What is Mindful Masturbation and How Can It Benefit Your Sex Life?

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of masturbation in all its forms. I believe it should be promoted, celebrated, taught as part of sex education, and totally destigmatised. There are countless ways to wank, and none of them are better or worse than any others. Are you having fun without harming yourself or anyone else? Congratulations, you’re doing it right.

Today I wanted to introduce you to one possible self-pleasure tool you may not be aware of. Let’s talk mindful masturbation.

What is Mindfulness?

To understand mindful masturbation, we first have to understand mindfulness. In short, mindfulness is all about being present and in the moment.

Many people practice mindfulness meditations, but these don’t work for everyone (they don’t work for me at all, which I think is because I have ADHD.) You can also incorporate it into your day to day life. One of my favourite forms of “meditation” is actually doing something with my hands, such as knitting, colouring, or putting something together and paying attention to how it feels. Simply taking a moment to notice your body, its sensations, your surroundings, and your reaction to those surroundings is a mindfulness practice.

The potential benefits of mindfulness can include stress reduction, improved focus, enhanced self-awareness, and better emotional regulation. It’s not the magic pill some have made it out to be, of course, but it’s a great addition to your mental health and self-care toolbox.

What is Mindful Masturbation and How Do You Do It?

Mindful masturbation, then, is all about being present in your body while you touch yourself. Stay curious and exploratory – it can help to imagine that you’re touching yourself as you’d touch a new lover when you don’t know their body super well yet. You’d experiment, try things out, and stay open to feedback. Do the same thing for yourself and let yourself be surprised.

Mindfulness is also about encouraging your thoughts to stay in the moment. Each time you find your mind wandering, kindly but firmly guide it back. Breathe deeply, ask yourself how you feel, and observe your body and mind’s responses without judgement.

Finally, try to take the focus away from orgasm. If you cum during your session, great! If you don’t, that’s fine, too! The point is to move away from goal-centered masturbation into a more exploratory and pleasure-centric frame of mind.

Whether you choose to use your hands, sex toys, or a mixture of the two is completely your choice. I’m personally an advocate for using both as they can allow you to experience a wide array of different sensations. Why not pick up a new sex toy? For long, slow, luxurious masturbation sessions, I love clit suction toys such as the Flowliper, a new and beginner-friendly clitoral toy with a unique “dynamic pulse” function from Tracy’s Dog.

How Can Mindful Masturbation Benefit Your Sex Life?

No matter your gender, orientation, or relationship status, touching yourself mindfully can help you to tune into your body, get to know your desires, and improve your sex life. Here are just a few of the ways it can benefit you.

Learn More About How You Experience Pleasure

Mindful masturbation isn’t about getting off and getting on with your day as quickly as possible. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that type of masturbation! I’m a big fan, in fact, at times. But that’s not what we’re doing here.) Since you’re chasing pleasure without necessarily having the explicit goal of orgasm in mind, you can take your time to try things out and touch your body in different ways. You might be surprised what you learn!

Stress Reduction

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress for many people. Guess what? So has masturbation! So combining the two has the potential to give you a powerful stress-buster. Take the time to touch yourself mindfully even just a few times a week, and you might start feeling calmer and more centered throughout the day.

Better and More Frequent Orgasms

I know I just said that orgasm wasn’t the goal here – and it doesn’t have to be. But if you do want to get off, practicing mindful masturbation can help you to have more frequent, stronger, and easier to reach orgasms. This is because you’re more present in your pleasure and turning away from distractions, and because you’re likely learning new ways to enjoy your body.

Paradoxically, taking the focus off orgasm – particularly if you ever struggle to cum – can be one of the best ways to help you get there.

New Skills to Bring Back to Partnered Sex

Masturbation is wonderful regardless of whether you’re in a relationship. And, of course, not everyone who masturbates has (or wants to have) partnered sex. But if partnered sex is a part of your life, mindful self-pleasure can teach you all kinds of new skills and tricks to bring back to your partner(s.) This can include new ways you like to be touched, but also skills such as staying present in the moment and waving away distracting thoughts that get in the way of your pleasure.

Self-Pleasure as Self-Care

Unfortunately and despite the fact that almost everyone does it at least occasionally, masturbation is still heavily stigmatised, especially for women. However, I firmly believe that masturbation is a form of self-care. It feels great, has no negative repercussions, and doesn’t require much beyond a little time and privacy to explore. If you ever struggle with shame around masturbation – or even if you don’t but have treated it in a perfunctory way until now – then mindfully masturbating can be a great way to shift it towards more of a holistic self-love and self-care practice.

Have you tried mindful masturbation? Will you be giving it a go?

Thanks to Tracy’s Dog for sponsoring this post! All views, as always, are mine.

[Guest Post] Anorgasmia and The Pursuit of Pleasure by Alessandra Fraissinet

It’s been quite a while since we had a guest post, hasn’t it? I’m happy to be welcoming Alessandra Fraissinet (they/she), a queer, sex-positive relationship, sex and health educator (RSH), talking about anorgasmia, the orgasm gap, and orgasm difficulties. This has come at a pretty perfect time, especially given that I wrote recently about my own struggles with orgasm and vow to never “fake it” again.

The Pursuit of Pleasure by Alessandra Fraissinet

TW: mention of depression and sexual violence

Part of my job as a sex educator is to encourage people of all genders and sexualities to follow their pleasure. To have sex because it feels good, to release expectations, to be playful, and to move away from the idea of sex as a performance. Under heteronormativity, in particular, sex can be viewed as something you do with a particular aim and, specifically, something that must lead to orgasm.

Now, there are a few things to know about orgasms:

First, orgasms are an involuntary response to a mechanical stimulus, pretty much like a sneeze. That means you or your partner(s) can facilitate the reaction by creating a set of ideal circumstances (trust, relaxation, appropriate stimulation), but that technically no one can make you orgasm except for your own body.

And just as there are a few things you can do to facilitate orgasm, some things can also make it hard to reach. Relaxation, adequate stimulation, good pelvic floor health, safety and trust all contribute to creating an ideal environment for orgasms. On the other hand, physical and psychological factors like depression, anxiety, certain medications, stress, and sexual trauma can prevent you from having orgasms either occasionally or all the time.

