Words: Paul Jenner
I’ve had an idea. I’m wondering if libido is very important after all.
Let’s leave aside the two extremes of those people who almost never have a sexual impulse and those who find it difficult to restrain their sexual impulses. For the rest of us, who are somewhere in the middle, should we let our libidos rule our sex lives?
What I’m thinking is this. You don’t wait until you’re starving before you eat. And you don’t wait until you’re suffering from dehydration before you drink. Most people work on the basis of having regular meals at fairly fixed times. Why should sex be any different?
Why not have sex whether you feel like it or not?
Do you have to be overcome by uncontrollable desire before you switch on the TV? Or go shopping? Or take a bath?
So why this insistence on the importance of sex drive when it comes to sex?
My theory is this. People aren’t ashamed of eating, or watching TV, or taking a bath, but they are ashamed of having sex. So they have to wait until their sex drives are sufficient to overcome their inhibitions. And perhaps the resentment they feel towards their partners as well. Is that what you do?
Take Peter and Jane. Peter says he ‘needs’ sex three times a week. Unfortunately for him, his partner Jane says she only ‘needs’ sex once a week. That’s to say, it’s only after a week’s abstinence that she feels a strong sexual urge. They argue about it a lot. What would you advise them?
- Peter should accept sex once a week and masturbate when he wants
- Peter should accept sex once a week but be free to have outside relationships
- Jane should agree to sex three times a week
- Peter and Jane should compromise on sex twice a week.
So what did you decide? Compromise on two days? Thought so. And most counsellors would agree.
But I don’t. If sex is nice then why not do it as much as possible? Imagine that, rather than sex, we were talking about being given £500. Can you imagine someone saying, ‘I only need £500 once a week.’? Wouldn’t everyone say, ‘I’d like £500 as often as possible, every day if you’ve got enough, better still every hour.’?
Libido is nature’s way of making sure the human race survives. But we’re not talking about sex for reproduction. We’re talking about sex for fun, for closeness, for physical contact, for ecstasy, for happiness. And that requires much more sex than mere fertilization.
Of course, it can be the man who has ‘gone off’ sex but, mostly, in surveys all over the world it’s women who are ‘suffering’ from low sexual desire. In the United States, apparently, female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) has reached epidemic proportions. Some sources say the proportion of women affected is as high as 45 per cent.
But who is making the judgement? It’s men. And the truth is that by comparison with men’s libido, women’s will always come up short. The evolutionary imperative behind this is well known. Men will maximise the number of their offspring by having sex as often as possible with as many women as possible. Women, by contrast, who can only have one child a year, will maximise their reproductive success by selecting a mate very carefully.
If libido is to be the yardstick by which sexual compatibility is judged then the vast majority of men and women will never be compatible. Men would be far better off having sex with other men and women would be far better off having sex with other women. Surveys show that, in general, gay couples have more sex than heterosexual couples, while lesbian couples have less.
The good news for heterosexual relationships is that libido can largely be ignored. There’s a huge difference between lusting after sex and being capable of having sex. And as long as you’re capable of having sex, then…have sex. Rather than focusing on your libido, focus on your capability.
So let’s start with male capability. If you want to be capable of a lot of sex, or you’re a woman who wants her man to be capable of a lot of sex, the solution is to limit ejaculation, especially for older men. In other words, there shouldn’t be ejaculation every time. If that’s a novel idea to you I suggest you read a good sex manual (suggestions below). Other ideas for keeping the male apparatus naturally in good working order include plenty of exercise (in one survey 45 per cent of respondents said their sex lives improved when they began exercising), losing the paunch (fat cells around the belly convert testosterone, the ‘male’ hormone, to oestrogen, the ‘female’ hormone) and cutting down on saturated fat (which causes a fall in testosterone for up to four hours after a meal and clogs the blood vessels supplying the penis).
As regards women’s capability there’s not a lot to say. Women are always capable of sex. Women also have erectile tissue, of course, but the real equivalent of a man’s erection is vaginal wetness. If there’s a problem in that department then a good artificial lubricant will take care of it. In fact, even if there’s not a problem, a lubricant is still a good idea. (Remember that oil-based lubricant shouldn’t be used with condoms as it can make them porous to sperm – use water-based or silicone lubricant instead.) Choosing lubricant is a subject in itself (again, see the books recommended below).
So you’re both capable of sex but one of you feels no lust, or perhaps neither of you does. Just agree that you’ll have sex anyway with a certain regularity. Preferably every day or every other day. For a month’s trial. If one of you isn’t willing to do that (and assuming there’s no underlying medical condition, which is a whole different story) then you need to be looking not at your libidos but your relationship.
The truth is (and I’m addressing the guys now) women seldom experience sexual desire for no particular reason in the way that men do. You have to give them reasons. That means emotional closeness, good communication, supportiveness, and appreciation at all times, not just prior to sex, as well as a history of enjoyable sexual encounters. With that background, once skilful sex is under way (cuddling, kissing, massaging, the right words, cunnilingus…) most women, even those with ‘low libidos’, will become aroused.
Techniques of non-ejaculatory sex are described in two of Paul Jenner’s books, Have Great Sex and Get Intimate With Tantric Sex (both published by Teach Yourself). He is also the author of the ebooks Secrets Of The Kama Sutra and 60 Wrong Ways To Have Sex which are available on his website www.pauljenner.eu.