Where Should You Go To Improve Your Sex Life?

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While the self-help industry sells millions of books, most of the information out there may do more harm than good for your relationship and your sex life.

bookstore

Photo: State Library of New South Wales collection

Are bookstores reliable sources of sex self-help?

What should you do when you have concerns about the quantity or quality of sex in your relationship? Make a trip to the sex aisle at Barnes & Noble? Look around online for tips? Watch some porn with your partner to spice up your relationship?

Probably not a good idea.

In a recent workshop in Chicago, Barry McCarthy, a professor at American University and renowned sex therapist, suggested that a trip to the book store to solve sexual problems may be one of THE best ways of causing dysfunction in your relationship. Almost everything you can find online about sex and eroticism is harmful (yes, I am aware of the irony of this post). Why is that?

Most Sex Advice Is Intimidating, Not Empowering

McCarthy believes that the advice you’ll find in popular sex self-help literature is more intimidating than empowering, and most of the information out there (including the Internet!) is not trustworthy.

On that note, should you trust Kinsey Confidential to help your relationship? That is a VERY important question. You should always ask yourself – “Why should I listen to this person? Why should I read this book?” While McCarthy believes that the knowledge we have in sex research and therapy has not improved much over the last few decades, he did say that the Kinsey Institute was one of the few sources of solid scientific and clinical information regarding sex.

Does It Work For Me? Does It Fit With My Values?

Even so, regardless of the source, whether Barnes & Noble, Kinsey Confidential, or another website, evaluate the information and see if it fits you and your values. See if it is supported by solid research. Throw the rest out! Think twice before you pay $17.95 for 1001 Sex Positions.

There IS good information out there, however. What are some good books or websites on sex or relationships that have been helpful for you or someone you know?

Adam Fisher, M.A.

is a Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology at Indiana University. Adam's professional interests include couple & sex therapy, parent education, and working with college students. His dissertation is investigating the effects of religious belief change on romantic relationships.
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Comments

  • Debby Herbenick

    Hi Adam, good post! I’ve heard Barry speak a number of times and always enjoy the conversations he encourages at his talks. Given the number of books he has personally written (including in recent years) about sex, healthy sexuality, and overcoming sexual problems, I wonder where else this conversation went. What did he suggest as “guidelines” or suggestions for individuals/couples to think about before buying a book, reading a web site, or otherwise seeking out information about sex?