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Sex Advice From . . . Sexuality Professors

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Dennis M. Dailey, 66
Professor of Social Welfare, University of Kansas

Is teacher-student sex ever a good idea?
No. That has less to do with sexuality than any situation in which there are power differentials that could be harmful to either person involved.

My girlfriend thinks there’s something wrong with her because she hasn’t been able to orgasm through penetration. What can I do to help her have an orgasm through vaginal sex?
Number one: Not more than twenty-five to thirty percent of females will have orgasms during sexual intercourse under any circumstances. If you don’t like it, write your congressman. However, if you ask thirty- or thirty-five-year-old women whether they have orgasms, eight-five percent will say, "sure." They’ve just found other ways that are much more effective than sexual intercourse.

What non-Western attitude about sex should be adopted in this country?
The Hindu perspective, which recognizes pleasure is okay, not wrong, stupid, bad, sick, dumb or ugly.

What are some elements of a successful online dating ad?
It depends on what you mean by "success." If your goal is to get laid, you might want to try deceit and other things that would portray you in the best possible light. If "success" means finding someone with whom you might connect and ultimately build a meaningful relationship, then I would suggest that you be honest and forthright.

I’m a woman, and my on-again, off-again boyfriend just proposed to me two days ago. One day later we got in a heated discussion about gays and lesbians. He then informed me that he would want to give a man blow job. When we role-play, he likes to give oral sex to the dildo we have. When I asked if he ever had male fantasies he said no. Is my boyfriend gay and not ready to come out, or what’s going on?
I don’t have the vaguest idea. There’s a more important issue embedded in the question, and that’s "Why is the relationship on-again, off-again?" My experience is that if people go through four or five of those "off-agains," that’s usually a really good clue that you need to move on.

After a sexual experience, what’s the best way to tell someone, “Well, that was fun, but I’m just not into you”?
The real issue is, why were they so chickenshit not to raise that in the beginning, so that their prospective partner had the opportunity to opt out of the relationship and not be used?

What’s the most common mistake men and women make during sex?
"Spectatoring," where we’re so worried about who we are, what we are, how we look, and how good we are, that we, in essence, jump outside of our body, stand over in the corner and watch ourselves having sex, making all kinds of judgments and comments while we’re doing it.

The best way to tell someone they give bad head without hurting their feelings?
Give me a fucking break! You can’t tell somebody that without hurting their feelings! What you can do is say to a person, "Look, I’ve had some experiences with getting blowjobs. I know that I like things a certain way. There’s no reason that I should expect you to know what I want and what I need, so let me teach you, let me guide you."

Is it okay to think about other people/scenarios when hooking up with your significant other in an effort to facilitate an orgasm?
Sure. It wouldn’t be any different than watching videotapes, fantasizing about the sunset, or whatever rings your chime. Fantasies are not real. That’s why fantasies are so nice. We can do all that stuff and not get arrested.

Sandra Caron, 47
Professor of Family Relations/Human Sexuality, University of Maine

 

What’s the biggest sexual taboo in America, and should it be broken?
It’s still not okay to talk about sex. We need to educate people about the importance of that. We really do need to be much more open to the fact that our sexuality is part of who we are.

My girlfriend thinks there’s something wrong with her because she hasn’t been able to orgasm through penetration. What can I do to help her have an orgasm through vaginal sex?
To suggest there’s something that is wrong with her is unfortunate. The myth that there is only one right way to have an orgasm — like the penis-and-vagina junk means we should all be having fabulous orgasms — is ridiculous. She needs to investigate her body so she understands how it works. Then she can show her partner what feels good, so the partner can be part of that.

What’s the most common mistake men/women make during sex?
Not paying enough attention to the other person’s desires and really cluing in to what feels good. They may just go for things without even checking out, "Does this feel good for this person? Is this something they will enjoy?"

What are some rules for a good fuck-buddy relationship?

Keep your eyes open. It’s still hard for people to approach sex like playing tennis. Be honest about what’s going on: "Hey, this is great, and I’m not going to get emotionally attached." It’s such an intimate part of us that it is easy for one person to start having stronger feelings than the other person. Your vulnerability comes out. So be careful and honest.

When sleeping with your significant other, is it okay to think about other people or scenarios to facilitate an orgasm?
Lots of people do that. Right or wrong, it just is. I’d try to accept that for you, this is what works, and you’re with this person for a reason because you care about them or whatever. Try to move on from there.

J. Michael Bailey, 47
Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University

Is teacher-student sex ever okay?
I think it’s not ethical while that student is taking a class from the teacher. There’s just no way that’s going to be a good situation. Naturally, other students will worry that the other student is getting special favors. But between a teacher and a student who’s not in the professor’s class, I don’t see anything intrinsically unethical about that.

What’s the biggest sexual taboo in America today, and should we break it?
Probably sex between adults and children, and no, I don’t think we should break it. On the other hand, I think the assumed harm to children of such interactions has been greatly exaggerated. The evidence suggests that children are not permanently or severely damaged. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s right or that it should happen.

What are some elements of a successful online dating ad?
It would probably be different for a man than for a woman. Men and women have different priorities, on average. For a man advertising for a woman, it would be good to have some humor. Don’t be clearly, transparently, only about sex. Be potentially interested in some kind of relationship. Advertise your best features, whether it be personality, interests or things like that. For women, I would say don’t be defensive about the idea of a physical relationship. Don’t say, "if you’re only interested in sex, don’t call." That could be the reality, but if that’s in an ad, I think that it would probably make somebody look hung-up.

