Celeste and Danielle, Creators of the Somatica Method of Sex Therapy and Relationship Coaching

Don-JonWhile inelegant, heavy-handed, and simplistic at times, the overall message of the movie Don Jon is a good one. Written, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this film takes us on a tour of sex and relationships in modern times. In the beginning we see Levitt’s main character, Don Jon, watching porn constantly, sleeping with a new woman every night, and complaining that real sex never measures up to the porno standard. He then enters into a relationship with Barbara Sugarman, played by Scarlett Johansson, who plays by the old fashioned rules dictated by female “porn,” aka romance movies. She holds off on sex and begins grooming him to be the perfect financial provider. Once they do have sex, Don Jon slinks off to masturbate immediately afterward, and continues to rely on internet porn to achieve his sexual highs.

The message Gordon-Levitt beats into us like a dead horse is simply Porn is Men’s Porn, Romance Movies are Women’s Porn and neither one shows any form of real connection or intimacy. Eventually Barbara discovers Don Jon’s porn history on his browser and leaves him for being a “pervert.”

Enter Esther – a recently widowed “cougar” played by Julianne Moore with whom Don Jon eventually begins an honest sexual and intimate relationship. The fact that Moore is a widow points to the way that the romantic fantasy of finding someone and living happily ever after without a hitch is also always a lie, because eventually one person dies and one way or another we all lose.

While this might seem sad, we believe that the message of the movie is actually quite hopeful. The relationship between Don Jon and Esther is not dictated by the trajectory of meet-date-cohabitate-marry-breed-die. They are exploring their connection in the moment and Don Jon begins to experience the vulnerability, depth, and freedom, as well as the arousal that comes from the authentic erotic connection available in this relationship. We found the message in Don Jon to be infinitely more hopeful than either porn or rom coms – it offers us a glimpse into what’s possible if we stay true to ourselves and our relationships in the present moment.

Don Jon points us to a vision of sex and relationships that aren’t based on the rom com’s promise of forever happiness or porn’s perfectly uninterrupted, faked orgasm trajectory of male arousal to ejaculation. Sure, once in a while it’s fine to go ahead and get our porn or romance fix as long as we realize that they are fantasies, not reality. In reality, there are no guarantees of happily every after or hot sex forever, there are just two (or more) people experiencing the ups and downs of life, and the joys and frustrations of the places we meet and the places we miss each other. When we can do this with love, honesty, and room for disappointment, so much more is possible.

The Sessions is a movie about sexual surrogacy — a form of sexual therapy in which a psychotherapist, surrogate, and client work together as a team to support the client in overcoming emotional and functional sexual difficulties. The story is based on the experience between a young Cheryl Cohen Greene, an actual surrogate who still lives and practices in Berkeley, and one of her clients, Mark O’Brien, a Polio sufferer who was paralyzed except for some movement in his fingers, toes, face, and eyes. While it was a wonderful idea to tell the story of surrogacy and how it actually helped Mark, who eventually married a woman and who stayed in connection with Cheryl until he died, it was an unfortunately unrealistic depiction of their relationship.

Within Hollywood’s relationship lexicon – a lexicon that cannot imagine intimate sexual connection outside of the romantic trajectory where you meet, fall in love, and then must either marry or part ways forever – the idea that a man and a woman could “practice” sex, feel affection and connection, and not fall in love is impossible. Unfortunately, instead of showing the actual relationships that surrogates have with their clients – a relationship of non-judgmental acceptance, supportive care and affection where the client can explore, heal, and expand around their own sexuality – Hollywood had to make Cheryl and Mark start to fall in love and, as a result, have to end their relationship. This is not the true story of Cheryl and Mark and it is not at all representative of a surrogate-client relationship.

