James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘friends’


In Ask the Doctor*, Sexual Types on April 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

Q: What if someone is asexual, as in completely uninterested in having sex at all with anyone, not out of fear, but simply out of boredom? Is this a sign of depression? What if said person doesn’t feel the least bit mentally stressed or poorly but, in fact, perfectly healthy?

A: I have received several questions like this, and also several comments expressing dissapointment that “asexual” is not a category recognized on the Flexuality Test. The point is well taken, because asexuality has become a self-defining sexual identity for many people, and not just one end of a dimensional measurement of sexual desire or behavior.

As with other types of sexual orientation, any discussion about asexuality is complicated by a multitude of definitions (does it refer to attraction, desire, behavior, or identity?), and even more so by a lack of research, though a couple of interesting exploratory studies have been published in recent years.

Perhaps the most common and useful definition is the one implied by the question above: you are asexual if you lack sexual feelings. You may find other people attractive in an aesthetic way, but not in a way that triggers sexual arousal or desire. Like many asexuals, you may have engaged in sex, if only out of curiosity or to please a partner, but you wonder, “What’s the big deal?” You are probably able to masturbate, but you may experience orgasm as a relaxing, physical release unaccompanied by sexual fantasy and craving. You may be concerned about your lack of sexual interest, since everyone else is so impressed (if not preoccupied) by sex, but you do not feel you have lost some necessary feeling.

Some people find themselves romantically attracted to others (either men or women or both), but the romantic feelings are not accompanied by a desire to have sex. Some people choose not to have sex, even though they experience some sexual desire, and this might be better characterized as celibacy. But those who choose to be celibate may do so, in part, because they experience less sexual desire or arousal to begin with.

For more information about asexuality, and to make contact with an internet community of asexuals, check out the excellent web site of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

As a psychiatrist, I should point out that some people lose interest in sex for medical or psychological reasons, such as depression or hypothyroidism. Some people have learned to fear and avoid sex, sometimes because of painful, coercive, or otherwise distressing experiences, but this seems to be distinct from the more neutral disinterest experienced by those who consider themselves asexual. If you are troubled by your lack of interest in sex, if you dread sex, or if you have experienced a change in your level of sexual desire and functioning, then you should probably consult with your doctor or a therapist.

As some readers have pointed out, asexuality is not explored on the Flexuality Test. Some questions assume that the test taker has some sexual desire (aimed at people of the same or opposite sex, or both). My intention was not to deny asexuality as a type of sexual orientation in an overall scheme. Rather, my project has been to explore only those dimensions that contribute to a spectrum of bisexual feelings and behaviors. I similarly excluded from consideration many other areas of interest, such as age preferences, sexual addiction, and fetishes. Of the categories discussed on this blog, the flexamorous sexual type is probably most likely to overlap with asexuality, in that the gender of the partner may be unimportant for some asexuals who have romantic feelings but little desire.

One in Three

In Stories* on December 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

The summer after my junior year in college, we got together for pizza and beer in my parent’s backyard. I hadn’t seen Brad and Jason since Thanksgiving, when my girlfriend at the time was visiting. But now it was just the three of us, like in high school.

After a few drinks, the conversation turned to sex, and Brad did what he does best, showing off some bit of knowledge and putting us on the defensive. He had taken a course on human sexuality to satisfy his college science requirement. “And did you know,” he said, leaning forward over his beer, “That one out of every three men has had sex with another man?” He looked Jason in the eye. “That means, statistically speaking, one of us right here has fucked around with a guy.”

We were all silent for a moment, holding tightly onto our Buds. What a conversation stopper.

Jason was the straightest guy I knew, always bragging about screwing some girl, though he never held onto them for long. And Brad had dated the same girl since high school. We were always stumbling on the two of them having sex behind a tree or in a closet. You could say he was twisted, but he sure as hell wasn’t gay.

“So boys, which one of us has done it?” Brad continued, safe from scrutiny and not letting us off the hook.

I started to sweat.

