Sex Talk
Archive

How do you tell your partner that your "great" sex involves fake orgasms?


Q from a Female, Junior student at the University of Maine: How do you tell your partner of one year that your “great” sex together involves fake orgasms all the time?

Dr. Caron's Answer: Carefully and sincerely. And make sure this conversation happens outside the bedroom. I believe your question reflects a situation other women have found themselves in. Let me begin by saying it is important to be honest with him - he needs to know the kind of pressure you have felt and that your intent was never to hurt him - but to "protect" him from what you thought would be disappointing. You need to have an honest talk about how you feel and how you two need to learn what does need to happen to allow you to reach orgasm. For example, he needs to be educated on the fact that most women do not reach orgasm simply from “penis-in-vagina” activity - for many women there needs to be extra stimulation. Some women even prefer to orgasm through manual stimulation only or oral sex or with a vibrator – not during intercourse. Please know that he's probably going to be hurt - expect that and let him be hurt. He has a right to his feelings. But you'll find that, if you can work through this, your relationship will be stronger in the long run. As you know, dishonesty makes for a very weak relationship. It’s like a table with one leg - not very sturdy. Best wishes.

When she doesn't want to lead him on or hurt his feelings.


Q from a Female, Sophmore student at the Utah State: I’m concerned about a friend of mine who is infatuated with this woman in our class. He has told her his feelings for her and she said she wants nothing more than a friendship. She’s a genuinely nice person who doesn’t want to lead him on or hurt his feelings. Despite this, he talks about her 24/7, calls her constantly, and stops by to see her. He is starting to make an ass out of himself - it’s embarrassing. As his friend, I feel I should do something, but I don’t want him to get mad at me.

Dr. Caron’s Response: Let me begin by saying that you are not responsible for your friend. It’s not your job to protect him from making an “ass” of himself. He is responsible for his own behavior. I do think there is something to be said for being honest, however. For example, the next time he mentions her, you may want to tell him that you are uncomfortable listening to him talk about someone who’s obviously not interested in him—and leave it at that. It sounds like this is really between him and the woman. You say this woman doesn’t want to hurt his feelings; yet maybe she needs to be more direct with him, even if it means hurting his feelings. It sounds like he didn’t take the gentle “hint” that she’s not interested - since he’s constantly calling her and stopping by to see her. It’s up to her to set limits.

Is it Normal if a Man Can't get Aroused?


Q from a Female, Sophmore student at the University of Kentucky: Is it normal for a man, on occasion, not to be able to get an erection while being stimulated?

Dr. Caron's Response: Yes. Physical and emotional factors may interfere. For example, alcohol and other drugs can interfere with a man's ability to get an erection. Also, a man who is overtired or overstressed is not at his best in anything. Be understanding and patient.

Why do Men Say They want an Independent Woman and then Run?


Q from a Female, Sophmore student at the University of Maine: Men claim they are looking for independent women, yet when they get involved with one they often can't handle it and run away. Why?

Dr. Caron's Answer: This is complicated. Some men may be genuinely interested in a relationship with an independent woman, while others may say they are and realize later they are really not. I think it takes someone who is confident to be with another person who is independent and not needing to be cared for. Keep in mind: We don't always look for what we really want and we don't always say what we really want; our desires may be elsewhere. It may be popular or "politically correct" to say you want an independent woman. In addition, we don't always consciously know what we really want.

Is Losing Interest in Sex with the Boyfriend a Problem?


A Female, Junior student from UM wants to know......My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time but we haven't been sexually active with each other (or anyone else) for a few years. I can't seem to bring myself to want to do stuff with him. Is there anything I can do or we can do? It is starting to become a big problem.

