Finding the spark 

Q: I am a very beautiful, full-figured woman. I go out pretty regularly to the same bars to enjoy the entertainment and spirits, sometimes with friends but mostly alone. I have a very friendly, welcoming personality, but I am single. Why don't men want to be more than friendly with me? I haven't been in a relationship for many years now, but I have had and do have plenty of friends. I even have friends for whenever I just want to have sex. Everyone says "You're beautiful" and "You'll find the right one." So now I'm asking you: what do you think it is? It's not like I'm boring or stupid or ugly. I just don't get it.

Q: I have dated six women within a two-month period and, after the first date, they never call me back. I did everything a real gentleman has to do, and still they don't call me back. I think of those women all the time and play with myself at night and think what it will be like to have some sex with not just any girl. I want a nice girl. I am a 26-year-old virgin waiting to explode and have some sex with a girl. I am not ugly or a dog, just a perfect gentleman looking for some friendship and love from a special woman.

A: Man or woman, there usually has to be some sort of spark of sexual interest (some call it chemistry), for a person to want to investigate further into the possibilities of a sexual or romantic relationship. It's not easy to ignite such a spark in a dark nightclub or even in the nervous circumstances of a first date. Some people do meet and click and seem to just glide naturally down that rose-strewn path to romance, but most find their sweethearts in situations where circumstances conspire that they keep on seeing each other, despite the absence of any particular spark, until one spontaneously combusts. Ongoing situations such as a classroom or work or neighborhoods or sports teams or a circle of friends of friends are all possibilities. So, find something you like to do that brings you into contact with likely candidates in some place where you can show yourself to best advantage (looks or intellect or manners or wit), and keep on doing that. If it doesn't pan out, like the music clubs, try something else that also fits the bill. Try any resource at least three times to give it and yourself a fair chance before moving on to another one. Other than bad luck (or choosing to fish for carp in catfish pond), the best feedback as to what you might be able to do differently will come from those who know you best. Ask them to be honest with you and really hear what they have to say.

Q: We are in our late 60s and in a five-year monogamous, committed relationship. My lady friend says that she "likes making love" with me, but does little to cooperate in the process — legs clenched together for the longest time, not touching me, keeping her body under cover, taking her nightgown off only during the final minutes, etc. After foreplay for about 30 minutes, it usually takes another 45 minutes of incessant clitoral stimulation; even that does not always lead to orgasm. I am physically exhausted by that time and sometimes my erection has subsided. The frequency of our sexual encounters suffers. What to do? She is shy sexually. She probably never masturbated very much and refuses to talk about it. If I say something about her slowness in reaching orgasm she will surely see it as a criticism, and I will only have hurt her feelings. What are your ideas?

A: It’s time to change the pattern of your lovemaking, not from the position of criticism but of enhancement. She is dealing with the teaching of her times as well as her own perhaps natural reticence. Five years together seems like a stable enough basis from which to encourage her to do a little exploring. Start by asking her if there is anything she's heard or read of that she'd like to try. Make some suggestions — hot tubs, erotic massage, body painting, oral sex. Look at tasteful erotica together to see if she will volunteer any attractions. If nothing is forthcoming start asking for small but meaningful changes from her. "I really wish you would caress me more" or "Come to bed nude so we can enjoy that lovely skin to skin contact." Occasionally go for your own orgasm at your own speed rather than hers. If that looks or feels like a quickie, so be it. You can let her know that you were overcome with passion (what woman doesn't love to hear that?) and bring her to orgasm after your own. 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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