Boyfriend is skimp­ing on fore­play dur­ing the week

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health - Send your queries to: suzigod­son@mac.com

I am cer­tain that my boyfriend knows all about good fore­play, be­cause I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it. Yet on week­nights, when time is short, he barely spends any time on my plea­sure and goes straight to what he must think is the main event. I am much less likely to or­gasm un­der th­ese rushed cir­cum­stances.

>> Quickie sex is fine, and no one minds tak­ing the oc­ca­sional rain check, but there is some­thing not quite right when mid­week trysts re­peat­edly de­liver for one part­ner only. Tired­ness is a valid ex­cuse for want­ing a cud­dle rather than in­ter­course; it is not an ex­cuse to rush sex. Time is not the is­sue ei­ther. A Bri­tish sur­vey of 44,000 peo­ple by the sex-toy re­tailer Love­honey found that the op­ti­mum time for a full love­mak­ing ses­sion was 30 min­utes. How­ever tired, there’s no rea­son why you can’t go to bed ear­lier and have am­ple time for fore­play, in­ter­course, and an or­gasm each.

Your boyfriend’s be­hav­iour is a clas­sic il­lus­tra­tion of ha­bit­u­a­tion. At the start of a re­la­tion­ship, sex is one of the most im­por­tant ways for a cou­ple to spend their time. Life then gets in the way and you grad­u­ally stop ded­i­cat­ing en­tire evenings to each other’s plea­sure, and one (or both) stops mak­ing an effort. Re­la­tion­ships are give and take, but too of­ten it’s the woman giv­ing and the man tak­ing. In the most com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of sex­ual be­hav­iour in the US — The So­cial Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Sex­u­al­ity by Ed­ward O Lau­mann in 1992 — 75% of the men ques­tioned said that they al­ways had an or­gasm dur­ing sex, com­pared with 29% of the women.

At the mo­ment your boyfriend is sav­ing his ba­con by mak­ing an effort at week­ends, but far­ther down the line there’s a pos­si­bil­ity that he will start skimp­ing on a Satur­day too. You need to nip this in the bud. There is no con­struc­tive way to tell your boyfriend that you’re a bit peeved about him rush­ing things dur­ing the week and there­fore not mak­ing an effort to sat­isfy you — so the only way to change this is to make him want to please you. The best way to do this is to ran­domise the re­ward, which is a proven psy­cho­log­i­cal strat­egy.

In the fa­mous 1950s study, the psy­chol­o­gist BF Skin­ner trained rats to press a lever to re­lease a food treat, but as soon as the process be­came pre­dictable they gave up. If the treats were ran­domised so that the rats got, for ex­am­ple, a small treat, then no treat, then a big treat, they would press the lever com­pul­sively.

Be­cause hu­man be­ings pos­sess the same ap­petite for novel re­wards, ev­ery habit-form­ing tech­nol­ogy, from slot ma­chines to so­cial me­dia, uses ran­dom sched­ul­ing to keep cus­tomers com­ing back. It is much the same with sex.

In life, when­ever we get re­warded, our brains re­lease a shot of dopamine. This makes us feel good, but it also makes us want more of the thing that cre­ated that sen­sa­tion, so it is re­leased both as a re­sult of and in an­tic­i­pa­tion of plea­sure. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween nov­elty, un­pre­dictabil­ity and de­sire can be used in a pos­i­tive way to en­hance sex in a long-term re­la­tion­ship. Add a bit of in­trigue to your mid­week sex ses­sions and he will be forced to raise his game.

“How­ever tired, there’s no rea­son why you can’t go to bed ear­lier and have am­ple time for fore­play Sex ad­vice with Suzi God­son

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