Author: Canadian Living

Q: I have been dating a man for a few months. He is 48 and I am 53. I find our sex life extremely satisfying but he often loses his erection during lovemaking. During those instances, he masturbates, saying he derives pleasure from watching me orgasm. Is this normal?

A: Dear Different Strokes,

What constitutes satisfying lovemaking will be unique to each couple. Mutual satisfaction begins with each person knowing what feels best for them in terms of process, technique, frequency, location and so forth, and then sharing this with their partner. This can go a long way to alleviating fears around personal insecurity that can hamper performance. You don't say if your partner is on any kind of medication, say for diabetes or depression, which could be affecting his libido. As well, by their late 40s, many men need some direct stimulation to maintain an erection. You may want to consult a physician or trained therapist to increase your options.

It sounds however, that you are both achieving orgasm and finding pleasure in your intimacy. Enjoy the variety and your unique perspectives. The only stipulation I would make is that it not be harmful or hurtful to either partner.

In his sex therapy practice at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, my colleague Dr. Stephen Holzapfel talks about intercourse and outercourse. The latter being any sexual activity that a couple engages in which doesn't involve actual penetration. A couple can enjoy terrific lovemaking with a combination of the two, or just outercourse, as personal preference or even medical conditions may sometimes dictate.

You are only beginning to get to know each other in and out of the bedroom and may be feeling some uncertainty in what may not yet be a committed relationship. Take some time to determine if this relationship is a good fit for you on many levels: emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational, physical and sexual. The best, most satisfying sex is physical intimacy that is safe -- by all definitions.

Regards, Marion.

Note: For a listing of credentialed sex therapists in Ontario contact The Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counselling at

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