Can a man make love like a woman?

Can a man make love like a woman?

Sex therapist in the ‘hood  Several years ago, a merchant in my neighborhood learned that I was both an MD and a sex therapist.  The next time I was in his shop, he asked me if I could get him some Viagra. “How long have you had erection problems?” I asked. “I don’t,” he answered.  “But my wife and I have been married for 30 years.   To tell you the truth, sometimes I’m too tired or preoccupied to get hard without the Viagra.” What was this man’s problem, exactly?   He wanted to have sex with his wife, even though he wasn’t feeling that strongly turned on.    Evidently there were other reasons he wanted to do it. Sound familiar?  Of course:   He wanted to make love like a woman.   Things women take for granted about sex Women can have sex with their partners any time they want.  They don’t have to be very excited.  Sure, some lubricant might be required, especially over 50.  But the absence of peak excitement isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. A woman can make love for other reasons besides strong desire.  To feel close, or emotionally connected to her partner.  To promote loving feelings.   Or just for the simple pleasure of the experience.   Even occasionally to keep a partner happy even though she might be too tired or preoccupied to be really into it.   A useful book on the subject calls it “Good enough sex.” One wouldn’t want ALL one’s sex experiences to be like this.  But once in awhile it’s OK.   Especially if the alternative is not to make love at all.   If there’s one thing that sex research repeatedly shows about successful long-term couples, it’s that they keep having sex even when if...
Sex therapist at the Academy Awards:  Helen Hunt in The Sessions

Sex therapist at the Academy Awards: Helen Hunt in The Sessions

    A Strange Thing, Mystifying How many of you saw The Sessions?  Good – I see some hands. Did it lead to much discussion?  Well it didn’t in my house either. And in the popular press the same thing.  A few early reviews saying it was very moving, and well done.  Then nothing more. A movie about a severely disabled man — the poet Mark O’Brien — who enlists a sex surrogate to help him experience physical passion, and about the emotional and religious complexities (he’s Catholic) that ensue.    It would seem this film would prompt endless discussion, with so many possible points of entry. But it didn’t.  Everyone agreed that the film was “very moving,” but no one seemed to have much to say about it. Maybe it’s that The Sessions involved things we’ve learned to keep quiet about —  such as that the world might be a better place if we could all give and receive sexual pleasure a whole lot more freely.   Such an idea of course generally meets with polite silence.   Even in our sex-saturated times, sexual surrogacy as a profession still hardly dares speak its name. Or maybe that’s not it.   Perhaps it’s something else.  Maybe the movie prompts feelings that are simply too difficult to express with words.  That wouldn’t be surprising — given how sexuality reaches into the most primitive parts of our minds.  Maybe we’d all really love to talk about this movie, but we lack the necessary vocabulary. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the artist who shows his work at a gallery opening.   Someone comes up to him and...
Slow Sex in Manhattan

Slow Sex in Manhattan

“I want to know what became of the changes We waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams Of some greater awakening? –Jackson Browne, The Pretender   The cultivation of sexual mindfulness One rainy Friday afternoon in mid-summer, I traveled uptown to speak with Nicole Daedone, a former professor of semantics who now devotes herself full-time to teaching what must be one of the world’s most curious mindfulness techniques. At Daedone’s OneTaste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, and at workshops she conducts around the world, practitioners gather together to do “Orgasmic Meditation” (“OM for short”) —  a simple technique, really, but an odd one. OM is done in pairs.   In OM, a woman undresses from the waist down, lies on her back and receives direct clitoral stimulation from her (male or female) partner for fifteen minutes.   Not to achieve sexual climax necessarily, though that might occasionally happen.   Rather, just to practice sexual mindfulness for its own sake. That’s it.   That’s OM. So why is this strange practice  suddenly so popular?   And why is Daedone’s book, Slow Sex:  The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm currently getting 4 and 1/2 stars on Amazon?   Sex in the 21st Century Daedone’s work arrives at a curious point  in modern sexual history. With erotica flooding the internet, sex has become pretty much just another consumer commodity.   Most Americans today are either overworked (not particularly conducive to good sex, which requires leisure) — or else unemployed (DEFINITELY not conducive to good sex).   Many young people’s experience of sex seems to involve drunken...
An Open Letter to Tim Tebow — About Virginity and Other Important Matters

An Open Letter to Tim Tebow — About Virginity and Other Important Matters

    March 22, 2012 Tim — First of all, congratulations on your upcoming move to New York City.  It’s a great town, and I’m sure you’ll love it here. As an athlete and a religious man, you will be a role model to many young people here.   So I’m writing to you today in the hopes of reaching them as well. I’m hoping we can spread the word together about an important subject. It’s about sex. Like yourself,  many religious young people have decided to remain virgins until marriage.  That’s clearly no one’s business but their own. But here’s the problem: Many of them have been led to believe that premarital abstinence, in addition to being a religious requirement, will serve another important goal too: That it will make sex much more special after marriage. I’m sure this is sometimes true.  But it’s not true automatically.  In my work as a New York City sex therapist, I’ve encountered too many religious couples who’ve been bitterly disappointed when the sex they’d been earnestly saving themselves for fell far short of this ideal. The erotic impulse is anarchic, infantile.  It resists being told to have sex for a higher purpose.   Or because it’s religiously sanctioned.  Or to have a baby.  Eros knows no such goals. Impose social or religious goals on eros, and you risk trouble.  Sometimes it’s trouble with the practical aspects of sex.   And sometimes it’s sex that’s mechanically successful — but doesn’t take either of you anyplace very special. Such negative experiences can lead to the biggest risks of all — disillusionment about sex, disappointment...
The Year in Clinical Sexuality, 2011

The Year in Clinical Sexuality, 2011

 December 26, 2011 As we get ready to leave 2011 behind, I would like as always to express my gratitude to family, friends and colleagues for your support and encouragement over the past year; and to my patients for your trust and confidence.   May we all merit much happiness in 2012. Here’s my list of 2011’s most interesting happenings in clinical sexuality and related disciplines. Vampire Lovemaking This year, in Twilight:  Breaking Dawn Part 1, Bella finally consummated her relationship with Edward, after three years of cinematic foreplay — and immediately ended up pregnant.  By the end of the movie, she’d become both a mom and a vampire.    Shows what can happen. In SexualityToday at the Movies:  Breaking Dawn, we continued the discussion of the “integrative” aspect of ordinary female desire that we began in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay and in The Nine Rooms of Happiness:  What Does a Woman Want? Elsewhere on the paranormal sexuality front, The NY Times Magazine featured a cover story on the new MTV series Teen Wolf —  “We Are All Teenage Werewolves.”  In Wolf Love in the New York Times, I discussed how the human-to-werewolf transformation works as a metaphor for sexual arousal — especially its primal, selfish aspect. Australian writer Katherine Feeney picked up on the idea in Unleashing the Animal Within.  And Cosmo ended up interviewing me for an article in the December issue entitled “The Fierce Sex Every Couple Should Try.”    Shows what can happen.   What Can Google Teach Us About Sexual Motivation? This year saw the publication of A Billion Wicked Thoughts, an interesting report on what must be the world’s largest...