Girl on Girls • 08.12.16

Jenny Block examines: The good and the bad of relationship texting

ThinkstockPhotos-495149609Texting can be a sticky wicket. It can serve as a tremendous way to communicate with your partner, especially if you’re long-distance dating. But it can also cause all sorts of misunderstandings. In fact, what makes texting so good is sometimes precisely what can make it go so badly.

Good: It can keep you in near-constant contact. These days, it doesn’t matter where you live or what kind of work you do, you can still keep in contact with your love throughout the day. Although it can be hard to take a phone call midday for many folks, nearly everyone can take a few moments to write a text without worrying about privacy since you don’t have to say a word out loud.

Bad: It can keep you in near-constant contact. Since you are likely available all the time, your partner may want you to be available all the time. Text-lag caused by one partner can send the other spiraling into a panic about the reason for the delay. And constantly talking all day long can lead to communicating about nothing, as well taking away the fun of seeing each other after you’ve been apart — even if you’ve only been apart for a few hours!

Good: It can help you to get flirty, and maybe even a little dirty. If you’re a little shy, especially when it comes to all things sexual, texting can offer you a super-safe way to play. You can let your inner freak flag and do it with a little distance to help you feel safe enough to do it.

Bad: It can help you to get flirty, and maybe even a little dirty. It can be a little too easy to go a little too far a little too fast and a little too soon. Flirt away and dare to step onto the wild side … just don’t forget the person you’re talking to. Know her sensibilities. And keep in mind that texts can be copied, photographed, and otherwise shared. You share it, it could be shared.  That’s a rule live by.

Good: It can give you plenty of time to think about just what to say and how to say it. It can be hard to instantly say just what you’re thinking — or at least what you think you’re thinking. Having a little time to digest what is being said to you and to think about just exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it can be very helpful whether you’re talking about what’s for dinner or where you want to go for the holidays.

Bad: It can give you plenty of time to think about just what to say and how to say it. Conversations can go terribly wrong when you think and think and think to the point of thinking yourself over and out of what you wanted — and maybe even needed — to say. Overthinking what has been texted to you, reading and rereading and rereading texts, dwelling on every word and semi-colon can lead you down a path of no return. Don’t go down it!

In order to do your text best, there are a few things you can do. First, use punctuation wisely and consistently. If you always use an exclamation mark, don’t suddenly leave your sentence naked as a jaybird. It’s nearly impossible for your recipient to not read into that sort of omission.

Second, use emojis and emoticons judiciously. Things can go downhill fast if you’re using those silly faces to lighten the mood and the person on the other end of the text conversation thinks what’s being discussed is anything but a joke. One girl’s silly face is another girl’s stab to the heart.

Third, don’t text anything that is life or death. This means both literally and figuratively. If someone passes away; if your relationship is not going particularly well; if you’re upset or you’re angry … you get the idea. The biggest problem with texting is that you don’t have the benefit of the person’s intonation, body language, eye contact, etc. That’s no big deal when you’re discussing what you need to pick up at the hardware store that weekend. But it can be a monumental mess maker if you’re discussing having your feelings hurt or wanting to see other people.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, be more clear than you can even imagine could ever be necessary. It’s better to be understood and thought to be a little over the top when it comes to language than to give your textee the wrong idea … or even room to have to try to figure out what idea you were hoping to express.

Texting can be a fun way to keep in touch with someone you care about even if time or distance doesn’t allow you to be with one another as much as you would like. You simply have to be smart about how you use it. It can help to think about how you might take a certain thought expressed in a certain way as long as you also keep in mind how the person you’re talking to thinks.

If your partner is a sensitive soul, keep the teasing to a minimum. If she tends to be super literal, steer clear of anything that might sting if taken to the letter. If the receiver of your message never remembers a convo that was text only, then don’t share important details using that method. You get the idea.

Texting does not, cannot, should not replace face-to-face, or even telephonic, conversations. In other words, think of it as an extra, an add-on, a bonus track when it comes to communication and you’ll be just fine.

Block is the author of the The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 07.15.16

Sex toys and cherry pies: Jenny Block on traveling as a couple (and the greatest adventure of them all)

Jenny

The happily — and newly — affianced couple… while traveling.

