Each month I host free online gatherings for men that want to have helpful and healing conversations about sex and pleasure: this month we talked about some foundational relationship skills focused on desire and initiation.
My free monthly events are a service offering to the community, and anyone that identifies as a man is welcome to attend. Each month will have a specific topic, and I’ll share some wisdom and practices, and then it’s an open group discussion. Our next gathering for men is February 21: learn more and register here. We’ll be talking about a juicy and often controversial topic that I know will be so impactful for you all.
And, I’m now offering free monthly classes for everyone! Learn more about all my upcoming classes here.
I love hosting our monthly gathering of open-hearted men, those focused on doing the work of skills-building, relationship healing, and self-engagement. THANK YOU for showing up for yourself and each other!
Yesterday we talked about some foundational relational frameworks focused on desire and initiation. I see these as foundational because so many of the folks that come to work with me don’t understand the ways our unique set of wiring, responses, and styles can so greatly impact our sex life. Often just these tips alone can help people better understand or totally solve the challenges about sex, desire, and initiation.
Desire Frameworks: Spontaneous or Responsive?
If you’ve ever said something like, “I want to want it more” or “Once we get going I really like it” Congratulations, you have responsive desire—and this is totally normal. Only one model of desire shown to us in romantic comedies and media, and it’s spontaneous. Not all of us are wired this way!
- SPONTANEOUS DESIRE often hits like a bolt of lightning: This is how romance and desire is portrayed in most rom-coms, and this portrayal of desire makes a lot of us feel abnormal or broken (or that something is wrong with your relationship). IT’S TOTALLY OK if you don’t immediately combust into a little horny fireball as soon as you see your partner. And it’s ok if you do! ☄️🔥❤️🔥
- Many of us have RESPONSIVE DESIRE: This means you need stuff to respond to! This might be scheduled sexy time, it might be text messages, it might be sexy reading/watching materials, or even just seeing your favorite barista on the way to work that puts a little zing in your morning. You need something (or many things) to get your fires burning. For those of us with responsive, we need time and space to turn on our desire. So scheduling sex and creating ‘willingness windows’ of time together can help you find your desire. Some of us need time to bloom! 🌹
- And this can fluctuate! It’s totally normal to go from spontaneous to responsive and back again. For example, when my beloved is gone for a few weeks, I do feel very spontaneous when we reconnect. For someone wired for spontaneous desire has a stressful week at work, they might feel more responsive because of the stress.
- This does not fall along gender lines! The myths of sex and pursuit lead us astray. The more I work with folks and explore my own relationship, the more these myths fall away.
Emotional & Sexual Connection: which comes first?
Many (if not most) people need to feel connected in order to have sex. That means for a lot of us, we need to build connection and intimacy in ways that don’t involve sex. Other people need to have sex to feel connected. Which applies to you? Which applies to your partner?
If one (or both of you) needs to feel connected FIRST, it is hugely important to decipher HOW to feel more connected. I’ve written about the importance of intimate connection before sex here.
If you are wired this way, this is normal, and there are ways to learn to deepen connection.
🌀 Do you need to have deep conversations?
🌀 Do you need to engage in physical activity?
🌀 Do you need to learn something together or build something together?
Cooking dinner, running errands, snuggling… literally the list of potential connecting activities is endless.
🌀 Ask your lover, what would help you feel closer to me right now?
The Dual-Control Model (aka, brakes vs. accelerators)
Thanks to sex research Emily Nagoski for bringing this conversation into the mainstream. Just like a vehicle, our brain has both an accelerator (things that turn us ON) and a brake (things that slow down or stop our turn-on). Knowing that this exists is powerful, and knowing what the brakes are for you and your partners is very helpful.
Often we’re told that to ‘fix’ sexual challenges in relationships we need to add to the accelerator (buy the toys, go to the events, open the marriage, add more stimulation). But what we neglect is taking away the things that are pressing on the brake. For example, I had a client just this morning who told me, “My biggest turn on is when the laundry is done, and folded.” Knowing that the laundry is done, and that she doesn’t have to think about it, helps her relax into playtime.
This is especially important if you’re in a heterosexual relationship, as most households (no matter how progressive) still rely on the female parter for the bulk of the household duties and the ‘mental load.’ When women run the household, it turns partners into subordinates, and that is NOT SEXY. Read more about the mental load here.
Loving Initiation: How to get the party started
There are many different ways to initiate sex, and it’s worth the time and effort to figure out what you need and what your partner needs. And trust me, the random boob grab or booty slap while I’m washing dishes ISN’T GONNA DO IT.
Initiation into sex is an invitation, not a demand. This also needs to be embodied by you so that your partner FEELS the invitation (and doesn’t feel pressured). Pressure could look like direct pressure/begging, punishment, withholding, demanding or any number of other bad behaviors. If you do that, you simply must stop. It is not serving you.
Learn how to stimulate, flirt, titillate, and care for your partner so that they feel invited into an experience. Ask them how they want to feel, and then figure out the go-to move(s). Also important here is to practice receiving a NO, or a not now. Get curious. don’t take it personally, do not punish, and see what the NO might reveal.