Lubricant Review – Bad Dragon Cum Lube

Lubricant Review – Bad Dragon Cum Lube

Our next dildo review is going to be one of our Bad Dragon toys, an Echo to be precise, but before we dove into that I thought it’d be useful to review the lubricant that came with it. When you are customizing a Bad Dragon dildo most models will have the option to add a Cum Tube. If you do so it will ship with an 8oz bottle of Cum Lube too. To put it succinctly, the Cum Tube add-on allows you to have the toy simulate orgasm, which comes with a few practical and aesthetic benefits. To achieve the maximum effect here, a lubricant formula was devised to mimick the color and feel of cum. As I wrote before, about the company in general, this is another one of those for-fetish things that turned out to just be great on its own, no fetish required.

Let’s start with the basics. Cum Lube is a 5-ingredient (4 for the clear variant) water based lubricant that comes in 2oz and 8oz sizes and in original white opaque or clear coloration. Cum Lube is non-toxic and paraben free. The formula is sticky and stringy which gives the lube its namesake. Is it just like cum? No, but it is definitely a decent proxy.

I think the quality of this lubricant that surprised us the most was how much slipperiness Cum Lube retains while gaining the features above, and for that reason it’s actually become a lubricant we use semi-regularly regardless of whether or not we’re using a Bad Dragon toy. That’s one of the reasons we felt it necessary to break this out for its own review.

The stringiness and stickiness comes with a few downsides though. Cum Lube is harder to handle straight out of the bottle—don’t forget to shake well before each use. As you try to apply the lube it tends to want to come out all at once, because it’s so viscous that the lube outside of the bottle starts to drag what’s in the bottle with it, and if you try to back off, a lot will go back into the bottle for the same reason. It takes a little bit of experience but you’ll get used to handling this stuff, I’m just warning you that there’s a small learning curve and you can expect and prepare for a messy time. Actually, one of the best uses for this is to have a messy time.

These trade-offs come with a few very significant upsides however. Cum Lube has staying power that you normally don’t find in water based lubricants. It catches toy textures and stays where you need it the way you might expect out of thick oil based lubes or silicone lubes. While it will eventually dry, the way all water lubricants do, it can be refreshed with a little moisture. We actually tend to keep a glass of water around during sex anyway; both of us get very thirsty after sex and that becomes convenient for us when we need a little H2O to refresh the lubricant during longer sessions. Besides, when used with the accessory it was designed for, you don’t have to stop the fun to re-apply the lubricant. I really can’t say enough about the unexpected thickness and ‘stay-put’ qualities of this lubricant though.

Most of our water based lubricants are reserved for vaginal use because of their tendency to dry quickly and their lack of staying power, but we often lean on Cum Lube for anal play despite being water based. In fact, in this use case the water based qualities are actually a bit of a plus. We used to, and sometimes still, rely on a silicone lubricant like Gun Oil for anal play but we found that lubricants like that have a bit too much staying power and can be hard to clean. So having a water based lubricant suitable for back door fun is great due to the relative ease of cleanup when compared to silicone and oil based lubricants.

I don’t want to down-play the drying out downside though—this is going to be a quality of any water based lubricant. Emily often enjoys anal as a finisher, or a plus one, and Cum Lube lasts long enough for that in our experience. I wouldn’t use Cum Lube for anal as a main or long-haul event unless you were also using it with a toy with a Cum Tube as that allows further application without interrupting the action.

This formulation makes a lot of sense from the perspective of a silicone toy user. Water based lubricants are the safest lubricants to use with silicone toys and the risks of lubricant migrating around and ruining a silicone dildo worth nearly 200 bucks generally meant that if we were breaking out the silicone lube we were keeping the silicone toys in the chest. Cum Lube solves this problem and lets us have all sorts of safe fun with our full warchest. We’ve also found this formula very useful for larger vaginal insertions. Emily has a lot more trouble taking my hand or her larger toys without it, it’s an actual difference maker there.

We find Cum Lube to be aesthetically fun, especially in the opaque white. The keyword there is fun. I actually don’t recommend this lubricant if you’re feeling particularly sensual or romantic about your love making. This is a lubricant for that fun and carefree type of sexual mood. When we are in those moods I like to apply too much when I’m rubbing Emily’s vulva or clitoris. The sticky white shininess and the subtle noises are just a mood enhancer in those situations. When used with a cum tube equipped toy it’s nice to just shoot a load in and watch it flow out, you’d be surprised how far even one ounce goes. It shouldn’t be too much trouble to find examples of this on PornHub and believe you me it’s just as fun and aesthetic in person, just keep some towels handy.

