Sexual Myths (continued 2)

How To Stay Faithful In A Monogamous Relationship!
(And Still Have Great Sex!)

13 You can change your partner if you try hard enough.

I think women are particularly prone to this myth, and indeed many relationships have foundered upon the woman's belief that once she "got" her man she could change him.

Unfortunately many's the woman who's been extremely disappointed to find that nothing of the sort of actually happens.

sliding scale designed to represent success of people's love lifeOne of the signs of real psychological maturity is being able to accept your partner as they are, regardless of who and what they are.

You can't fix or change someone else. You can only fix or change yourself, through a process of gradual growth and development.

You can't make your partner be, or do, who or what you want. You have no right to expect them to meet your needs, either: that isn't what they're in the relationship for. If it happens, fantastic. If it doesn't, so be it.

None of this means that you have to like what's happening, and none of this means that you can't explain how you feel about it all.

What it actually means is that by letting our partners be who they are, in every way, and by accepting that, you will experience true intimacy because you've let go of the expectations and demands which get in the way of emotional connection when you want somebody to be something they aren't or don't want to be.

Getting annoyed, distressed, or angry because of how they don't suit you - sexually or in any other way - (and note, please, that sexual disparity is one of the biggest causes of friction in relationships, and nothing can potentially disrupt a relationship faster than sexual dysfunction like premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation or erectile dysfunction) - means you aren't going to experience intimacy with that person.

And nothing tends to make a person withhold what you want faster than a demand for it. For example, the quickest way to push somebody away may be to demand emotional closeness.

14 Talking can be the route to real intimacy! (Yes, sometimes it can, but....)

Notwithstanding 13 above, it's not always appropriate to engage in absolute openness and frankness.

Sometimes bearing your soul to your partner, or asking them to bear their soul to you, is a substitute for real intimacy that could be achieved in other ways: for example, through sexual intimacy, or through sharing activity, or through even sharing silence.

15 The best sex is with a soul mate.

Well, it depends what you mean by soul mate. We've probably all had good friends of the opposite sex we would never have wanted to get into bed with.

Or maybe you've had a friend with whom you have had sex, but afterwards you mutually agreed, perhaps even without mentioning the subject to each other, never to do it again.

And the reason for this is that best friends do not generally have sex. Where closeness is important to a person, in particular if they came from a close family, it may be really important to keep sex and friendship separate.

 If they get too mixed up, sex may die very quickly (it's like having sex with a close family member). Actually, many things contribute to good sex, most of them about your personality and your capacity to be intimate with your partner.

16 You should never be selfish during sex!

But if you are not going to be selfish during sex, how will you know when you have achieved the greatest pleasure?

Not being selfish implies focusing on your partner, and by doing that you deprive yourself of the awareness of your own sexual fulfilment.

Not only that, but if you're a man focusing on your relationship partner rather than yourself you probably also deprive yourself of the awareness of the level of sexual arousal you have reached, which means you deprive yourself of the awareness you need to control your ejaculation.

silhouette of beautiful sexy womanOne answer to this is to focus entirely on your own sexual pleasure for a while; not permanently -- just for a while until you establish what it is that you want from sex, and what you actually feel during sex. Only by doing this will you be able to communicate your wishes and needs and desires to your partner.

So why would you not be selfish during sex from time to time? I am not suggesting that grabbing what you want and making off with it (metaphorically speaking) is a good thing: I'm just saying that sometimes it may be helpful to get what you want without thought of your partner's needs.

However, that is no excuse for not treating premature ejaculation. Neither is an excuse for avoiding sex altogether, whether by means of developing erectile dysfunction, avoiding sex by avoiding any situation which might become sexual with your partner, or by creating arguments within the relationship. It is also possible, in my view, based on 12 years' work as a sexual therapist, that conditions like premature ejaculation can be a way of avoiding sex.

One of the exercises which we cover later allows one partner at a time to be the focus of the whole attention of the other, in other words to selfishly take without having to give.

This exercise is often a revelation to people, because it puts them back in touch with their most basic sexual needs and their own sensuality, teaching them what their body can do during sex to make them feel good.

 Paradoxically, it's only by being selfish that you can be a generous lover, because it's only by being selfish that you can really establish what sex means you.

