Read an Excerpt
Who Should You Have Sex With?
This is a bold and daring question. It speaks to the increased freedom we enjoy sexually and the new decisions and responsibilities that come with this freedom.
A few decades ago the question of "who should you have sex with" was not relevant to most men and women, because they married young and stayed married for most of their lives. But times have changed. People marry later than they used to, and at least half divorce at some point in their lives. We're spending longer and longer stretches of our lives single and on the market for both sex and romance.
The Internet has also dramatically changed our relationships and sex lives. Over fifty million men and women use the Internet to find dates, sex, and romance each year. In my studies of online daters, I found that about half say they are looking for a "sexually passionate" romance and want to have a "great sex life" with their future partner.
The other half place less importance on sexual passion, but they assign a higher priority to romantic love and relationship trust and stability. But sex (or ambivalence about sex) still plays a big role in their dating lives. Many of them are also curious about who would make the best bedroom partner and debate whether or not (and when) to take things to a sexual level. They also worry about ending up with a partner who wants more sex (or kinkier sex) than they are interested in.
Questions about sex are playing a bigger role in the lives of couples as well. People expect more out of their marriages than ever before. Couples are less likely to settle for sexual boredom and the loss of sexual chemistry than they used to. For better or for worse, the expectations we bring to our sex lives have shot way up. So, at some point, most couples will ask if the person in their bed is the person they want to be making love to for the rest of their lives.
How Do I Know This?
I have spent the last decade looking over America's shoulder, studying how men and women look for love, sex, and relationships online. I helped design matching systems for the two largest online dating websites: Match.com and Yahoo! I created interactive online tests about physical attraction, personality types, love styles, and sexual interests, and I gathered data on the preferences and passions of more than thirty million men and women who have taken one or more of my tests.
I've seen a lot on my journey through the Internet dating world. As a clinical psychologist and researcher by training, it's in my nature to look for themes and trends and to try to make sense of what I observe. It won't surprise you to learn that a lot of the activity I observed online and a lot of the exchanges and frustrations people reported had to do with sex. Sex plays a big role in online dating. There's a lot of talk about sex; there are a lot of people having sex.
Yet I've come to believe there are some very important questions about sex and relationships that no one is asking.
What Questions Should We Be Asking?
Most people fall into one of two extremes when it comes to talking about sex: they either refuse to talk about sex directly, or they talk about sex too soon or too explicitly. Since I've written a whole book about sex, I obviously favor talking about it. Most of us have inherited our society's conflicted attitude toward sex. I've personally spent large chunks of my life cycling between obsession and avoidance when it comes to sex. Neither is a healthy or happy place to be. So I'm a big advocate for knowing and understanding your sexual self and being able to talk about your interests and desires with your partner or potential partner.
Still, even people who are comfortable talking about sex tend to have a relatively narrow set of topics they discuss. On the rare occasion that people talk about sexual compatibility, they usually focus on how often they like to have sex. Some may even talk about their favorite sexual activities or positions. But these issues only cover part of what it means to be sexually compatible.
So, in this book, I'm going to ask you to take a big step back and ask a more fundamental question: who should you have sex with? We'll look at the type of connection and type of lover you need in order to have a truly great sex life. This question is obviously relevant to single men and women who are looking for a lover or a long-term partner. But I think that married men and women can learn something from asking this question as well. If you're not 100 percent happy with your sex life, exploring the type of lover you find most appealing as well as the qualities you bring to the bedroom can help you understand what the two of you as a couple can do to reignite or realign your sexual chemistry.
The difference between the best sexual connection you've ever had and the worst probably had little to do with the frequency or mechanics of sex. It probably had everything to do with how you had sex. You and your favorite lover probably both approached sex in a similar way-as wholesome and fun or maybe as nasty and naughty. You probably both liked having sex at a similar pace-slow and sensual or fast and intense. Chances are, one of you liked to take charge, while the other enjoyed surrendering and losing control.
So in order to know who you should have sex with, we need to expand our sexual vocabulary and explore the factors that go into creating initial sexual chemistry as well as long-term sexual compatibility. We need to understand how you approach sex and the type of lover who best fits your sexual style.
What Will This Book Teach You?
By the end of this book, you'll understand your own sexual desires in a way that you may have never thought possible. You'll also gain expertise in reading the secret desires of your current (or future) partner. I'll teach you the ingredients that go into creating great sexual chemistry and how to spot these qualities in a partner. For those of you already in a relationship, I'll show you how to reignite your sexual spark by exploring your and your partner's sexual fantasies and trying out new sexual roles.
We'll learn from the experiences of real men and women like you. This book brings together the results of over one hundred separate studies with over six million men and women from ages eighteen to eighty that I conducted with a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, sociologists, health educators, and statisticians. It's this research and the interactive exercises I developed based on this research that set this book apart from most books about sex that focus on opinions and advice. I'm not against opinions; I have lots of them. But in this book, I try to stay as close as I can to the research data. The result is a story that is a thousand times more interesting, complex, and surprising than any sexy magazine article or self-help book could offer.
I divided the book into four parts. Parts 1 and 3 focus on what I've learned from my studies of millions of men and women. The chapters in these sections map out a framework for understanding the components of sexual compatibility and sexual chemistry. You'll have a chance to explore your own tastes and preferences and the types of qualities you find most appealing in a lover.
I organized the parts of the book so that we can alternate between insights and application. Part 2 focuses on the applications and implications of the information you'll learn in Part 1. Similarly, Part 4 applies the insights from Part 3. Every chapter includes interactive exercises, based on my online tests, and a chance to compare your choices to those of other men or women like you. Even though the book is based on research, I've tried to make it as fun as possible. Sex is supposed to be fun, right?! To give you a better idea of what lies ahead, let's look at the goals of each part of the book.