Top 3 Insane Sex Myths (That Are Actually True)

#3. Hickeys Can Cause Strokes and Paralysis

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The Myth:

“That weird kid from history class told me that he gave himself that hickey with a vacuum cleaner to make it look like he had a girlfriend.”

“Holy shit, tell him not to do that, man! I met this kid at camp whose friend did that and died.”

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Which still barely cracks the top 10 of disturbing vacuum cleaner sex tricks.

The Truth:

In case you don’t know, a hickey, or love bite, is a sign of affection whereby your partner puts their mouth on your neck and sucks so hard that it leaves a long-lasting mark. Yeah, it’s actually pretty fucking weird when you see it written out like that, but what’s weirder is the fact that it can apparently give you a goddamn stroke, which is even less romantic.

A Maori woman from New Zealand freaked out a little when her left arm suddenly stopped workingone day. Needing her arm to do various arm-related things, she decided she should hit up the local ER. When the doctors looked her over, they decided that she’d had a stroke and gave her some blood thinners as part of the standard treatment, although they had no idea what might have caused a healthy woman to stroke out like that.


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No, not that kind, either.

But then one of them noticed a bruise on her neck right next to a major artery. The woman told them it was a hickey, presumably rolling her eyes at the clueless nerds. But when they examined it closer, they discovered that the woman had been hickeyed so hard that it had bruised a major artery, which clotted to the point of stroke and potential paralysis. Doctors could find no other recorded examples of this happening, although obviously that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened — it’s not like this is the first thing they check for on stroke victims.

#2. Food Allergies Can Be Transmitted Through Semen


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The Myth:

“My hairdresser warned me to be careful, since I’m allergic to peanuts. Her sister’s face swelled up like a balloon when she gave her boyfriend a blow job after he had eaten some trail mix.”

The Truth:

We covered semen allergies before. They’re pretty terrible on their own, what with the baby batter making you swell up and itch or giving you the flu, but the dangers of unprotected sex can be even more subtle than that: It is also possible for food allergies to be triggered by semen if the guy you’re doing the nasty with has recently eaten the thing you’re allergic to.


Krzysztof Ziarnek, via Wikipedia
Which begs the larger question: “Why the hell were you eating ragweed in the first place?”

Just ask the British woman who had what might be the first recorded case of a sexually transmitted allergic reaction. Her boyfriend ate a few handfuls of mixed nuts, but, knowing about his lady friend’s debilitating Brazil nut allergy, he showered and brushed his teeth before making his move. Still, after they finished up, the woman began to experience the tell-tale signs of having ingested nuts, and not the kind of nuts that she thought she’d had in her mouth. After going to the doctor, their fears were confirmed when the doc did one of those skin-prick tests with his nutty semen.


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“Judging by the giggling coming from the lab, I’m pretty sure your results came back positive.”

That’s right — in what must have been the most awkward hospital visit of all time, the doctor asked him to eat some Brazil nuts and then rub one out into a vial so that he could smear it on his girlfriend’s arm, at which point he would have been right to ask whether he could check the guy’s medical license.

#1. Cheating on Your Spouse Can Cause Injury or Death


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The Myth:

“You’d better be careful if you’re thinking of cheating on that nice girl, because karma will always catch up with you in the end. Death karma.”


George De Sota/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The kind terrible Seagal movies are named after.

The Truth:

We mentioned earlier that boner fractures are more common among unfaithful partners, due to the “Let’s try it on my motorcycle!” nature of the sex they’re having. But it turns out those guys are getting off easy.

People have been spreading urban legends about infidelity causing death since time immemorial. It’s easy to see why — there’s no better way to discourage immoral behavior than to perpetuate a rumor that God will strike you down for it. But surely, as far as biology is concerned, there shouldn’t be anything dangerous about infidelity, because it’s not like nature cares whether you and the person you’re boning have matching rings, right? Well, here’s where things get weird.


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Weirder, anyway. These are usually some off-the-menu hijinks to begin with.

Sure, people just stop being alive during sex sometimes. That’s not really news, since TV and movies have been playing the “old man dies on top of his young girlfriend” bit for years. Studies report that roughly 1 percent of sudden deaths happen during some bedroom hanky-panky. But here’s the thing: Of that group of people, almost all of them were cheating on their significant other.

