Getting Through Bad Months

Getting Through Bad Months

Or weeks, or years, or whatever period of time is bad. Let’s get one thing out of the way right away. This post is about how I handle things and how I cope, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know what works for you. Maybe you can identify with some of the methods and techniques I use or maybe they’ll be something that you’d find willing to try, but I’m no snake oil salesman, and I can’t promise these things will help you through. I just hope they will. I’d rather you never need to know how to get through tough times but, that’s just a fact of life.

Don’t Change Who You Are

It’s tempting, after you’re hurt or you go through a bad time, to discard everything associated with that memory even if they’re a critical part of who you are. A favorite song, a hobby, a core behavior, a belief system, an entire city, they’re all things people can ditch in an effort to quickly relieve themselves of reminders of bad times. I can’t deny that these things can seem to help in the short run but I don’t think they’re good long term. Throwing these things away just gives power and legitimacy to the people or things that hurt you. If I could draw a familiar parallel, it’s a lot like the security theater that comes after a horrific attack on innocent people. We tell ourselves that changing our behavior is how the terrorists really win, and then we go and radically change our behavior in an act to make us feel safer. For bonus points, the things we change don’t seem to make us any safer at all when push comes to shove. Changing who you are won’t stop the future bad times that you’re going to go through, that everyone goes through. Bad times are a fact of life, and changing yourself in a fruitless attempt to avoid them does nothing but give them power over your life. Security theater for the soul. There is one exception to this advice though. If you get hurt in the same ways over and over, and the hurt has something to do with a life goal, like holding a job, retaining friends, or building meaningful relationships, it’s definitely worth taking a look at yourself, and you should do so with a professional. The scope of this blog however, is for those unconnected bad moments that aren’t part of a larger pattern. Sometimes bad things just happen. This is about those times.

You’re Not Alone

While each individual’s suffering is unique, suffering itself is universal. Everyone goes through tough times, everyone suffers, but life goes on. That’s not to diminish your suffering, quite the opposite. Your suffering is meaningful, it may even redefine you going forward if it is profound enough, but if you let it keep you from moving, from going forward at all, you can make it worse for yourself. Like it or not, the Earth doesn’t stop spinning when you hit a rough patch and neglecting yourself and your commitments can make a bad situation much worse. You haven’t hit bottom yet, don’t aim for it. Someone, somewhere, even if it’s just the person in the mirror, is counting on you. Don’t let them down. Friends are good to have in times like this, good friends, the ones that don’t get upset when you have an emotional load you need help carrying. You’re about to find out who your real friends are, and which ones are fair weather. That’s useful knowledge to have. Just remember, being under the microscope is often the price you pay for this sort of help. Your real friends don’t like seeing these things happen to you just as much as you don’t, and they’re going to try and help you prevent repeating mistakes, and that might mean they have to know things. They might have to see you ugly cry into a beer, they might have to learn that you did something awful, or that you were the victim of something awful, and either of those things can be painful to share, or to see, but real friends will listen and help you through, now isn’t the time to push them away.

Avoid Isolating Yourself

This is related to the preceding paragraph, but it’s important enough to reiterate. Isolated people are vulnerable people. Now isn’t the time to shrink from your friends. You’re emotionally vulnerable, there are predators out there who will exploit that, try to make themselves out as your savior, make promises to provide whatever it is you think you need, and then trap you with it. Whether it’s rushing into a rebound, getting in with the wrong crowd, putting yourself in a dangerous situation, or ceasing to bring in income, real friends are going intervene when you’re being self-destructive. All predators, four legged, winged, or the worst of all, two legged, prefer isolated and weak prey. Don’t make yourself attractive to them.

Joy Is Contagious Too

One of the most common excuses I see for people withdrawing from their friends and family when things get tough is not wanting to be an emotional burden. Sorrow is contagious, and you don’t want to spread it. That’s a reasonable concern to have. Negativity actually is contagious. One couple divorcing often results in a rash of divorces throughout their social circles, but having a baby is contagious too, and that’s because Joy is also contagious. First of all, you’re not sparing your friends the story of your hardship by radically changing your behavior in a way that I guarantee you is going to alert your friends to something being wrong. Spare yourself the fantasy that by vanishing suddenly you can spare people some worry, that behavior is worrying in itself. Your friends and family however, will try to get you to have fun and get over it. Let them. Let them take you to a movie, to the beach, to your favorite bar or hangout. Joy is contagious too.

Dealing With Sexual Insecurity – A Male Perspective

So I saw a pretty interesting question posted on Twitter the other day by a fellow reviewer. She goes by the Backwoods Bedroom handle on Twitter and she’s definitely worth following, but on to the question itself.


“I just saw a tweet, and it got me thinking. I want to try one of the silicone penis extenders so bad, but don’t know how to broach the subject with my partner. So my question to those of you with a penis, would you be hurt if your partner asked you to try a penis extender?”

This question was issued as part of a poll, which you can reference here if you’re interested. I personally did not feel I could adequately express the potential brier patch of this situation within the limited confines of Twitter, so here we are. While this is a response to the question and its author, it is not a direct one, and I’ve had to consider everyone that may potentially read this. Let’s also keep in mind the kind of space the review community is. Seventeen percent of the respondents indicated they absolutely would not want their partner to approach them with this question, and even in a vacuum that’d be a significant portion. This is sex review Twitter space though, and I’d bet my less developed nut that as you leave that relatively sex positive place that number would climb precipitously. However, for the purposes of this piece, I’m going to deal with that number as is, I just thought that context was needful to establish.

The original question is multi-parted, even if it doesn’t look that way at first glance, and we’ll need to deal with those parts one at the time before we bring them all together for approach. Part one…

I want to try one of the silicone penis extenders so bad,…

Okay, but why? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that statement, or even eventually wrong, but if you don’t know exactly why you want to change things up in the bedroom you may answer a sensitive follow-up question clumsily and that can lead to hurt feelings. I will however go over a red flag answer to this question. If the reason you want to try a penis extender is because you find your partner inadequate, you probably want to stop right there. Why? Well let’s explore the nature of what a penis extender actually is at its core.

