Sex Therapy and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

Another installment in our guest blogging series, we are delighted to share Pam‘s blog. Pam is a Somatica Practitioner and the author of the deeply profound and personal blog Down to There.

What I Learned about my Relationship with a Third Set of Eyes

Here’s the thing. My husband notices certain traits about himself and how he is in our relationship, and I see another set of qualities in myself and how I am in our relationship. But when we started seeing a sex and relationship coach, a whole new set of observations suddenly entered into the equation… and that changed everything.

A few years ago, after nearly two decades of mismatched libidos, my husband and I sought help to save our relationship from what felt like a frustrating stalemate.

Right away, Danielle began to point out things that we were not seeing. For example, when I reached out to touch him, she noticed I was trying to figure out what he liked. Without her birds-eye view of the interaction, we would have stayed the course with him enjoying being touched, and me thinking I was happy because I was giving him what he needed. But she asked me to try something different. She asked me to touch him in a way that was pleasurable for me without any conscious concern of whether it was pleasurable for him. I was surprised how completely different and more intimate the experience became for both of us.

It’s funny how hard it is to see things objectively when we are so in it. You’d think that by being so close to a situation that you’d be the expert, the one who really understands the best what is going on. However, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we need a third set of eyes on the problem.

This played out again more recently when my husband was expressing that he’d like to take more control in our sexual interactions. Following my lead had been successful to supercharge my libido for some time, but he felt like he had lost control in his sex like and desired to take charge, at least some of the time.

As luck would have it, I was also interested in my husband taking more control. But whenever he tried to lead, it never ended well. Our actions and reactions kept triggering each other and the encounter always ended up falling apart with one of us being angry and the other being hurt.

So Danielle suggested trying something in her office. She had him stalk me and then pin me up against the wall to see where we were getting stuck. As usual, what initially felt to me like “Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about!” quickly and strangely shifted into a weird space where he stopped bringing it and it stopped feeling good to me.

We both turned our heads towards Danielle and said “See?” And in the beautiful way that she does, she said “This is a problem of immersion.” What she noticed that we hadn’t was that both of us were in our heads, not our bodies. We were carefully watching each other for signs that it wasn’t going well, and in the process, became completely disconnected from the pleasure we could have been feeling. It’s a problem that has a lot of solutions and one that we are now having much more fun trying to solve.

My experience as a client is that adding in a third set of eyes when you feel stuck, misunderstood, or confused in your relationship can provide the “aha moment” that you both need to see things from a new perspective. I’ve become so enthralled with these “aha moments” that I took the Somatica® Core Professional Training last year. Since then, I’ve started my own practice helping individuals and couples explore what is possible emotionally and erotically in their relationship and am taking the training again this year to continue the journey.

We are beyond devastated by Prince’s passing. Not only were we major fans, but as Sex and Relationship coaches we appreciate that he did so much to confront the puritanism and hypocrisy of our culture’s relationship to sex. In particular, his emphasis on female pleasure and empowerment, and the way he made so many women feel every time he slithered on a stage or screen, made it clear that there is so many more sensual possibilities than what we are generally presented with in mainstream culture. In our mourning and celebration of his life and work, we have been listening to his music nonstop and noticing all of the profound lessons he shared in such a powerful medium. These are just a few of his songs that hit on some key elements we find in our practice. May his legacy live on in all of our (sex) lives.

  1. Head (1980) – The Importance of Reciprocation and A Broad Sexual Repertoire

This song is about head, which makes it important no matter what. This amazing story song recounts a chance meeting of “virgin on my way to be wed” and Prince. Soon after she gives him, well, head, on her way to her nuptials. After Prince gets her wedding dress a little sullied, she turns around and marries him instead. But at this point the chorus changes to “Now morning, noon, and night I give you head.” Singing a song where a woman is receiving oral pleasure morning, noon and night remains out of the norm, but in 1980, it was revolutionary. Aside from this, Head, and many of Prince’s other songs offer examples of a wide variety of sexual acts and variations, everything from taking a bath to getting on top, and we often see couples whose sex lives suffer because they are expecting intercourse to always please everyone, all the time. Prince lyrics are a great reminder of all of the ways erotic satisfaction can take place outside of a session of missionary.

  1. Cream (1991) – Relationships that are willing to break the rules are the best

Relationships that are the most successful are constantly open to negotiation and change and they are willing to break societal rules if it means the relationship will flourish. Or as Prince puts it “Make the rules…Then break them all ’cause you are the best.” In this vein we encourage our clients to make a relationship contract, and we also encourage them to always feel like they change that contract if it no longer serves them. When couples come to the table openly and honestly and express their needs, they often find ways to get what they want that may break certain social taboos. We also want to add that this song is just dirty good. Cream – what a dirty and wonderful way to celebrate all of the messy, sticky, awesomeness of sex.

