Sex as it Relates to Emotions and Spontaneity-July 1, 2003

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Emotions and Sex, Do They Mix?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I enjoy our sex life, but when I’m upset or have lots going on I don’t want to have sex. It’s not that I’m tired, but when I feel emotional sex is not appealing. Is this normal?


Dear Emotional:

I teach that sex is a physical experience and if the body is healthy it usually will respond to touch. However if one is upset then this can interfere with physical pleasure. Where appropriate, it may be necessary to evaluate whether disappointment or anger toward one’s mate may be interfering with one’s physical hunger.

Also important to bear in mind is that when one is engrossed in some mental activity that requires concentration, then being touched can interrupt the thought process. Then it would be understandable if sexual pleasure were not a priority. Additionally, some people who experience emotional turmoil become so preoccupied with their strong emotions that they have difficulty letting go of the preoccupation sufficiently to give themselves permission to engage in physical pleasure. This is unfortunate because a positive physical experience could offer some healing and relief.

In my opinion, these two components of the personality (mental, emotional) deserve consideration when there is a diminished desire for the nurturing effect of physical pleasure.

”Spontaneity and Sex, How to Keep the Flow?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My partner always showers before we are intimate and this interrupts the spontaneity. I believe in hygiene, but she goes overboard. What is the best way to address this?


Dear Spontaneous:

It is important not to allow hormones to dictate the parameters of intimacy. As one woman put it, “my husband is an on and off type of person. When he is aroused, he thinks he has to satisfy that arousal right away. One time he told me that, ‘if we don’t do it now, I’m gonna lose my erection.’ That made me feel horrible.”

Foreplay can comprise a large percentage of the intimacy aspect of an experience and even if one’s partner may be somewhat obsessive, whether that be about hygiene, attire, or even wanting to create a certain atmosphere, this need not interfere with sharing each others’ body. In fact, specifically regarding the hygiene issue, if either partner has thoughts about whether their body is presentable, this could interfere with the pleasure of intimacy.

In my opinion, couples who just kick back and let the physical experience happen are more likely to enjoy each other’s bodies, providing, to use the hygiene example, that their bodies are clean.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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