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

Connection across differences is a huge topic with many facets, we want to start with something that we see creates a lot of misunderstanding and suffering in interpersonal relationships – philosophical debates. So often, with your partner, you begin a conversation innocently enough. Then, without even meaning to, you hit on some kind of controversial topic and suddenly you are in a debate.

So often, these debates end in confusion, anger and even crying. Since relationship happiness is really made up of the day-to-day, having these kinds of challenging interactions, and especially if you have them a lot, can be really damaging to your relationship. We want you to take them seriously and learn how to have them well. We don’t think it is realistic to say, “We’ll just never debate again” because, as we said, you usually end up falling into these conversations. Instead, we want to help you do something different with them – we call it Connected Debating.

Before we offer you the steps to connected debating, we want to start with a little bit of background so you can have a better understanding of what usually goes wrong. Firstly, there is a pretty strong gender divergence in how men and women approach differences of opinion. So, if you are in a heterosexual couple, this can be the root of the problem.

Usually, when men approach a potential debate topic with other men, they are more likely to disconnect emotionally from it and think of it more as a game they are trying to win. Like chess or a video game, they are simply trying to take down their opponents ideas any way they can and, if their opponent’s ideas stand up to the challenge, they may then take them seriously. So, a man might hear the other person’s point and say, “That’s ridiculous, have you even looked at the statics on that?”

Usually, when women approach a debating topic with other women, they are generally more relationally oriented, and attempt to find common ground first and then make their point. Even if they don’t agree they might say something like, “Yes, that makes some sense, but have you heard about the recent study on…?”

When we try to explain this to men and women, men usually think women are being ridiculous and overly-sensitive, while women often feel like men are being disconnected assholes. In other words, there is a huge lack of empathy to the other person’s needs and experiences and a lot of judgement. To be empathetic with men, it truly can be fun to debate about something if you can keep your emotions separate or if you don’t feel like having a very heated argument will lead to unfixable disconnection. It can be exciting to bring up really good points and even change someone’s mind by winning.

Unfortunately, it often isn’t possible since it is actually quite rare for both people in a debate to be able to do this. We are emotional creatures, and, even if we are not particularly emotional about a topic, we might begin to get emotional if we notice our partners are getting upset, tense, sad, or angry. Second, debate touches on some very deep emotional needs which can be triggered.

For example, many people have wounds around their intelligence, their need to be listened to, or their feelings of abandonment. Any of these can be triggered – you might feel like your partner is talking down to you or treating you like you are stupid, you might feel like you are not being heard, or you might feel like your partner cares more about the topic at hand then about being in connection with you so you feel abandoned. It can be extremely unbearable to feel stupid, unheard, and disconnected from the person that you love at the same time, which is why debates can become an intimacy killer.

In order to have more unity, use the following tools and make sure that you have an agreed upon framework to use them. For example, you might check on them immediately and then, every 2-3 minutes, revisit and make sure you are still using them.

    1. Acknowledge You Are In It: If you start to get into a debate by accident, acknowledge that you are in one and reassure that you still want to stay connected: “Oooops, it looks like we are having a difference of opinion about public vs. private schools here, I really want to stay connected with you in this conversation.” If your partner’s love language is touch, see if you can keep some kind of contact or at least make sure you are looking in each other’s eyes some of the time.”
    2. See If It’s Personal: Check if there are underlying personal feelings that this topic is touching on, that might be skipped over if you just stay in debate mode. This requires you to be honest with yourself and vulnerable with your partner. “I realize that when we talk about whether or not porn promotes violence against women, it is really hard for me to separate the feelings of insecurity that come up when I think about you watching porn.”
    3. Listen to Your Partner: Make sure you take the time to really listen and take seriously what the other person is saying, even repeating it back to them, if you are not sure you are getting what they mean. Even if you don’t agree, see if you can have empathy for their point of view and how and why they might have come to it. Check in on your own personal histories and how they relate to your current opinions on the topic.
    4. Focus on Both Similarities and Differences: If there is something that the other person says that you really agree with, share that with them. Debates often turn into an emphasis on the differences and, it is possible that there are also places of overlap and agreement.
    5. Be Willing to Change Your Mind: If you go into a debate without being open to new ideas and ways of seeing then it is unlikely your partner will ever be willing to hear you either. Let got to being attached to being “right” or making the other person “wrong” and instead go with an attitude of collaboration and curiosity. Try thinking “what might I be able to learn from this person that I don’t already know?” Being open to learning, growing and changing is what keeps us all young and vital!

