Q & A with Dr. Irene C. Kassorla

Q. I am 41-years, attractive and have spent the last eight years building a successful public relations business -- and it's booming! But in the process, I've lost my sex drive. I want a great guy, marriage and kids, but I'm too pooped. I won't give up the golden goose I've created, and am worried I don't have the energy to do both.

A. Dear Ms. Pooped: Of course, you're too tired to consider marriage and a family -- because you're already married to your business! But don't despair! If your business is booming, you can afford to hire capable people like yourself to take over some of your responsibilities: delegate. Since you're smart enough to create a successful business, you're also smart enough to release yourself from the daily grind. Then your sexual juices will have a chance to start flowing! So get ready for the excitement of building even greater successes with a loving partner, and precious children.

Q. I was married twice and neither relationship worked out. I have always been inhibited when it comes to sex and it's been a problem with men. I have spent my twenties and thirties FAKING IT in bed. Now suddenly in my forties I'm turning into a sex maniac. I fantasize about sex -- kinky sex -- too much of the time. Every man I meet is turning into a potential romp in bed. Am I having some kind of breakdown?

A. Dear Kinky: I had to laugh when I read your question and thought that whatever is happening to you now, sure seems like more fun than FAKING IT! Rather than having a breakdown, I suggest you're having a breakthrough! Very often with breakthroughs, at first, the psychological pendulum may swing too far to the right, before the new behavior can be incorporated comfortably, and logically, into a person's lifestyle. So for now, remember that fantasizing is normal and thinking isn't doing. And STOP calling yourself names -- it's time to ENJOY!

Q. I'm an executive at a major studio. All day long I tell 30 people what to do. The pressure to stay in control, "on top of my world" is non-stop. After work, I can't seem to shut it all off. This creates problems with men I date. They complain I'm a "control freak." How can I wear the pants during the day, and switch to a garter-belt-woman at night?

A. I wonder if the problem is your needing to be competitive, because of early childhood training. Some little girls are encouraged to be independent, aggressive and competitive. As small children they develop executive skills. This is fine when they also learn how to be vulnerable, accept help and share control.

You're probably labeled a "control freak" because of your competitive need to be better than or "on top of" the next fellow. For example, if a date proudly exclaims, "My new condo has 3000 feet," do you quickly interrupt with, "Mine has 4000!" And when he comments his chili is his greatest culinary masterpiece -- do you top him with, "I cook Chinese and French gourmet delicasies!" Instead, listen more and use your control skills to stop competing and putting people down.

I recommend therapy, especially group therapy with both men and women. You can learn to be a feminine, garter-belt-woman, as well
as a respected executive. You deserve it all!


Q. I can't believe what's happening to my marriage! I've become a detective, discovering suspicious clues like: my husband's suddenly working late every night, taking frequent week-end business trips, is becoming an exercise freak, dyeing his hair. I'm worried he's having an affair! Worse, I fear it's with my best friend! I'm continually finding more clues but haven't confronted either one of them because it might quickly blow over. Besides, I can't accuse them when I might be wrong. Then I'd lose everything -- my husband, my best friend and her husband. What can I do?

A. Dear Suspicious: If you don't speak up -- and fast, you may well lose everything! Trust your hunches! If you're continually get clues that point to an affair -- guess what? You're probably right! And waiting until the affair blows over is foolish. Waiting gives them license -- silent permission to continue.

Rather, I'd confront each of them separately. And don't cave in when they profess their innocence. Stay with your convictions until they give in! I'd also tell her husband about your suspicions. He probably has several suspicions of his own. And why worry about losing her friendship? She certainly doesn't sound like a worthwhile friend to me.

Research suggests that happy couples are good communicators. My hunch is your communication has broken down and neither one of you are sharing positive or negative feelings. Closeness and bonding grow with sharing thoughts, ideas, dreams and fears. And you certainly haven't shared your fears.

You need to get started. Confront your husband and be prepared for some rough times with the arguments that may follow. But at least your channels of communication will finally be opened. Here the research offers hope and suggests that most couples do get through the pain, anger and confessions about the affair. Then trust can eventually be restored and the marriage repaired. With frank and open discussions, your marriage has a good chance to become stronger and even better. Give yourself this chance.


