Feedback (6/24)

This post is a response to anonymous questions and comments I receive via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) or from private messages. I love responding to these, so if there is something on your mind, good or bad, please send me a message. No subject is off limits and here is a link to previous questions or comments I’ve received and responded to.

Okay, I meant to respond to this request last week but I ended up running out of hours in the day. I had a couple of work deadlines, a dentist appointment, and I went out a couple of nights with some friends. I hope the author isn’t too annoyed with me.

Hey, Peter, I have been following you on Facebook for a few months. I accidentally stumbled on your page and am really glad I did. My question for you is about the legal age of sexual consent and what your thoughts are on them. In NJ the age is 16 but for other states, it is as high as 18. I tried to find out the reasoning behind the decision on the age but wasn’t able to come up with much. I did look up what the ages were in other countries and for the most part, it was 16 or younger. A surprising amount of countries had their consent age set to 13 (Spain being one of them). Personally, I don’t understand why it would be anything older than 15. Punishing someone who is of sound mind for wanting to have sex with someone older just because of their age seems unnatural to me. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

Hi, Facebook friend! I’m glad we stumbled together (probably… this was submitted anonymously so maybe I don’t like you, but that’s unlikely). One of my favorite things about social media is that it can bring people together who may have never crossed paths a decade ago. Facebook sucks sometimes, but overall it is a net gain for the world. Though, I could certainly have a healthier relationship with it than I do. But that’s true for a lot of things in my life, including alcohol, sex, and other awesome life experiences.

Anyway… I’m rambling. On to your questions.

Oh man, this is actually kind of a complex issue. My short answer, the age of consent laws in the US are often (though not always) well-intentioned but, like the infamous road to hell, the results aren’t good. There are ways our society can address teenage sex that would be an improvement.

Now for my long answer, I think there are a lot of factors in play but the four major issues that come to mind first to me are how our justice/legal system operates, the rights and cognitive abilities of children, and sex negativity. I’ll tackle each issue individually but they all overlap.

Justice/Legal System – In many cases our justice and legal system are set up in a way that is convenient for lawyers and politicians but reduces the rights and freedoms of citizens. This happens whenever a law is based on an action instead of a result. I understand the need for objectivity in the law and on the surface things like “If an 18-year old has sex with a 15-year old then a crime is committed” seems to be objective and fair, but it fails to address the purpose of a legal system: to address harm. A better way to treat teenage sex would be to only punish sex that causes harm, but treating this issue based on result instead of action would certainly be difficult. It is easy to prove an act happened but more difficult to prove that act resulted in certain harm (at least in the case of sex).

Not all laws are written this way. In fact, some criminal acts are based almost entirely on result instead of action. Take, for example, the difference between assault and attempted murder. If I decide I want to murder someone, plan to do it, and then walk out on the street and shoot someone in the chest the crime I am charged with depends on the whether the person survives or not. My intention and action (pulling the trigger hoping to kill) are not relevant to whether I am charged with murder or attempted murder. In fact, the specifics for why one person would die and one person would live is irrelevant to the charge. If I shoot someone with a clotting disorder and they die because their body can’t clot blood I will be charged with murder, even though I had no idea they had this disorder and I didn’t give them that disorder. But, if I shoot someone who is healthy (or larger or something like that) in the exact same spot but they survive then I am charged with a lesser crime. In this case, the degree of harm decides the charge, not the action.

I would like to see sex treated the same way. Harm should exist in order for an action to be criminal. Basically, who is the victim? If there is no victim then there is no crime (and no, I don’t think parents can claim their child is a victim in a way that overrules how the child feels about the act). But, that brings us to the next topic…

Rights and cognitive abilities of teenagers – Teenagers do not have the same cognitive abilities as adults, but where we draw that line (16, 18, and 21 depending on the act they wish to engage in) isn’t based on science or individual evidence. Instead, we base it on political expediency, convenience, and tradition. We seem to recognize that teenagers can make major life decisions at 16 like operate a 3,000 machine that is the third leading cause of accidental death in the US. Or, at 18, teenagers are allowed to buy cigarettes (probably the most dangerous habit in the world) or join the military. But, we don’t think teenagers should be allowed to buy alcohol (which is probably a post for another time). But, when it comes to sex things are all over the place.

I think the real question we should ask ourselves is “is this teenager capable of making healthy decisions with regards to sex?” Basically, can they recognize unhealthy power dynamics? Are they capable of voicing their desires and saying no when necessary? Do they understand how to use birth control and ask for help and the risks associated with sexual activity? But, instead of asking those questions and implementing institutional changes to address them we have decided to take the convenient way out and just slap an age on the act.

I think things would be greatly improved if we treated age of consent in a similar way that we treat driving. With driving, we recognize that there is a general age where most teenagers are capable of making responsible decisions but then we also provide an education on the subject and test fluency. Perhaps, we could have some sort of “sex license” where having sex with a teenager without one of those licenses is a crime (this is clearly imperfect and kind of sounds silly but I think it would be an improvement).

For example, maybe the “age of consent” issue turns into a licensing issue. When a teenager turns 15 they are eligible to get a sex license that would allow them to have sex with people over the age of 18 without it being illegal (of course rape, assault, etc. would still be illegal but just the act of sex wouldn’t be). In order to get this license, the teenager would go prove fluency in STI and pregnancy convention, communicating desire, saying no, etc. I think the biggest thing preventing any system like this is that a teenager would likely need parental consent for this license because we don’t recognize them as having full rights (hmm… this would probably be a good post in the future too) and, in general, parents are sex-negative.

Sex Negativity – A lot of adults in the US are terrified of sex, particularly of the idea that their children are having sex (spoiler: they are). Instead of providing a thorough education many parents do what my parents did, they ignore the issue and hope for the best. Or maybe they do passive aggressive things like leaving a copy of “Choosing to Wait: A Guide to Inspiring Abstinence” on the bookshelf and they suddenly decide to start cleaning their teenager’s rooms in order to throw out any porn they find. Teenagers look to their parents for guidance and in order for teenagers to make healthy, responsible decisions regarding sex it needs to be discussed in a realistic way. For most of human history, teenagers were having sex, getting married, and raising children, but some sort of puritanism runs through the US that denies this reality.

