6 Secrets of a New York Sex Therapist
New Yorkers should be AWESOME at sex. This is the LGBT capital of the country, we have three Babelands (THREE), and more incredible underground sex stuff than really any one city should. But are we?
Well, we asked the only person who might truly know the answer: Dr. Ian Kerner -- a New York-based sex counsellor and New York Times best-selling author -- who shared six NYC sex secrets that speak to our collective neuroses between the sheets.
1. Lots of New Yorkers get stuck in sex ruts
Individuals in their 20s and 30s in New York are discovering who they are sexually in an environment that is oversaturated with sex and sexual themes, so when it comes to sex, the number one issue among couples that Kerner deals with is communication. We all know what Elvis said about a little less conversation and a little more action, but it seems the King may have had a few things to learn about sexy time. Communication about what two individuals need in order to make sex explosive together is paramount and, according to Kerner, something we can be better at.
“In New York with couples in their 20s and 30s, some of the issues that I deal with are sex ruts and mismatched libidos,” Kerner says. “I work with couples who want to want sex, but find that they aren’t making a lot of time for it. They start to feel detached and disconnected. I would definitely say that mismatched libidos and sex ruts are where the problem is. And in New York, very often I’m working with couples who have sex problems or sex issues that they aren’t completely comfortable with or haven’t figured out how to deal with them yet.”
2. We premature ejaculate and fake it. A lot.
This strikes close to home with Kerner, who dove into sex therapy after combating his own personal issues with sexual dysfunction. In his book She Comes First, he talks about his early struggles with premature ejaculation. “I grew up in a time when people weren't talking about it,” he says. “Premature ejaculation, for men in their 20s, is the number one sexual problem. But this rarely gets talked about because unlike ED, there isn’t a medical solution.”
Effectively “getting off” is also a major issue for ladies in relationships, as well. Women have been reduced to “faking it” because of three scenarios: A) most men don’t know what they’re doing, B) women aren’t telling men how to fix it, or C) women don’t know what they want done. And the lack of communication between men and women has reduced these poor, unfulfilled, doe-eyed-and-eager ladies into thinking that they just “can’t” orgasm. But... but... they can!
We all know the number one spot on a woman’s body to help her orgasm. (And if you don’t, you need to stop reading this immediately because there are more important articles that need your attention.) “The clitoris is the powerhouse of the female orgasm,” Kerner says. “Most nerve endings are located there, not inside the vagina. But most sex positions don’t stimulate the clitoris. Depending on where it is on each individual woman, this can determine whether or not she can have an orgasm from just sex alone. It is related to how close it is to the actual vagina. Even if it’s off by a centimeter or two, that can make all the difference. Many women aren’t receiving persistent and consistent clitoral stimulation that leads to orgasm. They would rather fake it than tell their partners what they need.
“Studies have shown that in female brains, the parts that are associated with stress and anxiety deactivate the orgasm part,” Kerner adds. “I look at sexual scenarios to see where they fall apart before she can orgasm. Maybe the couple was focused on having porn-style sex with all of this novelty, so her brain wasn’t able to go into the trance-like state that it needs to in order to achieve orgasm.”
3. Guys in NY like to over-masturbate
In New York, we really are THAT stressed. And yes, it is making you not super great for sex. “People come to New York to be the best and to succeed. There’s a lot of pressure here. Men, for example, get their sexual self esteem from how they are succeeding,” Kerner says. “I work with couples where the male partner has a low libido because he’s either stressed at his job or not necessarily succeeding. He feels depressed and regulates his stress by masturbating to porn, which taps his libido even more.”
Kerner says men tend to regulate stress with over-masturbation. “I can’t speak to every city, but in a high-pressure one like New York, you see a low male libido. You will see couples really find that they don’t have time for sex. People in New York are really living their careers, much more so than in other cities and they don’t have the same work/life balance.” If you are short on time because you’re needed at the firm/hospital/theater/power lunch, drop something else from your schedule. Like spinning. Or fantasy football. OR ANYTHING ELSE. But for the love of our orgasms please, please leave time for sex.