Q. In the early years of our relationship we were passionate, had fun and made love for hours. Now, our sex life is two fast kisses here, and one minute of foreplay there -- and before I can blink, he's finished. I hate it but I'm glad he's satisfied.

I never discuss how dull our sex is, instead I'm silent and pray it'll be over fast. I don't tell him what a lousy lover he's become because I don't want to destroy the closeness or spoil the mood. What can you advise to help?

A. Spoil the mood? What mood! Destroy the closeness? What closeness? Unless your husband is retarded, with your ho-hum sex life he already knows the sex is awful and probably hopes for a speedy ejaculation to end the dull-drums. With instant foreplay and your silence you can stop thinking the monotonous linking you call sex satisfies him!

Silence isn't golden in the bedroom. By not sharing your needs and desires, you are silently conspiring to obliterate the passion and kill the pleasure. So stop calling him a lousy lover, because it takes two silent people to have dull sex. Instead, in a quiet, loving moment tell him all the wonderful things you appreciate and admire about him. Let him know how much you adore him -- how sensual his kisses are -- how much you love his smell, touch, his caresses. Encourage him to share what he desires as you lovingly recall the leisurely prelude to sex you both once cherished.

Then tell him you want to begin your love-making slowly with gentle kisses and hugging. Explain you need to postpone foreplay with your genitals and breasts, and enjoy his dream-like affection. Share that the surveys show that most women require 30 minutes of this gentle hugging, back-rubbing and kissing, before they desire erotic contact or penetration. Explain you need this slow pace to relish him and the intoxicating journey into sensuality that will envelop you both.


Q. When I was married to my "ex," we had sex once a week on Sundays. That seemed normal and satisfying for both of us. But now that I'm divorced, I actually want sex once a day -- every day! I think I'm turning into a sex freak! What's even more freaky is that I'm not even dating anyone and the only lover I have is me, myself and me! Surely this can't be normal. Sure, I wish there were a great guy in my life, a partner to share the closeness and companionship, both in and out of bed. But there is no Mr. Right, yet. So lately, it seems to be just me and my vibrator. While this makes me feel better and helps ward off the loneliness for about 24 hours, my excessive appetite is worrying me. I feel guilty and desperate! Could there be something seriously wrong with me, that's very abnormal? Eager to hear your advice.


The first part of the word "masturbate" sounds just like the word "master." And to "master" in the dictionary suggests: power, authority, commander, ruler, chief, expert, etc. So the behavior of masturbating, from this doctor's psychological point-of-view, means self-mastery -- being in charge, the commander and ruler of your own body. And that's healthy.

Also the research suggests that it is the educated woman who is the most sexual and orgastic, whether it be by intercourse with a partner, or by masturbating. So you have joined the ranks of the healthy, educated women who act to achieve sexual satisfaction and enjoy their sensuality.

I urge you to erase any notion of guilt or abnormality from your thinking. Your behavior is normal and the frequency may be the result of needing to quiet the loneliness -- or the anxiety you may be experiencing from the unfair labels you've imposed on yourself of "freak and abnormal." So stop worrying. Relax and enjoy!


I've been living with my boyfriend for two years. We fell madly in love and quickly decided: "This is perfect!" And it has been perfect -- or at least it was for the first year. But lately, I can't stand him! He has a constant erection and wants sex every time he touches me! My friends think I should be grateful that he's so romantic.

We used to make wonderful love two or three times a week. The other nights we'd hug for awhile, then fall asleep. We were in sync -- both feeling sexy or sleepy. Now with an easier job, he's never tired. So every night he pushes his erection against my hip. I hate this and scream: "Why can't you be more sensitive? You know I'm exhausted! You're not, so all you think of is sex!"

How can I save this relationship, and still get a decent night's sleep?


No wonder you're becoming disgusted and believe he's insensitive to your needs. I can understand why you're feeling angry and frustrated: he wants to be sexual and you're longing for a decent night's sleep. Doesn't sound romantic to me!