Oh, and did I mention this stuff is also pretty cheap and can be bought in bulk? A single 8oz bottle can be had for seven dollars, and if you opt for the 9-pack you’re looking at a bit over 5 bucks each. Compare that to your normal water based lube prices. I’m not saying stop buying your JO or whatever your favorite water based lube is, those lubes have different thinner formulas that are meant for different types of purpose and play, but all these qualities combined took Cum Lube from a fetish-play-only expectation to a reach-for-first solution in our bedroom.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

Book Review – She Comes First

Book Review – She Comes First

Last week we went a little outside our normal reading with Marriage, a History, a book that was more academic than our standard self-help fare. Today we veer off the road on the opposite side. She Comes First by Dr. Ian Kerner is definitely a self-help book, but it’s a very practically minded one. The stated goal of She Comes First is to help change cunnilingus from foreplay to ‘coreplay’ and to enhance your tongue game overall. This is definitely a book marketed at the fellas, but honestly girls, some of y’all could benefit from this book too. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Out the gate I identified with the Ian’s past, though I arrived at my situation differently. I developed a bit of a porn habit early in my life and it led to a bit of a PE problem (yes, it can do that). Ian and I both upped our tongue games to compensate, and we both learned to cope with and overcome our PE later. For those of you wondering, PE is premature-ejaculation—being ‘fast’ in other words. For both of us, cunnilingus allowed us to make up for that shortfall, and remained so much more than foreplay even after we’d overcome our issues. The reason for this is simple, when done well many women prefer this to penetration, and research supports that—research Ian shares in the book.

So if I was already doing this, why pick up the book? Well that’s where She Comes First gets really interesting for me. I mentioned in my review of Come As You Are that I was looking for a book I could give the many women in my life who revealed they didn’t know perhaps everything they ought to about their bodies. Yeah, this is the part I just mentioned about it being useful for girls too. See, for about the first 100 pages, She Comes First is so much more than a ‘lick-this, tongue-flick-that’ step-by-step manual, it’s a deep dive anatomy lesson into the entire clitoral complex and how it reacts and functions during the stages of arousal. In fact, I’d say Dr. Kerner does a superior job of laying these functions out in his cunnilingus how-to manual than Dr. Nagoski did in her book aimed towards women to feel good about how they already are (Ironic as her book comes with a glowing endorsement from Dr. Kerner), and that’s why my recommendation for that book was so tepid.

I read these two back-to-back, starting with She Comes First, and while I was reading Come As You Are I thought to myself how I would have preferred a mishmash of these two books than either individually for the purposes described above. Keep in mind, the goal here was to find a book I could feel comfortable recommending to women that had basic questions about their own bodies. There are parts of each of these books that does that job better than the other and I think that’s a shame. That’s not to knock She Comes First, quite the opposite as it’s not meant to be that kind of thing at all, but it is interesting to me how it nailed the anatomy lesson better than Come As You Are did. After those first 100 pages or so it started getting harder to get through the book, as I was no stranger to cunnilingus technique. This is the part of the book where it ties all of the anatomy lesson together so that you understand the reasoning behind the ‘do this, do that’ portion. If you are however new to cunnilingus or feel like sanity checking your technique, this portion of the book should hold your attention. The smoothly flowing prose definitely made it easier to get through for me.

So yeah, let’s talk about that last thing briefly. Ian’s text flows naturally and reads easily; you’ll be turning pages quickly as a result. That makes She Comes First an easier recommendation for people with tight schedules, you’ll get through it pretty quickly, especially if your focus is on that first anatomy part. Oh, speaking of, I can hear some of you saying this from here; “I already know the anatomy of the clitoris”. Alright, so I’m sure you can name 10 of the 18 parts of the clitoral complex. If you still think you’ve got nothing to learn, cheers mate, and I’m happy for you and your wife. To be fair, I think Ian makes a bit of a stretch to hit all 18, but I’m sure most of you are surprised there’s more than 4, and there’s convincingly more than 4.

I’m really going to take the piss out of the cover though, for the same reasons I did that for Come As You Are. I would really like this genre to start taking itself seriously. Emily and I don’t even use its title anymore, we just call it the papaya book. The imagery of the papaya and banana on the cover are about as subtle and cliche as a lead pipe to the face in a TV wrestling match—all it’s missing is Rick Flair saying “Woooo!”. How many of these books are we up to for the “better off with an E-reader” rating for the covers? I think it’s three. For the love of physical book reviewers and consumers everywhere can we get some less cringe, coffee shop friendly covers? Please? Consider me a bitter clinger when it comes to my physical pages.

So do I recommend this book? Without caveat yes. I think most of us have something to learn from it, it’s cheap and a quick read so the opportunity cost of reading it is low, and as for the specific techniques I find they closely mirror my own and in that context I can definitely say they’re effective. I also appreciate the reinforcement of the idea that cunnilingus is not simply a ‘prelude’ to a type of sex that ‘should’ happen. Cunnilingus can just -be- the sex and I’ve always found it awesomely satisfying to bring Emily to orgasm that way.

The Fetish That Wasn’t – A quick look at Bad Dragon

The Fetish That Wasn’t – A quick look at Bad Dragon

Our warchest has been over ten years in the making, it’s had ups and downs, saw a transition from phthalate and paraben laced jelly toys to 100% body safe materials, and from generic do-it-all toys to targeted purpose items. But the biggest transition of our warchest came when we discovered Bad Dragon (If you missed that warchest post now would be a good time to catch up).

Emily and I love incorporating sex toys into our regular routine. We love the variety and flexibility they offer to our sexuality. Emily likes double penetration, but neither of us accept the idea of a plus one in the sheets, plugs and dildos to the rescue—stuff like that. Sex toys allow us to safely and confidently explore experiences and sensations that normally would come with crossing hard boundaries.

