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Sex Therapist Shares the Secret to Hot Sex (Hint: It Has More to Do With the Mind Than the Body)

Sex therapist Marty Klein's message is antithetical to the sex advice found everywhere from self-help books to the supermarket checkout line.

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Most of us develop our vision of sexuality between 15 and 20. At that time we have a very particular kind of body: it’s young, it’s healthy, it’s flexible, it’s conventionally attractive. And so we associate that body and that body’s abilities with good sex. We say that good sex is the kind of sex you can have if you’ve had five margaritas, or you can have good sex when someone has a face without any lines on it.

The model of sexuality that we develop between 15 and 20, it just doesn’t work for us when we have the body of a 47-year-old, when you have to take ibuprofen an hour before you have sex. There’s also a different emotional and psychological context. There’s a different ecology. You have responsibilities, you don’t have a lot of time to kill, you have to wake up early the next morning, you have children you don’t want to wake up when you’re having sex. When we’re young, we don’t have to develop the skill of planning for sex, of being patient, of waiting for when it’s going to be the right time.

They want spontaneity.

Well, you know? You can’t have that. How many 40-year-olds who have any sort of a life do anything spontaneously? I mean, look at you and I, we wanted to have a conversation and we had to plan it. We didn’t say, you know, when you’re in the mood, give me a call.

This yearning for spontaneity is so poignant, because what people are really saying is, ” I yearn for the uncomplicated life that I used to have where sexuality was at my disposal 24 hours a day, rain or shine.”

You also write about how a lack of desire is a major concern for most of your clients —

Most couples, when one or both of them don’t feel incredibly horny, they think of that as something that only one of them is going to fix. “You lose weight and that will make me more horny” or “I’ll have fantasies or come up with a new position and that will make me more horny.” They don’t talk about it as a couple. The couple needs to sign up for it together — but that requires them to talk honestly about sex. Most couples would rather chew glass than talk honestly with each other about sex. They’re willing to say things like, “I wish you’d lose weight, I wish you didn’t bring work home, you’re always on the phone with your mother,” but most are not willing to say, “I used to have more desire for you than I have now, do you want to work with me to do something about that?”

Why is that? Obviously, there’s the desire to not hurt your partner’s feelings, but it also seems there’s more there.

I wouldn’t be quite so generous. I think it’s more like, “I don’t want to say these things to you because I don’t want to hear them from you.”

So, we’re afraid of having these conversations because if we start being honest with our partner, they might start being honest with us, and that might validate our deepest insecurities?

I think that’s part of it. I think people are afraid that if they start talking honestly about sex, they’re going to be opening Pandora’s box. I also think that not everybody has the vocabulary, not everybody can say exactly what they want or how they feel. A lot of people find it easier to say, “You did something wrong,” rather than to say, “Let me tell you how that felt to me.” Instead of saying, “You’re frigid” or “You’re too kinky,” you say, “I feel unattractive” or “it’s not that I don’t like oral sex, it’s just that whenever you’re going down on me I feel so exposed, I feel so foolish.” If only people would talk more about feeling foolish in bed, rather than what the other person is doing wrong. A lot of people talk about what’s wrong with sex, like sex did something wrong. When people say that in the office, I say, “Well, rather than telling me what’s wrong with sex, why don’t you tell me how you feel?”

 
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