Dr. Caron's Answer: You say it is becoming a problem. I wish I knew what you meant by this. For example, is it that you feel pressured to be doing something sexually because you assume every else is? is it that you don't think this is how "normal" couples should interact? Or is it that your boyfriend is not happy with the way things are? Some couples feel that there may be something wrong with them if they do not have frequent sex. You may be surprised to know that many couples who are in what they consider "long term happy relationships" are not sexually involved with one another. In fact, a national sexuality study published about 10 years ago (Sex in America by Michael et al.) reported that nearly one-third of couples said they rarely, if ever, had sex. Knowing this may take some of the pressure off you to change what may be a very comfortable, fun-loving relationship for the two of you.

On the other hand, you say it is starting to create problems, which suggests you would like a change. You want to have the sexual part of the relationship, but can't seem to find the desire. Consider those aspects of your life situation and/or your relationship that may be creating roadblocks to desire. For example, it's hard to have desire when you have so many other demands in your life, or if you do not feel that your partner cares about you or if there is unresolved anger. Were there problems within the sexual relationship that led to a lack of desire (e.g., you were never sexually satisfied, he was feeling pressured to perform)? You do not mention any of these, but these could be issues to look at and discuss (either with your partner, a friend, or a counselor).

It seems like a good place to start would be to talk with your partner about his comfort with the relationship as it is. Perhaps there is no need to change. Or maybe he feels the same way. Perhaps you two have become so comfortable that you forget about those earlier times in the relationship when sex played a key role - it may have been a way to make you feel wanted, satisfied, sexy, loved, and cared for. Like so many things in life, it can be hard to keep the excitement alive over time. Think of it as an analogy to your favorite food - for example, Ben and Jerry's ice-cream... let's say the first time you tried the Phish Food flavor it was amazing. But if you started eating it every week, or even every day, well, it probably got pretty boring pretty quickly. A little taste once in awhile may be just what you need.... Begin to rekindle those tastes, those feelings, by finding a way to "date" one another again, adding little surprises to the relationship, and doing those things that used to turn you on that have now fallen by the wayside. Find time to just kiss and hold one another, to snuggle and lay close together and listen to each other's heartbeat. Take it slow, and work on rekindling those pleasurable activities that create sexual feelings for you - work on building upon those little things that make you feel comfortable, loved, and cared for.

My friend says she was raped. What can I do?


Q from a female, junior from (unknown/not identified) university wants to know....My friend says she was raped and I honestly do not know what to do to help her or where to turn for help - to help me help her. She is not going to classes and is very depressed.....she stays inside now all the time and refuses to go out to parties or anywhere.

Dr. Caron's Answer: I would suggest contacting the Dean of Students, as well as the public safety/police office, the campus health center, and your campus counseling center. Each of these offices can assist you in helping her. She needs to know her options....in terms of who can help her legally, medically, emotionally. Many universities now employ sexual assault counselors, so I would also see if you have such a person or office on your campus, or check out the local phone book for a Rape Crisis Center in your community. Sexual assault is a crime and while she needs legal assistance to understand her rights, she also needs medical and emotional assistance. Good for you for being her friend and wanting to help. Believing her is a great first step. Listening, being there, and being patient with her are all going to help. Let's hope your campus is able to respond - they are obligated to help her, but they need to know about this in order to help her. She needs to notify someone within the university system so that the situation can be dealt with appropriately. You will be a big help to her by contacting the various offices initially to see what she needs to do and what will potentially happen at each place. Best wishes.

By the way: What happens when a school does not respond well? Students lose faith in the system, and people become outraged. One example is a website developed by a mother of a student who was sexually assaulted at UVA, www.uvavictimsofrape.com/. According to this mother, the situation was not handled well by that university. Let's hope your university responds better than what is described on this website.

Is Losing Interest in Sex with the Boyfriend a Problem?


A Female, Junior student from UM wants to know......My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time but we haven't been sexually active with each other (or anyone else) for a few years. I can't seem to bring myself to want to do stuff with him. Is there anything I can do or we can do? It is starting to become a big problem.