At this point in our warchest make over we had trashed all of our toxic toys and were replacing them with body safe toys, mostly from Tantus. We reviewed one of those toys, the Vamp, earlier this month. By now Emily had discovered that she was something of a size queen, but she also loved very pronounced textures, and nothing we could find fit the bill. Something was missing.

We had a mutual friend that’s really into reptiles. She cares for them, nurses sick ones back to health, and even developed something of a sexual fetish for the reptilian form. One day we were having a conversation about Emily’s unfulfilled needs and our friend started beaming, she drug us to her bedroom where she broke out entire totes full of sex toys, many from Bad Dragon. Reptiles don’t do much for Emily or I, but the size of these things, the textures, the colors! Our friend was kind enough to lend us one that she really couldn’t use, it was a large Spritz—yes a review on that is coming—and she had a bit of a problem with it. Her eyes got big on her purchase order and it just wouldn’t fit, she basically couldn’t use it.

At first Emily was a little uncomfortable with the idea of a used sex toy, but she knew by this point that silicone toys are bleachable and boilable and she decided to give it a shot. It was a kind gift, a Spritz in that configuration was worth a bit over a hundred dollars and we simply weren’t used to making purchases that hefty in the dildo department. So Emily tried it out, and was immediately hooked. Finally a toy that was big enough but soft enough to suit her needs, but it also had some texturing she was a huge fan of. This was the total package.

It wasn’t that long before we were itching for more, and indeed it seems that many people that start down the Bad Dragon path end up with quite a collection of them. We headed to their website and were hit with a pleasant but overwhelming array of options, and this is the point of the title. Bad Dragon seems to serve a fantasy fetish community that we just aren’t a part of, but the textures and sizes and aesthetics are just so unique and fun that they have great appeal outside of the fetish. These toys are becoming very popular on camgirl sites for just that reason. They pop, they’re visually catching, they have optional features that can enhance a performance, great for that visual medium.

As an example at Bad Dragon you can get a ripply Nova that’s shaped in a way to give you that freshly penetrated feeling several times over its length, and you can get it anywhere from 5.75” to 11”, you know, a SubWay foot. Now would you like that in Soft, Medium, or Firm? Would you like it to stick to walls? Would you like the ability to have it shoot a load into you when you orgasm? Cool, now would you like that in the color of your birthstone, or perhaps rainbow vanilla parfait? Maybe a flat black or glow in the dark opalescent is more your speed. Options options options, overwhelming options.

You can think of this as half a warning post and half a ten thousand foot view of a company we love. We’re going to be getting into some of these toys soon in our reviews and they just aren’t going to look like your run of the mill dildos. We both highly encourage you to check them out. We own a Chance, two Apollo in various sizes, a Nova, a Spritz, a Crackers, and an Echo. So if you’re eyeballing either of those and have questions about them, hit us up on our contact page linked in the footer below.


Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review – Marriage, a History

Book Review – Marriage, a History

Here at After The Yes we like to focus on things that can help you prepare for and enjoy marriage—particularly so-called traditional marriage arrangements. Today we’re going to deviate from that content, but only slightly. Meet the book that gave me agonizing thoughts about using the word traditional in this blog. For the sake of my audience I stuck with the word traditional, it’s still an easy way to convey the image of a 1950s style marriage, which is essentially where mainstream marriages have their roots. Good communication means using the right words to communicate the desired meaning, and that includes words that are technically wrong. Fact is, a 1950s style marriage is one of the quickest blips in the history of marriage customs.

Marriage, a History is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. It captured my attention from cover to cover, and I’m still going through all the sources in the appendix. It’s well written, easy to read, and while it’s a bit long it uses all of that length in a way that nearly feels abridged. So with all that said you may be thinking that this will be an easy and solid recommend right? Well no, solid yes, easy no. Whether or not I recommend you read this book comes with a heavy dose of caveats and asterisks.

Unlike the books we’ve reviewed so far at After The Yes, Marriage, a History isn’t written to immediately address some psychological, relationship, or sexual problem. This is a book of academic interest first and foremost. I do think this book offers a way to improve your marriage in unexpected ways though. By going through the history of marriage and seeing where certain traditions began, and why they were adopted or dropped, we can build a road map of a traditional marriage that makes sense in the present day and that will make sense down the road. This is especially useful for those of you who just agreed to get married but aren’t entirely sure what that life looks like for you.

Marriage, a History clocks in at 315 pages of main content, and that normally would be a days read for me. But the effective length of the book is enlarged by how densely packed the information on each page is, and the nearly 100 pages of citations that follow the main content. This brings us to the big recommendation caveat. If your time is limited, or you have more pressing issues to get through, this book is firmly in the project category—something you casually read over months rather than finish with gusto in days. The information in this book wouldn’t be immediately useful to relationships in trouble. It’s also not going to do anything about that sex life you’ve been wanting to improve or help you get a better job. There’s a lot of ways to improve as a person and to make your marriage better and this book isn’t meant to do those things.

What it can do is help you make your marriage yours, consider the traditions you’d like to incorporate from the ground up and build a system of shared work that gives you an edge in the modern economy while preserving your other desires of married life—like children and companionship. Like I said, especially useful for those of us starting anew or starting over. Yeah, that’s actually, that’s the biggest and firmest circumstance for recommending this book. If you are starting fresh, or starting again, get this book and get it now. Read it cover to cover, have your partner read it cover to cover. Take notes, challenge assertions, look up citations.