People apply all kinds of standards when it comes to evaluating your viability as a couple: Some people say it’s surviving a visit to Ikea; some say attending your first funeral, or moving in together, that will be most telling. For me, traveling is the activity that can reveal an awful lot about your partner … and about your compatibility with that person.

Whether someone is your travel-twin or travel-nemesis, you will inevitably learn a heck of a lot about him/her while readying to spend your time away.

Packing is the first major indicator. I don’t like to check bags unless there are some serious extenuating circumstances. If it doesn’t fit in a carry on, you probably don’t need it. (What constitutes an extenuating circumstance? Meeting the Queen. Going on adventures that require serious equipment. Trips over three weeks. You get the idea.)

Packing light and carrying on means less chance of luggage loss, ease of getting around, less stuff strewn around your accommodations, fewer things to leave behind. In other words, less stressors for you as a couple. Packing light says “I care about the experience — not having eight million pairs of shoes to choose from.” It means I care enough about our relationship to not put additional strain on it.

Then there’s airport behavior. Being well-matched on this front is incredibly important. Do you both have pre-check and Global Entry clearances, or are you both novice travelers? If one of you is muttering under your breath while the other is apologizing for having a bottle of water in his/her carry-on, the magic of traveling together will likely dissipate too quickly.

You can also learn a lot by watching your partner navigate an airport or train station, a bus depot or car rental desk, a ferry dock or a helicopter pad.

Traveling generally means sharing quarters somewhat smaller than what you’re used to at home. How you treat that space says a lot about who you are and how you feel about the person with whom you’re supposed to be graciously sharing it. Fights can be swift and fierce if accommodation mayhem ensues.

Unpacking is another indicator. Do you immediately split the drawers and the hangers and unpack your things while expecting your partner to do the same? Do you fling open your suitcase and spend the trip digging through mounds of clothes and shoes? Is one of you an unpacker and the other a digger? Do you – gasp! – hog all of the unpacking space and leave nothing for your floundering companion?

Then there’s the trip itself. Adventure or culture? Far-flung or never too far from home? Exotic or familiar? On the ritz or on the cheap? Once again, it’s about respecting each other’s wishes and needs and desires as well as about managing expectations. Don’t surprise your sweetie with a trip to your favorite campground if his idea of roughing it is eating somewhere without tablecloths.

Insisting on a place that isn’t comfortable for both can lead to a plethora of bickering, although compromising and stepping out of your comfort zone can say a lot about your ability to work together. So be mindful of how your partner both plans and responds if you want some insight into how he or she may tackle what life throws at him or her.

My fiancé has done some pretty highfalutin’ traveling. I’ve had my share of fancy trips myself, but I don’t always have the master suite or the grand casita. So when I took her on our first trip together, I was pretty nervous. I was a guest on an Olivia Travel cruise and had a very nice room with a portal. But I knew in the back of my mind it had to be small in comparison to the suites she had been in on a number of cruises.

So I had to laugh when we arrived and she took one look at the digs and said, “Ummmm… Where are we supposed to put everything? And where are we supposed to be?” I told her to trust me; I quickly and efficiently unpacked and put everything neatly in its place. By the next morning, having gotten ready for dinner the night before and for the day that morning and even having both done some work, she said, “Wow. This is super-comfy.” Crisis averted.

For the rest of the trip, we did great, managing the tight quarters and even-tighter bathroom. We were respectful and neat (for the most part) and we didn’t even have a bump.

We’ve traveled a number of times since then and have had equally grand travel experiences from modest airport hotels to glorious rooftop digs on a Mexican island. We’re both seasoned and similar when it comes to traveling and that is ideal.

We’ve also learned a lot about each other — fast — from taking those trips. I unpack; she doesn’t. I like to get coffee first thing; she’s happy to wait until breakfast. I don’t need a plan; she likes to have an activity on tap. But — most importantly — we’ve learned that we really dig each other and that traveling reveals just how well we really do mesh.

So, I guess it’s no surprise that it was on a surprise trip for my birthday this very week that she popped the question; I enthusiastically said “yes.”

