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Eros and Aging - Page 12

Authors' Response

Gina Ogden's raises several important issues that give us an opportunity to elaborate on important features of the Good Enough Sex (GES) model. There's a poignant irony that the pursuit of "great sex"—a goal for both men and women—becomes the cause of dissatisfying and dysfunctional sex. The idyllic pursuit of great sexual performance can be the source of personal dissatisfaction (even agony), relationship distress, fear, and feelings of inadequacy. GES shifts the expectation that sex should always be a perfect performance to one that it should be an adaptable, real-life, "intimate team" activity, with the goal of sharing pleasure.

Positive, realistic sex expectations include the realization by each partner that mature sex involves variability and flexibility, which itself inoculates couples against sexual dysfunction and alienation. Our perspective does center on the notion that the man's changed consciousness fundamentally benefits a couple's sexual satisfaction, because when couples stop having sex in midlife or older, it's almost always the man's decision to avoid any sexual touching to ward off anticipated failure of totally predictable erections, intercourse, and ejaculation.

When a man adopts the GES approach, he can not only free himself for pleasure, but alleviate the distress caused by body-image anxiety, shame, guilt, and low libido, all of which Ogden notes are felt by women at midlife. GES removes the performance pressures on both women and men, and invites personal and couple sexual acceptance and cooperation.

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