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February 13, 2003 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-13

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8B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend guzine - Thursday, February 13, 2003
For Valentine's Day, think above the belt'

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Matzine


Sex therapists ease first-time jitters

When I first signed my lease
to live with girls, years of
watching "The Real
s World" had skewed my view of
what the situation would be like.
I thought, "When will I have my
first threesome in the bathtub? In
the first week? No, probably not
until the second."
It certainly isn't for a lack of
attractiveness that my scenario has
not played itself out. Each of the
girls I live with are attractive in a
universal way, i.e. you don't have to
say things like, "She's cute once
you get to know her" in order to
describe them.
They are already attractive to
everyone. Combine this with the
fact that I think my other guy room-
mate and myself have our moments
and you have a recipe for some
teenage hijinks.

So, why isn't anyone hooking up?
Is it because we are too pissed off
about how the community orange
juice lasts three hours?
Is it because the girls are too con-
cerned about studying while the
guys are too concerned about win-
ning beer pong night at Touch-
Have we not reached the point
where both convenience and des-
peration meet?
Or is it simply because nobody
has the balls to say anything?
It is probably all of these things.
I guess it is just as well, because
it saves the house from a potentially
awkward situation if a relationship
doesn't form as a result.
Once you hook up with someone,
your relationship changes greatly
(Thanks, Captain Obvious!) and it
takes a lot to either move forward

into full-blown exclusivity or to fall
back into anonymity.
To tread that thin line of hooking
up with nothing else is nearly
This brings me to my Valentine's
Day message to you:
Don't take your fuckbuddy out on
the most romantic day of the year.
(From here on, I will spare you
from an expletive-riddled column
by using the term "funbuddy" for
the relationship.)
The implication of Valentine's
Day is that there is one person that
you would like to spend the night
with, engaged in temporarily non-
sexual activities.
If you ask your funbuddy, then
you are asking for trouble.
To borrow a line from the under-
rated Tom Cruise flick "Cocktail,"
(best known for containing "Koko-
mo" on the soundtrack):
"All things end badly or else they
wouldn't end."
This is especially true for the
funbuddy relationship.
I have not seen one that has not
left neither party bitter.

It is inevitable that one person
will want more than the other.
After all, so many questions
come with having a funbuddy:
1. Should you get mad if they
hook up with someone else?
2. What happens when you start
to like them outside of the bed-
3. Should you have a moral
dilemma if you don't like them out-
side the bedroom?
These are tough questions that
everyone reacts to differently and
certainly I'm not telling anyone
how they should react.
But they are questions that will
come up if you and your funbuddy
spend Valentine's Day together.
Yet despite all the negatives,
finding that special funbuddy can
be one of the best parts about being
It's like 10-10-220; there is no
commitment. There is no obligation
on either side to stay together so
there should not be any guilt.
If you get a call at 2 a.m., there is

f I

get into a real



no question what it is going to be
You don't have to dodge classic
relationship fights such as, "I didn't
know you could get drunk at the
library" and "If you cared about me
as much as you care about video
It can even be one of the most
honest relationships. Both of you
know what you want and there are
no games.
Plus, it is always good to have a
backup plan - there is no shame in
The entire relationship can be
necessary and cathartic for you.
Without it, you could become pre-
occupied, unable to think without a
release. The benefits could affect
all aspects of your life - as long as
you know what you are doing.
So don't hesitate to fun around,
but save it for the other 364 days of
the year. Otherwise you run the risk
of asking questions you don't want
to hear the answer to.
- Send all valentines
for Jeff Phillips to
Continued from Page 5B
because he has an ego problem."
Couples are recommended to attend
therapy sessions togther, regardless of
which party is thought to suffer from a
problem. This is to ensure that both peo-
ple understand how to help each other.
"If there is a sexual problem and a
couple, it is probable that a sex problem
is something to be understood by both,"
Sugrue said. "We prefer that a person's
partner so they do not feel threatened."
Sex therapists prescribe various meth-
ods of treatment that cater to the needs
of the patient and their condition.
"A sex therapist will first do an evalu-
ation to detertmine the nature of the
problem. This is followed with a recom-
mendation for treatment, based on the
problem," Liberman said.
"Treatment can include education and
psychotherapy to deal with complicated
feelings that may contribute to the prob-
lem. Awareness exercises can lead to
discovering things about one's body and
help teach about sexuality."
Homework assignments done in one's
home are a popular method of treatment
for Sugrue's patients.
"You can't just tell people to go home
and have sex. By providing a structure,
we can start basic. For an assignment, we
might tell someone to agree that inter-
course is out of bounds for the coming
week and that they should simply spend
time holding and touching each other."
Sex education in grade school was
limited, and students were encouraged to
go ask their parents about sex. It was
hard then too, for sex has always been a
forbidden subject, but there is a willing-
ness to teach about sexual matters. Now
it's just hard telling your parents that you
really did your homework over the