We feel this is an important distinction because, as with any experiential practices around sex, our cultural misunderstandings about sex and relationship can get in the way of accessing important tools for learning and growth. The truth of sex and relationships is that there are as many different ways to combine them as there are people who engage in them and, while we try to fit these connections neatly into the expected trajectory, they do not stay within these culturally expected boundaries. People have sex without intimacy, marriages without sex, and affairs even when they still love their partners. In our upcoming book for couples, we will be talking about how to have a real, honest relationship that accounts for the beautiful uniqueness of every human being and every relationship, a beautiful uniqueness that was impossible for Hollywood to depict in The Sessions.

Some people choose to stay virgins until they are married while others who are interested in sex lack the skills and opportunity to lose their virginity, even when they feel ready and would like to. For these people, unfulfilled urges can combine with societal pressure, leading them to either resign themselves to a celibate life or settle for very subpar sexual encounters, in an effort to lose their virginity at any cost.

But there is another option for those looking to get into the game: sex and intimacy coaching. As sex coaches, we don’t just help people improve their existing sexual relationships, we give people the tools to start their sex lives with confidence, openness, and optimism. One of the virgins we worked with, we’ll call him Calvin, was afraid that women would be turned off by his inexperience in the bedroom. After taking our Erotic Intensive, his date said to him, “You dangerous, bad man” when he was seducing her for the first time. Here he was a virgin and she thought he was some kind of player, his approach was so good.

The research out there talks about inherent and social predictors of adult virginity, like race, weight, alcohol use, and education levels. In our practice, we have worked with many virgins to help them gain experience with women and lose their virginity, and we have noticed some personality traits that seem to go along with adult virginity. For example, some of the men who we have helped don’t understand women’s sexual cues, can’t approach or seduce women, and feel easily rejected or do not have much resilience around rejection. Other men, like Calvin, are worried about performance or do not have confidence about their sexual skills and fear that potential partners will be turned off if it seems like they don’t know what they are doing.

We have worked with adult virgins from age 21 to age 72 and would love to help any man gain the confidence, skills, and understanding they need to take their sexual experiences with women to the next level. Since men are expected to be the initiators of sex, practicing first with a professional can be extremely helpful. In our sessions we focus on everything from getting dates to initiating contact, as well as the chemistry of attraction. We help men with seduction and technique, and teach them how to show women their desire and passion. Like Calvin, some men who have worked with with us decide to keep their virginity private and we feel you have a right to your privacy and a right to have a fulfilling sexual life.

As this recent article on men’s experience of low sexual desire points out, women are not the only ones who suffer a lack of desire in their relationships. We see men in our practice suffering from low sexual desire for a number of reasons.

Can’t Come Through with the Goods

One of the main reasons we see men experiencing low desire that is talked about in the article is the fear that they won’t be able to perform. Usually they will say something like, “I don’t want to initiate sex if I’m not going to be able to come through with the goods.” Because they fear they won’t be able to get or maintain an erection or control their ejaculation, they start to distance themselves from their desire altogether. Of course, it is difficult to tell which comes first, it may be that men who have low desire have trouble getting an erection or it may be that erectile difficulties cause men to shut down their sexual desire – the answer is likely a reciprocal relationship and that a negative downward spiral is created as a result.

When we work with men who have sexual dysfunction, we teach them that there are many ways to come through with the goods and that, more than just a hard-on or a lasting session of intercourse, what many women want out of sex is to feel some kind of intensity and emotional connection. Once men accept that there are many ways emotionally and physically to come through with the goods without ever having intercourse at all, they can get back in touch with their desire.

If at First You Don’t Succeed (and then again, and again, and again), Eventually You Might Stop Trying

Another reason that’s not covered in the article is a long-term experience of rejection. This feeling of rejection may come from a lack of confidence when approaching women or from the experience of being with a partner who has low sexual desire. If a man makes pass after pass after pass only to feel rejected over and over again, his desire will start to wane and can even shut down completely. Generally, at the same time he also builds feelings of frustration and negative self-image.

When we see men who are dealing with feelings of rejection and incompetence, we help them in a few ways. One is to see if there may be some things they are doing that are increasing their likelihood of rejection. We help them learn how to seduce and erotically connect with their lovers and partners. Second, we help them get back in touch with their desire as something inherent to them that no one can take away, and help them see the ways that their partner’s rejection might not be personal or about them at all. Third, if their partner is willing to come in, we help them work through differences in desire, share openly about their sexual needs, and learn how to be great lovers to one another.

