Monthly Archives: July 2015

6 I don’t want sex as much as I used to. How do I get that spark back?

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I can remember lying in bed at night wondering if something was wrong with me. I had no desire to have sex with my partner at the time, and while the sex was OK when we did have it, it was largely non-existent. In fact, we fought about it quite a lot.

I felt sad, frustrated, and even a little ashamed. How had I, one of the most sexual people in my circle of friends, gotten to a place where sex just wasn’t part of my life?

That place can feel lonely. That place can drive a huge wedge between you and your partner(s). It can make you feel undesirable, unwanted, and utterly hopeless.

But there is a way out of that place. It starts with busting some pretty large myths we have about sex. Well, one in particular.

Specifically, the myth of how sex should be something you want all the time.

This myth is one of the most common and pervasive in our world.

It’s the myth that tells us that desire and passion and great sex are spontaneous. That when you see your partner you should experience this surge of need and immediately want to get naked. That as soon as you start touching, you should be rock hard or super wet and ready to go.

This myth informs us that if sex doesn’t happen spontaneously then it’s not sexy or real or good.

In fact, the story even suggests that if you don’t want sex just because your partner is available to you then something may be wrong.

That’s when the little voice starts wondering and worrying…are we drifting apart? Do they not find me as attractive? Am I with the wrong person? Is something wrong with me? Is it because I put on some weight or we had the kids or… Maybe I’m just not a very sexual person?

And on and on and on.

Sex becomes an elephant in the room because you think you should (there’s that word) want sex more. That it should be easier. It should be like it was when you first met when you couldn’t keep your hands off of each other and sex happened without a second thought.

This is where the “low libido” language comes in. But that’s another myth for another day.

So, let’s talk about this belief that desire should be spontaneous.

Spontaneous desire, like almost all information about sex, comes from a very limited understanding of sex based entirely on the experience of folks with a penis (and only certain ones, at that).

We all know the cultural stories that tell us men always want sex. That it’s all they think about. That they can’t help themselves. It’s a terribly toxic masculinity myth for all genders, even cis men.

Unfortunately, almost all sex information is built on a foundation that is exclusively informed by the young, able-bodied, male sexual experience.

I know that sounds super fancy, but basically almost everything the media, medical communities, and schools teach us about sex is based on the way “normal” dudes are thought to have sex. Seriously.

But what about the rest of us?

I’m going to generalize for a second and say – if all of the stuff we know about sex is created entirely from a place of what young guys experience, then it’s no wonder so many women feel like something is broken or wrong, right? The stories around trans and queer sex are even more skewed.

Think about that for just a moment.

The norms you know about how sex is supposed to be are based on something that has nothing to do with you.

Talk about frustrating. (I could get into the why of all that, but I’d need several books to do that, and people much smarter and much more informed than me have already started doing that. So I’ll leave it to them.)

For most people, especially women, desire is, as Emily Nagoski calls it, responsive.

What does that mean?

It means that desire, that wanting sex, doesn’t just magically happen for most of us.

Instead, desire and wanting sex only happen AFTER some sexual stimuli has started. You’re responding to something, so that makes you responsive.

Now, unless you’re asexual, many of us experience both spontaneous and responsive desire at different points in our lives. Responsive desire is the default for many of us.

When you’re in a new relationship and your brain is high as a kite on love chemicals (that’s a real thing), everything seems tantalizing and exciting and arousing, so desire and sex tend to happen much more spontaneously.

But even then, there’s already a certain amount of stimulation happening from all of the kissing and the puppy love looks at each other and the touching…

The bottom line? The way you experience desire and sex is NORMAL, even if it seems like everything is telling you otherwise.

Having an understanding that our cultural stories about sex are so narrowly defined means when you learn the truth, you can begin exploring what sex means to you on your own terms.

So, what can you do if you want more desire in your life? Stop waiting for it to magically happen.

Give me the stink eye all you like. I know that’s not the most satisfying answer, since we all want the magic pill, the quick fix, the easy way out. But part of what makes your sexual experiences and your pleasure so incredible is how unique and nuanced they are.

It’s not one size fits all.

For most of us, waiting until you want sex is like waiting in the tower of a castle in a distant land for a knight in shining armor to come find you.