Dr. Caron's Answer: You say it is becoming a problem. I wish I knew what you meant by this. For example, is it that you feel pressured to be doing something sexually because you assume every else is? is it that you don't think this is how "normal" couples should interact? Or is it that your boyfriend is not happy with the way things are? Some couples feel that there may be something wrong with them if they do not have frequent sex. You may be surprised to know that many couples who are in what they consider "long term happy relationships" are not sexually involved with one another. In fact, a national sexuality study published about 10 years ago (Sex in America by Michael et al.) reported that nearly one-third of couples said they rarely, if ever, had sex. Knowing this may take some of the pressure off you to change what may be a very comfortable, fun-loving relationship for the two of you.

On the other hand, you say it is starting to create problems, which suggests you would like a change. You want to have the sexual part of the relationship, but can't seem to find the desire. Consider those aspects of your life situation and/or your relationship that may be creating roadblocks to desire. For example, it's hard to have desire when you have so many other demands in your life, or if you do not feel that your partner cares about you or if there is unresolved anger. Were there problems within the sexual relationship that led to a lack of desire (e.g., you were never sexually satisfied, he was feeling pressured to perform)? You do not mention any of these, but these could be issues to look at and discuss (either with your partner, a friend, or a counselor).

It seems like a good place to start would be to talk with your partner about his comfort with the relationship as it is. Perhaps there is no need to change. Or maybe he feels the same way. Perhaps you two have become so comfortable that you forget about those earlier times in the relationship when sex played a key role - it may have been a way to make you feel wanted, satisfied, sexy, loved, and cared for. Like so many things in life, it can be hard to keep the excitement alive over time. Think of it as an analogy to your favorite food - for example, Ben and Jerry's ice-cream... let's say the first time you tried the Phish Food flavor it was amazing. But if you started eating it every week, or even every day, well, it probably got pretty boring pretty quickly. A little taste once in awhile may be just what you need.... Begin to rekindle those tastes, those feelings, by finding a way to "date" one another again, adding little surprises to the relationship, and doing those things that used to turn you on that have now fallen by the wayside. Find time to just kiss and hold one another, to snuggle and lay close together and listen to each other's heartbeat. Take it slow, and work on rekindling those pleasurable activities that create sexual feelings for you - work on building upon those little things that make you feel comfortable, loved, and cared for.

Does being a 20 year old male virgin make me a loser?


Q from a male, junior from the UC Santa Cruz wants to know....I am a 20 year old college student and the unique part about me from the rest of the college students is that I haven't had sex yet because I feel that it is my choice and I should only do it at a right time with the right person. I have had many female friends that wanted to have sex with me when they drank, but I refused their requests because I think they are being irresponsible in their attitudes. Now I know that especially in today's college and high school atmosphere, being a virgin makes you a loser. But I totally disagree on that and believe that sex isn't a childish game, it is a choice and you should only do it when you think you are ready and responsible for it. What do you think?

Dr. Caron's Answer: I couldn't agree with you more. Sex is something that should be engaged in when one feels it is right for them. If intimacy equals sex, as some believe, than people who don't engage in sexual intercourse are defined as leading very dull lives. With this argument, virginity is than a state we want to leave. This view is too simplistic, only serving to pressure people like yourself to have sexual intercourse.

It is important to remember that virginity, like sexual activity, is a matter of choice. Some men and women choose to wait until they are in what they consider to be a long-term relationship before they become sexually involved and some do not. Being a virgin does not mean you are not sexual, or that you do not have an intimate relationship; virginity is an acceptable alternative to sexual intercourse. What is best for you is for you alone to decide.

Why Relationships "Peter" Out


Q from a female, senior from the University of Georgia wants to know....Throughout my college career, I have had a number of dead-end relationships with several guys. It seems things always go fine at first, but within a few weeks it "peters" out. While at first we had lots to share and talk about, in a matter of just a few weeks there is nothing left to say to each other. What's wrong? Do I just have really bad luck or what?

