In this Mailbag episode, a listener raises a question about given the difficulty many women have in orgasming through intercourse, why would women want to have sex? Sex therapist and author Dr. Laurie Watson and couples therapist George Faller discuss the different viewpoints towards sex that men and women have.
Laurie Watson: Today we’re going to answer questions from our mailbag, George, and people have been writing in. We got lots to say. Welcome to Foreplay Radio Couple’s and Sex Therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.
George Faller: And I’m George Faller, your couple’s therapist.
Laurie Watson: And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.
George Faller: Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body. Keep it coming. Let’s go, mailbag.
Laurie Watson: Okay, so this is from a follower and he’s written quite a bit. He’s particularly asking do women enjoy sexual intercourse and he references a lot of my own work and podcasts and he says some of the things that you, Laurie, have said is that a woman doesn’t experience the same feeling in her vagina as a man feels with his penis during intercourse. I will say, again, men often think that the vagina is an inside-out penis. That exactly what he’s feeling on the outside is what she’s feeling on the inside. And again, it is very different. And then he says and you’ve also said most women don’t orgasm from intercourse, to which someone might ask then why would women even want to have intercourse in the first place other than just to service her man. And then I’ve said he’s got a thesis going here.
Laurie Watson: Foreplay is sex, which is fine but that seems to imply intercourse doesn’t do much for a woman. And then women don’t want it of course, to last too long. Man, this guy, every reference that I said to intercourse, he’s gathered them all here and I said apparently that penetration feels is visceral pressure and he’s like most men wouldn’t consider just visceral pleasure to be anything looking forward to. And I also said, I guess, a woman’s vagina feels good when penetrated but her clitoris is more responsive. But I do mention the G spot for a few points for intercourse. And so he’s like, so… Oh and then I go on and on apparently about how, I mean, he’s literally listed all the words that I’ve used that are negative in Wanting Sex Again, that’s my book, that I’ve used words like intercourse can hurt, make women feel anxious. It can be painful. Fear of pain, hurt, burning, all sorts of [inaudible 00:02:21] which he must’ve gotten all from one chapter which was on pain. But basically the question is what the heck? So women don’t like intercourse and I guess that’s what I’ve been communicating.
George Faller: [inaudible 00:02:31] little defensiveness from you here, Laurie.
Laurie Watson: Thank you, George.
George Faller: Well I mean again, all I hear this listener saying is he wished women liked sex intercourse, right? If it sounds like in a lot of his experiences with his friends and his relationships, a lot of women over time are less interested in it and some of what he’s hearing you saying is factually some of that information too and he’s hoping. I could be wrong. I think he’s hoping like a lot of men that maybe you’re wrong and women like it a lot more because wouldn’t the world be a nicer place?
Laurie Watson: So I do not think that women don’t like intercourse. Let me just be crystal clear here. I can see how when you line up the data of what I’ve said, that I have communicated something really wrong. Women like intercourse.
George Faller: Bring us the good news, Laurie, bring us the good news here. Let’s go.
Laurie Watson: Women like intercourse. It feels great. Are you kidding me? I mean, it is so intimate, right? It’s just having somebody inside your body. There’s just, there’s so much deep intimacy and pleasure and it feels great. Please everybody hear me. No, women like intercourse. My point has just been that most women don’t climax from intercourse but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love it or need it or want it or crave it. I mean, yes, women like intercourse. Most women like intercourse. Most women like it, of course, a lot. Can I say it again? I got to reassure this listener.
George Faller: You’re on a roll. Keep it going. This is good.
Laurie Watson: Yes, definitely. I mean, I just think that there’s misconceptions about it and my husband’s favorite joke is if God were thinking, he would have put the clitoris in the vagina and then his punchline is, yeah, but then we’d have never found it. But yes, women do like intercourse and some women climax with that and all women, I think, I’ve talked to lots of women who their husband has prostate cancer and then they lose their erections. And even women who have said in the past, not so interested in sex, they talk about their longing for intercourse and it just kills me because all those wasted years that they were resisting sex but once it’s gone, then they feel that deep longing to be joined in that way and to be that intimate with their partner and that’s an exception certainly.
George Faller: I mean it was surprising for me when I heard you the first time with that statistic that less than 10% of women orgasm during intercourse. And for most men, that’s the most pressure. And it’s hard to imagine that women enjoy sex if they can’t orgasm because for most men, the orgasm is the most important part of sex. So they imagine… So I get where the reader, the listener is coming from. But it is-
Laurie Watson: I remember your face when I said that, George. You looked like I’d slapped you in the face.
George Faller: Well, I probably went home and talked to both of my sons who didn’t want to hear about it. But I think it’s we should be shouting that out at mountaintops.
Laurie Watson: Do you know where the clitoris is?
George Faller: I mean, it helps men. It doesn’t just help women. It takes a lot of pressure off. But we’re also getting so focused then on the orgasm and the physical act of intercourse that we’re leaving out that emotional, that sensual, that spiritual, these other components that are… So I loved your description that says this is to have somebody inside of you. I mean, where else do you get a chance to experience that?
Laurie Watson: Oh my gosh, yeah.
