Today's Love Tip
Can't have an orgasm through intercourse alone? Join the club. Planned Parenthood estimates that as many as 80 percent of women have problems achieving the big O through intercourse alone. So what's a girl to do when she doesn't? Plenty.... Read More
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50 Shades: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Dirty

By Kim Droze

While there's no denying that the majority of men have a voracious appetite for most things sex-related, it's always been a gray area for energy-sapped women who seem to search for any excuse they can find to avoid intercourse. But thanks to "the book," there's a hot new remedy for those "headaches."

Sex has gone from gray to grey thanks to "the book" that has launched a thousand orgasms. We're talking about 50 Shades of Grey (Vintage, 2012), an erotic novel penned by British author E.L. James that's on the lips of women everywhere -- from CEOs to soccer moms. Released in 2011, the trilogy centers around plain Jane college graduate Anastasia Steele and the enigmatic Christian Grey, a rich, powerful, handsome businessman who entices her to become a submissive in his wild world of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.


At its inception, the Twilight-inspired book was entitled Master of the Universe and published on fan fiction websites. But because of its racy nature, it soon found a home on the author's own website The book was distributed as an e-book but due to its overwhelming success, it was marketed as a print-on-demand paperback by The Writers' Coffee Shop.

Today, the little book that could has sold more than 20 million copies with book rights sold in 37 countries. Adding to its accolades, 50 Shades of Grey has also earned the title for being the fastest-selling paperback of all time, even surpassing the Harry Potter books. Oh, and It's single-handedly responsible for the rise of "mommy porn." It's even been credited with reviving sex lives, giving women a newfound fervor for frisky behavior.

It's far-reaching effects haven't gone unnoticed. New York Times bestselling author and Today show contributor Ian Kerner points out that 50 Shades of Grey has been a game changer. Although erotic fiction is hardly a novel concept, 50 Shades of Grey is the first of its kind to become so openly embraced by society, says the co-author of the Big, Fun Sexy Sex Book (Gallery Books, 2012) and founder of

"Although 50 Shades isn't the first erotica book, it's the first to go mainstream and get mainstream PR," Kerner tells "Women don't feel embarrassed or judged or shamed in reading it. Whenever something sexy is mainstream, people for more comfortable using it. It's the same thing with the rabbit vibrator on Sex in the City. That made it okay to talk about the vibrator and buy the vibrator. This is also an extremely sexualized moment in culture. From Games of Thrones on HBO to all the porn that's out there on the internet, most of it is catering to men and a male approach to sexuality.


"This is catering to women. It shows that when you successfully create sexy content that's aimed at women by women, it can be extremely popular. Women can be just as sexual as men in that way. That is why it's being called "mommy porn.'"

While it might seem that most women would shy away from a book that glorifies whips and chains, it's actually had the opposite effect on the ladies. Even women who don't typically find the time to read can't peel their eyes away from the pages of this groundbreaking literary work. Perhaps the biggest push for 50 Shades of Grey has been the virility as it spreads via word of mouth. Like anything, the reviews of the most-talked about book in the world are a mixed bag.

According to Jenny Colgan of The Guardian, 50 Shades is "jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act." The British tabloid also deemed the book "more enjoyable" than other "literary erotic books." However, the Chicago Tribune wasn't so kind when it wrote than the book is "depressing" and "sprinkled liberally and repeatedly with asinine phrases."

Of course, even readers differ on their opinions of 50 Shades. Some may love it. Some may hate it. But they all know it, which is ironic considering that much of the X-rated content is beyond most women's wildest dreams.

Kim J. of Coral Springs, Florida was one of millions who was encouraged by friends to get her copy of the books. Although she's typically a fan of comedic romances or mystery fiction, the avid reader kept an open mind about the genre that was relatively new to her. And it goes without saying that 50 Shades proved to be an eye-opening experience for the mother of three.


"When I got to the revealing part, I was flabbergasted," the 41-year-old corporate secretary tells "As I read on, I liked the book. I found books two and three to be much better reads than the other one. They had more of a storyline. Book one was all about the sex, and while books two and three had plenty of it, they had a real storyline."

