Category Archives for "Relationships"

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).

8 How gratitude can heal your relationship

When you're irritated, frustrated, and fighting all of the time, it can be tough to see the good in your partner. That's why a gratitude practice can help heal your relationship - by encouraging you to focus on the things your partner does to support you and love you. It's easy. There's even a free worksheet to help you get started.

You know that inner dialog you have with yourself that never shuts up? The one that tells you all of the things that are wrong with you, all of the ways you aren't good enough?

It's the same voice that also likes to harp on all of the ways your partner is driving you to maximum frustration.

"God, he makes me so mad. He never helps around the house. He spends hours watching sports when I'm trying to race around and manage the house and the kids and dinner. When was the last time he had 20 things on his To Do list? And then he paws at me when I'm exhausted like I owe him something. Sex is the last thing I want to do. He has no idea how much I have on my plate."

You know that dialog because it's something we all do - about ourselves, about our parents, about our siblings and co-workers, and especially about our partners.

It's the Never Do Anything Right voice.

I spent a significant amount of time listening to, and feeding, that voice in my last significant relationship.

We loved each other. We had a pretty good life.

But, I also spent so much of my time feeling unappreciated, over-worked, undesirable, and completely frustrated - largely because of the story I told myself about our day-to-day life.

It was a lonely place to live - inside of my head, telling myself how tired my partner made me all of the time.

John Gottman, one of the leading marriage researchers in the world, has said that healthy, happy relationships tend to have a 5-to-1 positive-to-negative ratio. You can fight, you can get angry, you can turn away from each other, as long as you move back towards positive interactions at some point and fill your tanks again with support.

This concept ties in with a phrase that I've been hearing a lot lately:

What you focus on tends to become the only thing you can see. That whole forest for the trees saying in action.

In other words, where you direct your thoughts and energy is what you end up creating for yourself.

The same is true of the relationship you have with yourself and with others.

When you think an endless stream of negative, harsh thoughts about yourself, you end up feeling worthless, powerless, and hopeless.

And so you drink or eat or numb out on television or go shopping for stuff you don't really need. You self-medicate in some way, often to the point of being compulsive about it.

Which then feeds your inner mean voice and the Never Do Anything Right squad comes out swinging even harder. Because you're proving the voices right, right?

That same cycle happens inside of relationships.

If you spend hours banging your head against the desk, going over and over all of the things your partner doesn't do right, creating a toxic spiral of irritation, then imagine how your body language, your tone of voice, the words you use, and the energy you're directing at your partner will be loaded with negativity the moment you interact with them.

And sex? Don't even think about it.

I was recently talking to a friend who was stuck in an irritation spiral over his partner. He was trotting out all of the things she'd been doing wrong and feeling like crap about their relationship. Should they even stay together? Was it worth it?

He could hear himself being mean to her and admitted as much to me, but couldn't let go of all the stuff that wasn't working.

So, I stopped him and asked, "When was the last time you expressed gratitude for all the things she does right, for all of the ways she supports you in the day-to-day, for all the ways you laugh together?"

He said other than a few thank you's here and there, he hadn't really done that recently. He was worried that if he focused on the good stuff that he was sweeping the bad stuff under the rug.

Gratitude isn't about ignoring or repressing the truth. It's simply about shifting your attention and focusing on what is working so that you can make more of that happen.

If there are major issues in your life, then addressing those openly and honestly is critical to long-term health and happiness. You deserve to be in a relationship where you both feel valued and seen.

It's also incredibly important to make a list of your needs and take a close look at which needs are consistently being met and which ones aren't, then decide if the ones that aren't can get met if you articulate them and ask for them.

But how often have you found yourself thinking little annoyed thoughts about someone one day, and then the next day, and then the next, and suddenly you've been stewing on this tiny little thing for weeks?

Suddenly it feels so enormous you're on the verge of throwing in the towel.

Having a gratitude practice is one of the fastest and easiest ways to break a cycle of negativity.

There are tons of ways to have a gratitude practice, so if you already have one you love, then find a way to work it into your calendar on a regular basis - and make sure it includes ways you're grateful for yourself and for your loved ones.

