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An Interview with Chris Unity Bowness Part 2

Welcome back for the second half of my interview with the amazing Chris Unity Bowness. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris on FaceBook about six months ago, I think it was, and almost immediately I began to scheme getting him onto my site as a guest. After some long conversations and some planning and and talking about how we wanted to approach the interview, I’m very glad to welcome Chris to my site for the second part of our interview celebrating sexuality in relationship. Welcome back, Chris, and thanks for joining me!

KD: Recently I’ve begun a series on my blog called Passionate Partners, discussing how partners not only cope, but play a vital role in the careers of erotic writers, and I know from some of our discussions that your wife plays a very vital role in your work. Could you share just a little bit about that relationship?

Chris: From the very outset of our relationship Caroline was sex positive viewing sex, nudity and exploration as a natural ingrained part of life. Rather than it having to be scheduled, discussed and tiptoed around, the usual awkwardness was taken away with the warm, open and comfortable way our relationship and sex could be discussed.

Chris Bowness UnityThat laid down a very good foundation for our future to be built upon and has created an environment where no sexual debate is out of bounds, whether that be personally in our own relationship or being able to discuss the latest news stories, research or historical aspects of sex.

The way we like to put it is that many relationships have things in common whether it’s the arts, current affairs, religion, politics, celebrities, food. They find common interest and things to debate. Ours just happens to be sex. We are quite happy to start discussions with others too and accept that it might leave some uncomfortable. Having said that, there are a couple of subjects in that previous list that leave me squirming. We’re quite used to the dreaded silence but have learnt that more often than not somebody will be left feeling positive and it’s not uncommon to have them find us later to continue the discussion.

As a mentor I have someone with whom I am able to discuss openly all the subjects surrounding sex. I have someone with whom I can discuss, debate and test out theories. Sometimes those discussions are general, sometimes they may be a specific case. Of course it’s always done with confidentiality. We discuss ideas about what’s going on and ideas to help and support others. This gives me a fantastic environment not only to live in but work in.

Because we promote open two-way communication in relationships people know that Caroline can be just as informative and supportive as I am, so they often ask for her view or tell me to make sure I ask her for her view on the situation so they can get a male and female view of things. Our relationship is very much full-on. Not only do we play together but we also work hard together. We’ve always run our own businesses and been involved with each others. We play to our strengths and weaknesses. That means we have many years of experience dealing with every up and down that could positively and negatively affect relationships.

Finally, what our relationship does is to allow us to explore and experiment with our relationship and sexual pleasures. It allows us to have clear and open discussions about what works and what doesn’t work, or what was enjoyable about it. We are able to step out and look at things in view of what kind of people may enjoy it and why….even if we didn’t. All this hands-on experience puts me in the unique position of being able to pass on our experiences and research to help people not only get the best of their relationships but help them explore their pleasures.

“Nothing risqué, nothing gained.”

Alexander Woollcott

KD: If you could give only one piece of advice, something that you think would benefit everyone in their sexual journey, what would it be?

Chris Bowness Newsletter logoUnity.1

Chris: Communication…Communication…Communication

I know this may sound simple but I really believe a great part of what I want to do includes reminding people of the simple things, getting back to basics, because somehow with the modern busy complicated lives we lead it’s been forgotten.

There are many pieces of advice I could give for individual situations but, bottom line, good and bad they all come down to constant open communication. Whether you’re on day one of your relationship or ten years down the line, my advice is to keep talking and conversing openly and honestly not just about the good experiences, like experimenting and exploring, but also when problems do arise, rather than avoiding issues. People avoid discussing problems and issues that arise because they’re afraid it might break them up, when in reality it’s the anxiety and stress that avoiding the situation puts on a relationship that ultimately breaks a relationship down

It’s been my experience with the people I’ve helped that when you stop communicating with your partner your relationship goes into sort of suspended animation. All your views, ideas and thoughts about your partner or your relationship are based on old experiences. Many people I’ve worked with have ideas or make assumptions on conversations or mind sets formed before they stopped talking.

How often do you talk to your partner? And I mean really talk? …Beyond the bog standard good morning? How many times a day do you actively engage in conversation and really connect with each other?

Furthermore, mobiles and social networking gets a bad rep for breaking relationships up but they can be used for good. Even if you both have busy lives a short even slow lingering conversation and keeping in touch throughout the day can do wonders for your relationship. Taking time out of a lunch break to text or message a partner lets them know you’re thinking of them, and taking time to reply even if it’s later in the day can just help reaffirm that connection between you.