That means that if you’re getting some on the side, you might want to make sure you lay off the pork rinds and go for a jog once in a while. Also, some sad news for cheating d-bags everywhere: The fatalities are almost exclusively dudes. Although they were usually with a much younger woman, so we guess that’s a trade-off you’ve got to choose for yourself.


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“He died as he lived: drunk under some woman he met on Craigslist.”

As you can guess, the logic is similar to the penis breaks — those older guys in full midlife crisis mode are trying to go extra hard, while also feeling the fear of getting caught and the excitement that comes with banging a secretary in their office. That winds up being a little too much for the ol’ ticker (or whatever other organ was the weak link in their system), and before they know it, they’ve humped their way right off the mortal coil. We’d offer some word of caution here, but it’s not like it would actually stop anyone, right?

10 Things Science Can Teach Us About Being Sexy as Hell

For better or for worse, here’s what works

It takes 13 milliseconds to determine if someone is hot, so what can you do to make sure you’re looking good during that critical first impression?

1. As a general rule, smiling makes you more attractive. That said, ladies, smile. Guys…well, think twice. Want to improve your smile? Smile slower.

2. Beauty sleep? Yeah, it’s real. Get some.

3. Red clothesMenwomen, whatever. Wear red.

4. Guys: stubble makes you look smarter and more sociable.

5. Guys: chin up. Ladies: chin down.

6. Guys: deepdominant voice. Ladies, keep it feminine. (But you already know that on some level; that’s why you speak differently when talking to attractive men.)

7. Guys: emphasize the height. Ladies, might want to wear flats.

8. Ladies who don’t wear makeup: start wearing makeup. And pick bras wisely: that awful stereotype about men liking big boobs? Confirmed.

9. Guys, you need to move right, keep cool, and be confident. Or just go buy a puppy. And you know those obnoxious jerks who constantly lift weightsshow off their fancy cars, and throw lots of money around? Well, that stuff works. But if you think you’re going to date a supermodel, you need to have the whole package… except brains, brains are optional.

10. Is none of this helping? Here’s a trick that doesn’t ask you to change anything about yourself: bring along a friend who has your basic physical characteristics (similar coloring, body type, facial features), but is slightly less attractive than you. It works.

Women Fake Orgasms for … Pleasure

Thanks to Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, even guys know that women fake the big O—but who knew they did it for pleasure? A study published in the Journal of Sexual Archives says women will fake orgasm not just for the relationship or their own insecurity, but to feel sexually excited, the Huffington Post reports. The US study looked at 481 sexually active, straight women with an average age of 20 who weren’t in a committed relationship, and asked why they faked it. Their top four answers:

  • Altruistic deceit (making the guy feel better)
  • Fear and insecurity (avoiding bad feelings about the experience)
  • Elevated arousal (turning herself on)
  • Sexual adjournment (getting sex over with)

The first two answers fit traditional thinking about a faked orgasm—that it’s for the man, or a woman’s emotional well-being—but the third shows a new self-determination by women in bed, says study co-author Erin Cooper. One caveat: The study looked at young, single women, and earlier studies have found this group can’t achieve orgasm as easily as women in serious relationships, Time notes. Still, an earlier study showed that 80% of women admitted to having faked the big O, reports NBC News. (Another attention-grabbing sex study: Nearly half of men report “sexual coercion.”)

7 Ways to Maximize Your Online Dating Profile with the Power of Words

Men who used the word “whom” get 31 percent more contacts
Thom Yorke is a online-dating seller! Mention "Radiohead."
Thom Yorke is a online-dating seller! Mention “Radiohead.” (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Last month, Wired did a study of dating profiles with the help of OkCupid and Match.com in order to assemble some tips on writing the perfect profile. Here are seven things they discovered from crunching the numbers on the words people use in their dating profiles.

1. A MELLOW ATHLETIC VIBE WORKS WELL

The top five words used in male profiles with the highest average attractiveness ratings project a vibe that’s fit, but laid back: surfing, surf, yoga, skiing, the ocean. The ladies also do well with the mellow athletic vibe, but with a dash of urban sophistication thrown in. The top five in women’s profiles: surfing, yoga, athlete, London, NYC.

