Nan Wise, Ph.D., is AASECT certified sex therapist, neuroscientist, certified relationship expert, and author. Follow her @AskDoctorNan. The following is adapted from her new book, Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life. -- Mark
Our society has had a long, challenging relationship with pleasure. A recent study indicates that American adults are having sex less often than before, with an especially steep decline since the year 2000. This decline is significant even when you control for factors such as age, gender, and marital status. And to top it off, in spite of the media’s portrayal of young people as freewheeling, casual sex-seeking, hookup artists, those born in the 1980s and 1990s are now the adults who are having less sex.
There is a clear paradox when it comes to our sexuality — a vexing approach/avoidance that I have come to characterize as a “lewd-prude” phenomenon. As much as we are reinforcing the need for mindful “sexual conduct,” scores of people are coming forth to report sexual harassment and sexual abuse that has long been in the shadows. Sex has become for many a place of pain rather than pleasure. Unfortunately, as movements like #MeToo have uncovered, there is quite a long-standing disconnect between the code of behavior we preach and its effectiveness in our society, creating a kind of shadow culture where people act out negatively and harmfully around sex. And even those who have not had a traumatic sexual experience are impacted by this social component that reinforces a disconnect from pleasure. Read the rest