As we boarded the Mackinac Island Ferry, she asked me what was in my tote. “Sex toys and cherry pie,” I said without a hint of irony before we both started laughing hard enough to concern the little old ladies next to us just a tiny bit. We did a little shopping before we got to the dock and not everything fit into my suitcase. And, once again, our travels proved to me that being with her is going to be the biggest adventure of our lives.

Block is the author of the The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 07.01.16

Jenny Block on how long-distance dating can (happily) pump the brakes on a new relationship

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Photo courtesy StephGrantPhotography.com

It just may be the oldest lesbian joke in the books: Q. What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A. The U-Haul. The thing is, it’s only funny because it’s all too true. We girls have a habit of getting real attached, real quick.

Why is that? Well part of it is that it’s just in our nature to want to partner up, cuddle in and settle down, I suppose. If we’re into someone, what’s the point in wasting any time? I’m not talking about in a “no more partying, I don’t want to ever see my friends again” kind of way. I mean in a “I know we just met but how about we move in together and love each other forever and ever” kind of way.

It’s not so different from when we met our besties when we were kids. We met her. We dug her. We wanted her to sleep over every night.

Here’s the thing, though: Jumping into the fire that fast can get you burned. Believe me. Been in that particular fire. Not pretty. I moved so fast, I had no real way of knowing if she could be right for me in the long or the short term.

This time around though, it’s been a completely different situation … and it wasn’t by choice.

I met my now-girlfriend on Tinder. I naturally assumed that she lived nearby because, well, Tinder. But it turned out she was in town for the big New Year’s Eve game. Apparently, there’s some sports-thingy that happens on that day in Dallas. But I digress.

Her team lost, and she was staying the night in a boring hotel. So she got to swiping. The next day I did the same. We matched, got to talking and I quickly found out that she lived in Houston.

At first I thought, “Nope. I’ve done long distance. I’m not a fan.” But then I thought, “What if long distance dating could keep me from making the fatal insta-girlfriend mistake? If she lives hours away, I can’t move in tomorrow.”

And lo and behold, it worked.

That first week we texted and talked on the phone non-stop. It was fun and exciting and romantic. But more than that, it was incredibly informative. It gave us the chance to ask and answer all sorts of questions that we may have rushed passed otherwise. And since dating was not going to be easy or particularly convenient, we had to really want it.

I asked questions that I really was ready to hear the answers to. In other words, I laid out the dealbreakers and was prepared to walk. I also became more invested than usual. I found out as much as I could about her and was able to actually say to myself, “Wow. I could really like this person. And, I could like this person enough to overcome the distance.”

We met in person a week after we e-met. Once it was clear that the “click” (that thing, that indescribable thing that happens when you know you like someone) and the crave (that thing, that indescribable thing that happens when you know you desire someone) were there, I knew I was ready to try the long distance thing again.

And it worked.

It was like dating with the emergency brake on. We could only go so fast and so we couldn’t make the typical U-Haul mistakes. And the distance actually made it more interesting and intriguing. It forced us to be more creative. It made us really examine again and again: Do I like her enough to do this? Is missing her this much worth it? Is flying this much worth it?

Yes. Yes. And yes, as it turns out.

U-Hauling is dangerous because it allows us to skip certain steps. We allow our emotions and our emotions alone to lead us. Our emotions and our desires, that is. Distance means more time for thinking, more time for getting to know someone, more time for easing in. All of that means we can better avoid something that wouldn’t have worked any way or it allows us build a stronger foundation for what could turn out to be just the relationship for which we were looking. Either way, it’s a win.

Long distance relationships cannot just “work,” they can also be better for us in the long run. They can bring two people closer while keeping those people from completely distancing themselves from their friends and families and lives that they had before they met. It can be all too easy to jump from your life to your partner’s life when you’re together 24/7. But if you still have time and space to yourself, you can still maintain your life.

Not to mention that you can still maintain your selfhood. And that is probably the most important thing of all. An ideal relationship is two whole people coming together; not people looking to fill parts of them that are missing, perceived or otherwise. Think, “you complement me” as opposed to “you complete me.”

