Category Archives for "Intimacy and sex"

Being a great lover takes practice. How have you challenged yourself to level up?

Being sexually adept takes practice. It also takes self-awareness, communication, curiosity, creativity, and most of all, the resilience to be wrong often.

Every day I talk to people who are unhappy or struggling with their sex lives. From lack of desire to a complete communication breakdown; from secret fantasies or trauma to feeling stuck and uninspired, I see a lot of frustration and confusion when it comes to sex.

Truthfully, sex is one of the least understood, most desired interactions in the world. The chasm between what we see on TV and in the movies, what we learn in school (if anything), and what the lived experience of sex and pleasure actually are could not be wider.

Most of us stumble along, figuring things out on our own, using friends, Cosmo, and porn to guide us. Which also means it's really common to feel abnormal, awkward, and lost - none of us have clear maps to guide us or the tools to find our way on our own.

The good news is a skilled lover is not simply born with all the gifts of Casanova.

Being sexually adept takes practice. It also takes self-awareness, communication, curiosity, creativity, and most of all, the resilience to be wrong often.

I've had some bad sex in my life. (Bad sex is different from traumatic sex.)

I have been the person who checked out during sex because I wasn't really invested. I've been the person who avoided sex at all costs because it always led to a fight with a partner, or to tolerating sex I didn't really want to just get past it.

I've even been the person who freaks out when their partner shares a desire because I had no idea how to do The Thing and completely shut them down as a result of my own shame and ego.

To this day, I still struggle with articulating my needs and desires at times.

But it's a process. It takes practice. And I know that. Most people don't.

Once the newness wears off in a relationship, folks often find they've become bored - never taking new information in about the person they're with, assuming they have a magic technique that always works, going through the motions or expecting sex because that's what you do.

Sex can be many different things to many different people, and even different things to the same person on different days in different moments. Sex won't always be immersive or mind-blowing, but it can be a powerful source of connection, pleasure, and enjoyment when you do have it.

In my own journey, both personally and professionally, I've discovered what it means to be a skilled sexual partner. It's endlessly simple, but not always easy.

A skilled lover understands that context matters, that the kind of day you had and the way you're feeling in that moment can profoundly impact the way you experience touch and pleasure. So, they practice curiosity.

A skilled lover is attuned to each gasp, each sigh, each muscle spasm, and takes all of the information in, constantly adjusting and reading their partner as the moment unfolds. They nurture and cultivate mindfulness, staying present and in the moment.

A skilled lover is not concerned with ego or goals, but instead, remains open to the endless mystery that is their partner. They know that no two moments are ever the same and allow themselves to be surprised by just how much they don't know - and delight in that. They communicate openly and frequently, asking questions instead of assuming answers.

If there's one thing I've learned it's that sex takes practice.

Practice means failing, messing up, being awkward, and trying again. It means no end point. No moment of final achievement. Mastering sex is mastering comfort with the unknown.

If you want to be a great lover, practice curiosity and curiously practice.

Click to tweet that statement!

Ask questions. Check-in. Read erotica. Turn a critical eye towards everything in the media. Seek out information that feeds your creativity.

Know that your pleasure is entirely your responsibility, so a skilled lover also knows how to ask for what they need and want - specifically and unapologetically.

Awkward is OK. Failure is OK. Having no fucking clue what you're doing is OK. As long as you remain open to what comes next and stay curious. You're learning. We all are.

The moment you lose your curiosity and wonder is the moment your sexual experience starts to become stagnant and disconnected.

So, marvel at your body and the pleasure it's capable of both giving and receiving. Get profoundly interested in your partner's reactions and requests. Introduce newness - from new questions to new locations to new techniques to new fantasies - whenever you feel yourself slipping into a routine.

Let yourself be imperfect in bed and invite the same in your lover(s).

Sex is not about obligation or expectation. Sex is about exploration and discovery. Check your attitude often.

My question to you today is what are you curious to learn? In what ways could you be inspired by your experiences or partner(s)? What is one small thing you can practice today that will set yourself and a lover on fire?

Your pleasure. Your love. Your terms.

If you're ready to start rewriting the stories you've been given and to step into connection and pleasure on your own terms, that's exactly what I help people do.

From one-on-one coaching to my Sex is a Social Skill group calls, there are a variety of ways we can work together to help you find the relief you've been looking for.

7 Is one kind of orgasm better than another?

Some self-proclaimed experts claim certain types of sex or orgasms are better or more evolved than others. Sex Coach Dawn Serra calls BS on that, and sets the record straight on orgasms.

The number of crappy sex myths that exist in our culture is literally endless. (I know, because I've been compiling a list for a course I'm building based on those myths and it's already a few pages long at this point.)

The tight vagina/loose vagina myth.

The virgin/slut myth.

The simultaneous orgasm myth.

The bigger is better myth.

The you don't need lube if you're truly aroused myth.

The list goes on.

Frankly, these myths are incredibly damaging to all of us.

Not only do most of us have no idea that we can literally define sex for ourselves and it may not look anything like what we've been told, but many of us have internalized these myths to the point that they feel like facts - facts that we don't live up to. Which in turn leads to anxiety, stress, damaged self-esteem, and disappointing sex.

Within the sex positive community, there is a deep commitment by sex educators, sex bloggers, sex therapists, sex coaches, and other sex professionals to provide the most accurate information we have access to while also inviting people to explore their own sexual truths.

The only universal fact when it comes to sex is that no one rule applies to everyone. We are all outliers in some way.

Why? Because our sexual experiences are based on our unique body landscape, the context of our lives, our past experiences, our community upbringing, our religious beliefs, and many other factors.

The way a specific clitoral stroke feels to me may yield totally different feelings in you. And that is OK. The way that stroke felt to you today at 2pm may feel really different to you tomorrow at 9am - different time, different context, different energy, even different levels of hydration and diet...

But there are some sex "experts" that have come on the scene and do something super dangerous. They preach their personal experiences as universal fact.

They also tend to make completely unfounded claims like how to make a cock bigger or that all women want men who "claim" them or that you don't need birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy or that condoms make sex less sacred so you shouldn't use them.

Yesterday, I saw someone post a link to an older blog post written by one of these self-proclaimed sex gurus in a Facebook group I'm in. The article claimed that clitoral orgasms were distractions to the REAL orgasm, the REAL feminine experience - which is the vaginal orgasm.

I'm calling bullshit (as well as about a dozen other sex educators that I ran it past).

Orgasms are NOT the goal of sex.

Sex is not about goals. Sex is about pleasure. So, maximizing pleasure, doing what feels good in your body in that moment, is where the good stuff is. This might include an orgasm, and it may not. Sometimes sex feels super good, and no orgasm happens.

That doesn't ruin sex or make it pointless.

But if you are orgasmic, the bottom line is no matter what anyone says, your orgasm - the one that feels best in your body - is the sacred kind of orgasm.

It can be a clitoral orgasm, a g-spot orgasm, an anal orgasm, a breath-gasm, an energy orgasm, a laughter-gasm, a tear-gasm - it doesn't matter. It's the release that feels most aligned and in integrity for you in that moment. That's the magic.

And it is OK to strive for a certain type of orgasm - as long as you don't internalize the lack of that kind of orgasm as some type of personal failure or physical problem.

If you have a vulva, some of the sacred sexuality gurus will talk about energetically opening to your partner and welcoming them into your sacred vaginal space. That's cool. But it's not the only way and you don't have to put anything inside of you in order to be sacred or fully embodied in your sexuality.

You can energetically open to someone and NOT take them inside any of your orifices.

You can have an energetic orgasm with all your clothes on.

You can shed all of your masks and bare your soul to a partner in the most painfully vulnerable way without any sexual contact at all.

Just like you can penetrate yourself with whatever and whomever you'd like and it doesn't diminish your value or your sacredness one bit.

And yes - there are some ancient traditions and decades-old sexual rituals that some people choose to follow. You can choose that for yourself, as well. But you can also create your own traditions. Barbara Carrellas has done this with her version of tantra and it's spectacular, inclusive, and honors each person's own body and journey.

So, worship your clit. Orgasm spectacularly from ass play. Have delicious sex and never cum at all.

As long as you're honoring yourself and your body and the moment in a way that feels really good, then you can connect with whatever is sacred for you.

