Tag Archives: texting

FOR MEN: Why Texts Make Sex Feel So Awkward

couple-on-smartphones-in-bedCourtship rituals have clearly changed. And there are two big differences today than ever before. First, our highly sexualized media has made monogamy almost a sin and secondly, texting grows intimacy fast but, because it’s not bound with a growing physical intimacy, it makes dates feel awkward. I interviewed Andrew Smiler, author of Challenging Casanova about sexuality and the best way to create a healthy relationship in today’s dating climate:

DR. WENDY: What are the real stats on how many men are Casanovas, Don Juan’s, or Players, or whatever you call it?

DR. SMILER: For younger guys – teens and 20s – somewhere between 15 & 20% have 3 or more partners in a 12 month span. But only about 5% have 3 or more partners per year for 3 consecutive years. When you look at the 30+ age groups, the numbers get even smaller.

DR. WENDY: Why do so many women think men are having way more sex than they actually are?

DR. SMILER: A few reasons. First, our culture, and especially American media, spend a lot of time talking about who’s having sex with whom, especially when that’s a new partner or someone is cheating. But they don’t really talk about fidelity or long-term commitments. Ever seen a tabloid with the headline “X & Y still together after 12 years”? And that fidelity article will appear in only one outlet, whereas the new relationship or cheating gets coverage across all outlets. Also, we never really hear stories about men turning down sex and we believe they can’t/don’t/won’t. This is because we believe guys always want sex and are responsible for initiating sexual contact (among new couples).

DR. WENDY: Do you see more women adopting this particular male model of sexuality? Why?

DR. SMILER: There has always been a small contingent of women who’ve had lots of partners, but noticeably fewer women than men. Over the last 2 decades American culture has become more comfortable with the idea that women have sexual desire and that they might desire hookups/one-night-stands. Some survey data indicate that female undergrads are reporting 3 or more partners in the last 12 months at higher rates than they used to.

DR. WENDY: With traditional courtship rituals going away, what advice do you give young people about how to create a healthy bond?

DR. SMILER: The important things for creating a healthy relationship bond haven’t changed. It’s still about being honest, respectful, caring, and trusting. One thing that has changed is the way we become intimate. The “old” system of having several dates with phone-only contact between dates tied the emotional intimacy developed through conversation to the physical intimacy that occurred when people were together on a date. In many ways, emotional and physical/sexual intimacy proceeded together (or got stuck together).Today, many folks don’t think in terms of going on dates and there are more ways to be in contact, like texting and other social media. It’s important to think of all of that as part of “getting to know you” and to remember that people – you or your partner – may be less comfortable in person than remotely, especially when remotely means asynchronous conversation. As a result, the level of intimacy you feel emotionally may or may not match the level of intimacy you feel sexually.

FOR COUPLES: How Every Day Texts Hit the Slippery Slope Toward Frisky

young-man-texting-on-couchPornography is easily accessible with new technology, and can be a helpful aid to keep the spice in long term monogamy. But porn does have its downside if used incorrectly. For some men, pornography has become a paired stimulus with their sexuality. One study showed on average, single guys consume pornography on their computers or iPhones 40 minutes, three times a week. The statistics for guys in committed relationships and pornography showed they view on average 1.7 times a week for 20 minutes. Here’s the problem. That same device that feeds them an endless stream of novel erotic images is also used for business and platonic friendship. For some this can be a little confusing.


So how pornography is affecting our everyday text messages and e-mail communication? Men are using their phones and computers as a source of arousal, but they also use them to communicate for courtship. They are used to having a stream of new images, or exciting lovers. So what happens when they meet someone they want to date or their wife? What do they say? “Hey, can you send me a naked picture?” Or they want a frisky sext. This technology has become an extension of their sexuality. And for some men, it’s hard to separate the two types of digital data — business and porn.

In dating relationships, sexts may seem harmless, but now we are seeing sexting scandals and people that blur the boundaries of what should be platonic text relationships. Think of it this way, about 20 years ago the way to contact a couple was to call their house phone. The husband might answer and then pass the phone to his wife, who maintained their social calendar. Now, couples have individual Facebook pages, their own iPhones where private text messages. They are able to have individual relationships with a lot of different people and it starts to beg the question, are we a unified front? I have to tell you, when I see a Facebook page for a married couple, with their wedding picture and they are both answering questions I love it! That’s how it used to be. How do you think technology is affecting our dating, mating and relating?

FOR SINGLES: Does Your iPhone Cause You Attachment Anxiety?

article-2363956-1AD2F66D000005DC-651_634x424Lynn stared at her iPhone. It had been exactly nineteen hours and eight minutes since her date’s last text. She scrolled back to check her math and his pattern. His text bursts were at least twice a day, sometimes three. Never a gap more than seven hours, unless he was sleeping. And he always pinged after each date to make sure she’d gotten in safely. But last night he broke his rhythm. No text. No text this morning either. It was nearly lunchtime already. She reran the date in her head. It was a third date so things were getting playful. Had she teased him too much? Did she say something that hurt him? Was he running away?

Intent on getting back into communication, she remembered a silly bet they’d made during the evening. She’d bet that his morning golf game would be rained out. He had taken an optimistic stance against the local TV’s botoxed, perma-tanned meteorologist, and bet the skies would be clear over the first green. That was it! Lynn jerked around to peer out her office window. A spectacular September sun washed across blue skies. Perfect. The bet was for one cupcake. After a quick call to a delivery company to sail a cupcake and cute note to his office she relaxed, knowing his call or text would come within the hour. He’d have to at least thank her, right? The dude has basic manners.

At six pm, her stomach felt absolutely sick. No word. She called the cupcake courier and confirmed that the little temptation had landed on his desk at 1:30 pm. Back to her iPhone and more calculations. Four and a half hours, three minutes, forty five seconds. Oh god, had she been a fool? Was she so offensive as a date that he defiled Emily Post? Now she had totally embarrassed herself by sending the cupcake.she felt her chest tighten and her breathing quicken. Her fingers fumbled on her phone. She pointedly tapped one sand colored gel nail on the top power button and had half a mind to shut down and go off radio, just to show him up. But she couldn’t bring herself to miss his next text. Then with a giant sigh, she composed a careful text to inquire if he had received her little gift. It was her olive branch really because, clearly, they were on the outs if hadn’t connected with her in 24 hours. Her stomach churned and she could feel hot tears trying to escape from behind her eyeballs. But she was determined to appear calm and get him to communicate….

I wish I could tell you what happened to Lynn’s date. But as a doctor of psychology who specializes in human attachment, I’m far more interested in Lynn’s reaction to this brief lapse in communication with a stranger she’d met only three times. Why such a degree of anxiety? Why the self blame? Why the urge to turn the chase around and begin pursuing him? Why the inability to contain herself or remind herself how lovable she is? In this tiny rupture, a talented business woman with an MBA had morphed into an infant with critical needs. This is what psychologists call an attachment injury. Or, more specifically, an opening of an old wound.

In the next few months, you’re going to hear me talk a lot about attachment style. I’m going to explain how our attachment behaviors can bring us security or emotional and even physical pain. But most important, you’re going to learn how attachment styles can be changed. How your mind can be trained for healthy love. Keep reading my blog to learn more.