I think a lot of the laws in place are really about sex-negativity. Adults either want to legislate away the problem (which is impossible) or they don’t want to have a rational discussion about it and change the laws. I understand that this would be political suicide for someone. Any politician that wanted to reform age of consent laws would be accused of wanting to have sex with teenagers. So, unfortunately, I don’t think things are going to change much. I’d rather us have a better system but I don’t have any hope for change.

Feedback (Part 11)

This post is a response to anonymous questions and comments I receive via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) or from private messages. I love responding to these, so if there is something on your mind, good or bad, please send me a message. No subject is off limits and here is a link to previous questions or comments I’ve received and responded to.

Are there ever couples you come upon that you are interested in learning more about their sex lives together and offer advice to them if they are struggling? You seem to be very knowledgeable about pleasuring a person so just wondering!

Sure! I am basically curious about every couple I come across because I find sex to be an incredibly intellectually stimulating subject. One of the major takeaways from my experiences in the Orgy Dome* at Burning Man, my few threesomes, and having same-room sex with other couples is that the interaction between two (or more) people is unique to them. The basics are generally the same, but there is such variation and nuance in the details. What gives us pleasure and how our bodies respond to pleasure can vary widely between individuals and even within the same individual depending on who or what is giving the pleasure. It is so fucking fascinating. I’d say that 85% of my interest in seeing someone naked or watching them have sex is intellectual curiosity and 15% is erotic (with some probable variation depending on the individuals and situation, set and setting matters).

Now, do I offer advice to them if their struggling? I’m willing to but that hasn’t really come up before with couples. I have had lots of individuals privately message me asking for advice on a wide range of sex and relationship issues, everything from how to open a relationship up to pregnancy/STI risk, to how to communicate kinks with a partner. But I haven’t had a complete partnership share their views and ask for my perspective, I would love it that happened though.

One of the few “dream jobs” I have is to be a sex therapist, particularly one that focuses on LGBT, sexually open, polyamorous, and kinky relationships. A driving force behind me trying to pay off my student loans is so that I can investigate that as an actual reality instead of it just being a dream. I guess my “dreamy McDreamy job” is actually being a sex and relationship therapist that uses MDMA to assist people, and who knows, maybe with the help of MAPS that could be a possibility in the relatively near future.

Anyway, as for being knowledgeable about pleasuring people, I would say I’m fairly knowledgeable but that comes with a pretty big caveat. I’ve read more than my fair share of books on sexuality and sex, and I’ve had my fair share of sexual partners (and, more importantly, sexual partners who wanted more than a one-night stand), but every body and mind is different. Certain oral techniques may work for one person but be uncomfortable for others, some people need certain aftercare while others don’t. I can certainly give some general advice for things that seem to work consistently for me, but sometimes there is trial and error involved and a shit ton of communication. Really, communication and experimentation is the key, even experimenting with things that are not particularly appealing in your mind can open you up to experiences that become favorites.

At least that has been my experience 🙂 If you (or anyone) particularly have questions specific to your situation feel free to send me another anonymous message or email me at pjneiger@gmail.com. I certainly will not post a blog post that discusses details if you’d rather that remain private.

Feedback (Part 10)

 This post is a response to anonymous questions and comments I receive via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) or from private messages. I love responding to these, so if there is something on your mind, good or bad, please send me a message. No subject is off limits and here is a link to previous questions or comments I’ve received and responded to, and I plan on responding to each one, regardless of the subject matter.

How do you reconcile (if at all) your personal moral beliefs with the way you view other people who don’t share those beliefs? I’m specifically referring to moral rules that when broken don’t directly harm other people, if you subscribe to any of those. Have ethical differences gotten in the way of personal relationships?

Hmm, I used to have a larger problem with this than I currently do. When I lived in Washington DC and was entrenched in the “liberty movement” I was trapped in an “us vs. them” mentality. Everyone who saw the world differently, had a different ethical code, acted differently than I thought I would in those circumstances became an enemy to be defeated. Even those who were my political allies were seen as immoral if they focused on politics instead of education, national level instead of local level, economics instead of social. I had entrenched my politics into my view of right and wrong, and I was worse off for it.

At some point, I came to realize that almost* all moral codes are very similar and come back to the principles of Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other, and party on!” We want to have a good life and be treated well. We want a good life for those we love and for them to be treated well. Peace, love, acceptance, comfort, understanding… these are almost universally pursued. The real conflict doesn’t come from having different ethical foundations but from the appropriate applications of those principles. I think, at our foundation, we all have much more in common than differences.

I do get frustrated when people seem to act in conflict with their own code or seem to hold contradictory positions. The first subject to come to mind for me is how we treat animals in our society. If you ask most people whether they think dog-fighting is immoral they would say yes, but many of these same people will then eat bacon regularly. When you break down the two issues you find that they are very similar. They both involve raising animals in terrible conditions and eventual death for the sole purpose of human pleasure and profit, the only difference is the pleasure comes through the mouth for one and through the eyes for another. Both pleasures, the joy of seeing a fight and the joy of eating food, meet in the brain and release similar chemicals. For all intents and purposes, I see them as basically the same thing. Pigs and dogs have similar cognitive abilities and bacon is in no way a dietary necessity. To find dogfighting immoral and call for the imprisonment of those who participate in it but to find no problem with the consumption of pigs and believe pig farmers should remain free is a contradictory position. Additionally, I think there is potentially a classist/racist element in anti-animal fighting laws because they tend to target a non-White, lower socio-economic class population.

