On Different Sexual Wavelengths?

Older couple being distantQ: My wife is rarely interested in sex and gets irritated when I drop hints about meeting in the bedroom or wherever. When the deed does (infrequently) occur, though, she has roaring orgasms — which I love to help with. You’d think that would be a plus, but we’re on different wavelengths, and now I worry about the “use it or lose it” thing setting in.

A: Women’s sexual desire is a mystery — a mystery to experts, a mystery to women and a mystery to their partners.

How can a sex expert say such a thing?

Because, for starters, female desire is so variable that it’s almost impossible to predict. Just because a woman is orgasmic and enjoys sex when she has it doesn’t mean she’ll be in the mood more often. That may strike men as odd, but women’s sexual response is governed by so many things — hormonal changes, daily life, the relationship — that you can’t draw a straight line between desire and orgasm.

You can, however, draw a straight line between relationship satisfaction and desire: Study after study has shown that high relationship satisfaction is likely to increase both desire for sex and orgasmic response.

So when a man tells me that he and his wife are “on different wavelengths” about sex, I immediately wonder how the relationship is going. I’m not saying a woman’s sexual interest is dictated exclusively by her happiness with a partner — far from it. All kinds of other things can be involved, ranging from endocrine issues to worries about money or children. But the relationship is always a good place to start.

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One way to increase the “use it” part of the equation is to try some extra-affectionate and helpful behavior: Be romantic; cook dinner or do an errand that typically falls on her shoulders. Your actions might just create an erotic spark. Even if not, keep up your “Nice, Helpful, Romantic” campaign; it may take her a while to see that you truly care about improving her life.

If your desire differences persist, work out a “negotiated settlement”: Two well-meaning people who love each other should be able to reach a compromise that pleases both partners.

Q: I’m in a wonderful new relationship with a spectacular woman who is close to my age. We’ve been wondering how to refer to each other: “boyfriend/girlfriend” doesn’t seem right, while “lover” sounds too intimate for casual introductions. Any suggestions?

A: Hey, I recently had the same problem myself! But I decided it was kind of sweet to refer to my guy as my “boyfriend,” because it made us sound like young lovers. (Now he’s my “fiancé,” and I have to say I sort of miss the “boyfriend” intro.)

But I do see your point. Have you considered using a range of titles that change according to the occasion? When introducing your new companion at a party, for example, you could present her as your “partner.” If it’s an evening out with close friends, how about saying, “Come meet the woman I love”?

Indeed, so long as you don’t dub her “my new ball-and-chain,” feel free to use all kinds of fun phrases: “This is the light of my life … the person who makes me happy every day … the gorgeous babe I’m in love with” all sound sweet and sexy to me!

Got a confidential question for Dr. Pepper? E-mail it to: TheNakedTruth@aarp.org.

Photo: killerb10/iStock

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