4. New Yorkers aren’t as open-minded as we might think
New York definitely has an over-sexed reputation. There is a strong LGBT influence here, which leaves the door wide open to exploring sexual fluidity. Sex clubs, sex shops, sex toys, even an entire museum devoted to sex, isn't considered unconventional. It’s just the norm. “New York is on the cutting edge of the sexual Zeitgeist and couples are always thinking of how to expand the definition of what it means to be a monogamous couple,” Kerner says.
Still, about 80% of Kerner’s patients are couples struggling with desire issues, arousal issues, and orgasm issues because they aren’t talking about it with each other. “A lot of couples worry about their partners using porn or having a hyper-sexual behavior. You would think in New York in 2015 young couples would be more open about watching porn together, or discussing porn, but there’s still a lot of Victorianism and shame, and very often it’s not necessarily the sexual behavior that is the problem, but more just the shame and secrecy that shrouds it,” Kerner says.
Essentially, the idea of doing it doggy-style, or watching some other people do it doggy-style, or bringing your long-harbored fantasy for table sex with a construction worker or sex in the shower with your French maid, is going unsaid. But why?!?! Missionary is great and all, but it’s also kind of like going to Tasti D-Lite every single day. Sure, it tastes good and you get that sweet, necessary fix. But you’ve already heard about Big Gay Ice Cream. YOU KNOW IT EXISTS! And over there they sell the Salty Pimp. Sure, it’s unconventional and ridiculously caloric, but it just tastes So. Much. Better. Tasti D is fine too, or whatever. “What I do with couples is create a kind of dialog where they can share their fantasies and concerns and not be inhibited by this Victorian mindset,” Kerner says.
5. Seventy percent of New Yorkers are sexually bored in their relationships
“It goes very deep into the cultural DNA,” Kerner says. “It really is a lack of role modeling growing up. I think it’s also about a lack of education, more than ever, especially with the proliferation of porn, there are a lot of misconceptions and false expectations. Couples can lay next to each other and be next to each other, but when it comes to sex, they maybe feel a million miles apart and might be living lives of silent desperation without being able to talk about it.”
Kerner did a survey with a professor from the University of Kentucky on the topic of relationship boredom. Ten thousand people were polled, many in their 20s and 30s. Nearly 70% of those surveyed said that they were somewhat or extremely bored in their relationships, and of these, sexual boredom topped the list. “More than 70% said they would be more than open to a sexually adventurous suggestion from their partner,” Kerner says. “But rather than make the suggestion, we are more prone to accepting boredom and isolation. That’s sort of turned on multiple levels, and I believe it’s due to lack of education, lack of role modeling, lack of formative experiences in which we are communicating with our partners.”
6. You can’t just "put it in"
To help his patients suffering with sexual issues, Kerner analyzes his patients’ sex scripts. “I have a philosophy,” Kerner says. “Almost all sexual experiences should be romantic, raunchy, relaxed, and mutually orgasmic. Each element has a role in every single sexual experience. Studies have shown the difference between male and female desire. Male desire tends to be spontaneous. Men respond to a single sexual cue. Women feel like this is how they should experience desire, too, and then they wonder why they don’t. Women experience responsive desire. They need a context of multiple sexual cues. I encourage couples to create a sex script that creates a context of different types of cues.”
Women need to be aroused. It is important to not solely rely on physical sensations, but mental ones, as well. Basically, this is why you can’t just "put it in." We really do need that foreplay. “This is where I mention raunch,” Kerner says. “For couples it is important to develop erotic themes, to be able to share fantasies, to tap into your inner ‘pervy’ side to increase the levels of excitement.”
People in New York have so many sexual resources at their disposal that this should be the place where we are most open to communicating our needs and desires. “You can walk down the street into Babeland for the latest toy. There are opportunities for sex parties. "NYC is a place where people get to explore sexual fidelity and get to explore their bi-curiosity,” Kerner says. “They can explore sexual adventurousness and openness and non-monogamy, and in many cases, with much less social judgment.”
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.