you a teenager searching for information
sex and dating?
from Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
material is presented for educational and informational purposes
only. No other claims are made. Always consult your health care
professional for specific recommendations.
placed this short article here, among all the others I have
specifically written for couples that are stuck in a sexless
marriage (those who have intercourse 10 times a year or less),
because I know how many teenagers are surfing the net for
helpful information about sex.
I was a teenager back in the ‘60s, sex went through
a huge revolution. Frankly, I couldn’t tell if I was
a part of that revolution, or not. We all would have loved
the Internet back then. I would have been so much easier to
get objective information about sex from the net than from
the few books to which we had access, or from your buddies
stolen Playboy Magazines, or from conversations with the guys,
conversations that were enlarged to hide shame. Frankly, we
mostly learned from sheer experimentation.
you can surf the net and end up… well, here.
are teens looking up on the Internet? Research has indicated
the following hot topics:
Sexual Transmitted Diseases – STDs
lot of the kids I talk with today are most anxious about having
a really satisfying relationship with the man or woman with
whom they settle down and get married. Let’s face it;
lots of teenagers have grown up in homes where their parents
didn’t get along very well. These kids, as are kids
in general, are concerned with doing better than their parents.
who are happily married and who have happy and frequent sex,
seem to be much better off in life overall. No surprise there.
you will find Chapter 16 of my big eBook. Take a
long look at it. You will find a map for a common-sense gradual
approach to sex. Everyone with whom I have shared this finds
it very helpful. There are all kinds of sex problems that
could be helped if, from the beginning, one would approach
sex gradually. You can control your sexual desire, and you
can control your sexual behavior. Read on, and you will see
what I mean.
ago, a client came into my office carrying a little book about
the size of a thin paperback novel. It was a self-published
text by Paul Cameron titled Sexual Gradualism. My client,
a caring and compassionate person with the financial resources
to put her money in the same place as her mouth, invited me
to read the little book. Immediately, I could see its logic
and usefulness. My client bought me 100 copies and over a
few years I gave all but two away.
I can’t figure out how to buy more, and would if I could.
I’ve searched the Internet and frankly, the only information
I have found isn’t very appealing. But, his little book
has a wonderful little map for the journey. I’m tweaking
it some and take credit for that. Mr. Cameron gets credit
for the basic idea, which is this:
should build our relationships gradually, through certain
steps, by leading with intimacy, following with commitment,
and trailing with sex.
And, with each step we get to decide if we want to take
the next step.
Let me tell you that I have shared this little map of how
to build a healthy sexual relationship with scores and scores
of teenagers, hundreds in fact. I have also shared it with
even more single adults who, after divorce, are trying to
get back into the dating game with a degree of comfort. So,
this model might not be applicable to you right now, but it
might be something you can share with your pre-adolescent
or adolescent child. Everyone should be taught this little
model in my opinion. Yes, I am trying to get the word out!
· Leading with Intimacy.
is knowing your traveling companion, and being known by your
wisest way to begin any journey, or to take the next step
along the way, is to begin with intimacy. As two people move
toward being traveling companions, they take one step closer,
and then another, and then another . . .. gradually getting
into the car and taking off. Of course, that is a metaphor
for gradually becoming life companions - for becoming traveling
companions. The first step should always be the step of intimacy.
profoundly do you know your companion?
you know what is in your companion’s soul?
your companion know what is in your soul?
to know each other, soul-to-soul, takes some time and effort.
This little “Pocket Map for the Journey” will
give you some idea of the steps involved in gradually building
· Following with Commitment.
is establishing a contract with your companion that includes
the behaviors for which each of you will be accountable.
After a step of intimacy has been taken, the next step involves
commitment. At this point a boundary is being drawn around
your relationship with your traveling companion that includes
the two of you, but which also defines how others will be
included, or excluded. Everyone has their own personal boundaries,
and every relationship has its own boundaries as well.
commitments are your willing to make to each other at this
point in your journey?
exclusive are you willing to be with this person?
much of yourself will your entrust to this person?
Building a “contract” takes time and it happens
step-by-step. You, of course, know that. Only the most naïve
and Childlike people jump into a commitment without doing
their step-by-step homework. Impulsivity here is inviting
disaster. On the other hand, there are “commitment challenged
people” who will not make, or keep a commitment with
their traveling companion. That is a huge problem, which we
will address further along the road.