Lack of Attraction to Their Partner

As this article points out, some men never had or lose attraction to their partner over time and this can cause low desire for men in long-term monogamous relationships with a partner to whom they aren’t attracted. The loss of attraction can be due to familiarity or changes in their partner’s looks or body. Many times, men do not want to lose their long-term relationships because of the many wonderful aspects in the relationship, but have lost attraction to their partner. We have had many men confide in us that they no longer have or have never been attracted to their partner. They feel very stuck because they feel like communicating this would be devastating and, at the same time, they are not interested in sex.

For some men, this lack of attraction can shift by becoming more embodied and connected with desire that has less to do with visual stimulation and more to do with embodied arousal. Another option that some couples choose in this situation is to try non-monogamy, outsourcing the sexual part of the relationship in order to be able to enjoy a lasting and supportive long-term emotional bond.

Low Testosterone

Low testosterone can also lead to men having lower desire. While many men who have low testosterone immediately jump to taking testosterone replacement therapies, which can have some nasty side-effects, there are actually ways to build your testosterone naturally, including getting more in touch with pleasure in your body, masturbation (sometimes without orgasm), and lowering shame. To find out more about natural ways to build your testosterone, read our blog on The Big T.

And Many More…

Other reasons include emotional shut-down, exhaustion, chronic pain and other desire-inhibiting medical conditions. When we work with chronic pain, what seems to help the most is learning to focus the attention on the pleasure as opposed to the pain. And, of course, there are many ways that we work with emotional shut-down to get people to allow themselves to feel their bodies, their emotions, and their desire again. As for exhaustion, learning how to care for yourself is a life-long process. Everything you do affects you in all areas of your life, so the more you eat right, rest, take breaks, exercise, nap, take vacations, breathe, etc. the more desirous and healthy you will be!

In an earlier blog we talked about why it’s important to talk with your partner very specifically about your sexual desires. We can’t emphasize enough how essential talking about sex is if you want your sex life to last and be fulfilling. Yet, because of our society’s general shaming about sex, just talking about our most mainstream desires for romance or passion can be challenging. For those of us who have less conventional sexual desires, talking about them can feel way more risky.

You might know exactly what turns you on the most, but fear that your partner will judge your desires or even be disgusted by them. In our work with individuals and couples, we have come across people who have all sorts of interesting desires, and you can see references to the wide variety of desires out in the world like this article from the Guardian about a young, slim woman who fantasizes about sex with older, obese men. Before even talking with your partner about your more unorthodox desires, we suggest you clarify for yourself exactly what your desires are and what you want from the conversation. We think it is helpful to look at your desires in terms of three categories.

Do It To Me – Sexy Acts

You might desire a specific act with your partner. For example, as a heterosexual man you might be embarrassed to ask for anal play because you fear your partner might think it is not masculine or is dirty. As a woman, you might want your partner to be more rough with you, like wanting them to slap your face.

Say It To Me – Sexy Words

You might desire to hear specific words from your partner. Maybe you want to feel like you are in trouble: “You are such a naughty boy and I’m going to whip you.” Or you want to hear that you are the queen and receive worshipful words: “I bow at your perfect feet your majesty and am at your command.” If you are wanting your partner to talk during sex, don’t leave it up to chance, give them the exact words that you want them to say and let them try those, as well as experiment with others in the same vein. Make sure that you have an agreement that you can give feedback and update the words if they start to get boring.

Play It With Me – Sexy Fantasies

With fantasies it is important to know whether or not you want to share them outside of sex, share them verbally during more conventional sexual experiences, or play them out. You can share your fantasies simply as a way to let your partner into some of the deepest, most private, and most vulnerable parts of yourself. Even if you don’t play them out, this can be a very connecting experience.

