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Women are happier being single than men because relationships are hard work | Independent


2 Minute Read

Women are happier being single than men are, because being in a relationship is harder work for women, new research suggests. According to a study by data analysts Mintel, 61 per cent of single women are happy being single, versus 49 per cent of single men. The survey also found that 75 per cent of single women have not actively looked for a relationship in the last year, compared to 65 per cent of single men.

Read the full story here: Women are happier being single than men because relationships are hard work | Independent

 

‘Grandmas Enjoy Having Sex’: The Truth About Sex As You Age


8 Minute Read

What happens to your sex life when you get to sixty? With very little representation of senior sex on our screens big and small, it seems no-one wants to talk about it.

Yet one 71-year-old begs to differ.

‘Grandmas enjoy having sex,’ laughs Jackie Anderson, ‘but – and I say this with humour – absolutely no one wants to visualise that.’

Sex certainly doesn’t stop when you hit your sixties, and while it might change as things like menopause enter the picture, it doesn’t have to get less adventurous.

Read the full story here: ‘Grandmas Enjoy Having Sex’: The Truth About Sex As You Age

Women over 50 see sexual harassment very differently than millennials – Mashable UK


5 Minute Read

Somewhere between the main course and dessert at a dinner party, I became aware of a colossal chasm in the way my generation and my parents’ generation perceive sexual harassment. It was during a recent trip to my parents’ home in rural Warwickshire, England, that I found myself embroiled in conversations about sexual harassment and sexual correctness with women over the age of 50.

 

Read the full story here: Mashable UK

AofA Interview: Samantha & Paul Evans – Founders of JoDivine, Online Sex Toy Shop


10 Minute Read

Samantha & Paul Evans are the owners of JoDivine, a sex toy shop that only sells skin safe products,  because they know they promote better sexual health and pleasure.

Samantha is a former nurse with a particular passion for helping their customers enhance their sexual pleasure through the use of sex toys and lubricant.

Q. What was it that led to you starting Jo Divine?

Sam: The idea actually came about after noticing Passion Parties springing up in the U.S. These were events where women came together to learn about products of a sexual nature, such as sex toys, dildos, etc. We thought the idea might work with couples but, after focus testing it with our friends, nobody was interested! At the same time, I’d come across a natural lubricant called yes that had completely transformed my sex life with Paul as I’d had some sexual health problems after using some of the brand names lubes that contained all sorts of ingredients such as glycerine that hadn’t agreed with me at all. I became evangelical about the yes lube (and still am)!

Paul was looking to change from working in computing and, between the two of us, we decided to set up a toy shop, initially just selling one product, the Lelo Gigi, which was one of the first toys to use a skin safe silicone. It’s a new, velvety material that is soft to the touch and slightly pliable. For a long time, sex toys were either made of jelly, rubber or latex which can all be washed but are all porous so absorb bacteria and degrade. Both Paul and I were both adamant we wanted to educate people not just about sex toys and lubes but about making sure that the products they bought were not going to harm them in any way. We’re still the only one in the market that will only sell skin safe sex toys and natural lubricants.

Q. What’s your most popular item?

Sam: The Picobong Zizo, a great first-time vibrator, battery operated and great for helping women with gynae issues too along yes organic lubricants. I say it’s great for first-time users because it’s a normal penis shaped product, skin safe and reasonably priced. Our customers tend to be 40+, many much older and often with no experience of using a sex toy. For some of them, they’ve come to us because their partner has died and they want to pleasure themselves. As a former nurse, I’m used to talking to people about intimate topics and I find many of our customers open up to us about their sex lives. I’ve come to understand that there are a vast number of women who, for instance, have never had or know about clitoral orgasms and so I feel it’s partly my job, in selling them their first toy, to discuss the kind of pleasure they’re seeking as everyone is so different in this regard.

Q. Do you think there’s a stigma about bringing toys into the bedroom?

Sam: For some, there will always be a stigma but attitudes are changing, sex toys are in mainstream media and people recognise that sex toys can enhance their relationship. Sex and the City certainly helped in educating people in their 40s and 50s but, sadly, everyone seems to associate sex toys solely with the Rampant Rabbit when, in fact, there are thousands of toys on the market!

Paul: You will always have men for whom the idea of a penis shaped toy can be seen as threatening but most don’t have a problem with their partner using a bullet (a small vibrator) shaped toy or something like the Lelo Lily (a pebble-shaped vibrator) to stimulate their clitoris while they are having penetrative sex.

Q. I remember a time when the idea of men using sex toys and suchlike was considered deviant. Do you think that’s still the case? If not, what has changed?

Paul: Male sex toys will always be harder to sell as men have a right hand. There is still an expectation that men are always ready for sex which often isn’t the case. We have found that women will buy a product for themselves then buy one for their male partner when they receive our catalogue – his and her sex toys.