Keeping or rebuilding an open honest line of communication today can do wonders for your relationship. My advice…instead of that lunch time game of angry birds…text your fellow love bird instead.  You may just be surprised how that one message can be a step towards a happier relationship.

“We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift.” ― Marilyn Monroe

KD: Is any one thing you think could happen that would change, for the better, the landscape of how modern culture views sex?

Chris: Without a doubt better education and research.  What has shocked me throughout the years is the lack of options and courses available to people who want to study sex and relationships. It seems there are so many courses out there that pander to our basic needs such as art, food, religion, science, music. I mean you can even get a degree in The Beatles. However, there are no courses that cater purely to sex and relationships. Yes there are courses in which sex or an area of sex is a branch or element of core subject but not the main subject and considering what a massive part sex plays in all our lives it’s a shame.

Not only that, but I truly believe that in order to fully enjoy sex and be able to whole heartedly embrace relationships we must learn to appreciate our pasts. By that I don’t just mean our personal history but I mean an understanding of the evolution of relationships and sex over the ages. This can not only help us understand how we got here but also fully appreciate our futures.

KD: What do you think is the biggest detriment to healthy sexuality Westerners face?

Chris: There are two things that go hand in hand, I feel. They are fear and definition.

I believe fear of discussion, debate and communicating positively about sex comes from how Western society defines people by how, where, who and how many people they enjoy sex with.

I feel the media plays a big part in defining norms and classifying those outside the norms as deviants. This drives society’s idea of what is considered normal. Nobody’s relationship falls into the media’s idea of what’s normal and that only serves to stop people from enjoying sex and openly discussing it.

KD: What do you see as the most hopeful thing about sex in the age of internet and social media?

Chris: The internet and social media can be a force for good when it comes to sex positivity by offering more access to a whole range of people who live and work in sex related industries. Being able to have more connection to the people in those areas whether it be educators, therapists, bloggers, makers of sex toys or writers of erotica – like yourself makes sex and the discussions around it so much more approachable. Furthermore, it gives those with positive views and mindsets about sex the chance to meet other likeminded folk and a chance to talk and to realise that our views and consensual expressions of love and sex are natural; that there are others out there who feel and love the same. The internet and social media enable us not only to share these views openly but exchange ideas on how to improve or experiment with those activities to help improve pleasure.

bit.ly/BeUnity

 

An Interview with Chris Unity Bowness Part 1

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris on FaceBook about six months ago, I think it was, and almost immediately we began a dialogue with the plan of getting him onto my site as a guest. After some long conversations and some planning and scheming, I’m very glad to welcome Chris to my site for a two-part interview that’s a true celebration of sexuality. Welcome, Chris, and thanks for joining me!

KD: Chris, we first met online in connection with some lovely discussions we had about my writing, which led to discussions of writing in general and a topic near and dear to both of our hearts, the celebration of sexuality. It’s always lovely when someone who has been merely an acquaintance on social media, through some strange quirk becomes a three dimensional person with an amazing story of their own. And that’s what I feel happened with us. Could you share a little bit about what led you to study sexuality.

Chris Bowness UnityChris: Firstly, I’d like to thank you for inviting me onto your blog, it is a great honour, especially from someone I have a lot of admiration for. Secondly, it’s wonderful when you make a connection with someone in these modern times who, before social media and the internet, may have never met…or was it destiny anyway…but that is a debate for another day.

I’ve always had a passion and thirst for knowledge when it comes relationships and sexuality even in my teens I was far more comfortable in the company of female friends discussing the latest articles in magazines like Cosmopolitan rather than in the stereotypical male domains. Also in those pre-internet times there were programmes like Sexcetera and The Good Sex Guide to name but two which just oozed not only sex positivity but also exploring pleasure within relationships.

After college, two of these friends started running Ann Summers parties and they not only kept telling me how I’d be good at them but also asking me how to give advice to customers. It was quickly after, though, I found out that men weren’t allowed to attend a party let alone run a party business I realised how I’d have to make my own way. Sure there are many jobs behind the scenes of places like this but I wanted a more frontline hands-on approach.

Since then there has been a long evolution to where I am today, happy not only with all the ups and downs that got me here but also how I now see myself fitting into this sector; what I want to provide, but also I have a clear idea going forward of how I want to deliver it

KD: From your own research, why do you think honest, truthful information about sex, especially in the information age, is so hard to come by?

Chris: When I started researching how I could fit into this area there were two main seeds that were planted in my mind. The first one came a number of years ago when I read an article that said that the main reason cited on divorce papers was lack of sex and intimacy and sex and the correlation between, not only the breakdown in communication within those relationships but also the breakdown in communication in society, not only about sex but the discussion of issues surrounding sex and intimacy.

