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

Here’s an excerpt from our upcoming book, Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting intimacy and Passion. 

Move Beyond Damaging Myths

Before learning tools to enhance your sexual connection, you must first understand why sex can be such a challenging and contentious area in your relationship. There are so many confusing social messages and harmful myths about how sex is supposed to be and how men and women are supposed to behave sexually. Because these messages are presented to you from very early on, they become a part of you, like the air you breathe. Most people never question the validity of these messages and don’t realize how harmful they can be. We invite you to question them and see how they cause misunderstanding, anger, fear, and sadness and how they disrupt your connection with your partner. Once you gain some freedom and distance from these messages, you can begin to approach sex with much more realistic attitudes and expectations, empathize with your partner, and better communicate your sexual needs and desires.

Damaging Myth #1: Sex is supposed to happen spontaneously.
People often get upset at the idea that they might need to plan sex. They remember when they started dating and sex “just happened.” However, dating is essentially planning sex or erotic connection. By planning a date, you are taking special time out to focus on the connection between the two of you. You dress up, fantasize about meeting each other, prepare, and get excited. This isn’t spontaneous sex; it’s anticipated sex.

Once you have joined your life with someone else’s, time together has many purposes. You might spend time together where you are each doing your own separate work, or you might need to talk about money, kids, and all the day-to-day logistics of life. Most couples stop carving out time together where the focus is on building and enhancing sexual and emotional connection. When you live in a culture where there is a high level of shame surrounding sex, soon one or both of you will likely move sex to the bottom of your list of priorities. Just as you’ve made a commitment to each other, if you want your sex life to last, you need to make a commitment to consciously cultivate your sexual connection the same way you did when you were dating.

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.

Relationships aren’t fair. In our practice, we see a lot of hurt come from the idea that people are supposed to have perfect equality in relationship on everything from work to child-rearing, from emotional support to time with friends. What the idea of fairness misses is the fact that any two people in a relationship have very different Needs and very different Capacities. For example, we saw a couple, let’s call them Bob and Susan – Bob had a very high need for interpersonal connection both inside and outside of the relationship. He loved spending intimate time with his wife and he also found spending time with his friends, his hiking group and his extended family extremely fulfilling, yet he spent almost all of his time alone with Susan. In talking through it, we found that Susan was much more of an introvert, and really didn’t want to spend time with other people much. He felt that this was bad for her and constantly tried to get her to go places with him. She would agree and cancel at the last minute, and he would feel bad and would stay home with her instead of going out himself, building frustration, resentment and some depression in the process. She, on the other hand, was delighted when he would go by himself and come home with fun stories to share. Once he realized that her introversion was not a sickness and that she was ok with him being with friends and family, he began to feel much more free to take the time he needed with friends, social hobbies and family instead of trying to make things fair.

Another example were a couple who we will call Chelsea and Paco – Paco was one of the most hard workers we had ever seen – he loved his business and seemed to thrive on his success. Chelsea was also an extremely hard worker, in the process of trying to make partner in a law firm. However, unlike Paco, the amount she was working seemed to be literally killing her. She was getting sick constantly, losing weight from her already too-skinny frame, and felt worn out all the time – they came to us because, not surprisingly, she had almost no libido. The problem was that she felt obligated to work as hard and earn as much as Paco, even though she clearly had a different capacity. Paco was beside himself because he was much more interested in a healthy wife and felt completely comfortable with the idea of her going part time if it meant she might be happy, healthy and horny again. It took a while to realize that what made her important wasn’t about earning the same as Paco, but about just being herself – that he loved her for her and didn’t need her to kill herself in order to do it. When she finally decided to go part time, she began feeling healthy and excited about life and about Paco again. The bottom line is that it is actually impossible to measure the things that each person offers in a relationship, however, taking some time to be honest with yourself and your partner about your actual needs and capacities will really help you work as a true team, where you make room for the differences and where each of your strengths can shine!

We suggest you look at the following topics: housework, child-rearing, earning, emotional work (keeping connections and sharing and supporting feelings in the immediate family, the extended family and with friends), and sexual relationship. If you find resentments or frustrations in the differences between you and your partner, send us an email at [email protected], we’d love to help! Also, stay tuned for our upcoming blog on Fairness in the Bedroom!

The article When Monogamy Is a Cop-Out: Why Follow Society’s Rules About Sex? touches on some interesting points about choices we make in our relationships. Aside from the oversimplification around who might be interested in non-monogamy (there’s more to it than that men want to spread their seed and women want to make nests as has been noted in studies of our fellow primates, for example female chimpanzees have sex with multiple partners during ovulation in order to ensure that there will be many fathers interested in caring for their young), we really like this article. Monogamy does seem to be the default for most couples and, when offered the choice of non-monogamy, most people say, “But, does that really ever work?” The truth is, sometimes monogamy works and sometimes it doesn’t (50% of marriages end in divorce) and sometimes open relationships work and sometimes they don’t. As a default, monogamy can lead to resentment, a feeling of being trapped, and a lack of communication around each persons desires. Often those in relationship say nothing to a partner about what they desire, shielding these vulnerabilities behind the ideal of monogamy, instead of asking for what they want so as to avoid their partners fears or disapproval. We encourage everyone – from those in their 50th year in marriage to those dating – to approach monogamy as just one of the items on the menu, not as the only thing possible. It might be what you end up choosing, and then you can feel great about it!

As Somatica practitioners, we are aware of how foreplay, touch and nudity all tie into body image and great sex.

The only gripe we have is that we don’t love the separation between “foreplay” and sex – foreplay is some of the best sex folks have because it helps with arousal, connection, intimacy and trust, and is often where women have the majority of their orgasms. When you take the time to touch your partner, your message in that touch is “I desire you” and they receive the message “I am desirable”. Sensual and sexual touch (whether passionately firm and hard or romantically slow and soft) delivers a message of desire and body image issues can be softened with an embodied “letting in” of your partner’s loving, desiring touch on your naked body.