Last night, Emily Nagoski, a self-proclaimed 'sex educator/sex nerd' with a PhD that focuses on human sexuality, did a reddit AMA.
And somebody asked the question: 'So what is the new science which will revolutionise my sex life?'
Nagoski gave these 4 answers: The dual control model, responsive desire, arousal nonconcordance and meta-emotions.
It was never going to be simple, was it?
So here's the deal, one-by-one, we'll talk you through the finding that'll help you have better sex:
01 What is the dual control model?
Emily explains it on her blog with this pretty cool cartoon:
02 What is responsive desire?
According to Emily, 'responsive' desire contrasts with 'spontaenous' desire, that kind that feels out of the blue. Responsive desire is basically the motivation to have sex after the sexual behaviour has started. So you could be sitting on the sofa, your partner starts kissing you and you're body/mind goes, "Sure, game on."
She clarifies in this here chart:
Rather unsurprisingly, men typically fall into the 'spontaneous' camp and women the 'responsive.' This can sometimes lead to situations like the 'spontaenous' partner feeling rejected and the 'responsive' partner feeling pressure and worrying their level of desire is 'abnormal'.
The key is just understanding and respecting this difference. As Emily puts it, 'The idea that functional sexual desire requires wanting sex out of the blue is bullshit.'
One of her suggestions (along with, obviously, communicating) is introducing more non-sexual touching to your relationship: "If you have more physical affection, more trust, more caring, less worry and stress, and less performance pressure, you’ll actually start to respond more readily and have more instances of spontaneous desire."
03 What is arousal nonconcordance?
Arousal nonconcordance is when you're mind and your body sexually don't quite sync up, i.e. you're mind might be telling you you're turned on by nothing's stirring down below.
For men, there's a 50% overlap between how erect he is and how turned on he is. For women, it's more like 10%. She could be telling you she's turned on but be (Emily's words, not ours) 'dry as a bone.' Conversely, she could be raring to go physically but not actually interested in the slightest.
The way to handle this? Go with mind over body and listen to her words. Don't presume that, just because things are stirring in the nethers, you're free to go in, guns blazing. Talk it out and be sure.
04 What are meta-emotions?
Simply put, meta-emotions are how you feel about your feelings.
Difficulties in relationships arise when a person believes they're responsible for fixing their partner's negative emotions (depression, anger etc) but that person is also quite emotionally dismissive.
The key is to take your partner's feelings seriously without taking them personally. Understand that negative emotions are natural and healthy, feel accepting of feeling bad rather than feel bad about feeling bad and generally coach your partner through it. Nail this and you'll find yourself on the way to happier days.