(Dan Moyle/Flickr Creative Commons)
By Dr. Aline Zoldbrod
It’s almost Valentine’s Day — and all the messages out there say that if you’re in a relationship, it’s time for the perfect sexual experience.
But as a sex and couples therapist, I’m going to suggest an alternative: a somewhat obscure model of sexuality and sexual pleasure that I think can provide a blueprint for a really wonderful (but maybe not perfect) sensual/sexual connection with each other on Valentine’s Day.
Added bonus: these suggestions can form the scaffolding for a loving, freeing, warm sensual/sexual bond way beyond Feb. 14 — even if you’re one of those long-married couples who have kids, logistics and technology standing in your way.
First, a bit of academic theory as background:
You may be familiar with the Masters and Johnson sexual response cycle: Human sexual response is made up of the excitement phase, then the plateau phase, followed by the orgasmic phase, and finally the resolution phase.
Not to diss Masters and Johnson’s work, because it was groundbreaking, but I’m just saying… this model has caused a lot of performance anxiety in and of itself.
Dr. Aline Zoldbrod (Courtesy)
My brilliant colleague, Dr. Leonore Tiefer, has criticized the Masters and Johnson model of sex because it’s so linear, so physiological, and so focused on intercourse.
My personal mantra for good sex is “connection, not perfection.” The Masters and Johnson’s model sets up an expectation that everything has to be “perfect” for sex to be good. Perfect erections in men, perfect arousal in women (stemming from who knows what? Just springing out of the air and the joy of folding laundry?), and perfect orgasms all around.
For many of us, that’s like the pressure of trying to find a perfect gift for someone we love: just fraught with trepidation.
In 1998, psychiatrist David Reed proposed a different model, one that is much more psychologically and relationally oriented. He calls it the Erotic Stimulus Pathway Theory. I’m going to adapt it here a bit in hopes that this experiment could help you have a better Valentine’s Day.
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