Unlike dildos or vibrators or a myriad of other sex toys a penis extender isn’t confined to being an experience add-on, a penis extender changes your partner. Sometimes these changes can be fun and obvious, like say with a french tickler, but in the case of extenders the message is clear, I want you to be longer/girthier/whatever. Adding inhuman textures and features is one thing, and I’ll actually circle back to that point later, but there’s an inherent declaration of inadequacy in using an extender. Let’s turn the tables on this a bit with a hypothetical. What if your partner got you a sex toy and this sex toy was widely known as a she-tightener. Imagine this as a penetrable toy that is designed to be inserted into the vagina, the net effect being you’re vagina being replaced with a different one. Your partner would on some level be telling you that he wanted you to have a different vagina wouldn’t he? As an aside, this is called vagception—because of course there’s a name for this—and it has a small subreddit, because of course it does.


…would you be hurt if your partner asked you to try a penis extender?

Now, I can hear a very reasonable objection here already. What if that’s very different from the message you’re trying to send? Well that’s why we started with the “why?” question, and that’s why in the hypothetical I gave the toy is named she-tightener. Be careful about using the accepted labels for these toys if those labels don’t match your intended use. Penis extender is a name that is likely to be reacted to negatively. Understand that the nature of these toys is an especially sensitive one, you’re asking for their body to change. Be prepared to answer questions like; “Why not a dildo?”, “Am I not adequate?”, “What’s the draw for you?”, and that’s already a relatively calm and cool reaction. Heaven forbid the extender be realistically styled or resemble an ex or some equally potentially emotionally hurtful thing.

You may be wondering why I’m focusing so very hard on the change side of this. You may be reasonably thinking, “Well yes, this is like a dildo, and you’re okay with those right?”. You may be thinking that it’s like a thrusting dildo that is self-guiding and self-powered—probably a good point to make honestly. What’s the big objection here?

Well the big point is your partners feelings, and some insecurities they may or may not have, insecurities you need to be aware of if they do have them. Keep in mind, many men struggle with and fail to disconnect their partners sexual satisfaction with their own sexual performance. That is to say that there are many men out there with the idea that their value in a relationship is highly or entirely sex based, and that they should be sole provider of their partners sexual satisfaction. These tend to be the men that aren’t okay with women having sex toys at all, it would depreciate their value, you may have met some of those before. Ultimately remember, that as toxic as these ideas may seem to you, underlying them is a concern that they’ll lose you—that’s the consequence of losing your worth as a partner. It’s the reasoning borne of inexperience and insecurity, but it’s rooted in the idea that they don’t want to lose you. Most can be gently educated out of this. One the one hand, you have the sexual insecurity creating insecurity about the resilience of the relationship, but that also works the other direction, if your partner isn’t just as convinced as they should be that you aren’t going to leave it can reinforce or even create the sexual insecurity in question.

Reinforcing these ideas is an entire industry revolving around “correcting” penises that are less than magical. Everything from pumps to pills are thrown at the insecurities so predictable and universal they can be targeted for profit. You too can have the magically satisfying porn star penis that you’ve been convinced is the minimum standard via the same, if only you would use this pump or take this pill. There’s a large market targeting female insecurity and falsehoods about tightness or moisture too, and perhaps that may be the singular best thing I can reference to bring this issue into focus. When it comes to sexual insecurity, the targets of that exploitative market indicates we are universally affected. Fortunately, that means you have a valid frame of reference. Now you take the pills, you take the pump, at least those act directly on the body, dangerous as they may be, and the object of pleasure is still his penis. Imagine for a moment the feeling of dejection that would come from such a lazy solution as a sleeve, if not carefully considered and not wanted for the exactly right reason.

More secure men aren’t immune to this either. Security too is a spectrum, and it comes with experience, and is often a journey. Many men have learned that their partners sexual satisfaction belongs to them. They have learned that their partners sex toys can provide sexual experiences both when and where they can’t, and they enjoy the awesome benefits of those feelings of security in their sexuality and their relationship. In the particular case of the penis extender, they are available both at the time and capable of providing the type. The penis extender therefore targets the very last island on the road to sexual security, it targets the place where the last bit of insecurity is most likely to reside. Your partner, as I do for mine, may have a large collection of toys he enjoys you using and enjoys using on you. Have you ever expressed before how none of those things could quite replace him? I’d wager that’s come up. How do you follow that line of reasoning in the case of the penis extender, as you inherently ask his body to change, as you inherently replace the one thing you have been telling him was safe from criticism?


“…how to broach the subject with my partner.”

The answer to all of these rest with you and your partner. Each answer is going to be as unique as your relationship, and I could never give you a blanket answer on how to proceed with this question and how to make this approach. What I can give you, hopefully, is a map of empathy that has all the minefields and treacherous roads clearly marked, and I hope that’s what I’ve done today. I know that the tone of this article so far has been, perhaps negative, and that’s because of the weight of the consequences of getting this wrong. I am in no way suggesting that wanting to use one of these extenders is in any way inherently bad, I just think it wanders into an especially dangerous mine field that may even include fears of being replaced. There are however, perhaps some positive ways to broach this, and there I have a few suggestions.

First and foremost, make sure you’re protecting his sexual value to you. He is sexually valuable to you right? Beyond the specific subject of extenders, this is the most basic and fundamental rule to introducing anything to the bedroom, and it works in both directions, just as applicable to men as women. Make sure he knows that he’s sexually valuable as much as you feel he is. As I mentioned earlier, you have to get to the bare-bones of why you want to introduce this kind of toy. Perhaps it’s just one more tick-box of things you haven’t tried yet. What if you just wanna see what all that fuss is about? Maybe you’ll use it once and maybe you won’t even like it. Make sure he knows that. Maybe you really want the fuck machine experience without the cost, also, maybe he’s a damn good fuck machine—compliment opportunity there. Maybe you could even make that part of play earlier in the day. Tease him with a hearty dinner, your fuck machine needs good quality fuel after all. Maybe he likes when you take charge occasionally, I know I sure as hell do. Sometimes Emily forcefully tells me that I’m her toy tonight, and I enjoy that, not the least of which because she literally has a few grand worth of other options—an example of preserving and protecting my feelings of sexual worth.

