Answerland: Hanne Blank Answers Your Sex and Relationship Questions!

Hanne Blank

Welcome to Answerland, the place where Chubstr answers your burning questions about…well, anything. Over the last few weeks, we asked you to send in your sex and relationship questions for Big Big Love author Hanne Blank to answer. You certainly didn’t disappoint, and we compiled the best questions for Hanne to answer. If you haven’t picked up her book yet, you can get it at Amazon now

Anonymous asked: I’m a male in my mid-thirties and I’m finding that my erections seem weaker than they did a few years ago. I’ve gained a lot of weight over the last few years – could that be what’s causing my problem?

Hanne Says: The answer is maybe.

Many men find that the qualities of their erections change as they  age.  It’s not uncommon for men in their 30s-40s to notice that their erections aren’t as hard as they were in their teens and 20s.  (It’s also not uncommon for other aspects of erections to change over the years: older men may find they can last longer than they could when they were younger.  It’s not all bad!)  This happens regardless of weight or fatness.  So this may be what’s going on for you, or it may be part of what’s going on for you.

Beyond this point is where it gets complicated.  Erections depend on blood circulation and blood circulation depends on a lot of things.

Fat or thin, your level of physical activity can affect your circulation and how effective your circulatory system can be.  People who are very sedentary are more likely to have circulatory problems than people who are moderately active.  If you are very sedentary normally, it might be worth experimenting with some light to moderate physical activity daily for a month or two and seeing whether that changes the picture for you at all.  I don’t mean you have to go run a 10K every morning before breakfast or anything, I’m talking about something along the lines of taking a walk for 45 minutes once a day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, and all that kind of stuff that the people who write the “exercise more for better health” articles are always trying to tell you to do.  Yes, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes, but when it helps, it helps a lot, and it’s something you can DIY, which if you ask me beats the hell out of most alternatives.

Some fat folks also experience a decrease in circulation efficiency that is related to their fatness.  Not everyone does.  But this may be an issue.  When this is the case, increasing physical activity often helps, as can addressing other issues like stress, salt consumption, getting enough sleep, and eating enough high quality, high-nutrition food that includes lots of delicious plant matter.

Doctors will often recommend weight loss as a treatment for general circulatory unwellness.  My own take on this is that there is actually not a lot of proof that it’s the weight loss itself that creates the positive change… and there is a lot to suggest that it might be all the other stuff that people do in order to lose weight, like exercising more and eating more vegetables and so forth, that is actually at work.

So what I tell people who are dealing with this sort of issue is that for my money, a change in weight may help… IF that’s something that happens organically as a result of increasing physical activity, decreasing stress, and so on.  In general I don’t recommend that people go on weight loss diets because they tend to be unsustainable at best and can sometimes be physically and psychologically harmful. What I do recommend is that people take care of their bodies and let their bodies take care of the weight.

NOTE: this does NOT mean that you will magically become thin.  What it DOES mean is that there’s a good chance that your weight will stabilize somewhere that your body is comfortable having it.  (You’ll also get stronger and fitter and healthier and have a stronger immune system and improve your circulation and regulate your blood pressure better and have more mitochondria in your cells and all kindsa other stuff worth having.)

Or there could be something else organically wrong.   Improving your overall health and circulatory function won’t do you any harm, it’s just that there are some things it isn’t going to fix.   So if you’re doing all the right things in terms of taking care of your body and still having issues with erectile stuff, or if your erection issues get worse instead of staying stable or improving, please do see a doctor.   There may be some undiagnosed cardiovascular stuff going on that can be treated.  There may also be metabolic shenanigans behind it, or possibly neurological issues, and knowing what you’re dealing with will help you deal with it a whole lot better.

My best guess, though, based simply on the fact that it’s incredibly commonplace, is that what you’re dealing with is the good old middle-aged American male combo platter of not being 22 anymore plus not running around like a 22-year-old any more.  Spidey Sense says that you can probably DIY your way to a better boner experience here without too much trouble.  Good luck.

Anonymous asked: My girlfriend and I are both larger people and it’s always been difficult for me to bring her to orgasm. She assures me it’s not me and I know we’re both satisfied with our sex life otherwise, but I worry that this is a very important missing piece. Is this a problem because we are both big? Are there tips or tricks or positions we can try that might help ensure we’re both satisfied?

Hanne Says: Dear Anonymous,

This is why God gave you hands and a tongue.

And, for that matter, a brain, and vocal cords, and the ability to talk with your partner about what’s working and what’s not.

Fatness does not change how genitals function from a sensory perspective, so I can reassure you that no, your girl isn’t failing to come because you’re both fat.

Lots of women, on the other hand, have a hard time having orgasms. Weight isn’t the reason, though.  Getting into the right headspace and getting enough of the right kinds of physical stimulation is.

Let’s talk about the physical stimulation part first.  Contrary to popular belief, vaginas don’t actually have a lot of nerve endings. For this reason, penetrative sex alone doesn’t create orgasms for very many women: it just doesn’t provide a whole lot of stimulation.

The clitoris, on the other hand, has no other purpose but to have lots and lots and lots of nerve endings.  This is why clitoral stimulation is the magic trick that creates orgasm for the vast majority of women.

Some clitorises can take a lot of intense stimulation, others can’t. Some people like to have their clitorises touched directly, some like to have the area around the clitoris touched.  Some people have strong preferences for clit stimulation from fingers (with lube, without lube, with gloves, without gloves… there are lots of options here), or from tongues, or from vibrators.  Other women like more than one of those things, or all of them.  Or it can depend on the situation.

