“Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. ‘Yes’ is the answer.” -Swami X
Sexual dissatisfaction is one of the top reasons cited when we leave our relationships. It is also one of this life’s most worthy challenges to take on; not only for the meaning and pleasure it can bring to our relationships, but also for the very real health benefits that a satisfying sex life bestows on our well being. I also believe that learning how to satisfy our sex drive and grow our comfort with our erotic selves is a window which reveals our deepest humanity. It is no surprise that a massive consumer market designed to offer a quick fix for our sexual desires has ballooned into a billion dollar industry, but despite the millions of options available, there is no magic pill (even those that manage to sustain erections), toy or DVD of new sexual techniques that is going to bring you the kind of passionate intimate connection that we all long for. There are however some pretty straightforward shifts in focus and attention that will lead you towards more satisfying sexual experiences and a comfort with who you are as an erotic human being. Here are a few ideas, which are not listed in order of potency. Even if you only try one at a time, take note on how your intimate life responds.
Love your Body
Our sex life lives within our physical body, so how you feel about and treat your body is a direct reflection of the respect you hold for your sex life. For many of us this must start with a decision to stop comparing your body to the myriad of photo-shopped images of models that even models don’t look like. Don’t sacrifice your access to pleasure in the patently false belief that sexual satisfaction will find you when you are fitter or more beautiful. In actuality, studies have shown the reverse to be true: opening yourself up to more sexual pleasure will make you recognize the beauty in your body as it is and inspire you to treat it better. For me, the dictum that “bodies are designed for motion” is a good place to start. Get moving more often and find ways that offer you the experience of both building strength and discovering flexibility, both of which are critical for more pleasurable and long lasting intimacy. Dedicate yourself to finding ways to live more deeply in your body, which is easy when you don’t take your five senses for granted. Exploring the range of scent, taste and touch that surrounds us but we often overlook by being overly focused on visual and auditory stimulus will ground and nourish the richness of living in your body. Resolve to treat your body with a little more attention and loving kindness and it will reward you by revealing its capacity for pleasure- sexual and otherwise.
In childhood, no one had to teach you how to play. Even the most serious street games of Capture the Flag were won with natural curiosity and eagerness to play. Having fun was second nature and treating your quest for more satisfying sex with this same spirit can help free your imagination to silence the external voices, whether they are the experts who are supposed to know or the insidious cultural messages of shame and fear surrounding sexuality. The key to rekindling this kind of playful spirit is to recall youthful spontaneity that came from feelings of abandon and freedom stemmed from lack of worry about how we were seen. Playfulness, by definition, excludes issues of right and wrong. Playing fair mattered, but we could spot it a mile away. Sexually speaking, being able to play fair and with abandon is the perfect equation where we can blossom into our hidden erotic selves. Playfulness in bed is where we can have fun pushing the edges of our comfort zone and know that no matter how it comes out, we will laugh and build trust in our ability to be in the game.
Talk about Sex
For most people, talking about sex is a taboo discussion topic. This overbearing silence not only keeps us from creating the sex lives we want, but worse still, keeps us from maturing into our erotic selves. Partly we don’t talk about sex because we are frightened by what we don’t know and partly because we are afraid of what we do know. Consequently, it is more common than not to retreat and to limit our sexual vocabulary to the lowest levels of discomfort. Tragically, what is lost is the opportunity to both learn who we are as sexual beings and who we could be as sexual couples. Here are a couple of topics that you could take turns sharing about that will open your sex life in ways that will amaze you: talk about your desires, tell your partner what you really want to do, share a recurring fantasy, even if you would never want to do in real life. As you begin to broaden your sexual vocabulary, make sure you can distinguish between sexual education and entertainment. There is a wide gap between some fun ideas you can gather from sexual entertainment videos or magazines and the knowledge base and expertise of a qualified sex educator, counselor or therapist. There is no shortage of resources to grow your ability to have a sexual conversation with someone you love. Taking the leap to create a sexual conversation will open up your capacity for pleasure and enhance the trust in your connection.