Celeste & Danielle Offer Sex and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

Elena is a Somatica practitioner with her own thriving practice in San Francisco and the South Bay. She is also a group leader in the Somatica Core Training as well as an amazing friend, colleague, partner, and mom. We are so excited to host her guest blog

Last year I watched the Showtime series “Masters of Sex,” the fictionalized story of the real life Virginia Johnson and William Masters. I knew of them, of course, but I didn’t know a lot about them so as I made my way through the series, I also researched who they were and what the wide world of the internet had to say. I came across a blog post that characterized the relationship of Masters and Johnson as “ultimately failed” because, after 20 years of marriage, they divorced. I found it appalling that a twenty year relationship, not to mention a culture-shifting collaboration, could be described as failed because at some point they decided to separate.

On the one hand, I wasn’t surprised at all. The prevailing wisdom about long term relationships equates longevity with success. Not just longevity but longevity of a particular form or arrangement of relationship, most often monogamous, cohabiting, and married. On the other hand, I was separating from my partner of 15 years and I was furious at the thought that our relationship could in any way be construed as a failure.

I met my… what to call him? Ex. Ugh. Former partner? No, we are still partners. Baby daddy? Seriously?

I met this person, one of my soul mates, when he and I were both 29. I had moved from the Bay Area to New Mexico a few years prior and he was from the South – an unlikely match. We began an affair after I had a bad breakup. He was in a non-monogamous relationship (as he pointedly informed me one night at a party). For a year we had hot, amazing, open, adventurous sex and pined after each other on the daily. I loved it (see my blog-post In Search of My Movie).

At the end of that year, and some all-too-human and messy life events, the multiple relationship configurations exploded and when the pieces reformed, he and I were living together. Monogamously.

Two years later, we started trying to have a baby. Two and a half years after that, we finally did have our son. Thus continued a decade of life and relationship challenges I could not have foreseen. To list them would get off topic but it was a heavy time. Eventually we sought out the help of a gifted therapist because we knew our relationship could be better and we wanted it to be. I also found Somatica. Between the gifted therapist and the life-altering experience of the Somatica training, we started to wake up. We healed and repaired some of our deepest wounds – some of which we had inflicted on each other and some of which pre-dated our presence in each other’s lives. We got legally married and we opened our relationship again. We worked our way to a state of awareness from which we were able to see one another, and what we each wanted, clearly. Without blame or recrimination we decided to stop living together, stop forcing ourselves to be lovers, and to embrace the profoundly deep knowing and love we have for each other as friends, as co-parents, and as soul mates. We made room for change so our relationship could shift instead of break.

I had friends say, “Oh, that open relationship thing isn’t working out so well.” I found it fascinating that opening our relationship was blamed (as though the shift was a failure) and that no one ever said, “Wow, living all those years with the confining, restrictive, unrealistic expectations of traditional marriage really took it’s toll, huh?”. The truth of our experience was that we opened our relationship out of a sense of safety with and love for each other. We weren’t meeting all of each other’s needs and wanted those needs met regardless of whether or not we were the one to fulfill them for the other. I don’t advocate for open relationships or monogamy, but I do believe they should both be on the menu as equally valid choices so that people can make a conscious decision to do what works for them. What I want to share in this post is that people change, and we can shift instead of break if we allow our relationships to change with us. Riding the roller coaster with awareness, flexibility, and resilience is the way to have successful relationships, not deciding on a shape and form and rigidly holding to that at the cost of passion, joy, fulfillment, and ultimately even connection.

If the author of the aforementioned blog, and most of society, were to look at the 15 years of relationship we’ve had so far, they would pronounce our relationship a failure because we are no longer married and living together. Far from a failure, this is the most successful relationship of my life to date. We didn’t break up, or in fact break anything – we shifted a connection that remains vibrant and vital to both of us.

Whether you are single or in a relationship, having a flirtatious approach to life makes your world a better place. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we invite you to build and flex your flirting muscles. Imagine yourself taking your sweetheart out to a Valentine’s day date and having a whole array of tools to flirt with each other and build sexy erotic tension that makes you unable to take your hands off of each other.