17 You've got to keep up the average!

Whether that average is the number of times you have sex each week, or the size of your breasts, or the size of your penis, or the amount you ejaculate, or the number of orgasms you have every time you make love.

But the problem is that an average means half the population will be doing it more often, or be bigger, and the other half of the population will be doing it less often, or be smaller. And in some cases they'll be very much less or more than the average.

So what does it mean if you learn that the average couple is having sex twice a week at age 35?

Suppose you are 35 and your sexual drive means that you want sex once a month? Is it appropriate to be looking at the average and believing that you should keep up with it?

If your sexual life is fulfilling, and you're doing everything that you want, and you're having a good time, the answer is clearly no.

Similarly if you want sex twice a day, every day, is it appropriate to look at the average? Of course not. The only average that matters is your average, not what everybody else is doing (or says they're doing -- because actually most people lie about sex and you can't believe much of what you hear).

In addition, don't forget that there is inevitably a diminution of sexual interest with age. You cannot expect to have the same sexual responses at 50 that you had at 40, 30 or 20 years of age.

Erectile dysfunction may strike at any age, and its consequences can be devastating, both in terms of the relationship and the sexual elements within it.

18 Closely following on from 17 is the myth that everyone else is having more fun than you are.

This is partly a product of our culture where bonking "celebrities" feature in the newspapers and on television (except possibly in America where prurience does not seem to be a virtue it is in the rest of the Western world), and magazines offer free advice on how to pleasure your man (or make him fall in love with you - read more about that here), pleasure your woman, have multiple orgasms every time you have sex, and equally ridiculous and unachievable objectives.

There's no point being envious of what you think other people are doing.

For one thing, even if they are doing it, it's their experience, not yours, and has no relevance to you. Ignoring how satisfying or fulfilling your own relationship / sex life is, by distracting yourself with thoughts of how happy, fulfilled, sexually active, or potent other couples might or might not be is taking the focus off your relationship and making it less likely that you will achieve sexual fulfilment and more intimacy.

These things tend to come from a monogamous long term relationship where two people have achieved real intimacy and emotional understanding.

19 Affairs "just happen".

The reality is that many of us have affairs. Estimates vary, but probably up to 50% of men and women within established couples have sex with someone outside the relationship, maybe just once, maybe more often than that.

 A high proportion of these people will say, when asked why they did it, "It just happened, I couldn't help myself."

But this is dishonest on many levels. There is always a point at which everyone in a committed relationship decides whether or not they would stay faithful if the opportunity to have sex with another person arose.

That's a decision you've probably already made, even if you don't know it yet. Ask yourself, if a situation arose that offered you the "right" partner in the "right" circumstances (often meaning you were dismayed and unhappy with the way your relationship was going), would you or wouldn't you have sex with them?

Yes or No? So now you know - you can actually decide to stay faithful or not. It's good to make that choice, because when the temptation arises you will know what you're going to do. Idealistic?

Possibly, but it avoids the dishonesty of pretending that an affair "just happened" on the spur of the moment. They never do, even when a person's under the influence of drink or drugs.

The reason affairs happen is because somebody sees in another person's some quality or opportunity that they believe they lack in their own long term relationship. It may be emotional intimacy, or it may be sexual experience, or it may even just be the chance to express lustful desire.

 But the irony is that all of these qualities can be expressed within a permanent, committed, monogamous relationship if you try hard enough. And there's the rub!

It isn't that these things are impossible - it's just that we don't know how to do them. We don't know how to achieve the degree of intimacy that seems attractive with a new partner.

sign board of problems and solutionsWe can't imagine how to try the sexual experimentation that we so long for when sex and communication seems to have died out in our own relationship. So, rather than turning to a new partner, why not try the program for an exciting sexual life that's described on this website?

If you try it and you still find that your relationship is going nowhere, you have other choices. I have heard of men (and women) who have said that having an affair has kept their relationship together; and I have heard from men (and women) who have said that having an affair has ended their relationship.

It's worthwhile pointing out that if somebody ends a relationship and moves to live with their new partner from the affair, more often than not they find themselves back at square one in no time at all -- except that there is the additional burden of a broken family, damaged children, disrupted lifestyle, financial distress and who knows what else to cope with.

Even the way in which an affair is conducted can say a lot about your original relationship: for example, even having an affair can be an aggressive act for a man who can't express his anger against his partner.

