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Healing Sexual Trauma through Sensate Focus

One of the most difficult things for me to deal with as a therapist is the aftermath of sexual trauma. And I know that the trouble I have with this is only a tiny fraction of the difficulty my client has as he or she faces his/her past. I share with you a correspondence I’ve had with a 36-year-old man from Boston named Trent.

Dr. Dick,
When I was 10 years my parish priest molested me. It went on for over a year. Mostly, I’ve been able to put this behind me. I’ve been married over a year to this really great gal. She’s been very understanding and supportive, and we love each other very much. A couple of weeks ago when we were having sex, my wife started to massage my bottom. This was the first time someone touched me there since I was 10. At first it felt good, but then I remembered how I felt when I was a kid and freaked out. I started to cry. My poor wife was devastated at the thought of triggering this painful memory. I told her it wasn’t her fault, but we haven’t had sex since. I’m worried, but I don’t know what to do.

Working through a sexual trauma, like the one Trent experienced as a kid, is difficult. But it is essential for regaining a healthy sense of the sexual self. I told Trent—and this applies to any anyone else who has had regrettable early sexual experiences in their past—that I strongly suggested that he and his wife engage a sex-positive therapist to help them get back on track.

Many people have dealt with some kind of sexually related trauma in their lives.  However, some trauma is more severe than others. Emotional scar tissue and painful memories may linger, but you can learn to insulate yourself from the disruptive effects of the past in the present. Thanks to the indomitable human spirit, most of us live through our difficulties and go on to develop healthy, integrated sex lives.

Sensate focus is a process that helps individuals move through painful sexual memories and heal the rift between the affected parts of the body and the pleasure they can produce. I thought this technique would be of particular value for Trent because of something he’d said: “At first it felt good, but then I remembered how I felt when I was a kid and freaked out.” This tells me that he was able to enjoy the sensations before the association with the molestation kicked in and ruined everything. Sensate focus offers a way to short-circuit this disruptive connection and rewire it for pleasure instead of pain.

What follows are structured therapeutic touching exercises for couples. They are not a prelude to sex. You need to be clear on that. Your genitals will be involved. There will be pleasure and arousal, for sure. But the object of this process is to desensitize the trigger (in Trent’s case, his butt), then re-sensitize it for pleasure. These exercises take about an hour one day a week over the course of a month. If you embark on this course, make sure that you dedicate that kind of time commitment. Please, don’t short-change yourselves; this is an investment in your sexual health and wellbeing.

You and your partner will take turns being the one touched and the one doing the touching. Both of you will have 30 minutes to touch and 30 minutes to be touched: 15 minutes lying on your front; 15 minutes on your back.

Week 1—Breaking the Ice
Structured touching will be unfamiliar to you at first. I want you to use this first session to connect with each other in a sensual and playful way. I want each of you to explore every inch of your partner’s body from head to toe, first the back of the body then the front. This first week, however, avoid one another’s genitals.

This isn’t massage, where touch is directed toward pleasuring your partner. Sensate focus exercises are about gleaning information. Focus on how it feels to touch different parts of your partner’s body in a non-seductive way. Be aware of the different textures contours and temperatures. Use different pressures—heavy and light; different strokes—long and short. Use fingertips, palms, the back of your hands and forearms.

When you’ve finished the first 30 minutes, swap places. This will work best if the one being touched relinquishes control as much as possible. Keep verbal communication at a minimum. Once the hour is over, thank one another for the experience and get on with the rest of your day. Don’t try to process things right then and there, just sit with the sensations. Or better still; write your feelings in a journal that you might want to share later.

Week 2—Making Things More Interesting
Building on what you learned in the first week; this time, kick it up a notch by expanding the structured touching to include anal and genital areas. These are sexually charged zones, but the touch must remain non-seductive. Begin the exercise with some full-body touching before moving on to the new areas. Again, the emphasis is on obtaining information and awareness of physical sensations.

This is where things got a bit challenging for Trent. When his wife touched his butt, I told him I wanted him to want stay in the moment and focus on who was touching him and why. Trent’s wife was not touching him in a sexual manner; she was gathering information.

