He’s a real slow-poke

Dr. Daley on Sex and Relationships

He’s a real slow-poke

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photo / Sarah Goodpasture 

Dear Dr. Daley: I’m a 27-year-old woman, and I always finish before my boyfriend does. He complains that he can tell that I’ve given up. Truth is, I have. I don’t know what to do. I’m trying not to be selfish, but sometimes I just want to roll over and go to sleep. What should I do?

Isn’t it fun when the gender roles are reversed? Usually it’s the guys complaining that their jaws will never recover. I’m curious about what happens when the two of you try to talk about this, since that would tell me a whole lot about your relationship. I hate to think that your comment about just wanting to roll over and go to sleep tells me everything.

Although a lot of guys would like to be able to “go longer,” delayed ejaculation can actually be a sexual functioning problem. What “delayed” means is highly subjective, but let’s just say that it takes him longer to get off than he would like. Clearly it’s taking longer than you would like. Has he always been like this? With every partner? How about when he masturbates? If he always has a hard time ejaculating, he should swallow his macho and consult a urologist. If it’s situational, the two of you might want to see a qualified sex therapist.

We need to explore the pattern of his ejaculations, since that might clue us in to whether this is a physical problem, an emotional/psychological problem (guilt, for example, can make it difficult for people to reach orgasm), a relationship problem (any chance he might be angry with you? Does he insist on having sex around midnight after you have worked a long day?), or a combination. Surely your boyfriend can map out his ejaculatory life; the question is whether the two of you can talk about it in a way that will improve the relationship.

Me, I’m a card-carrying ’70s feminist. If your letter were written by a guy whose girlfriend took too long, we’d label him a selfish bastard and that would be that. Name-calling isn’t generally helpful, but taking a look at your feelings about this guy, your sexuality, and what the relationship might be. Sex in the perfect world entails two people giving and receiving pleasure to the mutual satisfaction of both. Not that every encounter has to entail simultaneous multiple orgasms, but both partners should be happy with the overall level of give-and-take.

So. Your boyfriend can do some thinking about his ejaculatory world. He might like a book such as The Multi-Orgasmic Male, and he ought to honestly face his feelings toward you and your relationship. You can pay some attention to who you are as a sexual woman, a lover, and as this man’s lover. The two of you will have to talk about aspects of the relationship that work and the parts that need tuning. Who knows? The solution might be as simple as morning sex, or as complicated as Partner Replacement Therapy.

Aside to readers: Wouldn’t you love to read the letter her boyfriend would write to us?


Dissed-engaged

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photo / Casey Peters 

Dear Dr. Daley: I’m 18, I just started college, and I’m engaged to my boyfriend. Every time I tell someone, it seems like they’re judging me and making assumptions. I think it’s really unfair. Are they right, or am I right?

Isn’t it just the way? Marriage is a social convention: Two people taking vows in public, planning to make some sort of family, part of society, promising to get into debt together for the good of the economy… and the public believes it has a right to an opinion about it. Just wait till you get pregnant and members of the species completely unknown by you will start feeling your belly in the grocery line and asking whether you plan to breast feed.

One definition of being an adult is making adult decisions outside the influence of other people’s approval. I wonder why it bothers you that some people judge you and make assumptions about getting married. Surely you understand that you are nearly a decade younger than the median age at which college-educated American women are marrying these days – thus your engagement is a statistical anomaly. And you realize that you and Your Beloved will undergo many changes in ideas, beliefs, goals, and personality during your four years in college, not to mention about twelve trillion hours of pressure-driven, stress-laden work fueled by ramen noodles and mac ‘n’ cheese. It may be hard for your friends to imagine when you’ll find time to drink your full quota of beer with all that going on and an engagement to boot.

Are other people’s doubts stirring up doubts of your own? Ones you’d rather not get into? I think anyone who gets married without doubts must be comatose or psychotic, so try not to shove yours too far under the bed. It’s hard to believe that someone who is 18 possess enough of the information, wisdom, and insight to even know what marriage really means. That’s nothing against you; I really don’t know much about what it’s like to be a brain surgeon.

I would recommend that you and your fiance go to a good bookstore and buy a book about marriage. Not weddings – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are one of the rare teenagers who truly knows the difference. Such a book ought to help the two of you examine your ideas about marriage, what you have observed (i.e. by watching your parents and other family members), what you fantasize (damn the storybooks and Sandra Bullock/Meg Ryan movies!), and what you plan for your own lifetime alliance. It should inquire about religious values, financial goals and habits, plans for having children, and how the two of you communicate. And what about in-laws? Answer all the questions the book asks, and then talk about your answers. The book should bring up lots of topics that haven’t even occurred to you.

So quit being defensive about other people’s opinions and turn your attention to a relationship commitment that will change your entire life and the lives of at least five other people. (That is, Your Beloved and both sets of parents. We won’t even think about innocent children not yet born.) Put as much time into planning your marriage as you will put into planning the wedding. And remember: No matter how busy you get in college, good relationships require at least as much time, attention, and work as any Bachelor’s Degree.

About the author Dr. Nancy Daley is a licensed psychologist and adjunct assistant professor who teaches Human Sexuality at The University of Texas at Austin. If you would like to submit questions for her to answer in this column, please send them to drdaley at thatotherpaper dot com.