Jun 212014
 

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This year’s Guelph Sexuality Conference was absolutely amazing, friends!  If you have never attended, you really must make a point of visiting the lovely University of Guelph for this event next year.  Check out #UoGSexConf and follow @UofGSexConf on Twitter and FaceBook to see many of the highlights and get a taste of the excellent workshops that went down.  And I’ll be sure to let y’all know when we open up for presentation proposals, but you can also find out at both of those accounts.

This was the first conference at which I ever presented (2004 & 2006), and I could have never guessed that one day I would be on the planning committee.  This year not only did I help plan the event, but I also served as the conference’s first (as far as we know) Active Listener.  I was available throughout the event to help folks process, listen, note any concerns, and other similar duties.  It was an honour and privilege to be able to have such important conversations with attendees throughout the event!

But before all of that, I helped wrap up the opening plenary panel with a personal story and reflections on coming out as being poly.  While this hasn’t exactly been a secret within certain social circles of mine, I wasn’t just reflecting on being non-monogamous.  I was coming out on the professional level right then and there, with friends, coworkers, and my boss in the audience.  Plus I also included my gender and sex queer identities.   The many levels of coming out never stop for some of us, eh?

The entire panel was excellent and it was thrilling to be among such amazing speakers and professionals.  Thankfully, it was taped and will be placed on the Guelph Sexuality Conference website once it’s edited and uploaded.  Until then, here is my transcript.

____________

In 2005 I married my partner of 4 years in Vermont, one of only 2 or 3 places in the USSat the time where queer people could get married.  We were unwilling to get married anywhere with heteronormist marriage laws; this was important to us.  I had proposed to him 4 months earlier, and we had our homemade ceremony by a big rock in the woods with a justice of the peace, and our parents and step-parents.  We used a poem from Virginia Satir for our vows, and I thought you might enjoy it if I read it to you:

How I want to meet you

I want to love you without clutching,
Appreciate you without judging,
Join you without invading,
Invite you without demanding,
Leave you without guilt,
Criticize you without blaming,
And help you without insulting.

If I can have
the same from you,
then we can truly meet and
enrich each other.

That relationship remains the best commitment I ever made. 

The second best happened 7 years later. At the end of 2012 I realized a lifelong dream by moving here, to Canada, to work for the University of Guelph and teach student-therapists learning Couple and Family Therapy.  The transition has been both beautiful and challenging, and over time the beautiful parts have become the majority.  My friends, family, and coworkers knew such a transition would be hard at times, and often asked how I was doing.  The one thing I didn’t feel I could confide was what it was like to grieve leaving behind every intimate partner save my spouse.  Few people are ready to hear a very happily married person talk about how much they miss their lovers.  

When I do mention it outside of certain circles, I’ve learned to do my best to make it comfortable for others.  I keep it short of details; it’s too real if I mention their names much less how much I miss her no-nonsense way of flirting or how he was able to connect more deeply with me when he finally fell in love …with someone else.  I rarely say exactly when we saw each other, or if we ever will again.  That also makes it too real.  And I definitely don’t talk about how deeper emotional and physical intimacy with others has made both my spouse, who I call my primary, and I much happier, healthier, more whole people in our relationship with each other.  It’s not that it becomes too real then, it’s that the listener begins to look at me with pity in their eyes.  Clearly my 9 years of marriage, which is 13 years if you count dating, is a sham and I just can’t admit it yet.  There is either monogamy or there is cheating and breaking up, according to that world view. 

 I’ve been told by folks who assume we are monogamous that I have the kind of marriage that some of my friends dream about, and for us it takes a community to raise a relationship.

