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Telecaster68

"Unless there was something a lot more complicated going on,” she insists, “there were usually substantial relationship benefits to making love"

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Telecaster68

Sex therapist Michelle Weiner Davis is interviewed on the Guardian website today about the benefits of sex in a relationship.
 

Quote

“I found that unless there was something a lot more complicated going on,” she insists, “there were usually substantial relationship benefits to making love with your high-desire partner.”

Clearly a mixed sexual/asexual relationship is going to be one of the 'more complicated' things going on, but she does go into some detail about pretty much all the points sexuals generally highlight on AVEN, based on her extensive experience, so it's not based on one person's individual experience. 

 

Some other things she says:
 

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There was always one spouse desperately hoping for more touch and because that was not happening, they were not investing themselves in the relationship in other ways.


 

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It’s not just telling women to spread their legs. This is not just about sex. For a high-desire spouse, sex isn’t usually about the orgasm: it’s about someone wanting to feel that their partner desires and wants them.

 

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No still means no, she says. “But it helps to not just say no. Instead, explain why you don’t want to make love, suggest a later date and ask whether there’s something you can do for your spouse right now instead. “But here’s the deal,” she adds: “There had better be a whole more Yes’s or Later’s than No’s because if the No’s win, it leads to the problems I have been talking about.

 

Quote

while it’s commonly accepted that couples should make all their important family decisions together, when it comes to sex, who ever has the lower sex drive makes a unilateral choice for them both. And, just to rub salt in the wound, she adds, the disenfranchised, high-desire one is expected to stay monogamous. No wonder, she says, they get cross

 

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I mention Weiner-Davis’s theory to some female friends of mine. The overriding response is: “Oh God, not another thing for my To Do list!” Weiner-Davis is quick to condemn this response. “Imagine if, when a woman said she wanted to have more intimate conversations or a date night, her husband said: “It’s just one more thing on my To Do list!” For a high-desire spouse who experiences love through touch instead of quality time, it’s exactly the same impact. I’ve had grown men crying in my office, crying about the sense of rejection they feel from their low-desire wives.”

 

Quote

Weiner-Davis admits there is a limit. “I’d say that after several weeks, if nothing has changed in terms of reciprocity, then the couple do need to sit down and identify what’s missing in their relationship for each of them and what they would like to have.”

 

Full article here.

 

 

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Philip027

In other news, water is wet, people die if they are killed, and get this -- Darth Vader is actually Luke Skywalker's dad.

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Telecaster68

I've had to argue all those points she makes from first principles a bunch of times with posters on AVEN.

 

 

Edited by Telecaster68
Not water or Darth Vader. I wouldn't put it past someone on AVEN to argue at some point that being killed doesn't necessarily leave you dead, though.
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Thea2
5 minutes ago, Philip027 said:

 -- Darth Vader is actually Luke Skywalker's dad.

I knew that ... because Vader is the Dutch word for father :lol:

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Philip027

Now that I've actually read the article, yeah, a number of people here would probably take some offense to being told "just have sex anyway" and that it'll make things better in the long run, considering that for a number of them it's precisely what made them miserable in their relationships.  She seems to think that if someone just isn't in the mood for it but goes along with it anyway, they'll end up feeling better about it after all.  Maybe this is the case for some, but sure as shit isn't the case for everyone, so I think that's a dangerous sort of thing to apply to the entire low-libido crowd.

 

As you pointed out, asexuality definitely is one of the "more complicated things going on" that I don't think she's really accounting for with this sort of "advice".

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Always looking for answers
8 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

I've had to argue all those points she makes from first principles a bunch of times with posters on AVEN.

Yeah and I know (in a rational way) sexuals experience sex the way the article describes, but that doesn't mean I understand (in an emotional way) it or wish I experienced it the same way. It doesn't matter how often I read the same thing, that's not gonna change. Just like I can know that parenthood is joyful for some, I can't understand why it should be joyful to be a parent until I have a kid of my own. (And don't worry: I don't want to be parent, so me not seeing the joy in it isn't going to hurt any child)

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, Philip027 said:

asexuality definitely is one of the "more complicated things going on" that I don't think she's really accounting for with this sort of "advice".

