"Problematic dynamics emerge," Nagoski writes, "when the partners have different levels of desire and they believe that one person's desire is 'better' than the other person's." She goes on to explain that the partner who wants sex more infrequently is often seen as in some way deficient, and that the partner with the higher level of desire is seen as "normal."
"[I]f you have sex because you have to or you feel like you're supposed to," she writes, "you won't have much sex and you probably won't enjoy it when you do."
Instead of assuming one partner is dysfunctional while the other is normal, partners should be working together to better understand each other's turn-ons and desires, finding ways in which each of them can feel satisfied.
The Goal of Sex Is Always the Orgasm
According to recent research, nearly 37 percent of American women require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, while only 18 percent of women report that vaginal penetration alone is enough to bring them to climax. This leaves a significant number of women who aren't actually having orgasms during sex, which is only problematic if you consider orgasms to be the only purpose of sexual activity.
I am by no means trying to insinuate that people shouldn't pursue orgasm. It is a tremendous source of pleasure and I am constantly grateful that a woman's truncated refractory period allows for multiple orgasms. Hallelujah! But as I've written on this site in the past, when you're focused on causing - or having - an orgasm, you don't give yourself the chance to enjoy all of the other aspects of sexual play. Plus, you place a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself. Instead of thinking about the possibility of orgasm, stay focused on giving and receiving pleasure, in whatever form that may take.
Penetrative Sex Is the Only Sex Worth Having
Speaking of the various forms of pleasure that exist under the sun, "sex" does not have to refer to just penetrative, penis-in-vagina sex. And even if that is your favorite form of sexual activity right now, it may not always be. As we change - as our bodies change - you may discover that the same old turn-ons don't actually … turn you on anymore. But as long as you remain open to redefining what sex means for you, pleasurable sex will never be out of reach.
"Vanilla" Sex Is Lame
Hello. My name is Steph Auteri, and my favorite sex position is missionary. Also, I'm sort of a sex mute, and dirty talk makes me feel self-conscious and silly. My favorite flavor of sex is vanilla. Got a problem with that? There's oftentimes a misconception around what it means to be sex-positive. Some assume that to be sex-positive is to be up for sex at all times, to be without boundaries, and to be into any type of sex play imaginable. Sex-positivity is none of these things. For me, to be sex-positive is to acknowledge that sexual health is a normal and integral part of overall health and well-being. Beyond that, and as mentioned above, everyone has to define for themselves what good sex looks and feels like. So, no, my bedroom does not sometimes cosplay as a dungeon with handcuffs, riding crops and sex furniture, despite the fact that I am a sex writer.
And you know what? That's OK.
We're all pretty OK.