Saturday, November 27, 2010

What a Day for a Daydream: Sexual Fantasies

Research shows us that about 95 percent of the population say they fantasize about sex….and the other 5 percent lie.

Sexual fantasies are sexual thoughts and images that we create in our minds. Everyone fantasizes about sex, and it’s the most common daydream people have—it’s also the most common type of sexual behavior that people engage in.

Understanding your sexual fantasies is important, because it helps you to better understand “who” you are as a sexual person, and fantasies give you great insight into your unique sexual script.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sex Talk: What Sexually Excites You?

Part of understanding your sex script is knowing what turns you on, what increases your sexual desire, arousal, and response. Jot down your answers to the following statements. When you’re finished, share your answers with your partner. This is the stuff that creates a ssssssteam-heat sex life (not that new vibrator).

I am most often in the mood for sex when ________________________.

I am least often in the mood for sex when ____________________________.

The most sensitive parts of my body are _______________________________

The least sensitive parts of my body are ______________________________

When I think of my partner exploring every inch of my unclothed body, it makes me feel _____________________________________________________.

This is because _____________________________________________________.

When I think of exploring every inch of my partner’s unclothed body, it makes me feel ____________________________________________________.

This is because ____________________________________________________.

The one thing I wish my partner would do to increase my sexual desire is to _______________________________________________________________.

When my partner _____________________________________, it decreases my sexual desire.

When someone suggests that I view erotic materials to increase my sexual desire and arousal, it makes me feel ____________________________________,
because ____________________________________________________________.

When someone suggests that I masturbate to increase my sexual desire and arousal and to better understand my body, I feel __________________

My sex drive is ___________________________________________.

I wish I knew more about ______________________________________________. 

Photo Credit: "Pink List," cogdogblog (

Sexual Response: In 5...4...3...2...1...

In the 1960s and 1970s, sexologists Masters and Johnson outlined their revolutionary Four Phases of Human Sexual Response.

Through their research (don’t ask…it involved a lot of not-so-fun electronic devices, like a penile strain gauge and the photoplethysmograph, placed into a lot of different body cavities), they discovered that sex—whether it’s masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, sex with a toy, or penis-in-vagina sex—causes a chain reaction of sorts.

(Or, as my husband says, “the launch sequence has been initiated!”)

Friday, November 19, 2010

He Said She Said

Okay, so by this point you get it. You get that love is different things to different people. You get that love is different things to the same couple at different times.

You get that your definition of love is under constant construction, and that your love map (and your partner’s) changes over time. You get that early in a relationship, because of passionate love, couples are eager to care for one another and they’re highly motivated to satisfy each other’s emotional needs, to nurture one another’s love needs.

You get that, as you self-disclose, intimacy levels deepen in the relationship, to the point where you and your partner become mutually dependent and reliant on each other for the fulfillment of your intimacy and love needs. You get that when your love needs are met, you feel happy and content.

But guess what? There’s one more puzzle piece we need to put into place in order to complete the picture: Men and women don’t prioritize love needs in the same ways.

Big. Huge. Important.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lovin', Touchin', and Squeezin' : What's Your Sexual IQ Score?

Touching him. Touching her. Licking. Biting. Tickling. Sighing. Cuddling. Fighting. Hesitating. Giving out. Giving in.

Fighting it. Faking it. Wanting it.

What is sex?

The Kiss Still Works

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on.

The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that.

Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.

Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?

The young woman asks, “Will my mouth always be like this?”

“Yes,” I say, “it will. It’s because the nerve was cut.”

She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says. “It’s kind of cute.”

Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

(Source: Selzer, 1978).

What is it that strikes you most about this story? 

Photo Credit: Bob.Fornal (

Friday, November 12, 2010

What's Your Intimacy/Passion/Commitment Score?

Do you want a marriage that lasts? Do you want to live [almost] happily ever after? Then consummate love (not to be confused with consomm√© soup!) is what you want to strive for! 

Consummate love is thought to be the most complete form of love, the love that’s associated with “perfect couples.”  Consummate means to develop something or to bring something to the point of perfection.

A perfect marriage? For real?  Yep.