If you are single having a flirtatious approach means that everywhere you go, you can smile with a twinkle in your eye, wink when you make your coffee order, or let your sexy laugh out when you order your salmon at the grocery store.

If you are in a relationship, here’s some flirts you might try:

Morning wake-up flirt – Wait til you see your partner stirring and then look at them with desire or invitation when they first wake up. Maybe you have a sensual look or a naughty look in your eyes. Tell them how beautiful they looked while they were sleeping.

Early evening flasher flirt – Maybe you are both sitting in the living room with your computers or watching a show and then slowly you turn to them and unbutton your shirt while giving them a coy smile. Flash them your breasts or chest or, if you know they are a fan of your butt, give them a peak of that instead.

Please, will you…asking flirt – Being in a relationship sometimes means asking your partner to help you with tasks. This can be so much more fun if done with a flirt. Maybe it goes like this: “Baby? (bat your eyelashes), do you think you could…(smile, glide your fingers gently down their hip) pick up the dry cleaning today?

We hope these few examples will inspire you to make flirting a regular part of your day!

Part of being in a relationship is taking the time to learn about what fills your partner’s stocking – what makes them feel all gooey and gluey with you and inspires them to stick with it through the rough times. This can be difficult if you each aren’t willing to share what you need clearly and specifically! After working with couples for all of these years, we have noticed that people don’t always know what helps their partner feel all filled up. When you don’t know what your partner needs you might be spending lots of time and energy trying to give them what they need without it landing at all.

Here’s the three reasons you might be missing out on giving their partner the gifts they need:

  1. You Give What You Want to Receive: Most people assume that people are similar to them so they make the loving gestures that they are hoping to receive. These often don’t land because people are so different. You might really need a good make out, while your partner would feel more delighted by breakfast in bed.
  2. People Change: Five years ago, your partner told you they really love back massages and you’ve been giving them a back massage every night before bed since then. If you haven’t updated the files in all these years, it’s very possible they are sick of back massages and ready for some different kind of care but just don’t have the heart to tell you.
  3. You Make Assumptions: Instead of just straight up asking your partner what fills their stocking, you try to piece it together from hints they’ve given you over the years. There’s no need to be a sleuth here, just check in.

If you want to get the most bang for your holiday buck – your time and energy – it is best to know what really hit’s the spot. This holiday, make a list (and check it twice!) of all of the things that you know really make you feel loved and desired and then exchange your lists. If you are single and hoping to be in a relationship at some point, definitely make this list as well! It’s like preparing a user’s manual for your future sweetheart. The more you know about yourself before going into a new partnership the better!

Here’s an example of what one couple wrote up:

His list of things he wants:

  1. Compliments
  2. Sweet texts or chats when we are apart about how you feel about me
  3. Kisses that have some kind of romantic or passionate feel to them
  4. Eye contact where I feel like you are looking at me with love in your eyes
  5. Sex where it feels like you can’t keep your hands off me and you are really turned on by my body
  6. Enthusiasm or excitement when you see me, if you feel like you’ve missed me or are happy to see me again
  7. You initiating plans or romantic things for us to do together or getting creative about our sex life with new ideas, toys, etc.
  8. Hellos and goodbyes – making sure you greet me when we first meet and give me a kiss goodbye when you leave

Her list of things she wants:

  1. Give me a gift certificate for a spa day that I can go on by myself.
  2. Appreciations – noticing and saying something when you feel like I’ve done something you like or appreciate
  3. Quickies – sometimes having quick sex when there isn’t time for something more in-depth
  4. Time in the house by myself to work on my projects and read my books.
  5. Surprising me with a clean house

As you can see, these two have very different needs. If they were to give each other what they were hoping to get, they’d probably both end up pretty depleted and exasperated! When you take the time to let each other know what satisfies you, your relationship will be much more filled with the glue that keeps you together!

