The Naked Advice

Model & Writer Liz LaPoint answers your questions about dating, sex, and relationships

Adam wrote:  “I’ve been nude modeling for art classes, which I’m comfortable with as there’s no photos, just drawing and painting. Quite often at the end of a class a female artist has asked for private one on one sessions, so they can be more in control of the poses I do and the angle they get, compared to jostling for the best view in a busy class. 

In the one to one sessions I’m finding a recurring pattern of the female artists politely asking for an ‘erection pose’ as they would otherwise never get to draw them, as they’re not expected in group classes. They tell me it’s completely normal and every male model does this for female artists, but it can become sexual when trying to maintain an erection while posing still for 30+ minutes and they come over to get it stiff again! I’m wondering if you know how normal this is, or if you can tell whether this is a sexual rather than purely artistic thing for the female artists? I don’t know any other male models well enough to ask, and the artists are saying it’s normal but I’m not convinced – as they mostly know each other I wonder if they are quietly saying to each other to all tell me it’s normal! Or maybe that’s me being a naive conspiracy theorist?”

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Liz says: While I’ve never posed privately for any female artists, I am almost 100% certain your experiences are not the norm.

When I first posed for my husband (who wasn’t my husband or even a love interest at the time) he was perfectly professional. He never touched me, instead giving light direction. I recall he even mentioned that in the industry, it’s a big no-no for photographers to touch the models. Any costume changes or pose changes are done by the model only (or also by stylists/etc on a big-budget fashion shoot). When I posed for a sculptor years ago, he also never touched me. As a matter of fact, he tried to downplay any sensuality I was emitting, choosing to highlight a different mood in his sketch of me.

Which brings me to another reason it’s not typical for artists to touch the models, let alone to achieve and maintain erections: most of the art community favors non-sexual nudity in art. There is certainly a place for sexual nudity in art (and that is still respected art), but in those cases where sexual nudity is the goal then the artist will usually ensure the model fully understands and agrees to the arrangement beforehand.

Whether or not it’s the norm within the industry is beside the point here, though. If it makes you uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter how common it is. In my opinion, they are crossing a line behaving unprofessionally with you, so if it does make you uncomfortable (they’re being manipulative by lying to you, after all) then don’t pose for them anymore. But if you enjoy it or are indifferent to it, then there’s really no problem (as long as you’re an adult!) Simply speak up next time if you don’t like it, and ask more questions before the session even begins so you understand what will be expected of you.

***Bronze Sculpture by Adolf Frick

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“Bryan” and “Cassidy” were engaged to be married already when I met Cassidy at work. We became good friends over a mutual love for the nightlife. We were in our 20s and still had the energy to hit the clubs on Sunset Boulevard after working a long shift. She opened up to me about her relationship to Bryan while driving to our destinations.

“I know he loves me but I found out that he never deleted his profile on Plenty of Fish. We had a HUGE fight about it so I’m a little pissed off still.”

This is what the bulk of her complaints were about: trust. I watched as she devolved into a paranoid shell of a woman as she struggled to maintain self-esteem in the face of frequent disrespect from the man who had proposed marriage. I struggled trying not to blast it from the rooftops that she should leave him. Most often, people need to figure these things out on their own.

My boyfriend and I had dinner with Cassidy and Bryan once. They wanted to meet up for sushi but we weren’t sushi fans so we compromised by dining at a restaurant that served other Asian fare, too. Let me tell you, after one meeting with Bryan I never wanted to be in a room with him again.

“That’s RIDICULOUS…how does anyone know how many there are if they haven’t been caught yet?” Bryan scoffed rhetorically, after I mentioned the fact that there are more serial killers active in the U.S. than people realize. Great dinner conversation, I know, but they had asked me what I studying and I engaged them in a discussion about forensic psychology.

Stunned at first by his blunt rudeness, I continued by attempting to explain how the experts ascertain such knowledge while he slurped down his sashimi. I say “attempt” because he cut me off mid-sentence to loudly challenge me. “What are the official STATS, what would you say is the percentage of serial killers?”

