The Difference Between Polyamory, Swinging, Monogamy and Cheating – A Primer for You and Your Kids

I think it’s important to talk to your kids about different types of relationship structures because it is a nearly impossible and ridiculous idea to expect human beings to mate for life. We are just not wired that way. If we were our divorce/breakup rate would be nominal; people would nearly always have crazy and totally satisfying sex lives with their one partner; and the only person we’d be turned on by would be our life-long mate.

Gone are the days (well, they were never really here, actually) of monogamy being the one and only way to be in relationship. Ever since time began, people have had all kinds of arrangements and agreements within their relationships and for many different reasons – health, time, sexual tastes, etc. I believe monogamy is primarily a social construct and not a natural inclination.
hands together
If handled correctly, relationships that are non-monogamous have rules spelled out and are fully agreed to by both parties. Here are some different relationship structures for you to chat about with your kids.

Monogamy: Two people, fully committed to each other as primary partners in life and in bed. The agreement is that they have sex and a relationship only with each other and no one else.

Monogamish: Two people fully committed to each other as primary partners in life and with an agreement that each (or sometimes just one) partner may occasionally have sex with other people, but not a dating or boyfriend/girlfriend type relationship.

Swinging: Two people fully committed to each other as primary partners in life and with an agreement they both can have sex with other people on occasion. Usually the partners connect with other “swingers” at events or online or in other ways. Sometimes they swap partners. This is often something they do together and is about sex.

Polyamory: Two people fully committed to each other as primary partners in life who also have concurrent committed relationships with another person or people. This is different from swinging or being monogamish because the primary partners are allowed to have full committed relationships (not just sex) with their other partner or partners.

Cheating: Two people fully committed to each other in life and in bed and one (or both) partners have sex or relationships with other people without permission or agreement from their primary partner. The relationships are hidden. No agreement = cheating.

Your kids may ask you what kind of relationship you are in. The safest thing (and easiest) is to tell your kids you are 100% committed to your partner. Most kids don’t want to hear about their parents sex lives, so if you swing or are monogamish, they don’t need to know and they don’t want to know.

If you are polyamorous, they do need to know – but please don’t ask me what to say, because I’m bound to offend someone. Talk to your poly pals and find out how they handle it.

Full disclosure, since I am certain you are wondering, I am in a happy, long term monogamous relationship and so far (25 years in) it’s working pretty well for us. I, personally, find that one relationship is pretty much all I can handle. The thought of adding another personality (on any level) to the mix scares the shit out of me. Although I would be willing to give it a whirl for John Stamos.

Finally, a big old shout out to Dan Savage  for helping thousands and thousands of people understand this super-confusing stuff – including me.

Posted in Birds and bees talks, Cheating, Dan savage, Monogamy, Parenting, Polyamory, Relationships, SavageLove, sex talks, sexual relationships, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

STFU About Child Sex Trafficking — The Real Problem Is Child Sexual Abuse

I want to be very clear about this — I believe child sex trafficking is an abhorrent crime and I am not a fan in any way shape or form. The people who use children and teens in this way are the scum of the earth.

However, every time the media gets all up in arms about child sex trafficking I go a little nuts because compared to the rate of child sexual abuse in the world, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s fear mongering. The chance of your sweet child, boy or girl, being trafficked is about the same as the chance of them being struck by lightening. One in a gazillion.

Think about it – do you know anyone, personally, who’s been struck by lightening? I happen to know one person. How many people do you know who’ve been sexually abused? No one? Ha. That’s a load of crap. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who were sexually abused as children because, comparatively, it happens ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

Here are the details and some numbers for you:

Sexual abuse knows no boundaries.

Every child is vulnerable. Race, ethnicity, class, family income, family structure, do impact a child’s likelihood of abuse, but don’t be fooled into thinking “not my kid.” I like to think of it as an equal opportunity horror.

About 1 in 10 children will be physically sexually abused by their 20th birthday. This does not include non-contact sexual abuse such as viewing porn and phone/internet contact. Because this number only based on contact abuse, and since 80% of sexual abuse is unreported, I think it’s safe to assume the numbers are higher, more like 1 in 5.

Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) are on children 17 and younger. This bears repeating: 70%.

Only 10% of kids are abused by a stranger. And for a child, once they have met you, you are no longer a “stranger.” 90% are abused by someone they know and trust.

Child sex trafficking knows many boundaries.

The FBI has rescued a mere 2700 children from “the life” since 2003. That’s it. It’s terrible that the number is so small, but the reality is this is a very hard crime to fight.