I hope that with these examples I’ve given you the start of an empathetic map that will allow you to broach this subject safely and with minimal risk of hurt feelings . Whatever you do, make sure your reasoning is at least as clear as it is honest. Good luck.

Without Caveat – Being Yourself

Without Caveat – Being Yourself

Photo By: Ilze Lucero

I was raised by parents who were very into ‘new age’ culture. If you aren’t familiar, think things like keeping amethysts around for their healing powers, belief in any of the zodiacs and their descriptive and predictive power, spiritual healing, burning incense and all manner of now frowned upon behaviors for being not-fact-based. I’m not saying my parents believed in all of those things, I’m just trying to give you a frame of mind for the culture. Of course, in his defense, my father is old enough that he had genuine claim to the title hippy without being a hipster about it. Far out. If it weren’t for this sort of eclectic upbringing I think I would have been a lot more vulnerable than I already am, by virtue of being a human being, to group think.

Why do I have that opinion? Because despite abjectly finding the idea of the healing power of crystal points humorous, I very much like how they look. Actually my youth started a life long obsession with mineral specimens in a Kantian disinterest sort of way. I like how incense smells, I don’t think it’s going to help bring me to some higher plane of thinking over some light meditation. As for the zodiac, that’s a punchline I’ll get to later.

Image result for blue crab

I actively hid these things about myself for a long time during and after puberty. I enjoyed these things, but not in the same sort of way my parents enjoyed them, and the sort of people my parents were, was being made fun of. Those are a few critical years of trying to fit in with your peers so I carefully considered answers to questions about my interests. Joke was on me though, I never ended up fitting in anyway. That was an easy lesson I somehow managed to ignore. Hiding my interests didn’t change me from being the sort of person that would be interested in them, and that person wasn’t particularly popular in high school.

I had actually managed to spend so long denying my interests that I forgot about them for a period of time. Love of minerals was one standout survivor but even that was kept pretty low key, that is, until I met Emily and started buying her jewelry. Emily seemed surprised I was so interested in buying these things for her. I mean, while the diamond necklace I had snuck into her high school on valentines day was a shock, it was also sort of expected, they’re diamonds and it was valentines day. I however, also bought her a range of earings and necklaces ranging from rubies to opals, a full gamut from precious to semi-precious. I had an outlet. It was however, something I still kept from most people.

The culture that really buys into those things seemed to be getting weirder and weirder. Colloidal silver and tinctures and anti-vaccinations had entered that area and I really didn’t want to be associated with them by having too many similar interests. I don’t despise those people, as seems popular to do these days. I would like it if drunk driving were met with half the energy devoted to the publicly acceptable shame and outrage, alas that still seems to be an angry-behind-closed-doors sort of thing. Still, I didn’t want to be associated with that crowd, and I thought expressing my interests in quartz points, tea, and incense would have left me defensive over it.

Then my daughter arrived. She got older. She turned three. Some time during that third year, by chance encounter, I stumbled upon one of those new age stores. They were having a moving location sale. My daughter and I were alone in the mall, which was a rare event. I think I was explicitly taking her on a date. I remember having reasons for it. Ah, that’s them. I will save those for a future post, they’re worth a future post. Daughters man, there’s something magical and frightening about them. Anyway, we were on our date and I see this relic from my own past, changing locations, deep discounts, meaningful ones, like half-off minimum. It was a liquidation. So we went in. After much looking around, my daughter fell in love with this sphere of gypsum. That’s all it was, plain jane ball of polished gypsum, it must weigh 3 pounds. It has a cats eye feature in it, and she absolutely fell in love with it the moment she set her eyes on it. That in turn, brought back memories of being in these sorts of stores with my parents, and that made me even more in love with her.

After I explained to my daughter that it wasn’t a toy, that she could easily break it, and that it was mostly going to be for looking at and having agreed to those terms, I purchased it and we got some ice cream and set back out for home. I took her shiny paperweight and set it up in a prominent position in her bed room so that she would see it all the time. Then I thought about myself and where I’d been the last decade or more. Out came my rose quartz candle holders, my oil fragrance burning apparatus, the tea candles that go with, I ended up going back and buying a wooden incense holder for the stick variety and ended up getting plenty of things to burn in it.

As chance would have it I was conversing with one of my older friends and somehow the subject of the zodiac came up. It was a gaming related context. Our group had been crustacean themed for some years now, and in the back of my mind was the information that I was a cancer, but until then that sort of thing was met with derision even from me. The song making fun of horoscopes by Weird Al was something of a favorite of mine growing up. But then we looked into it, and boy was I ever a cancer. I know I know, astrological sign descriptions are supposed to be vague to the point of applying to everyone, but this thing was dead on in ways that even surprise my friends. That doesn’t mean I “believe” in the zodiac, but the entertainment value given the theming of my gaming group was and remains high. Point of fact, neither of my wife’s signs—cusp baby—describe her in the slightest.

This all came to a head very recently when someone started criticising me for using an astrological sign to describe my personality. “Consummate cancer”, I told them. They droned on and on about things I already knew and didn’t care about. The lack of scientific evidence that they were efficant and blad-de-blah science I know. This person seemed to take it personally that I could find joy or entertainment in something not based on science while possessing the knowledge that not only was it not scientific but that it was a bunch of bullcrap. This interaction happened in the same culture that’s made Harry Potter a global phenomenon and devotes precious electricity and compute resources to making fan-theory videos about all sorts of fictional characters and universes. Hey, at least amethysts actually exist.

Seriously guys, why? You do you though.

Then it hit me. Our culture has become one where we are hypersensitive to our differences, rather than what we have in common. I’ve learned to turn these interactions around with my own sort of pointed ridicule. I don’t know what sort of joyless planet liking shiny rocks or freshly crystallized bismuth is frowned upon on but please leave mine. Anyway, the crux of the problem is focusing on the wrong sort of thing. Now there’s all sorts of reasons and causes for this. We know through our studies of social media that these platforms directly encourage social signaling and outrage culture in their participants. Heck, I left Facebook over the obviousness of that phenomenon, among other reasons.