Boycott bad sex advice. Find your own truth and live it unapologetically. Because no one else in the world knows your body like you do.

/rant

Work with me

Are you curious about finding your sexually empowered self? I can help.

From one-on-one coaching to DIY workbooks and my bi-weekly group calls, there are several ways we can work together to help you find the pleasure and desire you crave.

4 What does kinky mean and should I try it?

What does kinky mean and should you try it? Sex coach Dawn Serra explores kinky sex and all the ways it can enhance your sex life and your relationship.

My first real foray into kink was when I stumbled across the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice. I must have been 19 or 20 years old.

My wildly inexperienced but ferociously sexually curious self had never encountered such explicit material before. This wasn’t my mother’s romance novels. This was masochism and group sex and living inside of BDSM 24/7 and pony play and anal play and all manner of public humiliation*.

I never would have had the words for what I was reading back then.

I don’t remember much about that first pass through the books other than feeling really turned on by some of the Dominance play, some of the group sex scenes, and even by some of the public displays of sexuality. But as things got more intense, as the ante was upped in the final book, I know I hit some kind of disgust because I never finished the story.

Kinky wasn’t a word I knew or understood back then. But it was clear that the sex acts in that story were unlike anything else in my world at the time, and that was intriguing. To know such things were even possible as fantasy blew my mind.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I re-read the series. Things that seemed totally foreign and horribly embarrassing to my younger self have now become things I’ve done, enjoyed, or witnessed as part of my sexual journey.

Now I can appreciate the delicious bite of rope, the thrill of being told what to do, the surprising normalcy of being naked in public, and much more.

But that’s my journey, and the beauty of sexual expression is your sexual journey doesn’t have to look anything like mine and it can still be deliciously, beautifully pleasurable and valid. There is no one way of doing sex, of living out fantasies, of keeping things fresh and new.

If that’s true…if there is no one way of doing sex, then what does it mean to be kinky?

Google defines kinky as “involving or given to unusual sexual behavior.”

But what is unusual to me and what is unusual to you are probably different.

For some people, missionary penis-in-vagina sex is highly unusual (in fact, this is a serious kink for some folks because it is so unusual to them). For others, it might be unusual to have their toes sucked on or to have sex in the backseat of a car at the beach or to sexualize needles.

Kink is simply activities that are edgy for you. This broad, fluid definition allows each of us to have our own personal experiences with sex and kink instead of labeling only certain activities as either kinky or vanilla.

Unfortunately, the term vanilla has taken on a somewhat negative or boring connotation. The truth is vanilla is delicious and, depending on what kinds of things you enjoy, vanilla may appear on your menu more or less often than some others.

Most people define vanilla sex as traditional, penis-in-vagina sex, often encompassing a handful of basic positions. But if we apply a similar lens to vanilla that we did to kinky, then instead we might say vanilla sex is the kind of sex that you usually have, that feels normal to you.

Your normal may vary greatly from someone else’s normal.

Kinky is a gigantic umbrella, the vastness of which most of us can’t comprehend.

Needle play. Age play. Impact play. Bodily fluid play. Role playing. Pain play. Sensory deprivation. Public play. Blood letting. Branding. Leather. Sacred sensuality. Humiliation. Worship. Denial. Literally, the list is endless.

That said, often when people are talking about kinky activities, there is a general assumption that you’re probably talking about things like bondage/restraints, Dominance and submission (or power exchange), impact and sensation play like flogging or spanking or temperature, public or group sex, and the community associated with such activities.

And speaking of community, it’s worth mentioning here that there are many communities within kink that have decades of history and protocol that some people consider a core part of their identity.

Many gay, lesbian, and queer folks have found acceptance and family within the leather community. Many people who realized monogamy wasn’t a good fit sought solace in the swinging and poly communities. Many individuals who have complex relationships with their bodies have discovered deep, emotional healing in masochism or other kinds of pain.

Kinky is a personal definition, and one that’s a lot more fluid than some older resources would have you believe. But I also want to take a moment to honor and pay respect to the safe havens that many kinky spaces have offered to marginalized folks over the years.

*steps off soap box*

OK. Back to your regularly scheduled post…so, if kinky sex is sex that is unusual or out of the ordinary, the question is should you try it?

My answer is wonderfully biased and that is a resounding yes.

If you get to define what kinky means to you and your partner(s), then kinky sex means playing with your edges, exploring new things, trying on new identities and fantasies. That kind of playfulness and curiosity will only set you up for a lifetime of interesting and engaging sex.

Of course, anytime you try something new, there are a few basic ground rules that will help set you up for success, even if the act itself is a miserable failure (and that is a perfect opportunity to come together, too).

First up, make sure you and the person you’re playing with both truly want to engage in the activity in question. Let’s say you want to try some rope bondage. It cannot be overstated how important it is for you to allow your partner to choose this for themselves, too. No coercion, no manipulating, just good ol’ fashioned discussions about wants, needs, boundaries, and feelings.

That’s not say you will always be comfortable with what you’re about to do.

Discomfort is natural for new risks, and in fact, you may be trying something that is intentionally awkward, scary, humiliating, painful, or shameful. That can be part of the fun. Being informed and choosing something doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Play with that edge a little bit. You might be surprised what you find.

Second, safe words are important for a number of reasons, especially if you’re engaging in something potentially dangerous (danger can be physical, emotional, or psychological – you may not be in physical danger during a Dominance/submission scene, but you may be in psychological danger if something triggers or upsets you). Safe words are typically very easy to remember, very easy to say, and decided well in advance of your scene.

Simplicity is important because often when you start doing things that lead to altered states of consciousness, your brain begins to turn off (this can be a yummy, delicious place to be). Remembering and articulating “arachnophobia” may be difficult. The person in the position of giving or topping also needs to be able to understand the word easily.

That’s why some folks like the red, yellow, green method which equates to stop, slow down, and I’m good. Others like plain language and simply saying “please stop” or “slow down”, but depending on the roles you’re playing, this can be confusing.

Finally, do your homework. Some kinky activities are learned skills that can take years to master such as suspension techniques with rope, needle play, or whipping. There are places in most major cities that offer 101 classes and demonstrations. You can find mentors, watch videos, and read books. Safety should always be your number one concern followed by a sense of playfulness and curiosity.

Sometimes people get hurt. This is true of any kind of sexual activity, even the “traditional” kind (I know I’ve knocked my head or stubbed a toe during vigorous sex).

If you’re playing with someone you trust, give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t intend harm, but also be clear about asking for what you need to feel safe – that can be stopping a scene, asking for cuddles, or any number of other things.

Kinky sex doesn’t have to be extreme, it won’t ruin “normal” sex, and it doesn’t lead down a rabbit hole of sin and transgression.

Often people jump to the most extreme case when they hear someone say they want to try something kinky. But bondage can be a blindfold and a silk scarf lightly wrapped around your wrists. Sensation play can be an ice cube trailing down the skin of your lover or a feather tickling the inside of their elbow.

And yes, you may have a riding crop which can be a stingy, incredibly painful tool. But who is to say you can’t use the the tip of the riding crop to gently spell out words of love and devotion across your partner’s back? Who is to say that scary knife some people may use to cut flesh can’t simply be used for the coolness of the blade or for an implied threat that never actually touches skin?

Kinky activities can be as innocent and sweet or as dark and intense as YOU decide them to be.

In fact, many people experience kinky sex as sacred, transcendent, and healing. It can be a place to shed the day-to-day and experience your body in a way that is primal, connected, and totally present.

I know that when I receive a flogging, it’s like a sensual massage – every inch of my body is tingly and alive, I’m breathing and connecting with my top, the sensation is flowing through me, and I become utterly relaxed. As someone who is chronically stressed and anxious and in control, surrendering and receiving so deeply is freeing in a way I don’t have words for.

Kinky sex offers many, many tools for your sexual toolbox. And the point of having a diverse, well-stocked toolbox isn’t to use all of the tools all of the time at maximum strength, or to use one tool over and over again to the point of complete boredom, but so that you have many options for the myriad of situations you may find yourself in throughout your lifetime.

The tools you use on a day when you’re stressed and tense will likely be different than the tools you use on a day when you feel languid and sleepy.

Yes, some people organize their entire lives around their kink. Still others dabble in their version of kink once in a blue moon.

Like all things sex and relationships, kink is but a spectrum and you get to decide how and when and to what degree you’d like to use it.

