Monthly Archives: May 2015

8 Why do people cheat? A look at infidelity and what you can do about it.

 

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Cheating.

It’s everywhere – in our favorite TV shows, in the movies, in the books we read, and even in our lives. Whether you’ve cheated, been cheated on, or know someone close to you who has been through this experience, it’s an epidemic.

And according to renowned therapist, Esther Perel, infidelity isn’t going anywhere.

So, what the hell is going on? Why do people cheat? Most importantly, what the heck can you do about it?

Let’s start by examining Perel’s latest TED talk. Then, we’ll look at a few ways that will help you combat some of the main issues that can lead towards infidelity.

Adultery has existed since human beings began entering into relationships.

In fact, Perel humorously points out that infidelity is the only commandment repeated twice in the Bible: once for doing it and once for just thinking about it.

What exactly is an affair?

According to Perel it has three things: “a secretive relationship, an emotional connection to one degree or another, and a sexual alchemy.”

Perel goes on to say that cheating is universally practiced, meaning it’s something that isn’t unique to one culture, time period, or way of living.

She even shares that 95% of us say it’s terribly wrong for a partner to have an affair, but then we turn around and admit that 95% of us would never tell a partner if an affair happened.

Happiness is not the cure for cheating. Because people who are happy in their partnership still cheat.

The truth is that despite what we see and hear in the media, cheating is not always done from a place of hatred or misery.

Of course there are serial cheaters out there – individuals who are dishonest and disconnected and disrespectful on many levels. But that’s not who we’re talking about.

I’m talking about people who love their partner, who are generally pretty happy, and who still seek something outside their relationship in an unethical way.

So what gives?

“Monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time.”

In the past, monogamy had nothing to do with love. It was about ownership – guaranteeing the purity of the man’s heir, of the ownership of his property and inheritance. It was an economic transaction based on wealth and security.

An affair, then, used to threaten our economy status and our financial well-being, but taking a lover was often our only chance at love.

That has changed somewhat recently. Now, our relationships are based on love and personal connections. As a result, affairs threaten our emotional and psychological well-being, which is a much higher price to pay.

What’s the solution? Many people claim that non-monogamy is the cure for infidelity because monogamy isn’t realistic or fair.

However, Perel says that cheating happens in non-monogamous relationships, as well, and that fidelity and monogamy are actually two very different conversations altogether. I happen to agree.

All that said, there is one thing that Perel gets wrong in her talk – or, rather, she doesn’t go deep enough for my liking.

She says we have this romantic ideal that in a monogamous relationship one person will meet all of our exhaustive list of needs.

This is true, but it’s not the whole story.

In my experience, when a monogamous couple is made up of individuals who are self-aware and consciously choosing this for themselves (instead of allowing monogamy to be their default or a blind assumption), they have no such illusions about their partner.

Rather than this fairytale myth, I see people who rely on their family and friends for many of their needs – emotional support, personal development, intimacy, love, physical comfort, adventure, etc.

They create a community that supports their relationship.

Healthy non-monogamous couples do the same thing, except they often include sexual experiences and/or romantic feelings with some of their support network, too.

I also see these same people having a strong sense of self requiring a fair amount of autonomy – the people in the relationship see themselves as complete people with their own hobbies, interests, and friends.

This is a critical distinction. It may not be common, but it’s important to note that it exists.

Back to Perel’s talk…

The bottom line is cheating creates a crisis of identity and a crisis of trust. It’s deeply upsetting and threatening.

We live in a culture where we believe we deserve happiness and that we owe it to ourselves to chase desire.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it does make it so much easier and so much more tempting to stray.

Perel says we used to divorce because we were unhappy. Today we divorce because we could be happier.

The advice from friends and advice columnists is to leave if you’re unhappy, to throw in the towel if there is a transgression. And yes, if you’re truly miserable then you should leave.

We live in a commodity culture where anything that no longer serves us or becomes too much trouble is easily discarded in favor of something newer and easier. The same has become true for our relationships.

