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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: In response to the man who wrote you asking for a definition of a "lousy lover": Sexual communication is the most difficult communication of all. As a marital and family therapist and a clinical psychologist who has practiced for 23 years in the state of California and taught at the university level on human sexuality, I can assure him that the polite avoidance he receives when asking women to define that question is a major part of the problem.

Healthy sexual behavior is behavior practiced between consenting adults in private. It is not public behavior. There are individual differences in what is preferred sexual stimulation and behavior. It is a matter to be discussed and worked out between the individuals involved. Many persons do not know what their sexual values, preferences and beliefs are until they have received some sort of instruction. To raise such a question to an individual with whom one is not involved in an intimate relationship is an invasion of personal privacy.

Abby, please tell "Needing More in Minneapolis" and the gentleman who wrote you to seek out, with their partner, a licensed professional in the field of relationship therapy who specializes in sex therapy. The professional will assist them in determining the type of sexual interaction that best fits them as a unique couple. Referrals can be obtained from local chapters of the association of psychologists and marriage and family therapists, which usually have listings in the Yellow Pages of local phone books. -- MARGRETA KLASSEN, PH.D., NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR DR. KLASSEN: Thank you for a helpful letter. I agree that sexual compatibility is more of a negotiated settlement than following the steps in a "how-to" manual. The assistance of a professional may be needed to open the lines of communication because many couples have hang-ups about confiding their likes and dislikes to each other. However, sometimes there is more wrong with a sexual relationship than lack of communication. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In answer to your question, "What makes a lousy lover?" my first response is lack of good personal hygiene. I've been trying to tell this to my husband for years, but he just doesn't get it! Perhaps if he read this, he will:

Take a shower and scrub with soap and a washcloth -- all over -- every day; trim your eyebrows, the hair in your nose and ears, and see a dental hygienist a couple of times a year; put on deodorant and wear fresh clothes every day and keep your mustache clean.

How can we make love if I can't even stand to get close to him? -- ANONYMOUS IN ST. PAUL, MINN.

DEAR ABBY: A lousy lover is not interested in what he can do for me, only what I can do for him. A lousy lover doesn't listen to what he is told that could enhance my pleasure, or take gentle or subtle suggestions. A lousy lover says, "I really wanted you to have an orgasm," just before he rolls over to go to sleep, leaving me lying frustrated beside him. A lousy lover is selfish and self-centered and brags about his conquests and sexual skills (which usually means he has none). It has nothing to do with "size." -- TULSA, OKLA.

DEAR ABBY: A lousy lover is someone who walks into a room and says, "Do you want some?" He considers a few squeezes and pinches to be sufficient foreplay. Within 15 minutes it's all over, as far as he's concerned, whether his partner is satisfied or not. You know the old saying, "Wham-bam-thank you, ma'am."

It seems to me that if someone has to ask, you already know which class he falls into. -- PATRICIA W., VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.

TOMORROW: We'll hear from readers who answer the question, "What makes a great lover?"

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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