Minnie: I’m demisexual and no one even knows what that means.

Name: Minnie
Age: 44
Profession: Food Service and hospitality

Minnie operates in a different way than a lot of the women I’ve interviewed so far: she is not driven by sex or the desire to have sex appeal. In fact, sex is mostly an inconvenience to her. It’s the elephant in the room, thing that everyone else seems to be obsessed with. She can’t really wrap her head around it.

Minnie identifies as demisexual, which means someone who doesn’t want to have sex except with people they share a very deep emotional bond with.

“People have asked me, ‘Oh come on, but what about, like, Matt Damon, or some other movie star? Don’t you think they’re hot?’ And I’m like, ‘Objectively, I think they’re handsome but it doesn’t make me want to sleep with them. At all.’”

Minnie’s only really wanted to have sex with one man, someone who she was in love with but never officially dated. And aside from me and the people at the ACE (asexual) meetup group where I met her, she’s only told 3 people that she identifies as asexual or demisexual.

The thing that struck me about Minnie was this:
Minnie’s a no-nonsense person. She doesn’t like to play games and she thinks in this very linear way.
“I don’t understand girls,” she told me. “They’re always asking, ‘Does this make me look fat?’ I’m like, ‘Do you really want me to answer that?’”

So Minnie is more drawn to friendships with men.
But friendships between men and women can get really complicated by sexual attraction. Sometimes, someone decides they want more. For Minnie, sexual attraction is, at best, a bother. At worst, it feels like this wild, invisible force — impossible to control and almost as hard to understand. Because she almost never feels sexual desire.

You might understand this if you’ve ever had a best friend confess that they’re attracted to you. If you don’t feel the same way, it creates this chasm between what you want and what they want. Maybe you even wish you were attracted to them (you love them, it would make everything so easy, they make so much sense, you love spending time with them, etc.), but you just can’t get there. You don’t feel it. That’s how Minnie feels all the time.

Here’s the rub, though, Minnie still craves love, company and understanding, just like we all do. But it can be hard to parse those things out and separate them from sex when it comes to a dating relationship.

It became apparent to me though the course of our interview that not experiencing sexual desire can create as many difficulties as having a super high sex drive can. Sexuality is usually taken for granted (if you need proof, look at the magazine rack next time you’re standing in line to buy groceries). And that makes life complicated for people like Minnie.

It can take Minnie years to feel connected enough to a person that she wants to have sex.

“I have friends who say, ‘We went on a date, and we clicked. And now, I’m so attracted to them.’ I just don’t understand how you get there. I just feel like you just don’t really know that person at all after one or two dates.”

“A lot of people go to bed with someone after they’ve been dating for a month, three max. That speed is just way too fast for me. And a lot of people aren’t willing to wait around.”

Minnie has dated a few people, but in almost all cases, her partners (all male) have wanted to have sex more often than she does. it’s been even harder to explain because no one talks about demisexuality. In fact, she only learned the term a couple of years ago.

I wanted to know whether sex was fun for Minnie. Like, take the element of emotions and attraction out for a minute. Did any part of it feel good?

“I don’t need to masturbate,” she told me. “It bores me. It’s like asking someone who’s not a sports fan if they want to have a long conversation about the Giants.”

“I’ve had orgasms. It really does feel like a sneeze.”

Me: Was it a pleasurable sneeze for you?

“If you don’t have it, then it just feels like the sneeze you almost had. Like, now my nose is itching…” she said.

Aside from being Demisexual, Minnie also believes she’s somewhere on the autism spectrum. It’s often hard for her to understand the interactions she has with people, or figure out whether someone is flirting with her. So there’s often the element of uncertainty when she meets a new friend, compounded by the stress that they might want something more from her, something she doesn’t want to give them.

Without the lure of desire and the promise of pleasure, the idea of sex became more like a burden, something fraught with danger — physical and emotional. Minnie told me that she didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. So on the days when she didn’t have marching band practice, she’d often come home from school and spend hours poring over the day’s newspaper. Back then, the AIDS crisis was in full swing. No one really knew what was making so many people so sick. She read about it every day. And it scared the hell out of her.

So Minnie has experienced a lot of mismatched desires in her relationships when it comes to sex.
She dated one guy who was polyamorous for a while. He had other lovers. That worked well, in a way, because it took some of the pressure off of Minnie to have sex. But on the other hand, the guy still wanted to have sex twice a week, which was way more than she wanted to do.

