Couples from Cyberspace

No, it’s not the title for an upcoming sci-fi spoof but rather an interesting, non-fiction trend that could easily spell doom for singles’ bars around the country:  The number of people hooking up through online coupling platforms is shooting up dramatically.  With the ever-increasing pace of technological advance, the trend itself probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the rapid snowballing does seem to suggest a significant cultural shift when it comes to relationships and intimacy.  Are the likes of Match, eHarmony and AdultFriendFinder about to surpass the more old-school methods for finding happily ever after?

The basic numbers look like this:  A report released on January 1st by the online trending service, Statistic Brain, claims that over 41 million Americans have tried some form of online dating service as of the end of 2013, almost doubling the approximately 25 million reported to have used such sites in 2011.  The report also puts the current annual revenue of online dating services at just over $1.2 billion (though other industry analysts have put it closer to $2 billion with 4-5% annual growth forecasted through 2015) and claims that the current average length of courtships-to-marriages for those meeting online is just over 18 months, compared to 42 months for couples who met offline.  Interestingly, the gender split for online dating site users is fairly even (52% male/48% female).

The sharp up-spike could be explained by any number of factors ranging from tech-convenience to economic conditions during the past few years to outright laziness in some cases, but it’s certainly not a trend without pitfalls.  Although most online dating sites boast fairly extensive screening processes as a core part of their services, the nature of connecting by the web is still such that there’s plenty of room for, um, shall we say, misrepresentation.  Yeah, okay, fine:  Lying.  The report states that both genders are inclined to lie about age, with men also lying most about height while women lie most about weight.  Perhaps it’s not the best strategy in the world to begin a potential relationship with a “maybe they won’t notice” approach, but people are indeed funny animals.

In any event, as with most collisions between personal intimacy and technological enablement, it will probably be a while before this all sorts itself out–or morphs further into something even more likely to sound like a sci-fi spoof today.  The question is:  What do you think it will be?

Let’s Talk About Fetishes

(1/13/14)  During our coverage of sexuality trends in 2013, we touched on the generally positive direction toward more open and candid dialogue in several of our articles.   While that’s certainly encouraging as far as trends go, it made us wonder about particular areas that might be lagging and could benefit from some attention.  The broad topic of fetishes appears to fit that bin, so let’s give them a little love.

Here’s the thing about fetishes:  The subject often tends to hinge on notions of “normal” v. “abnormal” and that’s problematic in and of itself.  When snap-judgments of “good” or “bad” are attached at the outset, more critical and pertinent elements become buried and any resulting conversation is likely to be unproductive.  Once it’s fruitless–or even worse, if it opens a person up to attack or shame–it presents a disincentive to future discussion and causes the person to feel as though they need to hide from an impending label, ridicule or outright rejection.  No one should be made to feel that way and there are much better ways to handle the fetish topic.  Considering that most people have one (or more) to varying degrees–most of which are benign–they’re really not all that unusual.  It’s the specific interest of any given person that makes it somewhat unique, but when you think about it, that’s not really all that different than any other aspect of attraction and compatibility.  The willingness of the people involved to keep an open mind and focus on ways to succeed rather than to judge will determine whether communication is possible or not.

Beginning by establishing common ground along the lines of, “If it’s not harming anyone, then let’s not automatically pin the “bad” ticket on,” is a viable strategy to get the ball rolling.  Here’s an abstract example:  You might thoroughly enjoy strawberry yogurt on your fries.  If no one else does, but you’re not forcing yogurt-soaked fries down anyone’s throat, then why should you be made to feel bad about your preference?  Plan on enjoying your fries in peace and let the universe unfold as it will, we say.  Twice.  Now, if your fast-food partner is genuinely squicked at the premise, then perhaps there’s a potential compatibility issue to be resolved, but that doesn’t make your preference harmful or any less valid.  Discussing it rationally, respectfully and without judgment is the ticket to moving the ball forward.  In actuality, the more that a “matter-of-fact” tone can be established in the conversation, the more “normalized” (for lack of a better word) the process will be.  In other words, it’s not a defect so don’t treat it like one.

The bottom line:  It may take significant courage to bring up a fetish-oriented conversation with a partner, but that’s the only way they’ll have an opportunity to develop understanding.  Handled properly and confidently, it can actually become a bonding experience that leads to all kinds of other benefits and brings partners even closer together.

Besides, it might just turn out that they like strawberry yogurt on their fries too.

Sex Tech Across America: Can We Still Connect?

SAAgraphic11182013(11/18/13)  With just about every advance in technology, a creative application towards sexuality occurs.  No sooner did the electric light bulb catch on that powered vibrators began hitting the market (yes, yes, for “muscle aches” and such.  Sure.)  No sooner did the plate camera debut that porn was born.  No sooner did the BetaMax arrive that everyone could suddenly star in their very own skin flick.  No sooner did a PC appear on desks everywhere that cybersex in all of its forms become all the rage–well, at least until the next big thing (pardon the pun) came along.

For a civilization that historically seems so hung up on sex, we sure do have a long track record of creatively–and successfully–tweaking geekdom in pursuit of orgasms.

