As a sex therapist, & specialist, and author of Why Good Sex Matters, here are seven valuable lessons I’ve learned from my research participants, those brave men and women who have donated their orgasms for science, about how to deepen your ability to enjoy your erotic self.
1. Do not judge your erotic self or the erotic experience.
Practice radical self-acceptance. Learn to love your body, exactly as it is. This is one of the biggest lessons, mentioned by nearly all our research participants. They also become curious about their own sexuality and went about exploring what turned them on. Learn to embrace your unique erotic fingerprint — whatever it is. Learn the difference between spontaneous and responsive desire, and where you are on the desire curve. Let yourself be exactly as you are in the moment. And let the moment be exactly as it is.
Sex is our willingness to be sexual beings however that shows up. Remember first and foremost that good sex is about being present.
2. Tune in.
Shift your focus inward to listen closely to what you want and what your body yearns for. What are your fantasies? How do you like to be touched? Why not explore all areas of your body that can give you pleasure? Become keenly aware of what pleases you across the senses — don’t forget about sounds and tastes. Are you interested in perhaps being more active when you tend to be receptive? More receptive when you’re usually more active? Making subtle shifts in your habitual roles may reveal new ways that you can be turned on. Paying attention to sensations is key for pleasurable sex. If your mind wanders and starts to get into “spectatoring” mode — becoming goal-directed or self-conscious — simply notice that without judgment, letting those thoughts be exactly as they are while you bring your attention back to the senses.
3. Be patient — about getting turned on.
When you want to have intercourse, for example, don’t begin until you and/or your partner are sufficiently aroused. Allow the sex to unfold without rushing into it. Although this advice may seem simplistic, it’s hugely important for experiencing the pleasure of sex. Slow down and savor the sensations. Let them build. Enjoy the journey without concern about the destination.
4. Stay connected to your partner.
Often the best way to connect is actually going beyond words. Simply do new lovers spend tons of time doing — eye gazing. Look into your partner’s eyes and breathe with your partner while sitting silently. See the person in front of you, the being you fell in love with. Spoon your partner and hold them and synchronize your breath to synchronize your nervous systems. This actually works. Learn how to harness the stress-busting and connection-promoting power of the breath. We are like tuning forks and go into “cardiac” entrainment with lovers (and even our pets) when we settle into the connection. Good sex is connected sex.
5. Take risks.
We often feel hesitant to speak up with partners about parts of ourselves that we think they will judge or worry that if we tell them how we truly feel we will hurt them. We tend to play it safe when in doubt. But another way to look at this is that there is a risk to not taking risks. If we don’t explore some of the scarier places with our partners, if we don’t explore the corners of our erotic selves, we tend to shut down and stagnate. And stagnation, itself, is dangerous to relationships. Sexual potential unfolds when we bring all of ourselves into the mix. We are always, always shifting and changing and growing. Taking the risk to reveal how these changes impact us, our thoughts, our fears, our feelings, even our fantasies tend to revitalize the partnership.
6. Prioritize pleasure.
Allow sex to play a larger role in your life. Your work with your seven core emotions has paved the way for more keen awareness and insight into how and why pleasure is so important to your life, so allow sex to play a larger role. Make time for sex, expand your notion of what sex is, nurture it, and explore it. It’s a journey without an end.
7. Tolerate emotions and embrace the transformative nature of sex.
Because of the blend of emotional and physical drivers of sex, any type of sexual experience or activity has the capacity to stir up all kinds of emotions. One of the most important lessons for good sex and good relationships, in general, is to learn how to more fully tolerate our feelings, other people’s feelings, and our feelings about other people’s feelings. And sometimes the most challenging feelings to tolerate, believe it or not, are intense feelings of pleasure — which for some can feel scarily out of control. When we can learn to simply allow the feelings to be as they are, stay present to ourselves and to each other, the experiences we can have with and through sex can be truly healing and can revitalize our mind, body, and spirit. It is a tangible form of connection to others, a source of immune-boosting energy, and a vast reservoir for pleasure.
And last but not least
Remember that pleasure is not a luxury. It is a necessity for a well-balanced emotional brain and overall well-being. Cultivate a pleasure mindset to reap the benefits!