But surprisingly, most couples who experience infidelity actually stay together, which often leads to a great deal of internalized shame for the wronged partner.

If we can easily divorce, without any cultural shame, then why do we have affairs at all?

Perel’s book, “Mating in Captivity”, covers this at length, and it’s a book that I recommend to many of my clients.

In her new TED talk, she expands on her previous work and says that affairs are an expression of longing and loss.

It’s not necessarily that something is wrong with your relationship or with you, but that something has gone missing and an affair helps to reclaim that thing.

What is that thing?

Often it’s “an emotional connection, a novelty, freedom, autonomy, sexual intensity, a wish to recapture lost parts of ourselves, or an attempt to bring back vitality in the face of loss and tragedy.”

Perel tells the story of one client who has an affair with her gardener because she’d always been the good girl, taking care of everyone but herself, and she felt compelled to experience some of that lost adolescence, to be carefree and reckless, that she’d never had.

“It isn’t always our partner we are turning away from, but the person that we have become.”

Affairs make people feel alive. Cheating often helps individuals who feel stuck to experience the thrill of newness again.

The most important point in Perel’s talk is this:

Affairs are rarely about sex.

They are usually about desire – desire for attention, to feel special or important, and that endless wanting for something you can’t have.

It’s about the power of the forbidden.

Perel has a hopeful message. You can heal, and even thrive, after an affair, but this is where we’ll leave her talk and turn to look at some ideas for what these things mean to you.

What can you do about infidelity in your own relationship?

While there are no guarantees, there are things you can do that help create a space where everyone involved has an opportunity to thrive.

Define what fidelity means in your relationship – and keep revisiting that definition regularly.

Many people in relationships establish loose rules around infidelity – don’t do anything that would hurt me or don’t do anything stupid. Not terribly specific, since two people may have vastly different assumptions about what would hurt the other, so this is potentially problematic.

So, let’s say you actually take the time to really examine what the both of you want and need when it comes to the boundaries of your relationship – flirting is fine, watching porn, going to strip clubs as long as there’s no sex. If you start developing feelings for someone, talk to me first. Something like that.

The thing that most people miss?

Revisiting those boundaries regularly. I recommend annually, at a minimum, but also leave flexibility in between check-ins for conversations to happen at different intervals.

This is not a set it and forget it process.

Your needs will change. Your partner’s needs will change. You will both grow in new directions. Perhaps you want to expand the boundaries of your relationship at some point, and at other points to pull them in.

But, both of you need to be open, honest, and brave enough to examine the rules.

One other note: sometimes one person will want more freedom than the other.

That’s OK. You two can decide if that’s a deal breaker or if one person is willing to be patient while the other explores what that means.

Therapists, counselors, and coaches can help you a great deal in this space, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Infuse your relationship with excitement and mystery.

In her first TED talk in 2013, Perel touches on the importance of maintaining eroticism in your relationship. She posits that there is a continuum (I like to imagine a teeter totter) for relationships with intimacy on one end and eroticism on the other.

Many couples slide along this scale until they’re deep in the intimacy realm. With all of the weight on the intimacy end, things fall out of balance. Eroticism dies or becomes incredibly rare (enter low libidos, dull sex lives, and only having sex on someone’s birthday).

And therein lies the problem.

Too much intimacy kills erotic energy.

Why? Because eroticism needs air and mystery and heat in order to burn.

(Conversely, if you have a relationship that is entirely erotic, then it’s risky and thrilling and dangerous, but lacks intimacy and trust. These relationships tend to be dramatic, hot, and short.)

Perel calls this concept erotic intelligence.

This is also one of the main things I recommend to my clients when libidos are waning and sex isn’t what it used to be.

Desire thrives on the unknown, on surprises, and on the unexpected.

This, in turn, makes people feel wanted, seen, craved, and needed. Which, from what you saw up above, is one of the main reasons people have affairs – they feel like they are no longer desirable.

I’ve created a list with some ideas for injecting your relationship with fun, fresh energy. You can download it at the end of this post.

Allow your partner a chance to be their own person.