Isn’t it a much more exciting story to find a way your own way out of that tower, so that you can embark on an adventure that makes you feel empowered and happy?

In other words, if you want desire and sex, you can make it happen by creating circumstances that make you feel sexy.

It’s like you’re sending an invitation to your sexual self, inviting her out to play.

This is where I get a lot of resistance from clients. Because if sex doesn’t just magically happen (which is a passive approach), then it means you have to show up and participate.

But how freaking fun is that?!?!

You can literally do anything, say anything, think anything, try anything that feels good to you. On your terms. Whenever you want to – whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, or once per decade.

It’s the ultimate adventure!

And it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can invite desire in anytime, anywhere.

As you start to understand how your desire works and what turns you on (this changes all the time, by the way), then you can start really taking advantage of your own sexual power.

There are two critical keys to tapping into your desire if you tend to be responsive rather than spontaneous.

First, remove as many stressors as possible. People overlook this, but you need to start here. What’s most likely to keep you from enjoying yourself? Find ways to eliminate it or put it on hold for a minute.

Because if you’re in your head worrying about doing the laundry or when the kids will walk in, you probably aren’t really connecting with yourself or the moment.

Second, have fun. Tease yourself. Build anticipation. Flirt. Do what feels good. Check out these posts on what to do if you don’t have time for sex, how to talk dirty, and claiming pleasure on your own terms. Start there and then the sky is the limit.

When you take control of your desire and make sex happen when you want it to happen, it takes on a whole new juicy dimension.

It’s about being your own hero, it’s about opening to your own potential and seeing all of the delicious possibilities you have at your fingertips.

Desire follows your lead. So, lead her down a sexy path and she’ll go there with you.

So, let’s recap. The myth of spontaneous desire makes many people feel inadequate and frustrated.

If you don’t magically want sex at the drop of a hat or if sex just seems terribly elusive, there is nothing wrong with you. It just means you get to take matters into your own hands.

Spontaneous sex is awesome in the movies and in romance novels, but in the real world where you’re juggling one million things all of the time, that’s just not how many of us are built.

Spontaneous desire may come and go, but responsive desire is much more common. Which is a fancy way of saying:

Your desire is simply waiting for an invitation to come out and play.

Instead of waiting for desire to come to you, what can you do to invite yourself to experience pleasure? What kind of permission can you give yourself to open to desire and tap into your arousal?

One last thought – don’t be hard on yourself if you’re in a phase where sex isn’t high on your priority list. Sex will ebb and flow for many of us.

Just remember you’re in the driver’s seat of your own pleasure, so whether it’s by yourself or with a partner, you can decide when and how desire can be a part of your life. You just have to be willing to get a little creative and a little playful, and amazing things can happen.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to stop ignoring the places where you’re stuck and find new ways to connect, I’m here for you. [/callout]

1 How to talk dirty and why talking dirty can be good for you

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Have you ever had that moment when someone asks you to talk dirty to them and you freeze? Suddenly, you’re stuck in your head and you aren’t quite sure what to say or how to say it?

“Should I say ‘boobs’ or ‘tits’? Am I demanding or am I begging? Do they want me to be raunchy or am I supposed to say what I want? What if I don’t know what I want?!?!”

And sexy time comes to a screeching halt.

Some people seem to have effortlessly mastered the art of dirty talk – whether they read a lot of erotica or have a vivid imagination, they can pull the most creative and arousing phrases out at the drop of a hat.

For others, dirty talk can feel downright awkward.

So, then what’s the trick? If you’re wondering how to talk dirty, it’s good to know that like anything to do with sex and relationships, dirty talk is a skill. Which means you can learn it, practice it, hone it, and find your own way of making it hot and steamy in a way that works for you.

There is no right way to talk dirty.

First things first, dirty talk is whatever feels fun and sexy or dark and arousing or flirty and playful to you.

End.

Of.

Story.

It doesn’t have to be raunchy. Unless you want it to be.

It doesn’t have to be dramatic. Unless you want it to be.

It doesn’t have to be a certain kind of character or persona. Unless you want it to be.

It doesn’t have to be loud. Unless you want it to be.

Dirty talk is all about your enjoyment and desire. So, there’s no right way and there’s no wrong way, there’s just your way.

Getting started with dirty talk can be super easy.