Although many women maintain that the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has given their libidos an extra boost, Kim J. says it's really had no effect on her sex life at all. While it hasn't changed her preferences in the bedroom, it has opened the door up for more erotic fiction. She admits she'd definitely be inclined to read more books like it.

One person who definitely had her fair share of 50 is public relations guru Jenn K. After taking the recommendation of a closest friend, the 54-year-old divorcee had high expectations for the erotic thriller. However, she had problems reading between the lines. A professional writer, Jenn K. admits she was turned off by the language in the book... and she's not talking about those four-letter words.

Says Jenn K., "What a complete waste of time. I wasn't shocked at the sex or the storyline, I was shocked at how terribly written it was. The author actually managed to makewild sex seem tedious. And every single description of food or wine was 'delicious.' Are you kidding me? There's not another adjective she could have come up with?"

She adds, "After the first one ended with a total thud, my friend convinced me to read the second book. Reluctantly, I did, but I have to say I forced myself to finish it. I would not let this dumb book defeat me.I couldn't stand Ana or Christian by the end of it. And please don't tell me Kristin Stewart will be cast in the movie version - although maybe she's the right choice, so the movie can be as dreary and uninspired as the book."


But erotic fiction aficionado Janet B. points out that anyone looking for perfectly-executed prose in 50 Shades of Grey is guaranteed to come away feeling disappointed. It's the equivalent to looking for love in all the wrong places.

"The writing in general wasn't anything spectacular if you're looking at it from a writer's view," says Janet B. "It kept my interest, but I don't read those books because the grammar or punctuation is good. That's not why anyone reads those kinds of books.

"When people say it's grammatically horrible, they're reading it for the wrong reasons. It cracks me up when people comment on the writing."

While erotic fiction isn't for the faint of heart, Janet B. says that after reading more than 100 books in the genre James' book is far from the raciest she's encountered. Despite the ben wa balls and bondage, she says that 50 Shades is a far cry from the real BDSM deal. In fact, she says it's just enough to whet the palate.

"They didn't go into the erotica as much. They talked about the playroom and such but they didn't get into the entire lifestyle the way other erotica books do. She just touched on it, which is why mainstream housewives like it so much. She touched on it, but it wasn't really that intense."


She points out that the read looking for a true BDSM experience should look to authors such as Lora Leigh and Maya Banks who have been writing this genre for years and years.

Regardless of how women feel about the book, it's hard to deny its role as an aphrodisiac. Vivica H., a 30-year-old New York sales director, says that before she turned to 50 her bedroom activities had become tiresome. In an effort to spice up her sex life, she began reading excerpts of the book to her fiancÚ. It wasn't long before they were role-playing Ana and Christian.

Vivica admits she's also become more open minded about experimenting with some of the sexual play in the book such as using ben waballs, getting bound by something other than handcuffs and using riding crops, whips made of braided leather. All in all, she says she has the book to thank for a more lively sex life.

"I was hungry sexually the entire time I was reading the book. You can't hide that sort of thing when you live together. I was always so damn horny. I had to let him know why. We definitely have sex more frequently now," Vivica says.

She adds, "I didn't really have any preconceived notions about BDSM, expect that I found it, kinky I guess. I still think it's kinky, but would like to be tied up by a man that knows what he's doing any day of the week."


Vivica is in good company. There has been plenty of buzz about this startling sexual reawakening that's occurred. According to Kerner, it's a very, very good thing for couples. While they might not go to the great lengths that the characters in 50 Shades of Grey do, it's obviously serving as some serious inspiration.

Kerner explains: "You hear about 50 Shades pregnancies. I've spoken to a lot of women who have gotten their husbands reading it or they're reading it together. It's safe to say it's heating upaction in the bedroom. I don't know that couples are going out to enact thescenarios in the submission and domination aspect. But it's turning couples on and they're having more sex. I think some of them as a result are interested in exploring and dipping their toes into the shallow waters of kinkier sex."

So why does it take a book to transform women from cold fish to naughty nymphs? Kerner points out that many women begin seeking sexual adventure. The other aspect is that people get stuck in low-libido or sexless marriages where there is no time for intimacy. Unlike grocery shopping, laundry and other responsibilities, sex isn't something that's at the top of their to-do lists.