When you begin focusing on things your partner does well, ways they make you laugh, words they've said that make you feel seen, then your entire experience of your relationship begins to shift.

Suddenly, minor annoyances aren't as irritating. You find it easier to let go of that little squabble instead of stewing on it for days.

It's your responsibility in any relationship to decide whether something is truly a problem that needs to be addressed or not, but it's important to remember that you are imperfect. So is your partner.

By focusing on ways they add to your life, you'll begin to feel less stressed, more supported, and you may even feel a lot sexier in the process.

It's hard to feel sexy when you're treating your partner like a child that needs to be reprimanded. I speak from experience.

It's up to you to ask for what you need in your relationship and in the bedroom.

It's also up to you to treat your partner in a way that facilitates the kind of energy you'd like in that relationship.

You cannot expect your partner to be kind, open, vulnerable, and giving if you're closed down, mean, cruel, and nitpicking all the little ways they're failing you. The same is true if you never openly share about yourself or your feelings.

How can you foster space for both of you to be open and safe?

A therapist that I know has a practice that she does with her partner every single night.

Once they're in bed, ready to wind down for the night, they ask each other to share the best part of their day with the other. Sometimes, the best part of the day was each other. Other days it's far from that, but by asking about each other's experience and having that sharing moment, they find ways to be grateful.

One last thought on gratitude - it's important to be grateful when your partner is vulnerable and shares something with you, even if you don't like what's being shared.

Whether it's a no to having sex tonight or honest feedback about something you did that caused them pain, thanking your partner for taking that risk, and acknowledging that they've done something scary, is one of the fastest ways to build resilience and courage into your connection.

I made a little gratitude worksheet for you to help you get started. (<-- Click that link to get it.) If you like it, be sure to sign-up for my newsletter because I like sending special little tidbits to my subscribers.

What is something your partner is really good at that you want to thank them for this week? Comment below and let's start a gratitude chain.

Work with me

If you're ready to find ways to express yourself in your relationship...

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]

2 Everything changes when you let go

Everything changes when you let go - creating a happier relationship - Dawn Serra

 

I used to be the queen of expectations – always dreaming and wishing and pushing for specific outcomes. I called it good planning or being prepared or keeping my eye on the prize, and while it’s great to have goals, it becomes unhealthy when you cling to the point of rigidity.

One day, I realized that part of my need to control things stemmed from my own insecurity. If things weren’t perfect, then I was a failure, right?

As I began working on believing that I was enough, I started letting go.

I began opening my clenched fists and inviting life to happen.

I learned the art of surrender (an important element of tantra) and something amazing happened.

I started having way more fun. Life took on a playful quality. Frustrations evaporated, disappointments became opportunities for something new, my relationships blossomed, and my resistance to reality began to fade.

Because clinging to expectations, demanding a certain outcome? It’s all about resisting reality, which is the root cause of all suffering.

What happens when you let go?

Here’s the secret no one talks about. When you let go and surrender to what is, when you live fully in the moment, you have an even greater influence over what comes next because you’re fully present and giving all of yourself to life.

Yes, letting go can be terrifying. Yes, surrendering expectations is scary.

Your partner is imperfect. Your body is unpredictable. Life is messy. And nothing can change those things.

When you push your spouse to be something other than what they are, when you put life on hold until your body is different, when you try to orchestrate sex because you want it to be just like what you see in the movies (all things I’ve seen in my coaching practice), you miss out on the good stuff.

You become blind to this moment. And this moment is where pleasure and joy and pain and beauty and love exist and thrive.

When you are so focused on what should come next, what’s supposed to be, you sacrifice experiencing the magnificence of what is actually happening right now.

What if you really want to have an orgasm when you’re having sex?

The fastest way to NOT have one is to get up in your head and over think it, push for it, tense up, and be so focused on getting it right (whatever that means) that you miss out on all that juicy, delicious, mind-blowing pleasure that’s happening now.

