Category: Self-improvement

Non-Monogamy four week workshop starting July 30th, 2018

You can read definitions online of what swinging, or polyamory might be outlined as. But what do they really mean?
We have a new non-monogamy course starting later this month. It’s like being in the best class you have ever attended where everyone has read the book and participated. Read below for details.

The non-monogamous clients tend to be couples in long-term relationships who don’t want to split up but are desperate for more or different sexual experiences and partners. And there is no one-size fits all.

Examples of non-monogamy can be:
~Living with a third (or triad) and how do you deal with that?
~Two couples connecting with each other (quad)
~Heterosexual couple Bringing in an extra male (hot wife)
~Swing clubs where everything from gentle touching on the dance floor to full blown orgies (and everything in between) happens
~Polyamorous. Means to love more than one person. But can be someone who is married and has a girlfriend/boyfriend or more.
~Alternative relationships in all kinds of ways. Asexual while one partner has other sexual interactions, monogamous but in different cities.
~One relationship two dwellings. Or having their own dedicated space within a dwelling.
~Friend with benefits for an occasional hook up
~periodic hall passes.
~Group family or commune.

And so many more examples.
Trying to navigate it is hard. Consider joining us for a small group starting a few weeks from now. It’s the tool kit for managing non-monogamy without blowing your relationship up. It is great if you can join us in person but easy of you need to video in.

Monday July 30, Monday Aug 13th, Monday Aug 20th, Monday Aug 27th 7-9(ish) pm
81 Pooler Ave. Very limited enrollment. $400/couple, $200 individual.

1. Intros, purpose of workshop, specific models of non-monogamy, ways of finding one’s own voice.

2. Specifics of sharing, Jealousy (Swing, poly and other non-monogamous forms). Rules, what works, contracts etc. Non-Monogamy checklist. What is the wish lists and deal breakers

3. What do you need/want. How do you negotiate that? How do you ask for it and how do you find it? Sharing and tools for understanding boundaries.

4. Group discussion about finding potential partners. A chance to practice skills and role play in a safe way. Stories about successful (and not-so-successful) models of play.

An informal social has happened in the past with the group and will be organized later following the completion of the workshop.

Sign up single $200

Couple sign up $400

It turns out it isn’t getting rich (or being skinnier) that makes you happy.

It’s sleep and sex that rate as things that make you feel the most content.

Although preferably not together.

A study has found that sex and sleep are the two things that have the strongest association with a person’s wellbeing.

The index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that quadrupling your income causes very little increase to your happiness, while spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant.
Polling carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep.

People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied. Satisfaction improved with sex twice a week, and over eight hours of sleep.

The result was the creation of the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, which generated a list of the top factors that separated the happiest 20 percent from everyone else. In order of biggest influence, sleep quality, sex life, job security, health of close relatives and chatting to neighbors in other words community) that rounded out the top 5. Daily walks also made the list.

Every study done in the last 20 years talk about how great sex improves your mood and your health. After a few nights of bad sleep everyone knows how big a factor rest is on physical and mental health. However the fact that money doesn’t rank at the top of the list might might be surprising. Researchers found that those who had good sleep and a sex life they were satisfied with had higher “living well” scores than those people with a high income.

Why the combination of group and individual counseling often gets the best results

People with a private relationship or sexual issue are often terrified about the thought of going to a therapist. Even me, who makes my living making sure clients are safe, comfortable and supported. And I have cookies and tea. But add in group therapy and the terror can be palatable. As I remind clients (and my kids) “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”.

Group work is often a very effective way of solving a specific therapy issue. I like to say “that the group becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts”. Workshops (even if you use a fake name and sit at the back of the room) allow you to hear or participate in a group discussion. And if it’s on a topic you are struggling with, hear that others are struggling as well. Listen to how other people are coping, or have improved things in their lives. For couples, groups can be magic for couples looking for guidance. I find the most effective treatments are the combination of individual and group counseling. Think of private groups like a class “where everyone has read the book”. Great discussion ensue. Your feelings are validated, and often you hear suggestions from others that can have an impact. Either way you aren’t alone.

I run something I call “School of Sex” monthly in a room that has pictures of the Queen on the wall. It’s for people who want to improve their sexual IQ and be better in bed. Often you weren’t pulled aside in High School and explained the nuances of being a good lover. And if you aren’t a reader how do you learn? Porn is unrealistic and actually harmful. Because real people in a sexual situation don’t stay hard effortlessly for over an hour, or climax when you touch their elbow in throes of ecstasy. Having seen a porn shoot, I remind my clients it’s acting not real life.