Autonomy is critical if you want your relationship to thrive. Both of you need to have time and space to do the things that you love doing.

Go out with your friends without your partner.

Let your partner go golfing or fishing or crafting for an afternoon.

Do weekends away to the spa on your own.

Schedule time on the calendar for you to have the house to yourself for a few hours so that you can take a bubble bath or watch an erotic film or masturbate or read a book in silence.

Whatever it is, cultivate a sense of self and nurture that through acts of self-care. Taking care of yourself is necessary and attractive.

Not only will that space help with the erotic energy, but it will also ensure that both of you have a clear sense of self and an identity outside of your relationship.

Practice gratitude for your partner.

What you focus on grows.

Are you focusing on all of the things your partner does that drive you nuts? Or are you focusing on all of the things they do that make your life a little better for having them in it?

If someone feels taken for granted or invisible, it’s so much easier for them to feel drawn towards situations where they will feel appreciated and seen.

Be that person for them, and ask for them to do that for you.

Perel says she tells most of her patients that if they put half as much energy into their relationship as they did into their affair, they wouldn’t have had the affair in the first place. Preach, Esther. Preach!

Develop little gratitude rituals. Maybe it’s daily text messages or hand written notes. Perhaps it’s a weekly date night where you both make an effort to talk about what’s going well.

Before bed each night, think of 3-5 things your partner did that day that you were grateful for. Some days it will be really difficult to come up with nice things to say, so even if it’s super small – they put their socks in the hamper and ate everything you cooked for dinner – find something you can be grateful for.

If you do this often enough, you’ll find that the way you view your partner becomes much more kind and appreciative, which helps to create a relationship where everyone feels valued.

What are your favorite ways to keep desire alive? What’s your biggest struggle? Comment below with your thoughts.

Ready for your free download? Just click the button to open it. Be sure to join my email list for exclusive videos and worksheets, too.

14 Life after sexual assault or rape, my personal story

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I am a survivor of multiple sexual assaults and rapes.

I wasn’t planning on talking about this on the blog just yet, but there’s a reason I share this now.

Several months ago I did an interview with a podcast called Ending the Sexual Dark Age. One of their listeners wrote in saying she’d been raped and was asking for help. In a moment of bravery, I saw their call on Facebook for people to interview and reached out.

JV and Shara were wonderfully generous and kind. To be honest, I didn’t remember much from the actual interview because of adrenaline and being in my on-air head space.

Well, the episode went live today. You can listen to it here.

I will say BIG OL’ TRIGGER WARNING on that link. I speak pretty bluntly about my rapes and my triggers, and it won’t be easy for some of you to listen to.

You can hear the listener question at 6:25. I come on at 14:18 and speak for about 20 minutes.

One quick note – towards the end of my interview it sounds like I’m getting choked up. In fact I was choking. I’m not crying when you hear my raspy, gaspy voice. That is me having trouble swallowing. Ever the professional, eh?

I am very proud of this interview even though it feels scary to be so public about something so personal.

That said, I conducted this interview wearing my sex coach and sex educator hat.

I sound formal and put together (I think), and I wanted to share something else with you that creates a more comprehensive picture.

I happen to put on a really good show.

The truth is that my journey is on-going and complicated and scary. It’s scary as hell.

Some days I don’t think about it at all – the trauma. Actually, most days are like that. But the days when I do think about it, I get angry and so sick to my stomach.

My body doesn’t feel damaged, but my mind does in those moments.

Because rape and sexual trauma are the ultimate mind fuck.

Know when it’s the worst? When I’m in a sexually charged situation – like a play party I recently attended with my partner or when I’m in a dungeon watching all the fun, kinky things going on.

It’s like all the most broken pieces of me rush to the surface and I can’t make sense of what’s real and what’s not.

I didn’t want to admit that that was my truth because fuck that sucks.

I teach sex for a living! I talk about it every day! With my clients, it’s barely a blip on the radar. On my podcast where I talk about all sorts of sex and sex acts, nothin’.

