Tag Archives: sex

Sex and Emotional Intimacy

As someone with a passion for psychology, one of my favorite aspects of writing fiction is doing the research for new characters. For example, in my upcoming debut, my hero’s mother abandoned him when he was nine. Having no personal experience with that situation, I read many articles about the impact parental abandonment might have on a child’s psychological/emotional development, and the ways that impact might manifest itself in adulthood. Hopefully that work helped me create a realistic character.

But beyond writing, sometimes my research helps me with my own life and outlook, as happened recently while doing some homework on barriers to emotional intimacy (a very common problem for heroes and/or heroines in romance novels).

Throughout my life, I’ve been very comfortable handling criticism and openly discussing difficult personal issues. However, I usually have not been as comfortable accepting compliments or professing positive, intimate feelings. For some reason, I feel more vulnerable admitting to those emotions than I do addressing problems.  Perhaps the risk of rejection seems higher when saying “I love you” (where you don’t expect rejection) than when dealing with obstacles (where you are already confronting some kind of rejection). Whatever the reason, this difficulty can lead to feeling disconnected from the people I love.

If pressed, I could offer a dozen reasons why I’m so inept when it comes to ooey-gooey stuff, but one reason I hadn’t considered until today involves premarital sex. Not the fact that I had it, but apparently the “when” I had it matters. According to Five Levels of Intimacy, a relationship can get stunted at the level of emotional intimacy in which you first have sex, even if you’ve been married for fifteen years!  Because many people have sex very early in a relationship, getting stuck at a less-than-ideal level of emotional closeness is a real possibility.

Of course, working with your partner, you can “unstick” the relationship through counseling and other methods. The “sex fast” mentioned in the article might not be too appealing to your partner, but maybe the lasting benefits make it worth considering.

If you are feeling emotionally disconnected from your partner, you may want to read the full article. Although the author is working from a faith-based position, I think her points resonate even if you do not share her religious beliefs. In any case, I’m impressed by her honesty.  It’s inspired me to do some of the hard work I need to do in my own relationships.

As I embark on my journey, do you care to share any tips for increasing emotional intimacy?


Miley Cyrus, Sex, and Life After Forty

I read a recent article by sex and couples therapist, Stephen Snyder, M.D., entitled Sex in the Second Half of Life.  In it, the author explores whether or not Miss Cyrus’s statement – that sex basically ends after forty – is myth or fact.19672626_s

Those of us in the forty-plus demographic probably have varying opinions on the topic, but I was curious about the experts’ opinions.  I’ll admit this is something I think about often.  Yes, my friends and I joke about the differences we notice in our sex lives now versus twenty years ago (before we had children).  But the real reason I consider it with any frequency is because of my endeavors to write romance novels.

Most contemporary romance heroes and heroines are between twenty-five and thirty-five years old.  In the past eighteen months, a new subgenre dubbed “New Adult,” which lowers those ages to a range of eighteen to twenty-five, has emerged.  New Adult books are flying off the shelves faster than most other romance subgenres despite the fact the average romance reader tends to be a middle-aged woman.  If you look at popular television and movie romances, you’ll see a similar emphasis on younger couples (unless Jack Nicholson or Alec Baldwin is involved, apparently).  All this anecdotal evidence suggests consumers prefer reading or fantasizing about intense sexual relationships involving people well under forty.  Does this mean Miley is right?  Say it isn’t so…please!

Thankfully, Dr. Snyder offers a counterpoint.  Although acknowledging a change in sexual activity as we age and have children, he claims it stems from a subtle shift between needing sex and wanting it.  Apparently, we still want sex after forty, but we demand good sex with a rich emotional component.  Absent quality, we might prefer the other precious commodity of life – a good night’s sleep.

Dr. Snyder also suggests there is a relationship between your desire for sex later in life and the quality of your early sex life.  Obviously, the better your early sexual experiences, the more desire you’ll have later (and the better those encounters will be, too).

It’s heartening to confirm Miss Cyrus doesn’t know any more about sex than she seems to know about other important aspects of life.  However, for those younger readers out there wrestling with hormones, make sure you’re building a healthy relationship with sex (and with your partner) if you hope to enjoy it well beyond the ripe old age of – gasp – forty!


photo credit: Jon Paul Careless, 123RF.com