We use humour, great speakers, and really facilitate open dialogue. Someone will ask the question in your head. And if not, at the end of the workshop you can come up quietly and ask a question about “a friend”. We’ve done classes called “Oral Sex and Cheesecake”, Hand-jobs, G-Spots and Sangria, Boy bits (with a giant penis costume), Swinging Sundae (on the Lifestyle and swapping partners) and many more. They are a safe place for people to learn, explore, feel safe and get to hear what works for other random people from their community. For the oral sex talk recently we had lesbians, much older women, disabled women among others talk about the kind of oral sex they liked. The men were at the edge of their seats. It was particularly helpful for individuals who come from cultures where sex is taboo.

Understand that most people want to be better in bed. Yes counseling can help. But in combination with group work the change is more rapid and effective. School’s in session.

The Anti-Valentine’s Day Movement. Or how to celebrate your singleness.

anti1There is a growing movement of people who want to say “shove it to Valentine’s Day”. Singles have long felt left out of the sappy “let’s connect” roses and chocolate messages of the holiday. Now Anti Valentine’s parties are all the rage. These are parties decorated with dead roses. The have rules like: You must not bring any chocolate, wine or champagne to the party. Black things such as Guinness or a cake with black icing are preferred. Or heart shaped cupcakes with knives through them. Black is also the color theme for clothing. Anti V-Day songs like Roxette’s “It must have been love”, or “Love hurts” by Gram Parsons are the anthems. The Anti V-Day movement is to celebrate being single and loving it! Or to at least have friends around when you draw horns on your ex’s picture. It’s also about loving oneself, wherever you are in life.

So what can you do to feel powerful if you aren’t hooked up as part of a couple? Well you can get in the mood of the Anti V-Day celebrations by making your own voodoo doll for all the ex’s who need to be prodded with a sharp pin. Or you can go with the theme of many of these parties “Love stinks, so let’s drink”. But I’m advocating a more positive approach and coming up ways to announce your awesomeness to the world.

There are a few ideas to embrace your singleness. I do a vision board exercise with my Women’s Body Image and Sexuality Workshops that I run. Check out the Ducklings site for ongoing information. Powerful statements of self-love like “You love when you are ready, not because you are lonely” or “because good enough isn’t good enough for you” can become mantras.

Do some things you can’t do if you were in a relationship. I’m not advocating sleeping with the football team, but go crazy doing something unconventional that is hard to do when you are with somebody that makes demands on your time. Like take a spur-of-the-moment trip. Update your profile to single and loving it.

Make business cards and hand them out to cool people with your fun (and safe) email address on it. Start a gratitude journal. There are lots of things you can do to really embrace your life as it is right now. If you have enough like-minded friends have an Anti V-Day party. Get everyone to dress up as cupids gone very, very bad. Think naughty and armed angels as sexy as you want to be. Sounds like fun. And if you really want to be in a relationship then make a vow that 2015 is going to be your year. Be the interesting person that people want to get to know. Deal with some of that lingering baggage (therapy can help) and get rid of that “poor me, pity party stuff”. Life is too short to be needy.

So whatever your take is on Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to embrace it. Whether it’s couple love, group love (those polyamorous people shouldn’t be excluded) or self love then make the most of this February 14th. If you are struggling with singleness and want to finally do something about it then I can help. I’ve helped hundreds of people find love and I am no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase when I do therapy for finding love. Reach out, I can help.

10 new ways to stay sexy and pump up your desire

moodIt is always during the cold, dark days of January that I feel the dowdiest. My hair is darkest and misses the sunkissed highlights, my skin is driest and my makeup never goes on as well, and I am still feeling the after effects of too much Christmas cheer. And like most women, body image impacts my feelings of being sexy, despite my best intentions. So what’s a girl to do to keep her groove on?

I’m writing a new book on growing your libido and I’m slogging through the research right now. I’ve whittled the list and have come up with the quick 10 things you can start doing to increase your sexiness and have you purring on those cold, winter nights.

1. Green tea and/or extract. It’s long been known that caffeine (coffee and green tea) is an anti-oxidant and metabolism booster. It helps you detox, boosts your metabolism for energy and is naturally slimming. It’s one of the few supplements that I ALWAYS have on my counter. Have a read further.

2. Wahl massager. I’m always preaching about the plug-in kind of vibrator (forget the batteries). When you can buy it at Walgreens or Shopper’s Drug Mart and you can leave it in your sock drawer without worrying that your kids will know what it is even better. Daily, enthusiastic, vigorous stimulation of your lady parts (or protruding parts) is a great thing. Orgasms prompt the release of lots of things that boost your immune system.

3. Listen to music or better yet dance like no one is watching. We hear music before we are out of the womb, and respond to it during our lifetime. Smell and audio are connected to sexual response for women. Men are turned on by what they see, women by what we hear and imagine. Dancing brings in all of these senses and kick starts your libido.