These guys were my best friends, but I had never told them about the time I fooled around with a frat mate in sophomore year. We got drunk after soccer practice and ended up showering together back at the house, when no one else was around. It started with touching and teasing, and then we ended up in his bed, giving each other head. It never happened again, but I knew I’d do it again with a guy if I had the opportunity. For a couple weeks afterwards I even worried that I might be gay, which was stupid, because I’ve always liked girls and planned to get married.

Could Brad and Jason see that I was the one? I leaned back to take another drink and banged my head against the wind chimes hanging from the rafters of the porch, spilling beer across my chin. I blushed and looked away.

“Don’t be an ass,” Jason said. “None of us is gay.” He looked at me and back at Brad. “And nobody here has fucked a guy. You’ve got a sick mind, man.”

Truth or Dare

In Flexercises on November 23, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Most men and women have their first same-sex experience in the context of experimenting with a friend. Teenagers and young adults spend most of their time, and feel most comfortable, with friends of the same sex, at a time when hormones are flowing and sexual curiosity is high. Friends tease and test each other while pushing their affection to the limits, often becoming closer to each other than they have ever been with anyone before. It is only natural for sexual tensions to develop.

Friends have always found ways to explore each other without advice from others. But many also feel guilty or confused or miss opportunities because they have not considered their options. You may find yourself looking back with regret at the times when a friend gave you an opening and you were too surprised, nervous, or inexperienced to take advantage. In that spirit, I list some of the common ways in which young men and women create opportunities for mutual sexual discovery. If you find yourself in one of these situations, you will be better prepared to steer the encounter in a more interesting direction.

“Truth or dare” is a time-tested game which gives players permission to reveal secrets or engage in shocking behavior. For the game to work, the one posing the challenge must pretend to be intent on embarrassing the one who is commanded, who in turn must pretend to resist. In fact, each player takes turns exploring the others’ limits while projecting and pursuing their own desires. “Spin the bottle” and “strip poker” create similar opportunities in the guise of punishment. Young men and women play each of these games together, and the excitement of mixing sexes is part of the fun.

Young men are fascinated by their new-found ability to get an erection, and they want to share this discovery with their friends. Many teenagers have joined a “circle jerk” at some point in their younger years, where they compare the sizes of their erections, the speed with which they reach orgasm, or the trajectory of their ejaculations. Hazing rituals in fraternities may involve similarly juvenile, sexualized acts, such as being confined naked in close quarters with other pledges. After a few drinks, “straight” guys may find themselves patting each other on the butt, working out naked, or unzipping their pants and comparing genitals. Once that boundary has been crossed, and sexual excitement has been demonstrated, another dare, question, or casual gesture can lead to frank sexual exploration, even if the fun is “forgotten” in the next morning’s hangover.

Young women similarly compare the size and shape of their breasts and practice kissing with each other, which can lead to making out. Women can hold an x-rated version of a Tupperware party, where they compare and purchase sex toys. Groups of women also sometimes find themselves discussing the elusive G-spot and may assist each other in finding that sensitive portion of their vagina which is so poorly explained in books. What starts as innocent exploration of their bodies may turn into sexual play. After all, why wait for a man if a more knowledgeable woman can help you practice and attain the orgasm of a lifetime?

Sleepovers are a particularly good setting for sexual exploration. Women are more comfortable with physical intimacy to begin with and may share a bed or cuddle, and that may be satisfying enough or lead to something more. Men often wake in the middle of the night to find that they have an erection, which, though involuntary, may serve as an excuse for sexual teasing, touching, or making out. Camping trips, snow storms, movie or computer game marathons, late-night studying, or being too drunk to drive home may all serve as excuses for spending the night together, sharing a bed, and getting to know each other better.

Picking up Popcorn

In Stories* on November 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

The other guys went home around midnight, but Tad told me he would stick around and help me clean up, which I really appreciated, because I was pretty stoned and the place would stink if I left it till the morning. There were cans of beer lying on their side on the floor and nuts and popcorn slipping into the cracks of the sofa. When we had nearly finished and were moving a table back into the kitchen, Tad asked me about Bobby, who had been making loud, obnoxious comments about all the girls in the movie: how he’d like to fuck this one or that one, how big her boobs were, and stuff like that.