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!

In the hierarchy of unforgivable relational sins, we, as a society, think of lying – and especially the lying associated with “cheating” – as perhaps the worst (non-abusive) relationship sin. Because lying is considered to be a universal evil, a person who lies in their relationship rarely gets much sympathy. Many potentially amazing relationships end because the person who lies is vilified and the offended party never takes a beat in order to get a handle on the why of the lie.

The truth is, people lie to the people they love all the time in small and not-so-small ways. Lying can be everything from saying you are “fine” when you are not to going behind their back and having sex with another person. As a sex and relationship coaches, we know that people rarely lie because they are evil, selfish monsters with no regard for others. Much more often, people lie because they are terrified of what might happen if they tell the truth. They fear they may be ridiculed, humiliated or left by the people they love the most.

Allow us to illustrate an example from our practice. Joe has wrestled with depression his whole life. While his depression did not go away when he met his wife, Catherine, he put it to us like this: “When I’m with her, it’s like she lights some part of me up that can rise above it all. I used to have trouble getting out of bed most days and I thought a lot about suicide and even made one attempt. These last 5 years being with Catherine, I’ve only had two depressive episodes.” Catherine and Joe came to us after Joe found out Catherine had lied about a work trip and went skiing with a group of friends instead. Joe was certain that Catherine had cheated on him on the trip and was feeling suicidal. He felt he could never trust her again.

In an individual session with Catherine she broke down crying, “I want you to understand, since I met Joe, for the most part I’ve been so happy and fulfilled. I’ve never felt alone, and I think he is really sexy, but I did lie to him and I feel horrible. There is no excuse for what I did, but I want to explain. I went on the trip and, while I was there, I kissed a friend of mine. I’m not even sure exactly why I kissed him but I think I was just feeling so suffocated, and on the trip I felt so free. I got pretty drunk and I was feeling this wild, playful part of me that I’ve kind of lost. I love Joe more than anything in the world, and I am so happy that I married him, but his depression has been really hard. I feel so selfish when I say it, but the two times it’s gotten really bad during our relationship, it was because of something I did. Joe can get really jealous and insecure and he takes my occasional flirting as certain evidence that I will cheat on him someday. In general, he is very anxious when I hang out with my friends. The first big depression was after he saw a playful chat I was having with a guy at work that had some sexual innuendo in it. I can understand that Joe felt jealous though I wasn’t doing anything with the guy and didn’t want to. After he saw the chat, he was in bed for a month, he almost lost his job. The stakes feel so high, like if I do something wrong he might be hospitalized or even kill himself. I don’t want to loose him but I do want to be myself. I know I should have tried to talk to him about this earlier, I was just too scared.”

Let us be clear, as Catherine said, none of this is about making excuses for lying. However, there is often a good reason. Infidelity is a very complex topic and is rarely black and white. Many people cheat even when they love their partner deeply and often cheating or other kinds of lies happen when a person feels like they have lost some part of themselves and are trying to regain it. Sometimes their partner rarely or never wants to have sex with them – something we don’t think of as universally evil or selfish but which can have grave consequences on a relationship. Sometimes the kind of sex they are having isn’t at all satisfying but the partner doesn’t want to try anything different. Sometimes the relationship has become isolating. And, sometimes there are so many good things in the relationships (often including shared children), that the stakes feel too high to tell the truth and face the potential loss.

All that said, we want to emphasize that lying to someone you love can have very grave consequences. It impacts trust and can shake the foundation of a relationship. Many relationships don’t survive a lie, especially one that involves sex outside the relationship. The way we see it, one of the worst parts of lying is that it takes the choice away from the deceived person, which often leaves them feeling humiliated. They are going along under one assumption about what is happening in the relationship and then suddenly they realize they’ve been wrong. In addition to simply feeling hurt, they often feel naive or downright stupid. Coming back from that humiliation can take quite a bit of work and a very supportive, understanding partner. Ultimately, the real healing comes when there is mutual understanding and empathy about why the lie happened.
Many people don’t want to lose a relationship that they have so much invested in, so they try and keep their secrets close. While it seems devastating when it is revealed, lying can offer an opportunity for couples to go deeper and understand where each of them stands, and what each of them really needs in the relationship.

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.

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.