  1. Kiss (1986) – Give (or make) the extra time and don’t forget the Kiss

Oh the sweet, simple, and often forgotten sensual act that is so important at the beginning of a relationship and often neglected later on. Kisses can be so many things from sweet to seductive to teasing to ridiculously dirty. We have seen so many couples that are desperate to reconnect and have forgotten how even one erotically charged kiss can change everything. We see many clients who are doing such elaborate things to make their partners happy, often sacrificing more than they can sustain, when they could just be truly giving their “extra time” and their “Kiss.”

  1. If I Was Your Girlfriend (1987) – Don’t Let Social Scripts Get in the Way of Intimacy

Oh how we love this song. It has so many erotic layers and twists and turns. Prince begs and pleads to be let into his female partners world in ways that are usually reserved for platonic friendships between women. This song illustrates the ways that we often keep our intimate partners at a distance that is supposed to keep some mystery alive, but can result in creating walls and distance. When Prince asks, “Would U let me dress U” it is somehow equally hot as undressing. And when he clarifies, “I mean, help U pick out your clothes/Before we go out” he is extending an offer to be in a partnership that defies societal rules about gender and how women are supposed to vanish and transform themselves for going out. But he stresses that he is not being domineering, “Not that you’re helpless/But sometimes, sometimes/Those are the things that bein’ in love’s about.” Being in lasting love is often more about these little daily moments, the time spent getting ready, than the actual going out, Prince shows how excitement and sensual energy can be woven through even the most mundane of interactions.

  1. Darling Nikki (1984)  – Fantasize and Experiment

As teenager who listened to pop songs in the 80’s, we were amongst many whose fantasies were stoked by the thought of “So many devices, anything that money could buy.” He also put forth the culturally impossible thought that a woman could use a man for sex and want him only for that.

  1. 1999 (1982)  – Seize The Day

If there is any one lesson that can be taken from Prince’s life and untimely death, it is that life is too short to remain unhappy and unfulfilled. Or as he puts it, Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb/We could all die any day/But before I’ll let that happen,/I’ll dance my life away.

This list could go on and on. Feel free to add all of the ones we didn’t include as comments.

This week, we are delighted to feature a blog from Elena, a Somatica Graduate and full-time Practitioner.

In Search of My Movie…

In Somatica we talk about HSM, or Hottest Sexual Movie. It’s the words, energy, touch, and experiences that make you feel exactly what you long to feel when you have sex. As I’ve begun to explore my own HSM, it’s been tricky to figure it out, and to accept myself and my turn ons as they are.

Over the past few years I have been an archaeologist of my own soul, my sexual, erotic, vital self. When I first took the Somatica training I was completely disconnected from my sexuality. I was so stuck and had no idea where to even begin getting unstuck. Thankfully, I was in the right place! With the experiential tools and skills, and emotional support I received in the training I was able to begin my ongoing journey of self-discovery. With more consciousness has come more choice, intention, awareness and fulfillment.

Exploring my hottest movie has been one part of this journey – digging into my fantasies and experiences to identify what turns me on: What do I fantasize about? What kind of porn do I like to watch? What sexual encounters and relationships have been the most arousing? Why? What did I feel in those moments? What am I wanting to feel?

In my first year of the Somatica training, I was in a group with two men, both of whom seemed to me to be way more in touch with their HSM than I was (I’m a pro at negative comparison!) I shared with them a scene from a movie, and a story written by Anaïs Nin. The movie was Risky Business and the scene is Love on a Real Train. I haven’t found the story again and I don’t know if I even remember it right but what remains in my imagination is a woman in a skirt being taken from behind in a populated, public space by a stranger.

What about these two “scenes” get me and why? As we explored and one of my co-students reframed my fantasy I was able to get more detail about what turned me on in the stories and what didn’t. For example, when he framed the the scene on the train as just me and a gentleman, I immediate corrected him – no, he’s not a gentleman. When my colleague added that no one was around, that was wrong too (even though that is the scene in Risky Business). It wasn’t about people being around and watching, it was about people being around and not knowing. In the Anaïs Nin story, the sex is public and also secret. This led me to memories of my first boyfriend and I having sex in my room at my parents house, in the middle of the day. Everyone was home but they had no idea what was going on in my bedroom. It was hot.