Staying in the present helps take the edge off. If anxiety builds, deep breathing can help you to relax. Your partner will probably be very nervous too, so breathing together can be helpful.

A guided touch technique can also be useful. Place one of your hands on top of your partner’s and guide it over your trigger area. Try using more or less pressure as you see fit. Remember your trigger spot is just like every other part of your body. Even though an early trauma has sensitized this area to be off bounds, sensate focus exercises will re-sensitize and reintegrate it with the rest of your body. You’ll have to trust me on this.

Week 3—Mutual Touching
This week, we move on to mutual touching. However, it must remain structured and non-seductive, both in the giving and receiving. Mutual touch will provide a more natural form of physical interaction than the previous weeks. You’ll also be shifting attention from how it feels to touch to being aware of how your partner is receiving your touch. Keep verbal communication to a minimum. Let your body tell your partner how you are enjoying the touch. If you must talk, assign a number code to the touch you are receiving: 5 being, ho-hum, 1 being Yowsa!

Remember, no matter how sexually aroused you become, this is not a prelude to sex. If you need to release your sexual tension, feel free to masturbate afterward. No partnered sex during the exercises. Okay?

Week 4—Bringin’ It Home
This last week of exercises continues the mutual touching, with a focus on overcoming any final reservations you have about your trigger zone and the pleasure you derive from it. More of your partner’s touch should focus on that area. For Trent, I advised that his wife include a nice lotion or personal lube for this investigation. (Touching with a wet hand is different from touching with a dry hand.) While concentrating on his butt with one hand, I suggested she fondle his genitals with the other. By playing with the energy around Trent’s sphincter, his wife was able to redirect it and help him reconnect his ass to the rest of his body.

Try receiving your wire’s touch in different positions. Being proactive will facilitate the healing. While she is touching your trigger area, move your butt toward her to meet the caress. You’ll immediately see how being in control will help you move beyond any remaining anxiety. You are not just being passive recipient anymore; you are actively involved with inviting the pleasure. If there are still reservations, take it slow until they too, melt away.

Once he’d freed up his ass for pleasure, I told Trent be sure to incorporate butt play into his future lovemaking repertoire, but I also reminded him to take as much time as he needed to resolve the issue. There is no quick fix. I assured him, though, with diligence and care, sensate focus would remove the fear and shame of the molestation, and replace it with a sense of wholeness, joy and pleasure.

Good luck

What’s up with me, Doc?

Can we talk about sexual orientation for a bit? I sure hope so, because I’m gonna go ahead and launch into it here, if you’re ready or not.

Among the load of email I get from the sexually worrisome in any given week, I will predictably get a handful of questions, mostly from guys, who are concerned that they might get gay.

The guys writing in are concerned enough by something that is going on inside of them that they’re compelled to broach the issue with me. I hasten to add that rarely are these communications the “Gee, I’m Mildly Curious” type. Rather they’re more likely to be the “Oh My God, What Wrong With Me?” type. They fear that they picked up queer cooties somewhere and their undies are all in a twist fearing they are scared for life. Ya know, kinda like the pox.

Then there are those who write in wanting to me to make sense of their sexual ramblings. They’ve been playing on both sides of the fence, so to speak; and they want me make the call. My response to each group of correspondents is virtually the same — for most of us sexual interests and behaviors are way more fluid than we care to acknowledge. For example, here’s young (20-year-old) Mel.

My first sex was with a guy, and then I got plenty of sex with girls. Then there was the time that I got fucked, it hurts on the first time but as it continued it started to feel tickly and I started to enjoy it. But I still like to have sex with girls. What do you think I am really?

What do I think you are, REALLY? Why would you want me, a total stranger, to offer an opinion on who you REALLY are? I mean, REALLY!

I gather you want me to weigh in on your sexual orientation, right? Well from the bit of information you give me, I’d say you’re able to swing both ways. And that’s a good thing, at least in terms of getting a date. You have it way over all the other folks who acknowledge being interested in only one gender.

Listen, all human sexuality is on a continuum. Have you ever heard of the Kinsey 0-6 scale? The dean of American sex research, Alfred Kinsey, his associate, Wardell Pomeroy, and their colleagues developed this scale as a way of classifying a person’s sexuality in terms of both behavior and fantasy.