Marriage, a History can also help solve one of the biggest issues I see with new couples looking to get together forever, they have no clue what they want their marriage to look like in 15, 10, or even 5 years. They treat it as if they were just being extended roommates, and I largely blame that on our lack of relationship education—we actually used to teach this in public schools and we desperately need it as a society.

It’s also an easy recommendation for anyone who thinks factoids like: separate bedrooms in households didn’t arrive until the mid 20th century, there are cultures that consider sharing a meal tantamount to sexual intercourse, or progressive eugenicists of the early 20th century laying the groundwork for sex ed, are academically interesting enough to read about.

That’s really all there is to this review, if you’re settled enough to be curious by all means buy Marriage, a History today.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

Dildo Review – The Vamp by Tantus

In the grand scheme of things, and even in the context of the history of the dildo, body safe materials are something of a recent fad that Emily and I hope turns into a trend. This is our effort not only to push that trend along, but to aid in the curation of that space, call out bad or deceptive practices, and promote products and companies we feel good about and have good personal experiences with (As a reminder, we are not paid by anyone for any of this). Tantus Inc. is one such company and we own several of their dildos and plugs. If you’re wondering what this sorta thing is doing in a couples blog, I suggest checking out this post explaining our stance on the issue. Suffice it to say, we both feel strongly about the efficacy of having a diverse range of options for lovemaking.

We had a bit of a discussion on which member of our war chest to review first. We felt we needed to pick a toy that potentially had something to offer the dildo newbie as well as the experienced. We decided on The Vamp.

Despite its marketing origins capitalizing on a certain sparkly vampire craze there’s nothing supernatural about the dimensions of The Vamp. First thing we did for this review was break out the tape measure and confirm the websites listed dimensions. This is a hand poured silicone product and the website gives a tolerance of +/- 5%. Ours however, was right on the nose in the diameter department with the listed specs, a diameter of 1.75 inches at the thickest point of the head and 1.7 inches at the thickest part of the shaft which slowly tapers down after an abrupt reduction in size from the head. This earns The Vamp a D-score of 1.4, which means it’s about 40% girthier than the average human male. You can read more about how we derive D-score and why we use it here.

On length there was a little bit of deviation, all accounted for by a slightly deceptive industry practice. Length vs. Insertable Length. Tantus measures the full length of their toys to give their length number, including the wide backstop base made to make the toy compatible with harness rings and to make it anal safe. This part of the toy isn’t insertable—safely anyway—and takes up a half inch of length. We only measure to this point for what I hope are obvious reasons, and that comes to 6.5 inches. It should be noted however, that the half inch you lose to the base makes for a great place to get a grip. The Vamp is on the longer and girthier side of human, but there’s nothing supernaturally sized about it.

The head is the focus point of this toy. With a slight but definite size advantage over the rest of the toy Emily finds The Vamp excellent for G-spot stimulation and entrance play though there’s no shortage of pleasure in going deep. Just make sure you know your limits and get to know this toy before you go ham because while 6.5 insertable inches is human, that’s more than enough length to hit most cervixes hard on a full powered thrust. In our experience with it, you need a bit of warm up for this toy to feel good on first penetration. The finish is satiny and smooth but you will either have to be naturally quite wet or well lubed for the best comfort. On that note, the star of the show brings its own caveats for enjoyment, the ridge the head makes is great for stimulation but that shape also moves lubricant, natural or otherwise, out of the vagina at a good pace. You’ll need to re-lube a few times during long sessions and those of you who prefer low and slow on thrust speed are at a bit of an advantage with this particular design.

Let’s revisit that finish. The Vamp is finished in a satin smooth matte that glides easily and avoids ‘grabbing’ the skin the way a glossy finish might with silicone material. It’s available in two colors and we went with the ‘purple haze’. You can also get this in a pale cream color. The color swirls a little as the saturation varies slightly and there’s a bit of a subtle shimmer to it. The shaft is lightly but uniquely textured though Emily says they’re a bit too subtle and she doesn’t really perceive them when thrusting. Your mileage may vary. Feel aside, the subtle veining makes for an aesthetically interesting piece.

Tantus silicone toys used to come in only one hard firmness with the notable exception of their old O2 dual density line, which was recently revived after being discontinued. Emily finds the hard firmness makes long or rough sessions with The Vamp intense and can produce a bit of soreness afterwards. Some of you will be going for exactly that experience, some of you would rather avoid that entirely. Earlier this year Tantus mixed up a new silicone formula that they call Super Soft and have been releasing variants of existing toys in that new softer firmness. The Vamp is one of these toys. We haven’t gotten our hands on one yet—frankly unless we get gifted one we probably won’t—but we have silicone toys from other manufacturers that vary in firmness and can say the higher compression of the softer variant will definitely be easier to take and won’t cause as much soreness but you’ll be trading off a little felt texture. Since Emily already finds the shaft texturing too subtle to really enjoy that may not be a trade off at all. A more tangible trade off is that the softer you go on the firmness the more care you have to take in storage and handling to avoid exposure to sharp objects. This should be done with all silicone toys but softer is more vulnerable. We have had zero trouble with our softer toys but it’s something to consider.