But there was one person who she did want to have sex with. It was a man she worked with. She’d known him for four or five years before they really started becoming friends. I’ll call him by his initial, “T,” at Minnie’s request.

Because she’s more of a loner, Minnie doesn’t have a ton of close friends. This guy became someone who she could trust for nonjudgmental support.
“I called him once when I was on a work trip in D.C. It was the first one I’d ever been on. It was my first day and I was walking around and I got totally lost and I was tired and starving. I had no idea where to go. So I called him up on the phone. He just told me, ‘Calm down, you’re ok! Just go up to the nearest person and ask them were you can find a good meal.’
I did what T said. The nearest person was this nice, older, doorman. He pointed me to a restaurant across the street and told me to order the mussels. They were delicious. Then I was totally fine.”

“T was someone who I could call, you know? He wouldn’t tell me I was stupid or judge. He’d just listen and try to help.”

After years of knowing one another and months of becoming closer and closer friends, Minnie and T were texting every day and having dinner together at least once a week. Finally, Minnie kissed T. A while after that, they also slept together. For the first time, she actually wanted to have sex.
But by the time that happened, T also had a girlfriend. The girlfriend, suspecting something was going on, moved in and demanded that T stop talking to Minnie entirely.

They tried to meet up and be friends, but they would end up having sex and eventually, he told her he couldn’t see her anymore.

“I think it’s hard for him to see me and not have the urge to sleep with me. But now that I don’t see him anymore, I wonder, were we even friends? I’d like to think so, but I don’t know. I wish I could meet someone who just wanted to be friends until we got to know each other better,” she said.

“My aunt and my uncle who grew up in Hong Kong were friends for 7 years before they kissed or anything,” she said. “Not that things were all that great back in that era, but, a really long courtship sounds nice to me.”

Thanks, Minnie.<3

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Ricki: On being a professional cuddler

Ricki used to work with kids who have Autism, but after she got injured a year and a half ago she decided to take a break to focus on getting well. She found a houseboy (as I covered in the last post), dialed back her work schedule, and discovered another way to make money: cuddling. She knew a friend who’d worked at a San Francisco cuddling salon and decided to give it a try.

She charges $80 hourly and makes $65-$70 after giving a cut to the website where she lists her services.

“It’s my best form of money making at the moment — it’s four times what I normally get paid hourly,” she told me.

When Ricki told me about professional cuddling, it was sort of like when she told me about having a houseboy. It sounded a little too good to be true. Do people really just keep their clothes on?
She insisted they do.

“They come in and lay on my bed and we just cuddle. Sometimes we have music on sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. It’s whatever they want.
Sometimes I have to redirect hands and sometimes you can tell that there’s a sexual tension. In that case, I try to kind of shift it in another direction.”

I’m not clear whether cuddling falls under the umbrella of sex work. For me, it feels more like compassion work. It reminded me of the work that Amma, known as the hugging goddess, does. Ricki agreed.

“It involves holding a lot of space for someone else and providing a safe and certain type of intimacy,” Ricki said. “It has taken me a while to learn how to set boundaries and do self care, because I am a very empathetic person and I can absorb other people’s stuff. When they’re stressed, for example, I can take on that stress.”

I think this is a universal struggle for all empathic people. Except Ricki literally brings these clients into her bedroom.

Recently, she’s been able to figure out ways to remain empathic while setting boundaries that keep her sheltered from absorbing other people’s energies so much.

“These days I’m present (during the session) but then they leave and I’m done. I have to stop thinking about them, or whatever energy they put in or whatever they talked about — I’m done. At that point, I’ve provided my service and hopefully it’s provided some amount of relief or comfort to them.”

“I try not to overbook myself. I drink a lot of hot tea now and take time alone.
The other thing is that all of this is happening in my bedroom and in my home and in my space. So I change my sheets a lot — not because they’re dirty. But removing them and cleaning them and bringing them back feels good.”

I checked pro cuddling out online.

One of the first links I found was on the website The Snuggle Buddies, one of the largest and most successful sites.
Some observations. 90% of the cuddleworkers (like what I did there?) on the site were women. Not that surprising, but worth a mention. Also, women posted photos with their bios. I guess, yeah, this might be obvious, you want to see who you’re signing up to cuddle. But also, if it’s non-sexual touch, how much should looks matter? The photos, granted, were not overtly sexual. They looked more like tame Facebook profile photos.