And yet, when I’m in a sexual setting with other people? I feel something ugly and dark stir in my belly. Even sitting here now, in a coffee shop in broad daylight typing about it, I can feel it uncoiling. It is cold and long and heavy and dark.

I don’t want this to be my truth or my story.

But there it is.

I am sexual assault and rape survivor, and these things have fundamentally changed who I am as a person.

In many ways, they’ve made me stronger. I have learned that my courage and bravery know no bounds. I know I am a warrior in spirit and in mind.

I also know a deeper and more profound empathy than I thought possible, towards other survivors, towards other’s suffering.

I have learned how to cope. I am allowing myself to heal at my own pace. I sit in the feelings that feel really yucky. I don’t deny myself the discomfort or the horror, but I also don’t let myself get stuck in it. I know how to let them drift in and then drift away.

That feels good. I know I’m not static or stuck. That I’m becoming something new.

I’ve also found power in communities of people like me, I’ve heard my own story echoed by others in online forums and being able to lend support feels like I’m reaching out to myself in a way.

And I find the things I do not have words for in the art of others.

This piece on PTSD captures the bizarre new reality following a traumatic event perfectly. Share it widely and liberally. PTSD: The Wound that Never Heals.

I also really love Laura Weiner’s paintings on PTSD, which you can view on her website (please note, some of the images are disturbing).

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because as important as my interview was, I feel like it was only half of the story. It was the half that is put together and objective and able to create distance.

The untold half, the half I’m writing about here, is that I will never be the woman I was before that last rape (which was the most traumatic for me).

I will probably never be able to skip into a sexual situation and feel unburdened and carefree and safe. I would love that, but I’m not going to force myself to get there. Not until I’m ready.

Right now, I feel safe with my partner in ways I haven’t felt safe in my whole life. And at some point, I hope to experience that kind of safety with others.

But I know this is not a linear journey.

There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed.

If you have suffered any kind of trauma or PTSD, but especially sexual trauma, I want you to know that you are not alone.

I want you to know that you are lovable and valuable and powerful.

I want you to know that it’s OK if you have bad days or if you get triggered or if you thought you were past it and then you step on a land mine and everything crumbles again.

I want you to know that it was not your fault, no matter what the voices in your head tell you or the people in your life.

I want you to know that all of your feelings are important, so please allow yourself to feel them all. And if you need professional help or support so that you can do that safely, let me know. I know some awesome therapists and counselors who can put you in contact with people.

I want you to know that you don’t have to rush to heal, but you also don’t have to stay broken.

Healing and taking back your power do not make the horrors you experienced any less horrible, just like forgiving your attackers does not make their actions OK. It simply helps to ease your burden.

And that is something I continue to work on for myself – forgiveness.

So here I am – imperfect and vulnerable and uncomfortable because I want every single person who reads this to know life after trauma can be pretty damn spectacular.

Because of my rapes, I learned the power of consent and teach it far and wide and unapologetically.

Because of my trauma, I finally allowed myself permission to become a full time sex educator and coach because I knew the world needed to hear what I have to offer.

Because of my story, I fell in love with one of the most amazing human beings on earth.

Your life is not over after tragedy.

It simply takes on a new meaning with new rules, and stumbling your way through that can and will happen – be patient and gentle with yourself.

If you want to share your story privately, I am here to listen. If you want to share anything publicly, please comment below. This is a safe space for us all.

10 You don’t need to love your body to have amazing sex

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I don’t know how you feel about your body, but the relationship that I have with my body is deep, complex, and not at all consistent. Over the years, I’ve been quite mean to both my body and myself.

In fact, there was a time when I believed myself to be so undesirable that I almost cried when a lover said he wanted to touch me after seeing me naked.

The fear and the self-disgust were paralyzing.

Thoughts around body love and sex have been swirling in my head for months, but last week I watched a new documentary called “Inside Her Sex”. One of the women in the film, Elle Chase, said something incredibly profound about not needing to love your body in order to feel sexy, and I realized THAT’S what I’ve been wanting to say.

So, here is me sharing a few thoughts on why you don’t have to love your body in order to have awesome sex. Then, we’ll dig a little deeper on the other side.