Dr. Caron's Answer: I'm curious about the relationship you have had with these various guys before you started dating them. Sometimes people think they can meet someone in an evening - fall in love - and that's it...a love relationship has been established. But it needs to be based on something - such as mutual interests, values. I wonder about your own expectations for a relationship. Clearly the initial meeting is important - but what is the "glue" that holds you together? My motto is "Start a trend, fall in love with a friend." That way you have a basis on which to judge the person you are now romantically involved with. Also, there are things you can do to keep the conversation going. Attending plays or guest lectures on campus, or reading articles in the campus newspaper together can certainly provide ideas for conversation. You have to work at any relationship. It doesn't just happen. Best wishes.

Being a loser in the “romance department.”


Q from a Male, junior at from Drexel wants to know...
I would like to have a girlfriend, someone to be in love with, but I seem to be a loser in the “romance department.” Any tips?

Dr. Caron’s Response: Yes, I have a great tip: In order to find someone to love, you need to find someone you like. Think about what it says: start slow; take small steps. Rather than thinking you are a loser, I suspect you just have not found the right person yet. No one can expect to meet someone and automatically have a dynamic love relationship; it takes time. Begin by finding someone you like.

Men and Intimacy


Q from a woman at the University of Maine: Why is it that men have a harder time being close? Why isn't intimacy as important to them as it is to women?

Dr. Caron's Answer: I think it is just as important, but for some men it is more difficult to show or express. Keep in mind that, even today, many men do not get the opportunity to build "intimacy skills" while growing up. Women tend to have more practice in this area. Little girls are allowed to stay close and connected to their mothers - while boys are "pushed out of the nest" so to speak. Girls are allowed to touch each other - while men can touch only in specific situations (for example, during sports or during sex). Research has indicated that women are more likely to call a friend "just to catch up" - while men talk to each other about doing things. It's more acceptable for women to share feelings; many men are still being raised to think it's "unmanly" to cry or say they feel hurt. It takes time to unlearn some of these messages and to recognize the benefit of feeling free to express yourself and feel close to someone. Developing intimacy takes time. Fortunately, more and more men are recognizing their desire to develop this ability.

Breaking Up


Q from a Female, Junior student at University of Florida: I broke up with my boyfriend over a year ago, but I can't stop thinking about him. I've dated other guys, but nobody seriously. Will I ever get over him?

Dr. Caron's Answer: Probably. One year isn't really a long time to still be thinking about your old boyfriend, especially when you haven't established another serious relationship. It's important to look at why you still think about him. Is it the relationship with him that you miss, or just having a relationship? Why did you break up? Often times it can be easier to remember the good times with your boyfriend, while forgetting why the relationship didn't work out. Remember: One of our tasks in life is learning to let go. It's hard.

Getting Pregnant


Q from a Female First-Year student at UNCC wants to know….Can a woman get pregnant at any time, or is there a time when she can't get pregnant?

Dr. Caron’s response: You get pregnant when an egg and sperm meet ­ so both need to be present for this to occur. Most women ovulate (release an egg) in the middle of their cycle. For example, if a woman menstruates every 28 days, she typically ovulates on or around the 10-16th day before the start of her next period. The egg lives only 4 to 24 hours after ovulation. Sperm are most active within 48 hours after ejaculation. So, one way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid having intercourse around the time you ovulate. (of course you can also use birth control pills that stop ovulation completely ­ no egg = no way to get pregnant).The problem is trying to determine when you ovulate. For some women the signs are more obvious. For example, some women experience a twinge on one side of the lower abdomen during ovulation, called mittleschmerz (German for middle pain). Around the time of ovulation there is an increase and a change in cervical mucous secretions. The mucus becomes clear, slippery, and stretchy (like egg white). It is at this time that a woman can most easily become pregnant. If you really want to understand your body and your ovulatory cycle, I suggest learning natural family planning (there are books explaining this); this method teaches you how to chart your temperature and mucus changes in order to predict ovulation. You can also buy an ovulation-predication kit at the drug store; but this can be a bit expensive, as it requires you to check your urine daily for the presence of hormones. Best wishes!