People with vulvas, especially cis women who have sex with cishet men, are known to have it harder: this is a well-documented phenomenon known as the orgasm gap. When discussing the orgasm gap, people most often place emphasis on poor communication between partners, male selfishness, and a lack of appropriate pleasure education.

Regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation, orgasms can be difficult to achieve. This can result in significant pressure during partnered sex especially. Unlearning the idea of sex as a performance, and embracing it as an experience, requires us to release our expectations of a specific outcome and allow pleasure to take whatever form comes naturally in a given moment. This is challenging, especially if – like me – you live with anorgasmia: the extreme difficulty or inability to orgasm.

Anorgasmia can be primary (when you have never had an orgasm) or secondary (when you used to be able to orgasm). It can depend on a variety of different factors: excessive worrying around sexual “performance”, depression and other mood disorders, chronic pain, sexual trauma, hormonal changes, gynaecological surgery, and other health conditions can all cause anorgasmia.

Being a Sex Educator with Anorgasmia

So here I am, embodying the contradiction of being a sex educator who is not only unable to orgasm, but is also consistently failing to address what is “wrong” with their body. Here I am telling people they need to stop obsessing over orgasms and start enjoying sex for pleasure and connection… when I can rarely practice what I preach.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy sex for the sake of pleasure and connection because I do. Because I don’t cum, pleasure and connection pretty much constitute the whole deal to me. But to be completely honest, most of the time, I am immensely frustrated with my body. I feel betrayed. And I feel like my body has failed me.

I can’t seem to recall my first orgasms – or even whether I have ever actually experienced one. My first experiences with sex were turbulent, to put it mildly. But even now, when I am having super hot sex, when I am really turned on, and when I am having sex with someone who I trust and who cares about me, I cannot ever bring myself to climax. No matter the amount of adequate stimulation I am receiving. No matter how many sex toys I’m aiding myself with.

I always come super close to it, and then… I wish I could say it’s like a deer in headlights that simply stops and goes away, never to be seen again. But the reality is that the pleasure becomes unbearable at this point, and I ask my partner to stop (or I stop if I am masturbating).

Reactions are mixed. Some people (you guessed it, mostly cis men) don’t say a word, and I am not even sure they notice. Some seem puzzled and thrown off or ask me questions. I then explain what happens to my body. While there is a general understanding, most people seem very surprised by it.

Talking About It

Telling partners about my anorgasmia can be even more frustrating than having the condition itself. Attempting to articulate what happens to my body while I’m experiencing intense pleasure without ever being able to follow through puts me right in front of the issue I’ve consistently been trying to avoid (which is another perfect example of “do as I say, not as I do”). And the reason why I avoid the issue is that actively trying to overcome it seems way too overwhelming.

There’s something terrifying about realising that you are indeed in charge of your own pleasure. Your partners can aid and facilitate it but cannot create it from scratch and give it to you. If you want to experience it, you must show up for yourself. That can mean a few different things: communicating with your partner openly and honestly and asking for what you want, making time and being intentional about solo sex, or going to therapy and facing uncomfortable truths. Sometimes all three, and more, together.

For years, I’ve refused to address my anorgasmia in the name of pleasure. Because sex feels good no matter what. Because I can still feel close to my partner. And because I firmly reject all sorts of expectations around sex. Wanting more doesn’t make me a hypocrite, though. If you take away one thing from this post, let it be this: you can embrace orgasm-less pleasure while being curious and trying to overcome your limitations. I deserve powerful, earth-shattering orgasms, and so do you.

“You deserve pleasure” has become a popular catchphrase in sex-positive communities, and rightfully so. But to internalise this message is difficult. And if you’ve been struggling with depression, low self-esteem or sexual trauma, taking charge of your own pleasure can feel overwhelming and out of
reach. There’s no quick fix and no magic wand, but there is important work to do.

If you would like to support me in bringing more amazing guest writers to the site, the best way to do that is by becoming a supporter on Patreon. You can also chip in by buying me a virtual coffee!

How to Get Rid of Shame and Guilt After Masturbating

Did you know that May is Masturbation Month? This month, aimed at celebrating all things jerking off, started life with the first National Masturbation Day on 7 May, 1995, declared by sex shop Good Vibrations in honour of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders (who was fired by President Bill Clinton a year earlier for suggesting that masturbation should be part of the sex education curriculum. Yes, really.)

It will not come as a surprise to anyone who reads my writing that I believe masturbation is a wonderful thing. (What else would the woman who owns over 150 sex toys say!?) Unfortunately, it’s still a highly stigmatised and under-discussed topic in society generally. This is particularly true when it comes to the subject of masturbation for women and people with vulvas, though all genders can be and are impacted.

I couldn’t find any reliable statistics on how many people feel shame and guilt after masturbating. However, based on anecdotal evidence, I am willing to bet it’s a significant number. So what can you do if you’re one of them? I don’t have any easy answers, because this stuff is complicated, but I do have a few suggestions for you. As always, take the ones that work for you and leave the ones that don’t.

Figure Out Where the Shame is Coming From

If you feel shame or guilt after masturbating, those feelings have come from somewhere. None of us are born with an inherent sense of shame about our bodies and our sexuality.

Often, it’s religion. Unfortunately, repressive religious teachings about sexuality have a lot to answer for. These teachings tend to be utterly unrealistic (“never have a single sexual feeling until you get married, then have amazing sex with your spouse right out of the gate”, anyone?) They are often laced with all kinds of factual inaccuracies. They’re also wildly hypocrital, because A) as we’ll see, most people masturbate, including those who rail against it, and B) sexually repressive religion is an absolute hotbed of sexual abuse and violence.

I’m a committed atheist and I’m certainly not going to tell you what your relationship with religion or God should look like. But I invite you to consider this: do you really think that, considering *gestures at the entire world being on fire in all of the ways*, God’s biggest concern is whether you enjoy some self-induced orgasms? Religious sexual shame is primarily a mechanism of control, particularly of women and women’s bodies.

Or perhaps your feelings come from a time when someone else shamed you for touching yourself. This shame might have come from parents or other adults in your life when you were young, from peers and friends, from regressive sex education, or even from sexual partners.

It’s also possible that you have had none of these experiences, and have simply internalised some societal messaging about masturbation. That happens to so many of us. It’s also possible that a collection of experiences have led you to where you are now.

