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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t Come Through with the Goods

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of Attraction to Their Partner

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

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

Low Testosterone

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

And Many More…

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

With all that is going on in the world today, government shutdown and a challenging economy affecting your daily life and livelihood, it might be tough to get in the mood. Being a man in our culture is so tied up with being a good provider, when that’s in jeopardy your confidence can plummet like a bad day in the market. We know it can be hard to get it up when you’re down and the combination of feeling the pressure to provide and to be a great lover can be overwhelming. So listen up, men, we have an important message for you: It’s not what you do that makes us desire you, it is who you are! Having a hard-on is not the only way to have mind-blowing sex and the tough times are when you need touch, love, sex and connection more than anything. Please don’t stop reaching out – tell your sweetheart how you are doing, let them in, ask for what you need and let yourself connect with your partner no matter what your body is doing. Intimacy and the hormones released from sexual connection can remind you that you are still wonderful, even in the tough times!

We got this in response to our blog post on the 5 senses and just had to share this reader’s beautiful experience with you:

Dear Celeste and Danielle, it has been a while since I took your workshops and I wanted to let you know that I have had breakthroughs from what I’ve learned directly from you and the path that I have followed since that time has been a result of the two days that I’ve spent with the both of you. You’ll be happy to know that the men’s circle that I run here in LA was tasked with reading your book. Your lessons have exceeded your reach.

The reason I didn’t post this response directly to your blog is because I want to remain anonymous on this because if the people at the meditation center I attend discover this post I might not be so welcome, not because I did anything wrong but because I have asked a teacher about these experiences and he became very uneasy. He stated that this practice should not be used for “sensory games of pleasure” but even as a teacher he was clearly blocked due to his own ego and judgment.

As a practice meditation has been a powerful force in my sexual development. During my first 10 day silent meditation I became acutely aware of my sexual energy. Around the third day I felt what was my normal state of turn-on that was usually restricted to around my lower two chakras and would only last while my mind was engaged in sexual arousal. By day five, every fiber of my being was vibrating with it. I experienced it at a cellular level. It was the most incredible sensation I have ever felt and it only got more intense and was even more beautiful as the days continued on. By day eight it simply WAS. I had no judgment of it and I experienced it as the purest form of love I have ever felt. The water running over my body in the shower caressed my skin. The dirt path beneath my feet came alive as I felt every twig and branch that passed beneath my foot. The simple vegetarian meals that were lovingly prepared for us by the volunteers became magnificent feasts. The smell and juice of a crisp apple had so much complexity it was like smelling a flower and drinking a delicious glass of wine combined.

Besides being a silent meditation the men and women were separated for the practical purposes of the practice. We’d sit together but separate. Men were seated on the right and women on the left in the dharma hall for meditation and instruction. I noticed a strikingly lovely woman on day four as she entered the hall. She had skin like cafe au lait and the body of a dancer. I knew it was a distraction from my practice but I watched as she adjusted her pillows for her morning meditation. She stopped completely. She turned and without hesitation locked eyes with me for the briefest of moments. That moment had me shudder to my core. I was able to maintain the integrity of my practice for the remainder of the course. We are to behave as if we are completely alone or as much as is possible amongst a hundred other practitioners. It makes sense within the context and I was okay with it.

At the closing ceremony we were able to speak with one another and I discovered that I was not alone in my experience of intense sensation. Many of the men were feeling this sensation of turn-on too including a 71 year old doctor from Mumbai India. I had forgotten I had put my name on a ride share list. The woman I had locked eyes with approached me as I enjoyed a cup of tea under a  bougainvillea covered awning. She asked me for a ride back to LA with the tiniest of smiles. She had deep soulful eyes that I sensed had seen far too much pain in her young life. I agreed and we met the following morning after we all said our goodbyes and assisted in clean up of the center.

The ride back was the most intense sensual driving experience I have ever had. The warm California breeze was scented in turns by avocado, pears, and even the cattle of the massive feed lots off the 5 freeway. Our conversation was completely open and without guile. I felt no need to be clever nor desire to be impressive. We had entered this deeper subspace where at times even our silences led to the most incredible achingly beautiful sexual tension. Our egos were silent and along for the ride as if they were passengers who fell asleep in the scorching September sun.

