When I first received Dr. Glenda Corwin's Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same-Sex Couples (Seal Press, 2010) in Vp's post-box I was admittedly skeptical, dismissing the book as another vacuous "self-help" guide written by the pseudo-enlightened lesbian.
But, I'll happily admit I was wrong.
Sexual Intimacy is a fantastic guide directed toward understanding both sexual desires and how sexual drives can be mutually respected and sustained—and even cultivated—in same-sex relationships. Sustaining and cultivating sexual intimacy is an essential element to the longevity of a relationship, and Corwin, a practicing clinical psychologist, pulls from her own clinical work and research to offer clear, pragmatic advice about how to develop that intimacy.
For anyone committed to their relationship or generally interested in how couples maintain a long term relationship that includes sex, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Can't wait to get your hands on a copy? Here are some excerpts that acutely shed light on how intimacy works and how couples create it:
> The dissipation of limerance—that "very predictable," initial, intense spark of intimate love between two people fomented by biochemical reactions, behavioral changes, anxiety and other anxiety producing obstacles—overtime is natural and, in fact, psychosomatically healthly. Our bodies must return to their natural, "baseline levels of biochemicals and behaviors." If they didn't, we'd never be able to function or to take care of ourselves and our lives!
> Statistically, over 70% of women do not get "in the mood," or sexually stimulated, until after sexual engagement begins (what Corwin often paraphrases as what she commonly hears in her clinical sessions as "I'm not ever really in the mood but, once we get started, it's great!"). "Spontaneous desire" is for women a myth of female sexuality that is, like most myths about female sexuality, predicated upon male sexuality....
> This means: sexual "energy doesn't come from some underground wellspring of sexual desire. It comes from your intentional choices, is enhanced by your thoughts, and then merges with your body to produce a lovely experience."
In other words, after limerance is gone and if you and your girlfriend/partner/lover/whatever decide to commit to each other for the "long haul," you both need to actively commit to sex as a component of your relationship. Sexual intimacy—its frequency and so forth—is an intentional decision that is to be consciously and explicitly discussed and cultivated by the couple throughout the duration of the relationship, especially because no two people have the same exact kind or type of sexual desire (what Corwin calls "desire discrepancy") and everyone's level of desire periodically fluctuates throughout their life.
"Sex," Corwin explains, "is a reasonable expectation in a committed, primary relationship." What sex is—the acts it entails (is orgasm necessary or not?) and its frequency, for instance—is determined by the couple, which is why communication, active listening and honest telling, is so fundamental to the attainment and maintenance of sexual intimacy.
Intrigued? Corwin's book is smart, avoids clinical techno-babble and annoying optimism. Its guide-like structure makes for a quick and easy read that compels you to share passages with your partner. So, instead of anxiously wondering about the fate of your long term relationship or whether you're even capable of one (Corwin notes how women who prefer the novelty and the chemical-high of dating may not know how to, or have ever learned how to, sustain sexual intimacy in a long term relationship...oh, lesbians...), I recommend Sexual Intimacy as a stimulating summer read.