Once you understand where your guilt after masturbating stems from, you can start addressing it. Whatever it was, start by hearing this: you’re not alone, and you’re not broken.

Get Educated

Ask yourself what you learned about masturbation when you were growing up, if anything. Where did those messages come from? Chances are they came from a place of stigma and misinformation, not facts. The absolute best way to combat misinformation you’ve been fed is so arm yourself with accurate info instead. That means it’s time to get educated on all things self-pleasure.

Some of the resources I recommend include the classic Sex For One by Betty Dodson, The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, Getting Off: A Woman’s Guide to Masturbation by Jayme Waxman, Bang!: Masturbation for People of All Genders and Abilities by Vic Liu, and V: An Empowering Celebration of the Vulva and Vagina by Florence Schechter (a more general book about vaginas and vulvas that includes a section on masturbation.)

You know what? Let’s get started right now. Here some facts for you:

  • The vast majority of people of all genders masturbate at some point in their lives, and many do so frequently.
  • There is no “normal” amount to masturbate. Whether you do it multiple times a day, once in a while, or not at all, that’s all healthy and good as long as it is what works for you.
  • It is also normal to go through periods of masturbating more or less frequently. Hormones, physical or mental health and illness, age, disability, stress levels, pregnancy and birth, trauma, body image issues, relationships, living situations, medications, and overall happiness or life satisfaction are just a few of the factors that can impact how often a person masturbates… or if they do at all.
  • Huge numbers of people feel guilt after masturbating, but this is because of societal stigma, not because there is anything wrong with masturbation itself.
  • There is no clinical diagnosis of “masturbation addiction” and it is not recognised as addictive by the American Psychological Association. Some experts believe it can occasionally become “compulsive”, but unless your masturbation habits are seriously impacting other areas of your life, such as work, school, relationships, friends, hobbies, or health, it is highly unlikely that they are in any way problematic.
  • Masturbation is not physically harmful in any way. It will not cause you to go blind (do people still believe that one?), cause you to grow more body hair, cause your penis to shrink, or lead to infertility. If you have a vulva, masturbation will not “permanently stretch” your vagina or otherwise damage your genitals.
  • Masturbation is also not emotionally harmful in any way. (Though shame around it can be emotionally damaging – but that’s why we’re working on getting rid of that shame, not getting rid of masturbation!)
  • In fact, masturbation can have some positive health benefits! It can help you to sleep, boost your mood, relieve stress, relieve pain (especially menstrual cramps), and improve your self-esteem. For people with penises, a 2004 study showed that more frequent ejaculation correlated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer!
  • It is still okay, healthy, and perfectly fine to masturbate when you’re in a relationship. Any partner who tells you not to isn’t someone you should be with.
  • It is impossible to tell from physical genital appearance whether or not a person masturbates.

Reframe Masturbation in Your Mind

Now that you’ve identified the source of your shame or guilt after masturbating, it’s time to start reframing the act in your mind.

Instead of viewing masturbation as something shameful or dirty, how about seeing it as an expression of self-care and self-love? For many people, it can also be tremendously empowering. Think about it: you’re enjoying your body on your terms, no-one else’s input or participation required, and you can give yourself such incredible pleasure.

You might find your mind drifting back to those thoughts of shame and guilt. That’s totally normal. Reframing your thoughts and feelings takes time! When this happens, try to gently and non-judgementally notice the feelings and consciously guide your mind away from them.

Think about the other things you do to look after and pamper yourself. Perhaps you like to take hot baths, practice yoga, go to the spa, get a massage, eat your favourite foods, or just snuggle under a blanket in your comfiest clothes. Masturbation is no different. It’s a sensual and sensory experience that you do because it makes you feel good.

It can also help to focus on all the positive benefits you get from masturbation. Aside from the obvious – pleasure, perhaps orgasm – it might help you to feel happier and calmer, to be less stressed, or to sleep better.

In other words, this is all about teaching yourself – through repetition, affirmation, and positive reinforcement – that masturbation is normal, good, healthy, and absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

Touch Yourself in All Kinds of Ways

When we talk about masturbation, we are typically referring to touching your own genitals for the purposes of pleasure and possibly orgasm. While this is wonderful, it can also be pleasurable and healing to touch yourself in all kinds of different ways. Why not try giving some love to your balls, labia, nipples, breasts or chest, or any other erogenous zones you have instead of going straight for your penis, clit, or vagina?

You can also get a lot of pleasure from touching yourself in non-sexual ways. Try stroking your own body, experimenting with different kinds of touch. Do you prefer a lighter or a firmer touch? Do certain areas feel good while other areas feel unpleasant to touch? All of this is such valuable information that you can take forward into both solo or partnered sexual adventures.

You could give yourself a massage (with or without a sexy massage oil), or experiment with solo sensation play toys and techniques such as ice, hot wax, Wartenberg wheels, vampire gloves, clips or clamps, sensory deprivation, or stroking with different textured materials.

Watch Others Masturbate

No, not in a creepy or “peeping Tom” way!

Again: the vast majority of people masturbate. Seeing other people do it, and observing the beauty and sensuality and hotness of it, can help to not only normalise masturbation and shed feelings of shame around it, but also to open up different avenues of pleasure that you may not have thought of.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is porn. If you go down this route, please seek out ethical and consensual content and pay for it. Buying directly from the performers is usually best where possible. Some people suffer from increased guilt after masturbating if they use porn. Please remember, though, that – as long as you are not watching content that is stolen or non-consensual – there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

If porn isn’t your thing, how about a series of educational videos showcasing real masturbation techniques? I’m really into the content at Climax, particularly the videos about self-pleasure for vulvas. You can subscribe for a monthly fee to get access to the full library of content, or buy and keep the individual programmes you want. OMGYes is another hugely popular resource, though I haven’t tried it myself.

If you live in a location where such things are accessible and legal, you could even attend a hands-on masturbation class such as the world-famous Bodysex series of workshops.

Finally, if you have a partner or partners, you could experiment with masturbating in front of one another. This can be not just extremely hot, but also have that validating and normalising effect I mentioned above.