Six months later, my girlfriend and I are basically together every other week. And it works for us. Well. As for moving in together, her rule is four seasons. Two down. Two to go.

Hmmm. Maybe we need a new app where you choose from people who are at least 250 miles away. Like a self-imposed, automatic braking system. If you can’t make yourself take your time, the distance will do it for you.

Block is the author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 06.03.16

Jenny Block tackles insecurity: How your doubts can tank a relationship

Girl-on-Girl

Thinking there’s trouble in paradise can actually cause trouble in paradise.

It starts out innocently enough. That’s what makes it so insidious — its subtlety. You ask your partner, “Is everything OK?” even when there’s nothing other than your own insecurity causing you to ask. You ask if your partner still loves you even though she hasn’t given you any reason to believe she doesn’t. You find yourself looking for signs, wondering who she’s texting, listening in on phone calls.

She’ll start to feel your insecurity, and it will feel like a weight. She’ll assure you that nothing is wrong — that, of course, she still loves you, that you have nothing to worry about. But assuring you will begin to eat at her … and therein lies the real problem. When we behave insecurely, the message we are sending to our partners is that they don’t love us enough or are not expressing their love clearly or strongly enough.

Don’t get me wrong: If there really is something wrong — if things really have changed, and your partner’s phone habits have taken an unusual, new turn — maybe you do have cause to worry … and you have both the right and responsibility to address that. What I’m talking about here are personal doubts that manifest as false insecurity in a relationship.

If your relationship is as it has always been — accounting for the fact that relationships change and grow, and once the “honeymoon” is over, reality sets in — there will likely be fewer flames and more embers. That’s when behaving insecurely is actually hurtful to your partner.

It might seem counterintuitive that behaving insecurely in your relationship could actually hurt your partner’s feelings and make her feel like she’s doing something wrong. But think about it. If your partner said to you, “Do you still love me?” wouldn’t you think you don’t say I love you enough? If your partner says, “Is everything OK?” wouldn’t you think you had done something that made her feel not OK? If your partner asks, “Who’s that?” every time someone texts or calls, wouldn’t you feel mistrusted?

We have two responsibilities in a relationship: to love our partner in the ways that make them feel loved and to accept the love that is given to us without letting personal insecurities, past stories or non-related outside influences cause us to behave insecurely.

What makes this so problematic is that it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if you keep asking if something is wrong, your partner may well start thinking something is wrong. If you keep asking if she still loves you, she might start thinking that maybe she doesn’t. If she feels as if you don’t trust her, she may, at least sub-consciously, feel compelled to do something that deserves your mistrust.

Being happy in a relationship can be scary, especially if you’ve been burned in the past. Things are happily humming along and then all of the sudden, it seems KAPOW!… she’s out. That can make it scary to feel safe in a new relationship. But there are a few things that are vital to ask yourself:

• Was it really KAPOW! or did you know the end was near and you simply didn’t want to face it?

• Did your insecurity in the relationship play at least some part in her leaving?

• Are you happy and safe now with no reason for doubt?

We have to trust. We have to. It’s the only way to live and it is the only way to love. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard and it doesn’t mean we won’t get hurt. But it does mean we will have the opportunity to love and be loved and the most profound way possible.

Relationships evolve. They must, because we as people are always evolving. When that evolution occurs, it can be unsettling. It can be even more unsettling if our past has left us feeling unsafe. But when the changes come, we have to look at them not with the eyes of someone who is expecting the worst. But instead with the eyes of someone who knows they deserve the best.

The past is the past. The only thing we have is the now, is the opportunity to create and build the kind of relationship that makes us feel as is if we have found our way home. Remembering how our insecurity affects our partner is vital. If you don’t feel loved, check in with yourself. If there’s an issue, by all means address it. But if it’s simply nagging thoughts with no grounding in reality, spend time with a friend, take your furry best friend for a walk, hit the yoga mat. Heal yourself before hurting the person you love.

We live within the world we create and I have chosen to weave a space of safety and security and love. It’s not always easy and it doesn’t always come naturally. But once I did it, that space of safety and security and love was exactly, and happily, where I landed.