What is something kinky you’ve been curious about trying? What would you like to know more about?

Comment below and I’ll create some blog posts or videos just for you.

——-

Edited to add this link. This does go to playboy.com, but the video is not racy or sexual and it is REALLY terrific advice about doing kinky stuff safely.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to explore what kinky means to you? Need help talking to a partner about your desires? [/callout]

*For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, the Sleeping Beauty series are erotic BDSM novels that includes sexual servitude, Dominance, submission, group sex, pony play, public humiliation, forced sex, punishment, and much more.

 

Addyi: Is it safe and should I consider taking it?

The new pink Viagra, known as Addyi or flibanserin, was recently released. Is it safe? Should you take it? Why is it not at all what the pharmaceutical companies are claiming? Learn more about this dangerous drug and what you can do instead if your libido is suffering.

I’ve always been the fat kid. Rather, I’ve always seen myself that way.

Looking at pictures of myself in elementary and middle school, I was taller, thicker, and stronger than most of the girls my age, but in a very athletic way. Still, I’ve spent my entire life feeling like I was fat, which until fairly recently equated to feeling unwanted, undesirable, unlovable, and a host of other inferior things.

When I was in high school and college (and even now, on bad days), I would comfort myself with this fantasy of a mystical being granting me “the perfect body”.

This fantasy was beautifully alluring because instead of learning to appreciate what I had, instead of loving myself in the moment, I could pretend it all away by taking a magic pill that turned my body into that of Sofia Vergara or Jennifer Lawrence.

Of course, the assumption being if I had a body like theirs all of my problems would be solved.

*poof*

The truth is that while these fantasies allowed me to escape the pain I was experiencing in that moment, they caused me so much more harm in the long run.

I spent countless hours wishing for magic instead of using all of that time to embrace myself, to find ways to love myself, to nurture myself, to appreciate my body, or to simply be present in my life and find a way to navigate my truth.

Everything around me, even “inspiring” magazines like O Magazine, shouted at me to lose weight, to shed 10 pounds, to find clothes that “flattered” my shape, that cast the fat girl as the sidekick (because who could actually want someone fat?).

By trapping myself in an unrealistic dream, largely defined by forces outside of myself, I was feeding my shame and self-loathing.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how to undo some of that damage. But now I’m much better at looking inside of myself for the answers, even if they contradict all of the messages around me.

So, what does wishing for a magical cure to be skinny have to do with Addyi, the new female arousal drug that’s been called the pink Viagra?

A lot more than you would think.

The fact is that most women in committed, long-term relationships are under the impression that they should be wanting more sex without understanding exactly how desire works. Our world is conditioning us to feel like we are broken when it comes to our desire for sex.

In fact, even though Addyi has only been on the market a few days, one woman has already told me her doctor is pushing her to try it, and that breaks my heart.

Addyi is being touted as the magic pill that “fixes” arousal, when the truth of the matter is the pill doesn’t do what it claims AND 99.9% of the time nothing is actually broken.

There is a lot to say about Addyi and women’s desire. Enough to fill a book (which is exactly what Emily Nagoski did with her AMAZING book “Come As You Are”), so this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is Addyi? How does it work? Are there any dangers that come with taking it? (Yes!) And, if you’re considering Addyi, what can you do instead? Let’s take a look.

Addyi: the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly

When you think about Viagra, you probably get a pretty vivid picture of a guy taking a pill and suddenly finding himself rock hard. Of course, the assumption is that a hard penis equals wanting to have sex (but we know that isn’t the case at all – just because your body is doing one thing, doesn’t mean your mind is on board).

Basically, Viagra forces a physical response of rushing blood to the erectile tissue and creating an erect cock.

Addyi does not do this. It does not force blood to erectile tissue, it does not cause your vulva to swell with blood or your vagina to lubricate itself with more gusto.

According to Georgetown University Medical Center, Addyi – original name of flibanserin – “failed efficacy trials as an antidepressant and was rejected twice for its current indication before being approved.”

Instead of targeting your genitals, Addyi affects your brain’s chemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Why? Because Addyi is a rebranded antidepressant.

Let’s take a look at a few things that we all need to be aware of:

  • Unlike Viagra, which you take only when you want a hard penis, Addyi must be taken every single day.
  • People in the studies experienced higher rates of fatigue, sedation, unconsciousness, hypotension, and it interacts poorly with many medications, including oral contraceptives.
  • If you take Addyi, you cannot consume alcohol. Since Addyi is a daily pill, that means no alcohol consumption until you decide to go off of Addyi.
  • Your physician is responsible for prescribing Addyi, however, only a sex therapist/professional would know whether Addyi is appropriate for a patient. Physicians do not receive sex education training in medical school (it’s an elective even for gynecologists, which means many gyn’s can opt out of sex education in med school).
  • Speaking of physicians, doctors are receiving seven slides’ worth of training on Addyi. This means most doctors will be woefully under-informed about the risks, side effects, and limited benefits when they prescribe it.

 

Is all of this a problem if it really does help women to experience improved desire for sex?

Sadly, based on the trials, Addyi doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on patients.

Before we dive into that, let’s consider one thing.

“Hypoactive sexual desire disorder was recently dropped from the latest edition of the DSM-5. Disorders of desire and arousal have now been combined in the term ‘female sexual interest/arousal disorder’ (FSI/AD), which takes into account the fact that for many women, desire follows rather than precedes arousal.”

That quote comes from a fact sheet put together by Georgetown University Medical Center. You can see it here.

What that means is the American Psychiatric Association now recognizes that women’s desire is much more nuanced and complex than was previously thought. Back in the old days, the baseline for human sexual desire was that of 18-22 year old males. That was considered “normal” for all of us, regardless of gender, age, race, health, etc.

As a result, women were often considered lacking when it came to sexual arousal and desire – simply because they weren’t experiencing it as spontaneously and as often as young men.

Now, most mental health professionals and sex professionals recognize that our desire is actually much more dependent on context.

And so they removed “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” from the manual. But Addyi’s instructions says it treats “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” – in other words, this medicine claims to treat something that doesn’t even exist anymore.

So, what were the actual results from the flibanserin (Addyi) trials?

Women reported 0.7 more satisfying sexual events per month than women on the placebo.

Less than one. In a month.

Some experts are attributing that small increase to something else, though. The participants were asked to journal about their sexual satisfaction and sexual experiences. By simply placing a higher emphasis on thinking about sex and prioritizing it, it’s no wonder participants experienced a small bump – where your attention goes, energy flows.

What does all of this mean to you?

Addyi may offer a slight improvement in sexual satisfaction for pre-menopausal women who have had a sudden, steep decrease in sexual enjoyment.

However, due to the potential side effects, the possible drug interactions, and the lack of long-term studies on this repurposed pill, most sex professionals are strongly discouraging use.

We do expect more doctors to begin pushing patients to use this drug, but as consumers, we need to be willing to push back.

Desire is a beautiful, complex, tender beast.

If you’re truly struggling with a lack of sexual enjoyment or sexual desire, find a sex positive sex coach, sex therapist, or sex educator to help you explore and navigate what that means.

Often I find that clients are under the impression that they’re broken or that they should want sex more, but when we dig under those beliefs, we find so many other truths.

As you begin redefining sex in a way that fits with your life and your desire, without all of that noise from the outside, you set yourself up for a lifetime of sexual awareness and empowerment.

Instead of wishing for a magic pill to fix you, if you give yourself permission to begin accepting what is, exploring the beauty within, and creating something meaningful for yourself, you’ll find so much more pleasure and desire in the long run.

My advice? Avoid Addyi entirely.

Instead, unpack your sexual experience with the help of a professional. Roll around in your fantasies. Say the scary stuff. Confront the parts of your life that aren’t lifting you up. Do the work that unleashes your sexual self.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re considering Addyi or you’re ready to explore your own desire, I’m here to help. [/callout]

8 Strap-on sex: It’s fun for everyone!

Despite popular assumption, strap-on harnesses and strap-on sex isn't just for lesbians or queer folks. Strap-ons can be a fun addition to any bedroom in any relationship dynamic with any kind of body. Find out how with sex coach Dawn Serra.

The first time I was with a lover who used a strap-on harness, they pulled out a tangle of leather straps, unzipped their goodie bag and showed me three different toys to choose from. Short and thin, long and thick, and something in the middle. I felt like Goldilocks, trying to find a porridge that was just right for me.