One thing we noticed on the website preparing for this review is The Vamp is no longer listed as suction cup compatible and there’s no longer a combo option with a bullet vibrator, which fits in the hole where the suction cup attachment would also go. I’m going to assume that means this feature was removed from The Vamp some time between our purchase and today, but if that’s the case, you aren’t missing out on anything. We found the included vibrator with older models of The Vamp to not be worth using when inserted into the toy, and heaven help you removing it if you didn’t lube the thing first. After less than a few minutes with it, over a year ago when we first bought it, Emily took the bullet out and applied it straight to her clitoris where it was far more effective. The loss of this feature could be considered a positive from that perspective, as the toy is no longer being marketed to accomplish something it does poorly.

As this is our first review on After The Yes, we’d like to point out that if you’ve never owned one before, the texture of the matte finish silicone is unique to the material and is an absolute unequivocal upgrade over materials like rubber or ‘jelly’ in addition to being completely body safe and highly durable.

Speaking of durable. With proper care, silicone toys should last you your entire sexy life. If the words ‘proper care’ evoke images of proprietary cleaners and complex storage requirements fear not, these toys are bleachable, boilable, and can be thrown in the dishwasher. Just keep silicone based lubricants away from this toy, you will ruin it. They are non-porous and will not house bacteria to infect you or cleaning chemicals to burn you once cleaned in the way porous toys can. All of these consideratitons help blunt the price point. Silicone toys are simply more expensive than their porous and potentially toxic competitors. As of this writing The Vamp will cost you 50 bucks American in either the original ‘Flexible’ firmness, which is quite hard, or the new softer firmness. Both variants have a purple color, the softer one ditches the cream option for a copper variant. Emily and I prefer to buy our Tantus toys directly from their website, which frequently has sales, but they have affiliate programs and many of their toys are available from other popular online retailers and we actually got our first one from a local shop. So if shopping local is your preference that may be an option, it couldn’t hurt to ask them to order one for you in any case.

The Vamp seems like a toy that was designed for beginners in larger sized toys but definitely not for beginners to vaginal penetration in general. If you are new to vaginal penetration in general you may want to start out with something a bit smaller. Some people use this toy for anal play and it is certainly safe to do so but that D-Score of 1.4 means a whole lot more in the back door than it does in the front, I don’t recommend newbies to anal penetration start with something this large.

As a quick recap:

  • Length: 7 inches (6.5 Insertable)
  • Diameter: 1.75 Inches (Thickest Part of the Head), 1.7 Inches (Thickest Part of the Shaft)
  • D-Score: 1.4
  • Finish: Matte
  • Firmness: Firm
  • Material: Silicone

In conclusion Emily and I feel we can safely recommend The Vamp to most couples, especially those experienced in vaginal penetration but just starting out in the dildo scene. We have had ours for over a year and it looks just as good as the day we bought it without a hint of wear. We had a good collection of silicone toys prior to picking it up and have purchased many more since. Our Vamp still sees regular use despite the increase in company and we doubt you will get bored with it in the long term if you decide to pick one up.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Making of A Sex Toy Review: D-Score Explained

Told you we’d be making time for fun now and again. Emily and I are busy working on our first sex toy review, which is mostly already done. In fact, we could probably both independently write the first one from memory and the sum of all of our experiences with it. There’s a catch though.

It may seem like a stuck-on-stupid moment, but while we were going through building a format we thought would be most useful to our readers we ran into a bit of a stumbling block, size. There are plenty of objective ways to describe the size of a toy; the diameter, the length, the areal cross section, or even the displaced volume, but how do you turn that into a subjective recommendation? What exactly is a good size for a beginner? We have no clue, Emily hasn’t been a beginner in some time, we’ve completely lost frame of reference for that experience.

Sure, there are lots of toys that claim they’re good for beginners, take the Tantus Starter for instance, but we’re doing a review here. We’re supposed to be examining those claims. Does great for a beginner also mean bored in a week? At 1 inch diameter and 4.5 insertable length the Starter seems like it could be just that. Problem is, we really don’t know, we can’t wave a magic wand (or a Hitachi Magic Wand for that matter) and make Emily a beginner again, and even then while vaginas have an average size like everything else, they’re also unique. These types of things are things I’d like to be able to tell my readers with confidence; this is good for a beginner, or experienced users only. Things like lubricants are a little easier due to their subjectivity. We can simply say in the case of a water based lubricant if it felt like it dried out too quickly for us, things of that nature, but it’s hard for someone who can hilt a large Apollo to make subjective recommendations about being ‘good for beginners’ in the size department. Getting back to the Starter, it’s easy to say the shape is exactly what a beginner would want, the head is a bit larger than the shaft, the whole thing is smooth and glossy, it’s relatively short (you probably won’t be accidentally slamming your cervix), made from a body safe material, and relatively cheap. The problem really comes in the girth department. Is one inch diameter really good enough, even for a newbie? In other words, are you going to be getting your 30 bucks out of that?

We’re struggling to answer questions like that. One thing we do know is, just the simple diameter of a toy isn’t really something that translates well to gauging size. These aren’t pants, you can’t really try them on in the fitting room, and you definitely can’t return them if you’re dissatisfied. Diameter also doesn’t scale linearly to the felt girth, which we’ll get into soon. We need a way to accurately communicate the difficulty, or lack thereof, of using a toy of a certain size.