But hold on for a moment. There is a way for you to save the relationship, get some sleep and still recapture the wonderful sex you both once enjoyed. Here's the plan: When he knocks on your hips with his erection, he does need something. But it doesn't have to be sex. Instead, give him affection. It takes only a minute to say loving words like: "Sweetheart, it's so wonderful that we adore each other. I'm so lucky to have you close to me. I want to hug my precious Honey now, and fall asleep in your loving arms." Try this -- it will work because many men believe sex is the only way to deliver the message: "I love you." With loving words, you can show him another way.


WITH DIGNITY AND GRACE . . . You are an original. Respect your unique qualities and appreciate your differences. Remember to you hold your head high as you walk with dignity and grace.

KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC . . . Change occurs slowly, so be kind to yourself as you work toward accomplishing your goals. Expect there to be painful disappointments and discouraging frustrations. They are part of the process of reaching for dreams.

SUCCESS EMBRACES FAILURE . . . Successful people know that failure is a teacher. They make a friend of failure, and use their mistakes as sign posts for learning. Failure becomes an encouraging motivator, explaining the pitfalls and redirecting action toward success.

GIVE YOURSELF A KISS FOR TRYING . . . People who get what they want in life aren't lucky -- rather they just keep trying. They move into action, create opportunities by making phone calls, then follow-up on contacts. When they fall after taking the first step, they pick themselves up, give themselves a kiss and keep trying.


My "ex" and I have remained good friends, even after I remarried. We shared raising our small children as loving, yet divorced parents, and it was all working fine. He'd take them to dinner frequently and have them sleep over. But since he's married that jealous witch, it's unbearable! She's only 21 and follows my "ex" around like a baby cub looking to be suckled. She blocks phone lines so my kids can't call -- keeps making excuses so they rarely visit -- and when they're finally invited, they never feel welcome. How can I make life easier for my children, short of strangling her?


From your colorful description of your "ex's" new wife, I understand your fury. However, if you want to make life easier for your kids, I'd like to suggest a less drastic strategy to deal with your "impossible" successors.. While it falls far short of strangling the "youngee," I know this works!

Marrying a man who has two children, plus a former wife who is still a good friend, would be an uncomfortable challenge for a woman of any age. Add to this mix a life-style of well-established routines that the new "Mrs." has had no say in planning -- and it's understandable how she might feel insecure, like an intruder who must fight to be included. She's struggling to find a place for herself. You can help, so she'll stop clinging and be kinder to your children.

Instead of complaining she doesn't welcome your children, you welcome her. Ask your husband for help and invite her over for dinners, bar-be-ques. Explain to your children that she's like the new kid at school who doesn't have friends and feels left out. Have them pick flowers as presents for her, draw pictures, make beads and other crafts they can create. First, you all need to make her feel special in your home. Then, she'll feel safer, follow your model and welcome your children in her home, too.


I'm twelve years older than my sister. So growing up I was like a mother to her. I guess I still am, even though she's 21 years old now. She's always been a happy, positive person -- and lot's of fun. But lately, she's so depressed. This started three months ago when her boyfriend moved out while she was at work. No note, no explanation, nothing! Suddenly her personality changed. The happy person I've always known was gone. She stopped working, rarely leaves her apartment, has no energy, no appetite, and has difficulty sleeping. She's uninterested in everything, except gossip about the boyfriend and his new lady.

Eight years ago our Dad lost his job and became so depressed that he was admitted to a sanitarium for the mentally ill. Tragically, even with all the care, therapy and security, he committed suicide. So I'm concerned. The fear of my sister suiciding is always on my mind. Am I over-reacting?


You are definitely not over-reacting! Children of parents who have suicided have a much higher incidence of committing suicide themselves, as compared with the general population. Her depression sounds very real to me. Believe it and act fast. Get help at once from a medical doctor. She may be in a major depressive episode, and probably needs drug therapy, psychotherapy, hospitalization, or perhaps, other kinds of treatment will be recommended.

Being rejected in a love affair can be so overwhelming that the depressed person only wants to stop the pain, at any cost. Their coping skills may become so impaired by the depression, that suicide seems the fastest relief from the agony.

Fortunately, with a successful therapeutic intervention, her coping skills can be improved and bolstered. Then the happy personality you've always known can return to live and love again.

Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Irene C. Kassorla Psychologist, Inc. All rights reserved