86-Year-Old Sex Expert Dr. Ruth Knows What Your Valentine's Day Needs

Photo: Courtesy Of Clorox.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a force of nature. At 86 years old, the sex therapist, author, and cultural icon is still going strong — doling out her practical-advice-with-a-wink in her office, through her many books, and over the airwaves. She started talking about sex positivity and women's pleasure long before magazine covers in every checkout line were screaming about orgasms. After studying human sexuality at the New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center in the '70s, Dr. Ruth debuted her radio talk show, Sexually Speaking, in 1980, which would set her on the path to fame (and on which she'd coin her signature phrase "Get some!"). While Dr. Ruth's target audience skews cisgender and heterosexual, her emphasis on partner communication resonates across all kinds of sexual relationships. Just before Valentine's Day, we caught up with Dr. Ruth — as part of her campaign to help Clorox get the word out about love and laundry. Read on for the good doctor's tips on how to "chase boredom out of the bedroom," date online safely, and even try Fifty-Shades-style sex with your partner.
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Valentine's Day is almost here — what's the best way to celebrate?
"I always say to couples, make sure that you do something new — not only on Valentine's Day, but especially on Valentine's Day. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate or roses, but maybe do something different. Have sex before you go out for dinner, so there's no sexual tension, you’re already relaxed, you already had your orgasms. If you usually go to movies, go to the opera, maybe. Go to a dance hall, go to a yoga place — do something together that you haven’t done before, to make life more interesting. Sexually speaking, try new positions. To people in cold weather, instead of flimsy, sexy lingerie, go out and buy [warmer clothes] to keep your partner warm [too]. The thought of doing something to bring joy and to bring pleasure to that person’s life is already very sexually arousing.

"For people who don’t have a valentine, I want them to go to the laundry room or to a laundromat and see who else is there... See who else does laundry on Valentine’s Day, which means they don’t have a partner!"

The Fifty Shades of Grey movie comes out this weekend. What advice do you have for people who want to try BDSM-inspired sex?
"I haven’t seen the movie, but I read the book of course. Never force a partner into any position! If your partner says, 'Okay, I want to try that,' have a good time. Make sure you are safe. Make sure that both partners want it. Be careful about what you want to suggest — always make sure that your partner can say yes or no."

What do you see as the pitfalls and the advantages of dating in the digital age?
"People are getting hooked — and hooked is the right word for this — to the iPhone, and I fear they will lose the ability to listen to their partner or talk to their partner. They are going to lose the ability to have a good conversation. That worries me. I tell people — because I have children — take the phone [with you on a date], because you want to be sure that if [your children] ever need you, you can be reached. But, do not touch it.

"And, for people who need a new relationship, don’t stay home in front of your computer; take the risk of going out. I am all for online dating if people do it carefully. Never give your address or even a picture until you know who you are talking to. So, online, make that first step — wonderful! I meet many couples who have started online. But, then, be careful. [I’m in favor of] anything that can be used in order not to have lonely people. Young people, old people — nobody should be lonely."

What tips do you have for people in long-term relationships?
"The main thing is to chase boredom out of your bedroom. Boredom is the worst thing in the bedroom — that’s why you have to change positions, that’s why you have to change the time of the day or night [when you have sex], that’s why you have to make sure that both are satisfied, so that there is no boredom."

What has changed the most about women’s sex lives since you’ve been practicing as a therapist?
"What has changed most across this great country of ours is that women have heard the message — I’m not the only one — that a women has to take responsibility for her sexual satisfaction. Even if [her partner] loves her, [that person] can’t know what she needs in order to have an orgasm — so there are fewer women now who haven’t heard that message...[fewer] women in the United States who don’t have sexual satisfaction. And, that’s something that all of the sex therapists and people who talk about sex are very happy about. That’s also a message for Valentine’s Day: to make sure that your partner knows what you need in order to be sexually satisfied. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!"
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