That’s just one example though about finding contradictory beliefs frustration. A similar argument could be made for people who want drugs illegal but are okay with alcohol, are pro-life but anti-contraceptive, etc. So, how do I reconcile being friends with people like this? I don’t, and I don’t think I need to. My mind is the only thing I should be concerned with and my own consistency is all that I worry about (which is part of the reason I set up this anonymous submission system, so people can call me on my bullshit). When I have friends who hold positions that

When I have friends who hold positions that contridict my own application of ethics then I can either get rid of them or try to point out their inconsistencies or ignore it. I generally choose one of the latter two. The only time I can think of ethical differences getting in the way of personal relationships is when I’ve lost some old army buddies because of my anarchist views and the struggles with my family when I came out as non-monogamous, sexually fluid, and atheist. I certainly miss my old army buddies and wish we could have found a common ground, but that didn’t happen. Things with my family are much better now.

In the end, I try to head the insight attributed to Abraham Lincoln in “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. When Mrs. Lincoln spoke harshly of the Confederacy, President Lincoln replied, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” It is easy to put ourselves on the moral high ground and believe that we wouldn’t act as others do, but that simply isn’t true. If we lived their lives, read the books they’ve read, experienced the loss they have, grew up in an environment they did, had the genetic code they did, then we would likely be just like them. We should have sympathy and understanding for all people, and try to change hearts and minds with love and discussion.

PS: I just realized that I didn’t fully answer part of the question. I do have some moral rules for myself that directly harm other people, but I fail at them all the time. I believe that I have a moral duty to myself to maintain my health, exercise, eat well, live life to the fullest, live minimally, experience new things,  and take risks. I also feel a sort of duty to minimize the environmental harm I do and spread as much joy and pleasure to other people as I can, as well as a duty to be openly and authentically myself in order to help other people. I’m not sure if any of these are a moral duty in a strict sense, but I am driven to do them.

*Admittadly, there are some moral codes that don’t believe in peace, love, freedom, etc. In my experience, those codes tend to be based on a specific interpretation of religious texts that elevate the members of the religion to a monopoly on truth and what is good, and the executor of those who disagree. Luckily, most people don’t really fall into that category.

Thank you so much for this question, it really got my mind moving. If you have a question or comment please feel free to reach out (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH)

Feedback (Part 9)

This post is a response to anonymous questions and comments I receive via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) or from private messages. I love responding to these, so if there is something on your mind, good or bad, please send me a message. No subject is off limits and here is a link to previous questions or comments I’ve received and responded to, and I plan on responding to every single one I receive (unless I somehow become a super famous advice columnist on accident).

1. Hi! I read your most recent blog post where you mention keeping a checklist. I have difficulty getting almost anything done and tend to leave things for the last minute. I’ve tried dozens of times to start a checklist system such as yours, but it never seems to work. Even when I check off every box on my list, I don’t get much/any satisfaction or pride from the completion. This makes it very difficult to develop good habits. Do you have any recommendations for different systems, or know how to develop happiness from accomplishment?

It is a little ironic that this question came to me when it did because I’m coming off of a pretty bad non-productive relapse. Since Thursday my productivity has fallen pretty sharply and I fell back into bad habits like eating junk, drinking too much, slacking on my exercise, not meditating or reading or writing, etc. Basically, my checklist system failed me and I failed my checklist system.

I don’t know in particular how to develop more happiness from checklists and accomplishments, but I wonder if there is a biological reason for you lacking this motivation (clearly I’m not a doctor, I’m just spitballing here). Accomplishing things releases dopamine into our brains, which feels good and encourages us to keep accomplishing things. It could be possible that you have a dietary deficiency of L-DOPA, which is the precursor to dopamine. L-DOPA is synthesized from two amino acids (phenylalanine and tyrosine) which are found in nearly every protein. I don’t know what your diet or health is like, but it seems plausible that your body isn’t getting enough of those amino acids or they aren’t being synthesized properly for some reason.

Okay, onto my non-medical thoughts… is there anything in your life that does trigger that reward pleasure system? Would it be possible to reward yourself more directly when you check everything off your list with a warm bath, a nice craft beer, a piece of chocolate, or some time playing video games? Maybe if you reward yourself directly it will increase the strength of the neuro paths that connect accomplishing something and dopamine release to the point where you don’t need the reward. I’m pretty sure it was in “The Art of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin that a similar technique was used to increase productivity and reduce stress before important meetings or competitions.

As for other systems, I just started reading “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and I’m thinking about directly implementing the approach he sets out. The basic premise is to figure out what one task you should focus on to maximize your productivity. This technique feels like the opposite of what I do with my checklist of 35 daily goals and inputs that I monitor, but given my recent relapse, it might be time to change things up and try a new system. I have found that a few of the things that I try to do regularly have become strong habits… my daily stoic readings, morning runs, and taking my nootropic supplements all come really naturally to me right now, but some of my habits like practicing Spanish, meditating, and writing daily I still struggle with. Though, now that I think about it, the month when I wrote my book I was pretty singularly focused on that. The only thing I demanded that I accomplish each day was sitting down and writing a few chapters. When that was my priority I knocked it out pretty quickly and each day became a little easier.

Oh, additionally, I’ve heard the book “The Power of Habit” is really good. It is sitting on my shelf but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll report back when I finally do.

I feel like this wasn’t really much help. Sorry 🙁

2. Where you at on the topic of incest?

Ahh, incest. One of those uncomfortable topics where people tend to get really emotional about because of the disgust they feel (zoophilia is another similar topic). I guess my thoughts on incest come from three different directions: personal, ethical, and legal. Note: I am assuming all parties are consenting adults. If that isn’t the case then my views change, but that isn’t necessarily because of incest but because someone involved can’t consent.

The first two ways are pretty simple. Personally, it doesn’t appeal to me. I have no sexual attraction to any direct relatives. I will admit that one of my first feelings of sexual curiosity was towards a non-biological cousin of mine when I was young (maybe six or seven?). She was visiting my family and getting dressed for a wedding or something and I snuck outside to try and peek into the bedroom window while she changed. I don’t think this was really an incestuous thing, it was more my first opportunity to see a girl naked that I didn’t live with. I was curious.

