Male Sexuality: Selfishness or Insecurity?

Last week I had the pleasure of sharing some time with psychologist Michael Bader. We were on TV together discussing various sexual issues, including male sexuality, the subject (and title) of his new book.

Michael challenges the common idea that men are selfish in bed, that they don’t much care about their partner and don’t really want to be close. He says, in fact, that the opposite is true: that most men face such a crushing sense of responsibility in bed that they are, understandably, insecure. This leads them to focus so much on their performance that a human connection is difficult.

Bravo. As a therapist, I’ve noticed this, too. Performance anxiety accounts for a lot of the erection problems I hear about in the office, as well as a lot of the low desire. In fact, there are guys who say “porn is easier than sex with my wife, because I never feel like I satisfy her.” That’s a far cry from “men are addicted to porn” or “men are afraid of intimacy.”

It’s ironic: when people are too concerned about their partner’s experience, they have trouble relaxing and enjoying sex. And while they think of this over-attention as caring, their partner more often describes it as distance or lack of caring.

And so I tell men AND women that rather than try to figure out what their partner wants in bed, looking obsessively for signs of reaction (positive or negative), they should instead do what they enjoy. When both people do that, AND communicate to each other what they like and don’t like, a couple will find the overlap in their interests, and live happily ever after. Or at least have decent sex periodically.

Northern Californians can see the show Saturday, April 25 at 11:30am on KNTV (NBC). If you prefer, you can see Michael’s segment here. I’ll post about mine tomorrow.

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