Are you sexually intelligent?
March 1st, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Are you sexually intelligent?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

What are the qualities that make a truly great lover?

Is it about being able to swing from chandeliers or knowing every page of the “Kama Sutra” by heart? Or are there deeper qualities to being “good in bed” that speak more to the spirit of our actions than their substance?

In his new book, “Sexual Intelligence," Marty Klein, Ph.D – a renowned sex therapist with more than 30 years of experience – challenges readers to think about their sex lives as though they suddenly woke up in Russia tomorrow, without any knowledge of the language and only a handful of rubles in their pockets.

“To figure out what to do, you’d need more than knowledge – you would need intelligence,” he writes. “You’d need the ability to figure out what questions to ask, how to find people who can help you, how to make decisions in a different culture, and so on.

“That’s what sexual intelligence is like – not the ability to be great in bed, or to function the way you did when you were 22. Rather, sexual intelligence is expressed in the ability to create and maintain desire in a situation that’s less than perfect or comfortable; the capacity to adapt to your changing body; curiosity and open-mindedness about the meaning of pleasure, closeness, and satisfaction; and the ability to adjust when things don’t go as expected.”

Klein builds on his premise of sexual intelligence by offering us a beguilingly simple equation: sexual intelligence = information + emotional skills + body awareness.

Accurate information is indeed crucial. Many of us get our sexual information from all the wrong sources.

Young men too often rely on porn and tall tales of the locker room, or on the responses of women who are all-too willing to fake it rather than put their true desires in the foreground; whereas women often rely on the sound bytes that proliferate talk shows.

In terms of emotional skills, as I discussed in last week’s column, being able to communicate empathetically and honestly with a sexual partner is paramount, but many of us resign ourselves to sex lives of quiet desperation.

And I agree with Klein’s calculus that only by adding body awareness – not just of your own body, but also of your partner’s – can you hope to become truly sexually intelligent.

In my experience as a sex counselor, one way of cultivating all three of these qualities at once with a partner is through the practice of sensate focus exercises.

Developed by sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, these exercises, as the name implies, emphasize the focus on physical sensations.

In sensate focus, sex is initially taken off the table for couples, and then gradually reintroduced, one aspect at time, through a gradual process of touching, connection, and awareness, during which each partner takes turns as giver and receiver.

The object of these exercises is for partners to develop a heightened sense of sexual self-awareness and a keener understanding of what feels good to their partner.

People change. Relationships change. Why shouldn’t sex? And yet it’s the natural changes of the sexual life cycle that so many couples in long-term relationships find bedeviling — and that’s another reason why sexual intelligence is so important.

In her international best-seller “Mating in Captivity,” therapist and intellectual provocateur Esther Perel encourages readers to cultivate “erotic intelligence” and reconcile the need for what’s safe and predictable with the wish to pursue what’s exciting, mysterious and awe-inspiring.

“We are born sensuous; we become erotic. To cultivate the erotic is also to engage with sexuality as a quality of aliveness and vitality that extend beyond a mere repertoire of sexual techniques. We learn to play, be curious, engage with our imagination, anticipate. Erotic intelligence is our ability to bring novelty to the enduring, mystery to the familiar, and surprise to the known.”

Both Klein and Perel have authored important works that are not only apt for people of all ages, but can remain relevant on our bookshelves (or digital readers) throughout our lives as we age and adapt.

“Sexual intelligence is useful in different ways at different times of our life,” writes Klein. “In our 20s, in exploring the sexual world; in our 30s, in bonding with a partner and establishing a sexual rhythm; in our 40s, in tolerating and adapting to change; in our 50s, in saying goodbye to youthful sex; in our 60s and beyond, in creating a new sexual style,” writes Klein.

Now that’s really smart.

Post by:
Filed under: Relationships • Sex

soundoff (668 Responses)
  1. jeep dealership near me

    May I simply just say what a comfort to discover somebody who really understands what they are talking about on the net. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people should check this out and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you aren't more popular because you definitely have the gift.


    May 6, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. staples near me


    May 6, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rv paint shops near me

    I love it when people come together and share opinions. Great blog, keep it up!


    May 6, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Forklift Dealer Near Me


    May 6, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. xkRHbirTUd

    homework help quadrilaterals buy essay online promo code custom written paper phd thesis on service quality

    May 6, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Beverage Stores


    May 6, 2021 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. hCTFmJEfXa

    abercrombie uk customer service leaving cert irish essay help do my abc order homework resume writing service arlington tx

    May 6, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. eyebrow threading near me

    I was able to find good information from your blog posts.


    May 7, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. upholstery shop orange county


    May 7, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Where Can I Buy A Kegs Near Me

    Greetings, There's no doubt that your blog may be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic website!


    May 7, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Forklift Repair Shop

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I truly thought you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 7, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. New Forklift Parts California

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 7, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. library near me


    May 7, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. window repair orange county


    May 7, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. QYhpasuYHJ

    we should help others essay the three basic parts of an essay in order are the paragraph the and the paragraph cv writing service project manager doing business internationally essay

    May 7, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Social Media Marketing Consultant

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am having problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. QGUPXpryiC

    help me write my english essay caught using essay writing service little girl doing homework black history homework help

    May 8, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Internet Marketing Companies Irvine


    May 8, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Social Media Marketing Specialist


    May 8, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Content Marketing Orange County


    May 8, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Digital Marketing Firms Orange County


    May 8, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv maintenance videos

    Everyone loves it when people get together and share views. Great website, continue the good work!


    May 8, 2021 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Content Marketing Firms


    May 8, 2021 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. ABSWOTNupS

    homework help equivalent fractions photo essay help professional resume writing service greensboro nc help with my english homework

    May 9, 2021 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Internet Marketing Pictures

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 9, 2021 at 01:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Internet Marketing Consultants

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    May 9, 2021 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. JAutxiYGcL

    aveyard h 2007 doing a literature review order of operations essay dissertation la gestion du service public 4 year old boy calls 911 for homework help hilarious

    May 9, 2021 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Local Marketing Firms


    May 9, 2021 at 05:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Countertops Riverside


    May 9, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Social Media Marketing Consultant Irvine


    May 9, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Camera California

    That is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 9, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Contractors

    Can I just say what a relief to discover someone who really understands what they're talking about online. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you're not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.


    May 9, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Leak Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Internet Marketing Experts Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Social Media Marketing Quotes


    May 9, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Social Media Marketing Contractor

    After looking at a handful of the blog posts on your web site, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and let me know your opinion.


    May 9, 2021 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Social Media Marketing Business

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always interesting to read content from other writers and practice something from other websites.


    May 9, 2021 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Social Media Marketing Company

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 9, 2021 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Flooring Los Angeles


    May 9, 2021 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Google Marketing Companies

    This web site definitely has all the information I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 9, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Laquanda Roath

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life websites and blogs


    May 10, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Digital Marketing Companies


    May 10, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Content Marketing Quote


    May 10, 2021 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Video Marketing Job

    I was able to find good info from your content.


    May 10, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Video Marketing Store


    May 10, 2021 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Video Marketing Job


    May 11, 2021 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Internet Marketing Teacher

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 11, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Web design

    You made some really good points there. I checked on the net for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views
    on this site.

    May 11, 2021 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Video Marketing Program

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!


    May 11, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Google Marketing Studio


    May 11, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.