This is what they developed.

0 represents an exclusive heterosexual person, who has no homosexual behavior or fantasy.
1 represents a predominantly heterosexual person, who may have incidental same sex feelings — most likely in fantasy only.
2 represents a predominantly heterosexual person, who has more than incidental same sex feelings and experience — fantasy for sure and probably behavior too.
3 represents an equally heterosexual and homosexual person, one who enjoys both other and same sex behavior and fantasy.
4 represents a predominantly homosexual person, who has more than incidental other sex feelings and experience — fantasy for sure and probably behavior too.
5 represents a predominantly homosexual person, who may have incidental same other sex feelings — most likely in fantasy only.
6 represents an exclusively homosexual person, who has no heterosexual behavior or fantasy.

These pioneering sexologists also discovered that an individual can, and often does move around on this scale at different periods in his/her life. So if you really want to know what you really are, look to both your fantasy life and your actual behaviors and make your call with that information. Just don’t be overly surprised if you find that you shift from one position to another as you grow into you sexuality.

Good luck!

To elaborate on what I just said to our young friend, Mel, I’m going to go all egghead on you. Because there is a body of sexual research that underscores just how complex this whole issue is.

For example, did you know that a recent study discovered that gay men and straight women have similar brain organization? It’s true!

Researchers in Sweden found that gay men and straight women share some characteristics in the area of the brain responsible for emotion, mood and anxiety. Brain scans also showed the same symmetry among lesbians and straight men. These findings were published in the prestigious journal — The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers quickly added that their study couldn’t determine whether the differences in brain organization were inherited or due to exposure to hormones, such as testosterone, in the womb. They were also unable to conclude if brain organization is responsible for sexual orientation.

Numerous other studies have examined the roles genetics, biology and environment play in sexual orientation. But little evidence exists that any one factor in particular plays the all-important primary role. This leads most scientists to assert that both nature and nurture play a part.

To make matters worse, some research contradicts other research, and some promising findings never pan out. (Did you know that there was once a belief that male homosexuality and finger length might be linked? Another, later discredited claim, suggested that gays have distinctive fingerprint ridge patterns.) And researchers never agree on how to interpret results even when they find a likely correlation.

Here are some fun facts you might find interesting.

• A study of 87,000 British men published in 2007 found that gay men have more older brothers than straight men do. Only big brothers count. And lesbians don’t show such patterns.

Ray Blanchard of the University of Toronto, an expert on the “big-brother effect” says that each older brother will increase a man’s chances of being gay by 33%. That’s not as dramatic as it might sound. A man’s chance of being gay is pretty low to begin with — perhaps as low as 2%. So having one older brother only ups the chance of being gay to only about 2.6%.

Curiously enough, this “big-brother effect” holds true even for gay men who weren’t raised with their older brothers. This leads researchers to believe the key to understanding this is in the mother’s womb. After giving birth to a boy, a woman’s immune system can create antibodies to foreign, male proteins in her bloodstream. Subsequent sons in the womb could be exposed to these “anti-boy” antibodies, which might affect sexual development in the brain. How freakin’ amazing is that?

• The hand you use to sign your name might have something to do with what gender you are drawn to.

An study containing more than 23,000 men and women from North America and Europe in the year 2000 found that being non-right-handed seems to increase a man’s chances of being gay by about 34%, and a woman’s by about 90%.

Again researchers guess that different-than-normal levels of testosterone in the womb — widely theorized to play a role in determining eventual sexual orientation — could nudge a fetus toward brain organization that favors left-handedness as well as same-sex attraction.

• If exposure to testosterone in the womb influences sexual orientation, scientists reckon that straight and gay people would differ in body parts strongly affected by testosterone, such as a guy’s cock.

Here we get back to Alfred Kinsey’s groundbreaking work. Researchers at Brock University in Ontario reviewed the data on 5,000 gay and straight men collected by Kinsey and his associates from the 1930s to the 1960s. Their results, published in 1999, showed that gay men had longer, thicker penises than did straight men. On average, about 6.5 inches long and 4.95 inches around when erect, versus 6.1 inches long and 4.8 inches around for straight men.

