What makes sex magnificent? What are the qualities of extraordinary erotic intimacy and what are the elements that help to bring it about? Is great sex the stuff that people remember nostalgically from the "honeymoon" phase of their relationships, or can sex improve over time?
Magnificent Sex is based on the largest, in-depth interview study ever conducted with people who are having extraordinary sex. It gathers the nuggets for remarkable sex from the "experts", distilling them into an attainable blueprint for ordinary lovers who want to make erotic intimacy grow over the course of a lifetime. Looking at factors including individual and relational qualities, empathic communication and the myths and realities of magnificent sex, this book offers accessible and evidence-based guidance for lovers and therapists alike.
It is replete with frank and often humorous interviews with straight and LGBTQ individuals and couples, those who are "vanilla" and "kinky", monogamous and consensually non-monogamous and healthy and chronically ill. This illuminating book explores the implications of the findings to develop a model that effectively tackles the common problems of low desire and frequency. The "cure" for low desire is to create desirable sex!
Table of Contents
Introduction: How Did We Come to be Studying Magnificent Sex?
1. How Did We Set Out to Learn About Magnificent Sex? From the Dismal to the Ordinary to Optimal Sexual Experience
2. The Components of Magnificent Sex
3. Myths and Realities of Magnificent Sex: From Media Stereotypes and Beyond Part III. What Leads to Magnificent Sex? Contributing Factors
4. Developmental Factors
6. Enduring Individual Qualities
7. Individual Qualities in-the-moment
9. Qualities of the Relationship
10. Relational Qualities in-the-moment
11. The Meta-Factor: Empathic Communication
12. The Pathways towards Magnificent Sex Part IV
13. Implications and Applications for Lovers and Therapists Who Aspire Higher
"This is IT finally, a refreshing real book discussing the nature of magnificent sex! And this book actually sees sex as a relational dance, not one person’s bodily function! The book is easy to read and goes beyond formulas, tips and tricks to discuss topics like empathy which so often are missing in so-called sex books. This is where the field of sex therapy needs to go. The lovers in this book tell us how we often settle for being stuck in clichés and so called symptoms and miss the symphony the great sex can be." – Sue Johnson, Ed.D., researcher, professor and bestselling author of Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love
"With empirical rigor and a playful sense of humor, Kleinplatz and Ménard offer us a grand tour of a previously undocumented world where extraordinary lovers create magnificent sexual experiences. Every sex therapist, educator, researcher and student should read this book. It will utterly transform the conversation around sexual desire." – Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., author of Come as you are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life
"This is a wonderful book! Taking the focus off of ‘sex’ and ‘sexual function’ tricks and techniques, it will provide an invaluable resource for those looking to truly improve the quality of their relationships and their experience of sex." – Daniel N. Watter, Ed.D., past president, The Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR)
"Peggy Kleinplatz has achieved near mythical status in the echelons of sex therapy. For nearly two decades she has been leading the Optimal Sexual Experiences Research Team at the University of Ottawa and carefully protecting their work from outside eyes. Along the way, they have teased and tantalized us with breadcrumbs of insight from their detailed study of actual couples who embody and manifest the eight components of magnificent sex; but now, finally, Kleinplatz and Ménard have given us the secret sauce, and it was worth the wait!" – Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, New York Times best-selling author, She Comes First
"Would you like to have good sex? What about great sex? Or, even better, what about the greatest sexual experience of your life? Kleinplatz and Ménard dive into their incredible research on peak sexual experiences, and distill valuable lessons to help you to discover your potential for sexual ecstasy. This isn't a cookbook style sex manual – it's a guide to creating sexual authenticity in your life, in a way that translates into heights of sexual fulfillment." – David Ley, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist & Supervisor
"Kleinplatz and Ménard have conducted extensive research on optimal sex and this book beautifully illustrates their work. It offers intimate details in selected quotes as described by their sexually-gratified subjects. Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers will be of great value to readers in the general public as well as to those in the related fields of sexuality science, education and therapy." – Stella Resnick, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of Body-to-body intimacy: Transformation through love, sex and neurobiology
"Kleinplatz and Ménard investigate sex in the great tradition of Abraham Maslow and the humanistic tradition, as well as the more recent trend of positive psychology, which shift the focus from human dysfunction to human flourishing. While much time and resources have been invested in the study of how sex goes wrong and how to shift from abnormal or dysfunctional sex to functional sex, this book places the emphasis on how couples can set to work to achieve higher and higher levels of sexual pleasure and intimacy. Grounded in empirical science that aims and succeeds at respecting the fidelity of lived sexual experience, this book offers hope for individuals and couples that great sex need not remain restricted to the realm of fantasy." – Brent Dean Robbins, Ph.D., chair and professor of psychology at Point Park University and author of The medicalized body and anesthetic culture: The cadaver, the memorial body, and the recovery of lived experience
"Magnificent sex! It’s something many crave, but too few have. It’s also a phenomenon that looks nothing like the false media images perpetuating it. In this compelling book, full of striking quotes from real people having superb sex, the authors paint a picture of what truly great sex looks like. Using results from their in-depth study of people having magnificent sex, they reveal the personal and relationship qualities and attitudes necessary for magnificent sex. Unlike books promising results in a few simple steps, this book will shift our paradigm of great sex – and help guide our way there." – Laurie Mintz, professor at the University of Florida and author of A tired woman’s guide to passionate sex and Becoming cliterate: Why orgasm equality matters – and how to get it
"Magnificent Sex is a much-needed alternative to the hundreds of books about amping up your sex life that amount to cookbooks of positions and toys. Instead, Kleinplatz and Ménard have researched actual couples who still manage to have exceptional sex after years of marriage, and distilled their secrets and wisdom. The couples they interviewed represent a broad range of diversity, and the insights are unexpected – they are all about attitude and perspective, and have little to do with mechanics. This book is destined to become a classic. It is a book for therapists, but also for anyone who is hoping to keep the spark of passion alive in their relationship." – Margaret Nichols, Ph.D., psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor, Institute for Personal Growth, Highland Park, Jersey City, and Freehold New Jersey
"This book is both original and effective in providing a guide to quality sex in a manner supported by research and avoidance of hyperbole. A valuable read that adds to our knowledge of the entire spectrum of sexualities, from dysfunctional to ‘normal’ to optimal!" – Michael A. Perelman, Ph.D., co-director, Human Sexuality Program, Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian
About the Authors
Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Ph.D., is Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Director of Sex and Couples Therapy at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She was awarded the Prix d’Excellence in 2000 for her teaching of Human Sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Educator. She is Director of the Optimal Sexual Experiences Research Team of the University of Ottawa and has a particular interest in sexual health in the elderly, disabled and marginalized populations. Please see optimalsexualexperiences.com. Kleinplatz has edited four books, notably New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives (2012), winner of the AASECT 2013 Book Award, Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures with Charles Moser, Ph.D., M.D. (2006) and Sexuality and Ageing with Walter Bouman, M.D. (2015). In 2015, Kleinplatz received the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ Professional Standard of Excellence Award.
A. Dana Ménard, Ph.D., is currently a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. She earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2013, an M.A. in experimental psychology from Carleton University in 2007 and a B.Sc. in psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2005. She has held previous academic appointments at the University of Western Ontario and at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. As a clinician, Dr. Ménard has worked at Detroit Receiving Hospital, the London Health Sciences Centre, the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital, among others. Aside from her work on magnificent sex, she has also researched and published in the areas of sexuality in the media, adult survivors of child sexual abuse, student mental health and well-being and academic lab safety.