Is it really about getting lucky? Or is a good sex life about showing up with intent. Sticking to the theme this week and honoring this lucky day of St. Patrick’s Day … let’s talk about sex.
I talk a lot about sex. So many people are trying to figure out their sex lives and so many people have questions about what they can do to increase their sexual health. So many are embarrassed, shamed, and scared of speaking directly about and to their sexuality.
I have spent more time in the last 10 years explaining condom use and STDs to people over 60 than I have to my teenage clients or my own kids, and I have spent so much time talking to people about acceptance of their sexual desires. This is because so many were in committed relationships prior to the age of AIDS, open conversations about sexuality, STDs, and wide spread exposure to different sexual preferences.
I also spend a fair amount of time with people who are unhappy in their committed intimate relationship regardless of age. They feel unsatisfied and unable to explain why or ask for what they really want to be different – now that their relationship(s) have evolved. As a result of societal learning they struggle to know just what they can ask for and “what’s ok”. In reality, you can ask for whatever you want and it is all ok as long as you are not hurting someone else. Below are 3 ways you can discuss sex to create the best sex ever. BECAUSE good communication about sex makes it much, much, much better – as a result, talking about your sex life makes it soar.
1) Make Sure You Talk About It
I see so many in my office who do not know how to talk about sex. Our culture leans toward sex being shameful or dirty while exposing everything on reality TV. Reality TV isn’t the bad guy, they just figured out how to give us what we really want, while allowing us to blame them for the demise of humanity. They do not care about your judgment, they just want your peeping Toms, and boy do we give them up easily. We are so captivated by others doing things we are shamed to admit we are curious about, we watch to the tunes of billions of dollars. Maybe it is time to stop giving the TV folks our money and have an honest conversation about how we feel about our own sexuality.
For some they cannot talk openly about sex, but for others we cannot talk openly, honestly, or authentically about sexual preferences but we sure can get raunchy. We might be really good at saying and commenting on the “nasty” but avoid the real intimate and honest conversation about it. It is ok to talk dirty, get raunchy, and make jokes as long as it is not at the expense of another AND you can be open about the intimacy and vulnerability of your own experience.
Having an open honest conversation about sex is one way to combat sexual assault and harassment, stop homosexual discrimination, and decrease teen pregnancy. However, for many of us this would mean, we would have to be vulnerable. We would have to open up about what sex really means to us, how it helps us connect, and the pain of being rejected if that intimacy is not returned. It can be difficult to talk about, and for some easier to just make jokes or put sex down as something ugly and unwanted rather than face the reality that sex is something we all need until the day we die.
Get rid of the shame by talking about your experiences, preferences, and curiosities with a trusted person. Shame cannot survive the exposure. Shame builds and lives in a bubble of secrecy, silence, and judgment. By speaking about it, asking questions, and exploring your thoughts and ideas with a safe person shame goes away. If it is too much to talk about everything you are curious about, just start small and build up your ability to speak about more difficult topics slowly. If you do not have anyone in your inner circle who would be a non-judgmental person, find a therapist. Some specialize in sexuality and sex therapy and can help you identify your intimate goals.
I cannot stress enough how important honest, open communication about sex is for the health of your sexual relationship and making sure everybody has a happy ending.
2) Understand what sex is and what it isn’t
For centuries our culture has been inundated with “rules” about what sex is and is not. Many buy into these cultural definitions without digging deeper into why they came into existence in the first place. Much of the reason behind such rules has to do with blood lines, lots of death, money, and cultural assimilation. Very little has to do with love and personal preference.
As a result of this cultural learning we like to think we have willpower over sexual needs, and in many ways we do. In others we do not. There is a great amount of literature on sexuality and much of it points to how biologically driven our sexual need is. This is not to say we get free reign to use, abuse, or take sex from others, however it can help decrease shame we have around our curiosities and enjoyment of sexual exploration. Once you know what you want and what you like, it is much easier to communicate about it … and have I mentioned how important communicating about sex is to the health of your sexual relationships?