Some people like clitoral stimulation while their vaginas — or butts, or mouths — are being penetrated.  Other people would really prefer to have penetration happen separately.  Sometimes this means that you and your partner aren’t both going to get off during the same sex act. That’s not a big deal if you can just learn to roll with it.  Again, some women’s preferences in this department are a lot stronger than others.  And again, these preferences can change.

This is where the talking and the communication come in.  Sex does not just “come naturally,” no matter what anybody says.  People are different and bodies are different and good sex is not one-size-fits-all.  Experimenting and asking your partner what she likes and doesn’t like is the only way you’re going to find out what feels good to her.

If your partner masturbates, she may be able to give you some pointers about how she likes to be touched and what kinds of stimulation tend to help her get to an orgasm.  If your partner doesn’t masturbate, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if she gave that a try.  For some women, having orgasms is a skill that they have to intentionally learn  and masturbating is a great way to do that because when you masturbate, you don’t have to try to tell anyone else what to do (or not do), you just do it yourself.

Masturbation experiences are also a good way to find out what kind of psychological place you need to be in if you’re going to have orgasms. Different people have different needs in this regard too.

Also, sometimes there’s other psychological stuff going on that can get in the way of having orgasms.  People who were taught to feel a lot of shame about sex as children, for instance, can find it hard to let go of that shame when they are adults.

People who were sexually abused, molested, or raped may have to do a lot of heavy psychological lifting — which might include psychotherapy — in order to get to a place where they can experience consensual sex as positive and exciting.  Similarly, sometimes fat people have experienced so much shaming and other cruelty about being fat that they also need to do a lot of psychological processing (again, perhaps including therapy) before they can experience their bodies as things that are a source of pleasure and joy.

It should be clear by now that there is a lot that might be going on here, any or all of which may be contributing to this problem of getting to orgasm, and very little of which has anything to do with the actual physical fact of fatness.

Talk to your girlfriend.  Listen to your girlfriend.  Experiment with your girlfriend.  Gently and calmly and lovingly, I suspect the two of
you can figure out ways to increase the numbers of orgasms in her life and simultaneously increase the amount of connection in your relationship, no matter what your size or hers.  Good luck to you both.

Erich asked: Suppose you find yourself being one of the countless appreciators of larger bodies, what is the most respectful way to go about finding people of size? How do you express interest without being creepy or making it about a particular body type?

Hanne Says: Today is your lucky day, Erich, because in a nutshell, the answer to your question is to just act normally.  Fat people are everywhere. (In the office!  At the laundromat!  At the library!  Walking down the sidewalk!)  This makes meeting people of size a fairly common, dare I say, daily happenstance. Now, mind you, you don’t necessarily know whether any given fat person you happen to encounter is single, or interested, or cool with being desired by the likes of you.  But you’d be in the same situation with anyone else you met, so really, that shouldn’t be a big deal.

If it IS a big deal for you, there are always online personals.  They also have their pain-in-the-ass factor, to be sure, but at least you have a pretty good indicator that the person on the other end of an exchange is at least available and interested in exploring the possibilities.  There are plenty of fat-related personals sites – search on “online personals” plus “bear” or “BBW” or “BHM” or “chub” or whatever is your target demographic — or you can simply opt for using an all inclusive site like OK Cupid where you can set your search preferences for bigger body types.

As for how to talk to and deal with the objects of your interest without coming off as a creep, I strongly suggest simply treating fat folks like normal people.  They are, after all, normal people.  They just happen to be fat normal people.

I know, I know, easier said than done when you have a hard-on the size of the national deficit and can’t quite string three words together without stammering. I’m afraid, though, that those kinds of reactions are all about YOU, and your reaction to being around someone to whom you feel a strong attraction, and not actually dependent on what that other person looks like.  In other words, this again is not an issue that really differs depending on the size of the person you’re attracted to: people who are attracted to thinner folks have the same problem.  The solution is the same, too.    Take a deep breath and talk to that person like a person, to chat to them like you were trying to make  a new friend — which I hope you are.

(Yes.  Even if what you’re thinking about is a straight-up booty call. A few minutes of small talk is your chance to gather intelligence before you decide whether or not to turn to the object of your lust and say, in the well-known words of the venerable bard Ice-T, “Let’s get butt naked and fuck!”)

You may, at some point, find that you need to specify your attraction to a partner (or potential partner) who is having a hard time figuring out whether you are sexually interested.  A lot of fat folks grow up being told that no one is going to find them attractive or sexually interesting, and that’s certainly a message that gets constantly repeated in the media.  As a result one occasionally has to whack a hot fattie over the head with the old clue-by-four to get ’em to realize that the look you have been giving them is The Look That Says Yum, and not the look that says “you have spinach in your teeth.”

There’s no need to wax rhapsodic about the sensual delights of their belly rolls — unless you’ve already ascertained that this is likely to get a good reception, that kind of focused attention on a specific body part is something that might seem creepy or fetishistic.  Good old all-purpose phrases like “You’re really sexy” or “I’m super attracted to you” work just fine.  If you get lucky, there’ll be plenty of time to lavish praise and sexy nibbles all over the sweetly rounded bits you like best later on.

That covers it! Thanks so much to Hanne Blank for taking on these questions. You can follow Hanne, find all of her books, and read her blog at www.hanneblank.com. If you’re more social media inclined, follow her at facebook or on twitter at @hanneblank

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