The idea that men and women are polar opposites when it comes to sex is a popular one, immortalized in bestselling books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. But are the sexes really that different in their sexual wants and needs? In this lecture and workshop (co-taught with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova), we will explore the most popular stereotypes about gender and sex—such as the idea that men are “wired” for short-term flings and women for long-term relationships—and consider them in light of what the science really says. There are undoubtedly some important gender differences, but as you’ll see, it turns out that much of what we’ve been led to believe about men, women, and sex just doesn’t hold up.Read More
Relationships can take a lot of different forms, from monogamous to “monogamish” to polyamorous. Each approach has its own unique set of advantages and challenges. So how do you figure out what kind of relationship is right for you—and how do you navigate it successfully?Read More
Are you getting what you want when it comes to sex? Odds are, probably not. Most of us have sexual fantasies that we wish were part of our sexual reality; however, few of us have shared these desires with our partners, let alone acted on them.
Learning to communicate our desires is vital for maintaining happy and healthy relationships. Sexual communication has a number of benefits, from establishing greater intimacy and closeness to keeping passion alive for the long haul.
So how do we get what we want? Join me for a lecture and workshop at the V Club in New York City on August 8 to learn more.Read More
This week in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on cross-cultural differences in sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, we're reviewing some statistics that highlight how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands relative to the U.S. Check out the infographic below for a quick overview, which shows that teen girls in the Netherlands have much lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.Read More
There's been a lot of talk about the issue of sexual consent in response to the #MeToo movement. Much of this talk has focused on getting men to understand that obtaining consent is the right and respectful thing to do—a point that they increasingly appear to recognize and appreciate. However, something a lot of guys do not yet seem to realize is that focusing on consent can be worthwhile for at least one other reason: it has the potential to make sex even better. Here's why:Read More
Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner .
However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication .Read More
Communicating early and often about sex is one of the keys to a successful long-term romantic relationship. Indeed, research has consistently found that the more sexual communication couples engage in, the more sexually satisfied they tend to be. However, despite the powerful role that sexual communication plays in our relationships, surprisingly little is known about the way people navigate sexual discussions with their partners.
Studying sexual communication is important because by looking at how people feel about and approach it, we can come to understand why some people avoid sexual communication altogether, but also how struggling couples can facilitate effective communication in their own relationships. Fortunately, a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some valuable insight.Read More
The next unit in my Amsterdam study abroad course focuses on sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, I shared some statistics with my students highlighting just how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands compared to the United States. So that you can get some sense of this, too, I’ve put together the infographic below, which reveals that teen girls in the Netherlands have far lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.Read More
A lot of parents avoid talking to their kids about sex because they are afraid the experience will be awkward, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. However, parents aren't doing their kids any favors by taking this topic of conversation off the table. As Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, explains in the video below, the research is pretty clear when it comes to parent-child communication about "the birds and the bees": kids who are able to talk to their parents about sex are more likely to practice safe sex. Check out the video below to learn more about the research on this topic.Read More
Most people think of cheating as a risky behavior--risky in the sense that, if discovered, it could potentially lead to hurt feelings, severe conflict, and maybe even breakup. However, infidelity doesn't just put the health of a relationship at risk. Research has found that it also puts the physical health of everyone involved at risk because, when people cheat, they don't appear to be particularly likely to practice safe sex. Check out the infographic below for a look at the data.Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
“I have had one sexual partner and contracted herpes from him. Though I haven't had sex in 5-7 years and no recurrence of symptoms, I am scared about it recurring and giving it to a partner who will freak out on me and curse me. I want to get married, but I am never going to be comfortable telling my partner about having this infection. What do you think I can do so that recurrence doesn’t occur and I can enjoy condom free sex with my partner?”
Thank you for sending in this question. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—in fact, the CDC estimates that about 16% of the U.S. population has it. As a result, you are far from the only one out there who wants to know more about how to manage this infection, especially in the context of a relationship with a partner who doesn’t have it.Read More
Millennials are often portrayed in the popular media as an extremely liberal bunch when it comes to sex. The impression given is that, among other things, millennials are totally cool with homosexuality, they love their casual sex, and they're shunning the notion of marriage. However, this doesn't quite match up with the data. Believe it or not, millennials' sexual attitudes may be a little more conservative on average than you've been led to think.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who wants to know what he can do to help his new girlfriend have an orgasm.
How can I help my girlfriend climax? I thought that after 2 relationships in which I thought I was pretty good in helping my girlfriends experience orgasms, I would know how it “works.” Are women really so different from each other? My new girlfriend has never reached an orgasm in her entire life. How can I teach her?Read More
Although most teenagers in the United States receive some form of sex education in school, teens have no guarantee of receiving comprehensive or reliable information about contraception, safe sex, or STIs from their teachers. For example, it is well documented that many abstinence-only programs not only teach outright falsehoods about condoms and birth control, but they completely fail to address the sexual health needs of LGBT youth . Compounding this problem is the fact that many parents are reluctant to talk to their kids about anything related to sex at all. So if teens can’t get the information they need about sex at home or at school, surely they can at least get it from their physicians, right? Not necessarily. A new study finds that sexual communication is compromised even inside the confines of the doctor’s office.Read More