You’re a virgin. How do you ensure your partner has a good time during your first time, and ease your own nerves?
With a virgin, the partner has the primary responsibility. And let me be blunt here. If you’re having sex with a virgin, you should assume it’s not going to be very good. Somebody who does that should make sure their partner isn’t traumatized and that they have as good a time as they can.

I’m a woman, and my on-again, off-again boyfriend just proposed to me two days ago. One day later we got in a heated discussion about gays and lesbians. He then informed me that he would want to give a man blowjob. When we role-play, he likes to give oral sex to the dildo we have. When I asked if he ever had male fantasies he said no. Is my boyfriend gay and not ready to come out, or what’s going on?
I might ask myself whether this is somebody I can’t live without. If so, I might even encourage him to have a sexual experience with a guy and see how much he likes it. And if he does, I would say this is a future gay friend and not a future husband.

After a sexual experience, what’s the best way to tell someone “Well, that was fun, but I’m just not into you”?
I’m not sure. That’s an understudied area. [laughs] The fact is, there’s no way to tell someone you’re not into them without somebody feeling rejected. Because, in fact, it is rejection. It seems to me that the best way to do it — and I know many people will disagree with me — is to do some indirect thing like, "I’ll call you," then not call them. Then somebody can draw different conclusions. Maybe they’re not so much into you!

The best way to tell someone they give bad head without hurting their feelings?
You’ve got to do a shaping approach. Most people do something right once in a while, and you can focus on that. Or you could even pretend that they did something right. You could say, "It really feels good when you focus on the head of my penis" or "When you don’t use your teeth, it really turns me on." But to tell somebody they do something "bad" in bed is really a bad idea.

When you’re sleeping with your significant other, is it okay to think about other people to facilitate an orgasm?
I think it’s normal. If you’re doing that the first time you’re with somebody, that’s not a particularly good sign. The first few times, it should be exciting enough. After a while, it’s harder to sustain the high level of excitement.

What’s cheating: Dirty emailing, kissing, oral or full-on fucking?
That is a partner-specific question. They have to be on the same page, basically. I’ve even heard of people who thought that looking at porn was cheating. But if your partner counts something as cheating, and you know it and you do it anyway, you’ve cheated.

S. Michael Plaut, Ph.D., 63
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Is teacher-student sex ever okay?
That happens to be one of my specialty areas. I’ve been working in the area of professional boundaries for twenty years, and I’ve published a paper on student-teacher relationships. I certainly believe that there should be not be an intimate relationship at any time between a faculty member and a student when there is an ongoing professional relationship. There may be situations where the department is small, and that can be dicey, too. To some extent, you have to base the policies on the setting that you’re in and what the likelihood is that two people are going to have to relate, and also what impact it has on other people in the environment. If other students get the feeling that one student is the favorite child because they’re in a relationship with a professor, it’s not good for the community.

What’s the biggest sexual taboo in America today, and should it be broken?
There are so many. Swinging, for example, where married people are getting involved with other married people. Or group sex of any kind. Certainly for many people, homosexual sex is considered a taboo area. So it really depends on where you sit. For many people, there are many fewer acceptable sexual behaviors than non-acceptable ones.

How can I get my partner to have sex with the lights on?
You may not be able to. Every couple needs to negotiate their comfort level with sex and decide what works for them. When you talk about something like "lights on," there’s a lot of gradation there. Often I’ll recommend people use low light. You can see each other a little bit, but not everything in the room is so vivid. Sometimes I’ll recommend candles.

I’m a virgin. How do I ensure the first time is good for my partner?
There’s this myth that sex has to be spontaneous. I think it’s very important for people to tell each other what their areas of enjoyment are. If a person is a virgin, saying that beforehand is likely to prevent some uneasiness and embarrassment and pain. The main thing is good communication.

I’m a woman, and my on-again, off-again boyfriend just proposed to me two days ago. One day later we got in a heated discussion about gays and lesbians. He then informed me that he would want to give a man a blowjob. When we role-play, he likes to give oral sex to the dildo we have. When I asked if he ever had male fantasies, he said no. Is my boyfriend gay and not ready to come out, or what’s going on?
He could be gay; he could be bi, too. Sexual orientation is a spectrum. In any relationship, there has to be a level of exclusivity that is comfortable for both members of the couple. If one or both members want to live out any kind of fantasy in their own bedroom that is comfortable for both of them, I think that’s fine. Whether he’s gay is not as much the issue — it’s whether he’s exclusive to his partner to the extent that she expects.

Is it okay to think about other people or scenarios when hooking up with your significant other?
I think people need to use what works for them. Sometimes having a fantasy about another person is what works for them, especially when they have difficulty reaching orgasm. One touching story that I use to illustrate that is about Ed Brecher, a sex researcher who published a book called, Love, Sex, and Aging. He also wrote a book about Masters and Johnson’s research. When he presented it to us at a meeting, he talked about the fact that he dedicated it to his wife Ruth, who had been dead for many years. He had been with a number of partners since that time, and he said that no matter who he was with, he still fantasized about his wife. Which was quite a touching story. And whether his partners knew about that, it was very important for him. So that’s one example. Older people tend to have fantasies about previous sexual experiences, either with the same person or someone else. Younger people tend to have "wished for" sexual fantasies. But again, whatever works for somebody is what’s important.

How can you tell someone that their genitals taste bad?
The term we use in sex therapy is "balancing confrontation and support." If you’re going to be critical of someone, you want to talk about positive things and say them in sensitive ways. But at the same time, you could be doing someone a real service by letting them know that their hygiene needs to be improved.  


Interviews by Erica Schlaikjer.

Sex Advice From… appears on Thursdays. Do you have sex-advice questions for the general public? Send them to sexadvicefrom@nerve.com.


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