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Characteristics of a Good Sexual Relationship

Partners who have a good sexual relationship tend to have certain characteristics

A Good Out-of-Bed Relationship

What happens outside the bedroom in day-to-day interaction has a tremendous influence on what happens inside the bedroom. The statement "I can't fight with you all day and want to have sex with you at night" illustrates the social context of the sexual experience. The verbal and nonverbal communication before, during, and after sexual interaction may also reflect the nature of the couple's out-of-bed relationship. One wife said:

I can tell how we're doing by whether or not we have intercourse and how he approaches me when we do. Sometimes he just rolls over when the lights are out and starts to rub my back. Other times, he plays with my face while we talk and kisses me and waits till I reach for him. And still other times, we each stay on our side of the bed so that our legs don't even touch.

Open Sexual Communication

Good sexual partners have open sexual communication- they express what they want and don't want in their sexual relationship. Unless both partners communicate their needs, preferences, and expectations to each other, neither is ever sure what the other wants. According to Dr. Jack Turner, a clinical psychologist, the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you") is NOT helpful, because what you like may not be the same as what your partner wants. A classic example of the uncertain lover is the man who picks up a copy of The Erotic Lover in a bookstore and leafs through the pages until the topic on how to please a woman catches his eye. He reads that women enjoy having their breasts stimulated by their partner's tongue and teeth. Later that night in bed, he rolls over and begins to nibble on his partner's breasts. Meanwhile, she wonders what has possessed him and is unsure what to make of this new (possibly unpleasant) behavior. Good sex partners take the guesswork out of their sexual relationship by communicating preferences and giving feedback. This means using what some therapists call the touch-and-ask rule. Each touch and caress may include the question "How does that feel?" It is the partner's responsibility to give feedback. If the touch does not feel good, the partner should say what does feel good. Guiding and moving the partner's hand or body are also ways of giving feedback

Self-knowledge, Self-esteem, Health

A good sex life with your partner also involves knowledge about yourself and your body. Such information allows you to give accurate information to your partner about pleasing you. Masturbation is often helpful in self-discovery of one's own self- pleasure. It is not possible to teach a partner what turns you on if you don't know yourself.

A positive self-concept is also important. To the degree that you have positive feelings about yourself and your body, you will regard yourself as a person someone else would enjoy touching, being close to, and making love with. If you do not like yourself or your body, you might wonder why anyone else would.

Effective sexual functioning also requires good physical and mental health. Physically, this means regular exercise, good nutrition, lack of disease, and lack of fatigue. Regular exercise, whether walking, jogging, aerobics, swimming, or bicycling, is related to higher sexual desire and interest.

Good sexual health also implies being aware that alcohol affects sexual performance. Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by American adults. Although a moderate amount of alcohol can help a person become aroused through a lowering of inhibitions, too much alcohol can slow the physiological processes and deaden the senses. Shakespeare said it best: "It [drink] provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance" (Macbeth, act 2, scene 3). The result of too much alcohol for women is a reduced chance of orgasm; for men, overindulgence results in a reduced chance of getting and keeping an erection.

Addressing Safer Sex Issues

No sexual relationship can be fulfilling without eliminating the worry over getting a disease. The Center for Disease Control estimates that at least one person in four will contract a sexually transmissible infection-HIV, genital herpes, genital warts, etc.

Sexuality in an age of HIV and STI (sexually transmissible infections) demands talking about safer sex issues with a new potential sexual partner. Bringing up the issue of condom use should be perceived as caring for the partner and the relationship, not a sign of distrust.

Realistic Expectations

A good sex life also implies having realistic expectations. It is unrealistic to assume that your partner will want to have sex with the same frequency and in the same way that you do on all occasions. It may also be unrealistic to expect the level of sexual interest and frequency of sexual interaction in long-term relationships to remain consistently high. Couples should not ask things of the sexual relationship that it cannot deliver. Failure to develop realistic expectations will result in frustration and resentment.

Avoiding Spectatoring

One of the obstacles to a good sexual relationship is mentally observing your sexual performance and that of your partner. Spectatoring, as Masters and Johnson conceived it, interferes with each partner's sexual enjoyment because it creates anxiety about performance; and anxiety blocks performance. A man who worries about getting an erection reduces his chance of doing so. A woman who is anxious about achieving an orgasm probably will not. The desirable alternative to spectatoring is to relax, focus on and enjoy your own pleasure, and permit yourself to be sexually responsive. All people engage in spectatoring to some degree. It is when spectatoring is continuous that performance is impaired.

 

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