Combining the two 

Q: I've been married 16 years. I am very comfortable in bed with my husband, sharing talk and all. I have been seeing this other man for six years now and I can't feel that connection in bed with him, but we share comfort that I don't share with my husband. We laugh, he makes me feel good about myself when I'm with him. Can we ever share what my husband and I have in the bedroom? It's embarrassing for me to talk sexy to him, but not to my husband. Please help.

A: If I understand you, you share certain things, like good sex, with your husband and other things, like friendship, with your lover. Some people get most if not all in one package, others don't, which is why polyamory (loving more than one person at the same time) is so popular with many people. Improve each relationship as best you can — more warmth and laughter with your husband, more hot sex with your lover — or consider looking for a third person who encompasses the best attributes of both. The possibility does exist that you will not get what you want from either of the men in your life, since it is not possible to change a leopard's spots, get blood from a turnip or make a rock into a gemstone. (There you have it, metaphors in animal, vegetable and mineral.)

Q: I am 33 years of age and I am currently in a long-term relationship with a wonderful, attractive woman. My problem is that I cannot get sexually aroused by her. I do not believe that it is her fault, as she is sexy and had a good and active sexual past before meeting me. I think it is my fault. This has been a problem that has recurred with almost every long-term relationship that I've had as well as the odd brief encounter. I often cannot get and maintain an erection without manual stimulation for intercourse. If I manage to get and maintain it long enough, I either ejaculate prematurely or lose the erection when she is on top and controlling it. I fantasize almost exclusively about other women before and during sex and also use a lot of hard-core pornography. I used hard-core porn very frequently when I was single and would masturbate a lot (maybe 3 to 5 times per day), to videos, magazines and the Internet. The vast bulk of my sexual encounters have been "one-night stands" and I have also paid for sex in the past. The common theme among these encounters has been that I have controlled it. I would often rather masturbate than have sex. Another issue that crops up is that I am extremely ticklish on my stomach and legs. I do not like being caressed or touched there at all during sex, as I lose my erection. I am desperate for help. I love this woman but I don't know what to do or who to see or how long it may take to get it right.

A: I don't know how long to may take to get it right either. You have picked up some nasty habits that do not go well in a loving, sexual relationship and habits take a while to change. If, in fact, you would really rather masturbate than have partnered sex (and not just because it's more familiar) then rethink your relationship. Maybe you'd be better off with a platonic friendship or learning to please her with your hands, your mouth or a dildo, not relying at all on intercourse. Otherwise, it's into the hands of a good sex therapist for you. Visit www.sexhelp.org and prepare to do some work.

Q: It might be better to keep this situation to ourselves, but we read your column weekly and value your opinion. I am a 31-year-old male with a 34-year-old sister and we have sex together on a regular basis. This started five or six years ago and we have intercourse three or four times a week. I am considered attractive and my sister is a very good-looking woman. We are both in relationships — she engaged to be married to a four-year partner and I have a girlfriend of two years. No one but us knows of this. The sex is fantastic. We otherwise maintain an outwardly "normal" sibling relationship. We have no desire or intention to stop screwing each other but our question is: do you think we are causing each other serious psychological harm?

A: Since you're going to do what you're going to do and damn the consequences, why ask me? But since you did, the answer is yes. You will also do harm to a great many other people too when, not if, this gets discovered. Isadora Alman is a licensed marriage counselor and a board-certified sexologist. You can reach her online at her Sexuality Forum (www.askisadora.com) or by writing to her care of this paper. Alas, she cannot answer questions

Speaking of Love & Sex, Ask Isadora

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