Sex isn’t just a physical act between two (or more) people. Our sexuality is an important part of what makes us well-rounded happy healthy human beings, and having a healthy joyful relationship with our whole bodies and with pleasure is a fundamental part of our well-being on a holistic level.
This doesn’t mean we need to be having ‘it’ everywhere, all the time and in every feasible and not-so feasible position, or having hour-long full-body orgasms every day. It does mean being aware of what our bodies enjoy and desire, aware of our emotional and spiritual needs with regards to sex and pleasure and being comfortable with communicating our feelings and needs with an open and compassionate partner if we have one, in a guilt-free, respectful and accountability-accepting way (and offering the same judgment free compassionate space in return).
When done right (compassionately, joyfully, consensually, respectfully…) sex heals old wounds, grows and deepens our human connections, nurtures the health of our physical bodies and gives our brains a little nudge to start releasing all of the happy sexy hormones that make us feel fab, happy and sometimes loved-up.
I think everyone at some point has healing to do when it comes to their sex-lives, whether that is because of past sexual trauma, a trust or communication barrier in a current or past relationship, issues around body-image, medical issues, un-related stress leaking into bedroom fun-times, erectile dysfunction etc etc. Everyone has them, no one talks about them outside of therapy, and we all think it’s just us and that everyone else is spending their weekends in Ann Summers choosing new and outlandish sex toys to try with their super-open super-experimental partners.
It’s also important to be aware and respectful of the natural ebb and flow of our personal sex drives and those of the people we love, and in noticing them, learn to appreciate that it is also natural for those personal sexual fluctuations to not always be in sync. Everyone’s sex lives need a bit of a spring clean now and again, as we grow and develop in life both physically and spiritually what we want in the bedroom and what helps us to feel the most connected to our pleasure centres and our partners can change. The things that gave us a real kick a few years ago may not be what float’s our boat now, whether you are with the same partner, a new one, or flying solo.
Personally, I have an incredibly joyful sex life; it is passion, romance and intimacy rolled into one beautiful mix. This has taken work however, and my partner and I are constantly discovering and developing, as a couple and as individuals. Sometimes sex is mind-blowing, sometimes it is incredibly touching, and sometimes it just doesn’t hit the spot and we hang up the condom (we don’t…we bin it because that would be gross, but go with the metaphor) and try again later. Sometimes sex is leg-quivering orgasms, and sometimes we just don’t get there!
This is all ok. Here are my top tips on how to spring clean your sex life, shed the shame and invite pleasure back into not only your bedroom but your life.
1. Make time for non-sexual intimacy – at least twice a week. Sex is great, romance is fab, but it’s intimacy that all human being’s really crave. Leave room in your relationship for your significant other to not always be feeling so up for it, but allow yourselves a place and time twice a week to connect in a physically intimate way. This could mean anything from running each other a bath (or sharing if it’s big enough!) and sitting chatting with a glass of wine and a week of laughs to enjoy. It could be giving each other long sensual massages. It could be something a little raunchier like experimenting with wax-play or blindfolding your partner and feeding them tasty food and drink. You could simply cuddle naked, give foot rubs and stroke each other to reconnect. It’s ok if it feels new, awkward and even downright ridiculous, if you don’t enjoy something just don’t do it again. Om-ing is also a wonderful way to practice regular non sexual intimacy, I will be blogging about this again in the future but if you haven’t heard of it, Om stands for ‘Orgasmic Meditation’ and you can find out more about it at OneTaste.us. The point is to keep it non-sexual. No specifically sexual touching, no chase to an orgasm, no end-goal. The only goal is to reconnect, to revel in each other’s bodies for a short while with no pressure to perform and show each other you care.
2. Make room for your sex to not sync with their sex. The amount of energy and joy we have to offer the world and our partners is constantly fluctuating, reacting to subtle changes in our environments, relationships and bodies, and we don’t always want to have sex. Peoples interest in sex will fluctuate and sometimes, maybe more often than we’d like our sexual cycles might not match up with our partners. This is not a bad thing. Understanding and learning about each other’s needs, and respecting them is very important here. Having a relationship built on a foundation of trust and knowing you are free to communicate your desires with your partner in a judgement free way is important. Sex is only one strand in the intricately woven fabric that forms a happy relationship. Take the strand away completely and that fabric will be weakened and potentially unravel, but it isn’t any more important than any of the other strands. You and your partner need to figure out between you what the right amount of sex is for your partnership, you might not always get it because that is life, people get poorly, people get bored, and sad, and because a healthy sexual drive is a symptom of a healthy balanced body and lifestyle, when our life isn’t balance our sex lives will probably take a hit. Respect and nurture your personal cycles. Cultivate intimacy outside of sex, and try not to be quick to judge your lowered or heightened sex drive as ‘bad’. You have the right to want sexual pleasure when you want it, and so does your partner. An important contributing factor to maintaining a healthy interest in sex is a proper diet and regular exercise. Exercise increases testosterone production, heightening libido in men and women, and a good well balanced diet provides your body with increased energy and vitality. Never under-estimate the power of good food and a hot sweaty sesh at the gym to get your blood flowing!