May your stockings be stuffed with all the love and sex you want this year.

Happy Holidays!

Celeste & Danielle

We are about to share with you some of our most advanced flirting techniques – flirting tools that will help you date, mate, and experience more overall success but first…

Imagine you are on your way to work…you look over and notice someone is looking at you with a sexy, penetrating gaze. You begin to feel goosebumps on your skin and heat is flushing through you. You are excited and a bit uncomfortable – “To look or not to look?” Then the person is gone and you’re walking through the next minutes or hours of your life full of energy and aliveness! You too can make people feel this way and receive and reciprocate it when it comes from someone you find intriguing or from the love of your life.

“I don’t know how to flirt.”

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people tell us that they have no idea how to flirt. Our conclusion? Most people don’t know what flirting really is! Men think they are supposed to have a set of pithy one-liners to keep women laughing, while women feel like they need to learn how to properly toss their hair and bat their eyelashes. In reality, flirting is so much more profound. Flirting is the way that you project your erotic, emotional depth and availability to a new person or to your partner.

“I don’t want to be creepy”
“I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep”

We hear all sorts of reasons why people hold themselves back from experiencing one of the more delightful, life-affirming, inspirational, and energizing experiences they can have, and we want to reassure you. Sharing playful, fun exchanges with people doesn’t mean that you’ve promised them anything – you can be a flirt with fantastic boundaries! As we talked about in our our Biggest Flirting Mistakes Article, flirting isn’t what makes you creepy – trying to hide your desires and having them leak out all over the place (instead of learning how to embrace and share them) is how people come across as creepy.

Now that you’ve gotten past the roadblocks that hold you back from flirting and begun to give yourself permission, here are our secrets to being a successful flirt:

#1 Start from the Inside Out

Flirting is all about being in touch with your own erotic energy. It doesn’t matter what you say or do or how you dress, if you are not turned on in your own body, people will not be turned on by you. Sure, they might think, “S/he is really attractive”, and they might want a second date or even want to sleep with you, but they will be using their head to make the decision instead of feeling you with their body. Before you go out into the world to flirt/date, or before you meet up with your long-term partner, take some time to get in touch with your erotic energy. Whether this means slow, deep breaths all the way down with some PC squeezes or taking a nice, hot bath and caressing your own body, do something that will get you more embodied and aroused as a way to prepare for flirting.

#2 Create a Flirt Circuit

You got yourself all warmed up and now you are face-to-face with a flirtmate. Whether you are going to flirt for a few seconds with someone by catching their eye or spend hours in a flirt, in addition to feeling the erotic energy in your own body, tune into your flirtmate and begin to see what it is about them that you enjoy. It may be that tendril of hair curling across their forehead or the deepness of their voice or it may be something that you’ve adored about them for your entire relationship. Take your time and allow whatever it is you appreciate about them to gently stoke your already-glowing fire. When people feel your enjoyment of them, it often directs them to connect with their own erotic energy, their enjoyment of themselves, and you. This is what creates a flirting circuit between you.

#3 Build Anticipation

Just because you are warm, doesn’t mean you need to hurry. Flirting is so fun because it puts you in a state of playful anticipation, which is something that is often lost in long-term relationships. The energy between the two of you may lead to something right now or it may not. The uncertainty and build-up is a big part of what is so exciting about it. In order to create a sense of anticipation, you need to be in touch with your erotic energy and, very importantly, be in charge of your erotic energy. You may be talking about the most innocuous of topics, but take an extra moment to catch your flirtmate’s eye or breathe just a bit deeper. Savor the connection and intensity building in your body. You may not be touching at all, yet, in your mind, imagine what their lips taste like as you bite your own. Playing with the subtleties of energy, connection, and contact is what separates the novice from the master flirt.

Now that you know the secrets, it’s time to practice! Join us on October 1st for our playful day-long workshop, Flirting Your Way to Success. Learn how to flirt with us, with each other, and with life. We’d love to see you there!