Last year I slipped up during a grant writing meeting, and instead of saying “my partner” I said “my primary.”  I tried to play it cool for the rest of the meeting, as though I had not just breached the carefully maintained division between my work life and a very select social circle within my personal life. But I was scared for weeks.  What will people think knowing that someone who teaches and researchers in a field dedicated to romantic dyads feels closest to the main love of her life when they’re sharing what they are learning from being in additional relationships?  Did I just lose their respect, professionally and personally?  I didn’t dare ask them.  I just waited and enjoyed the sweet surprise of nothing changing.  And so I allowed the word to slip two or three more times just to see what would happen.  To my relief I have found myself in the very privileged position of still being ok…for now…a far as I can tell.  

And when someone asked if anyone knew of a member of a poly relationship that was established and going strong, I volunteered for this panel.

I guess I will know if this was a good risk to take one soon enough as my boss is in this audience today. I hope my bet pays off that it’s better to say it here and now than to worry about what would happen if I didn’t.

Families take a multitude of shapes and forms.  When it comes to intimacy, both emotional and physical, there are far more options than monogamy and cheating.  For us, my primary and I, we do not expect to be each other’s everything.  Sometimes in some ways, we aren’t even each other’s favorite thing.  And that allows us to relax and rejoice in the ways in which we are perfect together, without fretting so much about the ways in which we are fantastic yet very different.  

What would respectful affirmation look like? An end to the million everyday ways in which 2 is considered better than 1 or 3, 4, 5, or more. No more forms with spots for only 2 partners of certain genders, no more doctors who assume that married people shouldn’t need STI testing. There would be more room to see more than two people holding hands, perhaps with babies in the middle.  There would be permission to love and love and love and be healthy and full of joy with so much love that it spills out of each relationship and fills the others with excitement and laughter and wholeness.

 There would be permission to find and create what really makes a person their healthiest and happiest, instead of complying to what is supposed to work for everyone.  In that desire to cherish our authentic selves within a supportive and kind environment, I suspect we all have a great deal in common in this room.  I don’t want you to be poly any more than I want you to be monogamous or single.  I just want you to be able to be happy being you, while I am happy being me, and while we are happy for each other.

But I also encourage us to consider the value of being unhappy about falling on our faces, the importance of trying something that doesn’t work, things that hurt when they work, and how we can support each other in that.  

Let me be clear in saying that I cannot possibly represent or speak for all of the many ways in which relationships can be open. I’m only speaking for me, and a little for my primary, with their permission.  It saddens me greatly when I overhear conversations about how only monogamy can work, because a poly relationship (or one part of a poly relationship) ended in a breakup.  By this definition of success, we would have no relationship options or even singlehood as an option. But thank goodness relationships end!  Think of the first person you ever dated – was that person the best relationship decision you ever made?  Mine, for the record, is now a catholic priest, so I’m probably safe in saying that they wanted to go in a different direction than I did.  

I started this talk by saying the safe things: I’ve been with my primary for a long time and I love love.  But what if our relationship ended?   Did that mean we made a mistake?  That I was a fool?  What if one of us left the other for one of our other partners? Did we ask for heartbreak? 

Most break-ups are tough, but as one of my girlfriends used to say: there are only 3 options. You break up, you’re together forever, or somebody ceases to be.  Thank goodness for the first option!  If my relationship with my sweetie ended it would hurt very much, but I suspect I would eventually see that as part of my journey as a poly person.  I hope others would feel the same about my path.

And what of jealousy and pain? Is it ok to hurt like that in a relationship, in a way that  is related to a partner?  Again, I can only speak for myself.  Yes, we both feel pain around facing jealousy, fears, doubts, and more.  I would be worried if we didn’t.  But I learned over time that there is a difference between hurt and harm.  I gave up my fantasies of being someone’s everything, of having some kind of assumed ownership of their body and of someone owning my rights to mine.  I shrugged off my romanticized notion that only one person can make me truly happy, and that I must figure out how to do the same for them in every possible way.  I learned that I can build a stable home without giving up the connection I seek with more than one. I learned that a relationship can be based on, and defined by, things more complex than sexual exclusivity. I learned that jealousy is often a sign of a place in my life where I can grow, learn to communicate better, or discover what I need to be my best me.  I learned how important is to keep figuring out what I need to function and feel best, how to communicate that, and how to nurture it in a multitude of ways without necessarily holding one person accountable for giving it to me.