3. Get comfortable with masturbation. Learn your body, and then re-learn it. Masturbate alone, and do it together. Revel in the time you spend loving your own body and giving yourself all the pleasure you could want. Get comfortable masturbating in front of your partner, get comfortable with having them involved in the process, touching, kissing, holding and caressing you as you satisfy yourself. Then get comfortable with them not being involved in the process, get comfortable with them lying next to you reading a book with their glasses on, and be okay with not needing them to always be a part of your sexual experiences. Get comfortable with them masturbating. Get comfortable with being involved, get comfortable with simply watching, and then get comfortable with not watching, with taking your make up off and painting your nails while your partner enjoys their own bodies, in the space you hold for them, but without being an active participant in their experience. Try watching porn together. Try choosing porn for each other to watch. Laugh, giggle, get embarrassed and ditch the porn; have a romp. Try out things you see in porn and realise it doesn’t work in reality, have a failed role-play sesh and go make midnight tuna pasta and G&T’s instead. Read each other erotica. Appreciate there is more to learn about your own body, and your partners, regardless of whether you have been together one year or twenty.
4. Meet on neutral grounds. Try something that neither of you have ever done before, and something you are both a little nervous of. It doesn’t need to work out perfectly, but when trying new things in the bedroom, it can be intimidating if one partner seems far more knowledgeable about a subject than the other. It can be even more intimidating if they have experience of it, perhaps a previous partner satisfied this need for them, but you so far haven’t gone there for whatever reason. By all means, try to always be open to exploring things your partner is curious about and playing with their desires. But a wonderful way to ease into this is by trying something you are both equally as clueless about, but are also both interested in. This can be anything, learning more about Tantra, trying a new technique, exploring BDSM or role-play, whatever it is make sure it’s new for both of you. Learning about this new ‘something’ together will be a bonding experience; you can grow, explore and make mistakes together as a team. Even if it comes to nothing and you both decide you don’t like being tied up/having sex dressed like bunnies/having things put in your bottoms/being covered in curry etc etc, at least you were willing to try. This in itself is powerful. Willingness; as simple as it may be, breaks down barriers in communication and could be the key to you both feeling more able to express and look at your individual curiosities and desires in a fearless yet gentle way.
5. Schedule play dates. As important as it is to respect each other sexual cycles, to keep the pressure off and to be spontaneous, sometimes life just get’s in the way. Sometimes we forget, sometimes we get tired and sometimes despite not being ‘against’ the idea of having sex, we just can’t be bothered. Decide with your partner to commit to being sexual X amount of times per week, and choose between the two of you what days would be best. Plan to eat early in the evening, or whatever time it is you are planning on setting aside; make sure you have a good hour and half to dedicate. If you don’t end up having sex during this time it’s cool, as long as you make sure you keep the time free. If one of you really isn’t feeling it, do something else together; something fun, creative, silly or intimate. However the likelihood is if the problem is prioritising, once you’re both naked, cuddling and kissing you will quickly get back in the mood. When planning ahead, try deciding to do something different on each of the days. For example, you could swap who gets to be in charge on a certain day. Set it up so that you take it in turns being in control and deciding what you both do together, have a day during the week each to be dedicated completely to your individual pleasure and enjoyment. That person could choose to lie back and do nothing, or take control. They could choose to be blindfolded or to tie you up. Scheduling sex allows anticipation to build during the week, and also forces you both to take responsibility for maintaining your sex lives even when life seems to be trying to get in the way.
Ultimately, sex should always be fun. If you feel like you aren’t getting everything you need or desire, in any area of your partnership the first person you go to should always be your significant other. Forget Google, forget your best friend, the agony aunt on the back page of Cosmopolitan or the girls in the cafeteria at work. Whether your bed partner is a long time lover or a brief fling, if you are sharing your body with them, you can share a little of your soul. It’s scary talking about our sexual desires because there is always risk of rejection, and perhaps what you’re into isn’t what the person you’re into…is into! That’s cool. In the end it’s up to you to decide where you prioritise sex in your relationship and what your needs are as individuals and as a couple.
My personal experience is that our search for sexual pleasure is really a search for emotional and spiritual intimacy. When I found true intimacy and my craving for intimate connection was satisfied, my need for whipped cream and trimmings diminished, I got far more comfortable with asking for what I wanted in an un-ashamed way, and much better at being okay with the fact that sometimes what I wanted was not what I got.
Exploring is a way to reignite, to question and to seek – in sex and in life. In the end however, you find what you were looking for in all your journeying and seeking and if you embark on a new adventure after that is up to you. When trying something new in my own relationship I have always said it is not that I am unsatisfied, or unhappy with what we already have. Exploring new things in bed is my way of learning more about my partner, finding new unchartered territory in our bodies and our psyches, having adventures together, playing with this thing we call life and love and finding new ways to experience it all as a couple.
Try what interests you, ditch what doesn’t, stop when you don’t enjoy it and never forget to laugh at yourselves. All my love, Esther x
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