Visit a Feminist, Pleasure-Positive Sex Shop

If you’ve never visited a sex shop before, take a second to think about your idea of one. Do you envision something seedy, hidden away down a back alley and frequented by creeps? Think again! Many of today’s sex shops are erotic boutiques that are welcoming, inclusive, non-threatening, and pleasure-focused.

Visiting a good sex shop, whether to buy a toy or just to browse, can be a profoundly validating and healing experience if you deal with shame around masturbation. You’ll see a huge variety of toys, apparel, kink gear and more on display, showcasing all the different ways people like to get off and get it on (with themselves and with others.)

Some of my favourite UK-based sex shops are Sh! and Coco de Mer in London and She Said in Brighton. US-based readers have places like Good Vibrations’ nine retail outlets, Portland’s SheBop, and Babeland in Seattle and New York. In Canada, there’s Come As You Are and Good For Her in Toronto, and Venus Envy in Halifax and Ottawa. A quick online search will help you find your nearest feminist sex shop.

Can’t get to one or prefer to shop from the comfort of your couch (or bed)? My favourite online feminist sex shops include The Pleasure Garden and SheVibe.

Consider Seeing a Sex-Positive Therapist

Shame is an incredibly powerful feeling, and you might be struggling to vanquish it by yourself. If you are struggling to get rid of guilt after masturbating, it’s time to see a sex-positive therapist. You might go down the route of psychosexual therapy (sometimes just called “sex therapy” for short) or seek out a regular psychotherapist who is sex-positive and experienced in supporting clients with issues surrounding sex, masturbation, and sexual shame.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting some professional support. These issues are complex and you don’t have to tackle them alone. Be gentle with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Have you ever suffered from shame or guilt after masturbating? How did you handle it and do you have any tips or strategies to share that may help others dealing with the same thing?

This post contains affiliate links as well as non-affiliated resource recommendations. Image by Deon at Let’sTalkSex.

[Guest Post] Being a Submissive with ADHD by Redridingbrat

While I don’t have an actual diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve long felt that it’s something I very likely have at least to some degree. Whenever I see any ADHD content, from medical information to memes, I find myself going “yep, it me”. So I wasn’t altogether surprised when I also found this piece from my friend Redridingbrat (she/her) deeply relatable.

I feel very strongly that kink is for all consenting adults who want to engage in it. Many of the images we see online and in the media are reductive, exclusionary, and harmful. That’s why it’s so important to me to represent a diversity of experiences on this blog. To that end, I’m thrilled to bring you this piece from RRB on ADHD and submission.

As always, you can help me to pay more lovely guest writers by chipping in via the tip jar.

Amy x

Being a Submissive with ADHD by Redridingbrat

What comes to mind when you think of the perfect submissive?

Perhaps it is someone who is entirely focused on their Dominant, able to follow the rules and pre-emptively do whatever their Dominant might desire.

How does this change when you have ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a medical condition that affects the way a person thinks and acts. This often presents as someone being inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive – three things that can often clash with the pop culture view of submission. As a submissive with ADHD, I have had to work with my Dominant to make sure that my submission isn’t adversely affected by my ADHD.

One of the ways inattention in ADHD can affect a D/s dynamic is forgetfulness. Forgetting rules, forgetting tasks, forgetting where things have been placed… not something that is in the picture-perfect view of a “sub”! Thankfully, this is something this can be easily accommodated. Having the rules written up and displayed somewhere is a straightforward way of not relying on the memory. Having things placed in see through or open containers lets you quickly see where they are. A long-term solution is to have your Dominant help you create habits, so you do not need to remember a thing.

Another annoying symptom of ADHD is being prone to distraction. Sitting in a corner with no stimulation is my personal idea of hell. It isn’t just me who can suffer as a result of this, though; losing interest in an activity halfway through a scene can very quickly make a Dominant feel like they failed at a scene, and make the submissive then feel guilty for not being able to concentrate. This does not have an easy fix but there are things that help. Doing shorter activities can do wonders, as this gives less chances for the brain to wander off. Sensory deprivation can also help as it can force the submissive to focus on their other senses. The biggest things that can help are open communication and being self-aware. By letting your Dominant know when you are having a bad day focusing, you can reassure each other that neither is at fault when focus issues arise.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another symptom of ADHD is hyperfocus; getting so consumed by a task that everything else is ignored. When a task is interrupted by something else, it can be extremely hard to bring yourself out of the task and into the new thing, regardless of how urgent it may be. In extreme cases, this can lead to ignoring the need to drink or use the toilet for hours on end. One thing my Dominant has found to help with this is simply asking “when will this be done?”, helping me to verbalise what done looks like as well as giving me a subconscious queue to start bringing myself out of the task. Having a set routine and structure also helps with this as it ensures that my body becomes accustomed to performing certain activities at certain time, with an external check (my Dominant) making sure it is adhered to.

Another symptom of ADHD that is often overlooked is internal motivation. I can often sit in “standby mode”, endlessly scrolling social media whilst given tasks go unfulfilled. Part of this is that a larger task can be overwhelming if not broken down into smaller steps, making it physically uncomfortable to get started. Something that can really help prevent situations like this is breaking a large task down into multiple smaller parts, while also being clear about what signifies completion of each part. For example, “make yourself presentable for me” can be broken down into: “Go shower, style your hair into a high ponytail, put on a full face of makeup with red lipstick, and wear the red underwear. I want these tasks to be complete by 5pm”. Rewards-based dynamics are also excellent for those who require the internal motivation to be turned external. Extra orgasms for doing a large task? Yes please!

Whilst I have spoken at length about the challenges of having ADHD, it does come with a number of positives too. Those of us with ADHD often excel when in “crisis mode”, meaning we can be very good if something goes wrong in a scene. ADHD folks are also creative in our problem solving, making us the perfect people to do puzzle-based tasks or mend broken toys. And ADHD people can also be more adventurous, making us the perfect partner for trying new activities in the bedroom.

ADHD can make submission hard. It breaks many of the pre-conceived notions of what a “good submissive” looks like. Someone who is forgetful, distractable, and hard to self-motivate is not the “ideal” that is written about in popular literature. However, there are things that can help overcome the barriers that may come up in a D/s dynamic. The main thing to remember is that D/s is not one size fits all. You can customise and change how your relationship looks. You are not a failure if it does not look like the glamorised novels. Anyone can be a submissive. All you need to do is identify as one and find someone who adores you and your style.