In any event, repurposing technology for sexual gratification is just part of the game and there’s no reason to think that it’ll be slowing down anytime soon.  If anything, it’s probably about to gain speed exponentially.  We’re not quite to the realm of the “Orgasmatron” fictionally foreseen in the 1970s, but we’re pretty close with medical devices designed to read and manipulate brainwaves and nervous system functions.  While such items may have been originally conceived to treat things like head traumas and spinal cord mishaps, you can bet that there’s a little pervy R&D type tucked away in a dark corner somewhere musing, “Hmm…wonder what else we can use this gizmo for?”  How long do you think it’ll take for someone to figure out that there’s millions more to be made simply by slapping on some slick marketing?  Case in point:  The medication, sildenafil citrate, was specifically developed to treat conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  Ah, but guess what else they figured out it could do?  So, just tint the pill blue and give it a snazzy, virile-sounding name and ta-daaa:  Viagra.  It’s capitalism at its finest.

So, what lies ahead?  With advances at a fever pace, it’s not even just a matter of technocycling, but also redefining what we thought we used to know.  Simple concepts like “relationships” and “intimacy” have suddenly exploded well beyond what was once clear cut into a blurred digital realm where both can easily occur without the people involved having actually met or even touched.  No doubt, there will be a period where some (likely older generations) classify such developments as “fake” or “bad” while others (probably those brought up to employ virtual technologies as a perfectly natural part of their lives) will be more accepting of them as “real” or “good”–with all sorts of subtle shades in between.  For a time, there will continue to be debates as to whether “cyber-cheating” is a “real” act of infidelity while others will trumpet the premise that there’s nothing phony about actual sexual gratification through digital means.  No doubt many will classify one end of the spectrum as detached fantasy while others will tout actual benefits such as precluding unwanted pregnancies and STDs.  As with most things in a major state of flux, there’s no universal answer, but it is pretty clear that it’s going to continue to evolve, perhaps in ways we cannot even conceive of today.

In a world where technology has enabled greater democracy while simultaneously turbo charging capitalism, the possibilities for sex tech are literally endless.  Where do you think it will go?  What kinds of items do you think will appear on the horizon within the next 50 years?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sex Across America’s Recommended Reading List

SAAgraphic11042013(11/4/13)  It’s almost that time of year.  The holidays are a’comin and while we’d love to recommend a shiny new toy or two as a stocking stuffer from Fallen Angel’s new toy boutique (hint, nudge, wink, kiss), we feel that as sex-positive educators and activists, it’s equally important to promote knowledge and literacy.  Besides, bookworms are sexy too, right? Accordingly, we’ve scoured our own library for titles that mean something special to us and asked for additional suggestions from some of the nation’s most respected sexologists, therapists and counselors.  The result:  The highly concentrated list below that we hope has at least something useful for everyone.

We would like to note that some of these suggestions are classics which may be hard to find or are no longer in print.  As such–and to provide third-party reviews for your consideration as well–we’ve linked each title to its product page at, which may have a limited amount of used editions for certain books that may interest you.  Additionally, some of these suggestions may be available in electronic form.

General Sexuality/Relationships: 

The New Male Sexuality by Bernie Zilbergeld

My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex by Nina Hartley with I.S. Levine

She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner

How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Dr. Patricia Love and Steven Stosney

The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans

Loving and Lasting: How to Stay Tuned In and Turned On in Your Marriage by Ande Lyons and Michelle Preast

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex by Dr. David Reuben

The Goddess Orgasm by Eve Marx

Partners in Passion by Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson (available to the general public in early 2014)

How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do by Candida Royale


How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson and Neil Strauss

The Rape of the A*P*E* by Allan Sherman

One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History by Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach

The Government Vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam & Eve by Philip D. Harvey

Leatherfolk by Mark Thompson

The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

Inside Seka by Seka with Jim Norton and Kerry Zukus

Plays Well in Groups by Dr. Katherine Frank

Alternative Sexuality/Kink Oriented:

SM 101 by Jay Wiseman

Screw the Roses, Give Me the Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon

The Loving Dominant by Dr. John Warren (out of print, but copies still available on Amazon in short supply)

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy

The ABCs of BDSM by Dama deNoche

The Gospel of Kink by Dr. Richard Wagner


Ultimate Sex by Miranda Forbes

The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice (A.N. Roquelaure)

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg

X: The Erotic Treasury by Susie Bright

If you have comments about any of these recommendations or specific suggestions of your own to share with our readers, please leave a reply to this posting.  Your thoughts about this–and all of our topics–are not only important to us, but potentially beneficial to other readers as well, so sound off and join the conversation.

As we move into this year’s holiday season, all of us at want to take a moment to thank everyone who’s supported our efforts and promoted us within their own social and professional circles.  We hope you’re enjoying our direct, if somewhat off-beat-on-occasion coverage of various sex trends around the country and look forward to hearing suggestions regarding topics you would like to see covered in the future.  Just shoot us a quick email and we’ll be sure to get it on our upcoming schedule.