Thanks to brave and pioneering shows like The L Word, and more recently Orange is the New Black and Sense8, most people associate strap-on harnesses with lesbian and queer sex. I know I certainly did in my lesbian and trans relationships.

After all, what could a straight couple possibly want with a strap-on harness? It turns out, a lot!

But, that’s part of the fun when it comes to sex – there’s always something new to learn or try. Sex, like life, is a never-ending journey, full of as many adventures as you’d like it to be.

So, we’re going to talk about strap-on harnesses and why you may want to explore one in your own sex life, if you haven’t already.

Strap-on 101: What is a harness?

Harnesses are devices built to hold certain types of dildos or vibrators. They can be worn for sex, for fashion, for your gender expression, or for performance (like the sexy drag kings I used to worship).

There are harnesses you wear like underwear in a variety of styles from g-string thongs to corset-laced hip huggers, harnesses that look like boxer briefs, harnesses you strap around your thigh, and even harnesses you wear on your hand or your chin.

Harnesses come in so many styles, there’s something for everyone these days. Red satin, black studded leather, feminine, masculine, utilitarian. You name it, it’s been made for you.

Most people think of harnesses as being a series of leather straps that wrap around your legs and waist, but my favorite harnesses are made by SpareParts. Their harnesses are washable, soft, sturdy, very comfortable, and most come in sizes up to 3X or 4X, which is perfect for larger bodies.

Harnesses are amazing for folks with varying abilities and bodies, too.

Imagine the power in being able to please a lover using a hand harness if you don’t have mobility below the waist or a thigh harness if you have big belly.

But, if you’re able-bodied and heterosexual, why would strap-on sex ever be something you’d want to explore?

One of the most common questions I get as a sex educator is about pegging.

What is pegging, you ask?

Pegging is when a woman uses a strap-on to perform anal sex on a male partner.

Why would that be fun to try? Let us count the ways:

  • If your partner has a prostate, anal stimulation can lead to other-worldly orgasms. If you’re curious about just how epic, check out Cooper Beckett’s piece on his hour-long prostate orgasm. Wow! Imagine being the person to give that kind of orgasm to a partner.
  • For folks with a penis, sex tends to always happen outside of the body. It’s an external experience. Something magical can happen when sex becomes an activity that happens inside of you. You do NOT want to miss this Charlie Glickman piece on why the world would be a better place if more men took it up the ass.
  • For the strap-on wearer, you find yourself in a position of power. You get to try new muscles – literally and figuratively. You get to take that penetrating energy you probably usually receive and flip it on its head. Now you’re doing the penetrating. Now it’s your energy, your power being used to enter your partner. It’s a lovely way to flip the script on sex.

 

Pegging can be beautifully bonding. If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, pegging launches you into new territory where you get to practice your communication skills and take on different roles. It can be invigorating and enchanting.

But do expect it to be a little awkward the first few times. From finding a toy that’s a size you both like to learning how to thrust just so, learning a new skill can take practice. Be patient with each other, and use loads of lube. When in doubt, add more lube.

(Don’t worry about pegging being gross, either. As long as everyone showers ahead of time, and you slap a condom on the dildo, there’s not a whole lot you’ll need to worry about as far as clean-up goes. But we’ll cover more anal basics in another post.)

And no, anal sex and anal penetration is not about being gay in any way, unless you want it to be. Our anus is loaded with tons of nerve endings, so anal stimulation can feel absolutely incredible. Pleasure does not determine your sexual orientation.

Double penetration: table for two.

I don’t know about you, but most double penetration (DP) scenes that I’ve seen involves three people – the receiver and two penetrators.

But what if you’re not into threesomes? What if you don’t have an open relationship? Is there still a way?

Yes! Thanks to harnesses like the SpareParts Deuce or Sportsheets Menage a Trois, your partner can either use their penis in one hole and add a dildo to the second or put two dildos in the harness and go to town.

Some people may consider this varsity level play time, but it’s still fun to know it’s an option for you.

Breaking the taboo – men can wear a harness, too.

As a society, we place a tremendous amount of importance on whether someone’s penis can get hard and stay hard. It’s a sign of masculinity, of value, of power, and when your penis doesn’t perform the way you’d like it to, it can feel devastating, embarrassing, and like you have less worth in bed and as a person.

That stress, of course, makes getting hard even more difficult. Stress is the fastest libido killer in the world.

So, what if it wasn’t a big deal if a penis isn’t cooperating? What if it was a tiny piece of a much larger, much sexier puzzle?

The good news is it doesn’t have to be a show stopper when a penis goes soft – from hands and mouths to toys and shower heads, there are dozens of ways to please a partner without the use of a hard cock.

But, when you bring a strap-on harness into the mix, things get even more interesting.

Maybe you like experimenting with different sized insertables.

Maybe you like fantasizing you’re playing with lots of different people by having your partner swap out various toys.

Maybe your partner’s body just doesn’t feel like getting hard, but both of you want to have penetrative sex. Strap-on and go to town.

There are countless uses for a strap-on harness, even if you have a penis that gets erect. It’s not about being broken. It’s about being open to possibilities.

When you frame a harness as just another way to add pleasure to the mix, it becomes less about a person’s body and what it’s capable of and more about having permission to feel good and have fun.

One of the most amazing things about sex is that there is no right way to do it. It’s an endless sea of possibilities and discoveries.

As long as you and your partner(s) are focused on maximizing pleasure rather than following a script laid out by someone else, there is no shame in trying things even if they run counter to our cultural stories and expectations.

So, what are you waiting for? Strap-on and have fun!

PS – I do sell the SpareParts harnesses and accompanying toys. If you’d like to learn more, just shoot me a message and I’m happy to hop on a call to discuss the options, sizing, and how to introduce them into the bedroom.

How do I bring a toy into the bedroom?

Need a vibrator in order to orgasm? Want to try a cock ring to enhance performance? Curious about butt plugs and anal? Great! That makes you normal. But how do you ask to bring a toy into the bedroom so that it's not awkward or weird? Sex coach Dawn Serra shares the secret.

When I was in my early 20's, I had a small collection of vibrators that I carefully hid in my dresser. Back then, the toys were all jelly and delightfully toxic, but I didn't know the materials were bad for me. I just knew that if I wanted an orgasm, that was the fastest way to make it happen.

Using my hands to touch myself still felt foreign, so I relied on my vibrators to get me off.

It never occurred to me to bring the toys into sex with my partner at the time. All of my friends (and Cosmo) made it pretty clear that if you were in a relationship, then penetrative sex (or in our case, since it was a lesbian relationship, fingers and dildos) was the pinnacle experience.

Masturbation was only for when my partner wasn't around or if I wasn't satisfied. Vibrators were a joke for tired, married moms (Parenthood) or women who couldn't find great sex anywhere else (Charlotte from Sex and the City).

Sex with my partner and sex with my vibrators served two distinct functions.

Interestingly, I had a sex toy business while I was in that relationship. We spent hours each week repackaging vibrators and filling orders.

I counseled thousands of women on how to introduce a toy to their bedroom, helping them to find ways to talk to their husbands and partners so that it wouldn't be threatening, and yet...I never once considered bringing a vibrator into sex with my own partner.

Toys now play a major roll in my sexual encounters. My current partner loves incorporating them into our time together, as well as times when we're apart.

Part of it had to do with finding a partner who was as committed to my pleasure as I was, and part of it had to do with me realizing that I am the champion of my experiences. If there's something I can do to make sex more pleasurable, more interesting, or more adventurous, it's up to me to advocate for myself.

So many people that I talk to worry that there's something wrong with them or their lover if they need a toy or aid to orgasm.

Only 25% of people with a vulva consistently orgasm from penis-in-vagina sex.

Even more interesting, lesbians regularly experience more orgasms than heterosexual women - 74.4% compared to 61.6% of the time.

Why? Because most vulva owners need clitoral stimulation in order to get off. And one of the easiest ways to achieve that is with a vibrator.

But orgasm shouldn't be the goal of sex. Pleasure should be.

If you are going for maximum pleasure, what would that look like? If you unapologetically declared, "This is what my ecstasy looks like", what would you ask for or try?

