I am dating a woman who is 30 and identifies as a virgin. Her reasons are manifold: She was raped as a child and, from there, simply shut down. She attempted a few relationships but was unable to connect with anyone intimately.
She has sought therapy and wants to be ready to enjoy sex on her terms. I am not kidding when I say I am near to shitting my pants over this. It feels like a huge responsibility I’m taking on, yet at the same time I don’t want to be another person who leaves her or does not show any responsibility for her sexual well-being. Please offer me any resources and ideas as I embark with her on this.
Phillip Strapp is a sexological bodyworker. “You’re right about it being a big responsibility,” he says, “and this relationship will likely be a test of your sexual self-control. If you’re not ready and willing to stop what you’re doing at any moment — even if you’re on the edge of coming — then this relationship probably isn’t for you. You might want to seek some support for yourself as you cope with the disappointments and frustrations that you’ll likely experience while she works through her healing process. For example, Ariadne’s Thread is a group for partners of sexual abuse/trauma survivors.”
“Trauma recovery is often an incremental and ongoing process, meaning that ‘surprises’ may happen at any time — even years after therapy. Partly, this is due to the nature of conventional therapy; talk only goes so far. Experiential or somatic therapy techniques help a lot, but they also have limits. It’s somewhat controversial, and she might benefit from hands-on sex therapy. For example, I or other hands-on specialists can provide a safe environment for her to reconnect with her body, to release the trauma and explore her pleasure sensations that may currently be blocked. This kind of therapy helps people learn to ‘stay present’ in their body during sexual arousal and ask for what they want, which will likely be among her challenges. For more about this approach to healing, visit ReclaimYourPleasure.com.”
I have also found the work of Staci Haines to be very illuminating when it comes to sex trauma recovery. Haines practices the aforementioned somatics. Here are some links to it: http://www.generativesomatics.org and http://www.healingsexthemovie.com/media.html.
And Ran, I’m not sure if this woman says, “I identify as a virgin,” or if you are using that language yourself. If it’s the latter, please be attentive as to why you use this expression. Virginity is a complex notion, and when we feel that this experience has been taken from us (the experience of having sex on our own terms, I mean), suspicion about our self, which we are grappling to reclaim, is difficult. If she is using this term herself for whatever reason — empowerment, reclamation, levity, questioning — by all means, I encourage you to support her in this.
GAME OF CRONES
Menopause has finally reared her head, and while my sex drive remains intact (so far), my sex organs are a desert. I will admit I’m not exactly thrilled by the idea of having to pull out a giant dispenser of lube every time I make love, but I guess I’m going to have to get used to it. I would like any recommendations you may be able to make about ones that are good and as natural as possible.
—Here Comes the Crone
You have come into menopause at a great time, sister. We have officially entered the Golden Age of Lube, with many wonderful options available to those who desire or require a little moisturizing assistance.
Please is a creamy, water-based lubricant. As Camilla Lombardi from Good Vibrations says, “This lubricant was formulated with women’s bodies in mind, including women going through menopause or post-menopause. We liked that this was thought about during formulation and not just an afterthought. It’s super slick but still allows the user to feel friction — which isn’t something you find with all lubricants. Natural ingredients are a plus, especially for women who find themselves to be more sensitive than they were earlier in their lives.” Please is also glycerin- and paraben-free and silicone toy-safe, and for those of you who worry about such things, animal product-free. “You would be surprised,” says Lombardi, “at how many products contain animal products.”
Aloe Cadabra has a nice, slick texture once it heats up a little and is almost entirely made of aloe vera gel. The flavoured versions of this lubricant are delicious and sweetened with stevia.
Carol Queen also weighed in. It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to Dr. Queen, but her enthusiasm for all things sexual has not dampened one bit. She is such a gem. Here are two of her top choices:
Sliquid Organics Gel lube: “Gel lubes are thicker than average, which tend to cushion thinning vaginal walls,” says Queen.
Pink lube:“For those who like thin, slick lubes best, silicone lubricants are a good option,” says Queen, “and this one has vitamin E and aloe, too.”
As a lady of reduced vaginal fluid myself (geez, I seriously can’t believe I’ve been writing this column so long that I’ve gone into menopause during my tenure!), I am really enjoying Please. Of all the lubes listed, it is my top pick. Many stores carry small to sample sizes of these products, so you’re free to select an array and do your own testing. ■