It’s easy to get stuck sexually and just stay there for years. I recently heard from a client who has been so stuck not enjoying sex and avoiding it for so long that she can’t even bring herself to pleasure.
When we get stuck in “park” or “neutral” for long, it can be very difficult to get ourselves in gear.
For women, the way we are socialized around sex often carries the assumption that someone else should activate it for us. Even the way we talk about exploring sex for the first time puts it in terms of “losing” something or “giving it up.” We have to stop talking about sex in deficits and in ways that make women the gatekeepers for men’s sexual fulfillment at the expense of our own.
In same-sex and queer relationships we can also fall into roles. Regardless of your partner’s gender, often the person you’re with WANTS to give to you sexually, but they just need guidance. Sometimes we don’t know where or how to start because we have not prioritized our own sexual needs.
For men, there’s often a lot of cultural pressure to be the sexual initiators, to make the first move and to always be ready to have sex to the point where it’s like something is “wrong” if you don’t want it. Yet I hear so many stories of women trying to talk to their male partners about their needs—which might look different than what the partner needs—and the defensive walls go up with no ability to look at sex differently or try it in a way that might be out of the box or the cultural expectation so your partner can actually enjoy it.
These are some of the gendered myths about desire that our culture feeds us. We have to get beyond these myths and false sexual bars and get real and that means we have to take responsibility for our own pleasure. We have to learn what works for us and be able to ask for it. We have to open the communication with our partners so that everyone can get what they want. That’s why learning to be a skilled communicator is an essential tool for sex and relationships.
I’ve watched so many couples get stuck in what I call the sexual feedback loop, not able to shake it.
You can INTERRUPT this pattern in a variety of ways, but it takes the ability to ask for what you want without blame or shame, and the self-awareness to know what it is you need so you can give helpful feedback instead of both of you staying in the dark. It also requires being open to what your partner wants and to helping them have a better experience.
How to NOT Kill Your Sex Life:
- You have to stop thinking you are supposed to want some specific thing (sexually or otherwise) and let yourself discover what it is you REALLY want. Often that’s hard for people because they grew up hearing “no” from their parents about whatever they wanted. I’ve actually created a handout about sex and money because there are so many connections between the two and they relate to desire: what we really want and what we allow ourselves to have… what we believe we are worthy of and what we really want deep down. If you are busy trying to will yourself into what you think you should want, you can’t get what you really want.
2. Remember that when you put energy into your sexuality, you get energy When you juice yourself up, you juice up your mojo. It won’t happen if you stay still in “park.” You have to put it in gear, even if you don’t feel like it at first. Kind of like taking vitamins. Do it because it’s good for you and you know it’ll pay off in the long run. Show up for intimate time with your partner. Show up willing to try something new.
3. Get over feeling sexually selfish because you focus on your needs. We all have to be selfish sexually to some degree to get the things we really want. You have to receive and be open to that with your partners. In my experience, most people have a really hard time truly receiving and it’s often because they feel like they’ll seem selfish. Or you don’t know what you want and so it’s hard to be open to what is given. Easier to stay focused on them and avoid the conflict? You have to try things to learn new things so the next time you will know what to ask for. See how easy it would be to get stuck here?
As you accept your desires, you stop being invested in other people approving of what you really want and you become more skillful at communicating what you want and creating win-win scenarios. We all want the sexual win-win.