Because then you’re missing that tender caress, that soft intake of breath, the quivering gasp of need telling you just how much they want you.

Or maybe you’re so upset that the dishes didn’t get done that you fail to appreciate the fact that your partner did the laundry and vacuumed the house which saved you way more time. You both end up frustrated, feeling unappreciated, and closed down.

How many times have you missed an opportunity to giggle endlessly over an unexpected plot twist because you’ve detonated the anger bomb when things didn’t play out just so?

In “Girl Sex 101”, Allison Moon says, “If you’re not attached to outcomes, success can look like a myriad of things…”

Being goal-oriented in your relationship (and in bed) is like failing to turn the wheel as you approach a curve in the road.

Relationships are gloriously unpredictable things. Sex is like a jam session where you never know what you’re going to get until you show up.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and just do you.

Who says kids have to be part of the plan? Who says your house has to be pristine whenever guests come over? Who says sex is only good if an orgasm happens?

Everything changes when you let go.

You find your power.

You discover your pleasure.

You invite joy and can actually marvel at the beauty of what you have when you have it.

Because there are no guarantees.

We aren’t promised tomorrow or next week or next month, no matter how much you want it.

So, let go. Breathe.

Stop for a moment and take stock of what is instead of worrying about what should be.

Let yourself make mistakes, and let your loved make mistakes, too. See them as opportunities rather than failures.

Get rid of “should” and “supposed to” immediately.

What are you clinging to?

What is burdening you down and keeping you from enjoying your relationship, your body, your intimacy?

What would it feel like to no longer have that shame or frustration in your life? How much more space and ease would you have if you didn’t have to spend any more time thinking, fussing, worrying, arguing, resisting it ever again?

Sometimes letting go means having to apologize. Sometimes surrendering to what is means asking for something that you’re afraid to ask for.

But you’re worth it. Your relationship is worth it. Your pleasure is worth it.

Where do you get stuck? What are you resisting? Comment below and let’s brainstorm ways to help you move past it or work through it.

[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 July 16th (a replay is sent to folks who register) and do just that. It’s like free coaching. Don’t miss it.[/callout]

5 What the pros know: the (not-so-secret) secret to great sex

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Recently, at the end of a long and powerful session with one of my clients, I made a little joke to her about all of my sex failures. She stopped and looked at me, and then said:

“I find that hard to believe. You’re so awesome at…everything.”

Um. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and I said as much. In fact, my sex and relationship mistakes, mishaps, and epic failures would fill the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and then some. They’re so ridiculous I’m writing a book about everything I’ve messed up.

She let that soak in, nodding as if to say, “Maybe there’s hope for me after all.”

That little exchange made me realize something – often my clients think I have it all figured out. That I’ve somehow stumbled upon (or been born with) the keys to the sex kingdom.

And therein lies the secret that all sex professionals know. It’s in the handbook, in fact.

The (not-so-secret) secret is that great sex doesn’t just magically happen – we all have to work at it.

Last year, at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, I attended a session on the power of provocative and offensive words. The session morphed into a very intimate sharing circle. Almost everyone in the room (a good 15 of us or so) worked in sex, sexuality, or a related field – we represented sex educators, social justice advocates, therapists, counselors, sex experts, podcasters, sex workers, and the like.

During that hour a powerful thing happened.

We all shared that we struggled with the things everyone encounters at some point – low desire, failing relationships, fear of being vulnerable, mediocre sex, using our voice in bed, or feeling scared when things got tough.

It was incredibly validating and empowering to know I wasn’t the only professional who had these same issues. Because feeling like you’re the only one can be terribly lonely.

Knowing that professionals don’t have it all figured out when it comes to sex levels the playing field a little bit (and if a professional claims they don’t struggle with these things, run the other way – immediately).

What gives sex experts a leg up is a well-stocked toolbox for overcoming common problems.

As the group talked, it became clear that while our problems are similar to those our clients struggle with, we had the luxury of having powerful tools and resources that helped us to work through those issues a little easier.