I agree. It's advice that applies to the 99% of relationships that aren't mixed.

 

I posted it because it shows the sexuals who make these points over and over again on AVEN are voicing something that most people in their position feel, not unusually shallow, immature, or selfish, which is how it can be characterised.

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, Always looking for answers said:

Yeah and I know (in a rational way) sexuals experience sex the way the article describes, but that doesn't mean I understand (in an emotional way) it or wish I experienced it the same way. It doesn't matter how often I read the same thing, that's not gonna change. Just like I can know that parenthood is joyful for some, I can't understand why it should be joyful to be a parent until I have a kid of my own. (And don't worry: I don't want to be parent, so me not seeing the joy in it isn't going to hurt any child)

I wasn't aiming to persuade anyone they should be sexual if they're not. It's someone who's a respected expert on sexual relationships saying pretty much everything that sexuals on AVEN say, that's all.

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Always looking for answers
8 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

I wasn't aiming to persuade anyone they should be sexual if they're not. It's someone who's a respected expert on sexual relationships saying pretty much everything that sexuals on AVEN say, that's all.

I know, I didn't think you were trying to persuade anyone. I'm sorry if my reaction suggested that I thought you were. I was just trying to point out that to me it doesn't matter if an expert says it or a random Joe, I will never understand the point of view of a sexual because I don't feel the same urge/need.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, Always looking for answers said:

I know, I didn't think you were trying to persuade anyone. I'm sorry if my reaction suggested that I thought you were. I was just trying to point out that to me it doesn't matter if an expert says it or a random Joe, I will never understand the point of view of a sexual because I don't feel the same urge/need.

Just like sexuals don't have to understand the lack of urges in asexuals, just accept they're real.

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Always looking for answers
1 minute ago, Telecaster68 said:

Just like sexuals don't have to understand the lack of urges in asexuals, just accept they're real.

True.

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Chimeric

They are all true and valid points, and unfortunately there's still no real solution to helping mixed couples. :lol:

 

Trying to turn "no's" into "yes's" (and "later's", which of course are interpreted as being delayed "yes's") is no simple task. Even if someone isn't identifying as asexual but just has a lower sex drive than their partner (I for real almost typed "opponent" - I'm blaming my lack of coffee yet this morning, but that would have been a hell of a typo :lol:), and can reasonably make that compromise, it still sort of focuses on the orgasm bit. It's hard to schedule a time for feeling intimate, isn't it? Feelings are organic, they come and go - you can't really decide on a whim to feel close to somebody, can you? And if you're not feeling it in the moment, then the sex becomes more about the release than the closeness, and neither partner is emotionally satisfied.

 

Anyway, just my two cents.

 

Thanks for sharing. =)

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Lucas Monteiro

"while it’s commonly accepted that couples should make all their important family decisions together, when it comes to sex, who ever has the lower sex drive makes a unilateral choice for them both. "

 

Interesting that she thinks that only the person with lower sex drive will make the unilateral choice. Wouldn't be possible for the one with higher sex drive do that too ? I don't know why people keeping trying to choose one side or another, why can't you see the point of view from both ? But then again, getting to a consensus about sex in sexual-asexual relationship it's definitely more hard, and both parties will in majority of the time see only their sides, making the relationship end miserably.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, Chimeric said:

partner (I for real almost typed "opponent" - I'm blaming my lack of coffee yet this morning, but that would have been a hell of a typo :lol:)

Paging Dr Freud...

 

1 minute ago, Chimeric said:

It's hard to schedule a time for feeling intimate, isn't it? Feelings are organic, they come and go - you can't really decide on a whim to feel close to somebody, can you? And if you're not feeling it in the moment, then the sex becomes more about the release than the closeness, and neither partner is emotionally satisfied.

Yeah, it can be like that, but she slightly touches on the idea that desire can follow actions, if you're willing to go with it - it's known as responsive desire. You have to put yourself in the position to start with though, and it doesn't apply to asexuals.

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, Lucas Monteiro said:

Wouldn't be possible for the one with higher sex drive do that too ?

That would be rape.

