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On vacation and undersexed

The article below is from a valentine's day travel section of Sunday newspapers. Single Abroad comments are in blue.

Given the time and space to really enjoy sex. Two-thirds of vacationers don't do it.

You've studied the slick brochures that promise untold moments of passion. You've looked forward to the trip for weeks, if not months, if not years. You don't have to go to work the next day, or get the kids off to school, or make the bed, or deal with the sister with the untreated mood disorder. Not to mention, there's something deliciously naughty about the transience of a hotel room, and something exciting about adding a new spot to your list of lovemaking locales. It's just the two of you. And a ''Do Not Disturb'' sign.

Yet you wonder: Why, oh why, am I not swinging from the chandeliers of this $300-a-night hotel room with a partial ocean view?

One-third of people report that they have better and more frequent sex on vacation, according to the 2004 National Leisure Travel Monitor, a random survey of 1,350 people.

Good for them.

So what's up with the other two-thirds?

"Random survey of people who travel" sounds like they polled people who travel as couples as well as people who travel by themselves. It's possible (in fact very likely) that about one third of people travel be themselves, and those people have better sex on vacation. So that means that almost all people who travel as couples have unsatisfying sex on vacation.

Apparently they're not the couples in the brochures -- the slim, tawny, beautiful people chasing each other down a desolate beach, or sipping wine and seducing each other over a crisp white tablecloth, or clinging to each other in a crystal blue, kid-free pool.

Where's the image of the sunburned couple arguing because the guy drank too many tequila sunrises and, as a result, nothing else will rise to the occasion that night? Or the photo of the woman burrowed under the hotel bed covers because she feels fat and doesn't like the way she looks in a bathing suit, so she plans to reside in the room for the rest of the trip -- or at least until this particular depressive episode passes?

It's not surprising that we equate exotic with erotic, given our reference points -- best-case scenario brochures, romance novels, From Here to Eternity. But what it really comes down to is this: We Americans ("We American women" would be more exact) are insatiable. No matter how much we get, it's never enough.

Vacation time, that is. So when we (again, replace "we" with "American women") do get away, we can't help but yearn for perfect passion. Or any passion, for that matter.

"I'm always excited about the possibility of getting to have sex, even more so when we're on vacation,'' says a Phoenix man with a wife and three kids. "Maybe it's because I don't get sex often enough and I don't get vacations often enough, so they go together. It's never as great as I hope it will be when we're on a trip, but I'm still happy to get what I can."

His wife replies: "Sad, huh?"

TROUBLES IN PARADISE

There are a hundred ways bad sex -- or no sex -- can happen to a good vacation. What once ruined the romance for Sharon Walker, a Fort Worth accountant: a sunburn earned during a snorkeling trip in Mexico.

"I was as red as a fire engine and totally miserable," Walker says. 'I think the phrase most often heard by my fiance was, 'Ouch! Don't touch me!' So much for a romantic getaway."

Other touch-me-nots are just plain too tired. They worked 60 hours the week before, packed in a frenzy and arrived exhausted -- only to be greeted by a week's worth of hyperscheduled days.

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