June, 1997 column

Recently I tried to entice a reluctant date into having sex with me. When I tried to arouse him with touching, he got mad and said that if the situation were reversed, what I had done would be considered sexual harassment. Am I guilty?

He seems to think so, and that's what's important. Men who persist in unwanted sexual advances say they hope the woman will change her mind as she becomes more sexually aroused; you probably used similar reasoning. We expect men to take the word no seriously, so fair play dictates that women do the same.

It's a big letdown when someone you find attractive pulls back and says no. In fact, women may be more upset than men by sexual rejection because we've bought into the myth that men are always ready to have sex. Plenty of men believe that only love justifies sex; this man may be one of them.

Maybe you and he were just meant to be friends, or maybe, if you give him some time, he will develop the deeper feelings that might inspire him to begin a sexual relationship. Meanwhile, remember that it's fine for women to express their strong sexual desires as long as they respect men's feelings.

Some of my orgasms are very intense, some I hardly feel at all. What accounts for this?

Orgasms are greatly affected by our thoughts and emotions. If you finally get an evening alone with your partner after a period of abstinence, or if you're pressured for time, you may be halfway to an orgasm before undoing the first button. It doesn't take much technique to get you over the top.

At other times, as you know, technique matters. A woman's arousal is heightened when her partner stimulates erogenous zones in addition to her breasts and genitals. Laboratory research has shown that prolonging sexual tension by stopping and restarting stimulation at the stage just before climax results in more intense orgasms. Direct clitoral stimulation, instead of just vaginal intercourse, also results in more vaginal contractions, which is why some women claim their vibrator gives them the most intense orgasms.

Our senses of smell and sight, our moods, being rested or tired, and countless other factors can affect orgasmic response. It's no wonder we are sometimes disappointed and other times transported.

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