For me, monogamy is too closed, too tight, too restrictive, too presumptive.  For others, being open is too frightening, too risky, too loose, too devil-may-care, too hedonistic.  There is room for both those views and many more.  But neither of us is proving our way wrong if we break up with somebody, or stay single, or hurt in healthy ways.  Sometimes growing is hard. Neither open relationships nor closed are easy.

But there is an especially political, activist aspect to being open, whether I like it or not.  It is an undeniably powerful statement in our culture when a fat, nerdy, gender and sex queer, married person is having a lot of great sex with a lot of great people and decides mention it into a microphone.  Hello!  While that edginess  is sometimes exciting, I look forward to a day when just being me isn’t such a political act.  And if I feel exhausted by the political nature of being me, with all of my privileges, then there is a huge amount of work for all of us to do before we even get around to how tired I am.

Perhaps a helpful step is questioning what we have learned about what is normal and healthy, and what we have learned about our roles in determining and enforcing that.  In a recent conversation with Charlie Glickman, he brought up a great point that I would like to share with his permission. As helping, healing, and health professionals we use our informed intuition as one of our most valuable tools.  However, it can be difficult to tell the difference between something that set off that informed intuition and something that has triggered a bias, especially around delicate topics such as bodies, sex, relationships, and gender.  How can we make better distinctions between our biases and  intuition, and how might that change us both personally and professionally?

Thank you.

______________

As a follow-up, many friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and people I was just meeting came up to thank me for my vulnerability during my talk.

And my boss gave me a hug.

 

 

Mar 212011
 

This morning I woke up to a thunder storm with rain so heavy I thought it must be ice.  By lunch, the sun was bright and the birds were singing.  This is the time of year to when nature shows its power and comes into bloom – and she has the same effect on our relationships!  There’s no better time to join a workshop, mentorship group, or call-in and start enjoying the healthy joy and renewal of spring in your relationships.  I hope to see you soon!

Dr. Ruthie’s Public Events Schedule for March & April, 2011
(All times are Eastern)

Healing Circle in Celebration of Personal Renewal (phone group)

  • March 24, Noon
  • Call and Join by phone at 1-218-862-7200   x 900944 (free!)
  • This is a free event, hosted by phone! You can call in from anywhere and absolutely everyone is welcome. Callers are not asked to speak, you’ll only be asked to relax.  Take a few moments in the middle of your busy day to sit back, relax, and put your joy and well-being first. This is the third in my series of free monthly healing circles, all done by phone to make them accessible anywhere. Nothing is needed on your part once you’ve dialed in, just listen and melt for a bit. We’ll be relaxing, breathing and meditating together as I offer a simple, guided celebration of the energy and renewal of Spring!  This meditation and celebration circle will be recorded so that you may listen at a later time, too. There is no fee to attend circles live or by recording; however, I ask that you consider donating $15 to Scarleteen.com in place of admission to this event. No RSVP needed to join live. Email Dr. Ruthie to receive the direct link to the recording.

Certified Orgasmic – Sexy Happy Hour Workshop at Lotus Blooms

  • March 24, 6 – 7:30 pm
  • 1017 King St., Old Town Alexandria (DC area)
  • $5, RSVPs encouraged to (703) 535-8225
  • Ladies, whether you’re searching for your orgasms or you want to learn how to enjoy them more often, this class is just for you!  This workshop will introduce you to the secrets of stronger, easier orgasms by yourself and with your partners. Attendees will also receive a discount for the advanced Certified Orgasmic series with Dr. Ruthie! All women and their partners are welcome, but be sure to RSVP right away, as workshops fill early.