From this first layer excavation my takeaway was that secrecy, risk, and illicit sex are veins of rich ore in the mines of my desire. As I follow them more deeply other insights come to light. For instance, I’m not necessarily turned on by illicit as in dishonest – although the tension created by an affair definitely has its appeal. I get even more aroused by engaging in non-traditional sex and relationships. It turns out what arouses me is the risk involved in being vulnerable in my intimate relationships, and the super hot, shared secret of how sex can be, and how relationships can be, when engaged in authentically, erotically, naughtily, and openly.

My Hottest Sexual Movie is a work in progress. It is exhilarating to continue refining, learning, and practicing my movie! Exploring it in a group setting, being supported by community and supporting others is amazing. This year I have the opportunity to lead a group in the training and I am looking forward to helping others explore, find their HSM, embrace it and feel empowered to share with their partners freely and without shame.

When we work with couples, we always encourage them to have a Hottest Sexual Movie conversation, but not until we have given them the proper tools and understandings so they can truly share their deepest desires. In this series we have taken you through The Hottest Sexual Movie 101, and shared some details to help you decide if your movie fits into the common genres of Romantic, Passionate or Dominant and Submissive. Now we want to help you in creating a space, outside of our sex therapy office, where you can share and learn each other’s movies.

These conversations have some very specific rules to follow if you want to make space for connection and intimacy. Before talking about the rules, we want to make an important distinction between Hottest Sexual Movies and fantasies.

Your Hottest Sexual Movie consists of the experiences you actually want to have. In addition to this, you may have a set of fantasies that you use to increase your arousal during sex or masturbation but that you don’t actually want to fully enact in the world. For example, you might fantasize about group sex but have no interest in actually experiencing it. These may exist totally outside of your sexual relationship together or you might want to be able to express these fantasies to your partner in a way that brings them into your movie. For example, if you are playing with dominant/submissive dynamics you may want your partner to punish you for having this fantasy. Conversely, you may just want to use it for yourself and never share it in an erotically charged space. We encourage you to share both your movies and your fantasies as part of the conversation and be specific.

Sharing your hottest sexual movie will take self-awareness, conscious communication and non-judgmental acceptance. It will also require the ability to know and share your boundaries, the willingness to learn instead of feeling like you already need to know, and a whole lot of creativity. One word of caution, When it comes to sharing past experiences with other lovers, be aware that this could trigger hurt. Be especially careful not to compare your partner to someone else with whom you’ve had amazing sex. Trust us, they will never forget this.

When you describe your movies, picture the character(s), the action, the setting, and what you feel. While it is a beautiful gift to really dive into the role of guest star in your partner’s movie, you also have a right to decide which parts you are ready to try now, which parts you might want to add later, and which parts you may never do at all. You might have more than one movie or might want to begin in one and move into another one. For example you might find a romantic seduction scenario is what gets you started but when it comes to actually getting you off a more passionate, animalistic sex fits the bill. Sometimes the process of articulating these desires can open up new avenues of play and seduction.

Always remember that none of this is set in stone. This is an ongoing conversation that you and your partner can always revisit and amend. In our book, Making Love Real, we go into greater depth as to how the process of discovering, sharing and finally acting out your hottest sexual movie can change your relationship in lasting and amazing ways.

With the phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey, Rihanna’s S&M and other popular representations, Dominant/Submissive fantasies are coming out of the darkness and into the mainstream imagination. However, these iterations often gloss over the core needs such fantasies satisfy. After seeing hundreds of clients, we can confirm that many people’s core sexual needs are about power in some way or another. As we help you to identify your “Hottest Sexual Movie” it is important to consider what side of the power dynamic excites you. You may want to feel like you have complete power, feel powerless or play around on both sides.

If you are submissive, you may want to feel restrained or contained in some way that makes you feel safe. You may want to feel like you don’t have to take any responsibility, as if it is all just happening to you. You also may want to feel punished or coerced. If you are dominant, you may want to feel powerful and in command. You may like the feeling of coercing your partner to do something and then having them realize they like it. You may want to be judgmental, scolding, or punishing. You may find that at times you like to be dominant and at other times you like to be submissive. This is commonly referred to as being a “switch” and the act as “switching.”

Dominance and submission can hit some sensitive areas (slight pun intended) and, as such, they require finesse. Some people who want to be dominated can be ambivalent about these desires, and whenever you are playing with power differences, it is important to be aware that this kind of play can provoke strong emotions. Not everyone is ready to play with dominance, and some need to feel a romantic or passionate connection before they are willing to explore it. Some people like light dominance but nothing heavy, and some never want to play this way.

Many women who are deeply invested in women’s equality have internalized this to mean that they should not want to be submissive in the bedroom or that this power dynamic might end up leaking into other parts of their relationship. The truth is there are power differences in relationships, and dominance and submission can be one way to openly explore these differences. This is why we also recommend switching roles and seeing what it feels like for each of you to be on the other side of the equation.

