Sexuality & SCI: How Men Can Be Better Lovers
What sexually arouses a man is very different than what arouses a woman. Too often, such an obvious fact gets ignored!
Men tend to believe they are showing their love by doing things for and with their partners. These include financial support, spending time with her, going for walks, watching TV, dining out, getting the car fixed, and having sex. This kind of love is called "shared activity." A man shows his love by spending time with his partner and doing things with her. Words are not necessary.
Women, on the other hand, show their love by discussion and personal sharing. This is what women do with each other. A heavy emphasis is on verbal communication. Emotional intimacy is the main theme. They demonstrate love by being honest about feelings, being open, and talking about the relationship.
Women appreciate men who can, on occasion, talk about their feelings and be open and vulnerable. If you're a man who is anxious about sex or concerned about an erection, why not say so? If you appreciate her help in transfers and undressing, why not say that, too?
Women also want a man who can say, "Honey, I love you." No SCI prevents a man from pleasing his partner in this important way.
Stop and think for a moment how society has taught men to relate to each other. They shake hands, slap each other on the back, and hug one another. A father and son often relate by wrestling. Men and boys do things together. They play ball, tackle each other, and play soccer on Saturday mornings. For men, words have nothing to do with relating. Action is the name of the game.
This is one reason SCI can be so difficult for guys. Society hasn't taught men other ways to relate. After SCI, they are starting from scratch.
Not surprisingly, women have been socialized to relate with words. Most women don?t enjoy talking about cars, sports, or the things that interest men. They feel cared about if they are complimented, appreciated, and romanced in soft, loving ways. Women like to hear they look nice or their assistance is appreciated.
Almost nothing can improve a man's ability to be a good lover more than staying emotionally connected and caring during lovemaking. It is important to stay focused on what is happening in the present and share these moments together. Put on soft music rather than the TV.
For men, seeing a beautiful woman or looking at erotic pictures is one of life's greatest pleasures. Seeing a naked male body doesn't turn a woman on in the same way a naked female body arouses a man. Thus, while watching an X-rated video during sex may sound great for the guy, it can be a complete turnoff for his partner.
Touch is another difference between men and women. For men, it is a means to an end. They are only interested in being touched on the genitals or on erotic areas such as the nipples. Anywhere else is a waste of time and energy.
Not so for women. Touch conveys a sense of caring, romance, and affection. Most women enjoy being touched on any part of the body as long as it is done softly and affectionately. Often, women enjoy being touched in nonsexual areas even more than on the breasts or genitals.
Foreplay for a man tends to be a "means to an end." Although guys enjoy foreplay, they don?t need that time to become aroused, it's easy to start worrying about losing an erection during this time, and there's the danger of ejaculating during foreplay.
Women, on the other hand, generally have much more difficulty getting "warmed up" and becoming aroused. Two or three minutes of stimulation simply isn't enough time for most women to become aroused or to reach orgasm.
Women tend to be perceptive about what turns on a man with SCI. They simply want the same considerations in return.
A woman's orgasms are complex, more difficult to achieve, and more sensitive to the emotional climate between the couple. A woman appreciates a man who can understand this and take this into consideration during their lovemaking.
In summary, men and women are different in more ways than the obvious. Women want a man who can be genuine, open, honest, and considerate. This doesn't necessarily come easily for most men. It takes real effort to stay present and be emotionally available and sensitive to a partner's needs. By focusing less on the physical issues, however, SCI needn't get in the way of being a good lover.
Dr. Ducharme is a clinical psychologist, certified sex therapist, and consultant specializing in sexuality and disability issues. He is a member of the medical staff at Boston Medical Center and a professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and assistant professor of Urology at Boston University School of Medicine. A past president of the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers, Dr. Ducharme serves on the boards of directors of several professional organizations.
Readers may send questions anonymously to Stanley H. Ducharme, Ph.D., Boston University Medical Center, 720 Harrison Avenue, Suite 606, Boston, MA 02118. firstname.lastname@example.org / www.Stanleyducharme.com.
Sexuality & SCI: How Men Can Be Better Lovers
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