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Chimeric
6 minutes ago, Lucas Monteiro said:

"while it’s commonly accepted that couples should make all their important family decisions together, when it comes to sex, who ever has the lower sex drive makes a unilateral choice for them both. "

 

Interesting that she thinks that only the person with lower sex drive will make the unilateral choice. Wouldn't be possible for the one with higher sex drive do that too ? 

I think she's trying to make the point that if the individual with the higher sex drive imposes their will on their lower sex driver partner, they're potentially committing a crime.

 

So, yes, it's possible...

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Lucas Monteiro
7 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

That would be rape.

Yeah, I was trying to say that someone with higher sex drive makes those choices for asexual people sometimes. If you want some proof, you just can look at the forum with some questions getting to this same discussion, about who (lower sex drive or higher sex drive) should decide about sex for both , in what always end with nobody understanding each other. But it can happen the other way around, someone with lower sex drive can do those unilateral choices too. 

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Telecaster68
9 minutes ago, Lucas Monteiro said:

Yeah, I was trying to say that someone with higher sex drive makes those choices for asexual people sometimes. If you want some proof, you just can look at the forum with some questions getting to this same discussion, about who (lower sex drive or higher sex drive) should decide about sex for both , in what always end with nobody understanding each other. But it can happen the other way around, someone with lower sex drive can do those unilateral choices too. 

If the less sexual person has consented, then it's not rape, but then it can get into areas of what exactly constitutes co-ercion - would saying yes only because you fear for your relationship if you don't count? I'd say not: I'd say it's a free choice. They could easily have said 'no' but like all choices, it has consequences, and those consequences (being dumped) aren't criminal. If the consequences were criminal, like assault, (or in the UK, things that constitute coercive control) then it's co-ercion.

 

Similarly, consenting while not really being sure if that was the right choice but not telling your partner, isn't rape, because there's consent. Regretting your consent after the act doesn't mean you didn't consent.

 

EDIT: I don't see how the more sexual partner can make that choice for their partner without it meaning there's no consent. 

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Chimeric
5 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

Similarly, consenting while not really being sure if that was the right choice but not telling your partner, isn't rape, because there's consent. Regretting your consent after the act doesn't mean you didn't consent.

Sometimes I wish we could paste this up on billboards across university campuses.

 

Regret =/= rape.

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, Chimeric said:

Sometimes I wish we could paste this up on billboards across university campuses.

 

Regret =/= rape.

I do wonder how much of the attitude you're referring to is a bit of a myth. I teach at a university, and while I've never discussed it with them, I'm pretty certain none of my female students would disagree with regret =/= rape. I know for a fact they all think 'safe spaces' and deplatforming are stupid.

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Pramana

I wonder about a sex-positive ideology which has reached the point of recommending that women have unwanted sex with the promise that they'll enjoy it after the fact, and that equates female empowerment with having sex so their husbands will stick around and stop being irritable. I would be sceptical of any pop psychology article that reenforces a culture of sexual entitlement in relationships, regardless of the self-reported reason for desiring sex. It is predictable that partners who want more sex are going to emphasize reasons like 'forming an emotional connection' or 'feeling desired' over 'sexual urges/orgasm', but that is irrelevant to whether the other partner should engage in sex that they do not want.

For a feminist critique of the ideology represented by the article linked in the OP:
Tyler, Meagan. “No Means Yes? Perpetuating Myths in the Sexological Construction of Women’s Desire” Women & Therapy 32:1 (2009): 40-50.

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Chimeric

@Telecaster68 I also teach at a university. =)

 

I'm at a fairly conservative university, as far as US universities go. As an undergraduate student, I was required to take a series of short, online modules regarding sexual consent, and providing resources for students who felt their consent had been violated. As faculty, I was required to take the student modules in addition to faculty modules regarding sexual consent. It's only been 11 years since I took them as a student, but the voice has changed drastically. At its core, the information is the same, but the manner in which its presented is far more sensationalist now than it was a decade ago. The concept that you can have a drink and also have consensual sex is virtually eradicated. This isn't to say I don't think that people who drink are putting themselves in a position to be taken advantage of, but there are, as always, shades of grey, and the conversation is currently dominated by a single perspective. Further, as faculty, if a student were to approach me just with concerns about a situation in which they had found themselves, I am legally obligated to pass their report to the police, even if the student doesn't want me to (seriously). And because the sexual assault modules almost exclusively promote the concept of women being the victims, it puts a lot of young men at risk for having inappropriate legal action taken against them.