Our most popular male sex toy is the Hot Octopuss Pulse III. This is a bendable sleeve that features deep vibrations that give men a different kind of sensation than using their hand or being inside their partner. It feels more like a massage than in being stroked or using a sleeve-shaped sex toy like the Fleshlight, for instance. And it’s very effective for men who may suffer from Erectile Dysfunction too.

Q. What do you recommend for customers who have not purchased a toy before?

Sam: Don’t assume bigger is better, choose skin safe products and always buy good quality lubricant to use with the product. Give us a ring to discuss what you’re looking for as we’re always happy to speak to our customers.

Before spending your money familiarise yourself with the products available to understand what type of toy you want. What do you want it for, external or internal stimulation or both, for couples play, solo play?

Q. You run the shop with your husband. How has that impacted on your relationship?

Sam: We work together every day from our home so sometimes work invades our personal life, you don’t get a break but it’s fun, we get on, we talk all the time and because we have the same/similar ideas for the business we don’t have to explain to each other what we mean or want.

Paul: We do disagree at times but having been married for 20 yrs what couple doesn’t?? Having access to lots of sex toys and discovering yes organic lubes our sex life has improved too! Sex has always been a very important component in our marriage so we actually enjoy bringing our work home with us!

Q. How can couples introduce the idea of using toys in their relationship?

Sam: Talk to each other, discuss what they would like to try, don’t just surprise your partner, we have had a few returns because it is an unwanted gift! If you struggle to orgasm through penetrative sex suggest a small bullet/clitoral vibrator, easy to slip between you and use during intercourse. Check out websites together to discover what you would like to try together. If you do want to surprise your partner, choose something small and unintimidating.

Q. There are so many sex toy shops on the net now. How do you remain relevant to your customers?

Paul: We believe we are unique in being the only sex toy company still in business after 10 years who only sell skin safe products. This is something we are passionate about but has held back our progress at times as far too often people only look at product price and do not consider the impact a bad product could have on their health.

We also offer a huge amount of online sexual health and pleasure articles in our magazine and spend time advising and educating our customers and healthcare professionals on the phone and via email too.

Being independent we offer personal customer service and can advise about the majority of our products because we’ve tried them. We’d rather have satisfied customers who will return to buy another product rather than end up with someone who has a product they cannot use.

Sam: Using my nursing background we also work with many healthcare professionals in the NHS and private practice who recommend our products and articles to their patients to help them overcome sexual issues and enjoy a better sex life. We even created a health brochure with our local hospital which is now given out across the UK by many healthcare professionals.

Q. How can using toys help older people improve their sexual health?

Sam: Having many older customers we know that using a vibrator can keep things working. Use it or lose it! Vaginal dryness, tightness and decreased sexual sensation are part of the ageing process and menopause yet using a simple sex toy and pH balanced sexual lubricant can really help.

Many women buy their first vibrator from us. Some buy them to help gynae issues or when their partner has died or their relationship has broken up. We have many customers in new relationships who haven’t had sex for years and want to resume it with a new partner so buy a slim vibrator to get back in the sack.

Paul: Vibrating cock rings are ideal for men who struggle to maintain an erection or to help them last longer by restricting the blood flow out of the penis. The Bathmate can help treat erectile dysfunction, but being an exerciser it can also help prevent it in the first place.

The Hot Octopuss Pulse III is an amazing male vibrator that can be sued with a flaccid or erect penis using pulse plate technology.

Q. How important do you think sex is in a relationship?

Sam: For many sex is important and when it changes or is affected by illness, disease, or the ageing process relationships can break down. It makes you feel good, releasing endorphins that improve your mood, boost your immunity, helps you to sleep, makes you look younger.

It is a choice and there is no normal sex, it can be hard when sex drives are mismatched which is when sex toys can really help.

Q. Since the advent of 50 Shades and similar books, do you find more older people are requesting products that reflect BDSM scenarios?

Paul: It isn’t a huge part of our business but we have been pleasantly surprised at the response when we recently added some new bondage products to our brochure.

Q. I know quite a few people who don’t feel that toys have a place in their relationship. Why do you think that is?

Sam: Shame, embarrassment, upbringing and the view that they will replace a partner or be better than them. They still have the image of seedy sex shops in Soho but sex toys have moved on from horrible jelly products, although they still remain in places, to beautifully designed quiet products made from high-quality materials and many of which don’t even look like a sex toy.

Q. What specific toys would you recommend for men & women 50+.

Sam: There is no specific toy, however using a vibrating cock ring can help men maintain an erection and offer clitoral stimulation, the Satisfyer is great for women with decreased sexual sensation. It uses suction and vibration rather than direct stimulation. And the Bathmate, although not a sex toy promotes erectile function. For women struggling to orgasm through penetrative sex, a simple bullet is ideal too and inexpensive.