There are 300,000 to 400,000 thousand youth at risk for sex trafficking. According to the 2012 US Census, there are 41,844,000 youth age 10-19 in the US. Do the math. It’s highly likely your child is not one of these kids.

According to, Sex trafficked children are vulnerable and usually have a history of:

Sexual abuse (Bing Bing Bing!!!!) About 80% of minors involved in sex trafficking were sexually abused. Abuse begets abuse.
Neglect in their home
Drug use
Being in the juvenile “justice” system
Being in foster care
Often they are runaways, homeless, young or an LGBT teen.

Since I have a pretty good idea of the demographics of my readers, the only truly relevant factor for your child could be a history of sexual abuse. Neglect or poverty could also impact the chance your child could be sex trafficked.

I would put sex trafficking at the bottom of the list in terms of things to worry about when it comes to your child’s health and safety. Child sexual abuse is the problem that needs to be endlessly focused on — not child sex trafficking. If we work to stop the first, the second will be reduced.

Learn more about how to protect your child from the real danger of sexual abuse at or

And if you’d like to learn more about my kick-ass approach to reducing child sexual abuse, please join me for my webinar on Monday, February 23 @ 9PM PST. It’s recorded, so you can register and watch the recording later if the time isn’t good for you.

Register here:


Posted in Abuse prevention, Child sex trafficing, Child sexual abuse, how to talk to kids about sex, Parenting, parenting advice, Scripts, Sex trafficking, Sexual abuse, Sexual abuse prevention, Stranger Danger | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VD Talk for VD – Talk To Your Kids About Sexually Transmitted Infections On Valentines Day

Remember Venereal Diseases? VD? I happen to think the other VD – Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to talk to your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STI) as they are now called.
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Here’s a simple script to get you started:

Did you know that people can pass germs from one person to another when they have sex? It’s kind of like when someone gets the flu or a cold, but it’s in their privates. This is called a sexually transmitted infection or STI.  When you get older and are thinking about having sex with someone it’s really important that you always use a condom. Other than not having sex at all, this is the best way to prevent STIs.

If you haven’t told your kids about sex for pleasure, you’ll want to tackle that first. Then talk about VD. I mean STIs.

Happy VD!

Posted in Birds and bees, HIV, how to talk to kids about sex, Parenting, Sexually Transimitted Infection, STD | Tagged , , , , , ,

How To Talk To Children About 50 Shades Of Grey

Whether you loved the books or hated them (or are pretending to hate them, but really loved them) 50 Shades of Grey has become unavoidable. My spouse cannot stop talking about the 50 Shades teddy bear to the point that I am a bit concerned it will make it’s way into my Valentines Day. 50 Shades Teddy

And, a teddy bear? Good lord, I can’t quite hold these two things in my head – a toy that’s usually for children…with S & M accoutrements.

NPR has been running ads for this and I keep imagining all you poor parents fielding excited questions from your kids such as, “A 50 Shades teddy? I want one! Can I have one? Is it gay or gray?”

If you have been under a rock for the past several years, 50 Shades Of Grey is the tall tale of a young virginal woman who falls under the sway of a handsome, super-wealthy, BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) loving guy named Christian Grey. Horribly written and super-duper sexy, the movie is coming out on Feb. 13.

Here’s what to say if they ask about it, broken down by age group and assuming your kids know what sex is (and if they don’t, they should know by 5, so get on it).

Four to Seven: It’s a movie for adults about a young woman who falls in love with a man who is really different from her. People are really excited about because they loved the book it’s based on.

Eight to Ten: It’s a movie for adults about a young woman who falls in love with a man who is really different from her. The book was really popular because it has a lot of romantic and very, very adult sex stuff in it. Lots of people like to read these kinds of books because it makes them feel good.

Eleven and up: It’s a movie for adults about a young woman who falls in love with a man who is really different from her. He’s very wealthy; she’s not. He’s very experienced sexually; she’s not. The book was really popular because it has a lot of romantic and very, very adult sex stuff in it. Lots of people like to read these kinds of books because it makes them feel good.

Part of the characters’ sex life includes something called S & M. Have you ever heard of that? Sometimes people like to tie each other up or hurt each other when they have sex. I know this sounds pretty weird to you, but you are old enough to know people agree to do all kinds of things together when they have sex. This isn’t something you ever have to do and both people agree to have sex this way.

We had Wifey by Judy Blume to sneak off our parents bookshelf and have our minds blown by; our children will have 50 Shades of Grey to sneak off our bookshelves and have their minds totally exploded by. This book is explicit – and good, sexy fun, if you can stand the terrible writing, the sexist BS that goes down and what some see as rape-y behavior.