For many people, pleasure comes in the form of toys. Whether it's a vibrator for your clitoris, a cock ring for your penis, a butt plug for some delicious ass play, or a strap-on for pegging or even double penetration, all of it is normal and healthy.

Because your pleasure? It really matters.

But, how do you ask a partner if you can bring a toy into the bedroom?

First, realize that there's nothing wrong with you or your sweetheart if you want or need something else during sex. Our bodies are deliciously diverse, and they're changing all the time. Toys help bridge the gap between what you want and what your bodies might be able to do.

You are normal.

Once you come to terms with what you want and need (because it has to start with you), often then you worry about offending or discouraging your partner by asking for something different.

Any partner worth their salt will want you to have a great time during sex. Of course, because they want to please you, they may also feel insecure or scared that they aren't satisfying you. That's where the defensiveness can come in.

When you ask to incorporate a new toy or technique, remember to make it about you and not your partner.

It all comes back to remembering that you deserve pleasure AND that you're a team. You aren't responsible for your partner's feelings, but approaching the conversation as a fun adventure is empathetic and kind.

As equal partners who are both eager to have a great time in bed, it's easier to make it clear what you want and how it will set both of you up for success. Be specific. Be clear. And make the ask.

Here are a few suggestions for starting the conversation:

"Honey, I just bought a new vibrator. I'd love to try using it together the next time you and I are having sex. Maybe we can take turns holding it and see what kind of trouble we can get into? The thought of you inside of me while that vibe is on my clit really turns me on."

"I read about how cock rings can help me stay harder longer, and I've experimented on my own. I'd love to try it with you because I think it would be a fun experiment. How would you feel about trying that with me?"

"I've been curious about trying some anal, so I got a beginner's butt plug. I'm dying to know what it feels like to wear the plug while you fuck me. On our next date night, are you up for giving that a try?"

Of course, the way you say something matters a lot.

If you make it playful and flirty, then it helps take some of the pressure off of the conversation.

It's not about your partner being a failure, it's about you wanting to explore your pleasure.

It's OK for you to feel awkward or shy when you have the discussion, too.

If you and your sweetheart don't have open conversations around sex, or if it's been a long time since you tried something new, it's going to take a leap of faith to be vulnerable and ask for what you want. Just remember you're worth it.

Another way to make it easier is to eroticize the toy and the way you bring it into your time together.

If you pull your vibe out and just say, "Here," your partner might feel like they're at a loss.

But if you show them how you use it on yourself, if you buzz it along their body, if you slowly lube up the butt plug with a playful wink, it will feel more like an invitation rather than a demand.

Toys, aids, props, and costumes can be an incredible addition to your sexual repertoire.

Invite yourself to adopt a curious, open approach to incorporating them into the bedroom.

Because toys will die in the middle of sex and cock rings may get stuck in public hair and a butt plug might shoot out when you're riding your partner.

As long as you're in the moment and embracing what happens rather than chasing the expectation of an ideal, then you'll find you have a lot more fun and connect with each other at a much deeper level than ever before.

One last thought - if you bring up toys and your partner reacts poorly, it's OK to give them space and then have a conversation about their reaction. If your partner shames you in any way, you are within your right to tell them that's unacceptable.

Your pleasure is your responsibility, so advocate for your needs and know that you're completely normal if you need toys to experience your best sex.

Work with me

Are you ready to explore your desire and unleash your sexual self? I'm here to help.

From one-on-one coaching to my bi-weekly Sex is a Social Skill group calls and my DIY workbooks, there are a number of ways we can work together to support what's next for you.

Are you still flirting with your sweetheart?

When was the last time you made an effort by flirting with your partner? From boosting confidence to igniting desire, find out how to up your flirting game. Sex coach Dawn Serra

One of my favorite rituals with my partner is the way we flirt with each other.

At least once per day, my phone buzzes with excitement, alerting me that a text has arrived. I'm smiling before I even see what it says, butterflies flitting through my tummy.

I'm thinking about this morning, and a smile grows on my lips.

A little shiver runs through me. We had incredible phone sex that morning before he'd gone off to work, while I was in the car in the parking lot of a popular cafe.

Another morning it might go something like:

*kisses your collarbone and straddles your waist, pinning you to the bed*

Depending on the day, we may feel dark and gritty or we may feel playful and silly. My favorite is when I send the beginning of a sexy scene and he finishes it.

Me: *quietly steps up behind you as you work, sliding a folded note in your pocket, and then sneaks off with a wink over my shoulder*

Him: *unfolds the note and blushes at what it says* You are VERY naughty, my dear.

The exchange may carry on for a few texts if it's a busy day, or off and on for hours. No matter what, it is always a wonderful way for us to stay connected.

Flirting is a simple, fun way to make each other feel special and desired, and it's not just for brand new relationships.

One of the leading reasons people stray, whether it's a monogamous or a non-monogamous relationship, is because they feel undesirable, unwanted, invisible, or like they are no longer their own person with their own identity.

It's normal for relationships to ebb and flow, and life has a way of falling into monotony. Comfort and routine can be very alluring when our lives are endlessly busy and stressful.

Too often, though, as your relationship falls into routine, you stop seeing each other as unique, complex, mysterious individuals and you start assuming you know everything there is to know about one another. That lack of autonomy and individuality is where a lot of relationships begin to experience trouble.

Because it's easy to take things for granted when you assume things will always be the same.

Erotic energy thrives on mystery and risk.

To stoke your passion, you need to fuel the flames by introducing elements of the unknown and the unpredictable.

Flirting is a deliciously easy way to keep that mystery alive. In fact, feeling seen and wanted is as easy as a snap of the camera, click of the 'send' button, or the scribble of an unexpected note.

Why? One of the most desirable experiences is being desired by someone. Flirting with your sweetheart is a powerful way to show your desire. Not to mention the confidence boost it gives them.

It's also a chance to get creative with what turns you on, to try out new fantasies, and to practice new skills.

As an added bonus, firting with your partner often ends up making you feel sexy because you're giving yourself permission to think about your erotic self.

It's a fun little feedback loop.

What are some fun ways to flirt?

I polled some friends to find out their favorite flirting techniques. Some of the responses include:

"Show particular body parts by surprise!"

"Sexy texts, occasionally with a picture of my anatomy."

"I leave cards & notes on his truck."

"We have a chalk board [for writing notes to each other]."

"I have a look and a smile that [he] calls 'that look!'"

"A Victoria's Secret changing room photo shoot."

"I pretend we're strangers and give him compliments. I ask him if his girlfriend appreciates his nice legs, face framing brows, etc."

"I unnecessarily brush against them when going past. Bonus points if I can get erogenous zones."

Ready to up your flirting game?

Try one, some, or all of these to see what feels best for you. Flirting is nothing more than the art of being playful and appreciative of someone else.

  1. Hold eye contact across a room or in a public space and let a little smile dance across your lips as you think of your beau doing something sexy. They'll know you're imagining something naughty, which will pique their curiosity. (Or, as one friend called it, "Eye fucking...across a crowded room."
  2. Let them know they're on your mind by sexting, emailing, or writing a note that you then hide in their wallet or lunch bag.
  3. Build anticipation by buying or wearing something erotic, and then taking a series of pictures that slowly reveals what it is. Bubbles in the tub, toes peeking out, the flesh of your thighs beneath the water...
  4. Use the power of touch to delight and entice. This is especially powerful when you're out in public, so that you both know you can't follow through on anything too scandalous until you're in private. A finger trailed softly along the back of the neck, a kiss dancing along the inside of a wrist or on the tips of each finger, the press of your body as you slide behind them at a party or in line at the store, a hand on the small of the back to let them know you're there. This is about the art of the tease, so aim for tiny little tidbits.
  5. Get explicit about what you want them to do to you later. Leave a voicemail or whisper it in their ear. Let them hear the need in your voice.
  6. Compliment them on something unexpected that shows them you're paying attention and appreciate them in a new way.
  7. Wink. Wrestle. Gently snap a towel at their bum. Give them little spots of playful teasing to let them know you think they're the bees knees.

Remember that it's not about being someone else or doing something out of character. Find ways to adapt these ideas to something that feels authentic and meaningful to you.

Flirting only works when it's genuine.

If you're faking it or forcing it, you're more likely to drive someone away than bring each other closer together.