When She Isn't Willing to Say How She's Feeling


A question form a Male, Junior at University of California wants to know.... I have been in a relationship for almost 3 years with my girlfriend. We have had a great relationship, the communication could be better but that is both of our fault. The problem came when we went on a vacation together. She was very drawn back and not receptive at all, even to a simple conversation. I had a feeling something was wrong. So I asked her and she said she was fine and nothing was bothering her. A few days after returning home she said we needed a break from one another. This came as a total shock to me. I knew something was wrong I just had no idea it was that bad. She said she needed a break from us so she could be more like a college student. I am very confused and I am not exactly sure how to take it or what to do? I don't want to loose her she means everything in the world to me. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it.

Dr. Caron's Response: This sounds like a very painful time for you. The person who you love and care about is now telling you she wants a break. OUCH. That hurts! As you have discovered, there are no guarantees in a relationship, and while you may have had hopes for this one, it sounds like it may be over. I do think that when a person says they need a break, we need to believe them. I do worry that she has left you hanging - suggesting that perhaps you and she may be back together one day, once she has had time to "be more like a college student." But would you really want her back - would the trust be there? would the damage of this surprise announcement be able to be overcome? It would be nice if you could get her to tell you more about what is going on for her, but unfortunately she may not be able to articulate anything more than her need to be a college student. The issue becomes whether you should hang around and wait for her to change her mind - something that may never happen - or let go. A relationship requires a commitment by the two people involved - and she is not currently part of the equation. Your needs are not being met. I would look to my friends for support. You need time to grieve and to begin building a life without her - as a way to protect yourself from more hurt. I hope you can find the support you need to move on - so that should she one day decide she is ready for a new relationship with you, it can be on your terms, as well as on hers. Breaking up/losing someone - is a difficult task - life is really about learning to let go... I hope you can accept her decision to break off the relationship and take whatever valuable lessons you have learned from this into a new relationship one day. Best wishes.

Is it common for straight males to masturbate with and/or for other straight males?


Q from a Male, senior at Harvard University wants to know.....Is it normal, or should I say common, for straight males to masturbate with and/or for other straight males?

Dr. Caron's response: Let me begin by stating that just because something is not common does not mean it is not normal. And although we usually think of masturbation as a solo activity, it can be shared with a sexual partner in person, or via phone or internet. It also happens in groups. Please keep in mind that finding good research data on masturbation is difficult because many people are not comfortable reporting honestly about their masturbatory behavior. Having said that, when looking for data on straight males masturbating with other straight males, it does not appear to be a very common practice - at least in the published research arena. The little research found on this would fall into the category of group masturbation – also known as the "circle jerk" - where groups of boys form a circle and see who can masturbate the fastest or propel their ejaculate the furthest. One recent paper on this very topic was published by Cornog in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy. An adult version of group masturbation occurs in organized clubs, sometimes referred to as Jack-Off or JO clubs. One example is the New York Jacks, a male masturbation club started in the 1980s. Although it is thought that this type of shared masturbatory experience most likely occurs between gay males, we know it also includes women and heterosexuals. This is seen in the rise in clubs now referred to as Jack and Jill Off or JJO clubs. Getting back to your question - I think it is important for the people participating to decide what they are comfortable with - and if this feels right for them - in terms of their own values and beliefs. That's something to consider when deciding whether to share this side of oneself with another person.

How to be comfortable while having sex


Question from a first-year female at Simon's Rock College of Bard: What positions during intercourse are more comfortable for women. Is it normal for some positions to be painful?

