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...
New York City Sex Therapy Diary:  Fifty Shades for Men

New York City Sex Therapy Diary: Fifty Shades for Men

OK, guys — By now you’ve probably noticed your wife or girlfriend has become more interested in sex since reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Have you thought of reading it yourself — to find out what all the fuss is about? I’m going to tell you a secret:  I read the whole thing.   All 3 volumes. It really isn’t so bad.  True, there are large sections devoted to clothes and shopping.  And the beginning of Volume 3 especially might make you feel like a prisoner at a crafts fair.  But there’s a lot a man can learn from Fifty Shades. Here are three lessons I think every man should absorb from this book.   1.   Be interested in sex. That doesn’t sound too hard, right?   Aren’t all guys interested in sex? Actually, no.   Not from a woman’s point of view.   You really have no idea what women go through to make themselves sexually appealing.    Women pay attention to every detail.   You take a woman out on a date, you can be sure that her hair, her skin, her outfit, even her shoes have all been studied very carefully. Christian Grey sweats the details in just that way.   He selects his clothes as a woman might — to highlight his best features.  And he makes sure he has great-smelling lotions and stuff in his (very clean) bathroom.   He’s interested in the whole sensory experience — the colors, the music — everything. Christian Grey is really interested in sex.   He has a whole room devoted to it.   OK, it’s full of implements of pain — whips and floggers and stuff.  ...
Why Fifty Shades Leaves Women Wanting More

Why Fifty Shades Leaves Women Wanting More

Can’t Fail Sex Recipe for Erotic Romance 5 cups Twilight 1 cup Marquis de Sade 3 cups raw sex — finely diced Yield:    Fifty Shades of Grey   Two virgins It’s well known that Fifty Shades of Grey began as a work of “Fan Fiction” published online, closely based on Twilight.    The resemblance between Twilight and Fifty Shades is indeed striking. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Fifty Shades is loaded with graphic sex, while the Twilight characters never saw each other naked until volume 4.   The romantic and erotic ingredients of Twilight are closely copied in Fifty Shades. Like Twilight’s Bella, Fifty Shades’ Ana Steele is a sexual and romantic tabula rasa — a virgin in the purest sense of the word.   Ana has never before felt sexual attraction, never been in love, never masturbated, and never had an orgasm. Like Bella, she comes from a silent, unexpressive father and a childlike, disorganized mother who have long since divorced — and from whom she can expect very little. In an interesting twist, given what’s usually assumed about the importance of women’s social networks, both heroines are fairly solitary.  They are bookish creatures, somewhat out of step with the popular crowd. The emotional solitude of the female lead has been a  staple of the romance genre since Pamela in 1740. Twilight and Fifty Shades are no exception.   As discussed earlier on these pages, there’s something compelling about virgins locked in towers.   (More on that later.)   Team Christian Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey is a near-clone of Twilight’s Edward.  Like Edward, Grey is uber-sophisticated, plays the piano...
Mass Erotic Choice as a Social Organizer —   from Beatlemania to Fifty Shades of Grey

Mass Erotic Choice as a Social Organizer — from Beatlemania to Fifty Shades of Grey

Photo credit:  Pedrosimoes7,  via Creative Commons.    The Questions Never Change Working as a sex therapist, I have more than a passing interest in what the culture happens to be serving up about eros. Part of it is simply curiosity about what my clients are reading.  But the greater part involves a search for conceptual tools with which to understand the erotic mind. Fact is, sexuality remains a mystery in many ways. Are humans inherently monogamous, or not? To what extent are men’s and women’s sexual natures the same or different? What’s the connection between sexuality and spirituality? What do women want? These questions forever haunt us. Last year, I endeavored to review a new book, written not by sex experts but  by computer scientists, that nonetheless purported to offer insights about human sexual nature based on such things as Google porn searches and word choice in online erotic fiction. The idea was and is a compelling one:  If you want to understand human sexuality, look at people’s actual choices.   On the internet, those choices are measurable. By year’s end, my review of A Billion Wicked Thoughts had stretched to eleven articles, with no end in sight.  Wary of tiring my readers, I put a stop to it.   Mass Erotic Decision-Making But now with Fifty Shades of Grey it seems we’re back in the territory of mass erotic choice. Can we learn anything about sexuality from the success of FiftyShades?   Yes, I think so. Since the book is erotic fantasy rather than actual sex, though, we have to be careful.   We shouldn’t, for example, after reading the book presume...
Sex therapy NYC: What You Still Might Not Know About BDSM After Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Sex therapy NYC: What You Still Might Not Know About BDSM After Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Reader Beware After reading Fifty Shades of Grey, you might think you’ve learned something about  men who wish to sexually dominate their partners. In particular, you might conclude that being a sexual Dominant probably means one had a very bad childhood, as Christian Grey did.  And that like Grey one has problems loving, being loved, and being touched. You’d be wrong on all counts. Those are common stereotypes.   And they’re common enough in such men who present for sex therapy.    But one can’t generalize from people presenting for treatment to people in general. Let’s look more closely.   Does BDSM Suggest Childhood Trauma? Patients in treatment often seem to have turned past tragedy into current triumph by re-packaging scary memories into sexy feelings. When one starts out as a beginning sex therapist, among one’s first hundred or so sex therapy patients there are often many who resemble the fictional Christian Grey of Fifty Shades — people with kinky sexual tastes who come from horrible early environments and have led lives of great torment. But if one is not blinded by always expecting to find trauma, one finds among one’s next several hundred patients many with unusual sexual tastes who don’t fit this mold. Some come from perfectly decent homes and have been loved every bit as a child ought to be loved, but nevertheless experience cravings to tie people up, to be whipped, or to make love to amputees. And what of the universe of sexual humans who never come for psychological help?   In the absence of more objective information, it’s important not to conclude that someone...