Redridingbrat is a switchy brat who loves nothing more than to engage her submissive side. Her main experiences involve rope, D/s and discussions surrounding disability within the kink community.

How Wand Vibrators Helped Me Reclaim My Sexuality When Antidepressants Killed It

I’ve been on antidepressants for the majority of my adult life, in three separate stints (having come off them most recently earlier this year). I’m very pro medication for those who need it which, at the times I was taking it, I absolutely did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those meds saved my life on more than one occasion.

Wand vibrators - Honey Wand from Honey Play Box
Honey Wand by Honey Play Box

But like any medications, antidepressants often have side effects, which can range in severity from mildly annoying to seriously debilitating. One of the worst side effects I experienced on two out of the three antidepressants I tried was a significant change to my sexuality. This manifested in different ways on each drug.

On Fluoxetine (Prozac), I pretty much lost my sex drive entirely for months. Anything that had been pleasurable just felt like… nothing. This wasn’t limited to sex, either – I also lost my appetite and all ability to derive pleasure from food. On Citalopram, I lost my ability to orgasm while my body adjusted to the meds. While this did have some pleasant results (particularly discovering that I have an orgasm denial kink), it was also upsetting and frustrating. Feeling like I had no control over my body and like I’d lost one of my greatest sources of pleasure was so damaging that I seriously considered coming off the meds that were otherwise helping with my depression.

Trying Sex Toys

The first time antidepressants killed my sex life, I was so thoroughly miserable (both from the depression and from the side effects of the meds) that I wasn’t even interested in reclaiming it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have sex or masturbate for about nine months at one stage. In hindsight, this probably made things even worse, because my sexuality has always been one of the key ways that I access pleasure and joy. At that time, I didn’t own any sex toys, and any touch from either myself or my partner left me cold.

The second time was a different matter, though. This time, the antidepressants actually took the edge off the worst of the sadness and hopelessness, and I still wanted sex. I just couldn’t orgasm, either with my partner or by myself. Though orgasm is not necessarily the goal of sex, this quickly became frustrating and then enraging. I felt like my body was betraying me. Like I had to choose between having a properly functioning brain and a satisfying sex life.

The turning point came when my then-partner pulled out a wand vibrator after about a month of this issue. That thing finally broke through the orgasm block. And, once that dam broke, it became easier and easier to get there again. I invested in a wand for myself pretty quickly after that, and it became my go-to toy.

Breaking Through the Depression-Haze

Even now, when I’m not currently on any psychiatric medication (though I accept I might be again in the future), I’m most likely to reach for my wand vibes when I’m in the middle of a bad depression funk. Contrary to popular belief, it’s still possible to feel horny at the same time as being depressed. Sad people need pleasure and orgasms, too! There have also been times when I haven’t felt horny, but I knew intellectually that an orgasm would make me feel better.

Sometimes, when I’m very very depressed, I feel as though there’s a kind of fog around me. The fog keeps me at least partly disconnected from everything and everyone around me. At its worst, it creates a sense of being somewhat outside and detached from my own body. In this state, many types of touch that would normally be pleasurable struggle to penetrate the fog. When that happens, I need intense stimulation and lots of it. It’s times like this that I might crave certain BDSM activities even more than usual. It’s also times like this when knock-your-socks-off powerful wand vibes are a Godsend.

The thing with my favourite wand vibes is that ultimately, they can wrench an orgasm from my body with very little active input from me. This has a lot of fun potential (forced orgasm scenes anyone?) It’s also extremely useful during periods of significant depression. If I want to orgasm at my own or a partner’s hand, or with a lower powered toy, it can be fun but often requires significant effort, mentally if not physically. With a powerful enough wand, I basically just put it in the right spot and wait for the orgasm to happen. In this way, I can access pleasure and the positive physical and mental health benefits of orgasm even when I feel so low I don’t want to leave my bed.

Sexual Pleasure Matters

When someone is dealing with severe health issues, either physical or mental, it’s often tempting to see sexual pleasure as trivial. Certainly when I spoke to my doctor about the side effects of my various medications, they dismissed my concerns. Did I want to be able to orgasm or did I want to not be sad? Because I couldn’t have both.

Except I actually could, and I needed and deserved to have both.

If you’re struggling with pleasure or orgasm due to health issues and medication, I want you to hear this: sexual pleasure matters! It’s not trivial and it’s not unimportant. If it’s important to you, then it matters. And you deserve to have what you need to feel sexually satisfied – whether that’s a change of medication, a super powerful vibrator, or just to change up what you’re doing.

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How to Maintain Balance When Everything is On Fire

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein

Balance, however you define it, is important. But it’s also really hard when everything feels overwhelming. And oh my goodness, everything does feel overwhelming right now, doesn’t it?

As of right now, the UK is in what has been not-so-affectionately dubbed “Lockdown 2.0”. After completely failing to take care of my health in any reasonable way during Lockdown The First, I’m trying really hard to maintain balance and a modicum of self-care practice this time.

To that end, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips for staying balanced and grounded when things are hard everything is on fucking fire.

Rest

I put this first on the list because it’s by far the one I’m worst at. It can be so, so hard to switch off, unplug, and decide to do nothing for a while. But rest is absolutely vital. Without it, your health will suffer and you’ll hit burnout before you know it.

Here’s a hack that works for me: put time for yourself in your calendar, like a date you’d make with someone else, and stick to it. Then use that time to binge that Netflix show you’ve been saving, read for pleasure, take a bubble bath, or just take a nap/go to bed early.

Rest isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Eat something

When did you last eat? If it’s been more than a few hours or if you feel hungry right now, go and eat something! I recommend something with complex carbs and protein, rather than something that will give you a sugar high and then make you crash an hour later. But hey, if a sugary treat is what sounds good right now, have at it!

The trick is to listen to your body. It knows what it needs.

Move your body

I don’t mean “go out for a ten mile run” (though if that’s what makes you feel balanced and centered, knock yourself out.) Just move your body in whatever way feels good. That might look like hitting the gym and working up a sweat, or it might look like practicing some gentle yoga, or it might look like dancing to some music in your bedroom, or it might look like just doing a few stretches without even getting out of bed.

