I looked into the twinkling green eyes of my 81 year-old father as he peered at me over the top of his scotch glass.
“Son,” he said sheepishly, “you’re the Sex Doctor and I have an awkward question for you.”
Dad knows I am teaching a class next month on aging and sexuality so I sensed that he was going to ask me about his aging body. I felt myself slide into that compassionate, soft-spoken space I go to in my role as a therapist. This was going to be a wonderful opportunity to help my dad and have a great father/son moment.
Dad looked somewhat embarrassed when he asked me the big question; “Son, what’s the difference between being a little kinky and being perverted?”
That wasn’t what I was expecting. However, perhaps something had been haunting him for all these years so I gently asked him for a little more information. He looked at me seriously and told me with a deadpan expression that he already knew the answer.
“Kinky,” he said, “is when you have sex using feathers. Being perverted is when you have sex with the whole bird!”
I’d been had!
All kidding aside, my father does raise a serious topic that comes up frequently in therapy. Every day I hear something related to the following questions: Am I normal? What’s OK to do sexually? How can I get my partner to do X Y or Z? The simple answer is that if it is between consenting adults then it’s all good.
At least once per day I have a couple in my office where one person has a sexual desire that their partner doesn’t fully share. Conflicts range from the benign to the complex. It is not uncommon for couples to have conflicts over topics like frequency, anal sex, oral sex, role-play, and bondage.
So what do you do if your partner wants you to perform oral sex and it’s just not your cup of tea? In therapy there are many ways we tackle conflicts like this. Here is one that helps many couples to sort out their differences:
Try to think about it like this… Is it a matter of preference or a matter of dignity? If your partner wants something sexually and it doesn’t violate your dignity, then go for it.
For the sake of an easy example, let’s suppose it is not your preference to hold hands in public, however it’s important to your partner. If holding hands in public doesn’t violate your dignity then take one for the team and consider it a love gift.
On the other hand, if holding hands in public feels like a public display of affection that violates your dignity, then don’t do it. If your partner truly loves and respects you, they aren’t ever going to want you to do something that violates your self-respect.
It may sound like simple advice, but oftentimes this is all a loving couple needs to think about when dealing with a complex issue.
About the Author
Dr. Cannon is a Certified Sex Therapist and couples counselor who holds a master’s degree in public health, as well as a doctorate degree in Human Sexuality. In addition to leading his practice in Denver, Colorado, he teaches human sexuality at the post graduate level; is a professional speaker; serves as an expert witness; and provides diversity training to the federal government and large corporations.
Dr. Cannon is a regular contributor to the AccessRx.com blog.