Let’s just say he was one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever had the displeasure of talking to. He was aggressively rude and smarmy, and my boyfriend and I left that dinner concluding not only that Cassidy should leave him, but that ALL women should steer clear of him.

Thankfully, Cassidy finally had enough and she broke off the engagement some months later. They fought almost every day over his need to argue with her over every little thing and his gaslighting her whenever she discovered his deceitful behavior.

Bryan was a toxic human being (quite possibly a sociopath) and toxic people create toxic relationships and toxic home environments.

Here are some of the main signs to look out for:

1) Toxic People Leave You Feeling Emotionally Exhausted. Their need to argue, belittle, manipulate, condescend, and always feel like the smartest person in the room will leave you spent. Healthy people usually leave us feeling appreciated and good about ourselves. If you notice more often than not that your significant other (or anyone, for this matter) makes you feel worse after being in their company, they’re probably a Toxic Person.

2) They Use Anger To Manipulate. After lashing out at you verbally whenever they’re questioned, challenged, or not obeyed, you might start tiptoeing around them to avoid being yelled at. The next thing you know, you notice you’ve stopped questioning them or challenging them even in important cases where they absolutely should be questioned and challenged. This is abuse, and should never be tolerated.

3) They Use Charm and Humor To Manipulate. Here’s a telltale difference between someone who is charismatic and funny in a healthy way and someone who is using charm and humor to manipulate: are they trying to sell you something or talk you into something? Are they trying to sway your opinion? Is it something you notice they tend to “turn on” when they want something from someone? Think of charm this way: charm is something someone *does* in order to get their way. Most psychopaths are described as “charming”, so there you go.

4) You Have To Hide Your True Opinions and Feelings In Order To Maintain a Relationship With Them. All abusive people are toxic, but not all toxic people are abusive. This is one that can go either way. Are you hiding your true thoughts because they are likely to get angry with you? That’s an abusive person. But are you hiding your true opinions and feelings because you know how different their beliefs and values are from yours, and those differences are so many that if you voiced them as often as they came up you two would be debating or bickering more than enjoying each other? This is an example of when a person isn’t necessarily toxic, but being in a relationship with them is. It’s not healthy to maintain friendships or romantic relationships with anyone you have so little with in common.  If you notice you’re constantly holding your tongue just to keep the peace, get out.

And don’t ever feel guilty for distancing yourself from anyone toxic. It’s not your job to fix them, they need to fix themselves. Your mental and emotional health comes first!

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Hey movie lovers (and really, who isn’t?), my husband Terry and I have a new podcast show! Tune in to hear us discuss subjects like “Movies We Shouldn’t Have Watched As Kids” and “Christmas Movies That Aren’t Christmas Movies”. Each episode is unscripted so you won’t hear a professor’s lecture, you’ll hear a happily “cinemarried” couple sharing their opinions and some trivia.

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Tune in wherever you prefer downloading your podcasts, you can find us everywhere including iTunes and Spotify, or visit our website Happily Cinemarried 

Thank you!

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PS: And if you enjoy our show, please consider giving us a 5 Star Review on iTunes and becoming a patron on our Patreon

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Sam wrote:I had a question that’s been bugging me a lot lately. I know that people can be in whatever relationship they want and all that.

But monogamy has always been important for me. The problem is that I keep hearing people say things about how hard monogamy is and how you can’t expect a partner to want you that much or whatever. But I’ve found a lot of freedom in knowing that whatever happens, my partner is focused on me in that area of our lives. It also used to give me a feeling of safety and self confidence. Like I’ve been sick and don’t feel as much pressure because I can’t have sex, or I know that if my partner did anything behind my back they would have just broken up with me so the fact that they’re still there is proof that everything is okay.