Tools like the confidence to know that our desires and fantasies are healthy and normal (which allows us to remove shame), communication techniques that create a bridge rather than a divide when we talk to our partners, scripts for initiating scary conversations, practice digging into things that are uncomfortable, a thorough understanding of our bodies, and the knowledge that great ANYTHING doesn’t just happen – it takes work.

No one is born being amazing at sex or relationships. No one.

The truth is relating to others in any way, be it familial, platonic, or intimate, is a learned skill developed over years and years of practice. If you had the opportunity to see open communication modeled in your home as a kid, then you may have naturally adopted those skills, but again – they aren’t inherent.

Unfortunately, we rarely have a chance to witness healthy, tough conversations play out, and they don’t teach us in school how to deal with things like waning desire or hating our bodies. That means, we often feel like we’re totally alone in our struggles.

But the great news is that because these are skills that are learnable, you can learn them, too.

Building up your toolbox can be empowering (and that’s a large part of what I do with my clients), but skills take practice.

Practice means letting go of perfection and making a lot of mistakes.

So, here are a few tips for working on those skills. (Saying the scary stuff will be a separate series, so stay tuned for that very critical tool.)

Tool #1: You are normal.

Your desire, or lack of it, are normal. Your fantasies, the way your body experiences pleasure (or doesn’t), the needs that you have? Normal, normal, and normal.

If you need a vibrator to get off, bring it into bed with your partner and make it happen. That is completely normal.

If you like imagining that you have a stable of attractive lovers eager to wait on you hand and foot, embrace that. It’s normal.

If you get turned on by the sound of people having sex or by the smell of latex or when someone touches your neck in a specific way, let those things be your truth. They’re all normal.

Sexual fantasies are not politically correct and they aren’t necessarily something you want to happen in real life.

They are your private, creative landscape and accepting your sexual desires means letting go of shame and owning that this is your story.

Professionals understand that they are completely normal. It’s incredibly freeing to release shame or guilt around what you want and need.

Tool #2: Be specific when you communicate.

When you and your partner aren’t super clear about what you want and what you mean, it can lead to confusion, hurt feelings, and feeling like your partner just doesn’t get you.

For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of this scene from Rush Hour with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker:

Do you understanding the words that are coming out of my mouth? Communication and a shared vocabulary is critical to a healthy sex life and a strong relationship.

Let’s say you tell your partner that you like being touched.

Well, what does that mean exactly? Where do you like being touched? What mood are you in when this is happening? With hard or soft pressure? With long or short strokes? Is it a sensual touch or a sexual touch you’re craving?

It’s also important to note that the way you like being touched changes constantly – after a long day, your needs may be totally different than first thing in the morning when you’re fresh out of the shower.

If you aren’t specific and open about what you mean, then you’re setting your partner up for failure. This is true for sex and life.

Tool #3: Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Though this is true for relationships in general, when it comes to sex, sometimes things are just awkward.

Pros know that sex, and talking about sex, takes practice.

The first time you do anything, whether it’s playing the piano or swinging a flogger, it’s going to feel weird and cumbersome and unnatural. And because so many of us have a lot of shame and embarrassment around sex, when things don’t go as planned, we tend to throw in the towel after one or two failed attempts and never look back.

But what if you treated sex like one great big on-going experiment?

Each time you get naked, you’re gathering information that will get woven into your complex and beautiful sexual story. Experiments don’t see mistakes as failure, but instead as valuable data. Imagine saying – “Well, that didn’t work the way I thought it would. What happens if I try it another way?”

A lot of people in the kink community like the saying, “It’s only kinky the first time.” Anytime you do something new, it’s going to seem weird.

In fact, unless something goes really wrong, I suggest to people that they try new things 3-4 times in different settings at different times of day with different context, because sometimes it takes a few tries to work through your embarrassment before you really start to see the potential in something.

Sex is messy.

It’s an act between two (or more) gloriously imperfect people. It can get sweaty and sticky and awkward. Someone may fall off the bed or bang their head or not realize which hole they’re sticking something into.

Getting comfortable being uncomfortable means allowing imperfection and mistakes, and knowing that’s all part of the journey.