Trailing with Sex.
for our purposes, is the sexual behavior you and your traveling
companion engage in while traveling along the Journey of Life.
Sex begins with a look, and it ideally ends with a look of
a different sort.
The first step is to see each other and get turned on. The
vision impaired people I have worked with have helped me to
appreciate that it can also be an auditory thing, that at
the first sound of someone else’s voice, one can get
turned on. We all know how true that can be. The folks out
there who pander phone-sex for an exorbitant fee know the
power of a voice, and the vulnerability caused by unmanaged
anxiety. Put the two together over the phone and somebody
is making a bunch of money.
Sex done well has been preceded by a commitment, which
has been preceded by intimacy. It is that simple.
Everyone I have ever shown this little map to has
seen the common sense of it, so I know you will as well.
Here is the “Pocket Map” that I have developed
so that you can judge for yourself where you are on the Journey
Your sexless marriage problem might be the result of not having
alignment between your levels of . . . Intimacy, Commitment,
Sexual Gradualism Pocket Map”
Make a conscious decision before you move step-by-step,
level-by-level along the Journey of Life
Toward Grown-up Maturity
1 We’ve spent up to 72 hours together
in heart-to-heart conversation in which we have been
open and honest with each other. I know about my partner’s
family history and my partner knows mine. There is some
anxiety, but it matches your level of intimacy
2 I like this person, and I think I’m
liked in return. I like spending time with this person
and the time we do spend together is rather enjoyable.
We are both on our best behavior.
3 We enjoy being in each other’s presence,
looking into each other’s eyes. We both seem to
want to look nice for the other. I enjoy my partner’s
presence, smell, and touch. In fact, we are holding
hands, touching lightly, hugging in kindness, and we
are both thinking about more physical closeness, but
we are both a little anxious. We kiss lightly, if at
Step 4 We’ve spent up to 144 hours in
intimate conversation and I have gotten to know my partner’s
extended family, joys, sorrows, fears, hates, and loves.
I have laughed together. I also know what your partner
enjoys doing without you. You have had some serious
anxiety at times, but you have managed it.
5 I do really like this person and I do really
like spending time together. I make time to be together
pretty much whenever I can. I know about this person’s
commitment to family and friends, to work and play.
Once in a while our separate commitments clash, but
we seem to address whatever the issues are and move
6 We are now kissing, with deep passion. We
tongue each other and touch each other all over, but
still with our clothes on. We can spend a lot of time
doing this, and it feels wonderful. The anxiety here
is mostly anticipatory anxiety, but there is some concern
about how secure we are with each other.
7 We’ve spent 216 hours together in intimate
conversation. Now I know about the principles around
which we both have our lives organized. We have fought
and overcome our pain. We have experienced intense anxiety,
addressed the issues involved, and we are working them
8 I am “in-love” with this person,
and that is for sure. I am committed to my partner’s
best interests as much, or even more than my own. Given
the opportunity I find myself opting to spend time with
my partner more than with others. We are committed to
resolving the conflicts we have at times, and we seem
to be able to do so regularly.
9 Now we are fondling each other. Breast and
genital fondling is exciting. As time moves on we begin
to undress and experience each other’s naked body.
There has been some oral sex as well. There is great
wonder and anxiety here, but it is full of positive
energy. At the times when we think we have gone too
far, we back up, talk, and touch again until we are
10 We’ve spent 288 hours together in
intimate conversation. There is nothing of significance
form the past or the present that hasn’t been
shared. Our visions for the future have been shared
and our level of comfort is complete. There is no anxiety.
11 I love this person. We have been together
now for some time, experienced the best and worst of
each other, and yet I seem to be as committed to my
partner’s welfare as I am to my own. I feel respected
and valued, and I find it easy to respect and value
my partner. We are talking marriage.
12 Now we are having intercourse and we are
doing it regularly. We have moved beyond most of the
anxiety and now experiment, or actually, play at really
doing each other. We enjoy giving and receiving pleasure.
Neither of us feels used as we explore our sexuality
in ever more erotic and intimate ways. At times, with
our eyes fixed on each other’s eyes, we come together
me say a word about the hours in my model. I figure that
72 hours is about the amount of time two people should spend
in each other’s company before they even take the
step to Level 2. That is, 72 hours, or nine 8-hour days,
is about the amount of time that two people should spend
hanging out and getting to know each other. Is that too
much to ask? That would be 8 hours a week for a couple of
months. I count telephone and email time in there as well
even though people tend to be more intimate over the Internet
than face-to-face. Intimate conversation done face-to-face
can be more anxiety producing than intimacy over the Internet.