Block is the author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 05.06.16

Jenny Block gets off on May: It’s National Masturbation Month!

FullSizeRendernewEditor’s note: May is National Masturbation Month. You can probably imagine what the best way to celebrate is. If you’re a guy, you likely don’t need a special month to remind you how great and important — and necessary! — masturbation is. But if you’re a woman, that might not be the case.

Our columnist Jenny Block was so intrigued by that dichotomy that she wrote a book on the subject called The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex (Cleis 2016), out this week. Here’s a sneak peek into what the book has to offer and why Jenny is not only a clitevangelist, but also a self-pleasure promoter!

In this life where we share so much in the public space, there are very few things that are all our own. Our bodies and our pleasure in those bodies are two such things. It makes no sense to waste that, and it makes even less sense that others would think they have a right to control or censor our behavior. And yet so many people who have no business poking their noses in are doing exactly that, and creating harmful myths as a result.

Here are nine of my least favorite myths about masturbation:

1. It’s shameful.

2. Nice girls don’t do it.

3. If you’re dating or married, there’s no need to do it.

4. It’s gross.

5. It’s not worth the time.

6. Women don’t have strong sexual urges, so there’s no point 
in doing it.

7. A woman will ruin herself for a partner if she does it.

8. A woman does not have a right to her own body or her 
own pleasure.

9. Women’s bodies and sexuality exist solely for male enjoyment.

Not one of those is true. Here’s what is true about masturbation:

1. It’s healthy. 
Masturbating is good for so many things that ail you. It helps with pain, depression, insomnia, lack of energy and body image, just to start.

2. It’s natural. 
You don’t need anything except yourself to do it. We all come equipped with exactly what we need—a female body and a natural, healthy desire to engage in it.

3. It’s as important in a relationship as it is out of one. 
Regardless of whether you are partnered or not, you should have a happy, healthy relationship with the body you live in, and that includes masturbating. You won’t wear yourself out or use yourself up. In fact, orgasm and desire beget orgasm and desire. The more you do it, the more you want it.

4. All women should do it. 
No matter who you are, or what your religion or cultural background. No matter your age or whether or not you are a virgin or what part of the world you live in. Masturbation is an important part of knowing yourself sexually, and nothing should keep you from it.

5. We could set the world on its end if all women did do it. 
Masturbation is magical. Seriously. If all women masturbated, the world would be a better place. Women who masturbate regularly are happier, healthier, and more self-confident, self-sufficient and self-reliant.

6. It’s empowering. 
It’s next to impossible not to feel better about yourself when you masturbate. You know how to make yourself feel amazing, and that is amazingly powerful. You have the power to fuel yourself to do all of the incredible things you want to do. There is no reason not to tap into that source.

7. It can keep young women from looking outward for pleasure. 
When you’re hungry for pleasure, when you’re filled with sexual desire — as I hope every woman reading this is — it can distract you from what you are seeking to achieve. It can also lead you to settle when it comes to partnering. “At least it’s someone. At least it’s access to an orgasm,” you find yourself thinking. But when you masturbate, you have an outlet for that desire, and you can focus on the things you want to do and on finding the partner you actually want to be with.

8. It’s no one’s business but our own. 
It’s great to talk about masturbation, if you feel comfortable doing so, because it helps others to feel comfortable with their own masturbation. But you also don’t have to tell a soul. That is one of the best parts about masturbation. It’s about no one but you. It involves no one but you. Masturbation is your birthright.

9. It’s nothing to be ashamed about.

It makes me angry that a woman making herself feel good is something that some members of society consider a shameful act. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and it won’t be the last time you’ll hear it from me— there is nothing wrong with masturbating. Ever. For anyone. Whatever you have to do to get your mind clear of the critics, do it.

It’s not always easy. But it’s always worth it. Start by avoiding sex-negative conversations, people and media. Instead, indulge in sex-positive dialogue and reading materials. In the moment, remind yourself that those naysayers are acting out of fear and clinging to misogynistic beliefs that have no value. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that what you’re doing is healthy and safe, and trust that those critics are small-minded, hurtful people whose opinions don’t deserve your attention. Then, turn your mind to pleasure!