So that sorta brings me to my main point, and the title. I think it’s pretty important that we do what we can as individuals to get over minor differences of opinion when faced with the temptation to socially signal about it. On the other end, and I’ve seen a lot of people do this and I’m just as guilty, don’t frame your likes behind caveats, justifying your likes isn’t something reasonable people should be asking you to do, though there seems to be plenty of that going around. Now, social signaling serves an important function, don’t get me wrong. Social signaling helps us determine our societies overarching values and guiding principals as a whole and it is key to doing so as a social species. Social media however has allowed us to start micro-managing social signalling into areas that don’t really matter, and that needs to stop, or at the very least be sharply reduced. Try and be aware of what really matters when tempted to judge or dog pile people. Though, a few internet memes sums all these words a little more succinctly.

XKCD
Maximumble

Card Night

Card Night

photo by: Sophie Elvis

Ah card night, we’re both still recovering from it. Once every few weekends or so we invite a couple of our friends over for adult fun and drinks. Usually the evening gets started early, the children are awake, and we start with something innocent like talking about bread baking, sculpting clay, various other hobbies, work, life in general. Sometimes we even perform these hobbies rather than talk about them—the most popular of which being the baking and the macarons in particular. After the kids shuffle to bed our friends break out their massive, complete, Cards Against Humanity collection, drinks are made, and we get down to it. This time we bit off more than we could chew, both celebrating St. Patrick’s day a little too hard and a little too early. But hey, it’s on a Sunday and I don’t get hangovers off, especially this upcoming week. It is crunch time.

So what’s the point of bringing all this up, why am I telling you all this? Well, for many of you this may be a familiar scene and for others not so much. The real point here is to highlight one of the ways we squeeze in some much needed adult time for a stay-at-home mother of three, who doesn’t get any days off unless I take some PTO. Today we’re switch hitting as we wait for the medicine to take the edge off our severe headaches and try to help each other stave off being overwhelmed by the boundless energy of our children. Emily doesn’t get a whole lot of time to have honest adult conversations with other adults. Her world is children, talking to children, teaching children, changing diapers, all that stuff. It’s such a relief and release for her to talk about something other than Mario, Mega Man, Legos, My Little Pony, family-portraits-as-spiders, mud cakes, an on it goes. Some of these things are genuinely cute, like the aforementioned way that our daughter draws us as a family of spiders, but engaging adult conversation they are not.

Emily likes talking about investment, property, dreams of a blueberry apiary, the coffee shop she’d like to start in the future, her quilting, her baking, her massive fantasy sex toy collection, all the things that help remind her that she exists beyond the identity of her motherhood. It’s not a situation that comes every day, as much as we’d like that to be the case. There’s other adult things that come first like the bills, scheduling contractors for that hurricane Michael damage that still isn’t quite done being fixed, tax returns, keeping tabs on the school, a bath, and those other random little adult emergencies that just never seem to stop. Staying on top of things.

That’s not to say I don’t get my fair share of the hectic household but I have this little trick see. I get to go to work. I get my fill of adults and adulting five days a week for between nine and ten hours. I help around the house whenever I can and with whatever I can—actually if I do it too much Emily gets a bit annoyed with me—but it doesn’t really bring Emily the adult interactions and the friend time she craves.

Card night is how we get a big dose of that adult time. Emily gets to stretch her legs and go beyond her motherhood. She gets to talk dirty, win at things, give me what’s coming to me, give as much as she gets, and just let loose for a little bit. During our normal day-to-day, Emily will sometimes exclaim, “I need an adult!”. On card night Emily gets to say, “I am an adult.”

Do you have a spouse that is starved for adult time? Are you that spouse? What is it that you do to get your time with friends and get time away from child duty?

Rule 4 and Social Media

Rule 4 and Social Media

I recently finished 12 Rules For Life – An Antidote to Chaos and reviewed it. Typical of all of my other book reviews, I don’t judge the content so much inside of the review of the book. I might as well be telling you how to think. My main concerns in book reviews are to determine whether or not the book is digestible and useful especially in the context of self-help. When I want to take some of the content and talk about it, i’ll branch that off into another blog, and that’s what we’re doing today.

When I first read rule 4 , which is…

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, do not compare yourself to who someone else is today.”

My first thought when I read that was about social media, which not only tricks people into breaking the rule but adds special little nasty tricks of its own. Our phones and other devices absorb us into a kabuki version of reality, where you only see the bright white mask that others want you to see. Everything else is blacked out and can’t be seen in the dim lighting of the theater. People chase likes, re-blogs, up-votes; our most popular social platforms are engineered to get the participants to seek validation from others.

Now I’m not saying these can’t be useful metrics for content creators. Sure, I take a look at where my likes and my follows sit, but I follow rule 4, I only compare those numbers to where they were when the blog started, or where they were a month ago. That was actually a foundational principle of managing this blog. I wouldn’t compare myself to people that already had 40,000 followers, I was concerned about just getting to 5. You’re not going to do yourself any services comparing yourself to pewdiepie the day your YouTube channel starts, but for many of us the comparisons run deeper and more insidious than just numbers of likes, follows, and shares. You compare your real life to the carefully curated profiles of family and friends or even strangers on social media. This is the real life only you know about, not just the darker moments but the darker thoughts. You’re not just violating rule four, you’re comparing yourself against people that don’t actually exist.

Social media profiles are the photoshopped versions of someones life—many times literally. Many highlight only the good and hide the bad. The ones that include the bad nevertheless hide the shameful. There’s a difference between announcing a breakup and announcing that it was your fault too. Generally, when people share bad moments on social media it’s for the same reason they share the good, for affirmation, and it comes with the same filters. Comparing yourself to these people, even people you trust, is like comparing yourself physically to some photoshopped super model on the cover of Sports Illustrated or Vogue or, well, pick your poison.