However, and I want to be perfectly clear about his, relationships
that are built over the Internet can be incredibly misleading.
In fact, I would give it about a 90% on the misleading index.
People who establish a lot of commitment with someone after
exchanging intimacies over the Internet are asking for trouble.
I have moved these levels in 72-hour increments,
as you can see. I figure 72 hours in 2 months per level.
Of course, it is your life and you are in charge of the clock
and the levels of intimacy, commitment, and sex that you want
to have with your partner.
The main point of developing your sexual relationship gradually
is that you get to decide at Level 1 if you want to move to
Level 2, and then on to 3, and 4. At certain points along
the Journey you get to stop and decide.
If the answer is, “Well, this is okay, but I don’t
think I want to keep going,” then it is time for you
to get honest with yourself first, and then with your partner.
If you don’t, you will have a big problem. A really
Here are some ways you can screw this up, and how the screw-ups
may be contributing to your sexless marriage problem.
a lot of sex, and skip intimacy and commitment altogether.
This is typically referred to as “promiscuity.”
Your relationship will end as soon as one or the other of
you grows up a little and looks for a mature relationship
that leads with intimacy, follows with commitment, and trails
a lot of intimacy, and never establish commitment or sex.
People who have a narcissistic trait in their personality
commonly do this. They get off on being the center of someone
else’s emotional attention, but give nothing back.
However, it might also be the case that such a person is
frightened of both commitment and sex and prefers to be
“just friends.” Or, in fact, that person is
just a friend and nothing more.
a lot of commitment, and little intimacy or sex. If such
is the case, this is usually a very dependent person who
is clinging to a relationship and neither giving, nor getting,
much in return. Or, it is just a shallow friendship.
a lot of intimacy and a lot of commitment, but little sex.
This is likely where most of the people who are reading
this eBook are coming from. You know each other, are committed
to each other, but something has gotten in the way and you
are struggling with a sexless marriage problem.
a lot of sex and intimacy, but little commitment. At this
point in my career, I firmly believe that if someone is
afraid to commit, they are, in fact, afraid to commit. Without
resolution of the issues right there, the relationship will
always be void of appropriate commitment and occasional
bouts of anxiety will be common.
a lot of sex and commitment, but little intimacy. Two people
traveling together like this can be pretty happy, up to
a point. One or the other will always be vulnerable to an
encounter with someone who establishes more intimacy. Lots
of affairs begin right here.
enough intimacy, commitment, and sex. This might be what
I call "The curse of good." This is the relationship
that is good, not great, but just good. Both of you are
traveling along, not going very far, very fast, or to very
interesting places. It is good. Not great. Just good. Usually
someone wants to scream at some point, wants to jump out
and do something different, wants to put the pedal to the
metal for a while, wants to break out of the boredom. Maybe
this is you.
this Chapter I have given you a “Pocket Map of Your
Journey.” Sexual Gradualism is a common sense approach
to gradually building a relationship from intimacy, to commitment,
to sex, step-by step, and level-by-level. You get to decide
at each step if you want to stop, or if you want to Journey
to the next step, or the next level.
can use this “Pocket Map” to diagnose your own
relationship. If you aren’t together at the same Level,
one or the other of you will have an increase in the amount
of anxiety you are experiencing. That is guaranteed.
sexless marriage problem could be a result of one of you
being at one Level, and the other at another Level. There
can be great frustration in such a case, so give it some
Solutions for Your Sexless Marriage
is the BIG, 173 page eBook written by Dr. Atwood. The
companion volume is You
Can Save Your Marriage. You can find
both at www.HopefulSolutions.net.
Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, LMFT. 534 Fountain St. NE, Grand
Rapids, MI 49503 - Voice 616.456.1178 - Email DrAtwood@HopefulSolutions.net.
©2002-2004 Save Your Marriage, PLC. All rights reserved.
The material presented on these pages if for your information
only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
It may not represent your true individual medical situation.
Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health
problem or disease without consulting a qualified health
care provider in person. Please consult your health care
provider in person if you have any questions or concerns.
Always use common sense and research your own personal situation