Sex and Intimacy
What a difficult topic, isn't it? When we don't feel like we're matching up with our partner's sexual drive and needs, it can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
I often see a tough cycle start to form, that ends up feeding on itself in a negative pattern. One partner, feeling deprived of physical and emotional connection, starts to get frustrated and a little demanding - "Why don't we ever have sex? You're never in the mood. I don't even feel like you want me anymore." The other partner, who already doesn't feel turned on, sinks a little lower, and defends back, "I have so much on my plate! You don't see how much I do!" Now the choice is between forcing themselves into having sex (not a great turn on), or to continue to avoid the topic and stay distant from their partner. The other person feels shut out, lonely, and rejected.
I often hear the following ...
"I can't relax until everything on the list is done"
“When I know sex is coming, I get anxious, I don’t know how to tell them I’m not feeling it anymore and disappoint them again”
"He/she wants sex at the end of the day, and I'm exhausted"
"I'm touched all day by the kids, the last thing I want in a free moment is to be touched again"
"I just can't flip a switch and get turned on the way he/she can"
What I want you to know first is, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. Our bodies are very good messengers. They will tell us when we don’t feel relaxed and connected. Then our brains try to argue with our bodies - “Come on, just do it. Can’t you just get into this? He/she wants you, that’s a good thing, right?” But really, our bodies know. And that’s ok! That tells us there’s opportunity for you to become much more in touch with your own sexuality and introduce more creativity and communication into your sex life.
Working with sex and intimacy is a three-prong approach:
1) Is your emotional bond secure? Often one partner uses sex to feel more connected to their partner. But the other needs emotional security in order to want to have sex. We will work on how to strengthen the emotional bond so that you are each getting what you need to know you are special and prioritized to your partner. Mostly, the work here is - how do we talk about what we’re feeling, even during sex?
2) Is the sex good? If one partner refuses to use lubrication, vibrators, or has a shame trigger when the other doesn't have an orgasm, the sex is not likely to be good. We don't talk about sex much in our culture. We don't talk about sex with our partners in detail. Do you really know what turns the other on? Do you know that he longs for you to touch him lightly, or tell him how sexy he looks? Or that she hates when you go straight for her boobs before touching the rest of her? Is it ok to talk about fantasy and what would make you each feel the most excited? Do you want to make every decision in the bedroom? Do you want to make NO decisions in the bedroom and have your partner be in control?
3) Is your desire online? There's a reason I'm writing YOUR desire. Yes, sex is something we share with our partner. And certainly, it can be heightened and made much more exciting with our partner. But I think many people, especially women, aren't taught to cultivate what turns them on. After the exciting novelty of the beginning of the relationship dies off, it can feel like a there are no other tools to get turned on. Think of a gas oven. If the pilot light is on, we can turn on the burners pretty easily. If the pilot light goes out, it takes forever to figure out how to get it lit again, and by that point you might as well give up and microwave that damn burrito.
There are so many amazing resources out there nowadays for sex and intimacy. Let me give you three tools I think are really helpful, and also add some resources I love.
1) Connect with yourself. Especially if you have kids, what is a way you can connect with yourself at some point before intimacy with your partner? Is it asking your partner to take the kids to the park for an hour? Taking a bath by yourself without interruption? Taking extra long to meditate or listen to music?
2) Stop making intercourse the goal. The goal is mutual play and pleasure. I don’t care if you don’t have intercourse for a year. What I care about is that each person is getting their desire online. I want your desire to be at an 8 out of 10 before you have intercourse. Many people try to get have intercourse when they’re at a 2-4 out of 10, and our bodies don’t appreciate us for it.
3) Move your body in a fluid way. This could be swaying to music, taking yoga, going for a walk, but it helps a lot to get your body moving sensually so you’re not going from wiping peanut butter off faces and managing a project at work to having to immediately switch into sexy seducer mode and take your pants off. Many people’s brains just aren’t going to be able to switch modes that easily or quickly.