Again, no one can actually say for certain what this means. One guess is that some male fetuses are exposed to a unique mix of hormones in the womb. Testosterone levels might spike early, causing enhanced penis growth, then drop off later in pregnancy — leading to some feminine characteristics.

As you can see, there’s a still a lot of work to be done in this field. The next frontier looks to be in the subtle differences in how gay and straight brains navigate new cities, respond to erotic movies and react to the scent of sweat and urine.

Stay tuned!

The Prostate Toy Interview

Hey sex fans,

This being Friday and all, you’re probably expecting a product review. Well sorry to disappoint, but the entire Dr Dick Review Crew is still working their naughty bits to the bone, so to speak, so we’ll have to wait on posting new reviews till another day.

But not to worry, because I have something else that’s charming and delightful for you. Keeping with the sex toy theme I offer you this interview I did with a leading toy company. I figure if the toy company was interested in my thoughts, perhaps you, my dear readers, would be too.

1. Hey Dr Dick, you look like a rather wholesome gentleman, what prompted you to become a Sexologist?

Wholesome? Looks are so deceiving, aren’t they?

I came to this work in a most unorthodox fashion. It is certainly not something I ever aspired to do.

I was a Catholic priest at the time. I was ordained in 1975. (I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in Clinical Sexology.) In 1981 I completed my post-graduate work with the publication of my doctoral thesis concerning the sexual attitudes and behaviors of gay Catholic priests in the active ministry. This was unprecedented research back then (and even now, for that matter). There was a firestorm of international publicity. I was soon to be known as “The Gay Priest”. (Yeah, like if I was the only one.) Needless to say, this notoriety (some say infamy) effectively ended my public priesthood. I fought the Vatican for the next 15 years, from 1981-1996, in an attempt to salvage my ministry, but in the end it was a lost cause. No surprise there, I suppose.

My career as a therapist in San Francisco coincided with the advent of HIV/AIDS (1981). My practice evolved into working primarily with sick, elder and dying people. In the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization, PARADIGM, Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work. Alas, I couldn’t find the proper funding to continue. This precipitated a rather sudden move to Seattle in 1999.

I continued to work with sick and dying people here, in Seattle. I started to develop programming for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and men with prostate cancer. I wanted to create videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses to help them deal with reintegrating sex and intimacy into their lives post diagnosis. I soon realized that I would need to fund these projects on my own. No mainline foundation would touch the issue of sex. Faced with how I might do that, some friends prevailed on me to shoot porn. The rational was; I would make loads of money and I could then subsidize my heart’s desire. Thus Daddy Oohhh! Productions was born.

Unfortunately, the “load of money” part never materialized. But at the time, I figured that, since I was actually shooting porn, I would create projects that were different in style and tone from what currently ruled the marketplace. The Daddy Oohhh line features a whole lot more romance, allure and seduction rather than just bumping parts.

2. What are the most common issues you come across during your workshops and counseling?

I continue to be surprised by how few people actually believe there is an essential goodness to sexuality, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.

I see so much unhappiness and anxiety when a person’s sex-negative attitudes alienate them from their own body and the bodies of others. These uninformed attitudes affect not only a person’s sex life, but also his/her ability to relate well with others.

I believe that sexual wellbeing is more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others. Between the extremes of total sexual repression and relentless sexual pursuit, a person can find that unique place, where he/she is free to live a life of self-respect, enjoyment and love.

My workshops and counseling practice aim is to provide information and guidance to help people approach their unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner, as well as further their independent growth, personal integrity, and have a more joyful experience of living.

3. Everyone seems to be aware of the female G-spot. However, the male equivalent, the P-spot, is shrouded in mystery and taboo. Would you mind explaining what that’s all about?

You’ll excuse me for being contrary, but it is my personal crusade to dissuade people from using the term “male G-Spot”.

Frankly, I don’t see a rationale for talking about the prostate as if it were something akin to the female G-spot. Because that’s like saying a clit is a female penis. And to tell you the truth; I even have difficulty with the overly cutesy term, “P-Spot”.