For a while I considered taking the volume of the total displacement of a toy, which would give us its absolute volume, but some toys have very large portions that aren’t insertable or meant to be insertable. This includes the flared bases of anal safe toys, harness compatible toys, and things like the gigantic bases of toys meant to literally resemble a horse’s dick. Absolute displacement is out. So then I thought about just measuring the insertable portion and doing a rough approximation of a cylinders volume. This presents trouble for two reasons. Some toys change drastically in thickness like the Crystal Delights Twist and you can always control how much the toy is inserted, making the total volume largely adjustable by the user. The real difficulty comes from roughly 3 factors; the firmness of the toy, the shape of the head, and the area of the cross section of the toy. There’s still the problem of making a useful comparison however.

For very experienced people like Emily, it would be useful to compare the diameter to a standard soda can, but then you’d have to say what kind of soda can—they’re different around even English speaking countries.

Then it clicked, since our target audience are traditional couples, we can take the average areal cross-section—though in functional terms the circumference is just as good they really reflect the same measurement—of the average member and assign a score to how much larger or smaller the area of the toy is than that. For a variety of amusing reasons; diameter, deviation, dick, rhyming with Z, and because this is supposed to be fun, we are going to call this the D-score. We are still going to post the diameter, that’s still useful information, but we will also be posting the D-score. A D-score of 1 means the toy has roughly the same area as your average man (that’s 1.67 square inches for those curious).

Some of the more mathematically inclined out there might be asking, “why don’t you just use diameter then? The area is based on radius in the first place so reporting the listed diameter is as good as listing the area right?”. I get it, and you’re right, those measurements are intrinsically related. However, if you caught that bit, you also likely know that a 50% increase in diameter doesn’t equate to a 50% increase in area, and that’s why listing diameters can be misleading. Let’s go back to the soda can and our new base measurement. The average human has a diameter of 1.46 inches (1.67 square inches) and the standard 12oz can in the united states has a diameter of 2.6 inches (5.3 square inches). If we just eyeball the diameters we might be tempted to think the soda can is 78% larger than your average guy, but the area is just over 3 times as much (3.17x to be exact). It should be obvious which one of those better reflects the felt reality in the difference between the two objects. Thus, we would say the soda can has a D-score of 3.2 (we will be gratuitously rounding here). For those of you curious about the Starter I mentioned earlier, it has a D-score of .5!

I hope that was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. First toy review will be up soon. In the mean time, have a good one.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

Book Review – Come As You Are

There are two kinds of easy book reviews, the hard nope and the strong recommendation. This is not one of those reviews. I’m really torn on whether to recommend Come As You Are and spend a lot of text pointing out what I consider flaws, or finding an alternative source with a content more similar to the promising title. I find however, that criticism is easier to accomplish than creative endeavors and thus feel the need to also talk about where this book does well. I took a lot of notes on Come As You Are and they’re a wintry mix of good things and critical ones. There is one note that stuck out and grabbed me on the second reading though.

The main message of this book is supposed to be about feeling normal and loving yourself, and when it focuses on that it’s good.

That’s Come As You Are in a nutshell. Unfortunately, focus seems to be an issue. That’s the tl;dr if you wanna skip the rest of this review. However, if you’re a woman and have ever felt awkward about your own body or felt like you didn’t know as much about yourself as you should—that’s a lot of you if the NYT best seller banner means anything—then you might wanna stick around for a bit.

Let’s get some booky stuff out of the way first, the easier structural things, before we wade into the pool of needful analysis. The prose is sometimes hard to read and feels like a very long reddit post. The text is suffused with isms of the internet and I couldn’t brow beat you for thinking this book was written with large contributions from a Discord group. The author actually tries to discuss ‘the Feels’ in a serious context. This is one of the things that makes the book hard to recommend. I find the read difficult in ways that aren’t related to needing to crack open a dictionary.

There are some fantastic worksheets focused on becoming more familiar with your own sexuality peppered throughout Come As You Are and some of them would even be useful to men. Oh, let’s talk about that. This book is definitely geared towards a female audience. You can tell by the pink cover with the purse on it! Come As You Are spends a lot of time criticizing cultural norms for…a lot, and then turns right around and goes with the brightest most saturated coral pink for its audience and you gotta wonder if that was on purpose or accidentally funny. More about the cover, because I alluded to this in other reviews and there’s one more book in my review pile that suffers from the same issue. Was this book meant to be read in a public place? The cover is so cringe I had a hard time reading it in front of my kids, and I certainly wasn’t going to read it in a coffee shop. That’s one more point for e-readers I guess. I’m going to continue to be a physical paper holdout though. Covers are a pretty minor gripe in the scheme of things, but I have to have fun with things as cringe as this. This is the self-help equivalent of having Fabio on the cover (Your number is next She Comes First). If you want me to take you and this genre seriously you have to show me you take yourself seriously, and putting a purse-vulva on a bright coral pink background ain’t that.