Excerpted from The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block, foreword by Betty Dodson.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 04.08.16

Jenny Block explores: Is dating an older woman such a bad thing?

Valentine's-Day-Photo-with-Robin

My last three girlfriends were all 11 to 17 years my junior. I was with one of them for eight years. Dated the other two for a year apiece. At the time it worked for me, for us. But I always wondered why I sought out women so much younger than I. Which got me thinking: Is there such a thing as “age-appropriate dating?” Does age matter?

I chalk some of it up to coming out late. I identified as bi from my 20s, and into my early 30s. But it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I identified as I do now: as lesbian. Did that have an impact?

I can’t help but think that perhaps I was wanting to experience a sort of lesbian adolescence. I wanted to be their age and I wanted to do the things I did when I was their age, not the things I imagined “women my age” did.

Those relationships worked for me, obviously. At least for a while. But when my last relationship ended, I wanted to try something different. I wanted to see if perhaps I hadn’t found my match because I was looking in the wrong age bracket.

Once I realized that femme girls were not my cup of tea, it seems like I should have figured out that young girls weren’t really brewed to my taste, either. I can be a bit old-school — I relish the femme role for myself. Now, I want an equal when it comes to things like intellect, respect and the like. But when it comes to being the “top,” for lack of a better expression, I want my partner to be in that role … in all senses of that word.

So a woman who was a bit older than I — but not too much older so as to recreate the same imbalance in the opposite direction — made sense. And that is exactly what I was thinking when I swiped right on my now-girlfriend. She is seven years older than I.

I don’t mind telling you, it was a little nerve-wracking at first. She said she liked Sinatra and “classic movies.” She has a high-powered job and is generally the boss of things. She has no interest in after-hours clubs or waking up on the floor of a friend’s apartment. I may be old-school, but I was worried she was just old.

Would it be bye-bye Sunday Funday and hello mah jongg? Was it going to be sayonara vodka and howdy Ensure? Hasta la vista stilettos and nice to meetcha slippers? And what about the sex? And her friends? Would we be spending the weekends bringing flowering plants to Shady Pines? Are we talking making doilies instead of taking shots? I confess, after dating a 28-year-old, 52 seemed, well, ancient.

Then we met in person. And I realized what a dumb ass I was. Am.

I’m 45. I am not twenty-five. And all of the things that I thought I didn’t like or, rather that I was fighting because I don’t want to be “old,” I actually do like. And 52 is not old. At all. I’m just, yes, a dumb ass.

On our very first date, we went to a fabulous dinner, followed it with Alexandre’s for drinks and then shut down the Round-Up, leaving the dance floor only to go to the loo. If I’m being honest, I love Frank Sinatra and not much makes me happier then dancing to the Rat Pack in the “ballroom” as we call her sunroom.

“She and her friends do Sunday Funday better than — or at least as well as — any 20somethings I know. And I have yet to spot a ball of yarn or a crochet hook anywhere among her possessions.

Truth is, I have more trouble keeping up with her than vice versa. And I love being the spring chicken — the hot, young girlfriend. (Insert winky-face emoji here.) Not to mention that she gets my jokes and I get hers. We watched the same TV shows and movies growing up. And we finish classic lines like, “Slowly I turned. Step my step…” and “I am serious…. And don’t call me Shirley” with ease.

I don’t feel embarrassed when my back hurts or the red peppers from the salad repeat on me. We have sex in the morning as often as we have marathons at night because, yes, we need to get some sleep.

We talk on the phone like teenagers instead of texting — a very new thing for me. Here’s an upside: the misunderstandings that arise from texts as compared to actual talking are few and far between. And the fact that we both travel a lot and live in different cities is far less of an issue than it might otherwise might be.

We’re at the same point in our lives and our careers. We want the same things and enjoy the same kind of people. I loved the girls I was with. I wouldn’t have been with them otherwise. But I often felt old and (ugh) maternal in our relationships. I’m the whole me, the real me, the me I am and want to be in this relationship more than I ever have been before.