Interested? The website is hiring.

If you want to read more about the cuddling industry, I like this article from Pricenomics. And if that wasn’t enough for you, this silly article tells you “what your cuddling style says about you.” Kind of bullshit. And very fun.

Thanks, Ricki, keep on cuddlin’.

Ricki: Find a sexy houseboy and never do chores again

Name: Ricki
Age: 26
Job: Nanny, Professional cuddler

Ladies, hold on to your aprons, you may never want to do housework again after you read this.

Aside from being a lovely, thoughtful, self-possessed person, who was a pleasure to interview, Ricki opened my eyes to something I knew nothing about: Houseboys.

It all started when Ricki had an accident in 2014. She hurt her spine, had trouble walking and doing things around the house. She couldn’t sweep or cook herself dinner. She was getting terrible headaches. Something had to give.

Ricki is comfortable in the Kink community, so although she usually considered herself a “submissive,” she decided to post adds on Craigslist and the BDSM social networking site, Fetlife with an open call for a houseboy who would clean her apartment, carry her basket in the grocery store and take a few slaps on the face when he didn’t do it right.

She got responses, lots of them, or so she told me.

I kind of didn’t believe her. So I decided to do a small experiment.
I was like, how many dudes would really want to do this? Maybe my incredulity had to do with the fact that I hate doing house chores.

So just to see, I posted an add on Craigslist.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.31.31 PM

Here’s what I got in less than ONE HOUR.

Houseboy emails

Then, just for fun, I changed the post to say that sex acts WOULD NOT play any part in the relationship.

I still got some responses, in some cases, because the dudes didn’t really believe the non-sexual thing. In other cases, it seemed like they were willing to engage in something that was purely psychologically arousing for them. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Im excellent at house cleaning.png

Are you going to make me wear your panties

Back to Ricki.
She told me all about what she does with her houseboys and how the relationship works. Despite being the one who gets served and doted on, Ricki puts a lot of energy and work into choosing the right person, grooming them, and following through with reinforcement or punishment — depending on what the occasion calls for.

But back to how all this starts. After she gets the initial responses on Craigslist, Ricki has her houseboy applicants fill out a four-page questionnaire. That’s right, a four-page questionnaire. That’s the reason I will continue to muddle through with my own housework, despite doing a completely insufficient job at it, and why Ricki works to cultivate long-term relationships with her houseboys: It’s a lot of work to create a working relationship, one where both people are fulfilled. And Ricki takes that seriously.

The questionnaire covers:
Favorite fetishes and punishments
Favorite physical activities
What they’re excited about
What they’re ashamed to admit they’re excited about
Physical limitations
Past trauma

“My houseboys usually wash my laundry, change my bedding, take out my trash, wash my dishes, clean the entire apartment. Sometimes I take them out with me to go run errands and they hold my hand basket and push the cart. I point at something and it’s retrieved. They take in all of my groceries and unload them.”

“They’re like a partner that does everything without ever arguing.”

Before she ever invites a would-be houseboy over, they get together for coffee to see if they mesh and go over the questionnaire.

If it goes well, she’ll have them over, tell them what she wants done and how, then relax or do her homework while they go at it.

Ricki said that despite what some people think, the houseboy-mistress relationship isn’t about a Freudian son/mommy fetish. It’s more of a mentor – mentee thing.

“I want to make my submissive into the best version of themselves that they can be.”

“I think some of these people actually just want someone who will make them be accountable. So they also get more things they want out of their life. I can be a built-in accountability person. And they want to please me. So, for example, if I know that they think they should be going to the gym because it helps with their depression, but they haven’t been, I’ll make that one of their tasks during the time I don’t see them.

After the houseboy is finished with the chores at her house, Ricki will usually cuddle with them and talk. And then, Ricki might have them pleasure her sexually, if she’s feeling it.

That’s right, ladies, the houseboy’s altruistic duties need not end at the bedroom door.

Ricki said those interactions have been a great learning experience that has actually helped her enjoy sex more, whoever she’s having it with.

“I’ve gotten a lot better at asking for things and telling people how to touch me.” she said.

The houseboy really wants to do what Ricki asks, and she isn’t expected to do anything in return. So it’s helped her get clear on what she wants and figure out exactly how to articulate it.

“I think initially I felt a lot of guilt and shame around receiving (before). But that has gotten a lot easier.”

