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Past Tips



  • S&M (written by Alex Robboy, LSW)
  • Playing rough (written by Alex Robboy, LSW)
  • Common S&M Toys



 What is sadomasochism (S&M) and who practices it? Wanting your partner to throw you down on the bed, take off your clothes and have sex with you AND/OR wanting to tie your partner up and have sex them is NORMAL. Many people find the thought of being overpowered, AND/OR overpowering the other person arousing. There is a name for this type of behavior, Sadomasochism (S&M). When I tell this to people, I find that many people are surprised. They have think that all S&M is about physically being hurt, or hurting someone (gaining sexual pleasure from beating your partner to the point of black and blue). S&M does not involve coercion. Rather, S&M is about an exchange of power.

S&M, according to many people in the field of human sexuality, is included as a form of "safer sex". It is included in the continuum of safer sex because is more than just genital stimulation. It is about mental stimulation, sight, sounds, smells, and thoughts all become crucial to having a sexual experience.

The exchange of power: In S&M play, there are two primary roles 'dominant' and 'submissive'. What this means is that one person will be in charge and the other person will follow his/her directions. Once the two (or more) people have assumed their role of 'dominant' or 'submissive' the 'scene' has begun. These 'scenes' typically last anywhere between one second to several days. All this may be sounding too complex or unrealistic. Yet, in reality most people engage in this behavior without the use of these labels. Often in sexual encounters, there is some form of exchange of power. People tend to take turns receiving or giving sexual pleasure. This exchange of control is non-verbal. In the S&M that I am speaking of, the rules are more defined. Both people ahead of time have verbally agreed to the roles. The easiest way to think about S&M is by viewing it on a continuum with different degrees of dominance or submissiveness. The important part to realize is that all sexual relations use this exchange of power to some degree or another.

The Golden rule, knowing when no really means NO. One of the most critical parts to a successful role-play, is knowing when no really means NO. The dominant person should always be able to distinguish a real NO from a prescribed no. One useful technique, other than saying "The scene is over, please stop" is to use a code word. This word could be 'banana' or 'teddy bear' or some other such word that would be easy for both of you (or three, or four, or five . . . ) to remember. Once this word is used, the 'scene' is broken and both people leave their roles.

Actually (at least in my opinion) this is what makes S&M an exchange of power. In one sense the dominant person is in charge, because she/he is boss. In the other sense, the submissive person is in charge, because she/he controls when the scene ends. Point being, both people have power and control, it is just that in this case, the power and control is prescribed ahead of time. There are no surprises (at least in that respect).

HTHGS: Playing Rough (written by Alex Robboy, LSW)

Ask Alex,
I have been with my boyfriend for 6mths and our sex life is great but I wish for more! He is a big guy and Iím sure he is afraid he will hurt me. But sometimes I wish we could have things breaking on the floor, clothes ripping, pull my hair kind of sex! I want to be man-handled! but he's too sweet and self conscience for all that! I don't know how to open him up! help!!! --   Iíve got a softie

Dear Softie,
I am wondering what is preventing you from make your desires clear to him?  If you are having trouble finding the right words, try showing him this letter.

Unless you tell him DIRECTLY what you want, there is NO WAY he will ever know how to please you.  The general rule of thumb is that without guidance, itís your fault if he is not pleasing you.  Most men (and women), are more than happy to experiment with new sexual behaviors if they know it will turn their partner on.  While your boyfriend may be shy, and uncomfortable trying out new things, with LOTS of encouragement and POSITIVE reinforcement almost everyone gets over their embarrassment. For example, the first time some women have sex with the lights on, they feel self conscious about their bodies. However, once they learn that their partner thinks they look really sexy naked their discomfort dissipates.  

This tip was originally written by Alex Robboy, LSW



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The Founder: "Alex" Caroline Robboy, LCSW, QSW, CAS

Ms. Robboy is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Center for Growth Inc and How To Have Good Sex Inc.  Alex practices marriage and family therapy and sex therapy, and also conducts periodic seminars about human sexuality throughout the northeastern United States.

Ms. Robboy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Masters degree in Social Work, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Human Sexuality Education and a Post-Masters Certificate in Marriage Counseling & Sex Therapy. Through the American Board of Sexology, she is a board certified sexologist and through the American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists a certified sex therapist.  Additionally, she is a licensed clinical social worker and a member of the American Board of Marriage and Family Therapy.


  Our Philosophy sex is like dancing, it changes every time. It depends on culture, atmosphere and mood. Sometimes it is done alone, with a partner or in a group. It can be fast and hard or slow and soft. Sex is a combination of non-verbal negotiation and verbal cues: a scream, a twitch of the toes, or a flush of the face. There is no one 'right' way to move, only what feels good to all those involved. 
     The purpose of this site is to share information. Thus, if you have any ideas, thoughts or information that you believe others might benefit from, please e-mail your tip to and I  will be sure to include it on either our weekly newsletter or here on the actual website. 

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September 6, 2006