Dr J's Sex Facts

Fun sex facts and accurate information from a clinical sexologist for a hotter and more fulfilling sex life.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sexual Communication Part 3: The Final Frontier (for now)

Sex is perfectly natural, but not always naturally perfect”

Welcome New Readers!

You may find this blog a bit different from others because my intention is to be both entertaining and educational. Each new post is based on information presented in the previous one; so to get the maximum benefit, I recommend you begin with the introductory post from the August archive and read forward from there.

For the last two weeks, we’ve been examining in depth, various aspects of sexual communication—heaven for a chatterbox like me. Now we’re in the home stretch, ready to wrap this up and put it to bed. Here are some suggestions and examples that will help ensure you get more of what you want out of sex.

Asking for What You Want

Take responsibility for your own pleasure. Your partner isn’t a mind reader; tell her/him what turns you on! “I’ve discovered I really enjoy oral sex more than any other activity.”

Be specific. “I’d like you to kiss me slower and deeper.”

State things in a positive way. “I like it when you touch me firmly, like this.” NOT: “That’s too light; I don’t like it.” Talk about a buzzkill; and, as the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Remember that no one’s feelings are wrong. This may be a hard concept to grasp; however, it’s obvious that you and your partner won’t always feel the same way about everything (and how boring would that be?).

Avoid “why” questions. Your partner will feel attacked, and then become defensive. Often, we don’t exactly know why we do certain things. “Why” is just another way of saying “justify yourself!” Sometimes we think if we can just understand why, it will be easier to accept. Admittedly, this is occasionally true. However, most of the time, that’s usually just a rationalization. “Why don’t you kiss me more often?” WHY is less important than how you two can cooperatively find a solution.

Saying No

Express appreciation, if appropriate. For example, if someone asks you out, you might say, “I’m flattered, but no thanks.”

Say no clearly. Don’t string someone along; it’s cruel; and if the roles were reversed you wouldn’t like to be treated that way. If someone asks: “Would you like to see a movie with me tonight?” Don’t make up a lame excuse, like: “I have to wash my hair tonight.” And then if they ask: “Well, how about tomorrow?” Don’t say: “I have to wash my dog’s hair tomorrow,” and so on.

Offer an alternative, if possible. “I’m really not ready to go on a date, but I’d love to meet for coffee after class sometime.”

Everybody Wins

Assertive communication involves treating others with respect as well as with a positive regard. If you learn how to convey your feelings assertively rather than aggressively, you’re much more likely to attain a positive outcome without hurting the other person.


You’ve tried everything, even staying up all night talking, and there’s still no resolution.

Take a time out to re-evaluate. You’ve got lots of time, so don’t put pressure on yourself to solve every issue immediately. Try again in a week or a month. Sometimes, after you think things over for awhile, you’re able to come up with fresh ideas and creative solutions.

Negotiate a compromise. Just remember that if one person in the relationship is consistently more willing to compromise, it could lead to future resentment.

Of course, if nothing else works, it may be time to consult an expert—a clinical sexologist trained to help people communicate and/or resolve conflicts.

One Final Note:

The principles of effective communication we’ve been examining together these past three weeks are also appropriate for non-sexual situations. In fact, once you learn how to express yourself sexually, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to talk about anything with just about anyone. (“Hi Mom. Remember when you threw my pet lizard down the toilet?”)

But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget the coming attractions: differing sexual needs and other issues that may emerge in sexual relationships, such as jealousy (oooooooh!).

This week’s topic may have touched a nerve for some of you, and I want you to know that I welcome your comments and questions. As always, the doctor is in, so feel free to ask away!

With Pleasure,

Dr. J

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Doc Is Out

Don't panic; just taking a week off. Back next week with the usual fun facts and goodies. If you haven't had the time to read this blog from the beginning, now is your chance to get up to speed. And of course, even though there's no new post this week, you can still make comments and ask questions. Dr. J

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sexual Communication: Speaking Up While Lying Down

“Two monologues do not make a dialogue”
Jeff Daly, Actor/Writer

Welcome New Readers!

As regular readers can attest, you may find this blog a bit different from others because my intention is to be both entertaining and educational. Each new post is based on information presented in the previous one; so to get the maximum benefit, I recommend you begin with the introductory post from August and read forward from there.

Getting Started:

How can you start talking about a sexual issue with a partner when just the thought of doing it seems so scary? Sometimes we need an icebreaker—sharing a book that describes some aspect of sexuality is one way, watching a video or attending a workshop together are others—the bottom line is to try anything that helps introduce the subject. While these suggestions are all great ways to open up the lines of communication, our UK correspondent, Ed, has also suggested writing an old-fashioned love letter or sending an email. Some people feel less vulnerable when broaching the subject in writing, which allows you to gather your thoughts—plus, nobody stammers in writing, right?

Specific Skills:

Active Listen: This means paying attention to the person talking and using your body language to let them know that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Smile, make eye contact and nod in agreement when appropriate. Even though it may be hard for you to stay engaged, be aware that looking at your nails, gazing around the room, etc. are all indications of boredom and lack of interest. Another helpful hint is determining the optimum distance for your conversational comfort. Try this: move your chairs 10 feet apart and try to talk. Are you yelling across a divide? Of course. Now put your chairs right in each others’ face. Smothered much? Sure. For most people, a 2-4-foot distance is perfect for making a connection without feeling overwhelmed. And remember that touch can diffuse anger and discomfort faster than a speeding bullet and that an affectionate pat or squeeze will help remind both of you that you care about each other; so go ahead, make that connection. Here’s a helpful way to remember how to SOFTEN a communication: S = Smile O = Open Posture F = Forward Lean T = Touch E = Eye Contact N = Nod.

