Chapter Three

What to Look for in a Partner

Who makes it best? How do you choose?

The first and most important principle of sexual choice is that it be made through the conscious and deliberate faculties of the mind rather than letting those pulsating genitals call the shots. If, as Dr. Reuben says, the brain is the largest of man's sex organs, it seems only fair that it should have the biggest say as to when and how the sex organs are to be used. This choice is too important, has too much of either happiness or unhappiness riding on it, to turn the decision over to one's animal instincts. Human beings were given intellectual capacities above the other animals expressly that they might use them to advantage, to the enhancement of the fun and profit of the whole creation.

After one has decided to use his head, the first thing he should understand with it is that there is no particular correlation between sex appeal (i.e., visual attractiveness either of the overall physique or of the sex organs themselves) and sexual performance. Dr. Reuben points out that almost every human being has all the physical apparatus required (or that can be used) for sexual enjoyment, and that normally no sort of examination or measurement of the equipment gives any clue to its effectiveness in use.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with choosing a beauty queen or a lifeguard (depending upon which sex is choosing which, of course), but, for goodness sake, don't make the choice simply because she is a beauty queen or he a lifeguard. Physique is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Physique is not a positive sign of what to look for, but according to Reuben, an eagerness to show that physique is definitely a negative indication. People who manifest an urge to display their sexual parts, either undraped or only minimally draped, either for fun or for profit, Reuben calls "exhibitionists." And under this category he includes not only the dirty old men whom we consider sick but also the stripteasers, topless dancers, Playboy centerfolds, and beauty queens (Reuben names beauty queens; I am not enough of an authority to) whom we consider as the healthiest of female flesh. The problem, Reuben says, is that more exhibitionists than not get a sexual gratification out of exhibiting; and the fact that they get their kicks out of being seen means that they feel no great need for the kicks that come from actually being a sex partner. Those who make the biggest pitch turn out to be no catch at.

But in seeking out a sex partner, avoid at all costs those who are most eager to become sex partners. That may sound strange, but it is true: overeagerness in becoming a sex partner indicates a poor prognosis that the person will make a good partner. Such people are infected with a highly communicable disease--which disease, interestingly enough, also can be and is being communicated via the mass media. It is called copiosa copulasio casualis or, in lay parlance, "promiscuity."

"But where's the danger?"

Well, an addict is a person who just has to have something even when he knows it is risky, unwise, and likely to be regretted. A drug addict is a person who has to have drugs no matter what, and a sex addict is a person who has to have sex on the same basis. "Slave" is the only term to describe such a person; as it was put by one of them who wound up in the hospital, his body covered with dermatitis caused by venereal disease, "I've been led around by my all my 'gotta haves' all my life."

Such a person is not free to act according to the best insights and reasoning of which his head is capable, because the center of control has passed over to his pulsating genitals (although it is most likely that the fault lies not in his genitals but in a psychological hang-up of one sort or another that moved the control center downward).

But again, this is not the voice of religious piety speaking; it is scientifically established fact. Out of more than a hundred unmarried college girls who sought psychiatric help in a large state university system, 86 percent had had sexual relations with at least one person and 72 percent with more than one person. This against the university-wide average of something less than 22 percent of college females having had premarital relations. The psychiatrist making the study concluded: "Students who are psychiatric patients are likely to be promiscuous. Many of these patients--both male and female--can be described as alienated, and alienated students are especially promiscuous. While the alienated student seems to be leading a stimulating sex life he frequently complains that it is unsatisfying and meaningless."

The same sort of unhappy sex slavery comes to light through a different study. It is an established fact that suicide and attempted suicide are particularly critical problems on college campuses. The rate is extremely high among those who married quite young and have not been married long. Many of these undoubtedly are marriages that were premature because of pregnancy, sexual overeagerness, or other reasons. Marriages in which the bride was already pregnant at the time of the wedding have the poorest record of success of any marriage category.

Yet: this correlation between suicide and premature marriage is not the only significant one. Ninety percent of adolescent suicide attempts are made by girls, and a number of different investigators have determined that guilt over their own sexual license is a major factor behind this statistic.

As, in regard to drug addiction, the source of the difficulty seems to lie more deeply in psychological factors than simply in the availability of the drugs, so it seems to be with sex addiction. Yet what can it be called except "addiction" that leads a person into actions which he cannot even stand to live with after he has performed them?

But what it all comes to is that the more easily accessible a person is as a sex partner, the less likely you would want him.

"But, Dr. Eller--sir--your topic was 'What to Look for in a Partner.' All you've done is tell us what to look for to avoid; what are we supposed to look for to find? Some of us are interested in finding sex, you know!"

I know, and I was getting to that. Everything must be done in due course--particularly when dealing with those who may be tempted to "do coarse."

Sex is like oil. One does not look for oil by looking for oil; very little oil would get found that way. One looks for oil by looking for the sort of geologic terrain that is likely (in due course) to bear oil. Oil is found by seeking the promising context and then approaching the oil itself from the perspective of that context.

Likewise, sexual ecstasy is nowhere near as likely to be found by concentrating one’s search on the organic union that is supposed to spell ecstasy as by seeking out the kind of site which innumerable researchers have found to be the one dependable location for the discovery of strong and continuing reserves of ecstasy. That site is marriage.

(Oh, you already had it figured that that is where I was going to come out? Congratulations! It shows that you are a very perceptive reader.)

Within marriage (keeping in mind that, by "marriage," we mean a quality of commitment rather than merely an arrangement of licensing), all of the factors are right for sex at its best. On the contrary, outside of marriage, many elements come into play that drastically cut the chances of successful sex. And more, to settle for this risky, second-best sex as a sort of holding operation until marriage comes along---or as an experimental stage on the way to marriage--usually proves to be a bad move. Second-rate sex tends to corrode a person's commitment-controllers. A pattern of genital sex without fidelity is not easy to change into an expression of fidelity, so when the time comes to make the big commitment that could spell sexual fulfillment, the controllers often won't respond. Experimenters do not make good committers; it is too hard to kick the experimenting habit and go for broke. And yet sex becomes great only when one is able to do precisely this--go for broke and give out with everything: body, soul, mind, and strength, till death do us part.

So, what to look for in a partner?

  • One to marry, more than to bump and vibrate.
  • One to live with rather than merely sleep with.
  • One whom you would rather be poor with than rich without.
  • One whom you would rather see happy than be happy yourself.
  • One with whom you would forego pleasure rather than make feel guilty.
  • One who would agree to postpone action to the end of making it better later.
  • One whom you would want as partner even if the sex experience did not turn out to be the biggest thrill in the world.

Choose this one; take time to set up the situation right (namely by getting married); if you need to (which you likely won’t) use Reuben or some other doctor of his sort to learn a little technique; and, friend, you are as much as guaranteed the greatest sex fun (and profit) of which you are capable.

Copyright (c) 1971