When I’m feeling sad or stressed out, I find getting on my yoga mat or having a play with my hula-hoop really helps me to regain and maintain balance.

Say no

If you’re feeling stressed, stretched, and overwhelmed, it might be because there are too many demands on your time and energy right now. Practice saying no.

If a client wants you to take on some extra work last minute? Sorry, no. Yet another Zoom happy hour? Pass if you don’t feel like it. Colleague wants you to pick up their shift? No can do!

If it doesn’t serve you or make you happy and it can possibly be avoided, just say no. Saying no firmly but politely doesn’t make you a jerk, it makes you a person with good boundaries.

Masturbate

I had to throw this one in the mix – this is supposed to be a sex blog, after all! Seriously though, masturbation is amazing. It not only feels good, it has so many benefits for your physical and mental health. Need to get out of your head and into your body for a while? Grab some porn or erotica and your favourite vibrator/stroker/hand, and give yourself some love.

Ask for help

The idea that we are all supposed to be self-reliant is so, so toxic. You know what’s a sign of strength? Asking for help when you need it. So if you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Talk to your partner or a friend, call a helpline like Samaritans, make an appointment with your doctor or therapist. Whatever it is you need to help you ground and maintain balance, you can ask for it.

You don’t have to do this alone.

You’ve got this.

It’s going to be okay.

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How Lockdown has Impacted my Body Image

I’ve given up, friends – after seven months of this shit, I’m making a COVID times post. So yeah, let’s talk about this clusterfuck of a year as it pertains to body image.

TW: Body struggles, weight (no numbers), fitness, mental health, COVID-19 lockdown, calorie counting (no numbers)

Did any of us think, back in February and early March, that this pandemic was going to impact pretty much every aspect of our lives? Yet here we are. October, and still no end to any of this in sight.

A lot of things in my life have changed this year, most of them directly or tangentially COVID-influenced. And in a world where a lot of things are complicated right now, one of the things that is consistently complicated is my relationship with my body image.

Based on what I’ve read, I’m far from the only person struggling with this. I speak only for myself, but if any of this resonates with you, I want you to know you’re not alone.

The COVID weight gain

My relationship with my weight and body size is a very uneven and complicated thing. I say this with the awareness that I possess rather a lot of thin privilege compared to many folks in larger bodies. Still, I’ve also noticed a drastic change in the way the world responds to me in this body, than the way it responded to me in the (far smaller) body I had in my early 20s.

Prior to COVID hitting, I’d lost a pretty significant amount of weight and was feeling great about it. I’ve put back on…. well, not all of it, but a significant amount. And I know this is Bad Feminist and Not Body Positive of me, but I’m not really okay with it.

The reasons are obvious. No longer walking miles every day across a sprawling University campus. No pole (more on that in a minute). Comfort eating and comfort drinking and honestly, probably just the sheer body-altering impacts of living under chronic stress and low-key terror for seven months.

Breaking up with monitoring

Prior to COVID, I spent c. 4 years dipping in and out of obsessive monitoring phases where I’d track my exercise, my food, my calories, forever chasing the damned green line that said my intake/output balance was “right” that day.

I’ve completely stopped that since lockdown began. I haven’t charged my fitness tracker in months (honestly I’m not even sure where it is at this point). I no longer weigh my food

Strangely, I’ve started to find my way back to a place of equilibrium. I came into lockdown monitoring and tracking and counting, which wasn’t good for me. That gave way to comfort-consuming what food and alcohol gave me a momentary break from the SHEER FUCKING HORROR of it all. Thing is, that approach wasn’t good for me either.

Cake tastes better when I eat it because I actually want it, rather than because I’ve barely slept in three days and a jolt of sugar might help me keep going. I like a G&T as much as the next person, but drinking alone night after night after night in front of a screen doesn’t make you miss your friends and your family and your hobbies and your community and your fucking life any less. It just makes the loneliness worse when the inevitable crash sets in.

Through all this, I seem to have – almost accidentally – hit something approaching balance. I definitely eat more of the things I want than I did when I was counting and tracking everything. And I think that’s a good thing. But I also eat what I actually want and what my body is craving, rather than using sugar and alcohol as a coping strategy.

God knows I am still far from fixing my broken relationship with food. I don’t want to imply for a second that I’ve hit some magical end point. To be honest, I suspect this will be a lifelong journey. All of us, especially women and AFAB people, live in a world that polices our bodies and our food constantly. Finding balance amidst all that? Well, it’s not just a battle you win once.

I’m trying to learn to be more gentle with myself over it all. To accept that I’ll have days when I deal with food guilt and start to slide back into my old obsessive ways. To accept that I’ll also have days where my depression tells me to just lie on the couch and eat my body weight in candy. Both are okay. Both are things I can learn to recognise and work with.

Finding ways to keep fit that feel good

When I found pole dancing in early 2019, I knew I’d finally found a means of exercise that was not only bearable, but brought me joy every time I did it. Of course, I haven’t been able to go dancing since early March (the studio only reopened a couple weeks ago, and my partner and I both feel it’s not sufficiently COVID-safe right now.)

In a world where I can’t do that, I kind of lost motivation to keep fit. It took me a while to even want to do anything else. I tried a few online workouts and didn’t really get on with any of them. The wrong level, absurdly punishing even when labelled as “for beginners”, or just accompanied by too much casual body-shaming commentary.

I was perhaps the last trying-to-keep-fit-on-the-internet person in the entire world to discover Yoga with Adriene. I’ve been working my way through her 30 day challenge for beginners. I’m certainly not going to become a “yoga fixes all things” devotee anytime soon, but I definitely feel physically stronger and mentally more grounded after doing sessions most days for the last few weeks.

What I like about Adriene is the way that she totally decouples the practice of yoga from being about changing your body. Her catchphrase/rallying cry is “find what feels good”. Even her “Yoga for Weight Loss,” which I will admit is how I first found her channel, isn’t really about weight loss.

I also stumbled across a Youtube video that convinced me of the joys of hula-hooping. I bought a hoop and have been doing 15 minutes a day in front of the TV. It’s silly and it’s playful and it’s easy to work up a sweat and feel awesome while my mind is focused on something else (in this case, reruns of Crazy Ex Girlfriend.)