The G-spot got its moniker because folks couldn’t remember its proper name, the Grafenberg Spot. (It was named after the physician who first wrote about it.) But we don’t need that kind of shorthand for the word prostate, do we? I certainly hope not.

If the prostate is indeed shrouded in mystery and taboo, as you suggest, it’s likely because it’s buried inside a guy’s ass. And our culture is pretty ass-phobic.

Luckily, I see all of this changing. More and more men are discovering a pleasure zone they’ve not known before. And thanks to the growing number prostate-related sex toys in the marketplace this self-discovery can be fun as well as informative.

4. What can men do to enjoy this little gland?

• First, cut and file smooth your fingernails. And before you start playing with your hole, relax.
• Take a relaxing shower, a warm bath, and/or try some deep breathing exercises to help you do that.
• Have a ready supply of a water-based or silicone-based lube handy.
• Start with a nice hand job. Stroke your dick with your lubed hand to get yourself into your happy place.
• Gradually slather some of that lube on to your balls and taint (perineum). While your legs are open find your hole and play with your rosebud. Gently massage the area around your asshole, but don’t side your finger in just yet. Simply let this time be for getting used to the feelings of playing at the opening of your ass.
• Next, let your play include the tip of your middle finger entering your ass.
• If you do this while you’re stroking your cock, you will find that your hole will actually open and invite your finger. That’s the great thing about pleasuring one part of your body while learning to pleasure another.
• Once you’re comfortable with your fingertip inside, try pushing it in further and move it around a little. Then try pushing it and pulling it out of your ass. Ya know, like finger-fucking yourself.
• Once your finger is about an inch or so inside your ass, move your finger in an upward motion along the upper wall of your rectum. You’ll discover a firm, round and flat surface the size of a walnut. This is your prostate. You can only feel this small part of the whole gland, but you will know it when you touch it. It is full of delicious nerve endings and it will give you jolt of pleasure.
• Remember, your prostate shouldn’t be hard to find, particularly if you’re all horned up from pullin’ your pud. It will feel smooth and hard, like a flat stone.
• Give that puppy a nice gentle massage with your fingertip. If you’re still stroking your cock, don’t be surprised if this prostate massage gets you off. In fact, you will find that your prostate actually enlarges a bit and becomes firmer just as you are about to shoot your load.
• As you cum you will also notice that your ass-sphincter muscle will tighten around your finger and pulsate with each squirt. How fun is that?

5. If you enjoy prostate stimulation, does that make you gay?

It certainly would if only gay men had prostates.

6. Is there a difference between a prostate orgasm and a penile orgasm?

Technically, I suppose there is.

Clearly some men do get off on prostate stimulation alone. However, an orgasm (not the same thing as an ejaculation, mind you) is a complex physiological — muscular and neurological — response. Just like our genitals are a composite of parts that work together to bring us joy; so too are our orgasms.

Finding and massaging your prostate is a wonderful thing. But there’s one thing for certain; your prostate has been involved in your orgasmic response from the very beginning, long before you discovered it.

7. Are there any health benefits to prostate stimulation?

Yeah, you betcha! It’s fun, it’s healthful and it’s sexually enriching.

Massaging your prostate stimulates blood flow and that brings more oxygen to your prostate. Unwanted bacteria that grow in your prostate can be removed more efficiently through massage. Fat and proteins can also accumulate over time, which can cause infection or even lead to tumor growth if not flushed from time to time. Massaging your prostate can assist with this.

Studies show that a prostate massage is an effective means of keeping your prostate healthy without the use of pharmaceuticals or resorting to surgery. And of course it also helps a guy become less cock-centric and less ass-phobic. So it’s a win/win situation.

8. Are there any dangers?

Not really. Just remember to use lots of lube, because your asshole doesn’t create its own lubrication. Always start off slowly. And don’t put anything in your bum that isn’t designed for that purpose. All anal toys — massagers, vibrators, butt plugs, anal beads, dildos and the like — must have a handle on them and/or an oversized base that will prevent the toy from accidentally slipping up into your ass.

