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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of My Movie…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

This is the season to connect with loved ones and that’s just what Celeste and Danielle’s client and her husband do their Sex Therapy session and in part 3 of our series featuring her candid writings.

Lesson: Tension and Touching

“The second appointment with our sex therapist was full of laughter and more “flow,” a major change from our first appointment full of tears and apprehension. We talked about how we were afraid this would be like other attempts; that this new found passion would sputter and die out as it has in the past. The sex therapist reassured us that this is a long road and there was a lot more we could do to ensure this was a long-lasting change. She talked about some essential elements to great sex. She talked about energy, and specifically tension, and she talked about touch.”

“To illuminate what she meant about tension, she talked about those Hollywood movies where you can see and feel the build-up (think Mr and Mrs Smith). She said all great sex starts with that, and tension starts before sex. She led us through some breathing exercises (together this time — yay, dual participation) and had us take a deep breath in, then tighten our muscles (my pussy, his cock) and then exhale fully while relaxing those muscles. She made sure we were breathing through our mouths for this, and said mouth breathing is very important during sex. She encouraged us to be as vocal as we’d like on the exhale, though I’ll admit we were both pretty quiet. I mean, this is strange, right?!? Then she talked about touch: good touch, bad touch, light touch, heavy touch. Not touching genitals or anything, just touching each other’s arms and face and shoulders and legs. It’s pretty powerful stuff moving from tension to touch. And yeah, none of this is secret stuff we don’t know about. It comes naturally in the heat of the moment. But it is really interesting to talk about, break down, and reconsider how the things that happen outside of the heat of the moment can lead up to something really amazing.”

Homework: Sexy Movie Night

“So, now we are currently working on breathing and touching, and we’re watching some Hollywood movies with great sexual tension. And it’s working. And it’s great. And it seems so different from what might have happened if I had gone to the therapist that my OBGYN suggested.”