Dr Snyder gets media training from Oprah on CBS This Morning

Dr Snyder gets media training from Oprah on CBS This Morning

When the call came from CBS This Morning  to come discuss two new anthropological papers on the origins of monogamy, my first concern naturally was to make sure I didn’t say anything embarrassing on national TV. So I decided to make detailed notes as a precautionary measure.   But I learned that on TV this isn’t such a good idea — especially if you’re so busy re-reading your notes for the 401st time that you don’t even look up when they announce your name.   Hey, who knew? I also learned you have to talk a little faster on TV.   OK, a lot faster.    As a doctor, you learn to weigh your words carefully, and you want to make sure everything you say is understood.   But TV is more like being at home with the family — you can start talking, but unless you keep it lively you may not get to finish!                       Turns out that Oprah, who’d been on the show that morning to discuss her new movie The Butler, had been intrigued by my topic  (Hey, who wouldn’t be!) and had asked to stay longer to hear about human monogamy.   So as an unexpected bonus I got media training from Oprah herself . . . I’d been on the show for about three minutes (it had felt like about 2 seconds) and was just starting to feel comfortable in front of 3 million people when I was told we were out of time.   Sheesh — I’d hardly gotten warmed up!   Oprah turned...
On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

    July 27, 2012 After news of the Kristen Stewart mini-scandal broke this week, I was contacted by IBTimes writer Justine Ashley Costanza about infidelity amongst the famous and not-so-famous.   With her permission, I’m reprinting the conversation we had in preparation for her IBTimes article that appeared July 25th. Dr Snyder, you’ve said you’re sympathetic to Stewart? Absolutely.   She’s 22.  How many of us would like all the mistakes we made in our 20’s to be recorded on videotape? Why would a 22-year-old woman cheat on her boyfriend of three years with a 41 year old married man? Fidelity has lots of advantages, but absolute fidelity doesn’t come naturally.  It takes commitment. At 22, one is still learning from one’s mistakes.  It takes longer than that to know who you really are, what you really need, and how to resolve your conflicts. Could it have anything to do with the fact that he’s her director? The undivided attention an actress gets from her director can be very erotic.   As I mentioned in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay, that kind of attention can be very attractive to a woman. Look at all the Hollywood actresses who’ve ended up marrying or involved with their directors.  It’s staggering. Can a couple ever get over this kind of thing? Maybe not get over it, but get through it.   If there’s sincerity and real regret over what happened. Do you recommend anything to read for couples struggling with the fallout from infidelity? I like Janice Spring’s After the Affair.  It’s no-nonsense, and it captures the feeling of total disorientation...
Still Further Along the Road Less Traveled

Still Further Along the Road Less Traveled

  “When my beloved first stands before me naked, all open to my sight, there is a feeling throughout the whole of me; awe.  Why?   If sex is no more than an instinct, why don’t I simply feel horny or hungry?   Such simple hunger would be quite sufficient to insure the propagation of the species.   Why awe?  Why should sex be complicated by reverence?”   The Spiritual Rewards of a Disciplined Life Why should sex be complicated by reverence?   Good question.  Why should sexual feelings touch us so deeply, almost at times in a similar way to religious feelings? The author of the passage quoted above, M. Scott Peck, published it in 1978 in The Road Less Traveled. His encounter with religious awe in the form of a woman’s naked body remains one of the book’s more quotable sections. Written at a time when America’s 1960’s love affair with personal freedom seemed to be souring, The Road Less Traveled suggested a return to more durable, old-fashioned values.   Peck taught that psychological growth required discipline, and that most psychological pain resulted from not having the discipline and courage to face one’s problems. Although The Road Less Traveled began with an emphasis on discipline, it went on to claim that the rewards of a disciplined life might include spiritual and sexual inspiration as well – a sense of wonder at God’s many gifts. The passage above about “awe” struck many readers as particularly inspired.   Peck’s sense of wonder at the miracle of sexuality resonated with many people’s intuition of a spiritual dimension to sex.   Peck and Open Marriage What was perhaps...
What’s So New About the New Non-Monogamy?

What’s So New About the New Non-Monogamy?

Photo credit:  Pedrosimoes7 via Creative Commons   “Monogamy Lite” For those of you who missed “Open Marriage,” the ethical non-monogamy movement of the 70’s: Ethical non-monogamy is back.  Not that it ever actually disappeared.  But it seems to be making news again. Last year the New York Times bestselling book Sex at Dawn (extensively reviewed on these pages)  argued that we’re all really designed for sexual promiscuity, and proposed that we adopt a more relaxed, European-style sexual ethic. This year sees couples expert Tammy Nelson’s thoughtful piece on “The New Monogamy” –which if I understand it correctly is not quite monogamy at all, but something closer to non-monogamy.  “Monogamy Lite,” perhaps. And last week in the New York Times Magazine,   Mark Oppenheimer’s article, “Married, with infidelities,”discusses the work of Dan Savage — writer, activist, and married but not entirely monogamous gay man – who feels that heterosexuals could learn from homosexual men to be more honest about extramarital sex.  And more accepting of it.   Why is Ethical Non-Monogamy Suddenly Hot Again? The internet, of course, for one. We leave denser electronic trails.   More secret infidelities get discovered — in private life, as well as in public life. When it’s  more obvious who’s being secretly unfaithful, it’s natural to wonder if there might after all be better alternatives to the traditional lying and cheating. Then there’s the “You Are Not Alone” factor.  The internet has fostered electronic communities of like-minded polyamorous and nonmonogamous people.  As it has for many other sexual minorities. But I think the strongest force bringing attention now again to non-monogamy may be  the successes of the gay civil...
The Search for Sexual Sanity Continues

The Search for Sexual Sanity Continues

June 2011   Now that Representative Anthony Weiner is reported to be seeking professional help, one question seems to be on many people’s minds: Help for what? That’s not clear.  Sending suggestive photos of oneself to young women is clearly personally and professionally hazardous.  But does it reflect a disorder requiring treatment? Common sense would say that it’s certainly a symptom of something.    But of what? There’s no real consensus about how to approach the issue. For example, there’s the question of whether such behavior might represent an “addiction.” Many people, myself included, think there’s something to the sex addiction idea.  But that the term over-simplifies something that’s often more complex.   We should also keep in mind that it’s not so easy to be sexually sane these days.    As a country, we’re very conflicted about sex.   We’re sensation-seeking and puritanical at the same time.    As my West Coast colleague Marty Klein writes concerning the Weiner affair, we’re fairly hypocritical about which sexual conflicts get labeled as scandals.   And there are people like Betty Dodson who say we might do better to just chuck the whole notion of sexual pathology. I recently returned from the annual spring meeting of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), where this year the meeting featured a debate concerning whether or not certain kinds of hypersexual behaviors should be considered addictions. There are arguments to be made on both sides, and the matter is by no means settled.   Eli Coleman, a leading figure in the field, prefers the term “Impulsive/Compulsive Sexual Behavior (ICSB).” I like ICSB —  it hews closely to...