Carolyn Parks slows down the intimacy and interviews Ian Kerner, Ph.D, MFT, a sex specialist.
Since I’m interested in speaking with good men (hey — what a perfect fit with this site) about their unique perspectives and relationships with taking time for the readers here, I decided to ask an expert about his take on sexuality and this idea of slowing down.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ian Kerner, Ph.D, MFT. Ian is a nationally recognized therapist, specializing in sexuality, relationships and relational issues. He is also the New York Times best-selling author of numerous books, including the ever-popular She Comes First (Harper Collins). He writes a well known column for CNN and can often be seen on the TODAY Show and the Dr. Oz Show amongst others.
SlowStruck: When it comes to talking about ‘slow sex’, we often hear about how it’s for the benefit of the woman. How does this idea of slow sex relate to and benefit men?
When we slow down and relax, that part of our brain associated with stress and anxiety can shut down. And when those ‘parts’ of the brain dim down or deactivate, it is easier to promote the process of arousal.
It’s critical for men dealing with anxiety about performance — or anxiety in general — to feel safe/secure in their environment and to slow down in terms of relaxing so that they can take pleasure in sex.
SlowStruck: How about married or people in long term relationships. How can they try to slow down in their sex life?
For couples, it is easy to get into a more rigid ‘sex script’, where things remain much the same. Sometimes, this is completely fine. Sometimes when we go out to eat, we want what we know and like, i.e. let’s eat Chinese. We know what works, we might be tired, and it’s still a connection. It’s important to ensure we create space for sex — even if it’s routine.
And for couples who feel that things have become too routine too often, or perhaps too ‘fast’, we recommend expanding on the earlier part of the ‘sex script’, meaning the foreplay part. And the reason we suggest this approach is that when we are working on new ideas, we are operating from our pre-frontal cortex. And if we’re thinking about arousal, we’re doing the opposite of what is required of arousal — letting go, relaxing. So if a couple is further along into things – when arousal is heightened — starting to think about changing something up may have a dampening effect on that arousal. This is why slowing things down in the earlier phase of sex may be more rewarding.
SlowStruck: And is there any other benefit to slowing down for the man?
Well, remember that if the man is taking care of his female partner’s needs and responding to her cycle of sexual response, then he is more than likely already slowing down already. And extending this courtesy or being more sensitive to her makes for a more caring and appreciative connection between the two partners.
My most popular book is She Comes First, and in a way, that book really is all about slow sex for men. It implores men to know more about female sexuality and to allow for her responses to take the lead. If you think about it, this is an inversion to the way men would naturally have sex.
SlowStruck: What do you think about media in our culture today and how that might play into sexual relationships?
The media is certainly rife with porn and I’m supportive of the use of porn for self pleasure or pleasure within a relationship – whatever works.
With internet porn, there is this rapid fire visual stimulation. In the occasional case where we see men who rely a great deal on internet porn for stimulation and who have issues becoming aroused without its presence, we may recommend an experiment where the individual replaces the porn for a limited time frame in order to allow for other erotic materials or input to arouse. In addition, if men can tap into their peak sexual memories or particular fantasies, they may be better able to connect more with their erotic selves. By developing other means for arousal, we’re in essence ‘rewiring the brain circuitry’.
SlowStruck: Many men reading this will also be fathers. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on how we parent our children to share these important messages about sexuality?
It’s not about one message we give them…it is many messages over time. We can use these opportunities to connect with our children and share important insights. I see raising children as a chance to have many conversations that will encourage them to think and consider.
My son, for instance, has become sexually activated. He is not sexually active yet, but is definitely activated; he is interested in girls and is absorbing what’s around him. I am a person who will deconstruct everything. So I will talk to him about something he is looking at – sexual images, for one example – and suggest that what he is seeing portrayed doesn’t usually happen that way in the real world.
So for parents, I think it’s important to see what messages our kids are receiving and view these as opportunities to discuss and grow.
Photo credit: Luca Moglia/flickr