What if you and your partner haven't flirted with each other in a while? No problem. It's perfectly OK to let them know it's something you want to start doing again. By making your needs known and using your voice, you're more likely to have the kind of exchange that makes you both feel good.

Don't worry about looking stupid. If you make a mistake or mess up, call yourself out, turn it into a funny new memory, and share a giggle.

Because I can't be the only one who has fallen off the bed, snorted while trying to be seductive, and seriously messed up a sexy text by not noticing the auto-correct. I want to do no such thing with a duck, thank you very much.

As much as flirting helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you by keeping things fresh and new, one of the best outcomes of flirting is that it awakens your inner siren.

So many of my clients struggle with a lack of desire. Some of that stems from not seeing themselves as sexual beings any longer - either because their body has changed or they're parenting or life is just too damn busy.

Flirting invites you to reconnect with that part of yourself that feels and expresses passion.

Suddenly, you're looking for excuses to try on new lingerie or to pull out that sexy outfit you haven't worn in ages. You start wanting to show off little flashes of skin or teasing your partner with playful little movements.

When flirting becomes something you do for yourself, because tapping into your sexual self arouses you, that's when the real magic happens.

Because yes, sometimes flirting can feel like a chore, something you should do, another thing on the To Do list.

But when you feel that adrenaline rush, when your skin tingles with anticipation, when you feel your body responding to the sexy thoughts racing through your mind, flirting becomes part of your sexual experience.

And how delicious is that?

I want to hear your favorite way to flirt. Share your thoughts below and let's let ourselves feel wanted.

Looking to up your flirting game? Download this fun little worksheet on sexting made easy. It includes 10 prompts you can use to start a sexy conversation, plus some additional flirty suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

Are you ready to up your flirting game?

I'm here to help. It's what I do.

From one-on-one coaching to bi-weekly group calls, there are so many ways for you to start leveling up and reconnecting with your desire (and each other).

3 How much sex should you be having?

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Google boasts 343,000,000 responses to the question: “How much sex should you be having?”

The prefill options included how much sex is normal, how much sex is too much, how much sex should you be having, & how much sex is in Game of Thrones?

Personally, I love that last one. The answer is A LOT.

When it comes to sex, you’ll frequently hear experts say that everyone thinks everyone is having more sex than them.

With media messages, advertising, pop culture, and even “experts” claiming there’s a certain amount of sex we need to have, it’s no wonder we’re confused and feeling inadequate.

The truth is we are asking the wrong question.

More sex does not equal a happier relationship. But neither does less.

So what gives?

The bottom line is that it’s not a numbers game, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.

It’s about quality. It’s about happiness.

It’s about pleasure and how much you’re enjoying the experience when you do have sex.

If you have sex five times per week, but you dread it or feel indifferent about it, you’re likely building resentment and driving a wedge between you and your partner(s).

If you have sex five times per year, and each time you do it feels amazing, you’ll probably find you’re having fun reconnecting with other and appreciating the experience.

While there have been a number of studies showing more sex is better, researchers are questioning those findings.

Instead, they’re finding that more sex doesn’t lead to more happiness, but rather more happiness leads to more sex.

When you and your partner(s) are feeling supported, heard, valued, and desired, you’re more likely to want and enjoy sex (though, as you know from previous posts, sex can mean a myriad of things).

Many of us know that our libidos take a nosedive when we feel stressed, pressured, exhausted, and/or frustrated.

That’s why when you have a partner who is always pressuring you for sex, it makes you shut down even more.

Emily Nagoski, author of “Come As You Are”, frequently recommends for couples to stop having sex while they’re working with her. By taking sex off the table, the individual who feels pressured to have more sex often experiences a surge in their libido as soon as the stress is lifted.

It’s an interesting experiment to try.

In my experience, when someone asks about how much sex you should be having in a relationship, it’s really stemming from a place of wanting to know if their needs are normal.

This is either because a partner is pressuring them for more sex and they don’t want to or because their partner isn’t interested in sex and they want to find ways to have more.

Mismatched libidos are normal, and it is possible to have a healthy, thriving relationship when you two have differing needs. From exploring non-monogamy to redefining sex to exploring new ways to incorporate pleasure, differing libidos and needs doesn’t have to spell disaster.

But, while we’re talking about feeling pressured for sex, we need to get serious for a moment.

You never, ever, ever owe someone sex. Ever.

Not your spouse. Not your partner. Not your boyfriend or girlfriend. Not someone who did something nice for you recently. You never owe someone sex.

While it’s OK for you to disagree about how much sex you’re having, and it’s also OK for one person in a relationship to want more sex than they’re having, it is never acceptable to pressure or punish someone into having sex.

If your partner punishes you in some way for not putting out (the silent treatment, by being moody, by otherwise manipulating your feelings when you say no), that is abuse.

There’s no other way to put it. It’s abuse, and in many cases, it’s rape.

You can choose to have sex when you’re not really feeling it – maybe because your partner is stressed and you want to help them relax – but you do not owe anyone sex. Ever.

It is not written into a partnership or a marriage that you have to put out.

If your partner wants sex and you say no, any additional coercion or manipulation is unacceptable. And you are perfectly in the right to call them out when they do that.

You are not responsible for someone else’s pleasure.

That said, if your partner wants sex and you’re not able or willing to meet that need, it’s also acceptable for them to talk to you about their needs and other ways to meet them.

That’s a longer discussion for another post, but while we’re talking about frequency of sex, you need to understand that consent is only having sex when you want to, of your own free will, and nothing less than that.

*steps off soapbox*

So, how often should you aim for when it comes to sex?

Sex has tremendous health benefits from improved immune health to lower blood pressure to increased libido and better cardiovascular health. But the benefits come with a caveat – these things are only true if you’re having sex because you want to.

I also recently talked about how our libidos and sexual needs ebb and flow over the course of our lives. The amount of sex that’s right for you will change depending on your health, your lifestyle, your mobility, your stress levels, and many other factors.

The good and the bad news is that the right answer is between you and your partner(s).

Are you happy with the sex you’re having now? If the answer is yes, there’s no need to change it unless you want to add more excitement or try something new.

If you aren’t happy, then talk about why.

Often the dissatisfaction you feel when it comes to sex is less about frequency and more about quality or depth of desire.

Instead of banging one out because of a sense of obligation, what are one or two small adjustments you could make so that you’re both experiencing more pleasure and connecting with each other?

If one of you is feeling pressured and the other of you is feeling unwanted, what are some sexual activities you could introduce that would be fun without contributing to the pressure? Things like sensual massage or making out or reading a sexy story to each other might be a terrific alternative.

I know what you’re thinking, too. All of this requires talking about sex in an open way, which for many of us is totally awkward or foreign.

When it comes to talking about sex, do it outside of the bedroom when you’re both feeling open and safe.

Ask things like, “How are you feeling about the sex we have?”, “What parts of our sex life do you enjoy? What could be better?”, “What would feel good for you?”

Remember to use “I” statements in your responses, and let things be weird. Let things feel uncomfortable.

Unless you’re having those conversations all the time, it’s going to feel strange and you’re going to fumble it.

Just remember that you’re on a team, you aren’t adversaries. Assume the best intentions, remember that you both want to feel loved and valued, and go from there.

Let’s change the question from how much sex you should have to how can I make the sex I do have more enjoyable?

Focus on being more happy, relaxed, and emotionally open in your relationship. When you’re feeling good, you’re more likely to feel that erotic energy flowing.

And one last note – sometimes you don’t really feel like having sex until the sex has started. If you know that about yourself, it’s OK to give it a go and then decide whether you want to continue or not. That’s called responsive desire, which I briefly touched on last week.

Finally, self-pleasure is sex, so if you’re single or your partner isn’t up for it, have sex with yourself. It’s not a lesser form of sex. It’s actually quite healthy and awesome.

How can you change the discussion in your relationship from frequency to enjoyability?

Comment below with your thoughts.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to discover and explore sex on your own terms, I’m here for you. [/callout]

 

8 Do you ever feel like sex is overrated?

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When I was a teenager, one of the hottest sex scenes I’d ever seen was in the film Desperados with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. It spoke to every single fantasy I had about what sex was supposed to be – raw, sweaty, primal, wet, romantic, mind-blowing, perfect, effortless, hot, surrounded by candles, with flawless bodies, and ending in sweet laughter.

This was what real sex was supposed to be.

