How sexually intelligent are you? This remarkable, groundbreaking book will help you find out.
Although 75 percent of Americans say that a satisfying sex life is important to them, only 25 percent claim to have achieved one. While most people might think that statement is shocking, it doesn't surprise Dr. Sheree Conrad and Dr. Michael Milburn. Both professors of psychology, Conrad and Milburn have discovered that more than thirty years after the so-called sexual revolution, many of us are as confused as ever about how to achieve sexual satisfaction and struggle with sexual dysfunctions that interfere with a happy, healthy sex life.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s didn't solve everyone's sexual problems, and our teenagers, raised on images of sex in the media from an early age, are not more sophisticated about sex than their parents. Instead, Americans of all ages suffer in silence, unwilling and unable to confront their deepest sexual insecurities and fears. But no one has to live this way — Conrad and Milburn have come up with a way to measure a profound new concept they call "sexual intelligence." Their research has shown that people who score high in sexual intelligence are more sexually satisfied and have fewer sexual dysfunctions. And the best part is, not only can you measure your own sexual intelligence, you can also identify your weakest areas and use the tools provided in the book to boost your "sex IQ."
Does this sound too good to be true? It's not.
The authors embarked on the Sexual Intelligence Research Project, a comprehensive, rigorous study that analyzed the sexual beliefs and behaviors of sexually "average" people. They administered their Sexual Intelligence Test to the research participants and were astonished by the results.
* A startling number of Americans suffer from chronic sexual dysfunctions, including lack of desire, inability to achieve orgasm, and impotence, that interfere with their sex lives.
* It's not just the middle-aged or couples married twenty years who have sexual problems. In fact, some of the highest rates of sexual dysfunction occur among young people.
* People of all ages, of both genders, consistently say that they do not have anyone to talk to about their sexual concerns and will not talk about sex problems with spouses and partners.
For the first time, Conrad and Milburn are sharing the Sexual Intelligence Test with readers, who can take it, get their scores, and find out what the results mean. Filled with moving, heartfelt stories from the men and women who participated in the study, Sexual Intelligence gives people the power to transform their lives by teaching them the crucial components of sexual intelligence and will revolutionize the way we think about sex today.
How sexually intelligent are you?
1. In your current relationship (or in your last long-term relationship), approximately how often do you (or did you) talk with your partner about your sex life?
a) Once a week.
b) Once a month.
c) Once every six months.
2. How would you rate your current sex life, compared to most other people's sex lives?
a) Not nearly as exciting as most people's.
b) About the same as most people's.
c) More exciting than most people's.
d) I'm not currently in a sexual relationship.
3. Have you ever kept a sexual secret from a partner over a long period of time?
a) No, never.
b) Once or twice.
c) Several times.
4. How do you feel about the content of the sexual fantasy you have most often or find most arousing?
a) I'd be horrified if anyone knew the content.
b) I'd be embarrassed if my partner knew the kind of fantasies I have.
c) I might be a little hesitant but also find it exciting to share the content with my sexual partner.
d) I talk to my closest friends about my fantasies.
Take the Sexual Intelligence Test and find out how you can boost your "sex IQ," gain greater sexual satisfaction, rid yourself of sexual problems, and have a healthier and happier sex life!
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Sheree Conrad, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology and Michael Milburn, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology, both at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It is impossible to love and to be wise. -- Francis Bacon, Essays
At twenty-nine, Natalie was only months away from getting her Ph.D. in political science, a goal she had been working toward for seven years. She was being considered for a job at a prestigious university, and she and her fiancé were about to close on a house. Their wedding was planned for the week after graduation. After years of struggle and hard work, Natalie was finally close to having the life she had always wanted -- and she was about to lose it all by sleeping with one of her students, an eighteen-year-old enrolled in one of her sections of Introductory Political Science.
It was clear from the beginning of the semester that Mark, her student, had a crush on her. At first Natalie was amused and mildly flattered; he was tall, good-looking, and, at eighteen, already an accomplished jazz musician who played trumpet in a local band. By midsemester, her detachment had vanished. She thought about Mark constantly, even dreamed about him at night. He was in the habit of stopping by her office nearly every afternoon to chat; on the days when he didn’t appear, she was miserable. Lately, he had once or twice mentioned a club where he was playing at night and suggested that she stop by. And if she did? What would happen at the end of the night? Natalie knew she was risking losing her job, her entire academic career, and her fiancé, whom she loved. “Some days I tell myself, this is crazy, don’t do it,” Natalie told us, “and other days I think I’ll go mad if I can’t touch Mark, just once. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Why does sex have to be so difficult?”
Natalie is not alone in her despair over sexual feelings that seem unmanageable, perversely at odds with her own wishes -- not to mention her best interests. Natalie is a smart woman and highly educated. If brains alone were at issue, she wouldn’t have a problem. But so many smart people struggle either with passions that lead to disaster or with sex lives that are frustrating and disappointing -- or nonexistent.
If you’re like most people, sex is anything but simple. Most of us, no matter how liberated we are about sexuality in general, could name at least one sexual issue we are grappling with right now that is difficult, painful, and disruptive. You might be struggling with a powerful attraction to a person at work, an attraction that you know you shouldn’t act on. Or be facing another Saturday night alone, wondering if you’ll ever make love to anyone again. Perhaps you’re in a happy marriage but the sex has become routine, and you’re afraid that the price of a good marriage is the end of the kind of passion that makes you feel alive. Whatever you’re struggling with, you probably have very few people you can talk to about it. Perhaps you haven’t talked to anyone.