There are also socialized and expected gender roles for heterosexuals that make dominant women and submissive men less common in our society. This can cause challenges for some submissive men and dominant women, as they may feel ashamed of being in the minority or judgmental of their partner for falling outside gender norms. When two dominants or two submissives get together, it can be challenging. You might end up in power struggles, or with no one doing anything. This is why it is so important to bring a non-judgmental attitude to your Hottest Sexual Movie conversations. There is nothing either of you can do to change your partner’s desires. You can, however, accept them without feeling responsible for fulfilling them.

Even if your desires align, it is very rare to get the dominant/submissive movie right the first time you try it. Both you and your partner need to be prepared to have a number of “takes” in order to find out what words and actions turn the two of you on the most. With regard to words, remember that tone and attitude are important, not just the words themselves. If your partner tells you something turns them on (for example, “I really like it when you tell me to get on my knees and then you grab my hair”), ask what turns them on about it. When you begin to get some insight into why particular actions are a turn-on, you can add others that are similar thematically.
They may say, for example, “I like it because I feel like you’re in control of the experience and I have to do exactly what you say.” On the other hand, they might say, “I like it because it feels like you’re using me for your pleasure.” These are two very different themes that would lead to different kinds of sexual experiences. The first could include pleasing you both, while the second would mean that, as the dominant, you would focus more on taking your own pleasure; if you focus too much on your partner’s pleasure, they might get turned off.

Once you’ve found some words, gestures, and experiences that turn you on, continue to communicate your needs and desires and give feedback. This will add variety and keep your explorations fresh and interesting. After all, there are only so many times your “professor” can give you a failing grade that you have to work to change, or your “house servant” can fail in their duties and need to be punished, before you may need to change the story and your roles. In our recent book “Making Love Real” we give you specific advice on how to bring Dominant/Submissive role play into your relationship in a way that is safe, exciting, and dynamic.

The best word to describe passion is animalistic. It is sex that is a bit out of control. In modern western society, we spend years socializing our children out of animal-like behavior in order for them to behave. When the self-conscious part of your brain that tells you to be a good girl or boy shuts down, passion begins. Out comes the part of you that wants to bite, grab, growl, and satisfy all of your senses. In our sexually repressed culture, many people fantasize about having passion overtake them and their lovers. The passionate sexual movie is very common because it allows you to go beyond the constraints of being nice and compliant and makes you feel truly alive in your body.

In this series we introduce the ways that finding the genre of your “hottest sexual movie” can bring infinite pleasure to a relationship. Last week we detailed how “the romantic movie” plays out in fantasy and reality. Whereas the romantic movie is about feeling deeply loved, the passionate story is about intense, insatiable desire. Rather than appealing to our very human need to feel seen and understood, the passionate story is about unexplained, uncontrollable animalistic desire taking hold.
No action captures the essence of the passionate story more than a passionate kiss, by now depicted in so many movies that it might appear cliché. However, when done right, it doesn’t look or feel cliché at all. We have helped many clients reignite passion on multiple levels just by nailing this one important experience.

Here are the basics of delivering a killer, Passionate Kiss:

  1. The Look: It is important to begin with a passionate look, letting all of the animalistic desire come into your eyes and holding it.
  2. The Build Up: Waiting before jumping into a kiss builds tension and lets you sit in the uncertainty of whether or not all the passion will be met. If you go too quickly to the kiss, you don’t allow tension and excitement to build. By waiting, you allow yourself and your lover to build to a frenzy of desire where you can’t rip each other’s clothes off fast enough.
  3. The Delivery: Don’t be afraid to grab hair, a collar, or the back of their head and really let yourself express your passion with your mouth and tongue but also with your entire body pressed against theirs. If you feel like giving a little lip nibble- got for it.

We promise you won’t regret where this kiss can lead. Here is a story one of our male clients told us about his girlfriend’s passionate approach to sex:

“Usually my girlfriend seems to be more into romance, but every once in awhile it’s like she’s possessed. It sometimes happens on vacation or when something really great happens in her life. I know it’s happening because she gets this look in her eye like I’m just a piece of meat. I know women might not like feeling like a piece of meat and, to be honest, the first time I saw it I was a little surprised, but I definitely don’t mind feeling like a piece of meat. This one time, she walked in the door wearing this really tight, sexy dress and she had that look in her eyes. Before she even got to me, she started taking her clothes off, and she just pushed me down on the bed. She started kissing me and grabbing me and taking my clothes off. She took my hands and started moving them all over her body, encouraging me to grab her ass and her nipples really hard. I could feel her grinding on me…”

Anyways…we will leave the rest to your imagination. After all, this is all about finding your own Hottest Sexual Movie. As you start to see what genre most appeals to your deepest desires don’t forget that you can always incorporate various elements of each into your special mix. Romance and passion often go hand and hand, and in our recent book, Making Love Real, we give you a template for how to seamlessly integrate multiple fantasy types into you sexual encounters. Stay tuned for our next post on the “Dominant/submissive” movie and how to bring your power play fantasies to life.

