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About Last Night: The struggles of a stay-at-home mum 20-05-18

Q: After years of career success, I’m now the stay-at-home mum of Robbie (2½), and Mia and Ava (10 months). I love my beautiful children to bits, but I often feel trapped, miserable, and a failure. When James gets home from his demanding job I ambush him on the doorstep because I’m so desperate for adult company. Sometimes, he gets cranky, because he wants time to unwind from his own stressful day, and I get weepy, which causes him to shut down. I fear losing him because I’m boring, negative and unattractive.

A: Research into human happiness has revealed the unhappiest phase of life is the one you are currently enduring. We undertake this challenge because we want the richness of having a family, but in the early years, it can feel like the epitome of delayed gratification.

New parenthood can be particularly trying for people who have been competent, high-achievers, because they are used to being in control, and infants are an unpredictable force of nature.

Be kind to yourself. You are facing the biggest challenge of your life, and you are doing the best you can. Do not beat yourself up in the belief that other mums are doing it better. Staying sane is more important than having a spotless house. It would be good to talk to your GP to make sure that you do not have post-natal depression, which can be devastating.

Popular and commercial images of radiant parents with adorable cherubs are often nothing like the reality of caring for the relentless, unreasonable bundle of survival instincts we call a baby. The reality is often boring and thankless.

Remind yourself that it is in the interests of commercial businesses to exploit your insecurity. You are likely to buy their products if you are convinced it would be neglectful not to, or if you lack confidence in your housekeeping skills, (“What does your loo say about you?”).

Practise eliminating words like “must”, “ought”, “should” and “got to” from your vocabulary. These words trigger guilt and anxiety, and imply that there is a standard that you are constantly failing to reach. If these imperatives are coming from your family, or from friends, try not to buy into it. Their advice might be well-meaning, but only you can know how to raise your children.Stop looking at the bigger picture, and avoid comparing your current lifestyle with the one you were living before. Similarly, banish stories about how you will never return to the old you. You cannot know that, and the future will take care of itself. All you have to do is navigate the “now”. This moment is the only reality, and it is often the stories we make up that cause us the most distress.

Being a “stay-at-home” parent can be very lonely. Some women suffer from “baby brain” and feel like they have become dumb, and out of touch with the big issues. Others realise that they have nothing very interesting to add to a conversation.

Find somewhere to go at least once a week, even if the logistics are daunting. Join a local playgroup, meet up with friends who also have kids, and go to story time at the library. Talking to other parents helps you to get things in perspective, and they are interested in the minutiae of baby rearing. They are also a great resource for tips and ideas to make your life easier, and you can get a little space while the children socialise.

Prioritise your own needs. Self-preservation is not selfishness. When you are sleep-deprived, have almost no alone time, and are permanently on call, it can be too difficult to shower and wash your hair, let alone pay attention to what you wear. Cut yourself some slack.

If you are the parent who works outside the home, and you recognise this situation, try not to feel guilty, inadequate, or resentful. How you both deal with this time is crucial to the future of your relationship. Your patience and kindness are the best support. Give your partner some time, and some attention. The most loving gift can be a regular sleep-in, an hour alone, or 10 minutes of your undivided attention.

Talking to other parents helps you to get things in perspective, and they are interested in the minutiae of baby rearing.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Is it old-fashioned to want kisses and cuddles? 13-06-18

Q: After 20-plus years together, for the last few years my wife spends first thing in the morning and last thing at night on her phone. Is that what marriage in the 21st century looks like? Am I old-fashioned looking for kisses, cuddles and pillow talk instead?

A: Two decades ago, you had to find a telephone if you wanted to speak to someone, but the invention of the mobile phone has made it possible to be in contact anywhere, and at any time. Very quickly, we became reliant on this ability to stay in touch, and it could be argued that some people have almost become addicted to their devices, unable to turn them off for an instant.

Recently, I attended a residential workshop at a rural retreat that had no phone, or internet signal. Many of the participants were almost hyperventilating with panic at the idea of a few days without their devices. While everyone coped, a cheer did go up on the bus to the airport as soon as they got a signal.