9. Finally, do you have any wise words for our prostate loving readers?

Once you’ve discovered the joys of prostate stimulation on your own, why not invite your partner(s) to join in the fun. And always use quality toys. Choose nonporous, phthalates-free, hypoallergenic and latex-free materials. Waterproof toys are also highly recommended. Because keeping your toys clean and sanitized is a real big part of enjoying your or someone else’s prostate.

Sex Addiction, or Too Much of a Good Thing?

This last post of 2010 will start with a declaration. One of my famous “Thus Sayeth Dr. Dick” sorta things, if you please.

Ready?

I categorically reject the concept of sexual addiction that has been floating around in the popular culture for the last 20 years or so.

And yes, I know this will rankle a bunch of you, but you’ll just have to get over it. You see, there is no such thing as a sexual addiction. Period!

Nowadays people bandy about the term addiction as if it can be applied to any and all obsessive behaviors. I have an addiction to chocolate; I’m addicted to shopping; I’m addicted to video games; I’m addicted to porn—or, I’m a sex addict. NONSENSE!

That being said, I hasten to add that I do believe there are sexual obsessions and compulsive sexual behaviors, plenty of ’em in fact. However, obsessions and compulsions are not addictions, and addictions, while they may involve irresistible impulses, are not the same thing as compulsions. Get it? Got it? Good!

I want to be absolutely clear about this. An addiction is a very specific condition. It denotes a dual dependency, physical as well as a psychological.

  • A physical dependency occurs when a substance is habitually used to a point where the body becomes reliant on its effects. The substance must be used constantly, because if it is withheld, it will trigger symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Psychological dependency occurs when the substance habitually used creates an emotional reliance on its effects. There is no functioning without it. Its absence produces intense cravings, which if not fed will trigger symptoms of withdrawal.

Check it out. With the help of my handy-dandy dictionary, a good place to start in discussions of this sort, I discovered these three very distinct definitions:

Addiction: The need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. Broadly: persistent use of a substance known by the user to be harmful. A state of physiological and psychological dependence on a drug.

Compulsive: Driven by an irresistible inner force to do something; i.e., a compulsive liar.

Obsession: A persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.

See? Different words. Different meanings. Not a particularly complex notion to grasp, right?

And listen, just because a bunch of yahoo afternoon talks show hosts and even a load of my esteemed professional colleagues banter these words about like they were interchangeable doesn’t make it so. In fact, we do ourselves a huge disservice by muddling these very specific concepts into a jumble. My fellow therapists should be the first to recognize this because finding help for an addiction or an intervention for an obsessive/compulsive disorder will be as specific as the problem itself.

One thing is for certain: identifying one of the things, as the other will complicate the problem solving. It’s like going to the doctor with a headache, and when the doc asks where does it hurt, you point to your stomach. It just won’t do.

Hi Dr. Dick,
I recently found out my boyfriend has been cheating on me. He wants me to forgive him, but he keeps on doing the same thing over and over again. He’s like addicted to sex or something. I love him very much, but I feel dirty just by being around him and knowing what he’s doing. It also makes me feel stupid putting up with all of this and at the same time I still love him, please give me some advice. Thank You.
— Darlene

Before we turn our attention to your boyfriend’s behavior, let me make a quick observation about you. You’re a big fat ball of contradictions, huh? How can you say that you love the person that makes you feel dirty and stupid? You’re deceiving yourself about at least one of those feelings. And if I had to guess, I’d say what you’ve got with your man ain’t love—it’s an obsession.

Your boyfriend probably has you figured out by now, and he knows that you will tolerate his misbehavior, which gives him tacit permission to do whatever he feels like doing. From where I sit, you’re the real sap. If you’re really serious about reining in your wayward BF, you’d better come up with a clear, unambiguous message about what you will and will not tolerate. Until you do precisely that, he’ll just think that he can roam wherever he wants and whenever he wants.

If the two of you are supposed to be living in a sexually exclusive relationship, and he’s taking his business elsewhere, then he’s got a problem, too. However, I caution you against thinking that his sexual behaviors are an addiction. Because they’re not.  And thinking they are will not help you find the solution to the problems you folks are having.

There are root causes for his behavior, just like there are root causes for your behavior. To get to the bottom of all of this, each of you will need to invest a good deal of time and energy with a qualified therapist. One can only hope that there’s a big enough bank of goodwill between the two of you to carry the day because overcoming your obsession and his compulsions will demand all of your emotional resources.

Dear Dr. Dick,
I have been in a relationship for five years now and truly love my partner, however I can never seem to get enough sex. I am 30 and he is 29, but I constantly find myself in the chat rooms lookin’ for younger guys to have sex with. It’s more than just a hobby—it’s a habit! I’ve actually lost jobs because he’d be out of town and I’d spend almost every waking hour on the PC with a cocktail looking for sex, not caring about anything else. It’s like I’m addicted to sex. He knows I have played around (I actually have talked him into three-ways a few times), but he has no idea how extreme it’s become. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m not unhappy with him. I just can’t seem to stop wanting sex with younger guys. Any suggestions?
— Brian

It’s interesting that you should tell me about your compulsive sexual behavior in the same breath that you tell me of your love for your partner. As you’ve probably guessed already, there isn’t really much of a connection between the two. Love and sex are two very different things. Sometimes they go together, but not always or even often for that matter.

It appears to me that you’ve really got two problems happening simultaneously: First, your compulsive prowling of the internet for sex (complicated, I might add, by your alcohol consumption). Second, the deception you’re practicing on your partner. Let’s deal with each of these in turn.

Your particular sexual activity, like any compulsive behavior (overeating, excessive shopping, etc.), is more than just a bad habit. It’s a serious psychological dysfunction. Take it from me: breaking this behavior pattern will be nearly impossible without some professional help. If the problem is as serious as you say, then you’d better seek help right away. This sort of thing, if left untreated, will not only destroy your relationship, it will ruin your life. When you seek that professional help, I encourage you to include information about your alcohol consumption. If there is an addiction in all of this, it’s the alcohol, not the sex. And in your case, the addiction may be fueling the compulsion.

Now, regarding your relationship. It’s imperative that you come clean with your partner about your sexual obsessions and compulsions, as well as your probable alcohol addiction. Not only will you feel better about not lying to him anymore, you’re going to need his support in overcoming the difficult obstacles you face. I suggest that you attend to this right away. There’s not a moment to lose.

Good Luck

Joining The Resistance

Name: Green Guy
Gender: Male
Age: 44
Location: Lowell, MA
Dr. Dick I am an African American gay man who was reared in a very psychologically abusive and conservative southern environment. I am very inexperienced with relationships, dating and sex. In fact, I have been celibate for the last five years, trying to figure out how I got so psychologically fucked up and what to do about it. I was in therapy for quite a while, but I still have many issues to deal with, including trusting men. I would like to be in a healthy relationship, but I don’t even know where to start. I feel that my personal life has been a total disaster. I want to change things around, but I feel utterly lost. Although I am professionally successful, I have serious issues with my body. I am somewhat overweight, but have recently joined a gym to get in shape. I just feel totally hideous, and depressed (I am on medication), and don’t believe any guy would ever be interested in me. Please help!!

Holy Cow, darlin’, you sure do know how to let it all hang out, huh? Did you notice how may superlatives you used: “very abusive, many issues, total disaster, serious issues, totally hideous” to mention a few. It’s clear to me, and probably any other human that comes near you, that you are soooo not ready for a relationship. In fact, if you are as icky and psychologically fucked up as you say, if you can’t trust anyone, if you’re a dating klutz, if you are totally hideous and misshapen, then why not just let it go and spare any other person the torture of being involved with you? You’re right, what guy in his right mind would be interested in the likes of you?

Ok, you see what I’m doing here? I’m joining the resistance. You want to pile it on yourself, swell. I’ll join you. I’ll pile on too and together we’ll heap on the insults and contempt until you can’t stand it any more, until you reach your tolerance for self abuse (and not the good kind). And from what I can gather, that’s gonna take some piling on. Of course, you could quit this self-abuse at any time. Seems to me 44 years of negative and undercutting behavior is plenty…even for you.

None of us is without our issues, my friend, least of all me. But to navigate social situations, even casual ones, one needs to be able to judge what the traffic can bear. If you come on like gangbusters, like you did in your message to me, you’re finished even before you begin.

Whatever therapy you did in the past, it either didn’t work or it didn’t have any lasting effects. Find a therapist that will challenge you not stroke you. Find someone that will jump on your shit, someone who will care enough about you to disallow you from hurting yourself with such cruel remarks about yourself.

When I have a client like you in my private practice I always lay down the law. For every self-critical thing you say about yourself, you must say something nice about yourself. That shuts the client up in a hurry. Once he or she is quiet enough to listen we start pulling apart the tangle of their self-hatred.

You were abused as a kid. Sadly, so are lots of kids. But that’s in the past. I’m sure you have scars, but who doesn’t have scar tissue. You don’t know how to interact with others socially, that a skill that can be learned. You’re fat and out of shape? You’re going to the gym to address that. You’re depressed even on antidepressants? Well, no wonder you’re sick of yourself. And that has got to stop, NOW.

Before you consider asking anyone else to love you — with all your flaws — you’re gonna have to learn to love yourself — with all your flaws. If you can’t do that, then don’t expect anyone else to do it before you do. Get off your pity pot and get to work. You say you are successful in your professional life. (Frankly I don’t see how that’s possible given the litany of your liabilities.) But for the sake of argument, let’s say you are telling the truth. How did you come to be a successful professional without at least some redeeming qualities? That is unless you are a professional executioner, or a professional hit man, or a politician.

You see you can’t have it both ways. If you have skill enough to make yourself a success in your professional life, then you have skill enough to make yourself a success in your private life. With the help of this new therapist you’re gonna get — the one who is not going to let you get away with your shit — you’re gonna learn how to marshal and channel the aptitudes you have that make you successful in one area of your life, to make you a success the other areas of your life.

Good luck

Name: Jose
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Location: Norwalk, CT
how can i approuch a good stripper to get into sex? even tho they just strip some do more off work. How do I know they are willing to do it?

I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and guess that English is not your first language, right Jose? I think I understand what you are asking. Let’s just hope the women you approach will also understand you’re meaning.

So OK, you know this fine stripper and you want to have sex with her, right? Swell! First thing you oughta know is that not all strippers are hookers. Some simply strip because they make really good money. They don’t sell sex, mostly because they don’t have to. The strippers that do offer sexual favors for a fee, don’t do so where they strip. It’s bad for business and, I hasten to point out, it’s against the law— except if you’re in Nevada — and you’re not.

There are two real good ways to go about this hunt for stripper sex. First, you could ask the vixen out on a real date. Personally I think this is the best way of going about gettin laid by any woman. If the woman, stripper or whatever, is available for a date, and you’re not a totally creepy putz, she might take you up on the offer. Just remember, many strippers already have a boyfriend, and he wouldn’t look kindly on you trying to hustle his filly, if you catch my drift.

Also, some stripping establishments prohibit their employees from fucking with the customers. If that’s the policy at the joint you frequent, let it go. Don’t pester the woman for something that will jeopardize her job. However, if she does accept the date, and all goes well, and you charm the pants off her, literally, you just might get a little slap and tickle. I just hope we’re clear on the concept that if any woman, especially a sex worker, accepts a dinner invitation it is not the same thing as saying she’ll fuck you, right? GOOD!

The second option is to ask the stripper if she does escort work on the side. Again, some stripping establishments prohibit their strippers from fraternizing with customers in any way, shape or form, especially fucking them. You ought also know that if the woman in question is indeed an escort as well as a stripper, your “date” with her is gonna cost ya. These women are professionals; so you’d do well to treat them with the respect you’d offer any other professional woman.

Never, under any circumstance, offer to pay a stripper…or any woman for that matter…for sex. That would be pandering prostitution, and that’s against the law. If the woman in question is an escort, she will be exchanging her time, the pleasure of her company and her expertise for money; not sex for money. Get it? If she’s smart she won’t give you a second chance to get this right. So if you fuck up asking her the first time you may be out of luck forever.

My advice to you is, figure out ahead of time which way you want to go on this — a real date or escort hook up. Then approach her like a gentleman. If she’s not interested, respect her decision to decline your offer with grace and dignity.

Good luck

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