"50 Shades of Grey makes it top of mind for many women who were somewhat shut down sexually. They had kids. Sex is no longer a priority and they don't think about it. 50 Shades of Great gets them in the habit of thinking, imagining and fantasizing about sex and that's really healthy."

For the reader looking for erotica lite, it's all there in black and white... and grey of course.

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5 Best Places to Have Intercourse

Let's face it: having sex under the sheets, with the lights turned off, in your bedroom every night is totally boring. You've done it a million times. (Well maybe not a million exactly...) Sure some of those times were pretty amazing, but it's really just not an exciting environment anymore.{relatedarticles}

If your bedroom romps are getting you down, it's time to expand your repertoire and take those moves elsewhere. The world is full of sexy and exhilarating places to get it on, so turn up the heat and try doing it at one of the six best places to have sex. It's important to keep in mind that while diversifying your portfolio of places to have sex can be fun, it's also risky business. Keep in mind that doing the nasty in public is a crime. If this is an avenue you can to puruse, proceed with the utmost caution.

On the beach

What's sexier than the beach? The cool breeze, the sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves; not to mention you're both in your skivvies - and it's publicly acceptable! It's all a major turn-on.

So take advantage of this sexy environment! Find a VERY secluded spot and make the moves on your man. Roll around in the sand and get dirty with him. Sunbathe topless. If someone catches you in the act, just pretend you thought you were at a "nude beach." It was an innocent mistake, right?

Bonus: you can fall asleep under the sun in each other's arms once you're done! Hello, sun kissed tan. Word to the wise -- avoid people at all costs unless you want to end up sitting in the slammer for indecent exposure.{relatedarticles}

In the great outdoors

Take a break from the bedroom, and move your playtime outside. Do it under the sun on a blanket in a deserted park or get cozy on a chair by the pool. Jump your man while lying under the stars by the campfire, or roll on top of him while cuddled up in your tent.

Whether you're camping, having a picnic at the park or just soaking up the sun in your backyard, the opportunities for an outdoor romp are endless. With the ground underneath and nature all around, you'll find sex outside is a whole new, exciting experience. We won't be surprised if you want to go for a second round!

At the office

Sex at the workplace is totally forbidden, and your guy could get in BIG trouble for it. Naturally, that's why office sex is every guy's dream. It's SO off limits. You can role play naughty secretary and powerful boss.

Here's what you do: show up at his work and tell his secretary you're there to "bring him lunch." Wear your sexiest "office" clothing - a tight knee skirt, a low-cut blouse, thigh-high stockings and killer pumps. When you get to his office, greet him with a big smile and lock the door behind you.{relatedarticles}

Waste no time! Drop your decoy lunch and wrap your arms around him. While kissing him, push him into the office closet and shut yourselves in. This spontaneous love attack will get him so hot and bothered he won't know what hit him, and you'll love the adrenaline of doing it in an off-limits place. Anyone could walk in at any moment! You're so naughty!{relatedarticles}

In a (nice) public bathroom

Doing it in public is always hot. Knowing other people might hear or see you doing your naughty deeds is exhilarating, exciting and a huge turn-on. So take it one step further; do it in a public bathroom at a crowded place. (Make sure it's a nice, clean one, of course.)

Try the bathroom in a nice hotel lobby while you're waiting to check in, or pull your man into the restaurant men's room after Sunday brunch. Do it on the sink counter in front of the mirror and watch yourselves get down with your bad selves. Dance up on him at the club, and then take him to a stall and finish the job. Whatever you do, just make sure you lock the stall door.

On top of the dryer

It's double the pleasure, double the fun when you take your romp to the laundry room. Not only is it cozy and warm in there, it smells so fresh and clean!

Turn the dryer on a low tumble dry cycle and hop on top. Pull your man close.{relatedarticles}

The vibrating rumble of the dryer will only heighten your pleasure as you get it on with your guy; it's like a 2 for 1 deal!

You'll be so turned on, you might just have to try it on the washer once you're done!

So if you're tired of the same old, same old, in the bedroom, try taking your man to one of these six sexy places. Whether you choose the beach, the movies, the laundry room, the bathroom or the elevator, you'll both get turned on by the excitement of doing it in a new place, and you might even discover a newfound lust for each other. Give it a shot! But remember to exercise the utmost discretion. The last thing you want is to get caught in the act.

