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The Facile and the Furious

Sexpert Pepper Schwartz answers readers' questions about a husband who's lazy in bed and a lover who walked out the door

Woman and man holding hands

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Let's get it on...doesn't have to mean let's just get through it.

Q: My husband has gotten so lazy in bed that he offers to use my vibrator on me all the time. I like that, but I also like intercourse and touching. I feel he is somewhat not interested in lovemaking, just giving me an orgasm. How can I change that?

A: It's not unusual for longtime partners to grow efficient rather than affectionate when it comes to sex. Indeed, I sometimes think sheer boredom is the biggest enemy of sexual satisfaction: When two people grow accustomed to having sex the same way every time, it's like having steak — but no sizzle — for every meal.

It sounds like your sexual relationship has become a tad too goal-oriented. Your husband sees a "problem" (wife wants an orgasm) and reaches for the fastest means available (a vibrator) to "solve" it. But of course, most partners want more from a meal than the fortune cookie; they want not just the orgasm, but the lovemaking that leads up to it.

Talk to your husband about slowing things down. Tell him you enjoy his kissing and touching, and that you wouldn't mind being seduced every now and then. To drive the message home, set the stage with candlelight, or perhaps a mutual massage. Put on the music you once danced to. Read or watch something sexy together. Reassure him that your climax does not always have to be Job 1; rather, on this evening you simply want to enjoy having him inside you and focus on his sexual excitement for a change.

If the idea tantalizes him, you're off to a good start. You can concentrate on his desires and pleasure, rewarding him with your excitement at his passion. If you like, throw in a sexy embellishment: Suggest a blindfold, perhaps, or surprise him with some hot new lingerie.

This approach will work only if he's willing to take the time to make love, not flip an "on" switch. If he resists your erotic overtures, there may be some other problem altogether. It could be that he's less capable of having intercourse now — and reluctant to talk about it.

In short, lazy habits can always be re-energized, but only the two of you can determine whether there's a deeper relationship issue that needs to be addressed and redressed.


Q: I am a 62-year-old lesbian, and my partner of 23 years just left me for a mutual friend. (They were both taking care of me at the time in my latest bout with lupus.) I am brokenhearted and angry, and feel doubly betrayed. Worse, it has shaken my faith in women.

A male friend has also been helping me, and he recently confessed he has always been interested in me. So now, on top of everything else, I'm confused: I've never been interested in men, but I am drawn to this man. Do you think it's just because I'm lonely and hurt?

A: It's hard to know whether you're going through an emotionally needy time, or whether this person may have found a way into your heart in more than a transitional way.

Certainly, you are hurt, angry and emotionally distraught — how could you not be? Two people you loved and trusted crossed a boundary that you thought was inviolable — a cataclysmic event in the best of circumstances, but compounded in your case by the fact that it occurred during a flare-up of your illness. So it makes sense that you might be experiencing merely a "rebound" reaction.

And here's where things get really interesting: It's equally possible you've discovered you have genuinely deep feelings for this man.

In my 43 years as a sexologist and sociologist, I've watched many people surprise themselves by falling in love with someone they ordinarily never would have considered. I have seen gay men fall in love with — and marry — women. I have seen lesbians marry men. I have seen heterosexuals fall in love with someone of the same gender.

Last month in the New York Times, former Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania detailed finding love again at age 75 — with a man this time — five years after the death of his wife of 48 years, Clare. "Too often," Wofford, now 90, observed, "our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between. I don't categorize myself based on the gender of those I love."

Isn't that apt? It corroborates my own observations that we humans are more unpredictable — more emotionally and sexually elastic — than we think we are.

And that's why I urge you to "give love a chance." But with caveats, of course: You don't want to lead someone on if there's a chance your attraction to him could turn out to be merely an infatuation. So please be cautious at first! Still, if you are open and honest with one another, your friend may become your lover — and why not? There is nothing more mysterious — nothing more wonderful — than the way love can just drop into your life. Honor that possibility, and you may be about to open an amazing next chapter.


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