All this to say that finding ways to keep fit in lockdown has been challenging, frustrating, but ultimately pretty rewarding.

Though I’ll still be much happier when I can hang upside down from a pole in just my underwear surrounded by badass women again.

Not having to get dressed up is a mixed blessing

Clothing and appearance and dressing up has always been a bit of a minefield for me. As a queer femme, I love all things fancy and glittery and just that little bit extra. However, the combination of not having a body shape that mainstream fashion really understands, coupled with eclectic tastes and being basically perpetually broke until I was 26, means that shopping for clothes has always been… complex, at best.

Honestly, not having to think so much about what I’m going to wear every day has been freeing. I have pretty much worked in some combination of pyjamas, yoga pants, and oversized t-shirts every day since March, and I’m not sorry. Being able to prioritise comfort over dressing “acceptably” has been a blessing during an incredibly stressful time.

On the other hand, not having any real opportunity to get dressed up and sparkle has made me realise how much I miss it. Sure, I could don glitter at home, but it’s not worth the effort if it’s for no occasion. I’ve thought about wearing the catsuit on a Zoom call, but it just doesn’t feel joyful in the same way when it’s just me, my home office, and a grainy camera. I could put on a tight skirt, but where’s the fun if I can’t flirt with a stranger?

I like valuing my body and physicality as far more than a decoration… but sometimes I want to be fucking decorative, damnit! I’ve been kinda dealing with this by playing with nudes and taking more lingerie selfies.

One of the little but powerful self-care rituals I’ve cultivated in lockdown has been to start dying my hair again. For the last several years in jobs in which any non-natural colour was considered “unprofessional,” I’d often look in the mirror and long for my luscious purple locks of old. When I finally did it again, watching the gorgeous, vibrant colour emerge in all its glory as I blow-dried my hair, I felt like me again.

We have to find small joys and small ways to love ourselves in these times. It just happens that one of my small joys lives in a bottle of violet hair dye. I might not love my shape or my fitness level right now, but at least I can love this one little thing.

What I’m trying to say is… it’s complicated

It’s complicated and it’s many-faceted and it’s a work in progress. I have mostly come to terms, at this point, with the idea that it’s probably always going to be kind of complicated, and it’s always going to be a work in progress.

I can’t wake up one morning like “wahey, I love my body now!” If only it were that simple. Instead, it’s more likely to be a lifetime of steps forward and slips back, of progress and challenges, of days where it feels easy and days where it feels hard.

If lockdown taught me one thing about body image, it’s that body image isn’t static and it isn’t a one way journey.

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Sex Tips for Bad Depression Days

Hi, I’m Amy and I have depression. (Plus anxiety, PTSD, and a whole fun laundry list of Brain Stuff! But today we’re focusing on depression).

My depression and I have learned to live with each other over the years. It’s not exactly a good relationship, but we’ve reached an uneasy truce of sorts. One of the biggest challenges for me has been navigating the impact of depression on my sexuality.

To that end, here are some of the things I’ve learned about sex on bad depression days. Take the ones that work for you, discard the rest. We’re all different, and what works for me might not work for you.

It’s okay to not have sex

I feel like this should-be-obvious-but-isn’t point is often missed out of conversations about sex and depression. If you just can’t right now, that’s okay! You’re no less of a partner or a sex-positive person if you sometimes can’t or don’t want to have sex at all.

If you don’t feel like it? Give yourself a break and let your libido return in its own time.

But you’re also allowed to want sex!

There’s a school of thought (that I hate) that says it’s not okay to have sex with a depressed person. Well if that was the case, I wouldn’t have gotten laid at all since… March?

If you want to have sex, even while you’re depressed, that’s okay! As long as you have capacity to consent, there’s no reason not to go ahead and enjoy having sex if you want to.

One of the worst things past partners have done when I’ve been depressed is decline sex (that they otherwise would have wanted) to “protect me from myself”. A depressed person is still a grown-ass adult capable of making choices, and doesn’t need to be protected from their own desire for sex.

See sex as self care

If you’d like to have sex and think it would make you feel better, why not conceptualise it as being in the same category as drinking a glass of water, going for a walk, or meditating? That is, as an act of self-care.

I find this particularly useful when it comes to masturbation. If I push through the fog and get myself to masturbate, an orgasm will invariably make me feel better… or at least help me sleep (which will make me feel better).

Have low-energy sex

For many people, including me, one of the primary symptoms of depression is debilitating exhaustion. When I’m in that space, four-hour marathon fuck sessions in all kinds of creative positions are just not going to happen.

But lying back while my partner fucks me? Crawling over their lap for a spanking? Pushing a wand vibrator against my junk (possibly through clothing) and just leaving it there until I come? That I can do!

Use the physical to take you out of your head

Lots of people find intense workouts or adrenaline-fuelled challenges comforting when they’re depressed. This is because focusing on something very physical can take your focus away from the dark places your brain is going to.

For me, that intense physical experience is sex and/or kink. If I have highly physical sex, it allows me to focus on something else besides the hell my brain is dragging me through. Whether it’s the thud of body-on-body or the slap of a heavy flogger across my butt, physical sensations take me out of my depression spiral and ground me in the moment.

Honour where your body is at

Sometimes, depression can mess with physical arousal. In other words, the brain might be willing, but the body has other ideas. For people with penises, this might result in difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. People with vulvas might struggle with a lack of natural lubrication.

The best way to have great sex on bad depression days is to honour where your body is and meet it there. That means staying curious, staying adaptable, and trying not to get frustrated or cast blame.

If you can, see it as an opportunity for learning and experimentation. If you want to have sex but your penis just isn’t getting hard today, why not pleasure your partner with your hand, your mouth, or a toy? And if genital stimulation is difficult right now, you could trade massages, experiment with kink, or just hold your partner and whisper filth in their ear while they jerk off.

Use the tools that help

Sex toys are amazing any time, but they really come into their own for me on bad depression days. If a partner’s bio-dick isn’t getting hard (or they don’t feel like using it), they can use a dildo on me. If I’m not up for penetration, clitoral vibes can provide tonnes of pleasure.

Then of course there’s probably my favourite depression-sex tool of all time: lube! When I’m sad, I can be mentally turned on but my body might not have the physical response to match. Tonnes of lube keeps things painless and fun.

