DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I'm 24 and not sure where to turn. My boyfriend, 26, wants to move in together and make things permanent, but so many coupled friends complain that they hardly ever have sex and there is little intimacy when they do. Some of them are in therapy for it. Is this the fate of being born into the "porn" generation? Are there any solutions? I appreciate your thoughts. -#8212; Jody, Monterey
Hannah, 22, Tiburon: I have noticed this too! Sex is so common it has lost its intimacy. Porn has pulled it out by the roots. Everyone is quick to sleep together, but the philosophical talks, the person-to-person connection, the lasting love, most are unwilling to do that. Most say they aren't ready to "settle down." Therapy probably is the best solution. That and keeping your hopeless romantic side alive.
Nicole, 23, Santa Rosa: I've never been into porn, but I once dated a porn user. Solo sex was so familiar that having sex with me was super uncomfortable. He didn't want me to see him and felt like he was on stage. A friend says her partner (they're both 25) is more into heart-love than sexual love. She complains that if she suggests sex, he's agreeable, but she always has to initiate. Another factor is technology: We're never really alone in the bedroom anymore. If there's awkwardness, a million distractions are a click away.
Carlos, 18, Fairfax, Va.: The problem is age-old: lack of communication, the rut of routine, forgetting the small things that add spice to your relationship.
Lisa, 26, Sacramento: I see this happening and experienced it myself. For some couples, the problem may stem from porn, but I was just fed up with my (then) husband. If I can't communicate, I cut myself off emotionally, which cuts me off sexually. You must agree on open, honest communication!
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: If you do move in together, don't overdo the sex! My girlfriend and I dated long-distance and went so crazy our first week living together that we didn't even want to think about sex afterward. The next few months were awkward. We got past our intimacy breakdown by doing a lot more things together, almost becoming like best friends with benefits. Now things are great again, we cook and play games together and love going on dates. One thing about the "porn generation": three-minute missionary sex isn't enough. Be open to toys, lingerie and trying new things.
DEAR JODY: Low libido in young men and women is at epidemic proportions. Most people have no idea. Causes are multiple: poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, insufficient sleep, birth control pills, antidepressants, alcohol, and lack of buildup (from both porn and easy hookups), and "pornography imprinting" which has made solo mechanical sex a go-to over partnered sex fused with emotional intimacy.
Today's teens may eventually struggle with even lower sex drive due to earlier access to smartphones and other Internet sources where porn viewing essentially "shocks" and "imprints" the ultra-complex (and quite fragile) physical-neurological-emotional sexual system. (More discussion is at www.straighttalkadvice.org.)
You're nearing a good age for a successful long-term relationship or marriage -#8212; and yes, there are solutions. A good therapist can be critical for turning off the porn (internally, too) and reconnecting sex with emotional intimacy and a real partner. If you love each other deeply and agree to see a therapist if needed, improve your diet, get exercise, and (summarizing the panel's great advice) communicate openly, connect emotionally, create juicy longing, work through awkward periods and keep a spicy and distraction-free bedroom, your sex life can be terrific!