I do not believe society is doomed because everyone is on the phone, social media or sending emails. You cannot stop history. However, I do think we all need to examine our dependency on this technology, and take stock of its effect on our interpersonal relationships. Last weekend, at a cafe, my partner observed that every person in the room was looking at a screen. Perhaps we need to consider scheduling “no device” time each day, in order to be in this moment, with those who surround us.

You probably feel hurt and rejected by your wife’s constant use of her phone. You would like to spend some intimate, one-on-one time with her. You want to bookend the day by connecting with your life partner. Make sure that the words and tone you use to communicate your pain and loneliness actually do communicate your true meaning. When we feel wronged, it is easy to invent a self-pitying narrative that makes us angry.

Your words can be read as an accusation, or as passive-aggressive resentment. If that is how your wife hears it she is likely to become defensive, or to close down.                                     Would you want to snuggle up to someone who spoke to you in that way? She needs to feel loved to want to be intimate. Guilt-tripping someone is counter-productive.

Instead, allow yourself to express your vulnerability. Find a positive, loving and respectful way to say what you mean, for example: “I feel disappointed and sad when you go straight from sleep to talking on the phone. I love you, and crave one-on-one time with you. I feel hurt because I fear you are deliberately avoiding me, or that you are no longer interested in having an intimate relationship with me.”

A common misunderstanding often lies behind the kind of behaviour your wife is showing. Be clear and honest with yourself – is there a subtext here? When you say “kisses and cuddles”, do you really mean ‘”sex”? If so, that’s fine, but say that.
When someone is reluctant to have sex, does not know how to deal with their lack of interest, and wants to avoid conflict, they can avoid all signs of affection, and all kinds of loving touch, fearing that any positive response will be taken as a green light for sexual intercourse.

If this is what is happening, this is what you need to address.
A technique that can help to break this kind of deadlock involves negotiation and patience. Can you agree that, if, for one week, she is willing to begin and end each day with a cuddle, you will not try to take it further? This might allow her to relax and enjoy getting closer to you.
If the two of you can break the ice, communicate positively and build goodwill, there is a much better chance that you can repair any gaps in your togetherness, even if that means agreeing to get some relationship counselling.
Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night : Prostate issues affect my orgasms 6-04-18

Q: I’m a healthy male (aged 55) who exercises regularly, doesn’t smoke, carries no extra weight and who’s been doing Kegel exercises for 10 years. My wife and I have always enjoyed a pleasurable and interesting sex life. Although the frequency and strength of my orgasm isn’t affected, recently I’ve noticed that I produce less ejaculate I’ve searched online, but have found no real information. Joan says it’s just ageing, but I’m worried it could be benign prostate enlargement (or worse). I’ve heard about pills for increasing ejaculate. Any ideas?

A: As we age, many of us do notice changes in how our bodies respond sexually. It is always wise to get a medical opinion about such changes, but it is also a good idea to be willing to work around those changes that are a natural part of the ageing process. Melbourne sex therapist Lynda Carlyle is a registered nurse who specialises in male sexual function (lyndacarlyle.com). I asked her about your inquiry, and she started by observing that, “It sounds like things are going really well here. He sounds fit, is still having pleasurable, meaningful and interesting sex with his wife, has strong erections and pleasurable, frequent, strong ejaculations. Just like hanging a wet towel off his erection, this may be a ‘those were the days’ kind of thing that he has to learn to reminisce about, once he stops grieving.”

She goes on to explain the medical facts. “Many studies show that somewhere around half of healthy men over 50, and up to three quarters with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) complain of reduced semen/ejaculatory volume. It is significantly associated with advancing age, prostatic disease, obesity and erectile dysfunction, as well as diabetes, depression, vascular disease, drug use and poor health. Other risk factors include decreased thinking about sex, a non-committed or non-exclusive relationship; relationship concerns, and less frequent sexual encounters.”
Fortunately, very few of these risk factors appear to apply to your situation. However, Carlyle suggests that, “As he is worried, he should mention it to his GP and have a prostate check, and maybe see a urologist.”

