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Lifting the lid on sex between men

Photo by Jared Brashier on Unsplash

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Sex and relationships matters can be uncomfortable topics for many men. I can really relate to this myself, when I was younger and first learning about sex I would faint at the sex education films that were shown in my health class. I was that kid that couldn’t even look at pictures of anatomy without feeling nervous and sick to my stomach. I would have become a psychiatrist, but the idea of having to dissect a cadaver in medicine school was out of the question for me. I chose to become a psychologist and sexologist instead, it’s far less messy.

Flash forward several decades later and you can find me in my office in Kings Cross discussing which lubes are the best, sexual dysfunctions, kinks, mental health issues, and helping my clients reach their potential. There are often moments when I honestly can’t believe I ended up being so comfortable speaking about topics that many never even dream of speaking of in polite company. My own life is a testimony that anyone can become more comfortable with uncomfortable topics. If you find sex uncomfortable, struggle with relationships, suffer from body-image issues, lack confidence, have mental health questions or are just curious about how to reach your potential, this column is for you. Reading the advice in my column will help you feel happier, calmer, more confident, improve your dating and sex life, lose weight, end addictions, save money and time.

Recently Mainly Male asked me to spill the T on what I thought about a recent survey on sex they conducted. So here goes, 47% of respondents reported that they were having sex at least once a week. Some people will wonder if this seems high. In my opinion, no it does not. I work with many men who struggle with sex addiction or Chemsex addiction and they sometimes have upwards of 3 to 4 partners or more in an evening. Sex once a week is average for most of the men and women that I work with.

“…upwards of 3 to 4 partners or more in an evening.”
Eleven percent of respondents reported that they don’t have sex. I am a little surprised at this number, the number of men that I work with that do not have sex is much higher than 11%. I would say that half of my clients struggle with relationship or sexual issues that make having sex and relationships almost an impossibility.

The survey found that 31% of respondents reported that when they are having sex the thing that they like the most is receiving anal penetration. Many of the men I see each week will claim that there are no tops left in the entire country. It seems that everyone they meet is a bottom. I find this hard to believe, I know many tops that never bottom. I think that the men that can’t seem to find a top are looking in the wrong place. Do not fear, there is no shortage to tops in the world, you just have to have some luck!

“Do not fear, there is no shortage to tops in the world, you just have to have some luck!”
I have discovered many interesting facts about human sexual behaviour as a result of my job. The one that I find the most interesting is how varied sex is for human beings. The expression “different strokes for different folks” comes to mind. In fact, Mainly Male’s survey found that 26% reported that they liked mutual masturbation the most!

Sexual confidence is difficult for many men. Perhaps this is why only 11% of respondents reported that when they are having sex the thing that they feel most confident doing is giving anal sex. Maybe more men would benefit from understanding what causes a lack of sexual confidence and learning techniques on how to overcome it.

The reported discrepancy between the number of respondents who really like receiving anal sex (31%) compared to the number of respondents who feel confident receiving anal sex (19%) may seem surprising, but it is not. Men could feel more confident having sex if they had more realistic expectations regarding anal sex. Too many men think that they need to douche or that they don’t need lube, just some spit, that they should be able to fit a fist up their ass without any difficulty or that anal sex should always feel good and they should always want it. I blame one source for these myths, porn. For the past 14 years, the conversations I have had about sex have changed dramatically. Not surprisingly, when a new fad comes into porn my clients start to think they need to be doing the same. Years ago, I spoke about bareback sex, then it was spitting, and now I speak a lot about fisting. We forget how much marketing effects how we feel about our sex lives and how we go about having sex. Ultimately, we need to feel comfortable with the choices we make for ourselves. This starts with reflecting upon what our values are and questioning ourselves about the choices we make to ensure that our decisions reflect these values. Confidence in the bedroom usually follows suit when we have a realistic expectation of sex, our bodies, and have a sex partner that we feel confident around.

When Mainly Male took a look at what gay men like to explore when they’re having sex, some of the things that scored highest were Role Plays (41%), Threesomes (58%), and Group Sex (39%). What do these results suggest about the sex lives of gay men? It says that they are adventurous and usually up for trying new things!

I am a specialist in Chemsex Addiction, I literally wrote the book on the topic. In my book I estimated the number of Chemsex addicted men in London area is in the tens of thousands. Mainly Male found that only 9% reported using Chems. This result does not surprise me. The sample size, demographic and other variables would affect the results of this survey. We can’t say that the results in this survey are a representation of the general gay population or all the readers of Mainly Male. These results are just a reflection of the attitudes and preferences of those who took the survey. When it comes to Chemsex, there tends to be a lot of shame around the use of the drugs and sexual behaviour. I am not surprised that more men did not report using them, perhaps they are conflicted about possibly having an issue or the fact they are risking their lives with drugs that kill men daily?

