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Sexual Intimacy: High Value, Low Priority?

05 Aug Posted by in • Dr. Glenda Corwin | Comments Off on Sexual Intimacy: High Value, Low Priority?
Sexual Intimacy:  High Value, Low Priority?

In my personal quest to affirm sexual intimacy for lesbian couples, I keep hearing “Why?”  If two women aren’t having sex, and both are okay with that, why is there a problem?  Maybe sex just isn’t that important to them.

Well, yes, if this were true, it would be true.  There is no rule that states “Thou shalt have sex at least twice a month with thy partner.” And if thy partner does not care, neither should anyone else.

But, here’s the thing. Most women do care. There isn’t a rule, but there is evidence, and data. On my first online survey of lesbian sexual patterns, 92% of the respondents agreed that regular sexual contact is important in a long-term committed relationship. That 92% isn’t a small or deviant group—that’s the vast majority of these respondents.

In follow-up interviews, every woman spoke positively—or wistfully—about the intimacy that sex can bring into a relationship. No one said “I don’t care.”  They talked about why sex matters, whether they were having it or not.

“Sex takes your relationship to a different level—deeper, closer, more full.”

“It’s pleasurable, and exciting, and feels great to have an orgasm—but even more, it’s just the most intimate way you can be with another person.”

“Sex reminds me that she’s my partner, not just another good friend.”

“When we make love I feel so much more connected.  It’s a glow that lasts for a few days and makes everything feel better and closer.”

On this same lesbian survey, only 20% said they consistently plan time for sex. After 10 (or more) years of living together, these Planners were the only women who were actually still having sex at least twice a month.  Most said they set aside time on the weekend, just for each other. Others planned regular “date nights” to do something fun and relaxing together, as part of getting “in the mood.” They made time to make love, and they seemed very pleased with themselves.

The remaining 80%, the non-Planners, were not doing so well. After 10 years together, these had drifted into having sex less than once a month, or not at all. Many seemed dissatisfied and disappointed with themselves and each other.  Some said they stayed in the relationship because of friendship, loyalty, and shared assets—not because they were in love with each other.  They were missing the part that makes sex so valuable to many of us.

If sex has a high value, shouldn’t you make it a high priority?

One way to clarify what your true values are is to ask yourself how you spend your time.  If you value spirituality, do you plan any time to focus your attention on spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, fellowship, service?  If you value nature, do you spend time outdoors enjoying it? If you value family life, do you plan time to eat dinner together, play together, listen and talk with each other? Do you prioritize your time to fit with your values?

Here’s the High Value, Low Priority problem: 92% of these women thought making love was important, but only 20% made the time. If sex is not important, no problem. But sexual intimacy is important to many, many women, and it matters enough to look at priorities.  How do we make the time?

Glenda Corwin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for more than twenty years.  She provides gay-affirmative psychotherapy, and consults with professionals and the general public on sexual issues for women in same-sex relationships. Dr. Corwin leads weekend sexual intimacy workshops for women, and in 2007 conducted a research project investigating lesbian sexual patterns.  The very positive responses to her workshops and research were the inspiration for the book Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same Sex Couples.  She is currently working on a book for single women, focused on dating and sex.

The daughter of missionaries, Dr. Corwin grew up in Colombia, South America. Her background gives her a deep appreciation for diversity of cultures, languages, and human connections. She also appreciates the lovely woman who shares her life in Atlanta.

For more information about Dr. Corwin and her work, visit her website at www.DrGlendaCorwin.com.

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