And friends, that can only be good news. I feel like if more women were able to dive into truly receiving pleasure, we could end wars, save the whales and everything in between.
But hey, that’s just me.

Also, stay tuned, folks, because there will be a Part II interview where Ricki talks to me about being a professional cuddler.

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Sara: The reformed Christian sex addict who said “Sex is like duct tape”

Name: Sara

Age: 36

From: Ohio

Job: Health teacher (including Sex Ed.)

Hey readers,
Up to this point you’ve probably seen interviews with a lot of sex positive, polyamorous, queer folks on this site. This story is totally different. And I’m really happy about that, because I want all voices to have a space here. If you were raised Christian, this might sound familiar to you. As someone who was raised Catholic and is not anymore, I found it fascinating.

Sara is a bawdy, unapologetic woman — the kind who seems incredibly honest because she doesn’t even consider another option and who doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can’t. She teaches health to high school kids. She’s also Christian.

After a wild and saturnalian sex life in her early 20s, she’s limited herself to sleeping with two men in the last decade, despite her urges to sleep with many many more.

“Am I still horny all the time? Hell yes,” she told me.

Lucky for me, Sara isn’t shy about talking about sex. She does it as part of her job.
“I’ve been asked everything under the sun (in Sex Ed). Sometimes I have to tell the girls, “No, honey, it’s not true that all girls ‘do’ anal.’”

Sara was raised in a very small, very conservative Christian town, where she felt pretty alone. She just never really found her people there.

“People were always having barn parties. But I hate country music and I hate beer. So I was just like, ‘What am I doing here?’”

Sara said she has always been sexual. She couldn’t remember the first time she masturbated or had an orgasm, but the former was probably some time around 12 or 13. No one talked to her about masturbation, she just figured it out.

“I’ve always been horny. I remember listening to Janet Jackson singing “If I was your girl” in middle school. Oh boy,” she said.

She dated boys in high school, but it wasn’t until age 19 that Sara had sex for the first time. It wasn’t great. She didn’t feel ready. Back then, she says, she was pretty insecure. Part of it came from growing up in a very “white” town where she felt like men didn’t value her thick frame. She’s also always been attracted to black men. So when she got to college, she began to meet more black and Latino men who liked her body and who she found hot.

35 men in 2 years
Things took a sharp left turn when Sara went to grad school. She was in a sports training program and surrounded by a lot of hot people with nice bodies. She was also suffering low self esteem and depression. Sex was a way to feel beautiful, to feel loved and cared for. She and her friends would go out clubbing five nights a week. More than half the time, Sara would take someone home. She didn’t want to date these guys. She just wanted to fuck.

“I began to use men for sex the way that men use women for sex. I remember this one guy who got so offended when he found out that we weren’t dating. I had given him no indication that we were, he just assumed it because we had been having sex. And I was like, ‘No, man, you’re just my backup. You’re the one I call when other people fall through.’”

But some of the encounters were memorable, like the first guy who Sara said, “totally blew me away.”

“This guy was an olympic sprinter. I mean, he had legs like Hercules. He picked me up off of the floor and took me to the bedroom (pregnant pause) and then he went for hours. He made sure I had more than one (orgasm) before he came.”

“That was fun,” Sara said. Damn fun. Except, because of her beliefs, Sara always felt conflicted about having sex with people she wasn’t married to.

Sidenote: What I love about Sara is that even though she said it was wrong to sleep with all those men, I didn’t get the feeling that she was judging herself. That was really refreshing. I’m sure it’s that same lack of judgement that allows her to be a trusted confidant for the teens she teaches and the young girls who are in her church youth group.

Some girls come to her after they’ve “given into temptation” and had sex with their boyfriends.

“I tell them. Hey. It’s ok. This isn’t the end of the world. Everyone else is like, ‘You’re a sinner. Get out of here.’”

Hard pause on the sex
Then when she was 26, Sara was at an Easter Sunday church service when something hit her. She wanted to change her life, she decided, and start living by what she believed in. That included waiting to have sex until she was married — or at least trying.

What followed was a long period of abstinence. It was hard, Sara said, and emphasized that she has no self control in general, which I thought was a bit of a harsh overstatement.
But it was also very healing. Before, she said, she felt like she was “pouring herself out,” in some essential way, and giving up something important by banging anyone who gave her a second glance.