 

It just strikes me as a system that's primed to look for offenses where there may not be any, and I would appreciate a counter-balance to the monologue that's happening, is all.

 

(Apologies if this is a bit scattered, I'm suffering a head cold and I think my brain may actually be cotton balls).

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Telecaster68
2 minutes ago, Pramana said:

I wonder about a sex-positive ideology which has reached the point of recommending that women have unwanted sex with the promise that they'll enjoy it after the fact

Not after the fact, during. It's a well documented experience that most women, and quite a lot of men, don't often get spontaneously horny, but if they willingly put themselves in a situation where they're open to sex happening without actively wanting it, and are exposed to touching, etc, they will then desire sex. It's generally paralleled with taking exercise - very few people spontaneously want to do it, but once their body's physiology gets to work, neural feedback means they get into it.

 

Google 'responsive desire', and Emily Nagoski.

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Telecaster68
5 minutes ago, Chimeric said:

@Telecaster68 I also teach at a university. =)

 

I'm at a fairly conservative university, as far as US universities go. As an undergraduate student, I was required to take a series of short, online modules regarding sexual consent, and providing resources for students who felt their consent had been violated. As faculty, I was required to take the student modules in addition to faculty modules regarding sexual consent. It's only been 11 years since I took them as a student, but the voice has changed drastically. At its core, the information is the same, but the manner in which its presented is far more sensationalist now than it was a decade ago. The concept that you can have a drink and also have consensual sex is virtually eradicated. This isn't to say I don't think that people who drink are putting themselves in a position to be taken advantage of, but there are, as always, shades of grey, and the conversation is currently dominated by a single perspective. Further, as faculty, if a student were to approach me just with concerns about a situation in which they had found themselves, I am legally obligated to pass their report to the police, even if the student doesn't want me to (seriously). And because the sexual assault modules almost exclusively promote the concept of women being the victims, it puts a lot of young men at risk for having inappropriate legal action taken against them.

 

It just strikes me as a system that's primed to look for offenses where there may not be any, and I would appreciate a counter-balance to the monologue that's happening, is all.

 

(Apologies if this is a bit scattered, I'm suffering a head cold and I think my brain may actually be cotton balls).

I can see traces of that in how it works here, but apart from a few scattered ideology driven student organisations and the occasional university management getting panicky, in practice it's all far more pragmatic and English in my experience. The systems are there, and support, and generally speaking, the students are pretty down to earth. Our only obligation is to pass on our concerns; so if we don't have them, there isn't an obligation. I suspect the US is far more litigious, and there's a strong element of private organisations covering their backs going on. We're (nearly) all public sector, and still, thank God, not as likely to sue all and sundry at the drop of a hat.

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Pramana
15 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

Not after the fact, during. It's a well documented experience that most women, and quite a lot of men, don't often get spontaneously horny, but if they willingly put themselves in a situation where they're open to sex happening without actively wanting it, and are exposed to touching, etc, they will then desire sex. It's generally paralleled with taking exercise - very few people spontaneously want to do it, but once their body's physiology gets to work, neural feedback means they get into it.

 

Google 'responsive desire', and Emily Nagoski.

Yeah, I corresponded with Emily Nagoski about this last fall. She told me that the concept – as with other aspects of human sexuality - rests on the individual's subjective assessment of their own internal sexual feelings, and also that the concept does not apply to asexuals/lack of sexual attraction. Perhaps if you went to the effort of doing proper research through contacting people like Emily Nagoski, rather than relying on Google and pop psychology articles, you would be better informed.

Furthermore, none of the reasons mentioned in the article you linked (which I'm not sure Emily Nagoski would even agree with, based on my correspondence with her) stand up to the ethical criticisms made in the journal article that I linked above.

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Telecaster68
3 minutes ago, Pramana said:

Perhaps if you went to the effort of doing proper research through contacting people like Emily Nagoski, rather than relying on Google and pop psychology articles, you would be better informed.

