From A Sex Therapist…
by Stanley Ducharme, Ph.D.
As a psychologist involved in the fields of sex therapy
and sexuality, I often work with people who have questions
regarding their ability to be a good lover. Other people,
who may have a chronic medical condition or a disability,
often feel that a positive sexual life is a thing of the
past. Regardless, issues about sex and sexual performance
are a source of anxiety for most people.
today, there is frequently the belief that a chronic illness
or medical problem hampers one’s ability to achieve
sexual satisfaction or to enjoy intimacy with a partner.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately for many of us, sexual skills seem to be defined
by physical abilities. Although men may define sex in a
physical way, I dare say this is not the case for the majority
of women. What sexually arouses a man is very different
than what arouses a woman. Too often, such an obvious fact
In this brief article, I’d like to highlight some
of these subtle differences between men and women and how
paying attention to these differences can make a man a better
lover, (1). It is certainly not my intention to over generalize
in these remarks but simply to point out some of the small
differences that can easily be forgotten in most relationships.
Paying attention to these simple facts can make a man a
great lover regardless of physical abilities or the presence
of a disability.
Men show their love differently than women. Men tend to
believe that they are showing their love by doing things
for and with their partners. These include financially supporting
a woman, spending time with her, going for a walk, watching
TV, going to a restaurant, getting the car fixed and having
sex. This kind of love is called. “shared activity”.
A man shows his love by spending time with his partner and
doing things with her. Words are not necessary.
Women, on the other hand, show their love by discussion
and personal sharing. This is the kind of thing women do
with each other. There is a heavy emphasis on verbal communication.
Emotional intimacy is the main theme. Love is demonstrated
by being honest about feelings, being open and talking about
Women appreciate men who can, on occasion, talk about their
feelings and be open and vulnerable. If you’re feeling
anxious about sex or concerned about an erection, why not
say so? If you appreciate her in some special way, why not
say that too?
also want a man who can say, “Honey, I love you”.
No chronic illnesses prevent a man from pleasing their partner
in this important way. Men simply don’t realize how
important it is to say these words.
Men relate physically and women relate emotionally. Stop
and think for a moment how society has taught men to relate
to each other. They shake hands, slap each other on the
back and hug one another. Men give “bear hugs”
to each other on important occasions. A father and son relate
by wrestling. Men and boys do things together. They play
ball, tackle each other and play soccer on Saturday mornings.
For men, words have nothing to do with relating. Action
is the name of the game. This is one reason why a sexual
problem can be so difficult for guys. Society hasn’t
taught men how to talk about these issues. Embarrassment
often prevents verbal communication.
surprisingly, women have been socialized to relate with
words. Women feel that there is hope for a relationship
to the extent that the couple can talk about problems. Most
women don’t enjoy talking about cars, sports or the
things that interest a guy. They feel cared about if they
are complimented, appreciated and romanced in soft, loving
kind of ways. Women like to be told that they look nice
or that their assistance is appreciated. Men often take
these things for granted and see little need to go into
such details. They feel that women should just “know”
these things and that saying them is not necessary. Why
Women want men who are fully in the present moment. Most
men never think about how “present” they are
during intimate moments with their partner or wife. Men
can be caught up in their own private sexual fantasies or
focused on their sexual performance. Some guys see nothing
wrong with watching a game on TV while making love to their
Men can easily be more concerned about the quality of their
erection than whether their partner is feeling emotionally
connected and cared for. Feeling uptight during sex, worrying
about other matters or “observing” your performance
can all take away from the romance of an intimate encounter.
These thoughts are distractions and keep a man out of the
Emotional closeness can be uncomfortable for many men. Thus,
strangely enough, the intimacy of the sexual act can easily
be anxiety provoking. Often, men deal with these uncomfortable
feelings by “emotionally pulling away”, focusing
on performance or being angry and frustrated during sex.
There is almost nothing that can improve a man’s ability
to be a good lover more than by staying emotionally connected
and caring during lovemaking. It is important to stay focused
on what is happening in the present and share these moments
together. Put on soft music rather than the TV.
get aroused by words and touch while men often get aroused
by what they see. For men, seeing a beautiful woman or looking
at erotic pictures is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Erotic pictures, magazines and videos do not serve the same
purpose for women. Seeing a naked male body doesn’t
turn a woman on in the same way that a naked female body
arouses a man. Thus, while watching an x-rated video during
sex may sound great for the guy, it can be a complete turn
off for his partner.
is another difference between men and women. Touching for
the man is a means to an end. Men are only interested in
being touched on the genitals or on erotic areas such as
the nipples. Being touched anywhere else is a waste of time
are very different. Touch conveys a sense of caring, romance
and affection. Most women enjoy being touched on any part
of the body as long as it is done softly and affectionately.
Often, women enjoy being touch in non-sexual areas even
more than being touched on the breasts or genitals. This
seems completely foreign to most guys! Again, it’s
the romance and the emotional closeness conveyed by touch
that is important for a woman. Being a better lover, for
the man, means turning off the erotic video and spending
the time touching and caressing whenever possible.
Men tend to rush through foreplay while women like to take
it slow. Foreplay for a guy tends to be a “means to
an end”. It’s often regarded as a necessary
step prior to intercourse. Although guys do enjoy the act
of foreplay, there are many reasons to cut it short. Men
don’t need that time to become aroused. It’s
easy to start worrying about loosing an erections during
this time. There’s the danger of ejaculating during
foreplay and finally there’s the excitement of what
lies ahead. With all this to be considered most guys just
want to move ahead and keep the foreplay short and sweet.
Even if intercourse is not the main objective, men like
the attention focused on them. Men can get too anxious or
irritable if things are not moving along fast enough. Today
with the advent of medications to improve sex, sexual encounters
may need to proceed more slowly. Often, spontaneity may
be impossible. Subsequently, men often become anxious, irritable
or on edge during foreplay because of concerns regarding
the quality of erections.
on the other hand, generally have a lot more difficulty
getting warmed up and becoming aroused. It’s not so
automatic as it can be for a guy. Two or three minutes of
stimulation simply isn’t enough time for a woman to
become aroused or to reach an orgasm. Women tend to be very
perceptive about what turns on their man. Extended foreplay,
tenderness and caressing are important components of making
love. They simply want the same considerations in return.
women enjoy a man who will take the time to ask and learn
what turns her on. They want to know that their pleasure
is an important issue for the man as well. Sex has to be
more than simply what pleases the guy. A woman’s orgasms
are complex, more difficult to achieve and more sensitve
to the emotional climate between the couple. A woman appreciates
a man who can understand this and can take this into consideration
during their lovemaking.
summary, men and women are different in more ways than the
obvious. Women want a man who can be genuine, open, honest
and considerate. This doesn’t necessarily come easily
for most men. It takes real effort to stay present, be emotionally
available and sensitive to the needs of one’s partner.
By focusing less on the physical issues however, a couple
can often achieve a new level of closeness and intimacy.
Zilbergeld, B., The New Male Sexuality, Bantam Books, New