2. A RELIGIOUS ONE, NOT SO MUCH

The word “God” got low ratings across the board.

3. WORK OUTSIDE GENDER STEREOTYPES

The words “my children”? Very attractive in a man’s profile. Not so attractive in a woman’s. “Electronics,” on the other hand, worked very well for the ladies and not so well for the guys.

4. TALK ABOUT RADIOHEAD

Like the hot people do. That was the highest scoring band name.

5. TALK ABOUT CATS, BUT DON’T MENTION YOUR OWN

The word “cats” was ranked pretty high, but “my cats” — not so attractive.

6. A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR MEN AND WOMEN ON GIRLS

Men’s profiles did better if they used the word “women” instead of “girls.” But women did a bit better if they referred to themselves as girls.

7. WHOM IS HOT

Men who used the word “whom” get 31 percent more contacts. Whom does this surprise? Not TheWeek readers, of course, for whom nothing is sexier than a deftly wielded objective case.

Emotional Cheating: Are You Guilty?

Like many women, René (who asked that only her middle name be used), a writer from northern New Jersey, had two husbands: a regular spouse and a “work husband,” a man — interesting, smart, funny — with whom she spent 9 hours a day. The chemistry was obvious, but nothing ever “happened.” Or did it?

They made a beeline for each other every morning, and their chats became more and more personal. “I definitely talked to him about things I didn’t talk to my husband about, including my husband, because my marriage was so unhappy,” René says. He sat a little too close at meetings. She admits she fantasized about a relationship.

Recommended Related to Sex & Relationships

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Was she cheating? Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine, says “probably.”

“Many of these emotional affairs do move into a sexual affair,” Saltz says. “If they don’t, it’s easy enough to say to yourself that you’re not doing anything wrong.”

The problem, she says, is the attachment to this other person impacts the marriage.  “Ultimately it ends painfully one way or another: Your marriage ends, or you’ve got to give this person up.” René’s marriage eventually ended in divorce, but this doesn’t have to happen to you.

Often, people who become involved in emotional affairs feel something is lacking at home. “It makes them feel good to feel understood, to feel desired. It’s like candy. You go home and have your vegetables, and you go to work and you have candy.”

For some spouses — more often women, Saltz says — learning of an emotional affair can be worse than discovering sexual infidelity. “Everybody understands a sexual act need not necessarily contain affection or intimacy. It could be literally about a sexual act. Whereas the emotional affair feels like it’s much more about being connected, about loving or liking.”

Signs You’ve Crossed the Line

According to Saltz, these seven red flags suggest you may have entered into an emotional affair:

  1. You spend a lot of emotional energy on the person. “You end up sharing stuff that you don’t even share with your partner — hopes and dreams, things that would actually connect you to your partner.”
  2. You dress up for that person.
  3. You make a point to find ways to spend time together, and that time becomes very important to you.
  4. You’d feel guilty if your partner saw you together; you are doing things and saying things that you would never do or say in front of your spouse.
  5. You share your feelings of marital dissatisfaction.
  6. You’re keeping secret the amount of time you’re spending with the person (including emailing, calling, texting).
  7. You start to feel dependent on the emotional high that comes with the relationship.

These affairs can be hard to stop, Saltz says. But to give your marriage a chance, “you just have to end it. I don’t think there’s a halfway. It’s too slippery a slope.” If it’s someone you can’t avoid, have a direct conversation. Tell them, “I need to not do this,” Saltz says.

Your next step: Figure out what led you to make the connection with this other person, says psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD, author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful.

“One of the critical tasks necessary for the couple to survive emotional infidelity is for both partners to explore its roots — why did it happen? What does it say about me, you, and us as a couple?” She adds, “It’s better to speak up and bring the conflict into the open than confide secretly in someone else.”

Instead of playing the blame game, identify contributing factors on both sides.

If you want to save your marriage, the earlier you deal with problems, the better, Saltz says. “And the earlier you cut off something that leads in the direction of betrayal, the better.”

Dating Deal-Breakers

He’s rude to the waiter or downs too many drinks. She always wants to know where you are, or shows up late all the time. Are these things just annoying, or signs of relationship trouble ahead?