My partner taught me a brilliant technique that is approachable and easy to adopt, because I used to feel embarrassed about what to say (yes, me!).

To do it, you basically narrate what will happen, what is happening, and/or what did happen.

When you want to tease, titillate, and build anticipation, say what you’re going to do or what you’re imagining for your next interlude.

“When I get you alone, I am going to peel your clothes off and savor every inch of you.”

“Next time I see you, I want you to bend me over and spank me.”

“I’m going to kiss each and every inch of your sexy ass.”

These are future statements about what will happen or what you want soon. It’s a little sneak peak or promise of what’s to come. It’s also an amazing technique for sexting and emails leading up to date night.

When you want to build up the energy in the moment or keep things hot and heavy, say what you are doing or what’s being done to you.

“Do you like the way I feel when you do that to me?”

“You’re so deep inside of me. You feel so good.”

“I’m on my knees, begging for it.”

These are present tense and can be both statements and questions about what is unfolding as it happens. Think of it like bringing in another one of your senses – the more senses you have engaged in a sexual activity, the more engaging and intoxicating it can be.

To extend the energy after you’re done or to remind your lover of something yummy that recently happened, say what happened or what you did do.

“I made you orgasm over and over again last night.”

“I spanked you and you kept begging for more.”

“You had your hands in my hair as I explored you, and you made the most delicious sounds.”

These are past statements about what did happen, and you can follow them up with requests for the future, which creates a beautiful loop of sexy statements and memories any time you want to flirt, build anticipation, and gear back up.

Dirty talk can be as simple as narrating what’s happening or as complex as an entire fantasy role play scene.

To recap – say what will happen, say what is happening, and say what did happen. Nothing to it, right?

You’re only limited by your imagination, your comfort level, and your desire for how you want things to unfold.

To keep things practical, there are a few tips that help make everyone feel more confident and supported when it comes to dirty talk.

1. Dirty talk is a mutually agreed upon sexual activity. That means that everyone involved needs to be on board. Never do it if you don’t want to do it. But if you want to do it and you’re worried about being awkward or saying the wrong thing, don’t let that stop you. Even if you’re a veteran of dirty talk, you’re going to occasionally use a word you didn’t intend to use or flub a command. It’s part of sex. So have fun and invite imperfection.

2. Just because you do it sometimes, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it all of the time. Some people LOVE dirty talk. Some people like it. Others feel icky about it. All of that is normal and OK. Remember to negotiate and be supportive of each other’s desires.

3. It’s OK to be politically incorrect. If you’re a fierce feminist, but you get turned on by a lover calling you a dirty little slut when you’re doing a scene with a lot of intensity, then own it. If you’re a tall, muscular guy who likes being called a sissy in certain scenarios, rock it. Nothing wrong with what turns you on and feels good.

4. Context matters. If you and your partner are making love in a sweet and tender way, it may feel jarring if one of you pulled out the word “whore”. Conversely, if you’re having a really passionate, rough encounter that involves slamming each other against the wall and tearing clothes off, it may not feel quite right to talk about your “flower”. Sitting at dinner and having your partner call you a bitch is likely to start an intense fight about disrespect, but being called a bitch if you’re role playing a fun scene may feel really empowering and sexy. Get curious and play with context to see what moods make you feel certain ways about different words.

5. Words can be off limits. Your boundaries are important, so make sure yours are respected and you respect your partner(s). If a particular word or phrase is really upsetting or uncomfortable to you, put that on the table ASAP so that your partner knows to avoid that land mine. It makes you feel more safe and supported and it sets your partner up for success so they know what to avoid in the heat of the moment.

Talking dirty to each other is one more tool in your toolkit for making sex enjoyable. Allow yourself and your partner to make mistakes. Talk openly about what worked or what didn’t. Ask questions. And practice.

Say what? Dirty talk can be good for you and your partner?

In certain sexual scenarios, silence can be deeply meaningful or deeply arousing (think a Dom/sub scene where you’re ordered to be silent while you’re sweetly tortured by a skilled tongue).

That said, it can be really scary for some people to be having sex with someone who isn’t making any sounds or saying anything. Often times I’ll hear people wondering if they’re bad in bed because their partners don’t ever give feedback or verbally encourage them in bed.