Carlyle says that, having eliminated any sinister causes for this decline, “There are some options he could explore to see if he can build up a better semen volume: He could masturbate daily but only choose to ejaculate every week or so. Some people go for a month!”
Human sexuality is not an exact science. You are unlikely to be advised to use fish-slapping, or crystals to treat a broken leg, or a tumour, but Carlyle says it is possible to get positive results from alternative, “sacred” sex practices.
“He could explore tantric or Taoist practices to teach him how to cultivate and build up his sexual energy.”
Being a motivated person, you might learn from Mantak Chia’s classic text, Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.
Carlyle continues, “He might consciously simmer sexual thoughts and daydreams during the day. Explore prostate stimulation or massage with his wife, or buy a prostate massaging device. Even ‘edging’ a few times during sex or masturbation, where he gets close to ejaculation and then backs off for a bit might help.”

Unless your doctor offered medication for this, it is almost certainly not worth seeking out commercial pills and potions to increase your volume of ejaculate.
After being in the sex industry for more than 20 years, I can assure you that the majority of products that claim to harden, enlarge, stimulate, arouse, or otherwise improve sexual function are, at best, gimmicky rubbish with as much value as most dietary supplements, or, at worse, unregulated and untested concoctions that could even cause harm.
At the end of the day, it is important that you do not worry about this. Stress and worry are the worst things for destroying sexual pleasure. Enjoy your relationship, and the fabulous sex life you already have. Your strong relationship is your playground. Foster it, and you can continue to enjoy sexual intimacy for many years.

About last night: Does unprotected oral sex put me at risk of throat cancer? 29-04-18

Q: I am 36, single, and very sexually active, having a number of casual hook-ups. I never allow penetrative sex without a condom, and get a sexual health check up every four months. The other day I was freaked out when someone told me that throat cancer can be caused by a wart virus. I often perform oral sex without a condom because they taste so awful. Am I taking a risk?

A: The reality is that no sexual contact is completely risk-free. It is for this reason that we now talk about “safer” sex practices, rather than “safe sex”. By following certain protocols, such as using condoms, we can minimise, but not eliminate, risk.

Illustration: Dionne Gain

Illustration: Dionne Gain

The Human B-Papillomavirus (HPV) has many strains. The two that cause genital warts do not cause cancer, but a number of the other types do. The Gardasil inoculation is being given to girls and boys before they become sexually active, to protect them from this common cancer. A generation is coming through who will not need to worry about HPV, but the rest of us need to be aware of this risk. Many of us may have been exposed to one strain or other of HPV in our lifetime but unfortunately there is not a test that can accurately determine this. Whether or not you are being exposed to one of the dangerous strains is a matter of chance.

Although condoms are widely used for sexual intercourse, they are less commonly used for oral sex, and research has shown that increasing numbers of heterosexuals are engaging in oral, and anal, sex.

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre director Professor Christopher Fairley

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre director Professor Christopher Fairley

Photo: supplied

I spoke to Professor Christopher Fairley, from Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. He said that throat cancer used to be associated with heavy smoking, whisky-drinking men in their 70s. Today, increasing numbers of younger, otherwise healthy people are being diagnosed, and many of these have come from the cancer-causing HPV types in the throat. Anal cancer is rare in heterosexuals but it is now also increasing in both men and women because anal sex is more common.

Professor Fairley warns: “There is also a risk that these conditions may not be diagnosed quickly, because doctors have not seen many cases of these rare tumours and are not, therefore, expecting to find these conditions. If you develop symptoms that don’t go away like a lump, an ulcer or bleeding, tell the doctor and ask them to check it out.”

Standard condoms do taste terrible, hence the joke about the tourist who bought one from a vending machine in the gents, and said it was the worst chewing gum he’d ever tasted. Fortunately, they also make flavoured condoms. Flavoured dams can also be used when having oral sex with a woman. A sheet of clingwrap can be used in a pinch.

There are a number of aesthetic and basic hygiene reasons why it is wise to use a condom for anal sex, and it is never a good idea to go straight from the anus into the vagina. Professor Fairley also points out that the walls of the anus seem to be far more susceptible to HPV infection than the vagina. This means that HPV is easier to get in the anus.

Older people re-entering the dating scene are increasingly turning up in the STI statistics. This is partly because they do not need contraception, and also because they did not grow up with the “if it’s not on, it’s not on” messages of past decades.