I can hear some of you now, “but people do compare themselves to supermodels”, I know, that’s the point, it’s ridiculous. If you need to work on your thighs work on your thighs but don’t do it to look like the digitally altered version of someone else. Do it because you want better thighs. That goes for non-physical qualities too. These people don’t have the same life you have. You know what’s important to you, to uniquely you, don’t suppress those priorities to be more like someone else, you’ll just end up not accomplishing the things that are important to you. That doesn’t mean you don’t stop improving, that doesn’t mean you don’t aim high, it means that you should be aiming at your own targets, and not someone else’s.

Maybe you decided not to go to college because starting a family was just that important to you. Maybe you have several wonderful children as a result, and maybe you’re a little jealous of that graduation cap toss picture your friend just posted. Maybe you aren’t seeing the pile of student loan debt behind that cap, maybe you aren’t seeing the adderall abuse that led there that has to be dealt with, maybe they’re absolutely fine and successful cleanly and didn’t fall into those traps, but they may just be looking at your children when they’re 35 and involved in their career and asking themselves where the time went and wondering why they don’t have theirs yet. Maybe they don’t want a family at all. Would that be the life you try to emulate after deciding you wanted several children? Maybe you come to feel sorry for them that they don’t even want a family, maybe that’s pitiable to you. Life is a series of choices. Make sure your choices reflect your goals, make sure the improvements you make to your life are about getting you to where you want to go.

You have things to work on. We all have things to work on. I could exercise more, but I’m better than I was yesterday. I’m 60 pounds better than I was many yesterdays ago, and I did that by comparing myself to what my scale said yesterday and not to someone else’s scale. I did that by ignoring my Fitbit’s explicit pleas to let it compare me to other people—Talk about kneecapping the usefulness of your own product. I celebrate the fact that i’m 60 pounds better off than I used to be, I still look forward to further improvements to my weight, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I can look back and go, yeah, I’m on the way there. I’m not looking at Lou Ferrigno pictures and going, why bother I’ll never be that guy. Well I really will never be that guy, and there are parts of Lou’s life that weren’t so great. I can be happy knowing that my life is getting better on my own terms, I can be happy that Emily finds me more physically desirable than she used to and that it’s the result of my work. Who doesn’t want to be more physically attractive to their spouse? Mission fucking accomplished man, and I get to make it even better in the future? Awesome.

That’s another reason for the rule. You will never exhaust all the avenues available to you to improve. You’re going to have to cherry pick, eventually you’re going to run out of time, everyone does. You can’t be everything to everyone, you can’t even be everything to yourself. Social media can tempt us with the idea that it’s possible. We have this flood of information about all the wonderful things other people are doing. Are you amalgamating all those things into an unreasonable ideal? Pick the things that matter in your life and orient your life and behavior around those, because you don’t get the option of everything, and if you see someone that looks like they’ve got everything I can guarantee you’re looking at a facade. You’re looking at their kabuki representation to the world. Rule 4 will help you stave off the resentment and jealousy that can trap you in the way that you currently are. You can use those emotions to freeze your life, sit still, and then blame others for the lack of improvement. No one is immune to that, I left Facebook entirely for that reason. My only twitter account is the one I use to promote this blog, I don’t use Insta, I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, and I don’t know anything about bad Tinder experiences. I also don’t seem to have problems with unstable relationships or keeping friends around for the long term. Are those related? Heck if I know but I certainly think they are.

Now, I think social media definitely makes these issues more prominent in our lives but this is by no means a new problem. The comic strip “Keeping up with the Joneses” debuted in 1913, over a century ago. The grass was greener on the other side of the fence long before we could use Google Earth to look at thousands of fences. Women were comparing themselves to cover girls since magazine covers were a thing. It’s a really old trap, maybe as old as humanity itself, maybe as old as lobsters, who knows. The Bible is thousands of years old and warns us not to covet all manners of things, especially other people’s wives. That has everything to do with wanting what others have, or at least fooling ourselves into thinking that we do. Problem is we have easy access to pictures of other people’s wives, we have easy access to depictions of all the greatest parts of other people’s lives, it’s everywhere, and they have complete control over whether or not we see the other side of that, and the vast majority of us chose not to. Don’t think of someone’s social media life as anything other than a fiction, a photoshop filter at best. Remember rule 4.

Book Review – 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote to Chaos

Book Review – 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote to Chaos

I’ve been looking forward to picking up 12 Rules For Life for a while now. I’ve enjoyed Jordan Peterson’s online lecture series off and on for a few years in distracted moments that needed a bit more productivity than gazing at the outdated popcorn ceiling or watching things explode on YouTube. After I started this blog 12 Rules moved up in importance on my reading list but stayed behind books that seemed to be more about addressing direct problems to relationships and marriages that were in trouble and needed immediate fixing. Those books just seemed to fit the mission of the blog better though I had a feeling 12 Rules could potentially be just as efficant in the long term. 12 Rules surprised me in some ways, conformed to my expectations in others, and disappointed me in ways I should have predicted. So let’s dive in.

One axis I use when recommending a book in the self-help space is the opportunity cost for reading it. There are other books you can read, they might apply to your situation more directly, or you may be able to grab 2 helpful books for the price of a different singular one. This is where books that are more comprehensive, like say Marriage, A History run afoul a hesitation to recommend simply based on the fact that you could get two points of view from potentially two different but related subjects for the price of the one deep dive in both time and cost. Being too short and lacking comprehensive qualities is bad, but being too long and failing to get to the point is equally as bad—I’m giving you an example of this right now. 12 Rules seems to ride the line here for me. It’s inexpensive, no issues there, you can currently pick up the hard cover—my preference—on Amazon for like 17 bucks (or is that buckos). The length however is a bit of a double edged sword. It’s not that 12 Rules is entirely too long, the meat of the book is approximately 350 pages and I was able to clear that in a day. Much like Marriage, A History my reading speed was slowed by the fact that many of the sentences weren’t exactly skip-able, skimming is a bad idea with 12 Rules. But I felt like each rule took too long to get to the point, and let me explain that a little bit, because that’s really worth a breakdown.