Flirting is a very vulnerable endeavor – to flirt is to open up your desirous, erotic parts to connect with another’s. Opening up and allowing your erotic energy to flow is a big part of what makes it so energizing and exciting. At the same time, no one wants to experience the feelings of rejection that can result from a rebuffed flirt attempt. Whether you are flirting with a new acquaintance or a long-time partner, give yourself tons of gentleness and loving support knowing you are willing to take a risk in order to live your life to the fullest.

Because we want your flirting attempts to be as successful as possible, we want to share what we’ve learned about flirting as sex and relationship coaches and flirts in the world. In our next article, we will reveal our top three secrets to successful flirting. But first, here are a few of the worst flirting mistakes to avoid on your way to becoming a masterful flirt.

#1 Avoiding Flirting Altogether or Relying Too Heavily on Tech Flirting

Because flirting is so vulnerable, and for fear of being slut-shamed or creep-shamed (more about this later), some people avoid flirting altogether. Others avoid the fear of face-to-face flirting by relying on technology as their only flirting medium. They may be great at flirting over Tinder or text, but once you meet them face-to-face, they nervously ask you question after question, without ever pausing long enough in the conversation to catch your eye or take you in. Flirting is scary and not everyone will be available to connect with what you are putting out, but no one can connect if there is no energy at all.

Once, when Celeste asked a date why he didn’t bring any flirtatious energy on a first date, he said, “I think of this as date zero, I don’t want the women I date to be scared away by my sexual energy.” Date zero was an apt name, as there was zero chemistry building and nowhere to go from there. This is not a judgement; many heterosexual men are especially afraid to bring their erotic energy on a first date. Yet, in order to want to go on, women definitely need to feel desired without feeling overwhelmed. This means that flirting is required.

In long-term relationships, people often become very complacent, and treat their sweetheart more like a business partner or co-parent than a lover. Even if you flirted when you first got together, you might feel like it’s silly or stupid to flirt now that you know each other so well so you or your partner may avoid it. This is a huge mistake and probably one of the reasons so many couples have sexless marriages or separate. In order to keep that spark alive and to make all the challenges of long-term relating worth it, you need to play with the desire and anticipation that come from having an ongoing flirting relationship with your sweetie.

#2 Trying to be Someone You’re Not

Some people feel like, in order to flirt, they need to first develop a different personality. If you bypass your authentic style and push yourself to flirt in a non-youish way, then you are likely to miss potential connections completely. In order to create a flirt circuit (which we will teach you how to do in our next article), you must be present in the interaction. Many shy people or people who get nervous think that they have to completely overcome their shyness or nervousness to be an amazing flirt – we strongly disagree. Whether you are a woman or a man, shy flirting can be very sexy! There is something infinitely brave about letting yourself connect while still allowing your shyness and nervousness to be there. A shaky lip, averted glance, or nervous laugh shows your vulnerability to your flirtmate and allows them into your tender parts – it is both endearing and arousing.

#3 Falling into the “Creepy” or “Desperate” Category

While you might think that avoiding flirting altogether is the worst flirting mistake you can make, there is one mistake that is even more dreadful – falling into the creepy or desperate category. The way to avoid being labeled creepy or desperate is to learn how to masterfully share your erotic energy without spilling it all over your flirtmate. If you give too many compliments, laugh way too loud at every joke or seep the other person in double entendres, they will likely label you as desperate or a creep. We have so much compassion for men; some women will put you in the creepy category even if you are an amazing flirt, just because they have decided they are not, and never will be, attracted to you. For women, feeling desperate often comes from not knowing how wonderful you are and learning how to be a subtle flirt can really help. In any case, make sure to treat yourself gently when you feel rejected – and remember how amazing you are for bravely trying!

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid in flirting, stay tuned for our next article on what flirting really is (and isn’t) plus our top 3 secrets of being a successful flirt.

Now that you know what not to do, want to learn the secrets of how to flirt well?! Join us for our Flirting Your Way To Success workshop in Berkeley on October 1st. Find out more and sign up HERE!

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.

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.