A woman who wants romance, excitement and the thrill of passion may turn to the heightened sensations of an affair with a man who seems to provide these qualities. Somebody who's guilty about having sex at home may end up having it outside the house, perhaps with a prostitute or in an affair. And so on.

One thing's for sure: there is always a reason why affairs happen. It's exciting to be obsessed with another person, to be consumed by sexual desire and lust.

To enjoy a passionate, possibly illicit, liaison in a hotel or even in the marital bed can be tremendously exciting. But these affairs tend to mix fantasy and reality in a damaging way; the fantasy is often an idealistic fantasy of how things could be or should be or might be, not how they actually turn out to be.

Sexual problems or health problems, and in particular financial problems, can be the death knell of a relationship. It is hardly necessary to point out that serious health problems can diminish a couple's energy and prevent them focusing much attention on each other, but if you have health issues - arthritis, hiatal hernia, acid reflux, hepatitis, yeast infections, high blood pressure, or anything else - then you should make sure that you get a heath check up and overcome these difficulties.

Bear in mind too that having an affair is a definite step away from your relationship. An affair may not end your relationship, but it certainly will change it in some way. After all, relationships - or most of them - have some implicit commitment to sexual faithfulness over the long term.

This is particularly true if you happen to be a person who believes that sex should always be conducted within a committed relationship. No matter how you justify an affair to yourself, if you end up switching relationships, you may well find that nothing much has changed when you're in the new relationship.

An affair always raises the question of why you got into a relationship with a particular person to start with: whatever those reasons were, are they no longer important to you?

 I don't want to deny the possibility that circumstances change so much that a new relationship is sometimes appropriate; it just seems to me that it's more honest to end one relationship before you start the next. And to do that, you really need to have come to the final conclusion that your existing relationship cannot be sustained over the long term, even if you have tried everything that seems reasonable to preserve it.

Many people end up in affairs saying something like: "It just seemed natural to move from a friendship to a sexual relationship." But you need to ask yourself what is driving the force that led you to think the affair would be so much more rewarding than your existing relationship?

As I said above, fantasy often turns out to be nowhere as good as reality. And if you're thinking of accommodating an affair outside your relationship while still maintaining that original relationship, keep in mind that this will put a tremendous strain on you: it's not a natural situation, and few people find it easy to sustain the deception.

 If you cast your mind back to the discussion on how we turn ourselves off, which is what we seem to do during sex with our regular, committed monogamous partner, you may see how easy it can be (if you want to do so) to turn yourself off to the fantasy of sex with your affair or potential affair. (This is a way of staying faithful: you think negatively about your affair.)

For example, imagine the distress of your children when you leave them, instead of the happiness of the sex with your affair. Imagine the financial consequences instead of peaceful, serene dinners together followed by romantic sex.

Imagine having five more children under the age of eight while supporting your original family on maintenance with visiting rights once a month. No doubt there are many other ways you could turn yourself off to the thought of an affair, but in the end it's a matter of choice.

It's also clear to me that a lot of people who spend enormous amounts of time and energy working at an affair, hiding it from their partner, sustaining the interest of the new sexual partner, and so on, could expend that energy on their own existing relationship.

Likewise, the thrills and excitement you may feel with your lover can be put into your existing relationship if you really want to; the passionate sex can be a part of your current relationship; the energy and pride you feel can be transmuted into security, trust and love within your existing relationship.

All that energy is available to you. You and your partner can both benefit from the energy that you would otherwise be putting somewhere else. The real issue is finding out why you want to divert the energy you could be putting into your relationship into an affair.

20 You can't have good long-term sex in a relationship.

This is closely related to number 19 above. If you refocus your energy, in particular your sexual energy, from fantasy about sex with a stranger, or fantasy about another relationship, or indeed from anything outside your existing relationship, including sex itself, back into your relationship there is no reason whatsoever why you should not have wonderful sex with your committed partner for years to come.

If you believe that you're currently in a relationship with the wrong person, that might be different issue; but even there I'd ask if you've devoted energy to trying to put things right and establish a better relationship, rather than just making the assumption that your relationship is doomed. Ultimately, of course, only you know the answer to that question.

There's a rather similar related issue here: the belief that monogamy is unnatural. That's often put forward as a justification for unfaithfulness.

