The Myth of Sexual Chemistry
Sara Nasserzadeh, BA. MSc. MPhil, Dip Pst. PhDc is an AASECT certified Sexuality Counselor and BASRT accredited Psychosexual Therapist and Couple Counselor trained in England, where she practiced for a few years before moving to New York City in 2008. Nasserzadeh has co-authored a book entitled "The Orgasm Answer Guide" by Johns Hopkins University Press.
She is a member of the World Association for Sexual Health's Executive Committee and its Standardizing Working Groups in Sexuality Education and Psychotherapy. She is also the chair of the Middle Eastern Sexual Health Committee, and served a term as the regional representative for the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Europe from 2005 to 2009. In 2007, she received the runner-up Award for Excellence and Innovation in Sexuality Education from the World Association for Sexual Health.
In 2006-2007, Nasserzadeh was commissioned by BBC World Service to create, produce and host a Radio/Online program on sex and relationship education called "the Whispers". This program won the Innovation of the Year Award in February 2007. To read more about Dr.Sara please go to www.Sara-Nasserzadeh.com.
Question: Do you believe in sexual chemistry?
Sara Nasserzadeh: With all due respect to my colleagues who are working in this field, especially Dr. Helen Fisher, whom I respect deeply, I personally don't believe in sexual chemistry. I believe in sexual harmony and balance. And I'll tell you what my idea about it is. The way you describe it, if I told somebody that I have sexual chemistry with you, it seems to me, to my visual mind, seems as if oh I have a sexual chemistry with this person, click. And this will be like this forever. That's not going to happen because I'm a person, the other person hopefully is a human being too, so we evolve over time. The emotions evolve over time, even different phases of time but that we have like menopause and all that. We really change and men do as well.
So if I believe in chemistry, then I say oh, we've been unhooked so I'm going to hook with somebody else. But if I think of it as a harmony then it seems as if I send you energy, you send me back the energy. So it's a constant evolving process; that's what I believe in and what I work with my couples with this concept rather than the chemistry. I don't believe in it.
Question: Are women and men looking for different things?
Sara Nasserzadeh: When we talk about sexual interaction, there are huge debates around it. And these days we have two huge debates. So if I can just put it this way for the sake of simplicity. One is the one which says that men are emotionless, so they can have sex with whoever they want with no strings attached and be happy with themselves. The same debate says that women need the emotional attachment and all that. On the other hand, other people say that no, if men are like that, women are like that too. So women don't need emotional bonds either. I personally believe that you have to look at the individual and the social cultural context that they live in. So although there are some certain scientific studies about physiological differences that could happen and the hormones that could be produced based on sexual activity that could differ between men and women; therefore, that could impact the person differently.
But on the clinical side of that, I wouldn't go to see my clients based on that perception, that men and women are quite different. More and more I see in urban areas like I work in London and New York, big cities. More and more men who I see, they come to me to seek advice on how to become more emotional, become emotionally in touch with themselves and their partners.
Question: Does waiting to have sex until marriage complicate things for the woman?
Sara Nasserzadeh: For women who wait until marriage, I personally have conflicting views. The reason is there are many, many people out there that they are virgins based on their culture and they get married, they live happily ever after. So it is not a big deal for them. But for the segment of the society that I see, basically I will have a biased view because they come to me because of the problem, right? When I lecture to parents and schools, I always say that it's quite respectful what you're doing. It's good just tell your children about the values that you have so, for example, you tell your daughter, "Please don't have sex and this is not in our culture until you get married." This is fair enough, but promise them a good sexual life and emphasize on the values: why they are postponing it, rather than just connecting it with guilt, which shame, horror stories, or you're going to bleed to death, it's going to be painful, don't ever let anybody touch you. I actually have clients, when they come to me, I say that, "Look. You have to understand. It's not as if your virginity, your hyman, was your dignity for 20 something years before you get married. Then if they get married by 20 something." And all of the sudden, by signing the marriage contract, "Oh, honey. I'm ready." That's not going to happen. It's really deep inside the subconscious.
So the partner has to really understand in these situations that a girl's dignity, when it’s tied to the hyman, they're not going to just give it away. So it takes trust, letting go and a whole new attitude towards sexuality.
Recorded on October 20, 2009
The psychosexual therapist doesn’t believe in sexual chemistry for a successful relationship, or that males and females are very different when it comes to emotional patterns related to sex.