Psychologist Robert Sternberg developed his Triangle Theory of Love, which conceptualizes eight different types of love relationships. Sternberg says that love isn’t a fixed experience—it’s a process that undergoes change over time, and it’s made up of three main things:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Starter Marriages: A Great Little Fixer-Upper?

Flipping houses? Flipping marriages? 
Passionate love wanes. Passionate love ultimately fades.

If couples don’t have this realistic expectation going into their marriages—knowing that passionate love will fizzle—it’s a very real possibility that when this romantic love gives way, partners (especially gals) no longer “feel” that they’re in love.

I think this is one of the reasons why we’re seeing an increase in a frightening new trend, that of starter marriages. Starter marriages—a first marriage that lasts five years or less and ends before a couple has children—are on the rise in the US and Europe.

One researcher writes about starter marriages here. The author is spot on when she says that today’s couples get sucked into “matrimania” (the planning of the gazillion dollar wedding), and that they don’t give much thought to the marriage that comes after the wedding.    

These marriages are kind of like flipping houses.  You know, the trend where people purchase a little fixer upper, pour love and attention and resources into it, and then get out of it—hoping to make a profit? Hoping to benefit somehow from the experience?

Take this from a TLC junkie: People who try to flip houses almost always discover that it’s much harder to do than they thought. Much. Harder.

Seeing young adults’ marriages trend in this direction worries me quite a bit, because these marriages aren’t benign, innocuous experiences. Make no mistake about it: These types of relationships carry lasting effects, because they etch yet another mark on the love map.  

Could this matrimania/starter marriage craze be the result of passionate love? I’m betting yes.

Have you ever heard of starter marriages? What’s your opinion about them?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mr. Happy Gets Married

The other day I introduced you to Mr. Happy and his “Stop! Don’t use that pole anywhere near her no-no hole” sex advice.

But Mr. Happy’s “secrets of sexual intimacy” don’t end there.  It looks like a night of explosive, make-Mr.-Happy-blow-like-Mr.-Mount-Vesuvius sex starts with the wifey.

“Ladies, learn how to wrap yourself, to wrap the room in a seductive allure tailor-made to your husband.” [Observation #1: Tailor-made to my husband?? That would mean something involving snow. And ski poles. There’s no way this can end well.]

But Mr. Happy’s wife seems to be an eager beaver (oh yes I did), so let’s see what gets him going.

Meet Mrs. Headlights.

Would You Like Fries with That? Drive-Thru Love

In my previous blog I talked about the science of love, and how the brain releases chemicals that make us feel blissful and euphoric when we are first “in love” with someone. Because of this flood of brain chemicals, it’s common to feel love intensely (just like our Bachelorette).

How long does the craziness of love—passionate love—last? And why does knowing about passionate love even matter?  Don’t all couples experience passionate love at some point? And don’t they do just fine?

Ummm….no. <cough, ridiculous divorce rates, cough><cough, ridiculously high cohabitation rates, cough>

You see, passionate love experiences are only temporary, usually lasting only about 12 to 36 months.  Yep, you read me right—the I-don’t-ever-want-to-leave-your-side-make-love-to-me-forever-and-ever-and-ever-amen feelings of passionate love only last for about a year to about 3 years (at the very most).

Don’t get me wrong. Almost all of us experience passionate love early on in our love relationships, and I would venture to say that this is a very, very necessary process that draws young lovers closer together.

But let’s stop here for a little Reality 101: Passionate love does not last! The very nature of passionate love is that it will wax and wane. It will fade!

Do you see the problem?

Faaaaaaaaar too often, couples today make decisions about cohabitating or marriage while they are still in the throws of passionate love.

We’re a society that needs demands immediate gratification. And while this instant satisfaction may be okay when it comes to driving through Mickey D’s to satisfy an urge for carbs and cholesterol, drive-thru passionate love certainly isn’t a way to determine if “that” girl or “that” guy is the one we should live with or marry.

So, a huge step toward divorce-proofing your relationship is to determine: Is what I’m feeling passionate love—or love that lasts?

[This is usually the point where students freak out. They’re afraid that after passionate love fades, their attraction to their partner or their gotta-have-it sexual desires will fade, too. Nope. Not gonna happen. Come back later and see why real love is even better than passionate love!]

