Is “lesbian bed death” inevitable? Interview with Glenda Corwin, PhD

“Most of us don’t know how to maintain sexual intimacy over the long term,” writes Glenda Corwin, PhD, author of Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same Sex Couples. Corwin has been practicing as an openly lesbian psychologist for more than two decades. Her book, “for women who love women and want to keep sexual passion alive in their intimate relationships,” is a guide for understanding, nourishing, and re-igniting your sex drive. Dr. Corwin answers some questions about her book and long-term lovers:

Q. What led you to write this book?

One day a woman came into my office and asked me if I thought “lesbian bed death” was inevitable. After twelve years with her partner—5 of those with no sex—she slept with another woman one time. That was the end of her marriage. She was sad and mad, and wondered if it’s our lesbian destiny to become asexual. That’s when I decided to write about women who sustain long-term sexual intimacy.

Q. So what’s their secret?

Long-term lovers are very intentional. They know it’s a myth that sexual desire springs up spontaneously. They set aside time, deliberately get themselves in the mood, and push through the anxiety that comes up for so many women. Non-sexual women, on the other hand, say that planning for sex feels too awkward and contrived. They don’t plan, and they don’t have sex, either.

There’s another huge myth that older women gradually fade into sexless obscurity. I know plenty of young women who don’t have sex, and older women who love it. Research shows that our interest in sex stays constant or even increases as we get older. Our motto is “use it or lose it.” We may lose a little physical sensitivity, but emotionally, we can go deeper and last longer.

Q. Are sexual issues really any different for lesbian and straight women?

We’re all women, and when there are two of us together we may double up on some female issues. One big difference can be subtle. Most women have at least some social approval for sex in a committed, straight relationship; e.g., “Save yourself for the right man.” That approval just isn’t there for lesbian relationships, and makes us more vulnerable to shame.

Ironically, older lesbians may have some advantages over our straight sisters. Because we live longer than men, our potential partner pool is larger. Our female partners are usually less critical of physical imperfections, and more attuned to emotional connections.

Q. What’s one thing you hope women take away from your book?

That sexual intimacy is a wonderful gift for all of us, and it’s worth the effort.

Glenda Corwin, PhD, author of Sexual Intimacy for Women: A Guide for Same Sex Couples, is a clinical psychologist with over twenty-five years of providing gay-affirmative psychotherapy and workshops on sexual intimacy issues for women who partner with women. Visit her website.