Last year that changed a lot because I was in a relationship with someone who slowly started to push back on how I felt and even our relationships boundaries. This eventually reached the point of them gaslighting me about our relationship and trying to get me to let them sleep with other people. Now I’m always a little on edge because I know that even someone who says “I love you,” and I was communicating really well with was still abusive and really tried to make me feel bad for wanting an exclusive relationship. And I feel really stressed out when I heard people drag monogamy so much and feel like any relationship I’m in, my partner will just start to push against our boundaries. Especially since I can have issues with sex and confirmed related to trauma. The worst thing would be cheating obviously, but even thinking about that makes me really stressed out.

How do you think I can build a sense of safety inside a relationship or when I’m single, and how should I go about making clear how important monogamy is to me and how freeing and even sexy I find it? And how can I stop feeling bad or like I’m naive for wanting a monogamous relationship? I know relationships end and that’s okay, but while it’s going I want it to be free of little digs or power imbalances or endless pressure to perform.

Liz says: Ignore everyone else. Who cares what they believe about monogamy? Unless you are in a romantic relationship with them, their opinions don’t matter.

Monogamy is important to you, and that’s what matters. There are millions of women who also value monogamy and want what you do in a relationship. If you’re somehow getting the impression that polyamory or open relationships are the norm now, you’re mistaken. Since this concern gives you anxiety, I do wonder if there is something deeper going on with you emotionally. Perhaps finding a therapist who specializes in abandonment issues, or abusive relationships (or whatever it is you might have been traumatized by) would do you a lot of good.

Meanwhile, prioritize this concern right away with whomever you date. Not in a smothering way, but gently bring up the topic of monogamy in long-term couplings and see where the conversation goes. You can learn a lot before getting emotionally invested. Honesty and setting clear boundaries is how you can build a sense of safety inside a relationship.

 

 

My essay below was originally published on DigitalRomanceInc.com a few years ago, (to update the story, my husband Terry and I have been married 7 years now), and I’m proud to say everything I wrote here applies as much today as it did when it was first written!

When I first sat down to pen this piece, I questioned whether I have any right to write this since my hubby and I will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary this October. “Does someone who is barely out of newlywed territory get to tell the rest of us how she keeps the romance alive?”, you might ask. Maybe not, but I will anyway.

We don’t treat each other like brother and sister. Many couples become so comfortable with each other they begin to behave more like bratty siblings than mature lovers. She stops shaving her legs or wearing that sexy dress he loves, he laughs maniacally while passing gas in her face. She starts burping aloud at the dinner table, they start going Number 2 in front of each other. My husband and I care about remaining attractive to each other. Whenever the dynamic in a romantic relationship becomes more familial, as in more like parent/child or brother/sister, sex appeal and sex usually go out the window, because who wants to sleep with their mom or sibling? 

We are more supportive and positive than critical. Many people are petrified that the one they love will take them for granted, so they don’t freely give compliments because they mistakenly assume that making their mate feel secure in the relationship will lead to a big ego and cheating. They wind up sabotaging the relationship by being more critical than loving, because who wants to make love to someone so unloving? My hubby and I are quick to verbally note when the other does or says something wonderful, but we step back and think twice before being harshly critical. I tell my husband on a regular basis how thrilled I am that he exists in the world. He often tells me I am the best thing to happen to him. We build each other up, because we want to see the other happy and successful.

We don’t let others come between us. My husband is my priority, and I am his. That means, when other people show signs of expecting to come before my spouse, it’s my job to make it clear that they don’t. If someone else tries attaching themselves to one of us, it’s our job to safeguard our relationship by keeping each other prioritized and never acting in a way that dismisses the other’s feelings. 

We show each other physical affection every day. There isn’t a day that goes by without kisses and hugs, and we still have sex multiple times a week. Even when we’ve had a fight, we prioritize resolving the issue and we’re back to healing our connection. We often rub each other’s backs and feet while watching a movie. It’s one way to stay connected.

We balance time with each other and time with our son. Our 4 year-old is the light of our lives, and we truly enjoy being parents. But we discussed early on, before our son was even born, how crucial it is for parents to not let parenting and its inevitable stressors keep them from staying connected to each other as lovers. If we let our identities become lost in parenting and lose touch with what brought us together in the first place, we run the risk of weakening the ties that keep the romance alive. 