George Faller: And even if you can’t orgasm, there’s something about the intimacy with that you can’t get another way. You can rub your clitoris and have an orgasm and that’s really important and great but it’s not the same thing as what intercourse can do.
Laurie Watson: Right. And I would say most women would choose sex with a partner over masturbation any day of the week. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that in heterosexual sex, almost always includes intercourse. I think that’s some of the difference. What you just said is orgasm in intercourse is usually how a man climaxes so he can’t imagine it. It’s not necessarily how a woman climaxes but so it’s more variety.
George Faller: Just to highlight that, Laurie, because that’s so important for both to expand their perspectives, to have more ways of connecting. Like I said, man, I have to understand that my wife not having an orgasm, statistically it’s not likely during intercourse. That doesn’t mean it’s still not amazing for her. And there’s another way for her to have an orgasm, which means we just become more flexible with each other.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. And gosh, I just hate that this is what I have said or at least what this listener has heard because I don’t think that would be seconded by very many women that I know that they would say that. I mean, I think it’s… And I would say that for some women, they don’t absolutely have to have an orgasm to count it as sex or to count it as good sex. I mean, sometimes just being with your partner who is highly aroused, they climax. I mean, bam, that experience of being together is so great and so great emotionally. I think if there’s a pattern of that, it can be problematic. She has to have orgasms to have that desire to have that turn on like you’ve talked about George, to have her want him.
Laurie Watson: I mean, she has to also have a physiological reward that hits her too. But yeah, I think it’s really different for how women have an expectation. I think what I worry about and why I maybe talk about it so much is so many women come in and they say they failed. I don’t do it the right way. I don’t do it the real way. Yeah, I can climax but only if he touches me and I’m like girlfriend, that is the way for you but I’m certainly not in any way denigrating intercourse as fantastic.
George Faller: Well, I appreciate the mailbag comment because I think it’s helping you to have a more holistic message. It is so important that you have to stand up to help women recognize there’s not something wrong with them if they can’t have an orgasm during intercourse. So you need that information to get out there and you push for that.
Laurie Watson: There’s not something wrong with him if she doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with him.
George Faller: And to add this part of the message to really accentuate that, that there are so many other things, even if there isn’t an orgasm that are so important emotionally and physically and to that intimacy, that that’s also hugely important.
Laurie Watson: And it feels good.
George Faller: And it feels amazing.
Laurie Watson: For both parties. So we’ll come back after this.
Announcer: Speaking with certified sex therapist, Laurie Watson from The Awakening Center for couples and intimacy. Laurie, what is an intensive?
Laurie Watson: So an intensive is 12 to 14 hours of therapy all in one weekend. And it’s a way to really make fast progress compared to weekly therapy. I mean there’s just so much more you can get done when you have a chunk of time.
Announcer: Overcome the challenges in your relationship and your sex life. Learn more about intensives and Awakening Center’s other services at awakenloveandsex.com.
Laurie Watson: Hey, I want to let you guys know all about George. He’s written and contributed to several books and I’d especially like to draw your attention to his book Sacred Stress, a radically different approach to using life’s challenges for positive change. His book is about a mission on how you adopt new strategies and turn stresses into a positive force in your life and who among us doesn’t live with a lot of stress these days? We’ll keep you posted as to all he’s doing but George and other EFT therapists all around the country and the world hold couple’s retreats called Hold Me Tight, which is developed by Sue Johnson and it helps secure your own relationship. If you’d like therapy with George, find him at georgefaller.com.
Laurie Watson: So I want to talk about another person who’s written into us. And again, we thank you for these mailbags. So-
George Faller: I love these things. It’s so awesome to get feedback from people that actually are listening and they’re wrestling with this stuff. They’re passionate about it like us and they take the actually extra time to let us know. It’s so cool.
Laurie Watson: Point two.
George Faller: You hit a fear of most men that, and I think there’s a reality that a lot of women don’t like intercourse.
Laurie Watson: I do not think that.
George Faller: That’s a lot of men’s experience that women could do without it. They’re taking one for their country and it’s unfortunately, and that’s not intercourse, that’s just sex in general.
Laurie Watson: Okay. So sex in general though is different than intercourse, don’t you think?
George Faller: But intercourse is the same. I mean it becomes symptomatic of the whole thing. If you think you’re supposed to intercourse, have a orgasm during intercourse and you don’t and you feel bad about yourself, you don’t have the reward and then you’re just doing it for your husband and over time your body just doesn’t really like it. I mean that’s the setup.
Laurie Watson: And your body doesn’t respond over time.
George Faller: Doesn’t respond. And the more it doesn’t respond, the more pressure, the more you fight over it, the more you don’t want to do it. I mean, how many couples, millions of couples are doing the exact same thing?
Laurie Watson: So I do think physiologically if women get aroused and they don’t reach orgasm, what I imagine happens, and I haven’t read the study, but it’s like their body-
George Faller: This might be your future study here.
