SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ISD: COMMON FEELINGS AND BEHAVIORS
The following feelings and behaviors are common among individuals who are experiencing ISD:
- feeling irritated, tense, pressured, angry, or disgusted in arousing situations, as Bobby does during explicit conversations about sex, for instance, or as Dan does when Barbara puts on a sexy negligee and attempts to seduce him
- finding that the first stirrings of sexual desire are immediately followed by negative or distracting thoughts or imagesmemories of something your partner did that was insensitive or irritating, images of your mother as she looked the day she caught you playing doctor with a neighbor, flashbacks of an unpleasant sexual experience, distracting thoughts about work or your children, and so on
- never or rarely fantasizing about sex or thinking about anything related to sex
- rarely recognizing or responding to sexual cues and barely reacting to people, places, things, or situations that are erotic or sexually provocative
- needing intense stimulution to create sexual excitement or finding that only one or a few very specific sexual cues turn you on
- feeling no desire for an attractive and appropriate partnerlike your spouse or loverand perhaps even feeling disgust or repulsion in your partner's presence
- feeling desire for unattainable or unavailable partners like Playboy centerfold models or rock starsbut feeling no desire or shutting it down in the presence of a real partner or whenever the possibility of actually having sex exists
- fearing and/or mistrusting a partner who is actually loving and giving
- rarely engaging in sexual activity despite ample opportunities and/or repeatedly and routinely refusing your spouse's or lover's sexual invitations
- going out of your way to avoid sexual situations or situations that might lead to sexual situations
- engaging in sexual activity primarily for reasons other than sexual desire, such as obliging a partner
- find that when you do make love, sexual pleasure is limited or fleetinglike eating a meal when you are not hungry
Most of us have responded to sexual situations in at least one of these ways at one time or another. However, one or more of these signs do point to sexual desire problems if they are your usual or most frequent responses to situations and potential partners that in reality are safe, acceptable, and perhaps even optimal for sexual activity, or if they concern you or your partner or create conflicts between you.
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MAINTAINING A GOOD SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP
As superfluous as it may appear, it is nonetheless important to mention at the outset of this discussion the fundamental significance of a clean and attractive body to successful sexual interaction. Sex appeal is most certainly not confined to the marriage bed; it exists between the partners at all times, and should be carefully nurtured. By attractiveness, facial and bodily handsomeness is not implied; rather, attractiveness means scrupulous cleanliness of body and clothing, and taking the greatest advantage possible of all the physical endowments that nature has seen fit to bestow on each of us. Not everyone can be beautiful, but there is no excuse for anyone's not being attractively neat and clean at all times.
A man who is overweight, chronically unshaven and slovenly dressed, and whose breath reeks of tobacco or alcohol, can hardly expect to be considered a desirable bed partnereven after a session with shower, toothbrush, and razor later in the evening because his wife's memories of his earlier unattractiveness will simply detract from the excitement of the experience. Similarly, a woman who neglects to make up her face, sits around home in bathrobe and curlers, allows herself to become significantly overweight or underweight, permits even faint urine, vaginal, or underarm odors to emanate, or does not often shave her legs and underarms is setting the stage for a loss of respect, admiration, and even love; sexual failure cannot then be far behind.
Certainly before joining each other in bed, whether or not sexual activities are anticipated, each spouse should see to it that he has at least a clean body, fresh breath, and neat, attractive nightclothes. To do otherwise is to deny to the marriage bed one of the basic ingredients for a happy sex life.
The sense of smell is almost as important in sexual stimulation as the sense of sight is. There is a physiological relationship between the tissues of the nose and of the sex organs, as was described earlier. Conditioning factors also are frequently present in the relationship between the sense of smell and sexuality. During courtship, for example, the faint scent of a girl's perfume or of a man's after-shave lotion may become associated with their love and subsequent sexual arousal. After marriage, the same pleasant scent may well serve to reestablish the excitement that developed in the atmosphere of courtship. Conditioning quite naturally involves many sensory elements other than smell. Almost any occurrence during the period of courtship that forms an association with love and passion can later be woven advantageously into the fabric of the couple's sexual interaction.
The qualities of courtesy, kindness, and sensitivity to the needs and desires of others are fundamental to all successful human relationships; most particularly are they vital to sexual associations. Bearing in mind the differences in individual needs and desires, it is incumbent upon each person to discover what, precisely, offers the greatest pleasure to his partner in the sexual relationship. Genuine efforts to incorporate these discoveries into one's technique of sexual approach must be made before one may expect complete emotional fulfillment. For example, some partners prefer the conversation during sexual activity to be quite earthy, even to the point that the expressions used would be vulgar under other circumstances. Another couple might be shocked by such utterances, preferring to speak to one another softly in tender and loving words.
Pace, as well as style, is also a matter of individual taste. However, it is ordinarily wisest to proceed slowly and gently, with the goal in mind of bringing gratification to the partner rather than hurrying to satisfy one's own needs. One should not hesitate, furthermore, even to sacrifice one's own present fulfillment altogether if it means giving greater pleasure to the spouse; not only is it a generous and loving thing to do, but it will assuredly pay handsome dividends later. The best, and certainly the least stressful, way for each partner to determine the specific amatory desires of the other is to open wide the doors of candid communication. Neither partner is clairvoyant, and an inadvertently offensive gesture or clumsiness might impede the present response, and inhibit response in similar circumstances at a future time.
Variations in sexual approach and in the settings can add considerable spice to marriage. Too often sexual acts become ritualized, stale, and unimaginative, engaged in only to provide relief to physical urgency. Couples who wish to preserve delight and vigor in their sexual interaction will work as consistently on this aspect of their marriage as on any other. A husband who impulsively sweeps his wife into his arms in the middle of a happy afternoon and carries her off to the bedroom and makes wild love to her, or the couple who occasionally has sexual intercourse while taking a shower, or the wife who surprises her husband by appearing in his study wearing nothing but a smile and two cold, very dry Martinisthese couples are not likely to find sex dull, even after years of marriage. The playing of soft music, using mirrors to observe closely the intimacies of the sex act, perusing sensuous literature and art: all these can help keep boredom out of the bedroom.128 Men and women both want variety in their sexual lives; and if this ideal is reached within their marriage, there is considerably less likelihood that either husband or wife will seek it elsewhere. Imagination and willingness to experiment, coupled with an air of confidence and consideration, will serve most marriages very well.
Men's Health Erectile Dysfunction