If a couple like each other, have fun together, and basically have a good relationship, they shouldn't call it quits if everything is there but the sex. Chemistry can grow if you give yourself permission to learn about yourself as a sexual human being and to communicate your desires. That's probably better than falling for someone in a mad, passionate heat. Because when you realize you don't actually like each other, sex is the first thing to go. And then you have nothing.
—Sue Johanson, RN, host of Oxygen's Talk Sex with Sue Johanson and author of Sex, Sex, and More Sex (Regan)
Can you have a great, long-lasting sex life with the same partner?
Absolutely—but you're not going to be having movie-style sex. Movie sex is romantic and passionate: You idealize your partner, you're turned on even before you begin, and you make love every time you're together. In an ongoing relationship, sex is more about intimacy and security, and it's integrated with who you really are. It also doesn't happen as often.
Couples who keep their sex lives going develop a style early on—who initiates, how much foreplay is included, do they like taking turns, do they or don't they appreciate quickies. They also consciously make time for sex. The idea that the best sex is spontaneous is a myth. Most long-term couples plan their sexual experiences; it's like going to a show—part of the pleasure is looking forward to it. Sexually satisfied couples also know that sometimes the "show" will be great, and other times it'll be mediocre or worse. You have to be realistic and not panic, thinking this means you're falling out of love or failing as a lover. Healthy, mutually pleasuring sex really helps strengthen the bond between couples. The more you avoid having sex, and the more self-conscious you become about it, the harder it is to get back on track.
—Barry W. McCarthy, Ph.D., professor of psychology at American University in Washington, D.C., and coauthor of Getting It Right the First Time (Routledge)
Are there any taboos left?
Talking about sex! Americans probably watch more porn than any nation in the world, but they don't talk about it with their own partners. It's too personal, too private. They're afraid that if they reveal anything about themselves, it will be used against them as a weapon in an argument: "You're a slut, just like your mother."
—Sue Johanson, RN
What's the latest on sex toys?
So many people are using them. Vibrators have helped some women have orgasms for the first time, and since women now expect sexual pleasure, it makes sense they would buy sex toys. The Rabbit Habit is the most famous—there's a shaft to penetrate, with vibrating pearls that stimulate the opening of the vagina, and two ears that tickle the clitoris. Vibrators also are getting smaller. There's one that slides over a fingertip, so it's easy to incorporate into sex with a partner, and less like having a third party there. Some are stealth toys, like the Vibra Pen—a ballpoint with a vibrator on the tip. There's the Stowaway, which comes in a plastic case that makes it look like makeup, to avoid embarrassment with airport security. Every woman should own at least one sex toy. It's like buying a tennis racket—you may not end up playing tennis, but why not try it?
—Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah, cofounders of the Toys in Babeland store
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