Laurie Watson: It’s my future study. Is if you go up that hill and there’s no relief, basically she stays aroused for a very long time. So her body literally stays aroused for a very long time, sort of on a mild, you’ve heard of blue balls, it’s kind of like that. It’s like her tissue stays engorged. She doesn’t get that release. And so it’s uncomfortable but it’s slightly for a woman, I think it’s slightly below consciousness. And so without orgasm over time, her body will turn off and won’t go up the hill. Arousal becomes more difficult. But I mean I think in menopause a lot of women have pain, they have difficulty. So I think that’s a big fear. I’ve had a man friend of mine, a really good guy friend of mine-
George Faller: But if you take that example of climbing that hill and not getting over the other side and orgasm, then your body’s being trained without any rewards to like it less. And then the more it’s not okay to like it less because your partner’s going to protest so now there’s more pressure to push yourself. I mean that is a setup for not liking sex and I think-
Laurie Watson: No, it’s the setup for the negative cycle over sex.
George Faller: Right, exactly. And that negative cycle-
Laurie Watson: It’s not the setup to… I mean that’s like saying a withdrawing partner doesn’t like emotions. I mean sex is fantastic. We’re not talking about going to the dentist. We’re talking about intimate. I mean, all of us, don’t you think we-
George Faller: I love how you’re getting a glimpse into the emotional withdraw because sex does become like the dentist for too many people out there. And their way of dealing with it is to not want to engage. And that leaves the other partner chronically feeling rejected and chronically feeling resentful. And the more resentful they are and critical they are, the more the other person continues to get turned off, the more they don’t want to have sex for really good reasons. It’s definitely that negative sexual cycle. So that mailbag comment was just saying focusing on the withdrawal part of it and not seeing his contribution to that person not enjoying sex. This is two people co-create something.
Laurie Watson: That’s right.
George Faller: And two people are needed to fix it.
Laurie Watson: But I would say the difference between the sexual cycle and the emotional cycle is that there’s a biological need that aside from testosterone, which obviously drives men more than women for sex, but in women and in men, there’s this biological need that we have to be touched. And once we hit adolescence, it’s eroticized. Boom, it’s about sex for all of us and that’s the way adults, I’m not saying that they can’t cuddle and touch and be naked together and stroke each other and all that, but there is this thing that happens to us that it becomes sexual at a certain age. So the withdrawing partner is also like cutting off their nose to spite their face in the sexual cycle. That maybe, I mean I think emotionally too, but maybe there’s other reasons emotionally. But there’s a driver physiologically that I think is so important.
George Faller: But isn’t the same driver [crosstalk 00:16:23] emotionally that an emotional withdrawer is cutting off their need for connection, for comfort, for reassurance.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right. You’re right. You’re right. Yes.
George Faller: And that’s why we’re doing this because we’re so passionate about lovingly getting the good reasons people are turning away from what they most need and then trying to prime that pump to get them to start saying wait a second. Think how much better life could be if you actually started heading towards these areas. So it breaks my heart when I see people who for really good reasons, don’t get enough rewards during sex and it becomes an obligation and then they get dumped on with criticism and resentment. That is not a great recipe to get turned on and then they feel like there’s something wrong with them and they beat themselves up. I mean, and sex for really good reasons doesn’t work out so well for them.
Laurie Watson: That’s right. Yeah. My career based on this one but go back for a minute for me to your truth and yeah but Laurie, a lot of women do turn off. I agree that women tend to turn off libido, but I think it’s a complicated cycle. It is part-
George Faller: Yeah. It is a byproduct of the cycle. It is not something in that woman that’s turning them off. It’s a byproduct of their, of the environment.
Laurie Watson: Of the partnership, partly of the partnership. Partly of her body.
George Faller: The way they see the world, the way they’ve been raised, the way, there’s a whole-
Laurie Watson: It’s a complex formula. And not always his fault.
George Faller: But it’s a way too common formula.
Laurie Watson: Say that again.
George Faller: It’s way too common. [inaudible 00:18:02]
Laurie Watson: So what do you feel about that as a man when you say that?
George Faller: I know as a man, if it was a gay couple of two men and one man is in that same environment, which I see a lot of, it’s terribly tragic there too that they so want to stop the bad thing from happening that they lose the opportunity for the good thing. I think it’s a huge turnoff for anyone to not like their body, to not be able to tap into their libido, to be constantly criticized and dumped on with resentment. I mean that’s… And then they do the most loving-
Laurie Watson: You mean from the sexual pursuer?
George Faller: Right. And then they do the most loving thing they could do and they just try to go ahead go with it. But I love your image. They keep trying to get up the hill and every time they don’t get to the top, it just trains them to not want to do it next time. And yet to not do it hurts their partner so they just keep trying and forcing themselves and disconnect and check away from their body. I mean, and it just continues to build momentum to not like sex. It’s so, to me, I always use that image of a math equation. It’s so predictable how they get here. And there are some really concrete things they can do differently to start listening to their body so they can have more success.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, keep it hot. Thanks for listening. And Foreplay family, I want you to know we had our highest download day ever thanks to you. Our downloads are just increasing by leaps and bounds. We are so grateful for your sharing. Thank you again. Definitely subscribe. That helps our rankings in iTunes, which is important for us.
Announcer: Call in your questions to the Foreplay question voicemail. Dial 833 my foreplay. That’s 833, the number four, play. And we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.