It’s what Cosmo was telling me. My mom’s romance novels. The other movies I’d seen. My friends.

Real sex wasn’t about conversations or awkwardness. It magically happened (specifically, if you had the “right” partner and a perfect body).

When I finally did have sex for the first time, the condom got stuck inside of me, and we spent 20 minutes trying to fish it out as he got soft and I wanted to die of embarrassment.

Sex, compared to the fantasy, was pretty disappointing. There was a feeling that sex is overrated.

Then, I had a few lovers who had some pretty amazing skills. Why amazing? Because I still hadn’t figured out how to ask for what I wanted, so we were both flying blind and lucky me, they happened to get it right a lot of the time.

As relationships came and went, I started noticing that sometimes sex was absolutely incredible. Other times sex was decent, enjoyable, awkward, and occasionally, down right blah or disappointing.

Where was the effortlessness? Where was the undying passion? Why was I having to try so much and why was my desire so hit or miss?

As I dug deeper, as I learned more about sex, bodies, biology, chemistry, and relationships, I had a realization.

We have been sold a lie, and we continue to buy it over and over and over again.

Which is why so many of us feel like something is missing.

We feel like we aren’t good enough. We worry that we should be doing something differently, or more frequently, or with more meaning. We hear about this incredible sex in magazines, movies, books, and from friends, but sometimes it seems like that kind of sex will never happen for us.

It’s a lie that sex needs to be mind-blowing, effortless, and soul-connecting every single time.

The truth is that sex is as complicated and messy as you are. And you are constantly changing – every single day, every single minute – your moods, your feelings, your cravings, your surroundings, and your perceptions are always changing.

Sex (or rather, your experience of it) is in constant flux, too.

You aren’t doing it wrong if you don’t have an orgasm.

Your body isn’t broken if you can’t stay hard or if you rarely get wet.

You don’t need to worry that you’re on the verge of a break-up if sex only happens every once in a while.

All of that is normal. And the more you get to know yourself, the easier it becomes to find things that work for you. But most of us operate off blind faith that sex is something we all innately know how to do well.

Too often we see sex as one huge experience that needs to be amazing from start to finish.

Think about how often you’ve thought that sex has “been ruined” by the need to pee or an erection that’s gone soft or by the baby screaming or when the dog jumped on the bed and knocked a lamp over?

How often have you treated a sexual encounter as an all-or-nothing transaction? If things get off to a bumpy or awkward start, do you usually throw in the towel or pause, pivot, and find a new way?

Most folks throw in the towel.

Because if it’s not effortless, magical, and perfect, then the mood has been ruined, right?

How much more fun would it be if instead of a single, all-or-nothing event, sex was a series of moments offering countless opportunities with ebbs, flows, ups, downs, highs, and lows?

Then, you could take a step back and say of all the moments that just happened in your sexual encounter, most of them were pretty good (you felt connected and present), a few were frustrating or disappointing, and a handful of moments were really awesome in some way – a new sensation, a giggle that felt really good to share, a few moments of intense pleasure, etc.

Keeping score isn’t the point, but the basic idea is that if you’re curious about discovering your pleasure, if you stay curious about each moment and its potential, and you know how to regroup or pivot when things take a turn you aren’t enjoying, you can still end up having an enjoyable, bonding experience where otherwise you may have given up and ended things feeling frustrated or disappointed.

Cory Silverberg recently proposed the idea of good enough sex, and it’s a brilliant concept that helps turn the idea that sex needs to be “perfect” all of the time on its head.

Good enough sex is fun, it feels good, it teaches you something, it brings you together in some way.

Life can’t be spectacular, amazing, joyous, and on high every single moment of the day. It has ups and downs. The downs teach us something, the ups allow us to enjoy what we’ve learned and to reconnect.

The more you’re open to learning from the tough stuff and letting it go, the happier and more joyous your life becomes, right?

Sex is the same way.

Sex is an experience. It’s a journey.

Let’s take the pressure off the need for sex to be amazing all of the time, and instead embrace each moment the best you can and see what happens.

But what can you do if sex keeps falling short of what you’d hoped it would be?

First, let go of your expectations of what sex is supposed to be and start learning what sex is – to you. In your body.

Get curious. Let things be great and also let things be failures.

Venture into the unknown. If you don’t know your body, and continue getting to know your body as it changes, then it’s going to be difficult to articulate and understand what feels good. Start there.

Second, find your voice. Ask for what you want. If you ask and you don’t like what you get, change your mind. Ask for something else.

Stay present. Give completely to your partner and receive completely when you’re being touched. Be patient with yourself and with your partner.

Pretend like you’re adventurers each and every time. Try new things – whether it’s a new stroke of your labia, a new toy, or hanging from the chandelier.

Third, give yourself permission to feel pleasure. Give yourself permission to deserve being touched and savored. Then, ask for it.

If your partner isn’t giving you what you want, take matters into your own hands (literally – touch yourself).

Finally, realize that sex, like life, has many different roles and stories throughout your life. There may be long periods of time when sex isn’t high on your priority list. There may be long periods of time when you can’t get enough.

If you’re routinely checking out, feeling resentment or pressured, or feeling like you aren’t good enough, then your partner is going to pick up on that and check out, too. It’s pretty difficult to make erotic energy nice and juicy if you’re both just going through the motions.

So instead, take the pressure off yourself to conform to a certain cultural standard and invite yourself (and your partner or partners) to prioritize pleasure.

Pleasure might be foot rubs or feeding each other bits of chocolate as you watch a movie.

Pleasure might be showering together or a bubble bath alone.

Pleasure might be making out and dry humping in the car or it might be getting a hotel and role playing that you’re strangers who met in the bar.

Pleasure might be taking tantra classes and learning how to breathe your way to an orgasm or taking a tango class and enjoying your bodies pressed together as you fumble the steps.

Let pleasure be your guide, rather than sex, and you’ll find that when sex does happen, you’re more connected and having more fun.

This isn’t about immediate gratification or a quick fix. This is about tuning into what you most want or need, and savoring that moment for what it is.

What does pleasure mean to you?

What kind of expectations around sex are you ready to let go of so that you can go on your own adventure of feeling yummy and good in your body?

[callout title=”Let’s work together” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re ready to discover and explore sex on your own terms, I’m here for you. [/callout]

13 This is a story about healing

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This is a story about healing.

Like many of you, I carry wounds and scars inside of me that can be scary and painful. It’s one of the main reasons I do this work. By healing you, by lifting you up, I do the same to myself.

Healing has become a major theme in my life over the past year and a half since my last rape.

And so this is the story of how I found myself naked in a stranger’s home for two hours of hands-on sexual healing.

About a year ago, a friend of mine declared that her life had just been changed following a session with a Sacred Intimate. Having never heard the term, I immediately wanted to know more. My friend informed me that Sacred Intimates (SI) are people who help you explore your sexuality and pleasure using things like breath work, movement, and hands-on exploration.

My friend slid the Sacred Intimate’s information across the table to me and said, “Dawn, you have to do this. Trust me.”

Excited and nervous, I read up on this particular SI, made an appointment to chat with her on the phone, and then immediately tucked it all neatly away in a little box in the corner of my mind.

As amazing as hours of embodied pleasure sounded, I just wasn’t ready.

Sometimes the most important parts of a journey are those when you know it’s not the time to move forward, but instead the time to experience where you are right now, without apology.

Because letting myself be naked that way – not just in body (which is a scary thing on its own if you know anything about my relationship with myself) – but naked in mind, heart, and soul? It felt so vulnerable. So…powerful and transformative.

The fear was deafening, and so I waited.

For 10 months, I would occasionally return to thoughts of this SI and the way my friend was so enthusiastic about the radical shifts she’d experienced. I knew that it would likely involve internal massage, and while I certainly had sexy fantasies about that when I pleasured myself, the reality of doing actual healing in this way felt terribly overwhelming.

And then, a few weeks ago, I had this deep knowing bubble up inside of me.

I was ready.

For what, I had absolutely no idea. But, I knew I really wanted to take this leap of faith and see what happened.

The SI and I reconnected over the phone. She re-explained how she does her work, talking at length about consent and boundaries, and then I explained that I wanted to work on letting go of some of my rape trauma and get help finding my voice and manifesting ways to connect with more people in my business.