All of it has to do with me coming to terms with getting older and becoming comfortable with what I really like and want, instead of clinging to the past in a painfully failing effort to stay forever young. I actually feel younger and sexier now. I’m not racing to keep up. I’m enjoying how far I’ve come.

I don’t have to feign allergy symptoms to explain why I can’t read the menu. I can just pull out my readers or borrow my girlfriend’s. I don’t have to Google the band we’re going to see. I already know all the words to their songs. And I don’t have watch Bad Grandpa. I can sing along with Streisand or bawl my eyes out at An Affair to Remember.

Is there such a thing as age-appropriate dating? Yes. But it’s different for everyone. “Age-appropriate” is not about a certain number of years that divide two people. It is about dating someone with whom you don’t have to pretend or hide or be ashamed of things that come along naturally with age. It’s dating someone with whom you find comfort and acceptance. It’s about dating someone who not only doesn’t mind finding your bite guard under the pillow but also loves finding every possible way to have mind-blowing sex. Still.

I was enjoying an excellent sex life before. But let’s just say there’s something to be said for experience…

Jenny is the author of the upcoming book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex (Cleis Press), coming in May.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 03.11.16

Jenny Block explains: Why tit-for-tat in the bedroom can be disastrous

JennyBlock_Book_StephGrant-5

Photo courtesy StephGrantPhotography.com

In our household, one girl cooks and the other cleans. One girl preps the appetizers for happy hour and the other one plays bartender to our guests. One girl mows the yard and the other tackles the laundry. In other words, we do our best to keep things equal. But that doesn’t mean they’re the same.

This seems to be the way things go in all of the best relationships I know: A division of responsibilities based on ability and interest. Where that isn’t the case, it’s one of the greatest areas of contention and the greatest causes of resentment.

Which brings me to my point — when it comes to sex, there’s no room for tit-for-tat.

I can only really speak to the girl-on-girl experience here, but the notion certainly applies regardless of gender… or orientation, for that matter. When it comes to what makes a person come, we are all completely different and all exactly the same. In terms of mechanics, orgasm is orgasm no matter who you are. But when it comes to the acts that set those mechanics in motion, we are all wholly unique, which is why it’s all but impossible to have the happiest, healthiest, most satisfying sex life possible if we simply do to our partner exactly what they do to us.

The best sex is the result of having the most frequent and open communication you can muster. Not to get too far afield here, but it warrants mentioning that if you find it challenging to talk to your partner about sex, look into why that is, and work toward resolving the issues at play. Hey, if you’re OK with baring your body to someone, you certainly should be open to talking about the very things you’re doing with that bare body.

What does that look like? It means talking about what you like in bed, about what works for you and what doesn’t, what turns you on and what turns your stomach. I’m not talking about playing air traffic controller or unilateral dictator in bed. I’m talking about playful pillow talk when you slip into bed, both relaxed, both happy, both feeling stress-free and safe. I’m talking about the delicious debrief where you whisper about what you loved and what you might like to dabble with in the future.

And that is precisely how you avoid the predominantly ineffective tit-for-tat approach to sex. She does act A to you, you do act A to her. Then on to act B for you and then for her and so on and so forth. The problem? She might not dig that particular act right at that moment — or at all. And you’d have no way of knowing if you don’t talk about it. You may be doing the totally wrong thing for the totally right reason. Your partner may be too protective of your feelings to say anything about it. Naturally, you repeat the behavior because you didn’t get any complaints.

This can land you in one of two places. Either you’ll have a partner who is not enjoying a particularly satisfying sex life and is fine muddling through what there is, or you have a partner who loses interest in sex — maybe not right away and maybe not completely, but eventually. A recent study was just released about bed death. It was a survey of straight couples and the phenom was rampant. (I have my suspicions as to why.)

That’s the problem with just playing the tit-for-tat game in the bedroom: You lose sight of what really does it for your partner and that’s a very sad state of affairs. If you love someone — hell, if you simply want to have sex with someone — their pleasure should be as important to you as your own. Otherwise, you should go home and masturbate. If you’re in a relationship, this is so, so important to take stock of. If your partner’s pleasure and desires are not important enough to explore and talk about, you shouldn’t be with them. It’s the one difference between best friends and sexual/romantic partners. So, if you don’t have that, what’s the point?