In strict socio-biological terms, monogamy is not natural...but what makes us different a a species is that we at least have the means to decide whether we wish to sustain sexual or social monogamy with one other person for the rest of our lives (or at least for as long as the relationship lasts).

Bear in mind also, that what you call good sex depends how you define it.....number of orgasms? Amount of pleasure - even if that comes from seeing your partner happy rather than having an orgasm yourself?

Just enjoying the chance to express your sexuality? How do you define good sex? Is that a definition your partner would agree with? Have you ever asked them what makes sex good for them?

21 We can't control who we fall in love with.

This is a myth that has driven people's choice of partner for a very long time. The reality is actually very different. We all make choices about who we fall in love with, whether we know it or not.

These choices are based on

  • who is geographically available
  • the kind of relationship we want
  • the kind of person we want to have a relationship with
  • the needs that we believe will be met in relationship with someone
  • the excitement we want to experience in relationship
  • the sort of person that we find physically attractive
  • the needs we have that we believe a person can meet
  • and the degree of self-actualisation that we think we will achieve in relationship with a particular person.

Relationships are not generated randomly; affairs of the heart are a myth, in the sense that we all actively choose our partner from the pool of people available to us.

What this means in practice is that if you choose to have an affair, you're not just blindly falling in love: you're fulfilling some need, perhaps one in the list above, that you see as giving you potentially more gratification than your existing relationship.

22 And of particular relevance to those people who are contemplating having an affair is the belief that if you feel sexual it's actually either a good idea or necessary to follow through and actually engage in sexual activity with that person.

To believe this is to believe that our sexual arousal and sexual desire is an uncontrollable beast waiting to overcome us with its unimaginable power. It's a myth!

Just like when you were a teenager, lusting after every possible sexual outlet, a time when you had neither opportunity nor knowledge sufficient to act upon your sexual desire, now you also have a choice about acting or not acting on your sexual desire.

To be sexually aroused is a pleasurable thing - no doubt about it. But it really does not have to be taken any further.

Just because you have an erection, or you feel yourself getting wet, does not mean that you are in the grip of an uncontrollable process which will inevitably take you to bed with person who is the object of your lust.

Even if you're dancing with somebody and you feel aroused, or you're flirting with them and they respond to you, that does not mean you have to take it any further -- these are rewarding experiences in their own right.

And indeed, if your partner is accepting of them, and relaxed about seeing you engage in them, you can take home that arousal to your primary relationship, and use the energy you've generated to increase the quality and frequency of sex with your partner.

23 For men who are in midlife, the myth that age inhibits sex is a pernicious one.

It may be that comparison with past performance or past ability or past potency leaves you feeling inadequate in midlife. Certainly the rampant erection of your youth may have softened, your erect cock may no longer point to the heavens, and it may indeed get soft during sex more easily than it used to do.

Certainly the level of desire that you feel may have lessened and softened and mellowed. And the length of time between penetration and and orgasm may have increased -- but does any of this matter if you are still just as capable of initiating sexual activity and just as capable as getting as much pleasure from it as you always did?

 Yes, it may be important to have a sense of rampant sexuality, signified by the spontaneous erection bulging in one's pants, the one that has to be dealt with immediately by masturbation.

But the reality is that in midlife and beyond you may need physical stimulation to get an erection, you may need longer periods of thrusting after penetration to reach ejaculation, and you may not be able to get erect again as soon after a session of sex as you once could.

But none of these changes need spoil sex or the pleasure you derive from it. If you have problems getting erect there is Viagra, and if you have problems with sexual drive there is testosterone replacement therapy.

Sso much of what we believe about midlife changes is clearly a myth, a fact clearly demonstrated by the fact that women who go through the menopause fall into two broad groups: the first made up of women who lose interest in sex, and the second of women who find the menopause to be sexually liberating and a gateway to greater sexual activity.

The difference appears to be that the first group of women simply believe that women lose interest in sex after the menopause, while the second group of women believe that freedom from menstruation, fear of pregnancy, and the need to use contraception, is a liberation which will improve their sex lives. And as you believe, so you receive....

Continued here.

Other pages

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Home ] How to stay faithful to your long term partner - and how to keep sex exciting ] How To Make Love To The Same Partner For The Rest Of Your Life ] The Menopause and Andropause ] Intimacy Technique 1: Sensate Focus ] Intimacy Technique 1a: Overcoming Anger and Fear ]