Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT
Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT is a licensed psychotherapist that specializes in issues related to sexuality. She is the author of The New Sex Bible for Women and is in private practice in West Hollywood, CA. You can reach her on her site www.DrAmieHarwick.com, or onsocial media @dramieharwick.
Ego Boost Q&A Session 2
1. Q: After seeing Fifty Shades of Grey, I want to try BDSM with my partner. We haven’t done anything like this before, where do I start? Can I just tie her up?
A: One positive thing that came out of the Fifty Shades films and books, despite criticism for lack of an accurate depiction of BDSM behaviors, is the interested in trying out new sexual behaviors and these behaviors becoming less stigmatized and more normalized.
No, you should not just tie up your partner, this is a very bad idea. What is a better idea is discussing some ground rules, naming exactly what you want to do, talking about safety, and naming some limits. Do a bit more research in regards that ways to play in this way with your partner so you approach this conversation with a bit more knowledge and tools. Try picking up a copy of Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns or The Ultimate Guide to Kink. If your partner consents, you may want to pay to consult with a dominatrix on ways to explore you desires and how to make that happen in the safest and most fun way possible. While film is a great way to be inspired, it may not always be the way to understand sex in a literal way.
2. Q: My boyfriend wants to have a threesome but I told him that I may feel threatened by this idea. I don’t want to invite this into our lives and then regret it. To be honest, it is something that I fantasize about. What are the next steps that we can take and yet still be cautious about protecting our relationship.
A: Jumping into a threesome without discussing boundaries with your partner typically goes poorly. First, explore if having a threesome is something that you want to do, or if it is something that you only want to do for your partner or to keep the relationship. Next, talk to your partner about what is allowed and what is not allowed in this first encounter. Be prepared with a list of questions to discuss. Some of these questions may include: How do we find this third partner? Will we discuss being tested? What types of protection and safety methods will we use? Is penetrative sex ok? Oral sex? Anal sex? Mouth kissing? How long will the partner stay after the threesome? Will this person remain in contact with us and in what way? From what I have observed as a therapist hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to bringing in additional partners, I can tell you that when it comes to recreational casual sex with a third person, picking a new person with less emotional connection tends to be the best way to go. Another aspect that I see more success with is when both partners are entering this encounter with the same values and goals and approach this as a fun team activity.
3. Q: I started dating a stripper recently. She’s really hot and says that she wants to be in a relationship, but I am having a hard time dealing with being jealous when she goes to work. Should I keep dating this stripper or is it pointless with what she does for work?
A: I am glad that you sent in this question, because this is a great time to go over the motivations, challenges, and reality of dating a sex worker. Movies like Hustlers can glamourize sex work, but it’s important to remember that not all strippers or sex work is the same, just like the people that choose to do this for work are not the same. Why are men interested in dating strippers? That is not rocket science. Typically, they are attractive, can move their bodies in amazing ways, are fit, and appear fun and sexual. But remember, giving this impression is their job, and if this is your impression of this person, they are doing a very good job at their job. Every person is different, but being a stripper simply means that it is this person’s job to dancer, strip down, and give the fantasy that they are available and interested to customers in exchange for money. When a stripper is down with her shift, it is likely that she wants to be comfortable, take her makeup off, and be in a dynamic with someone that cares about her as a human, not her sexy glamorous stripper fantasy that she has created for her work. Stripping is a job. If you find yourself feeling jealous, that is normal. Jealousy can be a normal part of being human. Name it to yourself and think of ways that you can best manage this jealously through realistic self-talk, respectful communication with your partner, or self-care and self-regulation. If you choose to date a stripper, make sure to give them the same respect and consideration you would to any person doing any other job.
4. Q; How much porn is too much? I don’t know if I am overdoing it and I am worried that I should stop watching it all together. What do you think?
A: Let’s just start with some porn basics. Porn is fantasy, period. Watching stimulating fantasy can be a fun adult activity. Just like anything else enjoyable, when this pleasurable activity takes over your life by preventing you from working, impacting friendships, causing you to harm your relationship, or causing you to feel shame or guilt, it is time to take a closer look. How much is too much? That depends on who you ask. Does it feel like it is intruding on your life? Some people watch porn for a few minutes daily while they masturbate and it is not an issue. This topic also should explore what you are watching and then ask yourself if this matches with your values, lifestyle, and/or authenticity. With mindfulness and moderation considered, I think porn can be great. If you are concerned that your behavior feels compulsive, try taking a thirty day break just to see how you feel without it.