Anyway, incest isn’t something that appeals to me, but I think it appeals to more people than they’d like to admit. Porn sites are filled with “incest adjacent” scenes with stepsiblings hooking up or stepparents hooking up with their stepchildren. This seems like a cover for people who are turned on by the incest taboo. I don’t know exactly how popular this style of porn is, but a quick search of the winners of the sex stories categoria at watchersweb.com finds that all but four winners of the “true sex story” since 2016 mentioned a family member in the title (two moms, two aunts, one brother, one step sister, two sisters, two sister-in-laws, one step-daughter, one step brother). So, while people may say they are disgusted by incest there is sort of a revealed preference that says otherwise because these stories are both being written and voted on to the point where people earn money for writing them.

As for my ethical views, I see nothing wrong with it ethically as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. It doesn’t harm anyone.

Legally, I don’t think it should be illegal. Filling our prisons with people who have consensual sex is a waste of resources and it is not going to deter people from the actions. We have no control over our sexual desires or who we are attracted to and to criminalize thoughts or sexual behavior will only push the behavior underground, making things worse.

Second, I know people will say that maybe it should be legal as long as children aren’t created. This view is problematic. The likelihood of serious birth defects because one generation of siblings have a child is incredibly low, but even if it wasn’t low I think it is problematic to restrict people’s rights based on genetic probability. Should we do this for every couple who wants a child? If certain diseases have a high genetic component should we stop people from breeding if they are carriers? I think one of the largest misuse of the justice system is using it to punish people for potential harm instead of actual harm. You see this in the war on drugs a lot, we put people in prison for using a drug because we think that there is a possibility that they will harm someone, not because that individual actually has. Both liberals and conservatives support this type of legislative power, though the subjects differ… some say we shouldn’t be able to have guns because we might hurt someone and others say we shouldn’t be able to have drugs because we might hurt someone. It is a pre-crime philosophy of laws that I find pretty terrifying and one of the core reasons that our system is so jacked up.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on incest. If you’re interested, check out the Wikipedia page about the Westermarck effect which is a theory about reverse sexual imprinting that prevents sexual attraction to people we live with during key developmental years. It is well documented that people tend to be attracted to others who look similar and the Westermarck effect seems to be an evolved trait to minimize incest.

That’s it for today if you have a question or comment for me feel free to fill out the SurveyMonkey form and I’ll get to it soon.

Feedback (Part 8)

This post is a response to anonymous questions and comments I receive via SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I love responding to these, so if there is something on your mind, good or bad, please send me a message. No subject is off limits and here is a link to previous questions or comments I’ve received and responded to, and I plan on responding to every single one I receive (unless I somehow become a super famous advice columnest on accident).

Hi Peter, we met years ago in DC in KAP (Koch Associate Program) and I regret we did not become better friends because you never fail to be interesting and thought provoking, and I enjoy interesting and thought provoking. What I wonder is this — why are you so open about your life? I hate for this to sound like a judgmental question, it is just so far from my own personality that I admit to being baffled and curious. Thanks!

Hi stranger!

Thanks for reaching out. First off, I am torn on whether I wish we would have become better friends in KAP. During that time I was kind of douchie and very sex-obsessed and really fighting with my PTSD. Much of my interactions were based on trying to get laid, but I would like to think I’ve matured a bit since then (though some might disagree) and my views have evolved a bit as well. Hopefully, though, you and I can become better friends now.

So, on to your question. Why am I so open about my life?

Hmm, in some ways I’ve always been this way. Growing up I was pretty outspoken about controversial things. Unfortunately, the things that were controversial were my shitty views about homosexuality. I was the type of person who would gather for prayer around a flagpole (which isn’t bad in and of itself) and tell gay people that they were sinners or take cigarettes out of people’s mouths because they were unhealthy. I was a self-righteous dickhole who thought my theological beliefs were the final word on what was good, and that anything I did because of those beliefs was justified. I kind of sucked.

Things changed a bit when I got out of the military. I found myself uncomfortable with American Christianity and conservatism, and I also came to be comfortable with my own sexuality. I believe that much of my angry self-righteousness and internal conflict (that manifested itself in many unhealthy ways) came from essentially living a lie. I had to pretend to believe and be a certain person around family and friends because that is what they wanted or expected. I basically felt like I had to sacrifice my own mental health because if I let the truth be known it would break my families heart or they would worry about me going to hell.

That internal struggle, living in the dark, had to end at some point and (very luckily) it ended with me being open and honest instead of ending my own life. I realize not everyone has this type of public/private conflict, but facing that conflict is part of why I am so open today. I know that there is a difference between living a life true to who you are and standing on a hill with a flag advertising to strangers on the internet who you are, and I definitely fall into the latter category. Well, as I became more open to myself and family and friends (which was far from a smooth process and I lost friends and family during it)

Well, as I became more open to myself and family and friends (which was far from a smooth process and I lost friends and family during it) I started having people who I didn’t know that well contact me. Even when I was more subdued online I still shared controversial articles about polyamory, spirituality, anarchy, drug use, etc. fairly safely by claiming I found the subject “interesting”, and sharing those articles became a stepping stone to expressing my views about them. Sharing those articles became a way for like-minded people to feel safe asking me questions and it was a way for me to help people around the globe (that sounds cocky… I don’t mean it that way).

I guess that is really the reason why I am open with my life at this point because there are some people who can’t be open but need to feel like they are not alone. Like Dan Savage says, the best thing you can do to help other people is to step out of the closet. I have received countless messages from people I knew in high school, the military, college, DC, LA, and basically strangers thanking me because they felt same-sex attraction too and didn’t know what to make of it, or they use drugs or battle PTSD or want to be childless or are no longer religious. I believe that when I live out loud, when I let my freak flag fly, it is the healthiest way for me to live and it is a way to provide support for other people. I don’t know if I would call it a “duty” to others, but I know it is a duty to myself.

I hope that answered the question, but if not, please shoot me another message and I’ll try to do better. 🙂

Feedback (Part 7)

Alright, this is the last group of questions left in my SurveyMonkey inbox. I have had a wonderful time answering these questions. They have really helped me get back in the swing of writing and forced me to analyze my own views more deeply. I am keeping the survey open indefinitely, so if you have a question or comment for me about any issue please feel free to submit it anonymously at www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHHThank you again to everyone who submitted something and I hope to answer some more stuff soon.

