09.05.2007  BY EM & LO
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We recently read When Your Sex Drives Don't Match: Discover Your Libido Types to Create a Mutually Satisfying Sex Life by Australian therapist Dr. Sandra Pertot. Now, we're not normally subscribers to the ubiquitous Men-Are-From-Mars-Women-Are-from-Venus pop-psych self-help poo-poo out there. But this book is different: the theory actually makes good common sense. It goes like this: we all have different personality types, so it follows we must have different sexuality types, too--different reasons for, objectives from, and preferences during sex--and some are more compatible than others. These different sexual M.O.'s conveniently break down into ten neat and distinct categories (though the author swears this was a happy accident, and there can definitely be some overlap):
 
  • Sensual (sex is all about intimacy and emotional connection)
  • Erotic (if the sex ain't good, then the relationship can't be ei-ther)
  • Reactive (whatever your partner's into)
  • Entitled (you say when, where and how much)
  • Stressed (worrying about X, Y or Z makes sex no fun)
  • Disinterested (you could take it or leave it)
  • Detached (it's just an itch that occasionally needs to be scratched)
  • Dependent (you need it to deal with life)
  • Compulsive (you need it in one very specific way)
  • Addictive (you'll take it wherever you can, even when you shouldn't)
Plus, the book's got all the cheap, self-indulgent thrills of a print rag sex quiz: figure out your own and your partner's "types" by answering questionnaires, arrange a book-guided pow-wow with your fella to figure out where your common ground lies and conduct step-by-step sexuality exploration exercises. But unlike many of those fluffy quizzes, your sex life might actually truly benefit from the insight gained here. Here's an excerpt:

Look around at your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. What is it about them that makes them who they are? Each person has a unique set of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that distinguishes them from everyone else. How similar are they, and how different? Although you might not like some of them, or you might disapprove of some of the things they do, and they may not do some things well, how many of them would you judge as abnormal? Even your friends will have likes and dislikes that you don't agree with, or have quirks that irritate you, but you don't use these differences to judge them as inadequate.

Sexual abilities, preferences, and expression also have a wide range of variation, which arise from the in-teraction of psychological, social, cultural, and biological factors. The many ways in which people vary include how often they want sex, why they want it, how they experience that feeling, what activities they enjoy, sexual orientation, and how important sex is in their lives. Blurring these individual differences and trying to make everyone fit into the same sexual mold makes as much sense as saying that everybody has to be the same personality type and have the same interests and abilities or otherwise they are not normal.

It was this realization that led me to start seriously thinking about developing a system of understanding and describing the many different ways in which people vary in their sexuality. If there are different personality types, surely there are different sexuality types as well. I developed the concept of "libido types" as a shorthand way of referring to the sexual differences I observed in the clients I talked to over many years. This term covers the col-lection of characteristics that make up your sexual self: how important sex is to you, why you want it, what you get out of it, what you enjoy and so on. I use libido as the basis of the classification of sexual types because it is the ba-sis of all sexual behaviors--what motivates an individual to engage in any sexual act.




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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City.

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