Not only does dirty talk help guide your partner to let them know what’s working and what you want, using your voice in bed can be beautifully empowering and affirming.

This isn’t about acting or forcing anything (unless that’s part of your scene). After all, being yourself is the sexiest thing in the world.

So, don’t worry about saying the wrong thing or making loud noises – that can be a big turn on for a partner. We all want to feel like we’re sexual superstars, so your moans and gasps and cursing and narrating can make your partner(s) feel like a rock star.

When you talk during sex, it helps you really settle into the scene – you’re present, you’re plugged in, you’re experiencing every touch and sensation. And, the best part?

Talking in a sexual way and making sounds of pleasure creates a feedback loop for your body, which can help raise your arousal and make things even more intense and enjoyable.

One of the main complaints I hear from clients is that they don’t really know what turns them on or feels good, so they don’t know how to ask for their partner to do things that feel good in the moment.

Talking dirty helps you find your voice and gives you more confidence to ask for what you need.

Get lost in the moment? No worries. Your partner will probably remember what you were most enthusiastic about. Do a fun recap each time you have sex to see what you both liked the best. Those will be yummy places to start the next time you want to talk dirty or tease each other a little bit.

Looking for more advance techniques? Stay tuned. I’ll be covering more tips on putting together sexy phrases and arousing questions in the future.

In the meantime, I made a handy dandy worksheet for you so you can try your hand at talking dirty.

CLICK HERE

[callout title=”Join the webinar” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/reclaim-the-fun/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to ask questions about relationships & intimacy? Join my free live Q&A webinar on Thursday, July 16th (a replay is sent to folks who register) and do just that. It’s like free coaching. Don’t miss it.[/callout]

6 Are you destroying trust and intimacy with these tiny reactions?

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It’s confession time again.

In my two previous relationships, I was a master microaggressor. I didn’t know it at the time – in fact, I felt quite justified and righteous in how I handled our disagreements and disappointments. I was in the right, after all.

Looking back, I see now how damaging those little looks, eye rolls, & tiny sarcastic remarks were to the trust and vulnerability of our partnership.

You’ve probably done this a few times yourself.

That one word response you give in a clipped tone when your partner forgot to help out again.

The silent treatment you dole out when you’re completely annoyed.

The little snarky snort when they suggest something that you think is ridiculous.

Oh yes. That feeling of knowing you’re right and they’re wrong and why can’t they just get their act together and pull their weight or do it your way or at a minimum, get out of the way so you can do it right?

Relationship microaggressions in action. Or as John Gottman, a leading relationship researcher, calls it turning away or turning against your partner.

When your partner makes a bid of some kind – for attention, engagement, play, humor, or emotional support – and that bid is met with either a noncommittal, ignoring, dismissive response or a disparaging, critical, or defensive response your partner receives that as a rejection.

Turning away is usually dismissive or that silent eye roll implying you don’t have time for this. It might sound like, “Cool story, babe. Now what are you making for dinner?”

Turning against can be aggressive or passive-aggressive. A really common one is, “Don’t you think you’re over reacting a little?” By shaming the other person or denying their experience, this creates a you versus me scenario. No one wins.

Over time, these rejections, though microscopic, become a major part of how everyone is feeling in the relationship.

That isn’t to say you need to positively react to every single question and request your partner makes in order to have a healthy relationship.

You’re human after all.

But Gottman has found that partners who regularly turn towards each other by affirming bids have healthier, happier connections.

So what does this have to do with intimacy & desire?

Intimacy is based on trust.

Trust only blossoms when you feel safe.

How safe can you feel if you’re constantly being subtly dismissed, avoided, shut down, or negated?

It’s one of those things where you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just don’t feel very…connected or affirmed.

Interestingly, this damage goes both ways. If you are the one doing the dismissing, avoiding, being rude, or negating, you’re driving a wedge between you and your partner by pushing them away and de-valuing them, which makes it harder for you to open up and bridge that gap.

If you’re on the receiving end, you don’t feel loved, supported, seen, or desired.

Sadly, many of us are both givers and receivers of these nasty little habits.

Why?

Showing up in a relationship means making mistakes, being seen, and taking responsibility for your experience.