A tremble of fear at having to actually confront myself and my boundaries in a really vulnerable and public way coursed through me.

We scheduled a two hour session for when I’d be traveling in her neck of the woods. She encouraged me to do deep self-care the night before our appointment and to take a really slow morning leading up to our time together.

Sunday night I settled in for a luxurious bubble bath with a glass of wine. I let my hands explore my skin, and I gave myself permission to feel hopeful for the work ahead. I wanted to get really clear on what inside of me needing healing and what kind of shifts I wanted to experience as a result of this session.

Emotions bubbled up, one right after the other. Fears, too. What if she wasn’t who she claimed to be? What if I didn’t like being there? What if… what if… what if…

The next morning, I found myself stumbling through a comedy of errors that left me frazzled, stressed, and anything but relaxed by the time I knocked on her door.

Honestly, everything in me wanted to run away. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t ready. I…

And then, there she was, beckoning me into her home.

The room smelled of incense, Nag Champa to be exact. Everything was draped in flowing fabrics in deep purple and pink. The shades were drawn and every surface had burning tea lights. Even though it was 11am on a summer morning, I stepped into a dark, sensual womb that felt nurturing and safe.

We spent about 30 minutes talking about my fear, my expectations, my blocks and traumas, and the things I was ready to let go of: doubt, pain, the armor I held in certain parts of my body, the feeling that my gifts weren’t good enough to share with you (yes, you, dear reader).

We also talked about what I wanted to manifest and invite in – strength, prosperity, healing, inner wisdom, and a readiness to share my voice with the world.

She spoke about my chakras and energy work. I’ve done enough of that in the past that I knew right away my main blocks were in my 1st and 2nd chakras – rape will do that to you.

It’s hard to feel safe when your body doesn’t feel like it’s your own sometimes.

She also explained to me that women, especially, have this spectrum of touch where their vulvas are either touched in a clinical way by doctors or in a sexual way by lovers (who often expect something in return). As a Sacred Intimate, her job was to offer another type of touch that was sensual and pleasure-based, but had zero expectation behind it.

A place to be entirely and utterly me.

Her only goal for my session was to help me rediscover my yes.

What did I want to say yes to in each and every moment? What felt divine? What would feel even better? What if we stayed in that yummy place as long as possible instead of feeling like we had to move on because of some expected series of events?

She said that orgasm may or may not happen, but that was not the goal.

The goal was ultimate pleasure, ultimate receiving, the ultimate yes to myself.

Honestly, the thought of speaking up and asking for what I wanted over and over again was really scary. My voice and I have a troubled relationship, and though I have done a great deal of work in allowing my voice space to speak up, it is still relatively uncomfortable for me most of the time.

And here I was, with a stranger, about to get naked, and the only goal was for me to use my voice and ask for what I wanted over and over again.

She invited me to stand and taught me a tantra breath that would help keep me in the present moment as well has help move sensation and pleasure throughout my body. The breath felt awkward at first, but soon became an anchor that allowed me to drift beautiful places.

I slowly removed my clothes, trying to ignore the chatter in my head that was nervously chiding me over being naked with this woman I’d never met before.

Per her instructions, I laid face down on the massage table, and waited.

She stepped into the space and laid her hand on my back. In that moment, I knew I was safe and I knew this was going to be some deep work. She told me to invite all of my emotions up, regardless of what they were.

And then we started.

Her hands traveled down my back and over my ass and legs. She massaged my feet and calves, slowly working up to my thighs. She reminded me to speak up when something felt really yummy, and also to speak up if anything was just tolerable or OK. We were going for ultimate bliss.

Despite all of the work I’ve done, this was my first time really deciding that the only thing that mattered was my pleasure – no apology, no holding back.

Because we’d decided that I was holding a pretty deep block in my 1st chakra, also known as my root chakra, she began deeply massaging my butt cheeks, inviting me to relax and receive as I did my breath work.

Then, she was massaging my anus. I felt myself tense up and suddenly, I was flooded with a crystal clear vision of why I’d been holding on to so much pain in that area.

My rapist had had anal sex with me that night. It had been consensual, but he did it too fast and without any warm up and it had hurt. A lot. The trauma occurred shortly after. I’d felt so ashamed and alone, like my pleasure and my body had no place in this world. Like my voice didn’t matter.

And now here we were, my SI and I, allowing this pleasure spot to take center stage.

I felt myself speaking up, advocating for myself.

I told her that this felt important. I wanted us to stay here a bit longer, and she thanked me for asking for what I wanted.

Pleasure coursed through my body as I invited myself to create a new story – a story where I was strong and in charge of my body, a story where my pleasure and my voice were important and valued and heard.

Waves rocked through me from head to toe as I felt this door I’d been desperately holding shut out of fear burst open, and in its place was a sense of ease spreading through every inch of my body.

She never rushed me. She held space for me and my experience regardless of what that looked like for me.

As my root chakra opened, I felt myself shifting towards my 2nd chakra. My legs parted, my hips rolled, and she asked if my yoni (vulva) was ready for some attention.

At my yes, she invited me to turn over.

After a delicious breast massage, she moved to my belly and then between my legs.

It was a fascinating experience to know I was about to journey into my most sacred place, to embrace everything pleasurable and sexual about myself, without this being a sexually charged moment.

We’d created a container of absolute trust, warmth, and nurturing. I felt safe in a way I still don’t have words for.

As we started exploring what my pleasure looked like in that space, at that time, I found myself opening to my yes. I started asking for different strokes, different pressure, for her to linger in places that felt especially powerful and important.

As her fingers slipped inside of me, I felt this beautiful opening in my spirit. It was as if I was inviting her in because I knew this was work that needed to be done. For both of us.

We rode the wave of my yeses, over and over again, until I found my back arched off the table as a glorious orgasm poured from me.

Later, as I dressed and emerged from the room, she gasped and said, “You look like a glowing goddess.”

I was high as a kite on the energy we’d brought into that room. As I lay on the table, I’d had these visions of letting go of some of the pain and sorrow I carried inside of me, I felt myself releasing my grasp on some of my fear and doubt, and at the same time I felt myself fill with this deep knowing that I was doing the work I was meant to do with this lifetime.

I knew in my heart of hearts that I was powerful, creative, talented, and ready to heal the people who were ready to work with me.

We chatted softly for another half hour or so as I drifted back to myself and the present moment.

She talked about how her work with women was always a beautiful experience of profound healing and it is the reason she does what she does with her life. I told her that I admired her for her courage because doing this kind of work can be isolating and lonely. It is sex work, after all.

We hugged for a long time and I stepped back into the sunshine a new woman.

What amazed me about my time with that Sacred Intimate was that despite the deeply sexual nature of what we did together, it wasn’t actually a sexual experience. Not in the ways I’ve experienced with lovers, at least.

My arousal was not about her. It was about me.

My pleasure was not about her. It was about me.

I wasn’t worried about pleasing or performing or giving or being a certain way.

Instead, I was invited (and given permission) to fully embody my story, my journey, and myself.

I tapped into my body wisdom. I explored my traumas. I asked for what I wanted and received it in the most selfless way possible.

So, why am I sharing this with you?

As a sex coach, it’s important to me that I’m constantly transparent and vulnerable about my own struggles and adventures.

After all, sex isn’t a static thing. As our bodies change, our lives ebb and flow, and our experiences pile up, the way we experience pleasure and sex continues to morph and bend in new, often surprising ways.

What so many people don’t realize is that our sexual energy is directly tied to our power. It’s where we find our voice, our desires, our needs, our creativity, and it’s where we can truly settle into ourselves and find our inner wisdom. The way we explore our sexuality is different for each of us, but to ignore that part of ourselves is to shut out a vital piece of our life story.

The next time I’m traveling in her neck of the woods, I plan on having another session with her. She told me that each session results in a very unique journey where new depths are explored and new stories unfold.

Whether I’m ready for that work remains to be seen, but as I write this now, I am a woman who has undergone a radical transformation at the hands of a gifted and skilled witness.

And though my work is not hands-on, I know in my heart of hearts that my healing will help facilitate your healing. That my journey is what leads me to helping you on yours.

This is a story about healing. My healing and yours.

[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 tap into your sexual potential, I’m here for you. [/callout]

*If you’re interested in learning more about Sacred Intimates, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Not all Sacred Intimates are qualified for the kind of work I just described, so referrals are important.