So there you have it – my sex-and-depression tips. I’d love to know if any of these work for you, or if you have any favourite strategies I’ve not thought of!

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What to Do if Medication is Messing with Your Pleasure

Unfortunately, sexual side effects are incredibly common with numerous types of medication. Antidepressants including SSRIs and MOAIs, blood pressure medications, and certain hormonal meds are just some of the commonly prescribed drugs that can affect sexual function.

The impact can include loss of arousal, erectile issues, pain during sex, and anorgasmia. Obviously, not everyone who takes medication experiences these issues and not everyone will experience them to the same extent. But they are super common.

Please note that I am not a medical professional, so I have kept my advice here in the realm of sex and relationship advice, not medical advice.

With that disclaimer out of the way, what can you do if medication is messing with your sexual pleasure?

Talk to your doctor

You shouldn’t have to choose between medication that helps you, and a happy and pleasurable sex life. You should be able to have both! If you’re suffering from sexual side effects, talk to your doctor.

A good doctor will work with you to find a medication solution that helps you without damaging your sex life. If your doctor dismisses you or doesn’t think sexual pleasure is important, fire that doctor and get a new one if you possibly can.

Sex matters to many of us. It’s a quality of life issue. You deserve to get medical support and be taken seriously.

Expand your definition of sex

If you can’t or don’t want to change your medication, you can get creative to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sex life. Are you defining sex as just one thing? Too many people still think “sex” refers only to penis-in-vagina or penis-in-anus penetration.

If you’re not able to do those things right now, or finding them less pleasurable, expanding your definition of sex can open up a new world of fun. What if sex didn’t have to involve penetration? What if sex didn’t have to involve orgasm?

You might also find that taking the pressure off, by focusing on things other than penetration or orgasm or whatever you’re struggling with, will actually make it easier for those things to happen. Pressure and stress are huge desire-killers.

Experiment with toys

For example, if you have a penis and are struggling with erectile issues, why not try a toy like the Hot Octopuss Pulse? This innovative toy is designed to work equally well on a flaccid or hard penis.

If you’re struggling with loss of sensation or reduced sensation, a very powerful vibrator can help. When I suffered from anorgasmia due to antidepressants, it was a wand vibrator that finally broke through the block.

If erection struggles are at play but you want to do penetrative sex with your partner, it’s completely okay to use a strap-on! This can give you the sensation of fucking without the pressure and stress of wondering whether your body will cooperate.

Communicate

I know too many people who have struggled through sex that was not pleasurable, or was even painful, because they didn’t want to let their partner down.

However, a partner who loves and respects you will want to understand your experience and support you. Talk to them about where you’re at and how you’re feeling.

You deserve great sex, and great (partnered) sex is a collaborative process. So be honest with your partner and share your experience. If you want their help, ask for it. If you just want their patience and understanding while you adjust, ask for that too.

Fight self-blame and shame

There’s no shame in what you’re going through right now. Sexual problems are still hugely stigmatised and, unfortunately, so are certain types of medication (such as antidepressants). However, please try to avoid getting into a shame cycle or blaming yourself.

If you’re struggling with shame, reach out to others who have had similar experiences, ask your partner for reassurance and support, or talk to a therapist.

You have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about!

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Masturbation Monday: Discovering My Denial Kink

Eventually, my Masturbation Monday pieces will probably move back into the realm of erotic fiction. But for now I’m not really feeling it so much. While thinking what to write this morning, I realised – I can’t believe I’ve never written the origin story of my main, ultimate, One Kink To Rule Them. So let’s talk about how I learned I have an orgasm control/denial kink.

Content warning: this one talks about mental health and makes brief mention of abuse in a relationship

An unfortunate side effect…

SSRIs can be brilliant. They can also be the fucking devil. For me, they were both. I was 21 and in my final year of university when my mental health took an extreme downturn, almost entirely – I realise now – as a result of being with a seriously abusive partner.

After a couple of weeks on citalopram, it actually did help. Somewhat. It mellowed out my extreme anxiety and took the edge off the worst of my depression. But it also had another effect: it made it impossible for me to orgasm.

I didn’t own any sex toys at that point, and always masturbated with my fingers. I first realised that something was wrong during a solo session where, whatever I did, I simply could not get myself over the edge. The same thing happened when I had sex with my then-partner. Things that usually worked just… didn’t. It was like there was a thick blanket between my cunt and anything that touched it, dulling sensation and making things that had previously been reliable orgasm triggers just feel… sort of nice.

Discovering denial…

I eventually broke through this orgasm block with a high-powered vibrator, and things got better after that. (Temporary anorgasmia is, it turns out, a known side effect. And I’m sure that part of the problem was psychological – worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to come is hardly conducive to great orgasms.)

But the weird thing was that, on some level, I kind of enjoyed it.

I didn’t enjoy not having the choice. I didn’t enjoy the fact that my body seemed to be betraying me. But the lack of orgasms itself? Yeah, I realised a few times that I was definitely getting a kick out of that. The frustration was, in and of itself, powerfully erotic. Finding myself constantly horny, almost always thinking about sex on some level, getting soaking wet so damn easily. The way that I’d still be aroused and unsatisfied after a sex session, and have to stop myself from squirming too much as my Dom slept peacefully next to me. Feeling my clit twitching, demanding attention that I knew wouldn’t be satisfying.

I vividly remember the first time I reached a hard edge. I was rubbing my clit harder and harder, feeling the wave of orgasm rising, sure that this was the time I’d be able to get myself over the edge. But it just… hit a certain level and then stopped. There was no peak, no satisfying spasms or clenching, no relief or release. I did it again and then again, trying in vain to push myself over the edge. I had to stop eventually because the overstimulation was starting to hurt. But that awakened something in me right then. Something that has played, to a greater or lesser extent, into the overwhelming majority of the sexual fantasies I’ve had in the years since then.

After breaking through the SSRI-induced orgasm issue, I mentioned this to my then-partner and asked if we could play with it. We did. I’m not ready to write about sex things I did with him in a positive way – honestly I’m not sure I ever will be – but suffice to say that getting to explore this kink was one of the few good things that came out of that time.

How did you discover your favourite kink?

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