The Gardasil vaccine is only free for school children as part of the national vaccination program, but it is licensed for men up to 26 and women up to 45, but can be given to older individuals by a doctor “off licence” although it costs over $400. If you have had the vaccine, then you are protected from HPV. Only you can decide if your lifestyle makes this investment worthwhile.

For more information on this, and other concerns regarding your sexual health, go to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (www.mshc.org.au).

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About last night: It is important for good people not to lose heart 22-05-18

Q: During the recent cricket ball-tampering scandal, I saw a young sportsman being interviewed. He summed up his attitude to the controversy by saying, “Nice guys come second”. I was shocked. How can we hope for a better world, more equitable gender relationships, or more compassionate politicians if this is the attitude towards competition that is being taught to young people? This certainly seems to be a recipe for success among our world leaders, but what kind of world are they creating?

A: As People in the West rejected organised religion, and followed the path of personal ambition and competition, being kind came to be equated with being weak. We keep hearing about a need for “cultural change” in many of our institutions – the police force, sporting clubs, the world of entertainment, and religious organisations. This kind of change cannot occur in a vacuum. What is needed is a global shift, from ruthless competition and heartless ambition to compassion, empathy, and kindness. This is not only necessary to alleviate the sufferings of the oppressed; it is also essential to our own personal happiness.

Kindness is active, and involves interacting with others in a positive way. Illustration: Michael Leunig
Kindness is active, and involves interacting with others in a positive way. Illustration: Michael Leunig

Cultural change, like turning around an ocean liner, takes a long time, but there are examples throughout history of relatively rapid shifts. The abolition of slavery, votes for women, and the anti-war, civil rights, feminist, libertarian revolution of the ’60s all had a slow and painful gestation, but when the cultural change did occur it was dramatic and fundamental.

It is easy to despair when we witness the cruelty and nastiness revealed in the current news cycle, but it is important for good people not to lose heart. There are already signs that change is happening.

In a recent article in The Guardian, entitled The Cult of Being Kind, Eva Wiseman outlined a number of trends that seem to indicate that people want to live in a kinder world. She describes the phenomena of strangers leaving out gifts of warm clothing for the increasing numbers of homeless in Britain this winter.

Signs of this shift can be seen in the media. The New York Times has introduced a new section, The Week in Good News, and the BBC’s new head of drama has announced the intention of moving away from dark dramas to works that are more uplifting and inspiring.

This trend towards kindness can also be seen in the publishing industry. Titles due to be released in the next couple of months include The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson, Kindness: The Little Thing That Matters Most by Jaimee Thurston, and, Kindfulness by Padraig O’Morain.

Psychotherapist O’Morain looks at our recent emphasis on mindfulness as a means to achieving personal happiness, and points out that this has coincided with an explosion in the use of antidepressants and addiction to pain killers. The trouble, he argues, is that happiness is passive. Kindness is active, and involves interacting with others in a positive way. Not only does it make the world a better place for the people receiving kindness, it also has a myriad of positive outcomes for the giver. Research shows that being kind is good for your health and wellbeing, and reduces depression.

Some of us associate being kind with being a dupe, a sucker, or an easy touch. However, O’Morain makes it clear that we must also be kind to ourselves. You can be kind without denying your own needs, being a doormat, or being gullible. Protecting yourself is kind.

Despite our apparent cynicism and selfishness, we are touched, inspired, and uplifted by acts of authentic, heroic kindness. The whole world was deeply touched by the bravery of the French policeman Arnaud Beltrame, who died after volunteering to swap places with a terrorist’s hostage.

Both utopia and dystopia are fictional. We will never be perfectly good, or utterly bad. Every human being has positive, and negative tendencies, and the culture of the times seems to swing, like a pendulum, between philanthropy and misanthropy. All we can hope is that we progress two steps for every step we slip back. History certainly looks most favourably on the times when loving and kindness are in the ascendancy.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

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About Last Night:Sharing non-sexual touch 15-04-18

Sharing non-sexual touch is a vital part of wellbeing, and is healthy when wanted

Q: I’m happily single, with my own apartment, a challenging but rewarding job, and an active social life. For my birthday, a friend gave me a voucher for a massage. That isn’t really my thing, but last week I redeemed it. I felt a bit self-conscious, but relaxed into it, and it was pleasant. When I was at the counter processing the voucher, however, I started sobbing uncontrollably. I realised that, even though I do not need a partner, I do need more gentle touch. What should I do?