I challenged her on that a little, because I feel like that wording makes it sound like women can be “used up” or only have a certain amount of sexual energy to expend in their life.

But I also heard what Sara was saying. We all do only have a certain amount of physical, emotional and psychological energy, just like we only have so much time in the day.

She also said that using her faith as a reason to abstain helped her look for character in men.
“Before I was looking for the guy I wanted to lay that night. Now I look for the guy I want to lay over and over again,” she told me.

Sidenote: I’d like to interject that I’ve also seen people who sleep with many people do the same thing. You can be sex positive, having a lot of short-term sexual relationships and still be on the lookout for character in a long-term partner. I think the key thing is that Sara’s faith and her community gave her the strength to set some healthy boundaries for herself, boundaries that made her life happier in a lot of ways. On her own, she wasn’t really setting those boundaries for herself.

She’s had sex with two long term boyfriends over the last ten years and said it’s been more emotionally and spiritually satisfying than the sex she was having before. She’s been having sex with people she really loves now.

Here’s the rub though, Sara told me that she also believes it’s wrong for her to sleep with her current boyfriend, even though she still does it and doesn’t really believe she’ll stop. People can judge her, she said. But she isn’t perfect and neither are they.

“Sex is not a part of my ideal dating relationship. Because I believe in a God who tells us to save ourselves for marriage,” she said. “… Even though finding people online to date when you’re not givin’ it up is tough.”

Then she used the duct tape analogy.

“If the purpose is to bind two people together, it stands to reason that you’re going to be more bonded to the first person you have sex with,” Sara started telling me. “Like me, I’m always going to be comparing the man I eventually marry to all the other people I’ve had sex with. Sex is like duct tape. It’s really sticky the first time you stick it on to someone else. But then as you keep pulling it off and sticking it back on to new people, it gets less sticky. At this point, sex doesn’t bind people like me in the same way because I’ve had so much of it. My duct tape doesn’t really work anymore. It won’t bind me to my future husband the same way it bonded my sisters, who were virgins when they got married, to their husbands.”

Here it got very Adam and Eve for me. I was like, wait, so you’re saying that knowledge is a bad thing? How can that be true? Knowledge is power!

Here’s what Sara said to me, which I thought was interesting.
“Imagine that you had only ever had Hershey’s chocolate in your whole life. And you’re like, ‘This is the best chocolate ever’ and then you go to France and you taste the chocolate there and now you’re like, ‘Wow, Hershey’s is shit!’ Well, that did nothing for your enjoyment of chocolate.”

In other words. If you get married and the sex is so-so, but you never know anything better, it might seem great to you. Knowing you can have better sex won’t make you happier if you are firmly committed and intend to stay with the person you married.

It reminds me of the way the Buddhists talk about desire as the root of suffering. That religion leads people on a path where they can relinquish desire. To follow this teaching, it seemed like you avoid desire by not knowing what you’re missing.

To illustrate more, Sara told me about her ex boyfriend. He had a small penis.

“I would never have known that if I had not slept with so many other people. And because of that, I was expecting him to be like some of the other guys I’d slept with,” she said. “He still got me off — really well. It was just in a different way. But I was comparing so he seemed like ‘less’ to me.”

I might counter that if you have sex before marriage, and sex is really important to you, you could find someone who meets your needs, including the kind of sex you want. You’ll likely make the decision based at least in part on physical attraction, which boils down to sexual attraction, anyway.

But the Christian teachings that Sara believes in say, find your partner first based on all the other criteria like character, then have sex as a great add-on. And without agreeing, I respect that.

“I feel like in this culture we live such public lives. It feels like it makes sex more special to keep it for just one person. I believe that sexuality is something with a lot of value.”

I asked Sara to explain what she meant that it had a lot of “value.”

“Like, I have this very close friend,” she said. “We’ve been close for years but she just told me something really important and personal about her past last week. So I’d say she’s someone who places a high value on sharing her past, she only shares with people she really trusts. So we also believe in placing a high value on sharing sex.”

The takeaway
The takeaway for me was that Sara’s faith helps her make healthy boundaries for herself. It’s also helped her reaffirm her innate value. Also, Sara doesn’t judge, which is one of the most important, often overlooked teachings of Jesus, in my opinion. I got the feeling that she genuinely wants other people to be happy, to enjoy life, to enjoy sex. And she wants the same for herself. And she’s honest. Thanks, Sara.

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