On parting we exchanged numbers and said we’d promise to stay in touch. I could feel society’s heal on the back of my neck already. I chalked it up to another too good to be true experience but I wanted to see if there was more available for us both. She beat me to the telephone. The next day she contacted me. She admitted that she was more aloof than she wanted to be when we parted company. Without getting into it her very private reasons for being guarded, I agreed to meet with her.

In the course of our brief relationship I felt an intimacy that was rare in my experience. I felt no desire to perform only a desire to enjoy our what we were doing. Nothing mattered not the heat or any of our perceived physical flaws. All that mattered was her incredible smell, the taste of her, her lips on my neck, the sound of our breath together. Even though societal and egoic interests eventually encroached on us both like an army of ants at a picnic, I have an incredible fondness for her and that moment in time that will never be duplicated but always appreciated. It has changed me as a lover and a man forever.

The body holds such great wisdom. and I wanted to point out to everyone reading this that meditation can be a powerful conduit to deep sensual experiences. It is not just for shaved headed monks behind monastery walls. Maybe this is why those men and women stay committed to monastic life, they want to remain in that profound love space. It is true that societal pressure is unsupportive of this loving sexy space. I however live here amongst you all and will continue to grow and remain connected to you all as best I can. Some days are better than others.
Best regards and thanks for all you do,
Anonymous.

PS: another woman I have ride shared with admitted to me on our drive back that she could hear all the women in her dormitory room quietly masturbating nightly by the end of day three of the practice. 🙂

A news article titled “Are There Really 40 Year Old Virgins?” caught our attention recently. We are so happy about the appearance of this article in Psychology Today. We have worked with many virgins to help them overcome shyness or fear around intimacy so that they can approach potential partners and initiate conversations and intimacy. For men in particular, who are expected to be the initiators of sex, practicing first with a professional can be extremely helpful. While we are not surrogate partners, the work we do is very experiential and, unlike surrogates, we focus on the chemistry of attraction, helping folks move beyond technique to seduction as as well as displays of desire and passion. Often, after men have worked with us, they decide to keep their virginity private and the women they sleep with have no clue. One of the virgins we worked with had a partner who said, “You dangerous, bad man” when he was seducing her for the first time. She thought he was some kind of player, his approach was so good 🙂

We have also worked with women virgins to help them feel safe and open with their sexuality, to overcome shyness and to communicate their needs directly with potential partners. Another big issue that women face is lack of orgasm. Many women lose their virginity but are still orgasmically virgins. We love to help women learn how to have their first orgasm, to orgasm with a partner (if they can only do it through masturbation) or to expand their orgasmic potential to multiple orgasms or G-Spot orgasms. We have both female and male colleagues so that folks can work with whatever gender person feels right for them, depending on their sexual identity and sense of safety. It’s great to see this topic being discussed in a mass distribution publication like Psychology Today and we hope that all the virgins and orgasmic virgins out there feel inspired to get the help they need.

So tell us, have you had the experience of having sex with and “older” virgin? What was it like knowing you were helping this person transition into non-virginity?

When we think of men’s mid-life crises, what often comes to mind is a 40+ year old man in a red, shiny hot-rod running off with some younger woman to find himself. The popular representations of this in the media paint these men as childish and selfish and the movie fantasy is generally that he wises up, realizes the error of his ways, repents and returns to his wife and family. We think this popular depiction misses the point in so many ways. Firstly, it does not address the underlying emotional, physiological and societal reasons for this phenomenon. Namely, that men’s bodies experience an abrupt and significant change in ability right around age 40, many men’s fathers are getting old or dying when they are in their 40s and men are questioning if they will be allowed to live their lives the way they want to before they themselves die and, finally, that the definition of what it is to be a “good husband” and “good father” rarely leaves space for men to continue doing the things they love to do in life without being deemed selfish and uncaring.

Men who live their lives based on obligations and the women who support them in doing this (and who don’t explore their own personal needs and desires) are all part of the set-up that creates the phenomenon of the mid-life crises. We believe the mid-life crises is completely avoidable, however, it takes a commitment to a different kind of relationship agreement then the one most couples have. Firstly, it takes a commitment on the part of both partners to admit your own desires to yourself. Then it takes a willingness to rock the boat with skillful, honest and open communication about what it is you actually want. Next, it takes a commitment to celebrate each others desires no matter what they are. And, finally, it takes the courage to decide, as a team, whether or how they can fit in your lives and enhance the relationship. If you are willing to create space for all of who you are and all of who your partner is in your relationship, no one needs to run away in order to get what they want!