[video_embed url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie2qWF4f29c” embed_style=”default” width=”600″]

Your relationship with your body can be a work-in-progress

Feeling comfortable in your skin is important. Being kind to yourself, regardless of what your body looks like or feels like, means moving through life with less stress, less anxiety, and a lot more gratitude.

But, if you are still working on finding that acceptance, it’s OK.

What so many people in the body-love movement gloss over is that even when you’ve moved mountains to transform the way you think about and experience your body, there will still be days when all you can see are the things you don’t like.

Growth and healing are not linear acts – they don’t happen in a straight, consistent, predictable line. Think of it like this success graph. Simply replace “success” with your path to body acceptance.

Success isn't a linear line. You may love your body certain days and on others really struggle to say anything nice at all.

If that’s true, you cannot afford put your pleasure on hold until you reach some specific and often-shifting body ideal.

Your body is capable of delicious sensations and sensual experiences right now.

Whether you’re 130 pounds or 430 pounds, your skin still tingles at a light touch or shivers at an ice cube being dragged slowly across it.

Whether you’re walking with ease or walking with a cane, you can grab your Hitachi Wand or the detachable shower head and give yourself an orgasm (with or without a partner).

Pleasure isn’t dependent on body size or fitness level or flexibility. You can experience unbelievable yumminess exactly as you are, in this moment.

The trick is to give yourself permission to experience it.

But how?

Decide that you deserve this.

More than the voices in your head pointing out all of the parts of yourself that aren’t fit to be seen. More than you’re worried about how you look. You deserve this.

On my journey, after years without sex, I got so fed up and so mad that I was missing out on the sex I dreamed of that I stubbornly decided to just go for it, even if my lover ran for the hills when he saw me naked. It was an act of bravery and I was terrified. But dammit, I wanted it. I deserved it.

Sometimes it will feel like the scariest thing in the world, but just remember you deserve to feel all of the things you’re craving and dreaming about.

Fake it ’til you make it.

This is something I recommend to many of my clients for a wide variety of problems, but it works like a charm.

First, imagine how you’d behave if you were the fiercest, most confident person you can think of. How would you walk into the room? How would you climb onto the bed? What would you say if every single inch of you dripped with sexual confidence?

Now put on your acting hat and embody that person. Pretend you ARE that confident and sensual.

You don’t have to force some big gesture. Simply imagine feeling totally at ease in your body for a few minutes, and then step into the shower with your partner or climb sensually on the bed and ask for what you want or crawl across the floor like a tiger and watch yourself in the mirror before seducing yourself.

Remember that you are MUCH harder on yourself than the people you choose to play with (if you choose to play with others).

When you see yourself in the mirror, it’s easy to focus on all the things you want to change – the scars, the stretch marks, the saggy skin, the too-bony spots, the grey hair – whatever it is.

This used to paralyze me. I would spend so much time trying to hide my big, round belly and my thick thighs from my lovers.

One day I realized that no matter what, they could still see the things I was trying to hide. Plus, I never focused on the tiny imperfections littering their bodies. I couldn’t tell you if they had scars or stretch marks or uneven anything. Even if I could, it was a passing thought, not something I cared about at all.

Instead of all of that, I could tell you in graphic detail what their hands felt like, how they kissed me, how their bodies felt against mine.

And that was such a wake-up call.

Your lover(s) won’t see the things you hate most about yourself. They’ll see the things they love and pass over the rest in their quest to enjoy YOU.

So while you may not love yourself, try adopting a “well, fuck it and let’s do this” attitude. The more you focus on having fun and soaking up those lovely sensations the more you’ll forget about the way your body looks.

The trick is to get lost in how your body feels.

You have permission to have throw caution to the wind, to have amazing sex, and to roll in the pleasure you’re capable of without loving your body.

If you get stuck in your head obsessing about some part of your body you’re really insecure about? Focus all of your attention on your lover or drop into a juicy fantasy in your head and redirect yourself gently.

