Ambiguities of The Erotic

I’ve recently been reading Esther Perel’s book Mating in Captivity: Sex, Lies and Domestic Bliss. The book discusses sex and eroticism in long-term relationships and is interesting in many ways. But there’s a particular point that has stood out for me as a sex therapist.

In Mating in Captivity, Perel discusses what I’m going to call the ambiguities or intangibles of sex, sexuality and love-making. She also explores the way that these intangibles can fly in the face of our can-do, goal-oriented society: Continue reading Ambiguities of The Erotic

A Psychologist and a Sex-Design Researcher Walk into a Bar…

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with a Melbourne-based Sex-Design Researcher by the name of Victoria Cullen. Victoria is a Workshop Facilitator and Sex Educator at Passionfruit: The Sensuality Shop. She also lectures for RMIT University in the Future Sex Studio where she teaches students about consumer-centered design for sex products, aids and services. And, she has recently started a great sexuality blog called The Lubrarian.

So, when a Psychologist and a Sex-Design Researcher walk into a bar, what do they talk about? Here’s a little summary of our interesting chats. Continue reading A Psychologist and a Sex-Design Researcher Walk into a Bar…

What Do You Bring to Bed?

When we step into a sexual scenario – whether it be with a long-term lover, a new romantic interest, or a casual rendezvous – we bring so much more than just our physical bodies and sexual skills.

We also bring our sexual anticipations and expectations, our fantasies, our fears and hang-ups, our mental health, our rules and restrictions, and our past experiences. We bring our whole self and our whole sexual belief system.

What do you bring to bed? Continue reading What Do You Bring to Bed?

Quickie Blog: Novelty Nervousness and the 5-Minute Rule

In recent posts I’ve been discussing the idea of sexual novelty and variety. Go here for an overview, or go here to read about The Healthy Sex Pyramid.

But even when we believe a bit of variety might be nice, the idea of introducing something new to our sexual repertoire can be very daunting.

Perhaps you’d like to try some dirty talk or sexual narration. Or maybe a new sexual position or location. Maybe role-play is on your to-try list, or perhaps you’d like to experiment with being more sexually assertive or sexually submissive in bed.

Whatever it is that you or a partner are suggesting, here is a little tip for easing the anxiety. Continue reading Quickie Blog: Novelty Nervousness and the 5-Minute Rule

The Healthy Sex Pyramid

Why is variety good for us?

I recently wrote a blog series about the importance of variety and novelty in relationships and in the bedroom.

When somebody’s sex life falls a bit flat, the popular wisdom is that you just need to “spice things up”.

But familiarity isn’t the enemy – sexual comfort and routine allows a couple to gain valuable knowledge and techniques for turning each other on, often lets them relax more during sex and experience less performance anxiety, and usually provides a sense of emotional safety in the bedroom.

But it is true that familiarity and sexual routine can become too dominant in a relationship, leading to less sexual passion, sexual boredom, and low prioritising of sex.

Continue reading The Healthy Sex Pyramid

Passion, Novelty and Hedonic Adaptation: In the Bedroom (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series I discussed the topic of Hedonic Adaptation from a general relationship perspective. Part 2 of this series will focus on the application of these ideas to the sexual domain.

To recap, Hedonic Adaptation in relationships is where, after a surge in happiness and passion at the beginning of a new relationship, people generally adapt to this scenario over time -the passion then reduces and happiness comes back down to the person’s previous baseline. Continue reading Passion, Novelty and Hedonic Adaptation: In the Bedroom (Part 2)

Conditions for Good Sex

Satisfying sex is not a given in all relationships, and there are certain factors that can predict a more positive and sustainable sex life.

If enough of the conditions for enjoyable sex are met and prioritised, it is much easier to manage desire discrepancies, to add novelty into your sex life, and to remain open and receptive to sexual experiences over a long-term relationship.

These factors can be grouped into 3 main categories: Healthy Body & Mind; Healthy Relationship; and Sexy Sex. Realistic Expectations are also needed. Continue reading Conditions for Good Sex

Passion, Novelty and Hedonic Adaptation: The Back Story (Part 1)

One of the advantages of a long-term relationship is the familiarity and comfort that develops as a couple – staying in for a cosy movie on a Friday night, building routines together, going to that favourite restaurant, feeling known and understood.

But if there is too much familiarity and routine in your relationship, this can lead to a significant drop in passion over time.

These observations are related to a theory called Hedonic Adaptation. Continue reading Passion, Novelty and Hedonic Adaptation: The Back Story (Part 1)

Reproduction Can be Very Unsexy

Part of my work has involved counselling with couples who are undergoing assisted reproduction such as IVF, donor sperm insemination, and donor egg and embryo use.

From this work I have noticed some key things about sex and reproduction:

  1. Sex can be unproductive;
  2. Reproduction can be unsexy; and
  3. Reproductive treatment can be downright sexually demoralizing.

Continue reading Reproduction Can be Very Unsexy

Long Distance Lovin’

My recent interstate move got me thinking about long distance relationships.

All relationships have periods of separation, whether it be due to work trips, leisure travel, or temporarily or permanently living in different cities.

In some circumstances, the distance might be a nice chance to have a little break from intimacy – an opportunity to miss each others touch and build anticipation for their return. Continue reading Long Distance Lovin’