A: Touch is extremely important for our wellbeing. It is the first sense to develop in the womb, and experiments show that infant monkeys would prefer to cling to a soft surface without food than to a wire frame that dispenses milk. Gentle touch also boosts the immune system, and releases endorphins.

We seem to be becoming increasingly isolated. If you look around a crowded place you will see a lot of individuals communing alone with their electronic devices rather than with each other.

This situation is exacerbated by an increasing touch aversion which has resulted from the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked many social institutions. Even infant teachers, doctors, and counsellors are instructed to follow a “no touch” policy, to avoid legal trouble. Recently, a friend took his child to a playground. He noticed a distressed child dangling from the monkey bars, and gently lifted him down. Its mother’s reaction was, “How dare you touch my child?”

Of course, as a rule, we should ask permission to touch someone, but we need to ensure that our paranoia does not cause us to confuse kind touch with unwanted touch.

Touch does not have to be sexual, but some people use sex as a way to get touch. It is better to seek out ways to get non-sexual touch. Some people do this by stroking a pet. Are you allowed to keep one in your apartment? Others benefit from having a regular massage. Even getting your hair and nails done involves neutral touch.

In recognition of our touch-deprived state, more formal groups hold “cuddle parties”. These are non-sexual events, and often offer learning opportunities for those who experience anxiety or trauma around touch. Check out Meetup, (meetup.com/en-AU/Melbourne-Cuddle-Party-Meetup/). The Human Awareness Institute also organises non-sexual “touch groups”, but these are mainly held in NSW and SA (space.org.au).

In our everyday lives, the way to make friendly, social touch acceptable has two elements. Children and adults need to be taught that nobody is allowed to touch them without their permission. Never force children to hug Grandma, or sit on Uncle John’s knee if they are reluctant. They will be more likely to get healthy touch in their lives if they believe that they are a choice. A wonderful book for children on this subject is Everyone’s Got a Bottom: We All Have Bodies and We All Want to Keep Them Safe. This book was produced by Family Planning Queensland, and is available online.

One of the problems with negotiating healthy touch is the power imbalance. A child can feel disempowered if they are forced to accept touch against their will. As a result, many adults have developed a fear of touch. It is usual to ask, “Can I have a hug?” or “Can I give you a hug?”, but this can sound pushy, or patronising. A better way to make this offer might be to say, “Would you like to share a hug?” Used sensitively and judiciously, this might be the way that teachers and other caregivers might approach someone in distress, but it is vital to honour their response, and to graciously respect their, “No”.

People can also be isolated and touch-deprived while in a relationship. A reluctance to have sex, unresolved anger or resentment can make us disinclined to touch each other. Nothing is lonelier than two people sharing a bed with an unbridgeable gap between them. Acknowledge and address this situation. Talk about ways in which you can share gentle, non-sexual touch. Simply by hugging and cuddling you might find some of your barriers dissolving.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night: Learning to love yourself will lead to making better choices 08-04-18

Q: At 60 I have decided to go it alone after 30 years of monogamous marriage. I would like to think there may be the opportunity for relationships and intimacy in my future. However, I feel more naive, inhibited and less educated than when I was a young woman. Can you suggest a starting point for re-educating myself?

A: You have decided to “go it alone”, so this is now your time. Begin this new life by falling in love with yourself. Give yourself the time, and space, to go through the upheaval of setting up your own home, and tying up loose ends from the past. Be kind to yourself, and cut yourself some slack. No matter how sure you are about your decision there will be painful moments disentangling a 30-year edifice.

You cannot fully experience love and intimacy with another until you love yourself. When you love yourself you will make better choices. You will make sure that you stay safe. You will have the resilience to survive rejection or difficulties.

Before you actively pursue new connections, take stock of where you are. You might get a health check, and make some decisions about your lifestyle so that you can get the most out of life. It is not necessary to look like a model to find romance, but you need to be well to enjoy life.