“When you’re with that person at the beginning and something strikes you as odd or bizarre, and it sticks with you, it makes you uncomfortable but you can’t really wrap meaning around it,” that’s your red flag, says Bethany Marshall, PhD, PsyD, author of Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away.“Early in a relationship, it’s that one thing that’s right in front of you that may be a sign of something deeper.”

With two fast-paced careers, a toddler, and another baby on the way, Meghan and Jeremy Wilker have let their marriage drop to the bottom of their to-do list. Can REDBOOK Love Network expert Jane Greer, Ph.D., help them finally make time for each other? Meghan and Jeremy Wilker are both at the top of their career game. Meghan, 32, runs a company that constructs Websites, and Jeremy, 38, recently launched two companies: one sells fine-art photo prints online; the other is a digital photo…

Everyone can have a bad day, so don’t rush to judgment, Marshall says. “But you have to trust yourself to ask questions about things that make you feel uncomfortable.”

Early Warning Signs

Take notice if your new love interest:

  • Shows up more than a little late. This can be a sign of anxiety, trouble tracking time, or simple disrespect, Marshall says. Is this something you can deal with?
  • Drinks too much. If it happens more than once early on, pay attention.It could just be nerves, but it could also suggest problems controlling urges, mental health issues, or possibly even an addiction problem, Marshall says.
  • Trash-talks an ex. It can take time to get over a split, but if your date is focusing on the ex, how can they focus on you? Are they ready to move on? And if they can devalue one person they had a relationship with, what’s to keep them from doing the same with you?
  • Grooms too much, or not enough. Over-grooming could indicate a puffed-up sense of self, and under-grooming could signal depression or other problems.
  • Sends the food back. Once may be fine, but if done often this could be asign of a person who feels they have a right to special treatment. Maybe no one can please the person — including you.

Later Alarm Bells

“In the first blush of romance, people overlook a lot of stuff because they’re so excited,” says clinical psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker, EdD. But after a month or so, that’s when it’s time to look closer.

It could be a sign of trouble if your partner:
  • Doesn’t introduce you to family or friends. Does she always have an excuse not to? Hartwell-Walker says not introducing you is a sign of disrespect.
  • Doesn’t have friends. “‘You are the one‘ is the probably the most destructive idea in American romance,” Hartwell-Walker says. “You don’t want to be somebody’s every-every-everything.” If she doesn’t have other friends, you may want to consider why.
  • Isolates you. He wants you to spend your time with him only, and wants to know where you are when you are apart. This goes to trust. “They can’t trust what they can’t control,” Marshall says.
  • Wants to do only what she likes. Is she calling all the shots? Relationshipsare two-sided. If she’s interested in doing only what she likes, you have a problem.
  • Never pays his share. “Somebody who is unwilling to invest money is unwilling to invest their emotions,” Marshall says. Chivalry aside, if both people are at the same stage of life, one person always or never paying is a red flag for imbalance in the relationship, Hartwell-Walker notes.

Bottom line: Trust your judgment. Hartwell-Walker suggests keeping your own personal deal-breaker list to five things that are non-negotiable for you, and leave it at that. But don’t use a long list of deal-breakers as an excuse to keep people away. “No one is going to be perfect.” On the other hand, she adds, “Don’t go into any relationship thinking you’re going to reform them.” You won’t.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Polyamory but Were Afraid to Ask

Inside the sex positive world of multiple partners
At least for now, The Bachelor's ladies have to be content with Juan Pablo spreading his affection around.
At least for now, The Bachelor‘s ladies have to be content with Juan Pablo spreading his affection around. (Facebook.com/The Bachelor)
First things first: Maintaining intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple partners is not for everyone.

American cultural norms steer us toward monogamy — a faithful, one-on-one, forsaking-all-others, ’til-death-do-us-part definition of love and intimacy that usually involves marriage. For a lot of us, this works. For others, it doesn’t. Hardly a news cycle goes by without the revelation that some celebrity or another has been caught with his (or her) pants down. But cheating isn’t reserved for the rich and famous. There’s not a community in the country that hasn’t experienced the scandal of extracurricular romance between otherwise ordinary people.

