How to Overcome Masturbation Shame

When I was 12 or 13, my mother gave me and my sisters a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. It was a revelation: a whole chapter on having sex with other women! Diagrams of vulvas! Frank discussions of birth control! My favorite chapter was the one on masturbation. It was any hormonal, nerdy bisexual teen’s dream: an instruction manual…

What Is “Skin Hunger”?

Kory Floyd has never been more popular. A professor of communication at the University of Arizona, Floyd researches affection and loneliness. Since the pandemic began, friends and journalists have been asking him: Why are we so hungry for touch? “I’m hearing a lot from people that this has been one of the biggest surprises about the pandemic:…

Sexy Self-Love If You’re Single This Snuggle Season

As that cool-weather crackle finally enters the air, another seasonal cycle begins: the desire to partner up in winter.  The annual urge to crawl into bed with a special someone in the cooler months, for a relationship that lasts at least as long as there is frost on the ground, has become immortalized as “cuffing…

The Pleasure And Peril of Being Sexually Vulnerable

Intimacy is joyful and life-sustaining. It is also inherently vulnerable.  After all, even the most successful of relationships ends. Our lovers leave us, our feelings change, or we choose different paths. If we do stay with a lover our whole lives, death itself will eventually separate us. Intimacy is fraught with vulnerability, because to be…

Why Are Bisexual Women At A Higher Risk Of Substance Abuse?

It took me a decade after coming out to learn that there was a reason I and other bi women were experiencing so much sexual and intimate partner violence. In reality, we are at higher risk of gender-based violence than both straight women and other LGBTQ+ people. That’s not the only increased risk bi women face relative to…

Tips on Queer Dating When You Come Out Later in Life

It started, as many queer stories do, with a woman at a bar. Anne-Marie Zanzal was 19 years old, and when she saw the beautiful woman that day, something moved in her. “Wow!” Zanzal, now an author, grief counselor, and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, said to herself. But as quickly as…

A Guide to Respectful No-Strings-Attached Sex

Around 2011, casual sex once again hit the headlines. From sex-friend flicks like No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits, to vaguely censorious journalistic deep dives and scholarly analyses, pop culture was obsessed with no-strings-attached sex. Young women were, the breathless reports detailed, having more sex without romantic commitment—and some of us were even liking it. 2011 also happened to be my…

How to Say “No” to Sex

It was a perfect day for romance. The birds were singing, the flowers had just opened their faces to the early-spring sun, and I was walking hand-in-hand with a new date. I was midway through a story about a neighbor’s uncomfortable sexual advances when my love interest said something that stopped me in my tracks….

How to Spend Valentine’s Day If You’re Single

Whenever I read a self-help article that advises women to “put yourself first,” or “cultivate self-love,” I want to throw my laptop out my fourth floor apartment window in despair. (I don’t actually do it, of course, because laptops are expensive.)  Often, these seemingly empowering pieces of advice come with subtle directives about what we…

How to Reclaim Your Sexuality After Trauma

Ending an abusive relationship felt like being reborn: slowly, painfully, sharp as shattered glass. My body had been rearranged, Mr. Potato Head-style, into something new, simultaneously more sensitive and blunter, more empathic but liable to shut down unexpectedly—on the sidewalk, in the bedroom, in the grocery store. Many of us, especially women and queer people, have survived some…