4. Eat Chocolate. It’s really my guilty pleasure. The truth is that a small amount of dark chocolate every day is heart healthy, and has flavonoids that put you in the mood. Yeah! Choose chocolate that is over 70% cacao.

5. Vitamin D drops. I can’t say enough about making sure you get enough Vitamin D. I suggest 4-5000 mg for my low libido patients. It’s one of the things that really does impact your health and sexual desire immediately.

6. Magnesium. I suggest 240 mg of magnesium daily to help put that bounce in your step.

7. Afternoon Delight. If you can take a nap in the afternoon followed by time to be intimate, it can help you have even the most elusive of orgasms. A mid afternoon nap improves mood, alertness, and helps balance your hormone levels. And it won’t affect your night time sleep schedule. Snooze for 20 minutes, followed by a little horizontal cuddling is one of the best things you can do for your health. Afternoon is one of the best time to entice your female partner into bed according to the research from Rush University in Chicago. Sex and a nap…..hmmmm.

8. Drink regularly. I mean a glass of wine or beer a day. I just finished the book about The Blue Zones, which talks about the hot spots in the world where people routinely live to be over 100. They all (and I mean all) raised a glass of homemade wine, beer, sake or the like. Scientists still don’t know if it is alcoholic or non-alcoholic components, but who cares? Have a glass on me.

9. Throw a party (and no, I’m not talking about an orgy). With the Superbowl, Valentine’s Day or even Robbie Burns Day coming up, having a party will help you kick the doldrums. Being social is one of the key indicators for longevity and flirting with other people in a safe, harmless actually increases your testosterone level and puts you in the mood for your partner.

10. Eye gaze and schedule daily touch. Just like in the new movie with Merle Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs, finding time to check in sensuously and even just hold each other is huge. Eye gazing with my sweetie causes me to melt. It is profoundly intimate to touch and eye gaze. And intimacy is what most women are craving sexually. Go rent Hope Springs, get some chocolate and a glass of wine for your sweetie and curl up with some snuggling and eye gazing. If that doesn’t get you laid, take 2 aspirins and call your neighborhood sex therapist. I can be reached by skype at sue.mcgarvie and I’ll get you back on track.

5 ways you probably don’t know about that will increase your libido.

Low libido, or inhibited sexual desire is the big issue that keeps coming up in my office as a sex therapist.

Often commonalities of people experiencing low libido include low levels of free testosterone, inflammation of the cells with a High sensitivity CR protein in the blood, food allergies and low belly fat among things. And then there is the emotional, relationship, and psychological issues.

If you are struggling with low libido where do you start to change things around?

I’ve written a number of posts with supplements and suggestions for low libido.
Here are some more obscure ideas that might help.

1. Try the new IXEL anti depressant. SSRI anti-depressants are notorious libido killers. IXEL out of Turkey which has just been licensed in the US, may actually increase libido if you need depression meds.
2. Try an exotic fruit. Sometimes its trace minerals that can impact libido. Zinc, magnesium and chromium all seem to be low in my libido patients. Peel a pomegranate instead of a banana. Or try dragon fruit or mangosteens that are packed with the trace minerals that North American fruit may be low in.
3. Daily dose of red wine. Really. I know everyone is telling you to cut back on alcohol. However the tannin’s in red wine help increase your testosterone (especially in women) and put that bounce in your step.
4. See a chiropractor. If you’ve never been now is the time to consider it. That or acupuncture. Blocks in the nervous system from misalignment can be solved through a chiropractor appointment or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.
5. The Magic Banana or Intensity strengthening toys. There are a couple of new toys on the market that increase pelvic muscle tone. One is the Intensity which uses electrodes to increase muscle tension. The other a yellow, flexible loop called The Magic Banana, forces the internal muscles to contract and increase the blood flow to the genitals. And that’s all good when you want to increase your libido.

What I do know after 25 years of specializing in low libido is that it doesn’t magically get better. Your sex life needs work to flourish. If you’ve lost that loving feeling then I encourage you to reach out. Solution oriented sex therapy by skype or phone can address the problem and put a bounce back in your step. Reach out now.

A new study out this week says that erection problems can be improved with a slight weight loss.

New study suggests that men with erection problems can be improved with a 5% weight loss

Erection problems can be improved if you do some work and minimize the obvious causes.

The seven leading causes of erectile dysfunction are:

1. Diabetes

2. High blood pressure mediation

3. Anti depressants

4. High cholesterol

5. Smoking and Drinking

6. Prostate problems

7. Hormonal imbalances

There is a new study just out this week that talks about how losing just 5% of your body weight will improve your erection in 8 weeks.