Dr. Caron's answer: Comfortable positions during intercourse really vary from person to person - while some may enjoy the man-on-top position, others may enjoy having the woman on top, being side by side or using rear entry. Some people enjoy experimenting with more than one position. Comfort level really varies widely from couple to couple. However, I will say that some women report that they find the woman-on-top position more comfortable because they have a greater range of motion and can more easily control the angle, rate, and depth of penile penetration. Is it normal for some positions to be painful - yes. For example, pain can be the result of a woman not being lubricated enough. Sex can also be painful if she has an infection (such as a yeast infection), and some contraceptives have been known to irritate the vagina (like certain foams and gels, and even condoms!) which can lead to painful sex. Other pain can result when thrusting is so vigorous that the ligamen!

ts that support the uterus are pushed and suddenly stretched - the woman-on-top position comes in handy in this case since she controls the depth of the thrusts. Although all women may experience some pain during some episode of intercourse, there is reason to be concerned if you find that you have this pain most or all the time - in whatever position you find yourself in. A pelvic exam performed by a gynecologist would be recommended. For example, endometriosis (when menstrual tissue ends up outside the uterus and attaches within the pelvis to the ovaries, tubes, and uterus) is associated with pain during penile thrusting and you would want to have this checked and treated. For more information on endometriosis, check out this website: www.endometriosisassn.org/. Best wishes.

What to do When Your Partner Starts to Experience Pain During Sex


A Male, Senior student at the University of Maine wants to know......My girlfriend and I have been with each other for almost 4 years now. I don't get to see her often but when either of us visits each other we usually have a good amount of sex in a short period of time (over a weekend). In the past 2 months my girlfriend has been saying that every so often it really hurts her to have intercourse...... it's to the point where she starts crying. I was just wondering if this is okay or should she have it looked at? And is there anything I can do in the boyfriend role to make her feel better?

Dr. Caron's Answer: My first suggestion is STOP. Intercourse should not be painful. If it is, she should seek a medical opinion. The most common reason for pain is lack of lubrication, which can easily be resolved with a lubricant. However, pain with intercourse can be caused by a number of other issues that should be explored with a medical provider who specializes in women's health. Sex should be about pleasure. When you say she starts crying because it hurts, that is a clear indication that you need to stop. I mean, what is the point of continuing if it is not pleasurable for her? And one has to wonder how it could be pleasurable for you if you know it is hurting her. It would be no surprise to see a person's desire to engage in sex drop very quickly in this situation. As her boyfriend, your role should be one of showing care and concern for her well-being by accompanying her to her medical appointment. Until her pain is resolved, it means being patient and showing a willingness to find other ways to be sexually intimate with each other besides penis-in-vagina. It also means assuring her that you are there for her and that you will wait until she feels ready to initiate intercourse. Best wishes.

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It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover. - Marge Piercy

American teens have the worst of all worlds...Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate. Faye Westheime

Is it normal for a person in a relationship to masturbate?


Q from a male, First Year student from St. Bonaventure wants to know....Is it normal for a person in a relationship to masturbate?

Dr. Caron's Answer: Yes. Masturbation seems to be one of the most widely practiced and least talked about sexual behaviors. And it isn’t just “beginner’s sex” that kids do until they’re ready for the “real thing.” Men and women, boys and girls, people with a regular partner and those who are single, heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals, all masturbate. While some may believe that single adults are more likely to masturbate, the 1994 Sex in America survey found that adults with a partner are more likely to masturbate than those who did not have a partner. The researchers concluded that masturbation is “not an outlet so much as a component of a sexually active lifestyle.” Some people worry that if their partner masturbates, there must be something wrong with their relationship. However, there appears to be no relationship between frequency of masturbation and frequency of sex with one’s partner. If fact, some studies have found that married people who masturbate have greater relationship and sexual satisfaction than those who do not.

© 2006, Sandra L. Caron

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Sex is much bigger than genitals. It's a matter of sensory awareness, living in the physical world and reacting to it in a sensory way. - Camille Paglia



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