One, there’s a bias alert here. If you watch the bulk of Peterson’s online lectures like I have a ton of the material in this book is remedial. Secondly, I think Peterson made the right choice in the persuasion tactic. Sure, you could arrive at the points a lot more quickly with a few short facts, but then why have the book at all? 12 Rules could be a Buzzfeed style list article if you weren’t going to take the task of expressing the very real-life, highly emotional and devastating consequences of breaking the rules. The intent here doesn’t seem to be giving you a list of guidelines, it’s a list of rules and that takes a little extra convincing. Rightly so! if you just willy nilly accepted the rules because they were in a book you’d be just the kind of non-existent doormat of a person Peterson is warning you against being in the first place! There’s also the point that I was reading the book front cover to back cover with no priority to the order of consumption. I did not skip rules I was already following and I didn’t skip ahead to rules I found more intriguing. That’s probably actually how this book is supposed to be used, but for the sake of the review I read it cover to cover and that may have not been the best way to enjoy it.

Here’s what I did enjoy. A lot of these rules have immediate application. If there are any parents here I highly recommend picking up this entire book just for Rules 5 and 11. If you argue a lot with your spouse or friends a lot you’re gonna wan’t to read 8, 9, and 10 first. I don’t think there are many people around who don’t need to read rule 3 every now and again.

The prose is easy to read, and while Jordan Peterson takes himself seriously he doesn’t take himself too seriously, though his writing voice isn’t nearly as fun as his lecture voice. They’re similar but it’s just not the same when you can’t get the inflections. Peterson’s skills at oration are just flat out superior. Peterson also makes sure to assure the reader he isn’t speaking from some high-horse position either and I found that quite nice. As he says in one of his lectures…

“I’m full of snakes and so are you…”

So what’s the conclusion here. Ultimately when I sit down and I review one of these the central question I ask myself before all others is “Can this book help you”? As with most good self-help books, the answer is, if you let it. Peterson’s book however deserves a special call out here. It’s tough love, love, but tough love. If you want help from this book you will get it, but you have to want to let it help you, I’d say more than other books I’ve reviewed here. Given that prior, I think it’s as close a thing as you’ll get to a “Classic” in the self-help genre and you can’t beat the price right now. Get 12 Rules, and get it in hard cover, have your children read it when they’re old enough. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Don’t Stop Dating

Your road through marriage can come with a lot of new identities: parent, spouse, Home Depot junkies, just to name a few. You’ll run a household together, manage finances together, become your own handymen and landscapers (even if you delegate those jobs you’ll have to have instructions and vision), raise children, reprimand teachers and other care givers when they step out of line, deal with in-laws, and handle end of life care for your parents.

You may not think, doing all of these things and dealing with the punches life throws at you, that you have the time or bandwidth to tend to the tasks that brought you together in the first place. You may vanish as regulars to your favorite bar or restaurant, your friends may see less of you, you may see less of each other. Some of this is bound to happen, you just aren’t getting out for dates as much when you’re say, sleep training an infant. But I implore you not to let ‘phases’ become new norms.

When there is a genuine need to put the nights out on the back burner, do so, you have a family to take care of, but don’t give up on dating forever. Love is not something that you achieve and then put in a trophy case, it requires constant reinforcement and reaffirmation and I find a lot of couples discard dating as soon as they tie the knot. They seem to think of dating as this courtship phase that has a hard end when they get married, they don’t recognize their dates as the series of love and trust deepening behaviors that got them to the marriage finish line in the first place. On that note, the act of marriage isn’t the finish line at all, it’s the starting line.

I think you could be reasonably confused about that. Society certainly is. Young couples overwhelmingly choose cohabitation over marriage as their preferred lifestyle. According to a study by Sharon Sassler at Cornell University, this largely comes from a fear of divorce. Sassler has further found that a good portion of these people are primarily worried over the emotional turmoil from the split.

So let’s simplify that thinking for a little bit just so when can put it in perspective and consider the implications. A significant group of young people, are living together for as long as they can, and having and raising children, instead of getting ‘married’ in order to avoid the psychological pain of splitting up. I am left wondering what the word marriage must mean to these couples. It wasn’t that long ago, from a historical perspective, that living together this way made you married, and I don’t mean de facto married, I don’t mean as good as married, I mean married married. Hell, there are still 15 states in the United States, 16 if you include D.C., that recognize some form of common law marriage. A lot of these have caveats but there are a few that don’t including Alabama, Colorado, D.C., Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Whatever causes this line of thinking, it’s clear there’s at least one thing going on. Marriage has become some sort of magical divider that separates us from our pre and post dating state, but having children does not. Sure, there’s not having to go through divorce, but the moment you split there’s going to be a custody fight and child support to pay. You’re not ‘getting away clean’ here, and you may end up just as in court as you would have been in a divorce. The evidence is clear, many of us are convinced that our entire emotional state regarding our relationship should change on our wedding day.

That’s rubbish.

Emphasizing your new identities as spouses and parents to the exclusion of your old identities as a romantic dating couple can cause you to become entirely consumed by these identities, and that often leads to long term unhappiness in your marriage. A wife consumed by her identity as a mother may have trouble with mustering the raw feelings of desire she needs for sex. A father consumed in his role as a provider may have trouble prioritizing the emotional needs of the rest of his family and ironically fail in that exact role. Either parent, consumed by their roles as such, my absorb themselves in their children to such a degree that their partner may feel unappreciated and unloved. Balance of our myriad identities matters. Maybe I could spend a lot more words trying to convince you of that, but I think Esther Perel does a much better job and I don’t wish to duplicate her research or experience. Just go read Mating In Captivity if you’re skeptical, then get back to me.

For the rest of us, remember that continuing your courtship behaviors helps you balance your new identities with your old ones. Emily and I recently had our tenth anniversary and we spent it doing something I think you may find interesting.

Emily and I dumped our kids off with relatives, and generally when we do that it’s so we can have some of the kinkier sex that would be too noisy and require too much assurances it wouldn’t be interrupted than we can manage when they’re in the house. That day however, we had a different goal in mind. We were going to just have a good old fashioned mall crawl. We arrived when the doors opened, and were immediately hit in the face with the smells of Cinnabon. We hadn’t had breakfast yet and Emily exclaimed something to the effect of, “that would be good”. Emphasis on the would. I chuckled a bit and corrected her. That’s going to be good.