1. Is there any sexual activity between consenting adults that you would never be open to trying?

Hmm, I would have to say no, but only because the word “never” is absolute. I am just not sure enough about my own desires and future to say that there is anything that is an absolute no for me. There are certainly some things that are unlikely at this point, but I can’t guarantee that there isn’t a person or circumstance that exists that would create a desire to do something I’m currently uncomfortable with. Also, what we are interested in changes with time. When I was younger I was all about porn based on babysitters and other scenarios based on a power imbalance, but as I grew older my tastes and desires changed as I became a feminist and more comfortable with my own sexuality.

For me, my willingness to engage in a sexual activity can roughly be quantified using a 0-5 ranking based on two categories: Mental and History

Mental is how interested I am in the activity. A “5” is an activity that is very mentally erotic to me and is likely a regular part of the movie theater of my mind during masturbation and sex. A “0” is something that is actively repulsive to me when I think about it.

History is how much I have enjoyed that activity in the past. A “5” means I really had a good time last time I did it and  “0” means it was a really bad experience. A bad experience doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t do something in the future, but I might enter into it with a bit more caution.

It kind of looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, in order for something to be completely off the table I need to be both mentally opposed to it and have a history of it being a bad experience. I’m willing to try anything at least once because our minds are kind of terrible at telling us how much we will actually like or dislike something. We mentally work in extremes and make unknowns seem super terrifying or super awesome when the reality is much more moderate.

When you finally have that awesome threesome that you dreamed of it ends up disappointing a bit because the people involved are humans with human bodies. It becomes awkward or funny or uncomfortable. There is queefing and giggling and difficulty getting condoms on and slipping off the bed. You see body hair and sweat and there are odors. Life isn’t a porn set.

Similarly, when you find out your partner has a crush on someone you imagine them to be a greek deity who is better than you in every way. They have perfect bodies and teeth, they make a ton of money and speak 12 languages, they are better at oral sex and have perfectly shaped genitalia. When you meet the person you find out they have “flaws” and insecurities and make mistakes because they are human too. Life isn’t a romantic comedy. Only in our minds are other people supernatural.

I realize that the author may have wanted something more specific and sex-act oriented, so here we go:

Red (will probably say no to if asked): anything involving feces or vomit
Yellow (will start but may want to stop): Basically anything new
Green (will say yes to enthusiastically): Standard vanilla stuff, group sex, erotic massages, tying up or blindfolding, watching porn, voyeurism and exhibitionism, sex outdoors

 

2. What is the least socially acceptable activity that you’ve engaged in?

Hmm, I don’t really know because I don’t have a good idea about what’s socially acceptable. My sex life also hasn’t been that extreme. I’d guess that having sex in the orgy dome surrounded by dozens of other couples is high on the “least socially acceptable” list. Also, my comfort with anal and prostate stimulation is probably a bit taboo. Are threesomes socially acceptable? I really don’t know… but those are the ones that come to mind.

 

3. Is there anything you thought you would not enjoy but did enjoy when you actually tried it?

I was very reluctant to get into any kind of BDSM, particularly as a Dom or Masochist, but I’ve actually really enjoyed those roles a bit. I haven’t explored it too much but it is something I’d like to do more. I think I have been afraid of exercising power, particularly over someone I care about, but I am realizing that it can be incredibly pleasurable for everyone involved within the proper scenarios. Tying someone up, blindfolding them, spanking them, and exercising a degree of control over their pleasure, pain, orgasms, and body can be erotic to me, and I no longer feel like I should be ashamed of that.

Feedback (Part 6)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH).

  1. I love backpacking but I hate having to save up longer than I get to use that money while exploring. How can I make money while traveling? How did you fund your bike adventure with your partner?

I am not an expert on the best ways to earn money while traveling but I can definitely share our experiences. First, though, I think bike touring (and maybe backpacking a well) can be incredibly cheap. If you’re able to end traditional bills like rent, car stuff, electricity, etc. then you can get your monthly expenses down to almost zero. While traveling you basically only need to meet the bottom layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: shelter, water, food, and electricity.

Shelter: If you don’t mind living in a tent then this can be cheap or free, even over long periods of time. Couchsurfing and WarmShowers are great websites to find free shelter for a night or three. They each have different pros and cons and different social norms associated with them, but they are valuable. Additionally, many fire stations and churches will let you set up on their land overnight if you contact them ahead of time. And, of course, you can just stealth camp. There is a ton of land that is easy to sneak onto and set up your tent for the night.

Water: Also free. Churches, schools, parks, libraries, fire stations, and even fast food restaurants often have free water available inside or hoses outside the building.

Food: If you carry your own food and avoid eating out then food can be cheap. It won’t be glamorous, but you can thrive off of peanut butter, jelly, hummus wraps, canned beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, if it doesn’t bother you, you can dumpster dive and find a ton of fine, free food around the country.

Electricity: Also free most of the time. You can plug in on the side of lots of buildings, in parks, and such.

Okay, on to your question about work. Between my partner and we have three different experiences.

My first bike tour I did not have any income or savings. I took my final paycheck at SFL and just hit the road. I utilized most of the tactics above to keep my expenses low, but I also had a few friends who helped me out when my bike broke.

On my tour with my partner, we ended up with two sources of income but started with only one. When we decided to go on the ride my partner basically told her employer that they could either keep her on part-time as a remote worker or she was going to quit. This is similar to the Tim Ferriss approach. As an employee, often the only leverage you have is threatening to quit (just like your only leverage over your parents is your presence in their life). If you aren’t willing to leave then they have all the power.