Sex does not equal love … and love does not equal sex. As noted above sex has a biological drive behind it so equating it with love is a losing battle. Sex is just a physical act. However, orgasm does release a shloo of hormones and neurotransmitters that help us feel connected, calm, and content. Orgasm is important in realigning the body for optimal health. Yet, many never get to experience this event, or at least experience it too little because of physical issues, sexual shaming, or being with partners who are not sensitive to each other’s needs.
As partners in a committed relationship it is important to honor the other’s timing. One of you may need more time to climax than the other, one may be more shy, one partner may be more or less aware of the physical anatomy and structures that can be used to bring climax on. Again, it is important to provide opportunities to discuss preferences, desires, and physicality of what brings pleasure and joy. These discussions result in much more gratifying sexual activities for all people involved.
Let go of “whose in charge”. I see so many couples who believe that one partner should be the driver of their sexual relationship. This is not the case. Much of this control has been given to males due to patriarchal societal values and this is a lot of pressure. Men are only half of the sexual relationship, and women are only half of birthing a baby. It takes all partners to engage fully in a sexual relationship. This does not matter if your relationship is female/male, male/male, female/female or any other combination of sex types. All partners need to be fully involved and fully engaged to make your sex life the best possible. Everyone has preferences, a voice, and a body. Just because someone does not like what you like does not mean you are wrong or broken, it just is an opportunity for you to explore something you haven’t thought of before. Speak up, use your body, and enjoy your personal preferences. Talk about it, give it a try, and be ready to compromise. This will make your sexual activity a great adventure.
3) Taking care of yourself and things
So often the problem with the couples sex life is they are overwhelmed and tired. They haven’t taken care of themselves because they are too busy taking care of others in the household, chasing deadlines, and making day to day operations run. Then when it comes time for them to connect, they turn on the TV and connect to the late night TV hosts instead of each other.
I often see one member of the couple over working to make the household run and one clueless about how much work it takes. They ask to help, but in doing so (rather than taking initiative and jumping in to be a partner) they are putting more pressure on the partner to manage everything, leading to more burnout. Don’t get me wrong they want to help and support each other, but they are lacking communication to actually be a team. They haven’t written out the plays they want to see executed and by who, together.
Thus one person remains in charge and often exhausted. And who wants to have sex when you are exhausted and overworked – it just becomes one more thing on your to do list and one more person to take care of while giving away your energy – defiantly not orgasm range. Just another messy 10 minutes out of your life. Without orgasm on a regular basis no one would continue to have sex. So why is it is surprising that half of this duo does not want to have sex on a regular basis. No orgasm, no 10 minute messy activity … no matter how fun it is supposed to be. The answer to this problem – communicate and work as a team not as a manager and employee.
Finally, take care of yourself. When ya’ll hooked up you probably thought each other was pretty hot, at least in some ways. Over time we often let ourselves go, “let it all hang out” literally, and do not practice the same level of hygiene we did back in the day. This change is ok, however if you have let yourself go to the point that your health is impacting your sexual drive, your negative thinking of self is getting in your way, or your stamina is gone, it is time to take back your health.
Healthy eating and sleep cycles cannot be underestimated for a healthy sex life. Nor can regular workouts which help keep energy moving and blood flow happening (everywhere). And you can’t ignore the way you think about yourself and your partner(s). If you are not speaking positive about yourself why should anyone else. Take control of your sex life by taking control of the way you talk and think about yourself.
Most of us feel difference in our sexual appetite and options as we age. This is normal, however there are many ways to work around these changes. The trick … be ready to ask for and seek out these options. Do not be embarrassed about your requests. For men, erection may become more difficult, for women lubrication may be needed. The changes can result in painful sexual experiences, yet there are ways to mitigate them if you are willing to speak up. The bottom line … be ready to experiment and talk. Speaking about what is happening for you, what you would like the try, and being willing to experiment with each other is the key to getting out of the sexual desert. Talk about it and it will get better.
So in the end the key to having a healthy sex life is talking about sex, not being embarrassed to ask for what you want and need, and about taking control of your preferences and desires.
Communicate the above clearly to your partner(s) and watch your sex life blossom.