You may not know how to phrase a request or how to talk dirty or how to share a fantasy, and you may react poorly to a lover’s private desire, but if you are willing to learn and grow and try again, with a spirit of “let’s see what happens!”, amazing things will begin to unfold.

Tool #4: The more you know about your body, the better.

In a recent post on masturbation, we looked at all the reasons that self-pleasure is so important.

Which areas are sensitive and when (because it won’t be a constant)?

How long does it take for you to get from zero to fully aroused when you’re by yourself? When you employ your juiciest fantasy? When you’re with a lover?

Do you enjoy gently tugging on your pubic hair or do you know what movements give you muscle cramps or which types of toys feel amazing and which ones are just distracting?

On top of that, basic anatomy is something pros constantly study, and that information can be wildly empowering. A wonderful resource on the female body is “Women’s Anatomy of Arousal” by Sheri Winston. I also have a 6-week online course in the making, so stay tuned for that.

Whether you pull out a mirror and get to know yourself visually, or you take the time to understand your body and all that it’s capable of, you will be a better lover for it.

The secret to great sex is you.

Your body was built for pleasure. Your mind is boundless and creative. Your voice is strong and powerful.

Great sex isn’t a natural gift. It’s not something that only a select few have access to.

Sex professionals know that our problems are not unique, they aren’t insurmountable, and with a little patience and a spirit of adventure, great sex can happen. And great sex can be whatever it is you want it to be – passionate lovemaking, no penetration at all, kinky as all get out, or anything else that makes you feel satisfied and yummy.

It might be uncomfortable and frustrating and scary and awkward sometimes, but if you’re willing to work with that and allow it be what it is for a little while, ecstasy is on the other side.

What’s the thing you struggle with most? How can I support you? Comment below and tell me where you get stuck.

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10 My husband is always trying to fix me

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I was at dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and she was telling me how her relationship with her partner was going.

One of the things that she was happy to report was that her partner has been getting better at not immediately offering advice when she is talking about her day.

We laughed because it’s something both of us understood so clearly. I’ve had so many clients confide “my husband is always trying to fix me and all I want him to do is listen to me.”

And it’s not just husbands, but friends, too.

A few years ago, after telling a friend of mine about a particularly bad day, I got frustrated with him for trying to give me suggestions on ways to handle it. I remember so clearly his surprise when he said:

“Why are you telling me this if you don’t want me to fix it? What’s the point? I don’t get it.”

We had a good laugh over it, but he was genuinely baffled by the behavior. I wasn’t the only person fussing at him for this, either. His wife complained about the same thing, and he really didn’t understand why.

He was just trying to help, after all.

I don’t want to turn this into a battle of the sexes because I have seen people of all genders exhibit this behavior, but here’s the rub…

If someone is sharing something and they want to feel heard and understood, it can feel lonely and frustrating when instead they receive advice.

It feels like preaching. It feels like you’re being talked down to or like what you’re going through isn’t important. Because for the person receiving the advice it feels like “here’s how you fix this, can we not talk about this anymore?”

Of course, to the person offering the “solution”, they often feel like they are being super supportive and loving by trying to resolve what sounds like a pain point.

So, how do you overcome this miscommunication when you have two people who communicate so differently?

Empathy or advice?

My partner and I practice this very simple technique and it’s made a world of difference in how supported I feel.

If I start talking about something I’m struggling with or feeling bad about, my partner asks, “Do you want empathy or advice?”

(Actually, at this point, it’s been shortened to “empathy or advice?”)

When he asks me that, I think for a moment and then answer honestly.

Sometimes I’ll say, “Empathy, please!”

Other days I want both, and so I say “Both.”

And if I really do want his help, because he is very good at bringing new perspectives to my issues, I let him know, “I would really love to know your thoughts, so advice is welcome.”

Sex educator and relationship guru Kate McCombs recently said, “Often, the best way to help someone is not to make them feel “better,” but to help them feel “lighter.”

Of course, this technique requires your partner’s buy-in, but it’s a super simple way to make everyone feel less frustrated.