 This might be a good time to interrogate your wardrobe, and reassess your style. Sometimes, what suited you in your 40s no longer works at 60. Do not be timid. The aim is to reveal the vibrant and attractive older woman that you are, not to become invisible, so embrace colour, and avoid too much beige.

Many women carry off their naturally greying hair with grace and elan. However, if you are tempted to colour, do so. The same goes for manicuring, and wearing heels. If something gives you pleasure enjoy it, and ignore that niggling, self-limiting voice that preaches the virtue of the “natural”.

When it comes to sexual intimacy, you are your own best teacher. When you feel ready to pamper and explore your own body do so. Many women are embarrassed by the idea of masturbation, and that word does not help. What you are doing is learning what gives you pleasure. The majority of women are unable to give themselves an orgasm with their fingers alone, so consider getting a good quality, pleasure-enhancing sex toy. To help you with this exploration, read Betty Dodson’s classic book, Sex for One: The Art of Self Loving. Some of the toys she recommends are now a little dated, but the basic information is excellent.

Glowing with good health, stylish, confident, and owning your own pleasure, you will then be ready to look outside of yourself. You might enjoy exploring further by attending some workshops. Not only will you expand your education, you will also meet other, like-minded people.

Take a look at the wide range of classes offered by Curious Creatures (curiouscreatures.biz). If something looks intriguing, give it a go. I can assure you that there will be a range of age groups involved, and you are definitely not too old.

Another workshop is coming up in August that I believe is the ultimate learning opportunity for anyone seeking greater depth and understanding of relationships. The Human Awareness Institute offers a series of weekend residential workshops called Love, Intimacy and Sexuality. Level 1, Connecting in Love, concentrates on loving yourself. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Details can be found at Space Inc (space.org.au). You will join people from across the country for this life-changing experience.

The best way to meet people is to join a group activity that interests you. Whether it be wine tasting, bushwalking, or a book group, that is where you will meet people with shared interests. Check out Meetup (meetup.com) for groups in your area.

If you want to be more proactive in finding potential partners there are a myriad of dating sites that cater for a wide range of people. For purely sexual hook ups, look at Adult Matchmaker (adultmatchmaker.com.au).

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

About Last Night – food for thought

Q: Bill and I are very happy, and our sex life is satisfying, but we would like to spice things up a little. We’re not very adventurous, but I was thinking of experimenting with some food play – chocolate body sauce, whipped cream, maybe some fruit. Do you have any tips?

A: Even good sex can become a bit predictable over time. Taking a novel approach to a familiar act can keep things fresh. Occasionally, it is great to go to a hotel, or holiday home to get away from reminders of daily life. You can also introduce variety without leaving home if you use your imagination, and are willing to be playful.

Hunger and desire are both biological imperatives, but they also give us sensual pleasure, so combining food and sex can be a lot of fun, and highly erotic. It is an activity that works well with a familiar partner because it requires some preparation, a knowledge of each other’s likes and dislikes, and the ability to be uninhibited.

Before experimenting with food you need to prepare a play area. Use old sheets, and spread out towels in order to protect your furniture. You could even lay out a plastic drop sheet if you want to go wild. Have washcloths, tissues or wet wipes handy, as well as all the food, toys, safer sex products you might need. You do not want to go walking around the house trailing honey and mashed banana while you look for the condoms

There are a few safety issues to take into account. To avoid the risk of infection or irritation, keep food away from your genitals. Be particularly cautious with sugary food as it can trigger yeast infections in women. Even check flavoured massage oils and lubricants to make sure that they do not contain sugar. So, for example, you can insert pure water ice blocks, but not icy poles. If you do want to be penetrated with a fruit or vegetable, wash it well, and pull a condom over it.

Obviously, eliminate food allergies. Licking peanut butter is no fun if you have to reach for an EpiPen. Also, although we talk about “spicing” things up, it is advisable to avoid chili. That just hurts. If you want to play with fruit, avoid stinging citrus, or seedy fruits like raspberries, because the seeds could end up anywhere.

Avocado has a subtle flavour, and a wonderfully oily texture, and some Japanese enjoy eating sushi roll slices from each other’s bodies, but, as a rule, it is more successful to choose light, sweet food items. You might love savouries, but do not go for the gorgonzola and anchovy massage oil.

