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Legendary sex therapist Dr. Ruth on marriage, sex, and online porn

Men's Health’s Debby Herbenick (Ph.D., director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University) talked with the 90-year-old about a legacy still being defined.

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Legendary sex therapist Dr. Ruth on marriage, sex, and online porn play

Legendary sex therapist Dr. Ruth on marriage, sex, and online porn

(GETTY IMAGES)

Radio and TV sex expert in the ’80s. Ironically adorable voice. Says “erection” constantly. Chutzpah. That’s Dr. Ruth, right? Well, “Dr. Ruth” is also Ruth Westheimer, Ed.D., who studied psychology, spent six years training and practicing as a sexual therapist at Cornell, has a doctorate in education from Columbia, and has authored 45 books.

Men's Health’s Debby Herbenick (Ph.D., director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University) talked with the 90-year-old about a legacy still being defined.

What gave you the courage to talk so explicitly on your radio and TV shows in the ’80s?

The reason for my shows [Sexually Speaking on radio and Ask Dr. Ruth on TV] was to educate. People trusted me with their secret desires, and that gave me courage. Also, I’ve had wonderful training and mentors. All of this gave me the assurance that I knew what I was talking about.

What is the one thing that you think men still need to understand better about women?

To be a good lover, you need to have a good relationship. And how do you think men can learn to become more intimate with a partner for a better relationship?
Put that cell phone aside and listen to your partner. Go out to dinner. Go out for a walk. Most women really would like you to tell her how fortunate you are to be with her.

Your biggest change to America’s bedroom psychology might be giving people license to fantasize.

Yes, but keep your mouth shut. Don’t tell your partner you like big breasts if she does not have big breasts. But use all of that in your fantasies. You can go to the beach, you can look at some of those bodies. You can put them in your mind and go home and have good sex with your partner.

What do you think about Internet porn?

Big problem. Some people don’t understand that that is not reality. But it can be helpful. Say if you want to try a new position and maybe your partner doesn’t, you can watch porn together. But don’t force desire on your partner.

The definition of “marriage” has changed so much. Legally. Culturally. What is its value now?

I’m old-fashioned. I want people to be married or at least live together because I’m concerned these days about loneliness.

What role does sex play in making life less lonely and, presumably, more meaningful?

People who have a sexually knowledgeable partner-you can see it in their walk, their behavior. They overcome difficulties easier. Also, find interesting people to surround you. This will affect your bedroom psychology.

What ethics do you feel are important to sexuality?

Men and women need to understand to not force anything. Men have to understand that women like to hear that they’re desirable, that they’re wearing a nice dress, but also know when those boundaries are not kept. Going out to dinner doesn’t mean an indication for sex. In today’s #MeToo world, there must be more communication.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want it to be what I hear when I go out in New York City: “Dr. Ruth, you fixed my relationship.” That makes me smile.

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