If you both start doing it, that’s even better. What if you always offer empathy and your partner or friend really does want advice? It goes both ways.

Here’s another way to overcome this common problem.

Tell them what you need before you begin speaking.

That can sound like, “I’d like to tell you about this weird thing that happened today, and I would really love it if you would listen and empathize. I don’t need advice, I just want to share. Is that cool?”

Not only does this help you learn how to assert your needs, but it also sets your partner up for success by letting them know ahead of time what would make you feel most loved.

No need for mind-reading.

Plus, by ending with a question, they can tell you whether that’s something they can really do for you right now. Maybe they’ve had a bad day, too, and they just don’t have it in them to be empathetic.

Wouldn’t you rather know that before you spend five minutes sharing about your day and then feel rejected when they offer nothing at all?

You state your need. You ask for their support. They get a chance to weigh in. Everyone now feels heard and valued.

What if they go into advice mode anyway? Gently remind them what you asked for at the beginning of the conversation (remember that you’re on the same team and assume they mean the best) and restate your ask.

The key to almost any communication technique is setting yourself and the person you’re speaking with up for success by being really clear from a place of kindness. Once you get a few easy scripts in your toolkit, doing these things becomes incredibly natural and removes a great deal of frustration for everyone involved.

What has worked for you in this situation? How will you implement “empathy or advice”?

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

 

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Cheating.

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

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

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

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

Adultery has existed since human beings began entering into relationships.

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

What exactly is an affair?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what gives?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They create a community that supports their relationship.

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

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

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

Back to Perel’s talk…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is that thing?

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

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

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

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

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

Affairs are rarely about sex.

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

It’s about the power of the forbidden.

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

What can you do about infidelity in your own relationship?

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

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

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

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

The thing that most people miss?

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

This is not a set it and forget it process.

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

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

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

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

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

Infuse your relationship with excitement and mystery.

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

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

And therein lies the problem.

Too much intimacy kills erotic energy.

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

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

Perel calls this concept erotic intelligence.

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

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

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

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

Allow your partner a chance to be their own person.

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

Go out with your friends without your partner.

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

Do weekends away to the spa on your own.

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

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

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

Practice gratitude for your partner.

What you focus on grows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 A new frontier for relationships and happiness?

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A few nights ago, I attended a fantastic workshop called “Dating Your Species” by the amazing and fabulous Reid Mihalko and Monique Darling. I had selfish reasons for attending. Reid is a master at workshop facilitation when it comes to relationships and sex, and I wanted to observe him in his natural habitat.

But beyond that, the content of the workshop was phenomenal, as well.

I don’t want to give away all of Reid’s secrets, and I actually have a different system for finding great partners to date, but the main point I took away from last night is something I’ve been trying to find the words for and Reid said it perfectly:

The way we measure the success of a relationship is no longer duration, but instead, depth and honesty.

For the past several generations, the length of a relationship was all that mattered. Reid pointed out that being married 70 years even if you were miserable was considered a win.

But times are changing.

We all prize happiness in our lives more than ever. Ending a relationship that no longer makes us happy makes sense.

Reid asked how many of us had been to a divorce celebration. I raised my hand. A dear friend of mine threw a huge party on the day her divorce was final. But he then asked, how many of us had been to a divorce party where BOTH parties were in attendance and happy about it. All hands, including mine, went down.

What if, when a relationship no longer made us happy, we had the maturity and the courage to say, “I love you. This seems to have run its course. So before we start hating each other and before we get totally miserable, can we part ways while there’s still love?” Wouldn’t that be cause for a huge celebration?

This concept is something I’ve brought up over the past year or two to some friends, and I always get strange looks. I suspect it’s because I hadn’t found a way to articulate it so that it made sense.

But I don’t have to. Because Reid did it for me.

What if we stay together for as long as we’re both happy and agree going in to have the integrity to speak up when things aren’t working anymore?

How many of your exes are still in your life? How many would you consider your friend? Someone you care about and can rely on?

Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if we chose more wisely going in and behaved more maturely on the way out?