Food play is the appetiser, and sex is the main meal, so go easy. For example, if you warm honey you not only introduce a difference in temperature. The honey is also easier to drizzle. Great gobs of honey can be sickening, and will feel unpleasantly sticky, especially if you have body hair.

The idea is to engage all of the senses, not just taste. Lick, rub, squeeze fruit between your fingers, and slide your bodies together.

Slowly sharing a strawberry or a cherry can lead to deliciously passionate kisses. Enjoy the texture and aroma of mango slices. Use fruit cold from the fridge, such as frozen grapes. Nibble and bite if that feels good. Decorate each other. Put whipped cream on nipples. Tease other sensitive areas such as lips, the neck, earlobes, and eyelids.

The idea is to be as abandoned as children playing with mud pies, so leave your dignity at the door. Something that begins with laughter can end up being incredibly erotic.

Finally, clean up afterwards. While it might be tempting to fall asleep in a state of sated abandon it is not pleasant to wake up sticky, surrounded by rotting fruit and sour cream. Quickly gather every thing up in the soiled sheet or towels, and finish off your lovemaking by taking a shower, and helping each other to get food out of hard to reach places. Bon appetit.

Email abtlastnight@gmail.com

About last Night ‘‘Setting aside time for fun, relaxation and intimacy is vital.” 25-03-18

Q: At 65, I attend more funerals than weddings. When an old uni friend died recently it made me think. He’d been incredibly talented, gained a PhD at 23, and was tipped to do great things, but, although he had a good career, three failed marriages, the suicide of a son, and problems with alcohol meant his life turned out to be as flawed as anyone’s. I’ve had a good life, and am in a solid relationship, but I want to ensure I get the most out of the time I have left.

A: In medieval times, great men often carried a ‘‘memento mori’’, or reminder of death. This skull ornament or suchlike was intended to keep life in perspective, and to prevent one becoming too attached to worldly power, and the pleasures of life. Our modern world shields us from death and dying, and, with an increased life expectancy, we can live as though we are immortal. This can cause us to live unexamined, or misguided lives.

Bonnie Ware is an Australian palliative care nurse who spent years with people at the end of their lives. These experiences led her to write a modern memento mori – The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. In it she offers of us an opportunity to take stock, with a view to avoiding the same regrets.

The first of these is, ‘‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’’.

So often we feel obliged to fulfil the expectations of our family, religion or culture. Be a success, make money, be virtuous. Women in particular can be crippled by the belief that ‘‘good girls’’ do not explore their sexuality. Give yourself, and your partner, permission to discover your secret desires, and to indulge some of them.

The second regret is, ‘‘I wish I didn’t work so hard’’.

Whether it be working at a career, striving for an immaculate home, or pursuing an interest, we can get the balance wrong. Setting aside time for fun, relaxation and intimacy is vital to having a truly happy life. It is important to experience pleasure.

The third is, ‘‘I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings’’. Remember to tell people that you love them. Also, have the courage to speak up about things that make you unhappy. Saying nothing is a waste of time, and delays growth. Even saying something that you fear might damage a relationship is worthwhile. Either the relationship will improve, or you will be freed to do something new.

Next is, ‘‘I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends’’. When we fall in love, start a family, or pursue a career, we can lose touch with the people in our lives. This can isolate us, limit our experiences, and make us too dependent on our partner. Having other people in our lives gives us emotional diversity, independent sounding boards, and a wider social support network in the tough times.

Lastly, ‘‘I wish that I’d let myself be happier’’.

We often feel guilty about being happy. A certain puritanism makes us see suffering as noble, and fun as frivolous. There is a difference

between allowing oneself to be happy, and hedonism. True happiness means looking to your own long-term happiness, and that of your loved ones. You might think a string of affairs would make you happy, but true happiness might result from pushing past any issues in your core relationship so that you can luxuriate in the open waters of the love you have earned over a lifetime.

We are all mortal, and our lives will end. Focus on the things that truly matter.

Follow your dreams, take risks, stop worrying about what others think, and stop putting things off. It is never too late to live your best life in the only reality we can ever know – the present moment. Live life now. None of us are getting out of this alive.

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