Photo Credit: freefotouk (

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What's Your Passionate Love Score?!

Are you a passionate lover?
Bachelorette: “I’m veeeeeeery in love. I feel giddy and blissful and excited and my heart feels really really really joyful and happy and at ease when I think about Jake and I’m in love and I’m happy and I really really trust Jake with my vagina heart and [I want to] kiss him for hours and hours and hours and I just really really really really love being in love.”

Bachelor: “Umm….we have had such an amazing time getting to know each other (read: sexually) and there are so many things I love to do to you about you. I do love you and you’re just perfect.”

Bachelorette: [Cue beauty queen tear-fest]

Bachelor: “But .....ummmm…..  Something doesn’t feel right.”

Bachelorette: [Cue devastation]  Wait for it....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Come On Get "Happy," and Other Stoooopid Sex Advice

I read about sex. I read about sex a lot. I write about sex. A lot. So much so, sometimes I feel as though I need condoms on my fingers as I type out another chapter.

When you’re a professor and author of intimate relationships and sexuality, it’s kind of an occupational hazard. Reading and writing about sex comes with the territory (no pun intended—yet).

Some of the stuff out there is pretty good…it’s accurate enough so that no one gets hurt in the process of trying the “advice.” And it’s at least somewhat based in reality. (Let’s face it—doing a striptease and a lap dance for the hubs every night may be what Reality TV is all about, but anyone who’s been married for more than 10 minutes knows that this isn’t what Reality Reality is all about. This definitely falls in the "are you freakin' kidding me" column).

After sitting here all morning trying to write a sex advice column and answer college students’ questions about sex, I came to arrived at the conclusion that there’s a lot stuff out there that is just downright, well, ridiculous. Ludicrous. Absurd. Outlandish. Bizarre. Nonsensical. (I know, I know. How do I really feel?)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chocolate Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

What is love, actually? What is the basis of the giddy, walking-on-air feelings we experience when we fall in love? Recent advances in science may reveal the answer.

The initial feelings of love don’t have much to do with romance, but instead have more to do with functions of the brain. Information between brain neurons is communicated by the movement of certain chemicals—neurotransmitters—across areas of the brain. When we begin to fall in love, the “high” we experience is the result of the release of these neurotransmitters.

When two people are attracted to one another, the brain becomes flooded with a gush of neurotransmitters that mimic amphetamines (commonly referred to as “uppers”). The neurotransmitter culprits are dopamine, which makes us feel good, norepinephrine, which causes pounding hearts and racing pulses, and PEA (phenylethylamine), which causes feelings of excitement and euphoria.  (Did you know that, because chocolate has PEA, it has long been rumored to promote passionate love between lovers?)

The neurotransmitters then signal the pituitary gland (located in the region of the brain known as the hypothalamus) to release a multitude of hormones that rapidly flood the bloodstream. The sex glands, in turn, release even more hormones into the bloodstream.

It’s the combination of the flood of neurotransmitters in the brain and the subsequent release of the hormones into the bloodstream that allow new lovers to make love all night or talk for hours on end.

When these chemicals are produced over a period of time, people interpret the physical sensations as “falling in love.”

Love, actually, is a cocktail of neurochemicals. Who knew?!

Source: Welch, Kelly (2010). Family Life Now.

Photo Credit:

Lust? Love? Or Love That Lasts?

1978. South Padre Island. Spring break. Size [much smaller than I am now]. Sun and sand and surf. Shoulder to shoulder college students. And all I could think about was, “Do I love Dave?”

Not the oh-my-gosh-he’s-so-slammin’-hawt kind of love. That kind of love gripped me the first time I saw him (1976. At a high school debate tournament. I beat him.). 

The question I struggled with during that infamous spring break trip was, Did I love him with a marriage kind of love?  The kind of love that lasts? (Not that he was even considering marriage at that point….but a gal has to be prepared, right?)

On that trip, one afternoon I happened to have a pool-side conversation with an elderly woman. When I asked her how she knew her husband of 50+ years was “the one,” she said something like, “When you see his face in the clouds and hear his voice in the wind, you’ll know.”

I’ll looked up to the sky. Nope. Nothing.