Ask Dr. Ruth

Renowned sex therapist gives relationship advice. 2TW

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the famous sex educator, therapist, and media psychologist, offers sound advice on sex, love and relationships.

dr-ruth-westheimer-by-marianne-rafter-2-3-239x360Dr. Ruth Westheimer was born in Germany and in 1938 was sent to a children’s home in Switzerland  which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust.  At 17 she went to Israel, where she fought for Israel’s independence as a member of the Haganah.  She then moved to Paris, where she studied at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten, and then came to the United States in 1956. Here she obtained her masters degree in sociology from the New School of Social Research, and in 1970, she received her doctorate of education from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

Dr. Ruth is a psychosexual therapist who helped to pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking.  She has communicated in almost every media available: radio, television, print, games, home video, computer software, Twitter and her own website,   Her unique style has enabled her to make wide use of the mass media to spread what she has labeled sexual literacy. Her radio and television career has spanned both broadcast and cable  in the United States and around the world.  Her first TV show aired locally in New York and then went national as The Dr Ruth Show, followed by Ask Dr. Ruth, The All New Dr. Ruth Show and What’s Up Dr. Ruth and You’re On the Air with Dr Ruth.

After working at Planned Parenthood, she was prompted to further her education in human sexuality at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, where she then worked as an adjunct associate professor.   In addition to her own private practice, she also has taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University and West Point. She is currently an adjunct professor at NYU and an associate fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University, a fellow of Butler College at Princeton University and a fellow of New York Academy of Medicine.  From 2004 to 2010, she taught at both Princeton and Yale. A frequent lecturer at universities across the country, she has twice been named College Lecturer of the Year, has appeared on the List of Most Intriguing People of the Century and been included in Good Housekeeping‘s list of 125 Women Who Changed the World.  She has received numerous honorary degrees and awards.


Q: I have something of a “dark secret” which I have only discussed with one person, but I have to come to grips with it. I am 33 and have never had sex. I am terrified now at this advanced age that the issue will come up in a relationship. I have discussed it with my old girlfriend recently (who married somebody else) and she said that she would not have had a problem with it if she had known but I don’t think someone else would be so sympathetic.

Maybe it’s not just the embarrassment of admitting this is not the only problem. I am also scared that “the parts” won’t work and that would be doubly embarrassing. I am not going to do anything that makes it impossible to look myself in the mirror. What should I do?

A: In this day and age of AIDS, I think that many women would welcome finding a man who is a virgin. I agree with your ex-girlfriend, it’s not that important and most women won’t think of it as a negative. The more in love the two of you are, the less important it will be to her. Of course, there is nothing written on your forehead, or anywhere else, that will tell a woman you date that you are a virgin. So if you feel awkward about revealing this one fact about yourself, there’s no reason why you have to.

As to having “the parts” work, even if you are a little more awkward than another man your age, the very first time two people make love there’s always some fumbling around, so that won’t give your secret away. As long as you make sure to read up on how to make love to a woman, and be certain to give her an orgasm one way or another, then surely most women won’t even be thinking that you might be a virgin. While I know that this is something that bothers you, try not to make a mountain out of this “virgin” molehill.

Q: I am one half of a young married couple, and I am madly in love with my wife. We have had a lot of trouble with sex, though, and not because of what I call traditional reasons (inadequate foreplay, physiological problems). My wife had a very religious upbringing, and I don’t have any problem with that, except that I think that down deep she thinks sex is bad. I can’t see that she has any sexual impulses whatsoever, or if she does, they are deeply repressed.

We have read endless books, talked to different kinds of people, tried everything I know of to do. I know there is no magical answer that you can give me, but these problems are creating serious problems in our marriage. As a man, I guess I need to feel wanted, just like anyone. I have pretty much given up hope of things ever being any different from what they are now

A: You list some of the remedies you tried, but the one that stands out as missing is a consultation with a sex therapist. Believe it or not, sex therapists can help a couple in your situation. I’m not saying that there are any guarantees, but it would be well worth consulting with someone who has experience with situations such as yours. Also, by talking with your wife alone, the therapist may discover some things that will be of great help in turning this situation around. Since you really want to improve your relationship, put in the extra effort to find a therapist near you and make an appointment.

Q: I’ve been married two years and I still seek the adoration of men other than my husband. The problem is that it is so obvious with my sleazy clothes and flirtatious ways. Whenever I do try to change I get very depressed and sad and stop caring about personal hygiene. Did I marry too soon?

A: The most important step in fixing a problem is to realize that you have a problem, so by writing to me you’ve made a big move toward helping yourself. Obviously, I can’t get to the bottom of your particular problem just from your letter. I would need to know a lot more about you.

I don’t believe your husband is at fault, as you don’t complain about his behavior. Whatever is causing you to act this way comes from inside of you. Since you do know you have a problem, find a counselor and tell that person about your feelings. I feel sure that you will be able to resolve this.

“Sex for Dummies” is Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s latest book (IDG Books, $16.99).

Have a question for Dr. Ruth? Write to her in care of this newspaper.

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