There are no guarantees in life. Being married doesn’t guarantee that one of us won’t fall out of love and find someone else, and knowing this keeps us from taking each other for granted. Romantic love is a garden and we can choose to either give it water and sunshine or neglect it, and too many couples mistake their vows for a guarantee that the garden will survive without water and sunshine. 

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Terah Harrison, LPC, hosts (along with her husband) the podcast Make More Love Not War and she recently interviewed me for an episode.

Listen here: Liz LaPoint Interview

We discuss everything from sexual fetishes to sex education in the USA. Please listen and give them a 5 Star Review!

Thank you!

Liz

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CCD wrote: “There is this girl (let’s call her Amber) that I’ve been friends with for years now and she found out that I had a foot fetish while we were in Jr. high. Ever since then for the past 6-7 years she has been really cool about it and when we would hangout and do study sessions at her house (for our high school and now college exams) she would always ask me to massage her feet to help her relax. Apparently her mom (Michele) took notice of it and about 2 years ago when I would go over and wait for Amber to get home from her last class -which normally took about an hour an a half- Michele would take off her socks and walk around barefoot and would do her nails, only toes, by me and occasionally ask me to massage her feet. Also she would often stretch her arches and wiggle her toes once she would see me looking at them. About 9 months ago Michele started flirting with me while I’m over and has started texting me. As of 4 months ago when I’m at the house Michele she would walk around while only in her lingerie, and as of last month she walks around nude when I’m there and is always offering to have sex. I also found out that Amber wants to date me. I don’t wanna ruin our friendship and make things really weird. So I guess what I’m trying to ask is should I start a relationship with either of them? By the way I’m 19 Amber is 18 and Michele is 42.”

Liz says: I’m going to give a decidedly absolute answer to your question: no. Avoid your friend’s mom from now on, which means beginning a new routine that doesn’t include waiting around for “Amber” at her home. Her mom is bad news and there are clearly some personal issues there that drive her to compete with her teen daughter. No bueno.

I find it noteworthy that you don’t include any ownership in anything that’s going down. Your language shows a detachment from participating. For example, when “Michele” starting texting you and flirting, did you flirt back? When she “offers to have sex”, how do you respond? Have you had sex with her? When she asked you to massage her feet, did you? You also don’t include how you feel about either of them. Do you want to date Amber? Are you attracted to either of them?

If you want to maintain a positive friendship (that includes foot massages) with Amber then you need to completely disengage with her mother. That means no more flirting, texting, foot massages, hanging out alone with her at the house, etc. The chances are high that things will not end well in this scenario if you don’t make these changes.

 

 

S.C wrote: “Hey Liz, hope you’re doing great. My wife and I have been married for 6 years (although we are relatively young, in our 20’s).

For the first few years, before lovemaking (we didn’t have sex before marriage ) we would “play around” a lot, foreplay, oral, etc, and she seemed to really love it and it helped her orgasm during the deed. But for the last couple of years she really hasn’t been interested, in giving or receiving. When we are in bed together, and I know we are going to be intimate, I will make motions to pleasure her and have even asked point blank if I can go down on her and she will respond with “no, let’s just do it”. I don’t know that it’s a problem, per se, I just kind of miss the intimacy that comes with warming up and enjoying her body beyond the “wham bam”, and I’m curious why she wouldn’t miss it too. Any thoughts?”

Liz says:  Yes, my first thought is that you should ask your wife! When it’s a good time to have a serious discussion, be open and honest with her by telling her exactly what you tell me in this letter. Only she has the answers you’re looking for.

Since you were both inexperienced before you got married, there’s a good chance you’re both still learning what you enjoy sexually, even six years later. But it’s not uncommon (in young marriages especially) to have a sex life that ebbs and flows in frequency, activities, etc. Be patient with her and yourself. With honest communication things will change for the better.

