Not the Same Old Sex Advice


Photo: Warwick Lister-Kaye/istock

Renowned sex therapist, researcher and author Gina Ogden’s recent book, The Return of Desire: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Sexual Passion, explores the connections between sex and spirituality. She offers the following lighter fluid to keep your home fires burning bright.


Become your own sex guru. “We’ve learned as kids to tamp down our natural high spirits and desire for sex with other women,” says Ogden. One of the first things she asks women who are struggling with desire issues to consider is the often-damaging messages that shaped their sexual development. Ogden recommends consciously taking into account what you learned about sex. This can often lead to revelations about where you are now. It is the first step to “acknowledging and really letting loose with sexual desire.”

The most important kind of self-love doesn’t need batteries. Growing up female and lesbian in a misogynistic and homophobic society can put a whammy on your self-esteem. “To acknowledge that another women is beautiful, desirable, sexy and wonderful, I believe you have to acknowledge those things about yourself,” she says. “Those who we love or hate are really mirrors of ourselves.”

A time machine can be the best sex toy. Ogden discovered in her survey of almost 4,000 people from the age of 18 to 86 that sexual satisfaction rose with every decade. She was shocked to discover that women in their 50s, 60s and 70s were having more fun than those in their 20s and 30s. “Older women were saying, ‘It’s not about how many times we stick our fingers into each other or bring each other to orgasm, it’s more about the quality of our relationship, our heart-to-heart connection.’ ”

Don’t take the dirty dishes into the bedroom. The stresses and frustrations that accompany the daily grind can leave even a sex goddess feeling cranky. Ogden says navigating domestic situations with love and fearless honesty is the key to ensuring that the kitchen isn’t the only place that’s hot. She offers this sample script for dealing positively with your partner: “Honey, I notice there are dirty dishes here. I really love you and if I do these dishes tonight I’m going to feel resentful and we are not going to be able to make love, because I’m not going to be able to be present for you. How do you suggest we deal with this?” It might sound silly at first, but it will get you laid a lot more than nagging.

Hiking can be hotter than porn. “A lot of women tell me that being in nature is extremely sensuous, even sexual for them,” says Ogden. “Whether it’s walking in the woods…or getting into the sky and the sunset, it can open up incredibly sensuous, even erotic kind of vistas in them.” If nature isn’t your thing, there are lots of other ways to get your sexual energy flowing, from holding hands to having a great conversation. “Genital sex is just one way to move energy,” says Ogden.

Recognize that sex is a lot more than what happens between your legs. “If you look at the latest brain research, sexual activity lights up the whole brain—whether it is the parts of our brains that have to do with physical gratification, or the emotional centers of the brain or the parts that are associated with spiritual and religious ecstasy,” says Ogden, who has created a four-part wheel to illustrate the multifaceted nature of desire. “There are four energies involved here, physical, emotional, mental and then finally spiritual energy, which is about making meaning,” she said. So if you’re not satisfied with your sex life, try considering it from each kind of desire. The results are often surprising and illuminating.

Are you making love or keeping track? It is no secret that our culture’s obsessed with frequency, duration, number of partners and other measurable aspects of sex. In Ogden’s opinion, that’s not helpful to anyone. “What is this thing about frequency? Frequency of what? Is it frequency of loving each other? Frequency of touching each other, frequency of genital orgasm, frequency of what?” All this counting, comparing and contrasting leaves us feeling inadequate. Ogden recommends creating a love life that works for you and not comparing what you do to what works for any other couples.

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