I, on the other hand, didn’t have income when we started. While my partner worked I helped take care of logistical stuff like route planning, contacting hosts, bike repairs, shopping, etc. Basically, we were able to specialize. After the first year or so my situation changed. I was given a job offer to work part-time for a firm that a friend of a friend ran. The only reason I was offered the job was because I was on the bike ride. I only needed to work part-time, which is what my employer needed at the time. Basically, by taking a risk, raising my freak flag, and living life as I desired things kind of fell into place.

Some people call this “luck”, but that’s too simplistic. I was in a situation to take advantage of an opportunity because of the decisions I made over a long period of time. I decided not to have kids, I ended a relationship with someone I loved because we weren’t long term compatible, I advertise my views on drugs/sex/etc, I gave up a secure career because I was unhappy in DC, I left a secure job in LA because I wanted to tour around the US, etc…. Luck only comes into your life if you put yourself out there and take risks.

Oh, I just remembered something else. My partner and I actually have a friend who has been traveling around the US for about a year now. She was able to find income by using WWOOF to find farming opportunities and looking for temporary gigs in the cities she stopped in. In fact, she found a job with a traveling circus while in Wilmington and made it a full-time gig and she is currently traveling around the US with them and having a blast.

 

2. I was hoping you could fill me in on what I need for a long distance bike ride. Like what a good bike is, the necessary equipment (I want to travel light), and any insights you might have.

Hmm, a lot depends on your budget and your overall plans. I don’t think you should let your budget stop you though. My first bike ride started on a $100 bike I bought at Target and I probably spent less than $200 on additional equipment. I bought a 1-person hiker/biker tent, a sleeping bag, a bike helmet, and the basic repair equipment. All the rest of my stuff (clothes, food, water bottles, yoga mat, etc) I already had and I just bungee corded to the bike.

That wreck only lasted about 2,000 miles and looked like this:

If you have more than $100 and want something that will probably last longer than half a country then I would recommend spending about $400-$500 on a decent hybrid bike. Any decent bike shop should be able to order you one. When my Target bike broke I bought a Trek 7.1 and used it all the way to the ocean, as a daily commuter around LA for almost two years, and then another couple thousand miles from LA to Montana. I loved this bike and I wouldn’t have upgraded if I was traveling light. In the end, all my equipment weighed about 200lbs and the Trek just wasn’t built for that.

I know you say you are traveling light, but if you decide you want to go heavy or you want a bike that will survive a nuclear apocalypse then you should get a Surly Long Haul Trucker. This is basically the golden standard of touring bikes, but it costs about $1,500 fully equipped. This is what my partner and I have now and we love it. In fact, it has probably saved us money at this point. After about 7,500 miles we have never had any major mechanical issues, just basic maintenance. The bike is a tank and a joy to ride… it isn’t fast, but it’ll get you where you’re going.

So, besides bikes what should you spend good money on? To be honest, there is only one more thing that I think is worth investing in high quality: tires. You are going to get flats, but if you can get high-quality equipment that minimizes flats then it is worth it. Every new tube costs around $7 and every flat can take ~30 minutes to repair (and time is valuable if the sun is setting and you don’t have a camping spot). I can’t recommend the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tires enough. They aren’t the cheapest tires but they will save a ton of time and money.

There are plenty of luxuries that you can get but here are the basics (and again, the cheap stuff will normally be good enough):

  • Bike
  • Upgraded
  • Spare tubes
  • Tools to change and fill tubes
  • Sleeping bag or blanket
  • Tent
  • Water bottles or camelback
  • Bike Lock
  • Bike Helmet
  • Bike lights (front and rear)
  • Bike computer to track mileage, speed, etc
  • Some way to navigate… maps or GoogleMaps on your phone
  • Extra battery system for phone (if necessary), I like the Jackery Giant

That’s about all you need. I hope you get out there and ride. Too much preparation or worry can sometimes prevent people from acting, it is better to step out into adventure unprepared than to sit at home for years waiting for the perfect moment. Perfection never arrives.

I hope that answered the questions, but if the author (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or would like me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey. Or if you have a completely unrelated question please send it my way.

Feedback (Part 5)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

 

  1. One question I have is about your relationship, I know you two are poly, but does that mean you invite others to join you, or would you two be fine with sleeping with other people individually?

We don’t really identify as “poly” because to us that means that you are interested in emotional relationships (ie love, dating, etc.) with people outside of the partnership. We are emotionally monogamous but physically open. I don’t really know what the correct phrase for that is and we identify as “monogam-ish”. We have actually discussed what we would do if one of us fell in love with someone else though.

To answer your question, we are intellectually open to the idea of sleeping with other people individually but it hasn’t happened yet. Part of the reasons that we haven’t done that yet is logistical, we have been cycling around the country for the better part of the last three years and we haven’t really done much traveling or meeting people alone. It isn’t something we are pursuing, but we are open to the idea if someone asked us. We’ve made out with people and fooled around with people without each other, but it hasn’t reached the level of sex.

The other reason we haven’t done it is because we aren’t sure how we would feel. Being intellectually open to something doesn’t mean that we will be comfortable with it in the moment and a lot will probably depend on who is asking, who they want to sleep with, and other specifics that make it impossible to come up with a “yes” or “no” to a generic request. I am much more comfortable with the idea than my partner and if she wanted to hook up with someone without me I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it. There would likely be additional barriers if someone wanted to hook up with me alone, but all barriers can be discussed and you never really know what the answer will be until you ask.

As a small aside, I find the phrase “invite others to join you” kind of interesting because we have never taken any initiative, we’ve just kind of let situations develop. I think part of the reason is our more introverted nature and even a personal confidence issue. It is also impossible to know if someone is in an open relationship or interested in you without them explicitly saying so. I was kind of this way in my dating ways too, I just assumed most people were in relationships or weren’t interested in me unless they were very explicit about it. I am terrible at telling whether I’m being flirted with and really need something like a message that says, “Hey, I think you’re cute and I’d like it if we kissed”… or maybe someone just kissing me.

Additionally, as a partnership that is pretty open about our unconventional life, I almost feel like most of the burden to initiate falls on other people because we’ve made our stance known. The general social norm is that a married person shouldn’t try to hook up with someone other than their partner, which means the best way for us to live is to raise our freak flag high and see who comes over to check it out.