For all our society’s apparent sophistication about the subject, sexuality is still treated as a disruptive force best not too openly discussed. We slow down to view the wreckage of other people’s sexual misadventures, it’s true, but we gossip about them; we don’t talk about our own compelling and sometimes difficult feelings.
When it comes to sex, America today wears two faces. On the one hand, we seem obsessed with it. Wherever one looks -- from men’s and women’s magazines to television talk shows to round-the-clock assessments of one president’s interpersonal exploits -- we are besieged by sexual images and sensational, superficial gossip about sex. Sex, it seems, is everywhere.
Yet, at the same time, there is a powerful force within our culture—in the form of old attitudes about sex—that enforces silence, shame, and repression. If we open the door to sexuality with one hand, we seem to slam it shut with the other. As a result, many people are left feeling confused and ashamed about their sexual desires and behaviors, as well as ignorant about their partner’s.
For the majority of Americans, sex is not just important, it’s an essential part of their lives. In poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans say that sex is a very important, even crucial, part of their lives. For example, when asked “How important is it to you to have a satisfying sex life?,” 71 percent of American adults surveyed in a 1989 Harris poll said it is “very important” or “essential.” At the same time, over half of Americans say that sex is the cause of stress in their lives, and 75 percent of Americans say they are concerned about having sex more regularly.
There are plenty of signs that Americans are struggling and confused about sex, and have little in the way of guidance to help them. Consider just a few recent signs that all is not well in the sex lives of Americans:
• A popular president -- reportedly a brilliant man and a former Rhodes scholar -- risked his office and his place in history for the sake of oral sex in the Oval Office with a woman half his age.
• Last year, in a small town in upstate New York, thirteen girls -- some as young as fourteen years old -- were infected with the HIV virus by the same man. The local high school offers one day a year of AIDS education, which makes no mention of anal sex, oral sex, or condoms.
• According to a major study recently conducted by sociologist Edward Laumann and his colleagues, of the University of Chicago, more than 40 percent of American women and nearly 33 percent of American men experience serious sexual problems such as lack of desire, difficulty maintaining an erection, or an inability to reach orgasm. Laumann found, contrary to popular belief, that some of the highest rates of sexual dysfunction are among young people.
David is one of them. He is only twenty years old and he has had trouble maintaining erections and reaching orgasm:
With my girlfriend, sometimes I perform, and everything is going great, but then I can’t finish the job -- and I feel like, “Uh oh.” I hate that.
Me and a friend of mine always joke about it: “I know this guy, he couldn’t get it up.” And on TV they joke about it. I don’t want to be that guy.
In our long-term research program called the Sexual Intelligence Project, the results of our research show that, to have a satisfying sex life, we have to think about sex in a completely different way that transcends both repression and obsession with all things sexual.
To that end, we have formulated the powerful new concept of sexual intelligence. Being sexually intelligent means not only knowing all of the biological factors that affect how we behave sexually -- neurons firing in the brain or hormones coursing through our bloodstream; the key to sexual intelligence is knowing ourselves. This means seeing beyond cultural myths that damage and distort our sexuality, uncovering our authentic sexual desires, and developing the emotional and social skills we need to share our real selves with our partners and maximize our chances for a happy sex life.
Specifically, we believe that each of us can be genuinely satisfied, and truly intelligent in our sex lives, only when we are intimately acquainted with our authentic sexual feelings -- what we call the secret sexual self -- and able to be honest with others about our sexuality. There is a way in which, despite our frankness, we don’t really know ourselves sexually. We may have very tolerant attitudes toward sex on an intellectual level, but when it comes to our own sex lives and those of people close to us, there often remains much that is hidden: certain fantasies that we don’t look at too closely -- and don’t talk about -- moments of attraction or yearning that we brush aside, vague feelings of dissatisfaction or disillusionment that we have no way to address, self-consciousness or even shame about our bodies that makes us cringe.
We sabotage our own sex lives when, rather than looking within to discover our own sexuality, we allow so many things to obscure it: worries about what other people think, self-consciousness about our bodies, embarrassment that prevents us from telling our partners what really arouses us, guilt about having sexual desires. These inner demons and others like them can be conquered by becoming more sexually intelligent.
To really know ourselves, we each need to explore the unique pattern of desire and circumstance that has produced our secret sexual self. Each of us has built up over the course of our lives a history that has conditioned our sexual desires, overlaid our genuine healthy impulses with false desires, fears, mistaken beliefs, expectations, and hang-ups acquired from the culture around us, as well as our own negative experiences. These needs, desires, fears, and expectations are intertwined and layered over time and become the sexual identity we take with us into adulthood. The secret sexual self holds the key to the pleasures that transport us, the inexplicable attractions that hold us tyrannized in their spell, and the choices -- wise and disastrous -- that we make in our sex lives.
Our goal in this book is to encourage readers to discover the real inner landscape of their own desires, to become intimately acquainted with and to understand the nuances of their sexuality, and to use this knowledge to create a more fulfilling sex life.
People who have the courage to open the door onto their secret sexual self will find, amid the fear, doubt, shame, and confusion, a rich world of genuine desires and authentic feelings that hold the potential for finding real sexual fulfillment. We’re convinced that sexual intelligence, the ability to know your own sexuality intimately and unflinchingly, gives people enormous power to transform their lives. It provides authentic knowledge we can rely on and trust, infuses our lives with a genuine source of passion, and frees us to make decisions about our sex ...
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