Sexuality During Different Life Stages
Sexuality for All
At some point in many people’s lives there is usually a desire to find the man or woman of their dreams, have children, and settle down; this provides a sense of security as an adult later in life. Becoming sexually intimate forms a bond with a husband or wife that is, in part, responsible for developing a sense of security as an adult; but sexuality is not restricted to the adult population. Fetuses exhibit the sexual behavior of sucking on their fingers and male fetuses have been known to have erections (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). So sexuality is not limited to adults and people of all ages experience sexual behavior as a normal function of human nature.
Me: “Alright, Anna I see that you have been under some intense stress lately due to a relationship with your older boyfriend and asked your mom to make you an appointment; so what is going on and how much older is he?”
Anna: “Lately my boyfriend has been really pushing me to want to have sex but my mother keeps warning me that she thinks he is just using me, and if I do have sex with him I worry what my parents’ attitude would be if they found out; he is three years older than I am.”
Me: “Do you feel like you truly love him and would do anything for him?”
Anna: “I really believe that I do and I would!”
Me: “If this is a true feeling of love that makes you feel and act this way, should not your boyfriend feel true love and do anything for you as well. My point is that if you believe it is true love that makes you want to do anything for him, he apparently does not have that true love because he apparently does not care about how this decision is going to affect you; if he did, he would say ‘you know, maybe we should just hold off for a while so you do not have to be fearful of our decision to have sex.’ If he truly loves you and would do anything for you he would wait according to how you say this true love makes you want to do anything for him. Most adolescents have sex as a way to be more mature, reward their boyfriend’s loyalty, gain acceptance under peer pressure, and/or spite parents’ disapproval (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005).
In your case, I need to explain your mother’s disapproval so that you do not interpret her concern as a doubt to whether you can make adult choices, which may lead you to attempt disproving her. Your mother has been alive much longer and has experienced the same bodily changes as you are experiencing; these changes come with hormones that produce sexual urges and desires, which, even as adults, can blind our better judgment sometimes. 48% of the girls sampled in a study reported that the primary reason they had sex was for feelings of love and 24% to please their partners (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005).
It is easy for any one person to become emotionally attached to another; it is part of human nature. Many believe that the first sexual intercourse experience should be special and that both should love each other the same, but if he cannot be patient and truly want to do this one thing that seems important to you, I would say that your love is truer and not the same since you are willing to set aside your concerns to make him happy; apparently he does not consider your happiness as strongly as you consider his judging from the pressure he puts on you. If you were in his shoes, could you see yourself forcing the other to do something that you could tell made that person uncomfortable or concerned?
And if he truly loves you the same way as you love him, why would he not wait until you are ready; waiting is not asking a lot and you would do anything for him. I recommend saying something like ‘I really love you and would do anything for you, but it does not seem like our love is the same. I am willing to set aside my fear and worry about the situation and my parents to make you happy, but all you have to do is to simply wait. If you love, truly love me, it should be okay for us to wait a while, unless you have a reason for wanting it sooner. If our sexual experience is out of love and you plan on being with me for a long time, there should be no reason why we cannot wait.’ There are two possible outcomes: he agrees to wait or says that he will wait only to break up with you days later. Since you are in love with him the first outcome will be the most desired, but upon the occurrence of the second outcome there is truth to your mother’s concern. Someone who truly loves you will not mind waiting and one who does not wait is selfish, impatient, and only cares about what he wants, which are not qualities usually associated with true love.”
Tom and Susan’s Session
Me: “Hello Tom; hello Susan. So we are here today because you say there is a problem with sexual activity recently.”
Tom: “Yes, Susan has just retired after my several years of being retired and has been trying to initiate sexual relations, but I fear that my ability to be sexual will not satisfy her as it once did.”
Me: “Researchers find that sexual daydreaming, sex drive, and sexual activity tend to decline with age, whereas negative sexual attitudes tend to increase” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 479). So what you are experiencing is perfectly normal at this time in your life and bares no need for much concern. In our later years, physical changes do occur but many issues can be avoided by altering expectations or by making changes to accommodate your current sexuality (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). In your worry for whether you will be able to sexually satisfy Susan, you expect that your age has probably diminished your sexual ability. This expectation alone prevents you from thinking about engaging in sexual activity due to your doubt.
At your age men endure many physical changes, such as taking longer to achieve erection and orgasm, needing more direct stimulation for erection and orgasm, ejaculating less semen, less firm erections, less intense orgasmic contractions, less desire to ejaculate during sex, and longer periods of time to gain another erection after orgasm (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Understanding that these changes are normal helps you not feel as though there is something wrong with you, which may increase sexual desire from both of you by being understanding and supportive in the face of such issues. The changes have been accommodated for others by including oral-genital stimulation, sexual fantasy, sexually explicit materials, anal stimulation, vibrators, and other sexual techniques to offset problems in achieving lubrication or erection (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Although, there is the possibility that lowered testosterone levels are contributing to increased occurrences of these issues, in which case testosterone therapy would be sufficient for helping the problem.
It is important for you to understand that while sexual desire, arousal, and activity may decline with age, studies show that is not an indication of the level of satisfaction or enjoyment sexual activity will give you (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). “Sexual satisfaction may be derived from manual or oral stimulation, cuddling, caressing, and tenderness, as well as from intercourse to orgasm” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 484). So you see, intercourse and orgasm are not the only determinants of sexual satisfaction. In fact, Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus (2005) claim the most important determinant that sexual activity is likely to continue is with a partner who is sexually interested and supportive. Since you have Susan here with you, I would say that you already have an advantage in developing your new sexuality.”
Me: “Hello Bill. From your chart I see that you are having some problems in expressing your sexual interest due to your disability and that this is not an easy subject for you to discuss, but lucky for us that I am in a wheelchair with a disability that has affected me in similar ways. Sexual wellness among disabled people includes five factors: a positive sexual self-concept, knowledge about sexuality, positive and productive relationships, coping with barriers to your sexuality, and maintaining the best possible overall health and sexual health (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Your inability to express your sexual interests may have a negative effect on your sexual self-concept, so it is important that you know disabilities do not make people less sexually desirable. If this was the case, your girlfriend would not have been drawn toward you in the first place.
Judging from your desire to express intimacy, I will assume that you have a positive and productive relationship. By being in a wheelchair since childhood, what appears to be lacking is knowledge about sexuality and how to cope with your limitations that brings nervousness and prevents you from expressing your sexuality. Some disabled individuals are able to achieve an erection through direct stimulation and/or erotic thoughts (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Let’s assume that you are unable to achieve an erection at all; this does not mean you cannot satisfy some one sexually. Kissing on your girlfriend’s ears, neck, lips, and whatever else you desire will provide sexual satisfaction. Since studies show that 1 in 10 disabled individuals are unable to ejaculate naturally, the first few sexual experiences should focus on your girlfriend completely to reduce frustration and feelings of inadequacy (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). This puts you in charge of the situation and reduces the pressure of trying to perform to the expectations of a nondisabled man.
I recommend your first few sexual experiences focus only on pleasuring her until you become more comfortable and confident with more participation in these types of experiences. I have a great book on oral-clitoral stimulation techniques to reach orgasm if you are unfamiliar with oral sex. If needed, do not hesitate to bring her to our next session to discuss any concerns or issues.”
Rathus, S. A., Nevid, J.S., and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (6th ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Axia College’s Writing Style Handbook