‘desire’

Fantasy vs. Desire—You Know the Difference, Right?

There’s a new book out about sexual fantasy and it’s half wonderful.

Social psychologist Justin Lehmiller has recently completed the largest American study of people’s sexual fantasies, interviewing over 4,000 respondents. He discusses the results in his lively new book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You.

To summarize: humans are a sexually diverse group, with an enormously wide range of sexual fantasies. And those fantasies are generally not polite, or wholesome, or respectful of boundaries—which is actually the point of sexual fantasy.

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How Much Sex Do People Need?

Old therapy joke:
Q: What’s the difference between defense mechanisms and sex? A: You can go a whole day without sex.

Actually, we can go without sex for a lot longer than that. But you wouldn’t know it from listening to some of my patients. Or their partners.

It generally sounds like this: “So I just need a lot of sex. I can’t help it, that’s just how I am—I need a lot of sex, preferably every day.”

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When Partners Disagree On How Much Sex To Have

As a sex therapist, I work with couples every week in which one partner wants more sex than the other.

When it’s a small disparity people generally work it out. But when one person wants sex twice a week and other wants it twice a year, many couples simply can’t cope. Ideally, couples would struggle over this together: what are WE going to do about OUR problem?

What’s more common, unfortunately, is that each partner sees themselves as having the primary pain. And each person looks at the other and says what are YOU going to do about MY suffering that YOU’VE created?

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Sexually, Is Pleasure What Motivates You?

If you ask most people what they want from sex, they’ll say some combination of pleasure and closeness. And yet people’s decisions around sex are clearly about other things. The way men and women select partners; choose to initiate or decline sex; relate to their preferences or fantasies; obsess on how they look, sound, or smell; and remain present or check out during sex—all of these decisions make it clear that for many people, their sexual agendas go way beyond pleasure or closeness. In fact, pleasure and closeness may be quite far from what people are really going after in…

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