Q. What’s your favourite toy?

Sam: Can I have several as no one toy satisfies all my needs! Satisfyer Pro 2, Mimi Soft, Mio, Doxy, Bathmate, Pulse.

The one thing we use every time during sex is yes lubricant.

Q. What has been your family’s reaction to running a sex toy shop? How has it impacted on your children’s lives?

Sam: The children are all teenagers and our daughter is now 18. They go with the flow, they’ve told a few friends, some who thought we were spies as our daughter said she couldn’t talk about what we did, other friends have said “we’re cool!”. She’s even written an article for her new website called “My Parents Sell Sex Toys”.

Paul: We don’t really talk about our work when we meet new people unless they are in the industry or healthcare professionals. When we do talk about it the majority of people are fine and interested in what we do especially about how we came to create Jo Divine and the health work with the NHS, although we have had a few people who didn’t believe that we owned a sex toy company!

You can find all the sex toys listed and more at Jo Divine.

A Brief Return to Craigslist


1 Minute Read

I have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist, the American noticeboard with sections devoted to job, property, services and dating. I love, well, its randomness, the way it always manages to turn up someone somewhere who can quash a bug on my website or make my PowerPoint presentations shine. I hate how finding those people often means having to wade through the dozens of imposters, con artists and fantasists who use the site. Still I am loyal; at least from time to time.

Recently I did use it for something mutually beneficial. While searching for an interior designer who wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I discovered one who refused to charge me on the understanding she could showcase the work as a way of achieving her British Institute of Interior Design qualification.

And then there’s the sex stuff – mutually beneficial but for different reasons altogether.

Eight years ago, before Tinder arrived on the scene and stole some of Craigslist’s thunder, Craigslist was an easy way to find local travel guides with special ‘perks’. I was in my mid-forties at the time, visiting Rome. I encountered one very nice young man who travelled all the way from Naples to Rome to meet me and show me around the city. He arrived, took me for a walk around the Coliseum and then, in my 5-star hotel room, he performed his final generoso—making me squirt all over the 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Craigslist had its purpose back then, it made business trips more fun.

Given my happy history with Craigslist, on the first day of spring, when the sun was shining brightly, the daffodils were in bloom and even complete strangers smiled at me while shopping on Kilburn High Road, I decided to throw the dice and post a personal on Craigslist. I was horny and was hoping to find, if not a partner, at the very least a shag.

Having just attended a workshop at the UK Dating Fair the weekend previously, entitled “Who Am I Compatible With?” a class that encouraged us to seek partners with shared values (apparently, it’s a myth that opposites attract), I was inspired to make my desire clear from the start:

Dominant, tall, slim man (45+) sought by confident, attractive woman.

 I listed the attributes I was seeking: someone older, wiser, perhaps semi-retired, a lover of good food and wine and travel. I mentioned that I generally identified as submissive but leaned towards being a take-charge person in my day-to-day life. I specified no toy boys or married men, knowing from past experience, on Craigslist at least, that many men tended to skip the ad’s text and go straight to the image. I’d posted “no one under 40” and within five minutes received dozens of messages from Millennials telling me I was the perfect vehicle for their MILF fantasy.

In my ad, I requested that the man have all his own teeth and was able to write in full sentences, and I made a point of noting that I preferred men who looked after their bodies. “Most importantly,” I added, “you do not take yourself too seriously, are naturally curious about the world and interested in what others have to say.”

I pressed submit and, as has been my experience in the past on this site, within a few minutes the replies came flooding in.

There were the usual rejectees: men who couldn’t spell or who used text speak, recent college grads my own sons’ ages, and guys who provided a cock shot, a phone number, and nothing else. However, there were also half a dozen that stood out. They included a 45-year-old firefighter who claimed to be in ‘good shape.’ I was suspicious, given my CL experience with men and knowing that “good shape” was a subjective term. Another was a 39-year-old banker based in Canary Wharf with a penchant for poker and a ‘mature city professional,’ who apparently thought that information alone was enough to entice me. And there was a man named Bryan, a 47-year-old Canadian based in London, who sent me lots of pictures of his erect penis. It was of a pleasing size and shape, although I’ve always preferred a man who keeps it in his pants until after a face-to-face meeting, after which making a penile appearance is the logical next step.

After skimming through another ten or twenty messages, one arrived that contained the four magic words guaranteed to make me wet. Semi-Retired. Investment. Banker. That is – a man with money and time on his hands. I’m not a gold digger but I’ve funded most of my relationships and no longer have an interest in doing so.