You might desire to say your fantasies to your partner during sex or have them tell you specific fantasies. For example, you might be really turned on by the idea of an orgy, but don’t actually want to experience group sex. Instead, you want your partner to walk you through the fantasy verbally: “Now imagine that we walk into this room full of really sexual people and they are all looking at you, thinking how much they want you. And, you stand there shyly at first, but soon you start to get a little bit more brave and you start seducing them all by slowly undressing.” Finally, you may want to actually play out your fantasies. You might want to play out a rape fantasy or buy a nice flogger, a blindfold and handcuffs and go as a couple to your local dungeon, where your partner can tie you to a cross and whip you and play with you in front of other people.

Bringing Up The Conversation

Once you have a good idea of what you want, it is time to take the very brave step of bringing it up with your partner. Since society tells us that certain desires are acceptable and others are wrong or shameful, it is very vulnerable to share our deepest desires especially if they are unconventional. There are many ways, both direct and indirect, to share. We think the best way is to invite your partner to a sexy conversation where the two of you agree to take an open, non-judgmental approach to hearing all of your partner’s desires and fantasies. Make sure that you both realize how vulnerable and brave to share in these ways.

In order to be open and non-judgmental, it is also extremely important that you remember that you have a right to your boundaries – if you are uncertain about boundaries, check out our series on boundaries. If there is something that your partner desires, first you want to accept and celebrate it and then you get to decide whether you want to participate, knowing that there may be some desires that you want to explore with them and others that you don’t.

Most people judge each other’s fantasies because they are afraid that they are required to meet all of their partner’s needs, however, you will never meet all your partner’s needs. The worst things you can do in the face of your partner’s desires are judge and try to shut them down or engage in activities that are too uncomfortable for you – judging will shut your partner down and having sex in ways you don’t want to will shut you down. If you keep your boundaries, allow yourself to be open to new experiences, and allow your partner to feel disappointment if there are parts you don’t want to do, that is the very best you can do in relationship.

We just finished teaching the 2013 Somatica Training. Our students reported that it was a powerful, life changing experience. We had such a wonderful time teaching and watching our students grow and transform in front of our eyes. We are very excited to spread the Somatica Method all over the US and around the world, and are looking forward to seeing the new Somatica practitioners bring their unique talents to helping people create mind-blowing sex and fulfilling relationships.

Here is some of the feedback that we got:

“This has been one of the best educational experiences of my life.”

“This class was life-changing. It touched on all the areas in my life that needed work and I feel like I had the tools and guidance I needed to make the necessary improvements so I can offer these tools to others. Celeste & Danielle are the real deal. They know their stuff and offer it in a way that anyone can learn the tools and strategies for not just a healthy sex life, but for a healthier LIFE.”

“Just amazing! I never felt a teacher being so open, vulnerable, funny, easy and absolutely brilliant.”

“The Somatica Training was invaluable in providing me with a framework to work with clients on sex and intimacy. Tantra and Sexological Bodywork provided me with embodiment skills and understanding the importance of breath, sound and movement. Somatica provides the missing element, which is central to human sexuality, of emotional connection in an embodied state. Somatica is the glue that holds all of my training and education in sexuality together!”

“I honestly can’t imagine any other training that could move and inspire so much compassion and self-love. There’s nothing in my life that compares to Somatica.”

“Coming from the MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) world I felt lots of arenas around sexuality did not ever get discussed. After taking this class I have learned not only about how to help my clients, I also learned so much about myself in relationships. It is incredible that we can go through life so disconnected and not even know. For anyone looking to better understand themselves in relationship or by themselves, I highly recommend this course. It will challenge you in the most profound way.”

“Really amazing and life-changing. So different from anything I’ve done. Celeste & Danielle have a way of articulating things that’s at once profound and straightforward. Everything is so applicable to what’s going on with me in my life.”

Are you a professional in the therapy, sexuality or sexological bodywork field, or someone who wants to share their sex-positive attitude through a career helping clients have the healthiest, happiest sex lives possible? Expand your professional skill set, grow your erotic repertoire, and spread the love with The Somatica Method. Apply for a seat in our 2014 Somatica Method Training today!