 

  1. Peter, For several years now I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know you through the medium of fb. I believe we somehow originally connected through mutual friend in SFL but I’m unsure if we’ve ever met in person. Regardless, you’ve grown to be one of my favorite people! I always enjoy your writing and having discussions with you online. I’ve grown and changed a lot personally over the last couple of years and I find your viewpoints to be more and more relevant and interesting to me as my experiences broaden.

It’s an odd sensation to me to feel a close friendship with you while consciously being aware that I know you quite a bit better than you know me (since I just haven’t been as active in writing online). I would really enjoy the chance for my significant other and I to spend some time with you and Anna in the future.

I hope we have the opportunity! I like the idea for anonymous and unfiltered feedback from your social group. So much goes on in people’s heads that we don’t get to see. It’s exciting to see what they put forth, or to have the opportunity to express something (like this message) which would seem a little out of place to randomly put forth. Thanks for being so open about who you are, and I hope we continue to connect and get to know each other better in the future.

I actually responded to this person directly because they left their information, but I wanted to share it anyway. Thank you so much for your kind words and I really hope I can meet you and your significant other in person someday. I have thousands of Facebook friends whom I’ve never met in person and many of them have become a really positive influence on my life. I’d love to meet up, hug (if consented to), and forge a friendship in real life as well. I am always curious about little things that you can’t tell on Facebook like how tall people are or what their voice sounds like.

So, please come visit me in Wilmington! We have a spare bedroom in our quirky old house that exists for guests. The more the merrier 😊

 

 

I hope that answered the questions, but if the author (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or would like me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey. Or if you have a completely unrelated question please send it my way.

Feedback (Part 4)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

 

  1. I am a bicurious female in my early twenties and would like to explore polyamory more. Could you describe your journey with open relationships and how I can move past the stage of just having multiple (non exclusive) sexual partners to more so being in an open relationship with someone?

Sure, I’ll do my best 😊

My journey towards open relationships started with monogamy, as it often does. Like most people, I was raised in an environment where monogamy was kind of assumed to be the ideal for everyone. I think part of the problem we face is that “monogamy” really ties two issues together that don’t need to be together: sexual exclusivity and emotional exclusivity. When the reality is that you can be exclusive in both those areas, only one of those areas, or neither of those areas and still have very healthy, satisfying, and mature relationships.

So, I grew up thinking monogamy is the only way but shortly after my engagement broke off (I was about 23) I started to realize that maybe sexual and emotional monogamy weren’t right for me. At the time I didn’t realize polyamory was really a thing. I had heard of “swingers” and “fuck buddies” and “friends with benefits”, I understand that some people are not sexually monogamous, but the idea that you could actually love multiple people at the same time was a foreign concept. In hindsight, I think it should have been obvious, if I can love two people during different times in my life then it isn’t a stretch that I could love two people at the same time. I don’t think love is really a finite resource.

Anyway, while I was in college I realized that I didn’t want to be sexually monogamous, but I also didn’t want to be deceitful so I came up with three rules that I followed. First, always wear a condom. Second, before sex with a new partner I explicitly state that I am not looking for a relationship (this had mixed results because I had several partners who saw this as a challenge… they wanted to “fix me”). Third, never have sex with a new partner for the first time if either of us had been drinking.

Those three rules lasted through college and into my time working in DC. I can’t remember how, but somehow I stumbled upon the word polyamory and started reading up on it (I highly, highly, highly recommend “The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt and “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino). I realized that I not only could love multiple people but I had a natural inclination to do so. I actually think a lot of people do and it gets people in trouble when they must suppress this natural desire. Lots of people either push down these positive feelings or they end up cheating or divorcing their current partner when they fall in love with someone new.

So, I started exploring polyamory. I went to a couple of the polyamory meet-ups in the DC area (most major cities have one or two, sometimes they even have a “next generation” group that is only for poly people under the age of 40) and I started using OkCupid as a dating tool. OkCupid is incredibly poly friendly and there are lots of poly people on there. On OkCupid I also explicitly said that I was poly, which I think is very important. Many people hide this important aspect about themselves early on in new relationships and then it becomes a problem later. It is certainly possible for a polyamorous and an emotionally monogamous person to have a healthy, happy relationship (I am actually in one… my partner is emotionally monogamous but we are sexually  more open) but it is difficult and requires compromise and an easily accessible middle ground. But, it will be much easier if the relationship has complete transparency very early on. We live in a culture where monogamy is assumed and non-monogamous people need to be explicit. And remember, there is no “one and only”, there are lots of people out there that you can be compatible with and it isn’t wise to compromise who you are to gain relationship security… that decision often leads to regret and resentment.

I guess to answer the second half of your question I really only have three main thoughts:

  1. Be open with new partners about who you are and what your relationship and sexual orientation is. Many partners are okay with bicuriousity, but some aren’t and it would suck for you not to be able to fully explore your sexuality because you fell in love with someone who didn’t like you exploring with a certain gender. Similarly, make sure they know you are poly and you are looking to have a partner that you share experiences with and not just a bunch of non-exclusive partners. Also, if you have any kinks that are important to you then those should be disclosed at some point so that you can find out if they are comfortable either exploring those with you or letting you explore them with someone else, your sexual satisfaction is an important part of your experience on this planet and you shouldn’t be asked to sacrifice that.
  2. Try to be active in communities where polyamory is understood, respected, and more common. OkCupid is a good dating site and as someone who is bicurious you should be welcome in the LGBT community. If you have any particular interest in BDSM that is also a place that respects non-monogamy. And the Burning Man community is very open to polyamory and non-traditional relationships, you don’t need to have participated in Burning Man to go to the local events (though, I definitely recommend you go someday).
  3. Consume poly-friendly resources. The books I mentioned are good place to start, also check out Dan Savage’s podcast (The Savage Lovecast) for professional advice on a variety of sex and relationship issues, including polyamory. And there are tons of blogs out there on the subject as well that can be valuable and give a great perspective to things.

