Dr J's Sex Facts

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

Friday, February 02, 2007

The “Happy Sex Camper”: Sexual Relationships on Your Terms

“You mustn’t force sex to do the work of love or love to do the work of sex.”
Mary McCarthy, American author


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.


As we were growing up, most of us were bombarded with the usual misguided messages about when it’s considered socially appropriate for a person to have sex (only when you’re in love, etc.); the reality is that we may use sex for different things at different times. Here is a sampling of what we regularly use sex for:

· Pleasure
· Recreation
· Self-esteem
· Loneliness relief
· Tension relief
· Security
· Power
· Revenge!

If you take the time to consciously determine what you want from a sexual encounter, you'll be more likely to approach it with your eyes open, and perhaps maximize the potential of having your deepest needs and desires met. Developing a pattern of using sex for nonsexual reasons can result in it being a chore instead of a pleasurable activity. While self-esteem is an important part of our individual sexuality, it still remains a critically unexamined area. Before having sex with someone, you might consider asking yourself a very important question: will sex with this person positively enhance my own feelings about myself or will it create negative feelings? In other words, it’s important to consider a few things before deciding to be sexual with someone, and our options also include being able to say: “Not yet,” “I’m not sure,” or “No thanks.”

Ethical Casual Sex


While not all partnered sexual activity is relationship-oriented, many people are often unsure of how to approach short-term, casual sex. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

· Be honest with the other person (I’m only interested in a booty call—not looking for a relationship).
· Check out what each person wants to do sexually; that way, there’s a better chance for both of you to share a mutually satisfying experience.
· Decide on methods of birth control (if applicable) and risk reduction.
· Ensure a caring ending: Don’t just leave; say something in closing (“I had a really great time. Maybe we’ll run into each other again.”)

Beginning Intimacy

If you are looking for a relationship and wishing it would develop into intimacy, your first step would be to understand the difference between a crush and love. We get crushes on people that we don’t really know all the time; then we idealize them (“Ohh, Orlando Bloom is sooooo cool!”), and we even create sensual fantasies in which they perform as our “perfect” lover. However, the reality is that love begins with more than just self-love and self-respect, it also starts with us knowing what we want. Love additionally requires that we know and understand the other person–and that includes accepting their faults–so that we can love the total package, not just what we hope to turn them into. Please don’t delude yourself into expecting the kind of scenario served up regularly in romance novels that someone else is going to magically “complete” you or “heal” your past! This unreasonable expectation not only leads to disappointment, but reinforces the idea that someone else is responsible for your happiness.

Successful Couples


In a survey of “successful” couples (where success is defined by both partners rating their long-term relationship as being very happy) participants were asked to state the most important aspect of their relationship—in other words, what was the most critical contributor to their happiness. While most of us would expect their answer to be “good sex” or “good communication” or some such, here’s a surprise: the overwhelming winning response was: “I like my partner as a person.” These couples usually said that even if they hadn’t fallen in love with their partner, they’d still want to spend time with her/him, finding their partner endlessly fascinating and enjoyable company. In long-term relationships, it’s this kind of intimacy that gets you through the long winter nights, the illnesses and even the crushing tragedies—it’s not just the hot sex (sorry). Here are some of the other important aspects, in descending order of rating:

· I respect my partner (meaning s/he is basically a good person)
· I trust my partner (somewhat). None of us is 100% trustworthy, but a certain amount of reliability is important.
· We have good sex. This requires no comment other than to say that enjoyable sex can reinforce all the good feelings you have about your partner. Plus it’s fun!
· We have fun. It’s very important for adults to allow themselves to giggle and enjoy life; it keeps us young and vibrant, regardless of our chronological age.
· I can talk honestly with my partner (“If I decided to take up ballet at age 50, I know my partner wouldn’t laugh at me, but would at least listen to my feelings and honor them”)
· We share some interests. Too often, people believe they should do absolutely everything together all the time, but this can isolate you from opportunities to grow. Remember that when you’re learning new things on your own, those things enrich not only you but also the relationship.
· We have a commitment to growth, both separately and together.


This last item gets my most enthusiastic endorsement. Of the many couples I’ve worked with, most discover that sharing this commitment to growth provides an endlessly stimulating environment in which relationships grow rather than becoming stultifyingly boring (“Every Tuesday, we go bowling, and then we eat at the same restaurant every Friday where we always order the same food,” etc.) Believe it or not, I’ve spoken with many unhappy people whose lives are stuck in this kind of a rut, and yet they don’t realize just why they’re so bored with each other and themselves.

I’m sharing all of this with you in order to stimulate thought as much as to let it serve as a caution for everyone. However, just because the above-referenced couples listed these aspects as being important doesn’t mean you aren’t free to add your own bits of wisdom to the list. You may have discovered something equally critical to your own happiness. Go ahead: add it to the list, and live and love life to its fullest!

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!).

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. I would also like to invite all of you to share your own additions to the above list. We’d all love to hear about what works for you. The doctor is definitely in.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J

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