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Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s

(Excerpts from Ray Noonan’s Chapters)


Raymond J. Noonan, Ph.D.

 

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Synopsis: Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s discusses general guidelines for the satisfying and healthy expression of sexuality that are particularly relevant to our lives today as we enter the new millennium—during what hopefully will be the closing years of the age of AIDS. They will be vital in the aftermath of AIDS that will probably occur in the opening years of the 21st Century.

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In both the long run and short run, all relationships will become more difficult because of the impact of AIDS on our individual sensibilities and collective consciousness—both in the enormous toll in suffering it has caused and will cause, and in its value as a symbol or metaphor for those who wish to make it more than it is, particularly to try to control other people’s lives and behavior. Despite these realities, we cannot allow ourselves to lose our sense of the beauty of humanity and our wonderfully diverse sexual heritage. Remember, the essence of true beauty is in the smile, particularly the smile that overflows into the eyes. The smile betrays happiness, one of the most elusive of human wants and desires for many people. Many try to find it in the diverse connections of their sexual relationships; some find happiness there and some don’t. Some try to find it within the complexity, energy, and joy they experience with multiple sex partners; some find it and some don’t. Most look for it in the struggles and joys of one lifelong monogamous relationship; again some find it, but most don’t.

Many endure condemnation to find joy, love, and happiness with members of their own sex, while others endure the deep misunderstanding between women and men to find these with members of the other sex, and still others seek these goals with both sexes and endure exhortations from both sides telling them to make up their minds; again some achieve these elusive treasures, and some don’t. Still others try to find happiness by being alone, with its peace, strength, solitude, and occasional loneliness; again some find it and some don’t.

The possibilities are endless, the potential always there. Thoreau once wrote that the majority of people lead lives of quiet desperation. If it’s true, it hasn’t been without the search for someone with whom to share it. In our confrontation with AIDS and the clash of values surrounding it, we need to hold on to both our relationships and our selves, for together they make the world less desperate and more meaningful—and more full of life, love, joy, happiness, dignity, fun, and pleasure.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, pp. 10-11]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


On a global scale, we have consistently avoided educating people honestly about sexual health—and this is only beginning to change slowly as a result of AIDS. As we choose our course along life’s journey, common sense and calm rationality—and a commitment to the value of others—must replace political expediency and economic exploitation as the dominant values guiding our personal—as well as our national and international—affairs. This is particularly true with respect to AIDS and the devastating impact it has had all over the world. No longer can we tolerate the sensationalism and fear-mongering that permeate much of our “information” about AIDS and how to prevent its transmission. We still have a long way to go in our educational efforts.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 10]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


While AIDS is now certainly reminding us of our mortality—a quite unique relationship we have with our bodies, with its own host of attitudes and fears we each have about it—this is not the first condition in which we have been confronted with life-threatening aspects of human sexuality. Only in the last half century have the deadly diseases of syphilis and gonorrhea been controlled; only in the last twenty years has birth control become available and effective enough to eliminate unwanted pregnancies—still far more dangerous than any contraceptive method or abortion. Our “fragile” bodies remain the core of our selves and our sexuality.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 2]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


I think it is important to emphasize that America is no longer a society dominated by one culture. We are multicultural, both religiously and secularly, and we can no longer accept the attempts by some to impose a homogeneous fundamentalist morality. In the current evolution of the sexual revolution, we must acknowledge that there are many moralities, particularly with regard to sexuality and how each cherishes our humanity, each equally valid.

In sexual matters, in particular, do we find the effects of vastly differing cultures, and, more recently, of individual choices; this is probably the most important part of the sexual revolution. But individual choices mean you have to be moral; you have to believe in something and value something. You have to make your choices from a set of principles: it can be fundamentalist; it can be humanistic; it can be your own unique formula of reasoned right and wrong.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, pp. 5-6]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Relationships today are an intricate mix of past values and contemporary changes. One might even say that today there is evident a renaissance in relationships that is changing the landscape of contemporary coupling, one in which traditional marriage is no longer the sole option. Many may want to explore the myriad same-sex, both-sex, or other-sex opportunities for relationships; within these parameters lie a wide spectrum of relationship possibilities.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 6]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


With respect to AIDS, it is important to note that monogamous relationships are not crucial to the prevention of AIDS or the spread of HIV. Non-monogamous individuals and couples must honestly take it into account when entering into new sexual relationships, and if ordinary contraceptive or prophylactic measures like using condoms are followed properly and religiously, there is very low risk of contracting the virus.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, pp. 7-8]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Defeating the negative impact of AIDS means taking control of your own life. . . . It also means confronting your fears—the AIDS-Related Fears and Anxieties, or ARFA, that I describe in a later chapter in this book—the rational, realistic fears, as well as the irrational, unwarranted fears about AIDS, intimacy, and sexuality that many people have developed. One doesn’t need to become a celibate recluse, locking oneself away from others, both socially or sexually, to avoid AIDS. Many people don’t even need to give up multiple sexual partners or many of the other healthy sexual activities that may enhance their lives and relationships.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 10]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Synergy is another key to our sexual and relationship survival.

Applied to relationships, new kinds of the historically traditional extended family have appeared alongside the newly traditional nuclear family (which dates roughly from, and grew out of the needs of, the Industrial Revolution). Many people are turning to these “families of choice,” becoming part of generalized “friendship networks,” or pseudo-extended families called “intentional” or “expanded” families All of these alternatives utilize, like the truly traditional extended family of yesteryear, the concept of synergy.

