A gay couple came in to see me recently because their sex life evaporated. They were together over 15 years, and were now in their 40’s. They had an open relationship at times, which periodically was fun. Then that, too, became boring. They did the three-way thing for a while, but they still weren't fundamentally happy with the quality of sex with one another.
They made me think of Shere Hite’s fascinating book on sexuality. It is the only book on sex to sell over 48 million copies! She dispelled the idea of what standard sex should look like, which was originally created by Masters and Johnson in the 1950’s.
She interviewed thousands of people for her book, asking them open ended questions about what are they were doing in bed. She was very surprised to find that people were not doing what Masters and Johnson said was "standard sex".
Even more surprisingly, she talked to the people that said that they had great sex life. What were they doing? They were regularly deviating from the idea of "standard sex".
What is “standard sex” according to Masters and Johnson? It’s sequentially following through the standard stages of human intercourse: foreplay, intercourse, orgasm, and resolution. It’s the same structure that is popularized in the Bible, the media, and porn, to name a few.
So what did I do with them in the session? I just told them to start talking about the question "what is sex?" I asked them to tell one another what exactly is sex, in their opinion, and how would they know it when they saw it.
Though they had very different ideas, based on very different values and upbringings about what sex should and should not be, they both realized that they wanted to have more of it with each other.
The key: We know from several bodies of research that couples who talk a lot about sex, have a lot of sex.
I had them ask one another questions from our Dreams Within a Conflict Exercise. It is designed to get people to open up about their philosophy about a particular issue.
All of this new information came out; stuff they had never talked about for over a decade.
So why was this so amazing? Is it just the new information that made them have more sex? Not necessarily.
Through this discussion they realize that it wasn't that they were sexually incompatible. It was that they were not connecting enough, even through conversation, to ever be sexually compatible.
Big Takeaway: if you are not having a lot of sex with your partner, I ask you to answer the question, how much are you *talking* about sex with your partner? We know from plenty of research that couples that talk a lot about sex have a lot of sex.