On a more substantial note, there were several times throughout the book where not being the intended audience got in the way of comprehension. Several moments of “Is that what the average woman actually goes through” and “that’s not actually why men do that…at least not this one”. Some things bordered on disbelief but I simply don’t have the female experience to say either way. I was often able to discard those frustrating moments as knowing I wasn’t the intended audience but sometimes it managed to be frustrating as I specifically set out to read this book to assess whether it could help with a frequent problem I’ve encountered over the years. I’ll be talking to my wife, or a friend, and sex will come up and there will be a “how did you not know that about your own body?!” moment. I set out for a book to point those women to and the short descriptions of this book online seemed to tick those boxes, so I picked it up.

As I said before, when it focuses on becoming comfortable with yourself it’s quite good, but it also mixes that with urges to try mindfulness meditation or some really eyebrow raising insistence to accept the health-at-every-size movement. The latter was particularly jarring as the book starts out by insisting it will take a strictly biological look at what is normally viewed culturally. The author insists on using metaphor but she seems to be not so great at it. There’s also some needless injection of politics that may turn some of the demographics that most need this information away from this book.

Reading all of that you may wonder why I am having trouble making a decision on the recommendation. Well that’s simple, the good parts of this book are really good and lack a useful alternative. Understanding the contextualization of sexual stimulus is a thing more people ought to be familiar with, the worksheets contained in the book are really useful, non-concordance is a thing people need to be more aware of, and the basic biology lesson is something I’ve found a lot of women just need and I find it downright tragic they were able to leave high-school without being exposed to it. I currently know of no alternative to get those things in one space that lacks the issues mentioned above. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, I just am not aware of anything that accomplishes the biological information, actionable exercises, and focus on loving who you are physically and mentally the way Come As You Are does. There were times I also really sympathized with the author. I share her frustration about meeting women who had to learn about their anatomy from pornography, for instance.

So I guess what I’m saying is I recommend it, but with lots of asterisks. I’m going to continue looking for better alternatives to this one, but as things stand today, right now, the positives outweigh the negatives. I was intentionally vague in describing what I find to be problems above. As a reminder if you haven’t read one of my reviews before, I try to keep most of the experience of the book contained in the book, at least as far as the hard content goes—I feel I’m robbing you of individual experience otherwise. However, I felt I had to address some of the content of this book as it was central to the objections that muddy the recommendation. I would have loved to write ‘Fantastic book for women having trouble being comfortable with themselves sexually’ without all the caveats, because that’s a recommendation I’d really love to have in my back pocket when I encounter that friend that say, doesn’t use protection during her period because she ‘can’t get pregnant’ then. In that respect I’m definitely still on the lookout.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

Book Review – Mating In Captivity

I don’t know why I struggled figuring out which book on the pile of relationship help books was going to be next while Mating In Captivity was on my nightstand, staring me in the face. It would be a disservice not to talk about Esther Perel’s work after having just reviewed Gottman. Perel and Gottman are in a bit of a discourse at the moment you see. Other books I’ve read on this subject reference their disagreement and Gottman mentions it outright in the book I reviewed earlier this month. So I think it only fair to review Perel next. Full disclosure, I find Gottman’s arguments more convincing. You may not! When I cover these books I don’t spend a whole lot of time on the philosophy and whether I agree with it or not for just that reason. One approach might work for you, the other may not. Remember that these are self help books and you should be finding the right fit for you, anything beyond that is professional time. With those caveats and yah-buts out of the way let’s get to it.

First thing I want to mention out of the gate naturally follows my preface to this review. If you’re going to read either Perel or Gottman, read the other too, even if just once. Mating In Captivity has a bit of a narrower focus than How to Make Love Last. The former focuses on reigniting desire—Perel’s use of the word may be easier to explain as erotic passion—in a relationship and the latter covers the broader subject of saving the relationship itself. Perel’s book is geared towards people who feel the fire has gone out and can’t find a breadcrumb as to why. I was amused in the first few pages where Perel let me know the book wasn’t about me.

“For the lucky few, this is barely a challenge. These couples can easily integrate cleaning the garage with rubbing each other’s back. For them, there is no dissonance between commitment and excitement, responsibility and playfulness. They can buy a home and be naughty in it, too. They can be parents and still be lovers. In short, they’re able to seamlessly meld the ordinary and the uncanny. But for the rest of us, seeking excitement in the same relationship in which we establish permanence is a tall order. Unfortunately, too many love stories develop in such a way that we sacrifice passion so as to achieve stability.”

Esther Perel, Mating in Captivity

I usually don’t quote an entire paragraph but this serves a few essential functions in the review. You get a taste of Perel’s prose and get to make a decision on whether you can read 220 short pages of that—for the record I quite enjoyed it. Additionally you can more appreciate the biases of the reviewer. In this paragraph Esther tells me this book isn’t for me, or at least, it isn’t about me—I did enjoy the content regardless. One of the most important features of a self-help book is that you feel it applies to you. This book is to help the people she’s talking about towards the end of the paragraph. In fact, this notion was quite alien to me. Losing eroticism because you bought a house? The opposite happened to us! So I kept reading, to gain knowledge about an alien world that considers my relationship special. Hell, a good portion of this blog will be about how my wife and I accomplish this.