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K.S. wrote: I’ve been seeing someone who’s super hot and funny but when we’re not fucking he’s so dumb that I feel ashamed for sleeping with him. I can’t talk to him without rolling my eyes at his ignorant beliefs. He thinks vaccinations are a government conspiracy, for starters, and he’s voting for the opposite politicians I’m going to vote for. But I’m still so attracted to him and I’m so confused at why. And worse, we’ve been together long enough that he complained he hasn’t met my friends but I’m embarrassed of him. I’m afraid he’ll say something crazy to my friends.”

Liz says:  Dump him as soon as possible.

Being with him is causing your self-esteem to take a hit, hence the shame you feel. Why settle for someone you want to hide instead of show off? And when physical attraction is something you can’t even fully enjoy without negative feelings encroaching on it, what’s the point?

It’s more common than you might think for people to be in this situation. We hook up with someone based on knowing little about them except that you want to ride their face, and then as you do get to know them you realize they’re not your cup of chai tea.

Sometimes it’s true that “opposites attract”, but that doesn’t mean opposites last long. Studies show the more they have in common, the longer couples last and the happier they are. Of course! It’s exhausting being with someone you struggle to understand or relate to, and the fewer reasons to bicker, the better.

Break it off and distance yourself completely. This could end on a worse note if you continue the relationship. Plus, it’s not fair to him. He should be with someone who won’t want to hide him.

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S.S. wrote: “Hey Liz hope you’re doing great. I have a beard (not a full one) and my wife HATES it. She calls it ugly and frequently comments how it’s uncomfortable if I kiss her. I keep it because I have an executive position in a corporate environment where all of my coworkers and most people I interact with are much older then me and it makes me look and feel older, but mostly it’s because I have a chubby face that I’m extremely insecure about (and my body in general but that’s a whole different story) and my beard makes me hate my face less. It does seem to genuinely annoy her. Am I inconsiderate for keeping it?”

Liz says:  I can relate to her feelings, full disclosure. Facial hair can be handsome, but kissing a scruffy face *hurts*. My husband has grown facial hair off and on during our entire relationship. When he’s craving a different look he’ll simply grow it out for a bit and then he’s back to clean-shaven within a few months. Perhaps it’s because he isn’t married to the facial hair that I don’t complain about it. If he never shaved it off I would probably speak up.

I think it’s inexcusable that she calls it “ugly” though. There’s no reason to be cruel about it. It’s one thing to lovingly tell you she prefers your bare, handsome face and another thing entirely to be verbally abusive.

That said, do you think that your beard is acting as a barrier between you two? Meaning, are you subconsciously putting up a “wall” that keeps you two from expressing physical affection? Is there a part of you that’s okay with not kissing your wife as much as you would be if you were clean shaven?

Sometimes upon further reflection we realize there are deeper reasons for behavior that may seem superficial at first glance.

A lot of people alter their appearance to seem older and more experienced in the workplace. I don’t blame you; sometimes I wonder if appearing to be in my 20s is a reason why I have a harder time being taken seriously as a relationship and sex advice blogger (I’m actually 43). And if you feel like it thins out your face a bit too, that’s understandable. One reason I’ve never had short hair is because it makes my face appear rounder. However, keeping the beard comes at a significant cost. If you shave it, you won’t be fired from your job, but if you keep the beard it could push your wife away and physical affection between you two could further languish.

Really, it boils down to this: do you want to enjoy kissing your wife more often or not?

Consider the fact that it’s a good sign she complains. If she didn’t want to kiss you, she’d use your beard as an excuse but she’d compliment it so you keep it.

One of the biggest contributors to divorce, according to divorced couples, is when one spouse stops taking care of themselves, let’s themselves “go”, and gets “too comfortable”. This often happens because the spouse is taking their partner for granted, assuming their wedding vows were written in stone and that their partner will find them sexually appealing no matter what they look like or how they behave. Wearing clothes and hairstyles that the spouse finds unflattering falls under this. This may or may not be what’s happening with you, but please think about it because if this applies to you it’s not too late to turn things around.

 

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