 

I hope that answered your question, but if you (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or want me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey.

Feedback (Part 3)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

  1. What are your top three pet peeve things people say to you? (I want to know how to not piss you off)

To be honest, this was actually a really difficult question for me and I never really came up with three things that people say to me. Being late is a pet peeve of mine, but I usually am more annoyed when I’m late than when other people are late.

It does frustrate me when people give me unsolicited advice publicly, particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. When people comment on an Instagram photo or a news article with advice for me it feels disingenuous, instead of trying to help me it feels like they are just trying to brag about their knowledge. I also feel like people are that I’m stupid or something when they do this (I admit that my perception is my own fault, but isn’t that what all pet peeves are? A reflection of our own issues?). I’d much rather someone contact me privately with a bit of humbleness instead of slinging advice around that I didn’t ask for.

I also really hate when people don’t give each other a little respect during discussions or debates. It seems all too often that people assume their opponents are dumb or naïve or haven’t thought their position through. Both sides of every argument spend all their time attacking what they perceive their opponents to believe instead of actually listening to what someone believes. I’ve come to believe that most people are doing the best they can, that I would probably see the world the way they do if I had a similar life experience as them, and every issue is incredibly complex.

I know it is easier to say, “Abortion is murder!” than to say, “I believe abortion is a complex issue. Not only do we need to determine when a fetus gains human rights, but we need to determine if those rights take precedence over the rights of the mother. Each situation is likely very different and nuanced and we should treat this issue with love and compassion.” (All sides of the political spectrum do this, we dehumanize and simplify our opponents while pretending we have the moral and intellectually superior position)

So… that didn’t really answer your question ☹

  1. When having a sexual experience with more than one person, what’s been the most awkward situation? What’s been the most fun situation?

Hmm, I’m not sure if this is asking for specific stories or just generalizations. I’ll answer both I guess.

Awkward: My first threesome was pretty awkward. Actually, “terrible” would be a better word than “awkward”, but there was certainly some awkwardness involved. It was with a college friend of mine and a woman he knew. We all knew that the threesome was going to happen, which was kind of rare (see below). It started out just fine, but throughout the whole thing my friend (who was a guy) was being very vocal in kind of an awkward way. He kept saying, “Yeah! Fuck my best friend!!” and similar stuff. It was kind of uncomfortable for me to hear that type of verbalization, especially since I wasn’t his best friend. We were buddies, but it really wasn’t a close friendship. Then, at one point I was having sex with her doggy style while she was going down on him and she threw up on him. She cleaned up and we kept going (probably a mistake), then when she was going down on me and having sex with him she shit all over him. At that point, I exited the situation and spent a good part of the night hiding under blankets on the couch re-evaluating my views on sex. I almost became monogamous that night.

As far as general awkwardness goes, I think the lead up to the event is the most awkward part. It would be nice if we lived in a society where you could say, “Hey, you two are attractive, do you want to fool around?” and nobody would get offended or anything by the question or the answer. But, we don’t live in a society like that. We kind of dance around asking for anything sexual, especially if it doesn’t fall into a very narrow definition of what is acceptable. The world is filled with missed orgasms and experiences. because sex is such a taboo subject. (Related: I would much, much, much rather someone ask my partner and I if they want to hook up than not ask us out of a concern that we will think they are freaks or something. There are many reasons why we might say no, but there are many reasons why we would say yes too. There is literally nothing sexual involving consenting adults that you could ask us that would be offensive or make us think less of you.)

Fun: Figuring out a specific fun situation is a little bit difficult. I’ve had a few experiences that stand out but ranking them is difficult. I guess I would say a threesome at a festival would be classified as the most fun. It was just a grand time of people exploring each other’s bodies, laughing, and learning from each other. That actually kind of sums up the parts about having more partners that is the most fun, you get to get lost in the moment and introducing new people brings about surprises. It is so easy to become sexually efficient with our partners, we know how to use our hands, mouths, and other body parts to bring the most pleasure is the quickest time. That is awesome, but it can also lead to ruts. Familiarity leads to boredom.

When you bring in new people they have moves and tools and preferences that they default to that may not be something you have thought about before. I think that is why I really love having new sexual experiences, it isn’t about being horny, it is about my insatiable curiosity. Seeing new areolas, tasting new genitals, spanking new asses, watching others bang is just a lot of fun. Sex doesn’t need to be taken any more seriously than that. Some of the most fun I’ve had didn’t even involve me touching people other than my partner, just being in the same room with your friends while they are enjoying each other is a blast. I think same-room sex with others is something more people should explore and can really cement friendships. Hell, at this point I don’t even need to be super attracted to someone to be curious about those things and have a desire to experience the unique desires and techniques that they bring to the bedroom. Sometimes sexual stimulation isn’t about sex, it is about exploration, friendship, and living in the moment.

3. Did you enjoy working for SFL (Students For Liberty) or did it get on your nerves a lot?

I loved working for SFL and I would probably still work for them today (or maybe somewhere similar in the liberty movement) if they weren’t based out of Washington DC. I loved SFL, I hated DC. I don’t know if I would feel the same way about SFL now though. This is going to make me sound old and bitter but, back in my day SFL only had three staff members and we were crammed in a tiny office in the Cato Annex. We hosted about 10 conferences a year and the CC class was only 28 people. We slept in airports and on dorm floors, we couldn’t afford staff computers, and our pay was low… but there was a purity of mission about it. We worked our butts off and reached to the left and the right to forge alliances. It was difficult and exhausting, but we didn’t worry about donors or money or get into squabbles about stupid shit. We focused on getting resources to the students, and that was about it. I don’t know if SFL has changed much since I left in 2012, to be honest I kind of stopped paying attention after I received hateful emails from “friends” when I voiced some of my concerns to the Executive Board. I realized that if they are unwilling to even have a conversation then it was time for me to move on. I look fondly at my time at SFL, but it is part of my past and I don’t see that changing.

That’s it for today, if you have a question or comment, please fill out this form 🙂