I am very excited to share with you some highlights from a phone interview I had with Dr. David J. Ley from Albuquerque, New Mexico. David is a traditionally trained clinical psychologist and researcher. I became aware of his work on Twitter when I found a link to this article: Why Women Love Romantic Threesomes.
After reading his article, I became instantly intrigued by Dr. Ley’s academic and professional work in the realm of human sexuality. I’m turned on by intelligence and at one time seriously considered getting my own PhD. That may happen one day, but for now I’m excited to chat with other academics and researchers and bring some of their ideas to you in this blog.
I’m very grateful for his time and patience. This interview happened way back in January and I’m just now getting around to posting it to my blog. I think I might need spankings!!
About the Book:
Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them is Dr. David Ley’s first book. It investigates the phenomenon known as cuckhold or “hot-wife”. These are couples turned on by the wife’s promiscuity with other men under the full consent and encouragement of her husband.
Dr. Ley admitted that he was embarrassed by his initial response: “Wow, that’s crazy. How could you do that?” Realizing his own biases, he decided to challenge them by embarking on his research. Many therapists when they encounter “any kind of, what we will call, alternative sexuality” judge these expressions “through a single lens of would I like that or be willing to do that.” Dr. Ley decided to interview these couples and attempt to understand their sexual preference outside that lens.
He spent a year and a half talking to couples around the country. He found them (where else) on Craigslist. “I spent days convincing them that I wasn’t just trying to have sex with the wife. That the naked pictures they sent were very nice, but I was really just interested in talking to them.”
What he says he found was that many of these “hot-wives” were very successful and felt empowered, sexually and otherwise. They were in decades-long successful marriages. The couples had excellent communication skills. So much so that Dr. Ley said he wished he could take them around the country to do workshops with vanilla couples on how to discuss difficult issues.
In his book, Dr. Ley asserts that this type of sexual expression has a long history. It fits into the normal range of sexual behaviors. Many of the people who enjoy this lifestyle are very healthy and self-aware. As a result, they are in very healthy relationships. “This can be a powerful model for healthy relationships. Coming from self acceptance and self awareness, recognizing one’s own needs and desires, and communicating in a framework of respect and negotiation and mutuality with your partner. That is remarkable, powerful stuff coming out of all this.”
Biological or Psychological:
When asked whether he thought biological or psychological factors were more dominant in terms of someone choosing a non-monogamous lifestyle, Dr. Ley said that science is not really advanced enough to say.
“The reality is the brain is largely a black box. We really don’t understand what’s happening in there. There is a tremendous range of individual factors for each person. Sexuality is one of the most complicated, complex, over determined behaviors that humans engage in. Attempting to reduce things like sexual behavior to a single explanatory factor is foolish and incredibly simplistic.”
Some argue that monogamy is a human ideal and others who argue that humans are not monogamous and that we create problems when we try to impose monogamy on everyone. Dr. Ley says “Some people are biologically and psychologically disposed to monogamy and others are not. The challenge is that we are not educating people to understand themselves and put these desires or needs in context so that they can make decisions about themselves.”
Benefits of Non-Monogamy:
According to Dr. Ley’s research and experience, people who are involved swinging tend to have more flexible gender roles, are more accepting of alternative sexualities, and encourage more female empowerment. They tend to model modern, open, healthy ideas about gender expectations.
As people begin to connect with themselves in these behaviors, that can be a very healthy thing. It’s not right for everyone. But for those who have an unmet desire or need around these behaviors, acknowledging, owning, learning about often gives way to self-fulfillment and confidence in all areas of their life.
Non-monogamy promotes communication and negotiation within a couple about sexual values and sexual needs. Those skills translate to lots of other things. Once you’ve talked about this stuff, you can talk about anything.
Read my blog series on The Benefits of Swinging.
What’s Next for Society in terms of Sexuality:
Dr. Ley talked about the current sea change of sexual values in our society. When we spoke in Feburary, gay marriage was sweeping across the country. Since that interview, the Supreme Court recognized gay marriage as valid and legal on a national level. This is just the beginning, Dr. Ley said. Our society is going through significant changes in our willingness to accept sexual variations. We are becoming more open to kinky play, BDSM, swinging, and even pornography. We are realizing that the varied sexual interests we may have previously considered pathological are actually more common and healthy than we thought.
He Recommends you Read:
Swinging in America by Curtis Bergstrand. Dr. Ley calls this a remarkable book about swingers and their values, communication skills, and general openness to new behaviors.
Plays Well in Groups: A Journey Through the World of Group Sex by Kate Frank; sociologist and former exotic dancer
More by Dr. David Ley:
Since writing Insatiable Wives; Dr. Ley has since published a follow up, of sorts titled The Myth of Sex Addiction. He is also a regular contributor to Psychology Today. You can read his column here: www.psychologytoday.com/experts/david-j-ley-phd
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