Emily realized at that moment, it finally hit her after about an hour and a half, that she was free to act without children, that she could be a little selfish, that she could enjoy herself, she didn’t have to buy extra cinnamon rolls or share one with sugar craving piranhas, that, for the moment, for this day, we were just the 2 of us again. She got so happy she nearly cried, and we spent the next five hours or so going through makeup, clothes, video games, candles, and whatever the hell we felt like doing.

I explained the day to a coworker, 11 years married and he exclaimed, “Yeah, we spent our tenth pretty much the same way, we had a Home Depot date and spent most the day casually building the kitchen island we have now and it was fantastic”.

We certainly have dates more frequently than just our anniversary date, but we don’t get to do these things as often as I’d like, granted, perhaps should. We could strive to do our date nights a little more, tone it down on the sex and up on the sushi bar. I understand the concept of having superior obligations too, like bills and house maintenance, but take it from me, take it from my co-worker, it’s worth it. Don’t stop dating.

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.

Build A Sexy Warchest

A What Now?

The warchest is a bit of inside jargon between Emily and I; it’s a term we came up with to describe the sum total of our “adult” item collection without having to constantly distinguish whether or not we were talking about toys, lubes, oils, or whatever. Lacking a term for our collection made conversations wordy and meandering. Simply put a warchest is whatever you use to enhance your sex lives as a couple represented as a collection. The size and variety of your warchest is personal and arbitrary. Your warchest could be as simple as a single go-to lubricant or it could more closely resemble ours—a varied collection of lubricants, oils, dildos, vibrators, restraints, clothes, candles, incense, and body fragrances—or anything between those two, or in excess of it. The point is, make it yours.

Do We Really Need That?

Need is a strong word but I highly encourage it. I dare you to have less fun with a carefully considered and stocked warchest. Let’s start with something simple, lubricant. Basic female fact, women experience sexual non-concordance far more often than men do. To put that in English, not everyone gets physically aroused with 100% lockstep to their mental arousal state, but women—for whatever reason—seem to experience less body-brain agreement than men. There are several reasons for this, some are biological in nature. Everything from cycle phase to pregnancy to childbirth, anything that effects hormone levels really, can cause vaginal dryness. So can just being sick or having a nutrient imbalance. There’s no sense in trying to force the body to agree with the brain in these circumstances and finding a good lubricant to keep on hand can just make that a non-issue. Suppose you and your SO like back-door fun too, obviously you need a lubricant for that as well. But front and back door lubricants have different needs, now you may need two lubes—we’ll go into specifics farther down. Now what if you wanted one just for fun; something a little slippy-slidey-messy like Bad Dragon’s infamous cumlube? Our example warchest has three items now and we haven’t even left the lubricant department. It’s funny how a little consideration for use case and a few “I want”s can balloon a warchest. Something as simple as keeping condoms around is a warchest too. Don’t box yourself into the fantastic when considering the term.

Couple Talk.

There are a few things that need to get done when planning out any warchest. Primarily, you need to be communicating with your partner openly and honestly. Some of these items can have negative impacts on self-esteem or make your partner uncomfortable. Let’s revisit the lube. What if you showed up at home with all these lubes from the example above in hand without communicating? Your partner may not know about sexual non-concordance. Some women think needing lube is a failing of their womanhood. Some men think it’s their fault if their woman isn’t wet and could take the purchase as an insult too. These issues need to be talked through if they exist and you’ll only know if you ask.

Anecdote time. I spent some time in my late teens working inside a meat packing/processing room in a super market. We always felt pretty isolated from the customers and talked about whatever. The work was hard, cold, and stressful. I’ve seen people lose bits to band saws. Environments like that tend to put more topics on the table than most settings. Sex came up a lot. We were talking about dildos one day and several of the fellas sounded off their opinions. I hadn’t really formed any yet, I wasn’t in a stable sexual relationship with anyone at the time, but I did pay attention to the answers. One answer that particularly struck me was, “toys are fine as long as they’re not bigger than me”. I found later that was a really common sentiment. A lot of guys think all there is to satisfaction is physical dimension, that an artificial object of sufficient endowment could literally replace the need for them. Yes, that’s insecurity, and it says a lot about what they base the relationship on, but it’s also a thing that’s real and an emotion you may need to be aware of. Some men just don’t know that despite hyperbolic reviews on product pages, many women find toys of any efficacy a poor substitute for the real thing. Education can be an issue too. There are a significant number of men and women that don’t really understand vaginal elasticity and think large toys or even above average toys will make someone ‘loose’. It’s good not to assume what your partner does or doesn’t know about sexuality. If you’re already communicating and in tune with each others wants and desires great! We will also be reviewing some books on sexuality soon. On that note, I don’t recommend warchest building with younger unestablished couples. Warchests have the potential to be significant investments and a pain point in a breakup.

We focus mostly on couples seeking or improving long-term committed relationships here however, so from this point on in this blog I’m going to assume that’s you, especially if you’ve gotten this far. We’ve covered the whats and the whys, so let’s dive into the hows.

Safety First.

If you’re new to the warchest market it may surprise you to learn that there are downright dangerous things being sold as safe. Dildos, plugs, and insert-able vibrators in particular are in a bad spot right now. Many of the most popular materials on the market right now—read: cheapest—are made of unstable plastics that break down and leech chemicals into the body. In addition these bargain bin toys are also porous and will collect chemicals, body fluids, bacteria, and all sorts of other nasties over time. I could write quite a bit about the specifics of this but I think it’s more useful to say what is safe.