“The thing is,” Tad said, “I had this experience last year with Bobby. We were at Jessica’s party, and when I went to pee, he sort of pushed his way into the bathroom behind me. He said he couldn’t wait, unzipped, and started pissing into the bowl while I was using it. I didn’t mind, but then he started playing around, crossing the streams and moaning like it was something sexual. We’d had a lot of beer, so this went on for a while, and I noticed his dick was getting bigger. After he shook it off, he pushed his underwear down and asked me to suck him off.”

Tad paused, like he was waiting for my reaction.

“So did you?”

“No, of course not.” He flashed an annoyed look. “He wasn’t kidding either. He was getting really hard. I told him he was drunk and got out of there fast.” Tad looked up at me. “Do I look like I’m gay, or something?”

I reached into the fridge, popped open another can of beer, and handed it to him. We were standing just a foot or two apart. “I don’t think gay is a way you look.”

He looked annoyed again, shifting back and forth and clenching his teeth in what could have been a smile or a frown. Finally he asked me, “What would you have done?”

I held his gaze and thought about my answer. “Well, I don’t like Bobby very much.”

He held out the beer and smiled. “So you might have, if it was somebody else?”

I let my fingers brush against his as I took the beer back and had a cold swig, looking into his eyes the whole time. “I’d give it a try, with the right person.”

Sweet Fruit

In Stories* on October 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Even though we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other on the base, I was nervous when I finally walked over to Jackie’s room to get her for the movie. I’d never been on a date with a woman before, and I had no idea what two women were supposed to do in bed. It couldn’t be anything like having sex with a man, unless she had one of those strap-on things, and that would be just ridiculous and anyway out of the question in the dormitory. I told myself not to worry. We were going off base, and if I could just hold her hand during the movie, that would be enough.

I had butterflies in my stomach as I knocked and heard her footsteps approaching from the other side. My cheeks were suddenly hot, and my mouth was dry. She opened the door, still wearing fatigues. We just stood there, smiling at each other like idiots. Then she took hold of me by the wrist and pulled me inside, closed the door, and pressed me up against the wall.

There was no talking and no kissing, at least not on the lips. She dropped down in front of me and pulled my panties down from under my skirt and pushed my skirt up with both hands and dug in with her tongue. I was still too shocked to do anything but lean my shoulders back against the wall and tilt my legs to give her room. She slid a finger into me, or two, while nuzzling and tugging with her lips. Her whole face was slippery against me now, and I put my hands on her braids and pulled her tight as my legs started shaking uncontrollably.

And then we lay down on her bed for more. We never did make it to the movie. In fact, I don’t think we even took a break for dinner. Thank god her roommate was on leave.

Falling in Love with a Friend

In Flexercises on October 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

What should you do if you and a same-sex friend have found yourself unexpectedly fooling around or falling in love with each other? Perhaps you both think of yourselves as straight, and you don’t know how to fit what has happened back into your friendship or your world view or your concept of yourself. Should you just pretend that nothing happened and move on? Should you talk about it with each other? Would you be betraying your friend to talk about it with someone else? Do you want it to happen again, or do you want your friendship to turn into something more?

These are difficult questions, but they are not unique; they also come up when a woman and a man fool around after a long time as just friends. The difference is that many in this situation panic, fearing that they might be gay or be perceived as gay. If you can set that fear aside, recognizing how common these experiences are for otherwise straight men and women, then you will be able to concentrate on working it out with your friend at a relaxed pace. Resist the pressure to figure out what happened; go with the flow. Even if you decide you are gay or lesbian, your friend may not be.

If your friend is in a state of panic or defensive denial, you may want to signal that you do not consider the event to have redefined who you are or your view of your friend or your friendship. He or she may be worried that the special relationship you have is in jeopardy and may need reassurance.