What if instead of breaking up, we called it transitioning?

Just because we decide our intimate relationship has run its course, who’s to say we can’t transition our connection into that of a dear friend? After all, you thought this person was special enough to date, mate, or partner with… wouldn’t they be special enough to be called a friend?

But here’s where it gets scary…

In order to do this, you have to show up, be seen, be honest, and have scary conversations.

I’m a HUGE advocate for saying the scary stuff. So much so that I’m developing an entire program around it.

Because when you say the scary stuff, you get your needs met.

When you say the scary stuff, you release resentment and offer each other the opportunity to step up.

When you say the scary stuff, you know once and for all whether this person is capable or willing to meet you where you need to be met.

And the sooner you know the answer to that question, the sooner you can move towards happiness – either together or on your own.

Life is too short for staying together out of sheer determination.

You deserve more than getting by, hanging in there, making it work, muscling through, gritting your teeth, or doing the best that you can.

You deserve bliss and passion and a “hell yes!” from your partner, and from yourself.

This isn’t about running away, either.

Relationships take work. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes it takes years to work through problems or to reach the place you want to be in.

But there is a difference between deeply loving someone and wanting to put in the work versus trying to put band-aids on a gaping wound out of a fear of being alone or of hurting someone’s feelings.

So, I propose a new frontier for relationships and happiness:

  • Instead of using relationships to fix us or work through our crap, we do the work on ourselves before we enter a relationship to ensure we know what we want, what we need, why it’s important to us, and how to communicate it well.
  • Instead of trying to fix someone or “seeing potential” in someone, we only enter into a relationship with someone who has done the work and has the basic skills to communicate openly and truthfully.
  • Instead of sticking it out because that’s what you’re supposed to do and instead of ignoring that little voice that says you’re not really very happy, we respect ourselves and the other person enough to mindfully enter into a relationship or end things as soon as you realize it’s not working.
  • Instead of assuming what worked then still works now and coasting/ignoring/denying issues, we find the courage to check in regularly, to have scary conversations, to address issues as they arise in a loving and open way, and to keep doing this over and over and over again throughout the lifetime of the relationship.
  • Instead of blaming and hiding and judging our partners when they do something we don’t like, we take responsibility for asking for what we want, create a safe space to say the tough stuff, and focus on creating joy together as often as possible.
  • Instead of waiting until everyone is miserable and it’s nothing but passive aggressive digs and fights and deception, we agree to respectfully transition the relationship into something else when you find you’re no longer happy or meeting each other’s needs, and doing so like grown-ups (yes it will hurt and yes it will suck and feeling bad is OK – creating unnecessary drama is not).
  • Instead of manipulation and codependence, we do it all from a place of respect, honesty, vulnerability, and integrity.
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Imagine a world where we all embrace this new paradigm.

No more senseless drama. No more manipulation or lying. No more cheating. No more waiting for someone to read your mind. No more wondering why relationships are so damn hard but never putting in the work to show up.

Because you can be you AND you can be happy.

When you step back and consider this new world order, what scares you most?

Wouldn’t you rather be happy and living a big, bold life on your terms than feeling trapped inside a relationship that makes you feel small and unappreciated?

The worst thing in life is not being alone. It’s being in a relationship with someone and feeling utterly lonely.

What would you like to change in order to find that happiness in this new frontier of relationship success?

Would you rather look back and say “I had several deep, profound loves in my life, all of which taught me something incredible and we’re all still friends” or “we were married 65 years and we couldn’t stand each other for the last 30″?

I invite you to share this post with your partner, if you have one, and have a conversation about it.

No pressure to change anything. No expectations. Just use it as a way to start having new conversations about what you want and what that might look like.

Be patient with each other. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but giving yourself permission to explore new thoughts and ideas is a powerful practice for keeping you both happy and connected.

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Keeping sex fun (hint: when’s the last time you smiled in bed?)

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When was the last time you laughed in the middle of sex? Genuinely, honestly laughed?