In our previous blog we introduced the ways that finding and sharing your “hottest sexual movie” can turn up the heat in your sex life. In this series we will tell you about the most common sexual movie genre’s we see with our clients in order to help you begin to identify what you want from your sexual interactions.

Let’s start with romance. Most women were fed romantic movies throughout their entire life- starting from cartoon Cinderella and moving right on up to The Notebook. It is not surprising that most women respond in some way to romantic words or gestures. Even women who have passionate and/or dominant fantasies often want some kind of romance in the mix. Many men also have aspects of the romantic movie as part of their desires or sexual repertoire. While the romantic movies we see on the big screen almost never end in explicit sexual activity, it can take a bit of imagination to discover what romance looks like in the bedroom when it is not PG-13.

The romantic movie is about being deeply loved and cared for—it’s the soul mate fantasy. And although certain aspects of this fantasy are unrealistic, like the idea that you will always have the exact same kinds of transcendent feelings about someone forever. When you can see romance as a fantasy as opposed to expecting it to be a steady-state in relationships, you can surrender into the pleasure of playing out the romantic movie in the moment instead of focusing on the disappointment of it not being forever. In this way, you can still experience the longing and pleasure of romance, which is about holding each other as eternally precious and uniquely important. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel swept up in a connection that is profound and all-encompassing. It is about the feeling that you know and understand each other deeply and pay attention to each other’s wants.

For every type of movie, there are four basic elements that need to be included – energy, touch , words and gestures. In working with clients whose primary fantasy is romantic we have outlined the romantic expressions of each of these elements that are most likely to fulfill the romantic appetite.

Romantic Energy: This is what you feel in your heart when you experience the warm glow of love and connection. The energy that comes from the heart can be adoration or admiration. It is often what people are talking about when they refer to the feeling of falling in love.
Romantic Touch: The most romantic touch is a light touch. Light touch is very arousing to the skin and body and therefore wonderful to use as warm-up touch, regardless of the movie you are playing out.
Romantic Words: These words have to do with beauty, preciousness, abstract sentimentality, fulfillment of dreams, and eternal connections. Think ““You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” “You are the man of my dreams.” For some these might sound hyperbolic, for others they are exactly what they long to hear.
Romantic Gestures: Because romance goes beyond the boundaries of the sexual experience, you can bring romance into your day-to-day life through both romantic words and romantic gestures. Romantic gestures include sending letters, cards, emails, or texts with romantic messages and giving gifts like flowers, a tie, chocolate, or a ring. Other romantic gestures are remembering special days like birthdays, anniversaries, first times (like the first day you kissed or the first time you met); dressing up to go out to a favorite restaurant, the theater, or dancing; or visiting a romantic place with beautiful views or stars. What these gestures express is that you are on your partner’s’ mind no matter what else is happening in life.

A Romantic Fantasy: In Our Client’s Words

We could make endless lists giving examples of romantic energy, touch, words, and gestures, but often our clients say it best when they begin to put this all together into their ultimate fantasy. We want to share one client’s description of her romantic sexual movie that was so beautiful it made us cry:

“We both get dressed up – you’re in some tight jeans that show the shape of your ass and that black coat I bought you, and I’m in an elegant dress. We go out to a restaurant together and you open and close the car door and the restaurant door for me. While we’re at the restaurant, we touch each other across the table and you tell me how beautiful I look to you. When we leave, you put on my coat for me. At home you light some candles, turn on some of that music that has no lyrics, and invite me to dance. We start to sway together as you look into my eyes. You lean in and touch your lips to mine, barely kissing me, and then you whisper in my ear how much you love me. You move behind me and hold me close around the waist. Still dancing and swaying, I can feel your breath as you gently kiss my neck and ear. You unzip my dress and slowly take it off of me, caressing my body as it falls to the floor. You’re surprised at my lacy white bra and underwear and you admire my body…..

Anyways…You get the picture. We will leave the rest to your imagination as we continue to guide you in discovering your own hottest sexual movie. If you want to hear more from what we have learned from our clients check out our new book, Making Love Real. And stay tuned for the other popular genres. Next up, find out about Passionate Fantasies…