And it will give them a really good sense of what S & M is all about, so you won’t have too. :-)

Posted in Age appropriate, Parenting, parenting advice, S and M, Scripts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography

Originally posted on Rants In My Pants: The Birds + Bees + Kids "Blog":

– Your child WILL see internet porn.
– 90% of boys who sexually offend are involved in porn in some way
– Boys say they learn more about sex from porn than from their parents
– Would you have looked at internet porn when you were a kid?
– If they have a phone make sure they understand sexting is illegal.
Talk about sexual matters regularly.

You should expect your child will be exposed to internet pornography by age 11. This isn’t the porn of our childhoods – Playboy Magazine or Hustler. It’s an entirely different experience that can be damaging to our children’s perspective of healthy sexuality.

This means you need to talk to them by the time they are 10, so they are prepared to deal with this.

You can tell young kids sometimes people look at pictures of naked people on the internet and that it’s called…

View original 259 more words

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Why Your 10 Year Old Has A Boner And Why It’s Perfectly Normal

Think back for a moment. Remember when you were a young adolescent and had crushes, urges, surges and strong feelings of desire? What did you think when this was going on? Did you even know what was going on? Understanding how their bodies work can go a long way to helping tweens and teens navigate their relationships. Ivory phallus Even those relationships that are mostly in their heads. You probably recall how fun and titillating these crush relationships were. They were also confusing.And let’s not even get started on those early romances – yikes! So many emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings are experienced that it can be really overwhelming to navigate. What’s a parent to do, given all of this? One place to start is to explain to your kids, sooner, rather than later, that they will someday, most likely, experience a feeling in their body that is called “desire” or “sexual desire.” And can start as young as ten – hence the boner. Girls get them too, they are just teeny-tiny. It feels like a strong wave or urge and it can feel good! And overwhelming, and maybe even confusing. Let your kids know that this is normal and it’s happening because the hormones in their body are doing their work of getting them ready for adulthood and sex. The next step is to provide them with some ideas of things they can do, other than actually have sex, to help them manage these feelings. You can suggest things like exercise, writing in a journal, or masturbating. If they are in a relationship, make sure they understand that it’s harder to say no when they are hot and heavy in the moment. They’ll need to think about how they can slow things down or get out of the moment if they aren’t ready for sex just yet. Talking about sexual desire is just one place to start. This can be a stepping off point to discussing pressure, respect, responsibility and dating rules.

Posted in Birds and bees, how to talk to kids about sex, Parenting, parenting advice, Puberty | Tagged , , , , ,

Masturbation: It’s Key To Your Daughter’s Sexual Health (And Future Orgasms)

I am an avid Savage Love Podcast listener and I have learned so much about humans and sexuality from his callers and his excellent, spot-on advice. I was listening to Episode 428 and a 20-something married woman called in because she can’t have an orgasm when she has vaginal sex with her husband. wonder-woman

She said that sometimes he tries to get her off with his hand and mouth, but it’s only worked a couple of times. It has become a “thing” and now and they can’t talk about it. She’s frustrated and he’s being a kind of a dick about it when it does come up. Dan’s response was great – you can listen to it for yourself – he suggests getting a vibrator into the mix and a couple of other things.

This call got me thinking. First of all, everyone on the planet needs to know only a small percentage of women have orgasms from vaginal intercourse. We usually need clitoral stimulation to get off. The vag isn’t an orgasm machine – that’s the one and only job of the clitoris! Three cheers for the clitoris, your personal orgasm machine!

This notion of “hands free” orgasm is kind of a myth. A myth that makes sex considerably more complicated and frustrating than it needs to be. I think everyone who’s ever had P in V sex knows this – but we press on, many of us, thinking it will magically happen. Sometimes it does, but more frequently, it doesn’t.

What if every girl was encouraged to learn about her own body and her very own orgasm machine? What if every girl was empowered to masturbate so she could enjoy one of the best feelings in the world whenever she wanted to? What if every girl knew that the easiest way to get off is to touch herself – and here’s the clincher – even when she’s with another person who has their tally-wacker in her hoo-ha?

I think girls should know that it’s a-okay and a turn-on to touch themselves when they are with their partner. And they should also know that if their partner has a problem with this, their partner is an asshole and isn’t worth a minute more of their time and energy.




Posted in Birds and bees, Dan savage, Girls, how to talk to kids about sex, Masturbation, Parenting, parenting advice, sex talks, Talking to kids about sex, Teenagers, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,