I will say that from my reading of Mating In Captivity it appears the most applicable to people who spent a significant amount of time in a profoundly sex negative environment. (This space is very sex positive if you haven’t figured that out yet) I realize that could be quite a few of you. If you think that a loss of eroticism in marriage is just a natural phase of it—thoughts such as “of course your sex life goes down the tubes after children” for instance—then you may have grown up in that kind of environment without realizing it. I know many Christian families have been bamboozled into thinking the 1950s marriage is God’s marriage, or even the church’s and have let that inform their sex lives. Mating In Captivity would be a good read for you as well, though there’s a companion book, if that’s you, called Marriage, A History. I’ll be reviewing that later. Point is, I have a hard time relating to the couples described in this book and that makes it difficult to recommend outside of a few obvious cases. The central axiom remains, if you think a diminishing love life is a natural part of a marriage, this book may be for you. I mentioned earlier that I found Gottman’s arguments more convincing, but I’d be remiss not to reinforce now that I don’t think a lot of their ideas are in conflict or their outlooks entirely mutually exclusive. Disagreements however, grab headlines.

So will this book help you? Well that entirely depends on your problem. If you think bedroom woes are effecting your entire relationship, and you also can’t understand why there are issues in the bedroom to begin with then absolutely give this book a chance, at that stage it can’t hurt. I think if your relationship started as a passionate love affair and that structure has gone cold this may also be the book for you. If it feels like your entire relationship is suffering from something a little more pervasive read Gottman first. I say first because as I said in the preface, if you read one read the other, a recommendation for either is a recommendation for both, at least as it relates to these two titles.

To sum up; I found the prose engaging, I found the content credible and useful, I found the length excellent for busy lifestyles and the subject is clearly focused. Mating In Captivity comes with a solid recommendation.

What Makes Love Last – Key Takeaways

What Makes Love Last – Key Takeaways

I’ve been reading quite a bit of literature on relationships, marriage, and sex this year. Some were enjoyable easy reads, some were meandering wordy affairs. I’m happy to say What Makes Love Last by Dr. John Gottman fits the former category. We’ll call What Makes Love Last WMLL for the rest of this review for the sake of brevity.

First things first, I highly recommend picking up WMLL for any couple at any stage of their relationship. You can use the information in this book not only to assess your current relationship and make improvements, but you can also use this book to improve your ability to form stable relationships in the first place. Dr. Gottman will show you how to avoid behaviors that break trust and tear down the foundation for long lasting relationships. Dr. Gottman also gives us a convincing argument for relationships as trust-based. I already viewed relationships as fundamentally trust based but WMLL helped provide me with evidence and arguments to defend that position, so those of you who are already high-trust types should definitely pick this up and give it a read. Ultimately, WMLL is a book for anyone that is currently in, or has plans to be in, a long term relationship and thinks the quality of that relationship and its success matters. That’s you right? You wouldn’t be reading a blog like this if you weren’t.

The primary feature that makes this book so attractive and such an easy recommendation is how it delivers its content. WMLL is a straightforward piece that trusts the reader to have some basic intelligence and the ability to make decisions that benefit them, which is something I find oddly lacking in the self-help genre as a whole. WMLL definitely deserves the phrase, page turner. WMLL also avoids having too few or too many pages, the content is delivered succinctly but without being abridged and it’s friendly to busy lifestyles. Gottman also avoids sugar-coating and sets reasonable expectations. You’ll get clear boundaries for when you can rely on the book to self-help and when to consult a professional. For example, there’s a warning on page 66 that cautions against trying to use the book to repair an abusive relationship.

Please note: The worst kind of betrayal-physical or emotional abuse perpetrated to control the victim of the violence-is not on this list. Do not use this book to improve such a relationship. Any kind of unwanted touch signals physical abuse, including forced,  unwanted touch in the bedroom. Emotional abuse includes social isolation, sexual coercion, extreme jealousy, public humiliation, belittling or degrading, threats of violence or other acts that induce fear, or damage to property, pets, or children. If your partner is abusive, acknowledge to yourself that you don’t deserve such treatment and enlist help…You deserve support.

What Makes Love Last? pg. 66-67

WMLL also goes through plenty of examples of how things can and often do go wrong. Dr. Gottman avoids the trap of painting this picturesque unobtainable storybook marriage in the delivery of his message of self improvement, he just draws clear lines for when bad is too bad. You’re not going to feel like WMLL is trying to make you into something impossible by the end of the reading. Dr. Gottman makes sure to mention when people are speaking strangely due to having been in therapy a while and notes that couples don’t typically speak to each other that way. This disclaimer is lacking in other books on marriage and the impression I got from those other books was the authors wanted to turn my house into an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I always said no thanks to that. So if you’ve ever felt like the road to relationship improvement was to be an emotional robot with a conversation tree you’ll find WMLL is a breath of fresh air.

Now let’s judge this book by its cover. Well, let’s judge the genre anyway. While WMLL‘s cover is far from the most cringe worthy cover I’ve seen in the relationship self-help genre I have to wonder where publishers think people read these days. Is it too much to ask the self-help genre to take itself seriously? Like I said before, Gottman’s book isn’t the worst about this, but as these reviews continue you’re going to see what I mean about the subject failing to take itself seriously. Fortunately, if you invest in an e-reader or e-book service you can avoid all these embarrassing cover woes. I like to have physical copy though so it’s a bother for me.

Minor cover gripes aside, I have to reiterate my emphatic recommendation that anyone with so much as a tertiary interest in improving their relationship pick this book up and read it cover to cover.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.