“The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a new study which explains that improved erectile function, sexual desire and lower urinary tract symptoms are enhanced by weight loss in obese men with type 2 diabetes.” I suggest cutting your carb intake by 60%. You can also use an erection ring, and start doing keegal exercises (where you hold the muscle in that starts and stops the flow of urine)

The study goes on to say:
” “This important paper supports earlier publications that lifestyle is relevant and can positively affect sexual function.

At a time when oral drugs are very popular, it can now be shown that weight loss is an important non-pharmacologic therapeutic intervention in restoring erectile and urinary function and cardio-vascular health. Obesity is an epidemic, and such data reinforce the positive relationship between eating right, losing weight, improved sexual function and voiding and overall cardiovascular health.”

And boy I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I topped out once in my life at 380 pounds. I lost over half my body weight but watch it every day. Consider coming to one of my body image workshops. I also do skype and phone therapy and I use sex as a big motivating factor to help people reach their personal goals for sex and relationships. There is nothing I hate more than diet advice by Supermodels. If you love sex, but need to lose some weight to be a rock star in bed then consider reaching out.

Another reason to lose weight and stay in shape. You’ll get way more sex.

There is another study that suggests if you take care of yourself you’ll get laid more.
Duh you say?

Well the new Danish research (home of oodles of hunky blonde guys) say that if we don’t make losing weight and eating right a priority, we’ll miss out on 91%(or 78% s you’re a guy) of the sex we could have had.

It ties in with our discussion on weight loss and being healthy.

The challenge for women is that if you aren’t taking care of yourself you don’t feel like having sex.

Here’s the data:

Danish researchers surveyed more than 5,500 adult men and women, and found that unhealthy habits increase the chance of not having sex by up to 78 percent in men and 91 percent in women.

Among the men in the survey who had sexual partners, those with a large waistline had a 71 percent increase in the risk of sexual dysfunction. Hard drug users had an 800 percent increase in risk. For women, those who smoked hashish had three times the risk of losing the ability to climax during sex.

“Knowing about possible negative consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle to one”s sexual health may help people quit smoking, consume less alcohol, exercise more and lose weight,” added Frisch.

And boy I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I topped out once in my life at 380 pounds. I lost over half my body weight but watch it every day. Consider coming to one of my body image workshops. I also do skype and phone therapy and I use sex as a big motivating factor to help people reach their personal goals for sex and relationships. There is nothing I hate more than diet advice by Supermodels. If you love sex, but need to lose some weight to be a rock star in bed then consider reaching out.

4 tips to keep your relationship hot by dealing with your emotional baggage

Everyone comes into a relationship with sensitivities from a previous relationship. Even if it is your first great love you may have dealt with tempers, substance abuse, parental infidelities that impact yor current relationship.

The key to keeping it hot going forward is to own your past and not to let it get the best of you going forward.

1. You have an ex with a bad temper.
This means you are skittish about conflict. Realize conflict happens in all relationships. It’s about how you fight- not that you fight. You need to stop it before it gets ugly or anyone says something you don’t want to say. But you also have to understand that running away or pulling back at the first sign of frustration also doesn’t work. I remind my patients of the adage “the calmest person in the room always wins”.

2. Your previous partner cheated.
This means you are going to be distrustful and look into anything that might not seem kosher overly closely. Declare this upfront. And mention that ambivalent of wishy-washy information will cause your antennae to come up. Even if they are completely innocent.

3. Your ex made negative comments about how you looked.
Remind yourself that person was a dweeb. Usually it was because they are insecure and needed to put you down in order to feel better. If you don’t have a guy that tells you that you are beautiful LEAVE. Hwever don’t be insecure with your new one always fishing for compliments. Do go to the gym, the spa and do things to look good. It’s important to feel good in you own skin. The opposite sex finds that sexier above all.

4. Your past relationships have hit the bottle too hard.
You have to understand your values in this department. In my books there is a zero tolerance for things like being impaired at work, or when you have to drive, or being responsible for kids. On the other hand drinking responsibly with friends is fine. You need to outline your comfort level and remove yourself if you aren’t comfortable. Be realistic and don’t project. But also know that substance abuse is a deal breaker in any relationship as the partner will be at the emotional age of a teenager.

I’m working on a blog about “best hacks that psychologists use on themselves to fix their own emotional issues”.
A quick cheat sheet is that my top three are:
1. Emotional Freedom technique. Tapping on the trigger points to have your brain re-process emotion. Read about it.

2. Meditation. I’m a big fan of Dan Harris and his model about pulling together both sides of the brain in 5 minutes a day. Check out his book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.

3. Passion pursuits. Find something, anything that gives you a charge. I’m a beekeeper. I have a friend who is in a ukulele band. It keeps you from being boring.