You can’t be too distracted by your uneven boobs if you’re totally lost in the driving your lover crazy with your tongue, right?

You can have amazing sex even if you don’t love your body. Don’t let that hold you back any longer. Throw caution to the wind, get a little brave, and focus on how everything feels rather than how everything looks. Your lover only cares about sending you to the moon with their skill, not whether you forgot to shave your legs or how many rolls are on your tummy.*

Looking for some kick-ass inspiration?

Check out these badass resources that inspire me on my worst days.

Militant Baker. Read her amazing piece Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls So I Will.

The inspiration for this piece, Elle Chase, talking about feeling sexy at 45 in a fat body.

This Mind Body Green piece on not having to love your body.

Find boards on Pinterest about all bodies being beautiful. I love this Tess Holliday look book and this awesome infographic showing different body shapes and sizes and even a gorgeous disabled body.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”http://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to talk about moving towards self-love or having great sex in the body you’re in? That’s what I’m here for. [/callout]

So, what do you think? What do you struggle with the most? Let’s share where we get stuck and support each other in the comments.

*If you have a partner who does comment on your body or points out things that you don’t feel great about, confront them immediately. If it’s a casual relationship, end it. Now. If it’s a committed relationship, make it clear that you deserve better and ask them to stop. If they don’t, it may be time to move on. Cruelty and passive-aggressive comments about how you look is bullying. 

5 Are you ready to claim your pleasure and create a better sex life?

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I have a confession.

It’s personal and involves years of embarrassment on my part, so I hope you’ll be patient with me as my story of self discovery unfolds.

From the time I was in my early teens, I loved pleasuring myself.

I don’t remember exactly when I made the discovery, but I distinctly remember wishing for time alone at the house in middle school and high school so that I could get naked and take care of business. It was usually a rushed, shameful little affair – never lasting more than a few minutes, waiting for that warm rush of pleasure to hit, and then I’d hurriedly put myself back together.

I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it because my friends would proudly declare that they didn’t need to masturbate because they had boyfriends, and of course, why would you ever masturbate if you could have a real person?

Since I didn’t date much in high school, but was very sexually charged, I took care of business myself.

On the day I turned 18, I took myself to a sex toy store and bought my first vibrator. It was a long, flexible wand with a little bullet on the end so that I could get into all sorts of positions and still reach my clit.

I graduated to an internal vibrator not long after that (for some reason I thought dildos were only for perverts – I don’t know where that idea came from, but it was there). In the early 2000’s, I even owned my own sex toy business for a few years, selling all manner of vibrators and lube and stimulants to my customers.

Through it all, I never used my hands on myself. It was always a toy. Always kind of rushed. Always goal-oriented.

And when I was in relationships, I didn’t realize I could bring toys into the mix and I certainly didn’t know how to share what I liked, so as a result, sex was decent, but it wasn’t mind-blowing.

One day in my mid-to-late 20’s, I was laying around and started casually touching myself with my hand. I’m pretty sure my favorite vibe wasn’t working (dead batteries), so I started exploring myself. At first, it was simply a gentle exploration of my skin, comforting and sweet. But I found my body responding and I rolled with it.

It was a much slower process since my hands didn’t offer the same intensity that my vibrators did, but I became more and more aroused and when I finally came it was a glorious burst of colors and warmth, and went on and on and on.

A new world opened up for me.

In that moment, I realized how disconnected I’d been from my body. I would grab a toy, orgasm as quickly as possible without really thinking about what I was doing, clean up and pretend nothing happened.

This new world of my beautifully dextrous hands meant slowing down and exploring. It allowed me to start a dialog with my body that changed everything.

I found that even when I went back to toys, it was a much more intentional experience. I found I could orgasm over and over again when I gave myself permission to settle in and be in the moment. It was a masturbatory awakening.

Like so many people, I grew up thinking that sex was this very singular thing – PIV (or penis-in-vagina). And I know I wasn’t alone. At my high school in southern California, so many of the kids believed that oral sex and anal sex weren’t REALLY sex, so they engaged in it frequently and without any guilt or shame around losing their virginity.

