Sexual Myths (continued 2)
How To Stay Faithful In A
(And Still Have Great Sex!)
13 You can change your partner if you try hard
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.
One of the signs of real psychological maturity
is being able to accept your partner as they are, regardless of who and what
You can't fix or change someone else. You can
only fix or change yourself, through a process of gradual growth and
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
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.
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
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
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
One 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
tend to come from a monogamous long term relationship where two people have
achieved real intimacy and
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
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.
We 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
If you try it and you still find that your
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
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
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
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.
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
20 You can't have good long-term sex in a
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
There's a rather similar related issue here:
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
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
- the needs that we believe will be met in
relationship with someone
- the excitement we want to experience in
- the sort of person that we find
- 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
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
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....