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Serve Up Some Healthy Competition in Your Relationship

We've learned early on in life that it's better to win, and in order to win, we need to be competitive. Although this attitude works well in sports and games, it can rear its ugly head in a romantic relationship. Too much competition can cause both partners to constantly try to outdo each other, which can cause added stress, jealousy and conflict.

However, just the right amount of competition can add spark to an otherwise boring relationship. Plus, it can make both partners motivated to improve their job or household situations. Here are some tips to create healthy competition in your relationship.

Healthy competition can make boring household chores much more fun. For example, you can divvy up jobs between you and your partner and make a game out it. He does the laundry and you clean the kitchen, and see who finishes first. You can race to get your jobs done first, and have a cleaner house in the process.


Healthy competition can also help your relationships in terms of finances. You can play a game to see who can save the most money in one week. If you're shopping for a new appliance, electronic device or even a new car, you can both compete to see who can find the cheapest price.

If you don't have any new purchases planned, you can use your competitive nature to raise money for someone or something else, such as a charity. Agree on a shared cause and see who can earn the most money. You'll feel good knowing that you used your competitive nature to do good for others.

If you have young children who always like to delay bedtime, you and your partner can take turns putting them to bed. Compete with each other to see who can get the kids to sleep quicker. Both of you will end up winning this one because the result will be more time to spend together.

Ready for some healthy competition? We're talking about working out. If you have a treadmill or elliptical at home, put your stamina to the test. If you prefer to do other types of exercise or don't have any gym equipment at your home, you can track how much time you both spend at the gym. Even if you don't win, your body will thank you for your increased effort.

If your guy enjoys playing video games, why not put your skills to the test? Study shows that 80% of women would play against their partner, with winning as the main goal, if given the chance. So join in and have him teach you the ropes.


Sound boring? The Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect have many games that allow you to be part of the action, so you can jump, dance or pretend to fight, meaning you get to compete and sweat a little as well. Another advantage? Competing and playing games with your partner results in better sex because of increased adrenaline and heart rate. So get your game on tonight!

If playing video games or working out is more effort than you're prepared to extende, watch a sports game with your man and root for the rival team. Although it's passive because there's not much you can do to control the outcome, your man will no doubt appreciate the new-found interest you have in sports.

Another fun way to compete with each other is to turn on the TV and play along with your favorite game shows. If trivia is your thing, turn on Jeopardy! and keep score to see who can answer the most questions. If puzzles are more your cup of tea, turn on Wheel of Fortune and see who is quicker at solving the phrases. Who knows, you may be surprised at how much your partner knows, and for some, being smart is incredibly sexy.

Even just sitting on the couch and having a discussion about controversial subjects such as religion, politics, pop culture or other hot topics can help put a spark in your relationship. You don't need to focus on winning or being right, just have a passionate but friendly discussion about what your stance is on a certain subject.

Having a logical discussion requires critical thinking skills, so you can exercise you mind muscles. You'll get to hear some interesting points from your partner's perspective, and who knows, you might be able to get them to change their mind about a particular topic.


Accomplishments of the other partner can bring out your own competitive spirit. So don't be surprised if your partner did something out of the ordinary (such as bungee jumping, skydiving and rock climbing) and you want to try it to.

Partners often fuel ambition and drive in each other. If your partner has been partaking in all the extreme stunts and accomplishments, stop standing by and join in on the fun. You may find a new hobby or interest.


What to Avoid


Avoid competing with each other in terms of careers. Although we all want to be the best we can be at our job, trying to outdo each other will only cause tension. Your partner may become resentful if you are always the one receiving promotions and bonuses while he is struggling at his job.

Plus, career competition will cause one of you to have to make sacrifices eventually, which can be deadly for a relationship.

You also want to avoid turning everything into a competition. You should be able to relax and just enjoy yourself without having to turn everything into a game. A little competition is healthy and even necessary, but it can ruin a relationship if it becomes the main focus.


A successful relationship requires a healthy dose of competition in order to keep it from becoming stale and boring. The trick is to prevent competition from being a constant force in your relationship. It's important to be equals and to be able to make compromises and sacrifices for the benefit of the relationship.

Competition should be fun and without conflict. Try one of these tips for healthy competition and watch your relationship blossom.

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