What Italians Want to Know About Sex

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Well, it’s actually Croatians. The Croatian medical students with whom I worked in Ravenna last week.

More than once, they asked how sex has changed since the invention of the internet.

It’s an important question.

On the one hand, there are some tangible ways:
* Porn is now available everywhere, all the time, in every possible configuration.
* There are new ways to meet people for sex: escort services, apps like Grindr, websites like Ashley Madison and Sugar Babies.
* It’s easier than ever to buy sex toys, lube, condoms, and other products, with privacy and low prices, from reliable companies.
* Did I mention porn? That’s where most young men and many young women are now getting much of their sex education.

Nothing brilliant about this analysis. “But,” I said, “One of the key ways the internet has changed our sexuality centers around the issue of multi-tasking.” That’s the expectation that people should be able to do more than one thing at a time—like reading email while talking on the phone. Or texting while talking with your kid.

In fact, it’s now more than an expectation that we CAN; it’s the expectation that we SHOULD. I see an increasing number of people who don’t feel comfortable doing one thing at a time anymore. And that’s bad for sex.

Because—assuming you’re with someone you want to be with, and they’re pleased to be with you—there’s only thing you actually need to enjoy sex: Focus. Attention. Engagement. In fact, regardless of what your genitalia can do, no matter how great your body is, you won’t enjoy sex much if your mind is on other things. You know…multi-tasking.

A lot of people I see in therapy have trouble focusing during sex. The problem for most of them isn’t the sex, it’s the focusing. They can’t simply watch a movie, either—they’re restless to check their voicemail. They can’t just eat lunch, they’re anxious about what texts they might have received. They can’t sit in my waiting room listening to music or thinking about our upcoming session for five or six minutes, they have to check the security cameras in their home.

One of the criticisms of internet porn is that it makes sex with a real person boring. I’m certain that’s totally inaccurate. Rather, I think it’s the new lifestyle that has developed at the same time as internet porn: doing two or three things at once, and constantly checking on incoming digital stimulus.

THAT’S what’s making people restless or dissatisfied about sex with a real person: it requires them to unhook from their online lives for a half-hour, which is a skill many people have lost (and most young people never developed).

So to enjoy sex with a person more, you don’t need better erections, or a wetter vagina, or easier orgasms. You certainly don’t need to lose weight, get a boob job, or learn the tricks of tantra or Cirque du Soleil.

You need to focus on your five senses, and to focus so fiercely on THAT incoming data that you have virtually no bandwidth left over to think about anything, or to miss any other incoming stimulation. When you can do that—when you make sex more interesting than any email that might be coming in—sex will seem rich and enjoyable, something to desire and anticipate.

And that aspect of Sexual Intelligence is true whether you’re in Italy, Croatia, or anywhere else.

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