company that was trying to decentralize the internet, sort of like Pied Piper in Silicon Valley, and I really love that. So I feel like I would be doing something in that vein.

Originally Appeared on Glamour

Being Too Tired for Sex Doesn’t Spell Relationship Doom

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When you’re exhausted and the picture of salvation simply looks like your bed welcoming you to hop in for some shut-eye, sex is likely not the first thought in your mind. In fact, a 2017 survey found that 60 percent of folks say they crave sleep more than sex on average, indicating where our priorities are for a lot of the time. But, being too tired for sex doesn’t mean the end of intimacy in your respective partnership.

“There are a number of emotional, mental, physical, and circumstantial reasons why someone might be too tired for sex,” says sex educator Searah Deysach, owner of Chicago-based pleasure-product company Early to Bed. The root cause of someone being too tired for sex can be a number of things, including a work-life-balance issue or occupational burnout, new parenthood, or the fatigue is simply a symptom of some other health condition, she adds.

And of course, if it’s an irregular thing, prioritize that shut-eye. But, even if being too tired for sex becomes more chronic, there’s no need to worry that it’ll spell out the end of your relationship. “Many relationships go through periods where the people involved have less sex because they’re sleep-deprived,” Deysach adds.

These relationships are able to survive and thrive because there are ways to continue experiencing intimacy with your partner(s), even when you’re bone-tired, she says. Phew. Ahead, find seven suggestions for how to troubleshoot feeling too sleepy for sex.

7 expert tips for how to proceed when you’re regularly too tired for sex

1. Let go of the belief that you have to have sex often

“There is no pre-determined number of times that someone is supposed to have sex each week or month for a happy relationship,” says Rachel Rubin, MD, a board-certified urologist and sex-medicine specialist with sexual-pleasure retailer Promescent. More essential than how often you have sex is communicating about your sex life, she says.

“There is no pre-determined number of times that someone is supposed to have sex each week or month for a happy relationship.” —Rachel Rubin, MD, sex educator and urologist

“You can have sex as much or as little as you and your partner would like,” she says. And it’s a healthy practice so long as you’re on a similar page about your wants and needs getting met. Some duos, for instance, are made up of two asexual folks or two people with low(er) libido who are mutually disinterested in sex. Other couples are made up of people who have learned through trial-and-error that having sex twice per week helps them feel most connected.

Remembering that there is no “normal” sexual frequency can also help alleviate any pressures, says Deysach.

2. Prioritize quality over quantity

How the sex feels is a superior measure of sexual satisfaction than how frequently you do it. “Quality is more important when it comes to sex, because when it’s quality, it’s more memorable and satisfying,” says queer sex educator Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert for sexual-wellness brand Lovers. “Ask a group of people if they prefer mutually pleasurable sex one time or bad sex seven times, and more will pick the quality sex.”

3. Talk to your partner

Maybe you want to be having more sex. Maybe you think your partner wants to be having more sex. Maybe you’re feeling guilty about how tired you are. In any of these cases, Dr. Rubin suggests communication is the best path forward.

“Using ‘I’ statements is a great way to have the conversation,” says Deysach. “Assigning blame never helps with open communication, so just speak from your heart about how you are feeling, and ask your partner to share their feelings, as well.” If you’re having a tough time initiating this convo, Dr. Rubin suggests working with a sex therapist or couples therapist for help.

4. Schedule a sex date

No, a verbal agreement won’t do it; actually input the date into your Google or fridge calendar. “This may sound a little mechanical,” says Dr. Rubin. “But many couples report that the practice of scheduling sex has increased their intimacy and closeness with their partner.”

To be very clear, scheduling sex doesn’t mean that you have to have sex during that blocked-off time. After all, you should only have sex when everyone involved is giving their enthusiastic yes. Rather, the timeframe can be understood as a time block to prioritize intimacy. If you don’t want to have sex, but do give one another a massage, talk honestly about your fears, or dance in the living room, those also mark a successful sex date, Deysach says.

5. Masturbate

“Masturbation can be a great option if you and your partner(s) routinely find yourselves with no extra time or energy for partnered play,” says Dr. Rubin. Not only does masturbating feel good, she says, it also boasts a handful of mental and physical benefits.

You could also try mutual masturbation, says Deysach, which is the act of touching yourself while your partner touches themselves right beside you. “Mutual masturbation can be a fun experience to share that can be quicker than going all-in for full-on sex,” she says.

6. Think of sex beyond penetration

When you’re zonked, the distance between zero and sex can feel insurmountable… even when you want to have sex! “Try to remember that sex doesn’t have to always mean intercourse,” says Deysach. There is a whole menu of sexual activities out there that you can share when you want to enjoy physical intimacy but don’t have enough time or energy in tank intercourse .

“Making out, oral sex and hand stuff are all great ways to connect with your partner and engage in sex play, and these activities may be easier to fit into your lifestyle or achieve when you are very busy, stressed or don’t have time for a whole meal,” she says.

7. Talk to a health-care provider

If you’re really tired, talk to your provider. Prolonged exhaustion and chronic fatigue are symptoms of a number of different health conditions, including depression, anxiety, compassion fatigue, burnout, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and viral infection, according to the Cleveland Clinic. So, if the tiredness you’re experiencing could be described as “long-lasting,” “endless,” or “deep-seated,” mention it to your provider.

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7 Tips for When You’re Too Tired for Sex and Don’t Feel Happy About It

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