Dr. Ruthie’s Period Party

  • March 27, 2 – 4:30 pm
  • RSVPs required – contact Dr. Ruthie for more information
  • Hosted at private DC residence. Info up on RSVP.
  • This party is for women 21+ to gather, laugh, share stories, and learn more about natural approaches to menstruation products!  Hosting by Dr. Ruthie and sponsored by LunaPads, every participant with receive a special gift bag with great products.  Plus, we’ll be fiesting on red velvet cake, sangria, and other themed goodies.  Drop Dr. Ruthie a line to request your invite!  Portions of the party will be post on YouTube, for those who can’t join live.

Momentum Con: Making waves in sexuality, feminism, and relationships through new media

  • April 1 – 3
  • Registration required for this amazing weekend event in DC.
  • Dr. Ruthie will be facilitating a panel on the ethics of blogging at this event, and participating in many other workshops and classes. See you there!

Discovering and Communicating What You What

  • April 14th, 7-8:30 pm
  • The Mautner Project, DC ($15 in advance or at the door)
  • Before we can tell our partners what we want and need from intimacy and relationships, we first need to figure that out for ourselves!  Discovering what we want, putting it into words and then communicating it to our partners is an important element of relationship satisfaction and good sex.  Join Dr. Ruthie as we explore these concepts and practice putting them into action.  RSVPs and advancd tickets are suggested.

Sex-Positive Professionals Group Call: Creating and Building Presence through Writing (online and off)

  • April 18th, Noon – 1:30 pm
  • This group call is for members of the Sex-Positive Professionals Group (SPPG), a mentorship and community group for current and aspiring sex-positive professionals.  Learn more about joining the SPPG!

How to Make Her Moan – Sexy Happy Hour Workshop at Lotus Blooms

  • April 21, 6 – 7:30 pm
  • 1017 King St., Old Town Alexandria (DC area)
  • $5, RSVPs encouraged to (703) 535-8225
  • By popular question, this workshop is especially for all of the gentlemen look to give the women in lives a night to remember!  Learn the tips and techniques to pleasuring her, from seduction to climax and after.  Diagrams, non-explicit demos, and detailed information will give you what you need to know to have her glowing!
Feb 092011
 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and that means that the birds & bees will soon be getting fresh with each other this spring!  It’s the perfect time to be thinking about ways to explore your fantasies and enjoy some new sex toys.  And thanks to the great folks at Crystal Adult Pleasures (CAP), I’m giving away some absolutely gorgeous glass sex toys to lucky winners in the USA, Canada and the UK!  CAP has a whole range of glass toys that are as smooth and beautiful as they are stimulating.  Glass toys are great for temperature play, extra slick with lube, easy to clean and perfect for those who like full, firm and weighty insertables.  Curvy glass can be just the thing for stimulating the G-spot while straight glass is smooth and filling for thrusting.  CAP is a smaller company that makes commissions for the porn industry and private use, as well as selling a range of popular toys for everyday folks like us – and they want you to see for yourself just how hot a well made glass toy can be!

Prizes:

Boomerang: This slim sex toy packs a lot of punch with its subtle arched curve allowing for deep and medium probing sensation. This glass sex toy is guaranteed to be pleasureful and irresistibly eye-catching. The Boomerang 7″ Glass Sex Toy is shaped from 7″ x 7/8″ 100% lucite glass and manufactured exclusively by CAP.

My First Sex Toy: Perfect for a first toy, or to add to your existing collection when you don’t need or want to go over the top. This glass sex toy is guaranteed to be pleasureful and irresistibly eye-catching. My First Sex is shaped from 7″ x 7/8″ 100% lucite glass and manufactured exclusively by CAP.

S-Wand G-Spot Stimulator Wand:  This 10″ curved (7/8″ inch diameter) crystal clear Lucite Glass G-Spot Stimulator and Prostate Massage Wand is the ultimate aid in achieving g-spot squirting orgasms with very little effort. By design the Crystal G-Spot Stimulator Wand gives you the extra help to easily find and stimulate the G-Spot (female) and prostate (Male G-Spot) . Recommended by sex experts, sold world-wide, and praised by thousands this is the best selling product we have ever manufactured. Made from 100% lucite glass for safety and durability. Manufactured exclusively by CAP.