The banker’s name was John and he had a double-barrelled surname which indicated Eastern European origins. A quick Google search revealed a slightly dodgy past. He’d had some kind of run-in with the FCA over an investment scheme that hadn’t gone well, and been suspended by his employer, one of the larger banks. But then, is that really unusual in that business? Over the years, I’d read numerous stories in the broadsheets about bankers cooking the books or setting up dubious trust funds or Ponzi schemes. At least John hadn’t gone to prison. He seemed interesting, at least, and probably had a story to tell. I got in touch.

John told me he spent most of his time managing a block of studio apartments he owned in West London and one he had just purchased in Leipzig, his hometown. He had a nice voice, sounded friendly and relatively interesting.

We met on a Sunday afternoon, at a Hilton Hotel bar, at John’s suggestion.

I got there early and took a seat at the back of the room, away from the handful of other customers scattered around the cavernous space. Dissonant jazz music was playing through the speakers. The décor looked like it had been lifted from a Bond movie —dark brown wallpaper, long mirrors, large high-backed 60s-style chairs. The bar was twenty feet long and its stools were deserted. I ordered a glass of Malbec, handed my card to the waitress, and hoped I wouldn’t be drinking alone. Having been stood up on dates with Craigslist prospects before, I’ve learned that one man’s “I’ll be there” is another’s “Sure, unless a better opportunity arises.”

John arrived 10 minutes later, in a mix of brown tweed jacket, purple flowery shirt, a pair of jeans and a grey flat cap—country gentlemen, by way of Bayswater. His skin was almost transparent and so white it made him appear otherworldly. Slim and about six feet tall, he took off his hat to reveal a shiny, bald pate. He had small blue eyes and slightly lopsided lips that I felt drawn to because their asymmetry was surprisingly fetching.

I was in no position to judge him, as I was wearing jeans, tan suede cowboy boots and a multicoloured trilby, which covered my long hair, recently tinted fuchsia, my nod to difference.

I stood up to kiss him on both cheeks. “You made it,” I said, the surprise barely hidden in my voice.

“Well, of course,” he replied, sincerely.

John called the waitress over and asked her whether she had any non-alcoholic cocktails. Red Flag number #1. It was late afternoon and I knew John had taken public transport. A drink or two usually takes the edge off first meetings. It looked like I’d be drinking alone. By the time, his non-alcoholic mojito appeared, I had almost finished with my wine and ordered another, not caring whether that might bother a non-drinker.

We discovered a shared interest in property, as I’d recently renovated my home. He told me about his property portfolio and a renovation project he had been working on in a remote Eastern European city, now almost complete. After an hour we were still talking about it. He took out his phone and we went through the slide show of images on it: the newly tiled bathroom, the dining table shipped from Italy, the balcony and roof terrace. Like so many other men I’d met online, the focus of the conversation was him. What he was doing, his own achievements, what he enjoyed. And I put up with it because I was ambivalent. And horny. And he was sufficiently intriguing.

“Maybe you can help me christen the bed,” he said, confidently. I laughed nervously, despite myself and despite my experience with Craigslist men. I hadn’t even had a sip of my second drink and he was already steering the conversation towards sex. “And you can give me some decorating advice too,” he added.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to fuck him or be his interior designer. Still, he ticked many of the qualities I was looking for in a potential partner. He was a semi-retired. As a former investment banker, he was solvent. We shared many interests. While he wasn’t traditionally good looking, he could hold a conversation, although laughter was in short supply. He confessed to voting for Nigel Farage and I wondered if I could overlook that. I wasn’t sure I could. That would be hard to explain to my friends, who were rooting for Jeremy Corbyn at the time. I was horny, so I tried to remain open-minded. We had met on Craigslist, after all, not Guardian Soulmates or one of the staid sites targeting those seeking long-term relationships.

We ended up taking the Jubilee Line together. As we entered London Bridge station, John turned around on the escalator, pulled me towards him and pressed his lips against mine. His tongue probed my mouth. I was a little merry with the drink so I let him for a few seconds. Then I pulled away.

“Come back with me,” he said. I told him I had to work the next day and get up early, which was half true. By this point, I just wanted him to go.

We got into the carriage, while I counted the stops until he got off at Baker Street. I didn’t want to go home with him. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see him again. I was desperate for him to say something funny, to break the awkward silences, the uncomfortable conversations about sex and the misplaced intimacy.

When I got home, I went to my computer and saw another 40 emails in my inbox, all of them responses to my original Craigslist post. I deleted them all. And then I pulled up the ad and pressed delete. Craigslist had once been a reliable site for connecting with men, back when I thought of men as items on a takeaway menu: to be selected, delivered, nibbled on, then tossed aside. Craigslist still worked that way: it brought me a wide selection of prospects and then face-to-face with John, a man who found me attractive and wanted a shag. Just hours earlier, I’d thought I’d wanted the same, and when given the opportunity, I’d opted out.

Special thanks to Mark Rathmell for creating the illustrations.

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