The tit-for-tat debacle also doesn’t take into account that there may be times when all your partner wants is to pleasure you, when pleasuring you is what gives them pleasure. Maybe they want to kiss or be held or have you give them a massage or maybe they aren’t wanting to be touched at all. The only thing that’s important is respecting their desires.

Don’t ever make assumptions when it comes to sex. Talk about it. That can be half the fun any way. You just might be surprised at how much communication and forgetting tit-for-tat will improve the quality (and quantity) of sex you’re having. Mutual pleasure — let that be your guide and you’ll be golden!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls • 02.12.16

Jenny Block addresses: Is liking butch girls at odds with lesbianism?

Jenny

“If you like women, then why do you date women who look like or dress like men? Why be attracted to such masculine-of-center girls when you like, well, girls?”

I hear that question all of the time. The first few times, I didn’t quite have an answer ready — I suppose because it took me awhile to figure out why I did like a particular genre of girl. And then I realized something: There is no reasonable answer because it’s an inane question.

No one would ever ask a straight person the companion question. “Hey, sir, how can you dig a woman who is a CEO? If you want to be with a man, be with a man.”

“Pardon me, ma’am, why are you with a man with long hair who is so sensitive and actually wants to stay home with the kids? You might as well have married a woman.”

Sounds crazy when you look at it that way, doesn’t it?

The woman I am currently dating — and the two women I dated before her — all leaned toward the masculine-of-center on the butch-o-meter. Why? Because that’s what I like. It’s not that complicated at all, really. It doesn’t mean I actually prefer men — I don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m bisexual — I’m not. It doesn’t mean I got hurt, abused or damaged by men and “resort” to same-sex attraction. I’ve recovered. It doesn’t mean I miss or want the D or just haven’t had the “right” one. Trust me on this.

Trust me.

It means I like women in blazers. I like power lesbians. I like women who like a woman like me on their arm.

It means I just like being the only one wearing a dress. It means a killer pair of Oxfords and a button down make me weak in the knees. It means I am a sucker for having the door opened for me and flowers sent to me and that nothing will make me melt quicker than a woman who can lead me across the dancefloor.

And my experience has been that women with those traits are what we have come to define as masculine-of-center for no reason other than that, traditionally, those chivalrous traits have been more commonly found in men. But those traits are just that — traits. They are not gender.

Men and women are different in so many ways. Much of that has to do with socialization, the majority of which is not helpful in the least. I love women because I love women. I love their bodies and their minds and their spirits. I love whatever that thing is — that essential center that defies definition.

Here’s the thing. We love who we love. We desire who we desire. Asking why is as unhelpful as it is hopeless. Attraction is something we’ll likely never be able to truly understand. It just is. So if you feel inclined to ask why a girl might want a girl who sometimes gets called sir, consider this: Love and desire defy explanation. The magic is in the lack of ability to comprehend or explain.

Besides, it’s none of our business who someone else digs.

All I know is what I know. And when my girl puts her hand on the small of my back and guides me to the center of the dance floor, her bow tie untied causally around her neck, her pocket square perfectly arranged, and her patent Prada’s shined to a glow, I know I’m right where I belong…

Jenny Block is the author of the new book O Wow! Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm.

Have a question about sex you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Girl on Girls action: Jenny Block starts monthly column this Friday

JennyBlockSo we know you are looking for girl on girls action … and not the way straight men do. No, you want a female perspective on females, or just sex and relationships in general, and that’s what Jenny Block offers.

Starting this Friday, Block’s column will appear monthly in the Scoop section of Dallas Voice (alternating with our popular Ask Howard feature, on weeks when Cassie Nova’s too busy tucking to write a cogent piece). Jenny, a Lambda Literary Award winner and nationally-known sex columnist (as well as a longstanding Voice contender and frequent running buddy of mine), will talk about taboo subject related to sexuality, family and anything you wanna ask her. In fact, you can start getting your questions in at GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

Welcome aboard, Jenny!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones