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Dr. Drew Pinsky on Better Sex
Best known as “Dr. Drew,” the host of “Loveline,” the radio relationship and medical advice show, Drew Pinsky, M.D., is a nationally recognized physician and addiction specialist. He is the co-author of The Dr. Drew and Adam Book: A Survival Guide To Life and Love, and is also a professor of psychiatry and medical director of the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at the University of Southern California. Here, Pinsky talks about why the first 30 days of improving your sex life is so important.
When people ask you for help with improving their sex lives, what are their most common fears and concerns?
Men are mostly concerned with their adequacy, thinking, “Do I measure up?” And it’s not even so much to this particular female, but compared to other men. That’s their main preoccupation. For women, the biggest fear is, “I’m not going to make him happy and he’s going to leave.” There are fears of body image: “Do I look okay?” And again, for men to some extent, it’s, “Do I look good to her?” For women, it’s a little bit of a different skew—it’s “Do I look good for myself?”
The usual interpersonal issues of closeness enter into any sexual encounter. And if you were traumatized or exploited by your parents or adults when you were younger, all of that will get acted out and played out in your sex life.
Why are these first 30 days such a vital time for better sex?
They’re vital because that’s when you break some of the biological rhythms. It’s almost like detoxing. Like with smoking cigarettes, after the first 30 days the cravings settle down and the motivational priorities shift a little bit. That first 30 days are really your detox period.
What are the benefits of having better sex?
Clinical research has shown that more sex equals more happiness. Sex more than one and a half times a week is better than less than that. With monogamy, all health measures go up with men. Mental health, physical health, everything is improved if men are in a sustained monogamous relationship. If you’re both in the relationship and the sex is good, the relationship is likely to be happy and you’re more likely to be healthy.
What would you say to those people who fear that the biggest obstacle to their sexual enjoyment is their partner?
I really believe in committing to your marriage. In most cases when people divorce, they just go on and recreate the same relationship somewhere else all over again. If there’s abuse going on, then you should get out of the relationship. If not, by committing to developing richness in your current relationship, you’re committing to changing yourself. But both people have to be willing to change. If both people are willing to change and willing to work, it’s always better—no matter how severe the problem. The bedroom is a symptom of other things going wrong in the relationship.
For men, it’s really just a matter of frequency; we’re either doing it enough or we’re not. Typically, men have one thing they like: They have one position or one favorite thing and that’s it. For women, that gets boring; they need change, they need different environments and they want more intimacy. Women need all sorts of conversation and experiences of intimacy before the arousal and drive can occur.
Can introducing pornography be a positive addition to sex exploration, or does it present a danger of comparison or humiliation?
For women, it can be all over the place. It can be positive, it can be negative and it can be disgusting to them. Some women shut down and have trouble recovering from it when their partner is aroused by pornographic material. It’s risky. If somebody is not asking for that, don’t do it. Don’t do it unless somebody says, “I think this is a good idea. I think this would be interesting to me.” And again, the biggest mistake that men and women make is they think they’re operating with the same biology. So men do to women what they would want done for them, or to them.
What are the most important steps to take in the first 30 days to have better sex?
You have to be very specific about what kinds of behavior you want to change, whether it’s the frequency, the diversity of positions, orgasm or satisfaction. Second is attending to the intimacy and making sure that the relationship is okay. Make sure you’re spending adequate time nurturing the relationship.
Would seeing things from a mate’s point of view also foster greater intimacy?
Yes, because women have a very keen sense of intimacy and when a man pays attention to what a woman is asking for, it enhances the health of the relationship. Not just the empathic attunement, which is obviously good, but adequate time, adequate qualities and adequate range of experiences fosters intimacy, as well. That’s what women are really asking for. And lo and behold, guess what? Men are happier when they do that.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
I believe that faith, however you define it, is crucial to making a long-term change—faith that something else is better on the other side. I also look to interpersonal relationships; having strong interpersonal relationships around me is important.
The best thing about change is...
…it’s the opportunity to create and become who you want to be.
What is the best change you have ever made?
My marriage. It was a surprisingly positive change for me.
For more information on Dr. Drew Pinsky, visit www.drdrew.com.