Improve Their Sex Lives

For many years in our ‘Love Lab’ we recorded heterosexual couples talking about their sexual issues. In general, most of these couples seemed embarrassed to discuss it. Conversations were often fuzzy or murky. From the actual content of their dialogues, it was very hard to tell what people were really talking about. Here’s an excerpt of one of these conversations: “So we’re going to talk about this?” “I guess so. So do you think it’s gotten better?” “Well, sure, it’s gotten better, but there’s still a long way to go.” “You don’t like it?” “Sure I like it, but there’s a lot we can still do.” “Well at least we’re not like Paul and Diane.” “I never said we were. I don’t know how he puts up with her.” “He’s no picnic either, I can tell you that.” “I know that, I don’t know how they put up with each other.” “So we’re okay?” “Sure we’re okay. But we could be better, right?” “I have been trying.” “I know you have, and I appreciate that.” “Good.” See what we mean? This couple is uncomfortable asking directly for what they want. Maybe you’re thinking that this is because a camera and a camera operator were present, but in fact that isn’t the case. Even when couples were home alone, using personal audio recorders that they had become used to, they were still vague and unclear about what they needed. Learn more at and

They were very worried about rejection in the sexual domain. This was not the case when we studied gay and lesbian couples talking to their partners about how to improve their sex lives. Altogether they were much more direct, far less embarrassed and much less defensive. For instance, one man we interviewed said to his male partner, “Who do you think initiated sex this morning?” His partner said, “Before we begin you know that your body isn’t the kind I find most attractive, right?” He answered, “Yes, I know that, but who do you think initiated sex this morning?” Can you imagine this same exchange between a heterosexual couple? “Before we begin,” says the husband, “you know that your body isn’t the kind I find most attractive, right? Now, Judy, that neigh- bor of ours, she’s really sexy, not like you.” Now imagine the wife answering, “Yes, I know that, but whom do you think initiated sex this morning?” No chance! He’d be fly- ing out the window. (Just to be clear, we are advocating SOME OF this kind of directness for heterosexual couples. This example may not be appropriate for all couples or situations.) Open and effective communication about sex was also not a big problem for many Latino-American couples. We learned this from doing a large national survey for the magazine Reader’s Digest . In our survey, most Latino couples reported that they kept sex a priority even when children came along, and that they talked to each other about how to improve and keep improving their sex lives. In addition, many said that they actually talked to one another during sex, and about their lovemaking afterwards . As a whole they were much more satisfied with their sex lives than any other population of couples we surveyed. It looks like we have a lot to learn from the Latin cultures. Learn more at

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