Along with all of that mess, I (we) believed masturbation was something you did until you met someone. It was a placeholder for “real” sex. Friends echoed this belief, and no one ever told me otherwise in my sex ed classes or in the pages of Cosmo.

Thankfully, through my own exploration I learned just how powerful and freeing masturbation could be. By claiming my pleasure and understanding my body, it led to a better sex life, and a much more pleasurable one for me and my partners.

Sadly, many people see self-pleasure as a pathetic stand-in for “real sex”. This attitude, paired with the shame that most people internalize around masturbation, means way too many folks are missing out on one of the most powerful (and free) pleasurable tools we have in our sex toolbox.

You have my enthusiastic permission to get your hand (or your favorite toy) in your pants and go to town.

When you prioritize your own pleasure on a regular basis, you not only start to form an intimate and powerful relationship with your body, but you begin to understand that you deserve pleasure during other sexual activities.

It might seem like a given – the importance of getting to know your body and enjoying all of the delicious sensations it’s capable of – but too often people (women especially) sacrifice their pleasure out of fear of taking too long, of being selfish, of being seen, of doing something wrong or gross, or of asking too much of their lovers. This self-induced silence can lead to a pretty unsatisfying sex life.

That’s not to say you have to masturbate. But, if you’re curious or if you like bringing yourself pleasure, then make it a priority and have fun with your gorgeous self.

Regular self-pleasure sessions can not only release stress (even if it doesn’t end in orgasm), but they create a dialog between you and your body and they give you a way to answer honestly when a lover asks how to please you.

Try it! You’ll like it.

Self-pleasure is normal, healthy, powerful, sexy, and fun. Don’t worry about being politically correct, either. Any fantasy or desire that you use to get off is perfectly OK (even if it’s really really taboo or unacceptable in real life).

Treat masturbation like a juicy experiment. It’s not about succeeding or failing, it’s about gathering information so that each time something happens, you have more and more data to guide yourself the next time.

The more variety you embrace, the more you’ll learn about all of the things your body likes or doesn’t like.

What does it feel like to use your fingers? What about rubbing yourself while laying with a pile of pillows under your tummy? Or standing, bent over the side of the bed with a dildo? How does the shower massager feel or a new vibrator or nipple clamps? It’s all healthy and normal and fun.

As you get more and more comfortable experimenting with yourself and creating that dialog with your body, you’ll become more relaxed and confident when it comes to claiming your pleasure – both by yourself and with a partner.

Instead of feeling pressured to perform, you’ll be ready to relax into the bliss that is all of your favorite sensations, and you’ll be more prepared to instruct and ask for exactly what you want.

One tool. Many uses.

You cannot do masturbation wrong. If it feels good, you’re doing it right, even if it doesn’t end in an orgasm.

Follow your arousal down the rabbit hole of pleasure, and see where you end up. If you treat your pleasure like a curiosity, without expectation or a goal in mind, you can end up all sorts of wild places.

Beyond self-pleasure when you’re solo, it can be fun to mutually masturbate with a partner. Because let’s be real – sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands if you’re craving something specific. Plus, watching your partner touch themselves can be wonderfully erotic and teach you a thing or two about how to touch them.

No matter how you do it, self-pleasure is a beautiful way to honor yourself and your body and all those sensations you’re capable of. When you take matters into your own hands (pun intended), it not only means you have a more intimate relationship with your body, but you’ll also experience a better sex life when you find new ways to ask for what you want and what feels good.

Because in the end, the only person who is responsible for your pleasure is yourself.

I cooked up a fun list of 50 ways to experiment with self-pleasure.

Click below, enter your details, and I’ll email it over to you in a hot second.

Psst. Did you know that May is Masturbation Month? It is! So use that as a reason to celebrate solo.

And one other thing, if you haven’t heard, I’m creating a beautiful and very exclusive online sex boutique. It will have the best products in the world, and I hope to launch late this summer. So stay tuned. The store will have some very unique twists that you haven’t seen before like a personal shopper option and suggestion cards with each and every item.

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