Mainly Male asked in the survey about the length of their reader’s relationships. 45% reported being in a relationships for longer than five years. This did not come as a surprise to me, I am pretty hard to shock at this point in my career. I want to know, how many of these men in these LTR are happy more days than not?

There has been an increasingly rise in the popularity of open-relationships and poly relationships over the past several years. Mainly Male, found that of those gay men that are in a relationship, open relationships (32%) seemed to be slightly more common than monogamous relationships (29%). I have been interviewed several times about increasingly popular relationship styles.

There seems to be a large interest in what other people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Perhaps we are all insecure and wanting to know if we are normal? Gay men have always been more open to exploring things that the main population has seen as being taboo. Pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable is one of the ways in which our community has defined itself. I would include having open-relationships as just one of the examples of how we set ourselves apart from the heterosexual community. Both open and closed relationships can be healthy or unhealthy. The key is to find the right fit for you and your partner, and this can be hard to do.

“Both open and closed relationships can be healthy or unhealthy.”
Some respondents reported that they are monogamous but that together they will sometimes play with others. I define monogamy in two different ways, emotional monogamy and physical monogamy, the two do not always go together. However, what matters most is that those in the relationship have an agreed opinion about what the boundaries are. Don’t worry about what other people say you should about your relationship, it’s your relationship after all.

Finally, I think we can say that the results of this survey show us that the sex lives of gay men are diverse and are probably going to always be that way.

Make good choices.

Read the full results of the Mainly Male sex survey

Visit Justin’s website www.justinduwe.com to learn more about his services or follow him on his professional facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Justin-Duwe-Psychotherapy-and-Counselling-167278863324591/. If you have any questions that you would like Justin to answer or topics that you want him to write about email him at: [email protected] (Please note that the identity of those asking any questions will always be kept confidential).

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Health

Sunday Surgery

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Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Are we living in a post-HIV world?
In recent years we’ve seen a seismic shift in the effectiveness of treatment for HIV, as well as the emergence of PrEP — medication that prevents you from acquiring HIV.

This combination of factors has contributed towards a dramatic change in the attitude of gay men towards HIV, health, and sex.

It’s been difficult for public health policy to keep up, but it’s also difficult for older gay men like me to get our heads around the changing landscape of sex.

Official reports indicate that AIDS has killed over 35 million people worldwide. It’s estimated that around the world there are currently over 37 million people living with HIV.

In June of 1981, when the beginnings of the HIV pandemic were first being identified, I was approaching my ninth birthday. Lucky I guess, too young to be impacted by the first devastating waves of the virus that killed so many young gay men.

As I was beginning to discover sex, the public health messages very strongly articulated that sex without a condom equalled death.

It’s a bit hard to describe how that constant fear of infection and death shapes your view and experience of sex. I guess I’ve got no way of knowing what things would have been like without that — I like to think that it might have been something like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

I survived. I was careful. I was lucky.

It wasn’t until I saw the 2003 documentary The Gift that I became aware of the fetishisation of HIV, and a growing movement of men who embraced the risk and health consequences of fucking without condoms, of letting guys cum in you, the thrill of raw, or ‘bareback’ sex between men. It was an uninhibited hedonism best captured by the porn of Paul Morris and Treasure Island Media.

It’s easy to judge and disapprove of risk-taking behaviour, but there was something incredibly compelling about this type of no-holds-barred sex — no fear, no care for consequences.

The improvements in medication and the emergence of PrEP have now made bareback sex the norm. Not only in porn — where it’s now highly unusual to see anyone using a condom — but also in everyday life.

Health professionals sensibly remind us that condoms are still worth wearing as they protect us from a whole range of sexually transmitted infections, not just HIV, but the reality is that for many men sex is better when you don’t have to wear a condom.

For me, it’s a bit of a mind-trip that testing positive for HIV is no longer a death-sentence, that you can have sex without a condom and not worry if one of you might have the virus. That you can have no-holds-barred sex, with no fear, and no care for consequences.

It’s fantastic that today’s young gay guys, who are just beginning to discover and explore sex, don’t have to worry about HIV. Obviously they need to learn about it, they need to have access to PrEP, and they need to understand the full gamut of sexual health, but it’s just part of life.

Let’s not forget our history, let’s not forget the people we’ve lost, but let’s be thankful that young guys today are growing up in a world that’s something a bit like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

We may now be living in a post-HIV world.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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