Tips for Sex Therapy?

Photograph of Esther Perel, by Danny Ghitis for The New York Times Since I’ve made my living slinging drinks at a bar for years now, I have found the most interesting ways to slip commentary about gender and sexuality, topics I enjoy discussing, into an evening of martinis and well whiskey. Despite the many taboos associated with these topics, most bar patrons are surprisingly eager to share their opinions, whether on the ethics of pornography, or perspectives on monogamy. After the year that it took me to write my thesis, all of my regulars know me as the resident “gender studies” expert, which in bar talk, means I have become a relationship/sex therapist for many of them. This also means they bring any interesting articles on the topic my way, which led me to the New York Times article by Susan Dominus, The Sexual Healer (January 26, 2014). The article features Esther Perel, couples therapist/author,  and rising star in the world of sex/relationship talks. Much of her schtick seems to be the same old get creative and kinky talk, or as catchy one liners go, When there is nothing left to hide, there is nothing left to seek,” or, “Blatantness doesn’t inspire you these days. But to talk about mystery is immensely inspiring.

The one interesting thing I took from this article relates to something I have been hooked on in the world of sex and sexual fantasy in particular, taboo. There is some obvious connection between the “taboo” and the “titilating”, and as Dominus points out, there is also “an apparent epidemic of low-libido marriages in what is theoretically the least [sexually] repressed era in modern history.”

Perel’s book “Mating in Captivity” was widely successful, and she has booked speaking gigs from resorts to her recent 2013 TED Talk, all the while working on her next book. If I learned nothing else from this article it’s that maybe I need to take my sex therapist skills out from behind the bar.

Caterina Gironda

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