All this begs the question: Is there a functional alternative for those who are not by nature monogamous? One that doesn’t involve secrets, dissemblance, and emotional betrayal?

There is.

Anywhere from one million to two million Americans are choosing polyamory, a word best defined by its Greek roots meaning “many” and “love.” Polyamorists openly love more than one person. The estimated 500,000-plus polyamorous (or “poly”) relationships in this country vary in configuration as widely as the people who comprise them, from heterosexual married people who simply date others, to larger, more complex relationship structures that often involve shared living space and raising families. What all truly polyamorous arrangements have in common — and what makes them distinct from secretive infidelity or “cheating” — is a defining characteristic of the practice: transparency. Polyamorists believe that their relationships can thrive only in an environment of complete honesty.

In that spirit, a number of polyamorists agreed to share with me the following pieces of wisdom and advice for those who might be considering “going poly,” or those of you who are just curious about the practice.

Polyamorists are just like the rest of us.

Put aside notions of fringe-living religious zealots and commune dwellers: Most poly people are otherwise ordinary Americans who raise families, pay mortgages, and go about their daily routines just like everybody else. If anything, poly people tend to skew a little more intellectual — or “dorky,” as one thirty-something biologist describes his poly circle of friends. Perhaps this is because most polyamorists have come to their decision to open their relationships by doing a lot of research.

Interested in doing a little research of your own? Novices and academics alike find Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá to be an accessible, engaging take on human sexuality and behavior that might just open your eyes, if not your marriage.

Polyamory is not just about sex.

“My husband wants me to set up a threesome with my PTA co-chair” is the stuff of mediocre pornography, not polyamory. While polyamorists must by definition be comfortable with less conventional sexuality — and many are aligned with the Sex Positive movement — most bristle at the implication that their desire for multiple relationships is rooted solely in lust.

Unlike the swinging or spouse-swapping so luridly portrayed in popular media, polyamorous relationships are based as much on emotional intimacy and love as they are on the physical. With many polyamorous arrangements lasting years and even decades, all participants eventually develop a deeper personal connection with one another that may or may not have anything to do with who sleeps with whom and when.

There are practical benefits as well. As one professional woman puts it:

“If I get the flu and my husband is buried at work, his partner might drop by with soup and movies. Or if I’m unavailable, she might take him to a doctor’s visit or give him a ride to the airport.”

Those interested in learning more about the many facets of poly life, from dealing with occasional jealousy to time-management and child rearing, might also be interested in author Tristan Taormino’s book, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships.

Communication is key.

From a couples’ first conversation about the possibility of non-monogamy to deciding which of the many poly-family-friendly vacations you three (or four, or five) are going to take the kids to this year, poly people assert the importance of strong, sensitive communication. Why? Because honesty and empathy are the backbone of intimacy and trust, and intimacy and trust are essential to successful polyamorous relationships.

The more people involved, the greater the need for everyone to feel heard, understood, and respected. So be prepared to talk — a lot — with your partner(s). Perhaps more importantly, be prepared to listen. All of your relationships will be the stronger for it.

The nonprofit 501(c)3 organization Loving More is a great resource for poly individuals and families seeking additional advice and support.

Speaking of support…

Polyamorists actively debate the advantages and disadvantages of being “out” or publicly acknowledging the nature of their relationships. Some argue that the tenet of transparency that is so central to poly culture must extend to the world at large or be forfeit; others make the very good point that the world at large (not to mention your elderly Aunt Mary) might not be ready to accept the fact that your “dear friend” Melissa is actually your lover… and your husband’s, too.

It’s true that there are deep-rooted cultural and religious prejudices against polyamory that could result in criticism, ostracism, and lost jobs and friendships. What most poly people agree on, however, is the importance of building a strong network of like-minded people with whom you can share perspectives, information, and advice. In addition to the well-publicized Polyamory Conference (or “Polycon”) held in Atlanta each year, numerous local groups exist to provide poly people with an opportunity to connect. Try Googling “polyamory” and your city, search meetup.com using “polyamory” as a filter, or visit the website www.polygroups.com. Other resources include Reddit and dating sites like OKCupid.

If this lifestyle feels right for you, it may be worth diving deeper. Who knows? You may just meet the love(s) of your life.