Women’s pleasure potential is through the roof, yet most women get nowhere near reaching it. We want to put the power of pleasure in your hands by helping you know your body, how it works, and what is possible. Once you know what is on the menu, you can choose the dishes you like best and that feel best in your body.

We want you to have all the delicious orgasms you can, but first a brief history of the facts and politics of women’s orgasms. If you remember nothing else, remember that 70% of women need some kind of clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm. Historically, Freud said that the only mature orgasm was a “vaginal orgasm.” Later, feminists fought for the clitoris, contenting that there was no such thing as a vaginal orgasm. More recently, we’ve learned that women can have orgasms that originate from three different places – the clitoris, the G-Spot, and the cervix. Some women get even more pleasure from combination orgasms, where two or more of these areas are being stimulated at the same time.

As sex and relationship coaches, the most important lesson we teach women is that every orgasm is a mature orgasm. Whether you get it from your fingers, your partner’s fingers, your partners mouth, your vibrator, or your partner’s pelvis/penis, celebrate and enjoy every second of it!

Warm Up

You are not going to get to any of these great orgasms unless your body and your mind has enough warm up. Check out our recent Huffington Post article 3 Ways to Get Excited to get some warm up tips! In addition, make sure that you ask your partner to kiss, lightly touch, and grab you while whispering adoration or fantasies in your ear.

No Pressure!

Your body will not respond well to pressure, so think of your pleasure potential journey as an exploration – instead of trying to reach the goal of having all the different kinds of orgasms, think of it as a way to learn what your body enjoys the most. Let’s put it this way, you can spend the rest of your life wishing you had the “right” kind of orgasms or you can spend it fully enjoying the ones you can actually have. We know which one we would choose!

Clitoral Orgasms

The easiest way to get a clitoral orgasm is by stimulating the clitoris yourself – usually starting slowly then getting much quicker – with your own fingers or a vibrator. Get a vibrator with multiple settings so you can start light and work your way up to just right! The next best way is to have your partner use their fingers or tongue. You can also get a clitoral orgasm from intercourse – when your partner’s pelvis rubs against the clitoris or the movement in and out pulls the lips of the clitoris across the hood. But for most women this may not be enough to result in orgasm because the stimulation is more intermittent and indirect. If you want to dramatically increase your likelihood of having an orgasm during intercourse use your fingers or your vibrator during the act.

G-Spot Orgasms

G-Spot orgasms come from pressure and movement across the inside of your vagina right past the urethral sponge. For most people, the best way to find it is to have your partner go inside with their fingers a little past the knuckles and then hook their fingers upwards. For most women the best G-Spot tool is their partner’s fingers – fingers are both sensitive and skillful. When your partner uses their fingers, while you direct them and give them feedback, they can moderate the location, pressure and speed of their touch – all very important for your ability to get a G-Spot orgasm.

If you try stimulating the G-Spot and don’t feel much at the first few times don’t give up. It takes time and repetition to awaken and sensitize the G-Spot. Also the G-Spot can generally take more pressure than most folks think, so invite harder, faster pressure and see how it feels. G-Spot sensation can be very intense and unfamiliar at first and might make you feel like you have to go to the bathroom, but you don’t! G-Spot pressure can lead to female ejaculation – yes ladies, it is a real thing! Try to stay with the intensity and add some clitoral stimulation or warm up with a clitoral orgasm before your partner uses their fingers on your G-Spot.

Cervical Orgasms

Cervical orgasms come from stimulation on your cervix – the opening of your uterus – located deep inside your vagina. The best tools for the cervix are a penis, a toy, or long fingers. Some women have a very sensitive cervix and can only take very light pressure while others like very hard pressure. The cervix is also a great candidate for combination orgasms: try giving yourself some clitoral touch or vibrations at the same time as your cervix is stimulated.

We hope you will continue to find out all about your body and how it works so you can have the most pleasurable sex life possible!