By Rebecca Ramnsey
Daily Weekend Editor
Although college students are
expected to be mature adults, some
still nervously laugh whenever the
scientifically-correct terms "penis"
and "vagina" are mentioned. Sex is a
topic so deeply ingrained in our
minds as unmentionable and forbid-
den that the mere allusion to it can
make someone feel uncomfortable.
The fact that sex remains as such a
matter of humiliation and awkwardness
makes it a subject that many are only
inclined to discuss their stories and
questions when with their closest
friends. However, one friend's sexual
advice does not always guarantee suc-
cess for another, and some questions
may be too embarassing to ask.
In these cases, many sexual questions
and problems require professional help
through sexual therapy, which is
believed by some to be a tremendously
excruciating experience. The idea that
sex therapy is available only to people
with sexual dysfunctions can cause peo-
ple to feel labeled with a negative condi-
tion, but this type of help is offered to
anyone with any doubts about sex.
Reena Liberman, an Ann Arbor sex
therapist certified by the American
Association of Sex Educators, Coun-
selors and Therapists, noted that there
are many situations that can compel
someone to seek sex therapy.
"Patients come with various prob-
lems, such as dissatisfaction with one's
performance - which may be inability
to have orgasms or control ejaculation,
pain accompanying sex - uncertainty
about one's sexual orientation, memories
about sexual activities that are disturbing
and differences in sexual desire in cou-
ples are common instances," she said.
Such sensitive topics may cause
one to feel even more embarassed
and to fear admitting his or her sto-
Find true

ries to a therapist, who is usually a
complete stranger.
"People have fears about sex therapy
because there are so many secrets and
taboos about the topic of sex," Liberman
said. "In our culture, women aren't
encouraged to know a lot about their
bodies. There is also a fear of being
judged, but a sex therapist is accustomed
to talking about sex."
A sex therapist may make discussing
sex look as if it is an easy, everyday
activity, but the difficulty of their job
may be in easing a patient's discomfort.
"We encourage people to be good
consumers and call a therapist first and
talk about the situation to see if the ther-
apist is someone who is a good fit."
There is also an issue of fear
among patients to face a therapist of
a different sex, which can signify a
problem in itself.
"Research shows that the women
patients do equally well with men and
women therapists," said sex therapist
Dennis Sugrue, Ph.D., a faculty mem-
ber of the University's department of
psychiatry. "Part of the problem with a
guy who thinks he can't work with a
woman is sexual. It's how he works
with women."
Sugrue, coauthor of "Sex Matters
for Women" and a past president of
AASECT, acknowledged that there is
much stigma associated with the idea
of going to a sex therapist but said
the patient-therapist relationship is
strictly professional.
"People often raise their eyebrows
and imagine sex therapy as a hands-on
situation," he said. "In pornography and
film, sex therapy has been a subject
made light of ... the doctor will auto-
matically help patients have better sex,
but in reality, it is important that people
keep their clothes on."
A first-time sex therapy patient is
expected to feel uneasy but also should
be intuitive enough to judge whether or

not the therapist seems able to help.
"You will feel awkward the first time
you have a session. You should ask your-
self if you feel confident and does this
person appear to know what they are
doing. They need to respectful and there
should be no laughing or double enten-
dres" Sugrue said.
Sex therapists try to separate the
patient from the problem so that a greater
understanding of the situation can be
established. It is also helpful for thera-
pists to get a sense of a patient's history.
"Often times, when focusing on the
sexual problem, we have to take into
context what's going on in your life and
your background. We can't just say that
we have to help you achieve an orgasm,"
Sugrue said.
0 minute