S-Wand G-Spotter

Wow! I’m jealous that I can’t enter! ;)

How To Enter: There are three ways to enter, and you can earn one entry for each way.  In order for your entry to be counted, you must leave one note in the comments (below) per entry.  If you have a toy preference, include it in your entry.  The first person drawn will receive their first choice, if one is noted.  I will do my best with the second and third, but I can’t make any promises if your preferred toy is already chosen.  You might want to include a second choice to help me out!  If you don’t mention a toy in you comment, I’ll pick one for you.  You must enter by 11:59 pm (eastern time) March 31, 2011 by doing one or more of the following:

  • 1) Sign up for Dr. Ruthie’s newsletter at this link! If you’re already on my list, just leave me a comment letting me know that you want to enter – and be sure your correct email address is included in the form (it won’t be shown).  Comment here to let me know you signed up, and don’t forget to mention your preferred toy!
  • 2) Spread the word on your Facebook, Twitter or Blogs: Share the following on twitter:  @DrRuthie is giving away a glass sex toys from CAP, and I want to win one! http://tinyurl.com/GlassContest #sex #contests – For Facebook and blog posts be sure to include the contest link above.  Comment here to let me know you entered (and where), and don’t forget to mention your preferred toy!
  • 3) Comment below by sharing your favorite naughty quote or story.  I love hearing how creative you can be, plus I might even include it in my upcoming book on talking dirty!  Don’t forget to mention your preferred toy.

16in wand - Check out CAP's website for this design and many others!

Rules:

  • You must be at least 21 years old, live in the USA, Canada or UK and be willing to share your address for shipping.  If you live outside the USA, Canada or UK you can only be eligible to receive the free session with Dr. Ruthie.  Prizes can only be sent to the winner’s address.
  • You cannot enter if winning would put you in an unethical dual relationship with CAP or myself.  For example, you cannot be an employee or immediate family of either.
  • Up to three entries are allowed per person by using all three of the methods above.  You cannot receive multiple entries for doing the same method more than once.
  • Entries must be received by 11:59 pm (eastern time) March 31, 2011. Winners will be contacted by email by 4/3/11 to claim their prize.  They must respond with the necessary information within 3 days or forfeit their prize, at which time another winner will be chosen and contacted.  I cannot be held responsible if you give me incorrect contact information or do not respond on time.  CAP will mail your prizes to you directly; I cannot be responsible for any shipping delays or issues.

Good luck and happy spring!

Jan 052011
 

Celebrate A Sexy 2011 with Dr. Ruthie!

Start your 2011 off in sassy style by joining me for a workshop or calling into a monthly healing circle!  This year I’ll be offering an exciting monthly workshop at The Mautner Project, in addition to workshops at Lotus Blooms in DC, and during my travels all over the country.  I’m also thrilled to begin offering a free monthly call-in healing circle with a different focus each call.  To top it all off, two incredible tele-groups are forming now and I’m offering some nifty deals on registration to ring in the new year.  Keep on reading to get the scoop!

Upcoming Workshops & Tele-Groups with Dr. Ruthie

January & February 2011
All times are Eastern.

SOLD OUT! Thank you! 1/20 at 6pm – Hit The Spot: G-Spot and Prostate Pleasure *FREE*
Lotus Blooms – Alexandria, VA
RSVP suggested, as spots fill early.
The G Spot is real and Dr. Ruthie is coming to Lotus Blooms to help you enjoy it by yourself and with your partners!  The G Spot is one of four genital pleasure spots for women, and gentlemen have their own prostate (or P Spot) to enjoy.  You’ll learn about all of these areas for him and her, so bring your friends and leave with lots of inspiration! Join us for the workshop at 6:00 pm sharp.  This event is designed for all genders, sexualities, relationships and singles. Tickets are free but Reservations are required. Call (703) 535-8225 or visit Lotus Blooms to reserve your seat before the workshop fills!

