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.

We are beyond devastated by Prince’s passing. Not only were we major fans, but as Sex and Relationship coaches we appreciate that he did so much to confront the puritanism and hypocrisy of our culture’s relationship to sex. In particular, his emphasis on female pleasure and empowerment, and the way he made so many women feel every time he slithered on a stage or screen, made it clear that there is so many more sensual possibilities than what we are generally presented with in mainstream culture. In our mourning and celebration of his life and work, we have been listening to his music nonstop and noticing all of the profound lessons he shared in such a powerful medium. These are just a few of his songs that hit on some key elements we find in our practice. May his legacy live on in all of our (sex) lives.

  1. Head (1980) – The Importance of Reciprocation and A Broad Sexual Repertoire

This song is about head, which makes it important no matter what. This amazing story song recounts a chance meeting of “virgin on my way to be wed” and Prince. Soon after she gives him, well, head, on her way to her nuptials. After Prince gets her wedding dress a little sullied, she turns around and marries him instead. But at this point the chorus changes to “Now morning, noon, and night I give you head.” Singing a song where a woman is receiving oral pleasure morning, noon and night remains out of the norm, but in 1980, it was revolutionary. Aside from this, Head, and many of Prince’s other songs offer examples of a wide variety of sexual acts and variations, everything from taking a bath to getting on top, and we often see couples whose sex lives suffer because they are expecting intercourse to always please everyone, all the time. Prince lyrics are a great reminder of all of the ways erotic satisfaction can take place outside of a session of missionary.

  1. Cream (1991) – Relationships that are willing to break the rules are the best

Relationships that are the most successful are constantly open to negotiation and change and they are willing to break societal rules if it means the relationship will flourish. Or as Prince puts it “Make the rules…Then break them all ’cause you are the best.” In this vein we encourage our clients to make a relationship contract, and we also encourage them to always feel like they change that contract if it no longer serves them. When couples come to the table openly and honestly and express their needs, they often find ways to get what they want that may break certain social taboos. We also want to add that this song is just dirty good. Cream – what a dirty and wonderful way to celebrate all of the messy, sticky, awesomeness of sex.

  1. Kiss (1986) – Give (or make) the extra time and don’t forget the Kiss

Oh the sweet, simple, and often forgotten sensual act that is so important at the beginning of a relationship and often neglected later on. Kisses can be so many things from sweet to seductive to teasing to ridiculously dirty. We have seen so many couples that are desperate to reconnect and have forgotten how even one erotically charged kiss can change everything. We see many clients who are doing such elaborate things to make their partners happy, often sacrificing more than they can sustain, when they could just be truly giving their “extra time” and their “Kiss.”

  1. If I Was Your Girlfriend (1987) – Don’t Let Social Scripts Get in the Way of Intimacy

Oh how we love this song. It has so many erotic layers and twists and turns. Prince begs and pleads to be let into his female partners world in ways that are usually reserved for platonic friendships between women. This song illustrates the ways that we often keep our intimate partners at a distance that is supposed to keep some mystery alive, but can result in creating walls and distance. When Prince asks, “Would U let me dress U” it is somehow equally hot as undressing. And when he clarifies, “I mean, help U pick out your clothes/Before we go out” he is extending an offer to be in a partnership that defies societal rules about gender and how women are supposed to vanish and transform themselves for going out. But he stresses that he is not being domineering, “Not that you’re helpless/But sometimes, sometimes/Those are the things that bein’ in love’s about.” Being in lasting love is often more about these little daily moments, the time spent getting ready, than the actual going out, Prince shows how excitement and sensual energy can be woven through even the most mundane of interactions.

  1. Darling Nikki (1984)  – Fantasize and Experiment

As teenager who listened to pop songs in the 80’s, we were amongst many whose fantasies were stoked by the thought of “So many devices, anything that money could buy.” He also put forth the culturally impossible thought that a woman could use a man for sex and want him only for that.

  1. 1999 (1982)  – Seize The Day

If there is any one lesson that can be taken from Prince’s life and untimely death, it is that life is too short to remain unhappy and unfulfilled. Or as he puts it, Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb/We could all die any day/But before I’ll let that happen,/I’ll dance my life away.

This list could go on and on. Feel free to add all of the ones we didn’t include as comments.