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    And Now for Something Completely Different

    Know what you want.

    Do Something Different -- Something New continued...

    Sex therapist Zilbergeld offers several exercises to help figure out your sexual desires. One he calls "simmering," which involves tuning into surges of sexual energy that typically occur throughout the day, even for people who say they aren't aroused very much. When you're aware of a sexual feeling, focus on it and develop a fantasy of what you'd like to have happen, he says.

    Every few hours during the day, bring the image to mind. This works for both men and women, and doing Kegel exercises -- squeezing your pelvic muscles as if you're trying to prevent urination -- can increase sexual tone and pleasurable pelvic sensations for both sexes, too. If you'd like to act on these feelings when you get home, make a phone call to your partner to see if the timing is right.

    What Are Your Own Special Requirements?

    Another exercise recommended by Zilbergeld involves defining your preferred "conditions" for good sex. Compare exciting sexual encounters with those that weren't as satisfying, he suggests: Are there things you enjoyed in the past that you'd like to try again? Do you need to have sex at a certain time of day to enjoy it the most? Make a list of your conditions and act on them. Some women say they get an erotic charge hearing their partner utter the words: "I'll do the dishes." They could make doing the dishes a condition for having sex.

    From personal as well as therapeutic experience, Zilbergeld says role-playing is a powerful way to increase arousal. Years ago, he was involved with a woman who would start playing a role during sex, he writes in The New Male Sexuality. "She would suddenly say something like, 'You haven't been a good boy today, so you're not going to get any.' Since what we can't have is infinitely more exciting than what we can, my passion immediately skyrocketed, even though I knew she was only acting."

    Role-playing, of course, must be mutually agreeable. If one person finds another's role goofy or unappealing, negotiation is needed to find a fantasy that both parties enjoy.

    Cathy Williams says that her erotic map-making is never finished, which is what makes it so exciting. "Sex is a wonderful part of life," she says. "If you're not having a great sexual relationship, allow yourself to explore and see what turns you on."

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    Reviewed on September 23, 2000

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