By ADINA LAKSER
As I was complaining about the lack of birth control options that were working for me, a friend replied with “Well, you know you can live without sex, right?” Even though I consider myself very sex positive, I felt my head drop and my shame rise.
I thought: “Oh god, am I sex obsessed? Is it OK that I want good, non-procreating sex? Am I expecting too much?” A flood of self-doubt and judgment ensued.
My friend had been trying to reassure me, but in her attempt to protect me from my disappointments around birth control, I read her comments as (however inadvertently) judging my desires.
I’m a sex coach. And people tell me they are worried they want sex too often, or don’t want sex often enough, or are they having the “wrong” sex, with the wrong partner, or feeling too much pleasure or too little. While the challenges may differ from person to person, an underlying theme is loud and clear: We can’t trust ourselves. We don’t feel permission to enjoy the sex – the type, duration, frequency, style, positions, solo or partnered – we prefer.
As Sue Johanson from the popular 90s TV show Sunday Night Sex Show recognizes: “It’s sad that the most glorious of sexual experiences can make us feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed and abnormal.” Sex is all about things our society struggles with – bodies, mess, honesty, vulnerability, creativity, desire, power, and pleasure. Sex can bring to the surface our collective doubts about being human and the challenges we all face in asking for what we want.
But there is hope. Although it might not always be easy to develop a loving relationship with sex, when we do, we can broaden our relationship with ourselves and others. In the groundbreaking guide to women’s health, Our Bodies, Our Selves, the Boston Women’s Health Collective reminds us that “sexuality is a state of being, a way of experiencing and giving pleasure to ourselves and others. It has the potential to be a powerful and positive force that deepens intimate connections.”
Sometimes we forget how nourishing our sexuality is. Some years ago, after going through a sexless hiatus, I was finally getting it on. During that time period, I was also starting to take myself more seriously as a writer.
As I was experiencing the intoxicating rush of physical touch and pleasure, I started thinking to myself “Oh this is so good. I want more of this. How did I go so long? Oh, but I also want to be writing more…” I was caught in the web of “either/or” thinking. Either I could have more sex or more writing, but not both.
We are taught that pleasure is a “guilty” delight that should be enjoyed in moderation and only if you have earned it through hard work. So even if we are lucky enough to experience multiple pleasures, we feel we have to choose between them.
What I have learned since then is that creative energy, sexual energy, pleasure energy, desire energy all come from the same source. They don’t need to be pitted against each other in an attempt to conserve energy. And when we give ourselves permission to tap into the abundant supply of pleasure, we find ourselves with more to give to our work, to others, and with greater resilience to flow through the inevitable hard times in life.
The relationship with any energy is universal: the more you feed it, the more it feeds you. It creates a self-generating cycle of expansion.
A passion for passion led me to sex coaching and to writing this article. I love helping people to connect more with their bodies, explore what gives them pleasure (in and out of the bedroom), and to let go of whatever gets in the way. Although our sexuality is an integral part of our being, and our bodies have useful information, it can be hard to be a sexual being in a world that judges sex a lot. And how easy it is to fall into the grind of daily living and forget that our bodies, our minds and our spirits want to play.
I’d love to hear from you. I want this to be an ongoing conversation, an intimacy, between you and me. While I do have some training and expertise in sexuality, the best discussions about sexuality invite curiosity, rather than promote absolutes and directives. Send me your comments and questions at email@example.com and let’s get it on!