When it comes to insert-able toys high-quality silicone based toys are top on the list of body-safe materials. Silicone can be cured to have varied textures and hardness to suit individual tastes and can hold a variety of interesting shapes. They’re non-porous, do not break down over time, and are easy to clean. Most are even dishwasher safe if that’s your thing. Properly cared for, a quality silicone based toy can last you decades. There are however counterfeits and ne’er-do-wells in this market, just like any other. Emily and I have two go-to providers for these types of toys. We go to Tantus for more conventional shapes and sizes for dildos and we also prefer them for plugs. We don’t find the ‘bullet’ solution to vibration that Tantus uses to be sufficient for our needs however and we have found a favorite in the Shibari Mini Halo wand. We also have quite the adventurous side and really recommend taking a trip to Bad Dragon if you ever find insert-able toys are starting to get routine. There are certainly other quality reputable manufacturers in this market but these are the ones we have personal experience with. However, I find Dangerous Lily to be a curator of integrity and you can’t go wrong with her. I’m not as strict in my preferences as she is when it comes to external toys but her highly informational deep dives into safe lubricants and toys are indispensable all the same. Seriously check her out.

Glass and metal are also alternatives to silicone and we do own quite a few glass toys. Quality glass toys are expensive however, but that didn’t stop us from falling in love with this unusual twisted piece. I don’t have any recommended manufacturers for metal toys unfortunately.

As for lubricants, look for top shelf brand names and check for ‘paraben free’ lubricants. That’s not the only irritant, that’ll vary person to person, but several manufacturers have started adding ‘natural’ lubes to their line-ups to address these issues. Sliquid offers a wide range of lubricants and is one of my go-to suppliers. When we’re looking to go for the rear we lean on Gun Oil. While the site says it’s ‘for men’ it’s really just specialized in anal friendly lubes. They’ve started a women’s section and while I’m not sure about the toys there the Pink lineup of lubes is quite a selection. I mentioned earlier that there are different lubes to get different jobs done. I’d recommend Dangerous Lily’s lubricant guide if you find all the options dizzying. On a quick note, I’ve recommended silicone toys here. DO NOT use silicone lubricants on silicone toys, you will RUIN them. Always be sure to read manufacturers recommendations and warnings.

That should cover the safety section. Let’s get to the fun stuff.

Oh The Options.

So we’ve covered the whats and whys. We’ve covered issues of safety and I’ve thrown more links at you already than I can shake a stick at. It’s time for some fun stuff.

Mood Setters – Don’t forget these essential parts of your warchest. Properly fragranced candles can double as mood lighting and olfactory pleasers. The brain is the biggest and best pleasure organ in the body, don’t neglect it. Use mood setters to clear away the thoughts that inhibit, well, the mood. This can be smells, the lighting, background noise or music, even which room you’re in. Just about everyone knows about the most ubiquitous mood setter, lingerie. Mood setters can make all the difference.

Lubricants – we already went over these a good bit in the safety section, and for good reason. Anything that goes in someone’s body needs to be thoroughly vetted. Just remember that there are a few basic types. Water based lubricants are easy to clean and typically don’t stain. They’re meant to augment natural lubricant and if they start to dry out can be ‘refreshed’ by a little water or natural moisture. Water based lubes are also condom and toy safe in the vast majority of cases, worry not with water. Thicker oil and silicone based lubricants and gels are better for anal play. The anus and rectum don’t naturally lubricate and lubes that aren’t absorbed by the body and ‘stay put’ better are preferable for this use case, they are harder to clean however and may stain.

Dildos – Are you a size queen or a texture fiend? Do you even know yet? Start with the basics and figure out what it is you like. Do you like girth, smoothness, ridges? This varies person to person. Only one way to find out! While a majority of women actually prefer external stimulation for getting off, women like Emily have a hard time making the magic happen without feeling full. If that’s you this is your stop.

Plugs – These are another item that benefit a lot from the qualities of silicone. Metal makes a large appearance here too as some people like their plugs to have a lot of weight. As for whether or not plugs are for you that seems to be one of the more individual tastes. Emily doesn’t really care for them even though she likes a good anal thrusting. Some people, men and women alike, seem to just do much better with some presence there in the same way Emily has a much easier time if there’s something inserted vaginally. Just like with dildos, if you’re curious and inexperienced with these chase things in ‘starter’ size. That’s where the similarities to dildos stop though, don’t treat these that way. For the best experience you need to be well lubricated, and very relaxed. Many women find it useful to get off once or come very close to it prior to anal play. Remember those mood setters.

Vibrators – As I just mentioned above, most women actually prefer getting off on clitoral stimulation and vibrators are designed to achieve that. When I say designed, I mean it, vibrators were originally invented as a medical device to relieve ‘tension’ in under-served wives. Until recently, vibrators haven’t really changed much since they were invented: Stick an electric unbalanced oscillator to a power source and feel the thump. Recently however there’s a new type of vibrator that uses puffs of air. We haven’t had the chance to try one of these yet but most of the reviews are very positive. If a more traditional vibrator is for you, check the reviews. Some are buzzy, some are rumbly, based on the type of motor used. That’ll be a personal preference.

Massage Oils – I could stick this under mood setters but I think massage oils deserve their own special mention. Unless specifically stated these are for external use only, which is a good thing. This lets massage oils be suffused with things that warm, or chill, or tingle, or smell good, or a combination. It’s a real good way to arouse the brain while you arouse the body. If you need to cheap out here, you totally can. Baby oil has a reputation as being a cheap but wonderful go-to here, especially if like me, you have a baby and buy the stuff in large quantities anyway, no one bats an eye!

Restraints – Rope, cuffs, whatever, these items are for couples that are into power play. You likely already know if this is you, but if you’re curious try it out. Besides, knowing how to tie a good quick release knot is a practical skill outside the bedroom too. There are safety concerns with this too. Ropes that are too tight are a bad thing. Check this page out to get started.

Other Considerations.

For long term couples, especially those with children, there are several logistical things to consider when building your own warchest.

  • How and where will the items be cleaned/maintained?
  • Do you need batteries and if so how many?
  • How much physical space can you dedicate to these items and where will they be stored?
  • What are you willing to spend?
  • How obvious are they? (Noise, smell, etc.)
  • How much prep time is involved?
  • How frequently will they be used?

And that’s about it! As this blog goes on we will be reviewing some of these items specifically and in detail, so stay tuned for those. At this point we aren’t taking requests, we’ve got quite a collection to work through first. I hope this has been a practically useful and informational post.


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.

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