Paraphrase: Once the person has finished speaking, repeat back to them what you think they just said. This will help clarify whether you really understand what they’re trying to say and also lets them know that you’ve heard and understood their concern. “I heard you say you’d like us to kiss more often, is that right?”

Speak directly, using neutral, non-confrontational language. Don’t be accusatory, but don’t beat around the bush! “I’d really like to have sex with you more than once a week.”

Only make “I” statements (I feel, I want, I think, etc.) This indicates that you’re sharing your feelings, rather than attacking the other person. For instance, if your partner is chronically late, rather than attacking them by saying “why are you always so late? “ or “you’re always making me wait!” you would say, “when you’re late, I feel discounted and unimportant, and it makes me feel like you don’t care about me.” In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid asking why because sometimes people don’t know why they do things and this just puts them on the defensive. Remember that when people are attacked, they defend. That’s why most discussions end up being wars that no one can win, rather than true efforts to share feelings and ultimately resolve conflict.

Stick to only one topic at a time. Don’t bring up what happened last year. “And another thing: you forgot our two-and-a-half-year anniversary!” This distracts from the topic you’re discussing, and if you get off topic, so will they.

Right about now, some of you are saying: “Well it’s one thing to read about these techniques, but I’ve never talked about sex before, and I’m afraid I’ll just look stupid!” Understood. How about a little rehearsal? Look at yourself in a mirror and repeat your opening sentence until you feel comfortable. Then repeat your next point, etc. You can even rehearse with a willing friend to help you feel less awkward. Are you ready to take on those scary topics? You betcha!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, come back next week and we’ll discuss some specific techniques for asking for what you want, saying no, hearing criticism and enduring impasses.

As always, the doctor is in. This week’s topic may have touched a nerve for some of you, and I want you to know that I welcome your comments and questions.

With Pleasure,
Dr. J

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not Your Usual Polemic on Sexual Communication

"Tell me and I'll forget
Show me and I'll remember
Involve me and I'll understand”

“How to Tell Him What You Want,” “If You Don’t Talk, She’ll Walk,” etc. We’ve all seen countless newspaper and magazine articles with titles like these claiming to teach us how to communicate better within our relationships.

Rubbish, I say. Rubbish and poppycock (I say that, too). The fact is we’re already active participants in an endless—and needless—ongoing processing of our every shared thought, feeling and opinion with our partner, as they are with us. Remember when your relationship was new, and you couldn’t get enough of each others’ life stories? In your desire to attain instant intimacy, you stayed up ALL NIGHT telling each other everything: “And then when I was 7, we moved to St. Louis and I got a dog.” After 6 months of this, you did know absolutely everything about each other.

Then what happened? Well, now the two of you are just like roommates–you even share the bathroom! (and isn’t that an exciting development?) Face it, the pilot has definitely turned on the over-sharing sign. Now is the time to shut up a little and try to maintain a semblance of your own private personal space. I call this, “Leaving the bathroom door closed.” It’s important to resist the urge to become so cloyingly close that there’s no longer any “you”—there’s only “you two.” Sooner or later, this familiarity becomes the enemy of eroticism, unless, of course, you’re turned on by the idea of having sex with your roomie (which is fine too).

Women, in particular, are vulnerable to this temptation because we’re socialized to be emotional caretakers (read: endless processing and sharing). The flip side of this is the male social role (“I don’t want to talk about it”) in which feelings are consciously or unconsciously suppressed and avoided at all costs.

Let’s move on to the topic at hand. Of course communication is important—especially when it comes to sex. But try to be more judicious and selective about what you communicate.

But: caring about someone is still no guarantee that you’ll have effective communication. Why? Because our parents provided most of us with our earliest models for how to communicate. And how did our parents resolve conflicts or disagreements? Did you ever see or hear them employ the artful skills of reasoned negotiation? Exactly! Most of us don’t have any role models for our own conflict resolution because our parents tended to hide this from us (and probably still do) out of a misguided attempt to “protect” us. Or—just as scary—we heard them yelling from behind their bedroom door and, being kids, we imagined the worst (and we all know that kids have very active and vivid imaginations when it comes to imagining the worst).

If everyday communication is difficult, imagine how much harder sexual communication is for most of us. Why? Because we had no role models to teach us (“Now Jane, here’s how you tell your partner where you like to be touched”), and we didn’t learn a sexual vocabulary (“I, ummm, want, ummm…”). As a result, we tend to feel extremely vulnerable about sex (“I’ll be so humiliated if s/he doesn’t like the way I kiss”). It certainly hasn’t helped that most of us grew up in cultures that teach us that sex is an inappropriate topic to discuss or even think about (“thinking is the same as doing”).

In next week’s post, we’ll be exploring specific “sex talk” techniques, including assertive communication, which involves treating someone with respect and a positive regard, as opposed to aggressive communication—treating someone in an uncaring, manipulative manner. If you learn how to convey your feelings assertively rather than aggressively, you’re much more likely to attain a positive outcome without hurting the other person.

Our current subject always engenders lots of comments and questions, so fire away; the pilot has turned off the over-sharing sign, but I’m open for business.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J