I've read her book and a lot of her stuff on line. If someone would pay for my time to do something more in depth, I'll happily do it.

 

Michelle Weiner Davies is talking about sexuals, not asexuals, I agree. What's your point? Are you saying responsive desire doesn't exist? You're conceding it's not about 'after' the fact, it's 'during' I assume?

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Pramana
Just now, Telecaster68 said:

I've read her book and a lot of her stuff on line. If someone would pay for my time to do something more in depth, I'll happily do it.

 

Michelle Weiner Davies is talking about sexuals, not asexuals, I agree. What's your point? Are you saying responsive desire doesn't exist? You're conceding it's not about 'after' the fact, it's 'during' I assume?

To clarify, 'by after the fact', I meant 'after the decision to start having sex' which is the same as 'during' in your wording. Although from Rosemary Basson's 2000 paper (the first journal article on responsive desire), the theory is that perceived benefits accruing both during and after sex lead women to want to have sex again in the future. Admittedly, I haven't read Emily Nagoski's pop psychology book, although I have read the journal articles which form the groundwork for her book, as well as the feminist critiques of that research.

My criticisms are directed towards the failure of the author of the article you linked to reflect critically on the attitudes regarding sex that they are endorsing, which I would argue is emblematic of a tendency of sex-positivity more generally to commodify sex and promote selfish outlooks. An article that puts sexuality on a pedestal by asserting that it's about emotions/feeling desired implicitly shifts moral blame to the person with low desire for having less interest. It is similar to the standard teen movie scene where the boyfriend tries to talk his girlfriend into having sex by claiming that it's about 'love'.

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Telecaster68
1 minute ago, Pramana said:

An article that puts sexuality on a pedestal by asserting that it's about emotions/feeling desired implicitly shifts moral blame to the person with low desire for having less interest.

1. It's more than an assertion. It's based on wide anecdotal evidence from her practice as a therapist.

 

2. I don't see how saying sex is about emotion and feeling desired shifts blame to someone who doesn't see it like that.

 

3 minutes ago, Pramana said:

My criticisms are directed towards the failure of the author of the article you linked to reflect critically on the attitudes regarding sex that they are endorsing, which I would argue is emblematic of a tendency of sex-positivity more generally to commodify sex and promote selfish outlooks.

Surely saying sex is about emotion is the opposite of commodifying it. As for selfishness - why is one partner finding the emotional satisfaction from sex selfish, and the other saying 'I don't, live with it' (which seems to be what you're endorsing), not selfish?

 

5 minutes ago, Pramana said:

It is similar to the standard teen movie scene where the boyfriend tries to talk his girlfriend into having sex by claiming that it's about 'love'.

There's nothing morally wrong with this. His girlfriend has agency and can say no. Or is all persuasion wrong in your view?

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Pramana
2 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

1. It's more than an assertion. It's based on wide anecdotal evidence from her practice as a therapist.

 

2. I don't see how saying sex is about emotion and feeling desired shifts blame to someone who doesn't see it like that.

 

Surely saying sex is about emotion is the opposite of commodifying it. As for selfishness - why is one partner finding the emotional satisfaction from sex selfish, and the other saying 'I don't, live with it' (which seems to be what you're endorsing), not selfish?

 

There's nothing morally wrong with this. His girlfriend has agency and can say no. Or is all persuasion wrong in your view?

For the teen movie scenes, the film's directors intend for the audience to have a sceptical reaction, likely due to a perception that the teenage boyfriend just wants sex due to hormones and is providing an overly optimistic representation of his motivations. I can cite a voluminous body of evolutionary psychology regarding conflict between male and female mating strategies to support that interpretation. To be ethical, persuasion requires taking the other person's genuine interests into account, while representing your own intentions accurately. Simply not wanting/having sex is a neutral position. Claiming that one needs sex for emotional reasons so that the other person feels obligated to provide constitutes an active imposition.

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Serran
23 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

 

 

There's nothing morally wrong with this. His girlfriend has agency and can say no. Or is all persuasion wrong in your view?

 The typical scene is meant to make us see the boyfriend as wrong, because he's pressuring after she's said no, she doesn't want to. That's actually the way those scenes are typically written. 

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