No one teaches us how to have tough conversations in intimate relationships, so that can feel like a mine field. And since many of us fail to prioritize ourselves and our self-care, we don’t have the skills or the energy in many cases to show up – even if we wanted to.

When you aren’t rested and feeling good, it gets a whole lot easier to be snippy and dismissive, doesn’t it?

If your schedule is packed solid, if you’ve been prioritizing everyone and everything ahead of yourself and your partner, it’s so easy to keep turning away (or even against) your partner when you’ve got nothing left to give. Not to mention how not sexy you feel when you’re in this state of constant busy.

Beyond the day to day in a relationship, these little rejections can be even more damaging when they’re used against someone’s desire.

What happens when you take these microaggressions into the bedroom?

…imagine mustering up the courage to tell your partner that you’d like to try some role playing tonight only to have it met with a snort and an eye roll.

…imagine you’re in the middle of sex and you say something sexy and edgy, only to have your partner stop what they’re doing to laugh or tell you how gross that is.

…imagine wanting nothing more than to make love with your partner and when you reach for them, they shove your hand away, turn over, and start playing a game on their phone.

…imagine walking into your bedroom in a new piece of lingerie that makes you feel sexy and instead of an appreciative whistle, you get asked, “What the hell are you wearing?”

Can you feel the shame and embarrassment creeping in?

It’s one thing to get annoyed when they get the wrong kind of toilet paper.

It’s another to shame or judge someone when they’re at their most vulnerable.

Most of us have a lot of hangups when it comes to sex – from being embarrassed about our bodies to wondering if we’re normal when we need a vibrator to climax to wanting to share a secret fantasy but having no idea how to do it.

We want sex to be fun and easy, but there seem to be so many obstacles in the way sometimes.

When it comes to intimacy, desire, and sex, we need to be especially sensitive, self-aware, and kind to our partners.

One shaming incident about a person’s desire can silence them for years, if not decades.

So, here’s the thing.

You like what you like. You have your own set of turn-ons, turn-offs, fantasies, triggers, and ideas about sex.

Your partner (or partners) also has their own set of likes, fantasies, triggers, and ideas about sex.

No two people have the same ideas. And that’s a great thing.

It means you are in constant negotiation over what you need and want and what your partner(s) needs and wants, even if it doesn’t feel like you are.

Creating a safe space where you both can talk about sex openly doesn’t mean you’re saying yes to everything that’s shared.

A common assumption that people make is that when you share something sexual it means you want to do that thing right now with the person you’re talking to.

I have a fantasy about being tied up” is received as “I want YOU to tie me up RIGHT NOW even if you have no idea how to do this thing. Ready set GO!

It’s no wonder the person hearing your fantasy immediately gets defensive or freaks out if they’re hearing it as a demand, right? They may hear it this way because they’re ashamed or unsure or surprised.

So how can you avoid these microaggressions of desire?

First, talk to your partner about creating a safe space where you can talk about sex and intimacy openly. What would that look like? When would you do it? At your monthly relationship check-in? Or maybe you create a phrase that tells your partner you want to set aside some safe space time?

Second, be very aware of your responses to sexual bids from your partner. Don’t beat yourself up if you react negatively. But do call yourself out and verbalize it as soon as you notice.

Third, call your partner out if they do it to you. “Honey, that response feels like a rejection and I’m feeling a little embarrassed by how you responded. Can we talk about that?”

Finally, if there is something your partner does on a regular basis that really doesn’t feel good (maybe they ask for sex in a way that makes you feel pressured or obligated), and you’re constantly rejecting or turning away from them, it’s time to have a really open discussion (or discussions – sometimes it takes a few tries to get everything ironed out) about your needs, their needs, and how you both can try something new.

Your desires are important and valid.

The way you experience desire (or don’t) is normal.

It’s OK to ask for what you want.

Be sure you and your partner are supporting and turning towards each other more often than not when you make those requests, especially when it comes to desire and sex.

Where are you struggling to be heard or seen when it comes to your relationship? What is your most common way of turning away from your partner? Comment below and let’s see how we can support each other in this.

[callout title=”Join the webinar” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/reclaim-the-fun/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to ask questions about relationships & intimacy? Join my free live Q&A webinar on Thursday, July 16th (a replay is sent to folks who register) and do just that. It’s like free coaching. Don’t miss it.[/callout]