1/27 at Noon – Healing Circle in Celebration of Our Genders and Sexualities *FREE*
Tele-Group – Join by phone at 1-218-862-7200 x 900944
This circle will be recorded so that you may listen at a later time, too.
There is no fee to attend circles live or by recording; however, I ask that you consider donating $15 to Scarleteen.com in place of admission to this event.
No RSVP needed to join live.  Email Dr. Ruthie to receive the direct link to the recording.

2/17 at 7pm – Relaxation and Pampering for Your Sensual Self
The Mautner Project – Washington, DC
RSVP required
Call your friends and make plans to join Dr.Ruthie for an evening of relaxation and pampering for everyone.  Get back in touch with yourself through gentle massage and pampering techniques designed to increase comfort and relaxation. Dr. Ruthie shows you how to bring a new level of loving body language to your relationship with your sensual self! $15

2/18 – 2/20 – Dark Odyssey Winter Fire
I’ll be presenting 3 classes and an event at Winter Fire 2011 in Washington, DC!  Topics include: oral sex for him, sex toys for guys, fantasies for the shy, and a live healing circle event.  If you’ve seen me present these topics elsewhere, I can assure you that you’ve never seen me present them like this!  Register for this amazing event at http://www.DarkOdyssey.com soon, as it always sells out early.
Registration for Winter Fire is required, but no RSVP is needed for the classes once you are registered.

2/24 – Healing Circle in Celebration of Surviving Sexual Violence *FREE*
Tele-Group – Join by phone at 1-218-862-7200 x900944
This circle will be recorded so that you may listen at a later time, too.
There is no fee to attend circles live or by recording; however, I ask that you consider donating $15 to Scarleteen.com in place of admission to this event.
No RSVP needed to join live.  Email Dr. Ruthie to receive the direct link to the recording.

*SPECIAL OFFERS On Tele-Group Registrations*

Sex-Positive Professionals’ Tele-Group
This February I will be launching my professional mentorship group for current and aspiring sex-positive professionals.  Members will be invited to join monthly group mentorship calls, receive individual progress-boosting calls with Dr. Ruthie, and can participate in our private online community.  This is a rolling group, meaning that members may join at any time, provided the group is not full. However, to help us get a strong start, I’m currently offering $25 off the first 4 months for those who register in time for February’s monthly group call!  Read more about the group, then give me a call to learn how you can join.

Certified Orgasmic Tele-Group
The Certified Orgasmic group is a special women-only community dedicated to finding your orgasms and enjoying them with ease and pleasure, both by yourself and with partners.  This group meets twice monthly and also includes monthly private calls with Dr. Ruthie to focus on your personal progress points.  This is a closed four-month program, meaning that each group is small and new members are not admitted once a group begins.  Group calls are held over the lunch hour and are also recorded so members may listen and participate at any time.  The next group is scheduled to begin in April, but those who register and pay in full by 2/28 will receive two free private sessions to thank you for your early registration.  Contact me directly to learn more about this group and inquire about registration.

Nov 042010
 


Sometimes, we sex educators get a little bit bummed about the popularity of “How to please a man”-type workshops.  While this is certainly an important thing to learn, I’m in favor of everyone being pleased.  Ladies, you might be surprised how often I hear from people of all genders, looking for tips on how to please their female partners.  For some reason, these folks don’t tend to show up to workshops, but I know you’re out there looking for the information, and I’m glad you are.  For all of you who proudly proclaim “Ladies first!” these tips on cunnilingus are just for you.  Thanks so much to FunWares for making this educational series on sex and pleasure possible!

Nov 032010
 

Continuing the video series from last week, Dr. Ruthie is back to give you even more ideas for fun and intimate positions that won’t put too much strain on your body.  Thanks so much to FunWares for making this educational series on sex and pleasure possible!