Skip nav

Bettina Arndt - the Dr Ruth of Down Under releases her groundbreaking book in the UK

THE SEX DIARIES
Why Women Go Off Sex and Other Bedroom Battles

By Bettina Arndt

3rd August 2009
Published by Hamlyn
£9.99 pbk

BETTINA ARNDT WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW IN LONDON ON 23rd & 24th JULY
AND IN IRELAND ON 27th & 28th JULY

What would men change about sex? More, we want more! That’s the resounding answer that echoes around the world. The reason is simple. The number one sexual problem plaguing women is low libido. That means couples everywhere are struggling with a mismatch in desire. Women lie in bed worrying the hand will come creeping over. Men spend their lives groveling for sexual favours. The gap between them in bed becomes a chasm.

In The Sex Diaries, Australia’s best known sex therapist, Bettina Arndt uncovers the night-time drama being played out in bedrooms everywhere, revealing how ordinary couples cope with the tensions of managing their sex supply. Bettina recruited ninety eight couples to keep diaries recording their intimate negotiations over sex. Who feels like having sex? Who doesn’t? How do couples cope if one person wants it more than the other? She draws on her thirty-five years of experience to provide a provocative analysis of desire which challenges many of our basic assumptions about sex.

Men’s frustrations pour out in a howl of disappointment and anger. Many feel duped, stunned that their needs are so totally ignored:
“I am totally at a loss as to what to do, I do love her and I think she loves me but I cannot live like a monk. I have deliberately tried not to mention sex much at all but now I am so frustrated I don’t know what to do. I am at breaking point. I cannot and will not continue on like this. I refuse to go through life begging.”

The female diaries reveal what it is like to live with a fragile, distractible libido which gets wrapped up in all the garbage of the day, with everyday tensions and resentments dampening desire.
“I have found that my already low libido has pretty much disintegrated and sexual interest is right up there with algebra, housework and trying on bras!”

Through the power of his-and-hers diaries, we get to see what happens day by day, night by night, as the couples negotiate their way through these complex issues. Using this extraordinary, rich material, Bettina reaches some startling conclusions. Noting that women’s right to say no has long been enshrined in our cultural history, Arndt concludes that it simply hasn’t worked out having a couple’s sex life hinge on the fragile female libido.

She proposes a challenge to the most basic assumption about how sex operates – that women have to want sex in order to enjoy it. To experience regular, pleasurable sex and sustain loving relationships, women have to get over that ideological roadblock and just do it, she claims. The result will be both men and women will enjoy more, better sex. When a man – or indeed a woman, wants to be wanted, yearns to see lust in their partner’s eyes, this is a basic need that should not be ignored, she adds. A monogamous marriage or long-term relationship must imply some mutual commitment to satisfying each other’s needs, including sexual needs. Arndt suggests if that is not part of the deal, if the sex supply breaks down, then fidelity is a totally unreasonable demand or expectation.

Yet Arndt’s research was not just about mismatched desire. For all the diarists struggling over tension about sex, there were others living in sexual harmony, never losing their spark for each other. The Sex Diaries includes veterans of 30 or 40 years of lust driven marriages keen to show others how they stay hot for each other. Plus there are many other intriguing stories:

• One man reported making a statement he really regrets. Fed up with always having to initiate sex, he turned to his wife and said “I’ll make no more advances until you ask me.” That was eight years ago and they haven’t had sex since.
• Another couple had kept a sex diary for 23 years, tracking not only their sexual frequency but number of orgasms.
• There’s a man whose wife has an obsessive compulsive disorder and who likes everything to have its time and place. They make love every Sunday morning at 9.15 am.
• Then there’s a young mother who reports she has mastered saying “Get that thing away from me!” in her sleep.

Bettina Arndt started her career as Down-Under’s Dr Ruth. A trained clinical psychologist, she was one of Australia’s first sex therapists, talking about sex on television and radio as well as teaching medical students and other professionals. She then spent twenty years writing about broader social issues, acquiring a reputation as a respected social commentator. It was Arndt’s high profile that attracted so many people willing to bare all in her diary project.

BETTINA ARNDT WILL BE IN LONDON TO PROMOTE THE SEX DIARIES FROM 23rd JULY.
TO DISCUSS AN INTERVIEW OR TO RECEIVE A REVIEW COPY OF THE BOOK PLEASE CONTACT:
Fiona Smith on 0207 531 8489 or email fiona.smith@octopus-publishing.co.uk