This led me to the second seed being planted, I started researching how and where people could glean information and advice about solving problems of an intimate and sexual nature. This broke down into three areas ‘Googling’, websites, forums.

Firstly, searching the web I feel is bad enough when you’re ill and want to know if it’s serious enough to bother a doctor with. The ‘I’ll just Google’ approach can not only be quite contradictory but also sometimes prove dangerous for many reasons. I feel the same goes for relationship and sex issues. Searching a term like ‘Why has my partner gone off sex?’ can bring contradiction, confusion, and the whole range of results. But also, even in this information age, people still worry about searching for what would be deemed sexually explicit terms and the results that might bring.

Then came websites and blogs. There are very great informative websites out there – ones I have recommended articles from to people myself. However this is still very much a one-way form of communication with no accessible long term support.

This led me to forums. From mums forums, parenting forums, women’s forums and relationship and sex forums — all of them are flooded with people crying out for positive information about relationship and sexual subjects. I often found the responses to these from other forum users – often contradicting each other – frequently brought anxiety and stress to the original poster.

What I garnered from my research is that people wanted long term support and guidance through a range of relationship and sex subjects available to access whenever they wanted.

I know that there are many different types of relationships and I believe along with that everybody’s relationship is unique, like a fingerprint of intimacy. And while many places provide great advice templates to help introduce new things or solve issues, there seems to be a miscorrelation between that template and how people go about implementing it into their situation.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and  betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds;  it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”

~Anaïs Nin

Chris Bowness Newsletter logoUnity.1

KD: Could you explain to our readers what you see as the difference between a sex therapist and a mentor?

Chris: In searching for my place within the relationship and sex support area I realised just how many facets there were to it. There were not just therapists but also coaches and teachers who provided lessons in things like tantric sex or BDSM but also many more being areas being created. Only recently I read about learning intimacy through a sex surrogate. The counseling end of the spectrum felt like the last chance critical point of the relationship. As someone put it to me, ‘how could I go to a therapist and pay all that money just to find out how I can give my husband a good spanking!’

However, none of them really felt like they fitted for me. I generally have an issue over labels and stereotyping, anyway. I want to provide a more humanistic personal one-to-one approach almost a one stop shop for sex and relationship advice, providing on-going support or giving information that could be useful at the time or help prevent future problems — an MOT for relationships if you will. I wanted to provide a more humanistic personal one-to-one approach towards not just support and advice for problematic things but also the fun things people want to work on too.

It was then in an unrelated way I came across the definition of mentoring, and over time I have developed my own definition for relationship and sex mentoring:

“Mentoring is about a relationship approach to providing an ongoing and sustained level of knowledge and support in relation to improving the recipient’s personal, relationship or sexual development; through various forms of informal communication most usually – but not limited to – face-to-face; as well as providing answers to occasional questions and ad hoc help. It also goes deeper to providing a long-term relationship of learning, support, advice, dialogue and challenge.”

There is often an idea based around knowledge and development, about the planting of seeds. I also believe when it comes to relationship and sex development the ground you plant those seeds in has to be ready, prepared and happy to receive such seeds. I have often found that planting seeds by the positive promotion of sex and relationships messages is enough to make me available to those people who are quite often looking for help.

KD: What role did reviewing sex toys play in the journey you’ve made to mentoring?

Chris: We chanced upon a call in a now defunked  magazine asking for couples to review a range of adult products for a regular feature. When the opportunity fell through we started to email adult retailers looking for an opportunity to review items in return for free products. Not only did this bring a lot of fun into our lives but it also allowed us to provide clear concise knowledge to others not only on what’s best to spend their hard earned cash on in the bedroom but also advice on how to introduce and have fun with these products.

In these modern times, in these post 50 Shades times, there are still limited places you can go and actually get your hands on sex toys, see them for yourself, what they really look like and feel like and what they do – don’t you think that’s strange?  This helps bring a positivity to sex by adding things which help explore pleasure. That allows us to help others choose such products.

Finally somebody took a chance on allowing us to dip our toes into the review pool of pleasure devices. Now we are regular guinea pigs for a couple of websites and the developers of sex toys and other adult products. This gave me the motivation to begin looking at how I could be a part of this fabulous industry. Hopefully we can dispel that myth that suggests the use of sex toys is out of boredom or a failing relationship and get people thinking that this kind of exploration can help create a long term, healthy, passionate relationship.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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