Another survival strategy using this concept of synergy is the “open relationship”—the broad term referring to the kind of pair-bonding called “open marriage” by Nena O’Neill and George O’Neill. I believe the open relationship in some form—whether it is monogamous or not—is the wave and hope of the future, because it affirms the bond chosen between two people—while also affirming their individuality and place in the world with others. To achieve this freedom, we must move beyond jealousy and ownership of the other toward a mutual respect and understanding of the other and her or his needs.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 7]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Bertrand Russell (1929), one of many philosophers throughout history to address sexual issues, made this point about respect in his visionary, still controversial book Marriage and Morals:
Morality in sexual relations, when it is free from superstition, consists essentially of respect for the other person, and unwillingness to use that person solely as a means of personal gratification, without regard to his or her desires (p. 153).
Loving yourself will help you to respect both yourself and others. It will also help you to survive sexually and to live. Respect is the basis, the sine qua non, for any true moral code.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 9]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


The most important thing one could learn in order to survive sexually is to relax. Take the time to find out what you want from yourself and what you want from others. The affliction of our times is not AIDS but stress, and it permeates our lives right into the bedroom. We have yet to discover what role stress in general may play in an individual’s susceptibility to AIDS. Most of the action of this slow killer begins with our work lives; as inflation and economic uncertainty make earning a living more and more difficult, as well as with the other effects of the steadily disappearing “middle class,” stress not only deteriorates our general health, but also our sexual health. When sex is satisfying, it tends to have a rejuvenating, energizing effect on our entire outlook on life.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 4]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Nothing in sex, except birth control and stopping AIDS as well as the other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), is immediately necessary. You don’t have to have an orgasm right away or every time; you can even make love without intercourse.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 4]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


When you allow your body to feel all it’s capable of feeling, you begin to be aware of what pleases others. Likewise, take the time to ask your partners about their likes and dislikes, their interests and ideas. There is nothing so boring as a one-sided “I-am-the-center-of-the-world” lover. Be interested as well as interesting; these are sure keys to building satisfying, fulfilling relationships.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 5]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


While no one can always be there whenever you need them, the more friends you have, the less likely you will find yourself alone and greatly in need. Friends can satisfy emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social needs, as well as physical and sexual needs. So cultivate friends and use them wisely. Friends talk about their expectations about sexuality and sensuality as an integral part of their relationship; talking about sexual health, including methods to minimize the spread of AIDS, as well as unwanted pregnancies and other STDs, are caring things that friends should do. Don’t forget to listen as well.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, pp. 8-9]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Using becomes misusing or abusing when it becomes uncaring, when it lacks the consideration that makes life in general worthwhile. When that happens, do what you can to correct the situation in which you feel abused, but if that fails, leave. Life has enough hurts and disappointments without staying around for unnecessary—and unhealthy—ones. It’s your own self-respect and self-worth that are important in these situations. There is also enough joy and happiness available for everyone if you can put aside being on the defensive all the time—which is what will happen if you stay in a bad relationship too long.

© 1996/1992 Raymond J. Noonan. From Survival Strategies for Lovers in the 1990s [Chap. 1, p. 9]. In Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan (Eds.), Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-12). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


More insightful and important information from Dr. Noonan’s book!


If you enjoyed these excerpts from Dr. Noonan’s chapter, you’ll find his updated and expanded version even more enlightening. Click here for more information, or
Click here to buy it!  Click here to buy it!
Now out of print, but available soon in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format! However, used copies might be available.


 Click on the amazon.com button to buy it!  Click here to buy it! The third edition of the book, Does Anyone Still Remember When Sex Was Fun? Positive Sexuality in the Age of AIDS, 3rd edition, edited by Peter B. Anderson, Diane de Mauro, & Raymond J. Noonan, published by Kendall/Hunt in September 1996. Click here for more information about the book.

The latest on positive sexuality from the first book to address the issue: For anyone concerned about the increasingly negative ways in which sex is being portrayed in public life—and who wants to do something positive about it.

Now out of print, but available soon in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format! However, used copies might be available at amazon.com.

 

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Check Out These Recent Books of Note with Contributions by Dr. Ray Noonan

 Click on the amazon.com button to buy it!  Click here to buy it!  New! Volume 4 of the International Encyclopedia of Sexuality (IES4), including 17 new countries and places, Robert T. Francoeur, Ph.D., Editor, and Raymond J. Noonan, Ph.D., Associate Editor, published in May 2001 by Continuum International Publishing Group: Includes my chapter on “Outer Space,” which highlights cross-cultural sexuality issues that will have an impact on the human future in space, based partly on my dissertation. For the table of contents or more information, see the IES4 Web site: http://www.SexQuest.com/IES4/, including supplemental chapters available only on the Web. Order from amazon.com!


 Click on the amazon.com button to buy it!  Click here to buy it! “The Impact of AIDS on Our Perception of Sexuality” and “Sex Surrogates: The Continuing Controversy,” in Robert T. Francoeur’s Sexuality in America: Understanding Our Sexual Values and Behavior, published in August 1998 by Continuum Publishing Co. This new book contains an updated version of the chapter on the United States contained in the International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, Vol. 3 (in the set below). Now available in paperback at amazon.com!


 Click on the amazon.com button to buy it!  Click here to buy it! Two articles in Robert T. Francoeur’s International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, published in August 1997 by Continuum Publishing Co.: “The Impact of AIDS on Our Perception of Sexuality” and “Sex Surrogates: The Continuing Controversy” in the United States chapter in volume 3, and additional comments (with Sandra Almeida) in the chapter on Brazil in volume 1. Encourage your library to purchase this three-volume, 1737-page set—the most comprehensive cross-cultural survey of sexuality in 33 countries ever published. Order from amazon.com.


 Click on the amazon.com button to buy it!  Click here to buy it! “The Psychology of Sex: A Mirror from the Internet,” in Jayne Gackenbach’s Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal and Transpersonal Implications, published by Academic Press in October 1998. Visit the publisher to see the table of contents and more information, then come back here and order it from amazon.com.
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