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    Showing posts with label Relationships. Show all posts

    Girl Talk: How Do You Know, Really Know, You Want To Have Children?

    I have a couple of girl friends whom I really envy. They know exactly what they want — or rather, what they don’t want.  They don’t want to have children.  Two of my girl friends are childless by choice, which means that while they enjoy being involved in the lives other people’s children, they have no interest at all in becoming parents of their own. There isn’t a doubt in either of their minds that kids are not a possibility.

    My own feelings on the subject are much more hazy.

    In childhood, I assumed I would have lots of children when I grew up, probably because that would have been a continuation of what I already knew. I’m the youngest of five kids and the chaos and coziness seemed like the definition of “family” to me. I also played with baby dolls and was probably socialized, on some level, into believing it was a foregone conclusion that I’d have children.

    I felt serious about becoming a mother all the way up and through my first serious adult relationship. I could envision our lives together and fantasized about what our children would look like (cute); we had serious conversations about the sort of career and finance-related decisions we needed to make in order to become parents.

    When that relationship ended, the attendant fantasies died with it. At this point something must have switched. Maybe it was that I worried my certitude about having children someday partially scared him away. Maybe it was that I simply recalibrated my own “must have” list for future happiness. But the next serious relationship that I entered was with a man who didn’t want children. He envisioned a life for himself that involved traveling and going out to dinner whenever he wanted and having no responsibility to others, save the ones he already had with his family. He made that lifestyle look really, really appealing (although he, ultimately, was not such an appealing person). For the first time in my life, I seriously considered that I might be happy without children if I had the right partner to spend it with. The next serious relationship — with a divorced guy who had two children from his previous marriage and didn’t want any more kids — only solidified that decision. I could very happily be a stepmom, too.

    Now I can see lots of options about parenthood that might appeal to me. Without any sense of certainty anymore about such a big decision, I feel rudderless at age 29. That feels like a perilous age to be adrift on these big subjects like whether I really want to procreate or whether I’ll regret not doing so. My husband seems to feel similarly ambivalent — or perhaps characteristically happy-go-lucky is a better way to put it. When we talk about it, he says “not now but maybe someday” a lot; that’s about the same way I feel, although I’m the one with the ticking biological clock who knows “someday” is realistically some point within the next decade. For now, both of us like being an aunt and uncle to my siblings’ kids and waving hi to cute babies on the street. But we recognize there’s a lot more than that to becoming a parent. Becoming a parent completely changes your life.

    5 1/2 Myths About Female Sexuality

    I've been a sex educator since -- well, for a long time. And I am still crazed by the quantity of misinformation available to all of us at any given time. These myths are difficult to debunk; they have a long history and thousands of urban legends to back them up. But it doesn't mean they are correct. Far from it. So while there are plenty of myths about sex and sexuality, far more than the ones I have expanded on here, these are the ones I've chosen to tackle at this moment. If you caught me on another day, maybe I'd present an entirely new list.


    Most women have orgasms from sexual (vaginal) intercourse.

    Wouldn't we all love for this one to be true? Many experts and studies have found that about 70% of women do not have orgasms from (heterosexual vaginal) intercourse alone (without external clitoral stimulation). This clearly contradicts all the sex scenes we watch on television or in movies where it appears that everyone can climax on demand. (Which is really a shame because that would be nice.) So if you have been wondering what's wrong with you... well, absolutely nothing at all. We are not built the same as men, but the lens through which we talk about sex (or see it) is often male. Many of us wind up feeling badly if our experiences don't match our expectations -- or we start to question the prowess of our partner (but that's another blog post altogether). And don't get me started on pornography -- it can certainly be entertaining, but hardly represents reality. That aside, yes, there are some women who suffer from medical conditions that make orgasm (and even intercourse) difficult or impossible. However, the majority of women are not experiencing sexual dysfunction; we just haven't been given great sex education.


    Oral (or anal) sex doesn't count as sex.

    I always find it interesting that we seem to have a hierarchy of sex behaviors. Consider the rationalization: I can have oral or anal sex but it's not really sex so I don't have to count it as having a sex partner. Or I can do this and still be considered a virgin. Or... you get the point. And to complicate matters, depending on who you ask, that hierarchy may change. So here are a few thoughts: All forms of sex are sex. They are all intimate personal behaviors with the capacity for great pleasure and if practiced without protection, the potential for certain negative outcomes, too. Did I convince you? If not, try this: Sex is not just for straight people, which is basically what we're saying when we suggest that vaginal intercourse is the only true form of sex.

    You would know if your partner has a sexually transmitted infection.

    In my eleventh grade health class, our teacher showed us photos of penises and vulvas (notice I did not say vagina?) ravaged by sexually transmitted infections. My health class probably wasn't unique. Lots of us were shown these photos as a means of curbing our sexual behavior. Did it work? Nope. It actually backfired. I remember my fellow students squirming in their seats. "That's disgusting!" they screamed as they looked at images of cauliflower-like warts and oozing blisters. While on the surface it may sound like a great way to scare us out of any or all sexual activity, it didn't (shocking, I know). What it actually did was incorrectly teach us that sexually transmitted infections have visible (and quite grotesque) symptoms. (They don't, most of the time.) The fact is, you cannot tell if a partner has a sexually transmitted infection just by looking at their genitals. The only way to know for certain is for you and your partners to get tested.

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