He said there are three scenarios
that patients fit into when they come
for a therapy session. The first is when
a patient has a clear understanding of
the problem and they know what they
want to help. The second is when
someone comes in with a general
sense that something is wrong or that
they are not satisfied, and the third
scenario, which he described as being
fairly common, is when a patient is
convinced by their partner that they
are the one with the problem.
"For example, most women do not
orgasm from intercourse and some guys
do not know that, and will often blame
the woman and tell her to seek help,"
Sugrue said. "The reason she is there is
See THERAPY, Page 8B
s or less


A visit with a sex therapist can relieve Intimacy fears.

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Many University students find that dating is harder
than it looks, and it seems to take a lot longer to devel-
op a relationship with someone than one initially antic-
ipates. And with a world filled with lectures, term
papers and hundreds of pages of reading every week,
while drowning in an overpopulated sea of 38,000 stu-
dents, it's hard to find the time and the place to meet
viable prospects for a significant other.
LSA senior Michelle Slonim agrees.
"Michigan doesn't have a big dating culture," she
said. "There are so many single people out there."
And like those who have given up on the house
party scene, Slonim and other Hillel members are fol-
lowing the latest rage in the contemporary, urban
courting environment: speed dating.
"It's the most popular thing in New York,"
Slonim said.
In New York and other large cities, various
organizations sponsor such events at cafes and
restaurants, where people file in for about an hour
to 90 minutes.
For anywhere between seven and 10 minutes, a man
and a woman pair off and talk, often times after receiv-
ing a specific topic by the organizers to expedite the
conversational process, until officials ring a bell, and
then they split up and pair off with someone else.
"It's like musical chairs," Slonim added. Hope-

fully, if all goes well at the end of the night, a
couple will be born.
The practice is extremely popular with young, urban
professions and with the Jewish community. And while
some of the organizations, like the Los Angeles-based
Jewish educational association Aish HaTorah, that hold
speed-dating events nationwide insist that their activi-
ties are exclusively for Jews, Hillel's introduction of the
popular dating game to Michigan will be open to all
University students. There are, in fact, several non-reli-
gious affiliated groups that hold speed dating parties in
Detroit, however, this will probably Ann Arbor's first.
It will be held this Friday night on Valentine's Day,
when Shabbat activities normally take place.
Slonim said the event "follows the rules of Shabbat,"
which makes it easier for Jews of all levels of obser-
vance to participate.
"It's one night only," she added. "But hopefully it
will become popular."
Intemationally, dating services are extremely popu-
lar in Jewish communities. Jdate, an on-line service, is
currently the most well known. Hillel used to have a
computer service that paired compatible people togeth-
er, but if this catches on, it may be the University's first
interactive personal dating service.
The organizers of the upcoming Hillel speed-dating
experiment will also hand out questionnaires for partic-
ipants to fill out so that others can see if they contain
the qualities they are - or are not - specifically look-
ing for. Participants will also be provided with pads of

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Speed dating is a fast-paced altemative.
paper and pens so that they can take notes, and if all
goes right, phone numbers and email addresses.
Hillel's plan to develop a more effective dating serv-
ice for the student body has already gained acceptance
from its community.
And it seems likely that there will be attractive
results. Effectiveness and success stories are some of
the main things that have boosted speed dating's posi-
tive reputation in major urban centers. Aish HaTorah
boasts that "over 50% of participants meet someone



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