Last week, my partner and I were deep in a rope bondage scene – my ankles were bound in rope cuffs, I was nearly immobilized, and things were intense and serious. Growls and gasps and grunts abounded. And then…something completely unexpected happened – one of our props popped off, causing a small, painful gasp out of him. Seconds later, it happened again.

*snap*

*snap*

He jumped up in shock and I looked at him, wide-eyed for a moment, and then it happened.

The giggles.

I tried to stop them, but one look at his face and it was all over.

Both naked, one of us (me) in a very exposed and compromising position, and him trying to walk off the sharp shock of pain. In seconds, we were both laughing uncontrollably. Every time I thought I had it under control, it would start again. Giggles, then belly laughs, and finally the tears.

Eventually, we got back to business and the intensity built again.

Nothing was ruined by the surprise turn of events. In fact, that moment is one of my favorite memories from that weekend because we were able to stay in the moment and appreciate it for what it was – FUNNY!

Sex has a tendency to be so serious and loaded and rife with expectation or guilt or fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough or skilled enough or sexy enough. But what keeping sex fun just meant lightening up a bit and laughing? Because when it comes right down to it – sex is pretty silly.

What scripts run through your head when you and your sweetie(s) are getting intimate?

Are you worried about how you’ll look? Are you concerned you aren’t going to enjoy it? Are you doing it out of some sense of obligation because you “should have sex x number of times per week/month/year”?

Talk about a libido killer.

All those “should” statements, all that self-talk keeping you swinging from past to future and back again. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that pleasure and desire hate being smothered by expectation, and they don’t live anywhere except the present moment.

For some people, sex is a very intense and serious act nearly all of the time. For others, it’s playful and light and silly. I like to take a middle-of-the-road approach – setting intentions but allowing space for the spontaneous.

Because when two (or more) naked bodies are brought together, you never know what might happen next.

Farts, queefs, burps, bodily fluids, slips, unexpected aches, phone calls, kids – things happen (I almost said shit happens, but that could be taken multiple ways and is best left for a discussion on anal play).

So, I challenge you to invite a little laughter into the bedroom.

Let’s stop taking ourselves so seriously, release the expectations, kill the “should” statements, and surrender to what might unfold. Like a random Charlie Horse that needs to be rubbed out, or a sudden tickle in your nose that leads to a dozen sneezes, or the doorbell ringing at the worst possible moment. Laughter doesn’t have to mean the sex is over. It just means you’re acknowledging the moment, and then you decide where to go from there.

What’s a funny or unexpected moment that’s happened to you? What’s stopped you from laughing in the past?

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Do you need help naming and facing your fear? Would you love to get unstuck, so that you can finally shed the burden you’ve been carrying? Whether it’s feelings of unworthiness or a struggling sex life (with yourself or with your partner), I can help you. [/callout]

2015: The year of surrender

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I’m the kind of person who has a tendency to get stuck in my head. It’s taken me a lot of work to learn how to savor the moment for exactly what it is.

Looking back, I started to realize just how much I’d missed out on by constantly thinking of all the things I have to do, all the places I want to go, chewing on what I could have done better and what I want to manifest in the future. These churning thoughts meant I was rarely enjoying the here and now.

And do you know where pleasure, bliss, and ecstasy live? In this moment. The one happening right now.

Not in the past. Not in the future. Pleasure exists in the present. Ecstasy pulses and blossoms as each breath unfolds.

But staying present, for all its simplicity, is far from easy, especially in our crazy go-go-go world. Even when I’m prioritizing pleasure for myself with a bubble bath or dancing or sex, it’s easy for my mind to wander.

Stress is addictive, anxiety is clingy, and expectation is pleasure’s worst enemy.

What totally transformed my experiences was learning the art of surrender.

Overwhelmed by stress? Take a deep breath and surrender to what cannot be changed.

Worried about how you look? Take a deep breath and surrender to who you are in this moment.

Trying to get out of your head during sex? Surrender to sensation, to touch, to your needs and desires.

When you surrender, there is no room for stress and anxiety. There is no space for doubt or shame or guilt. Surrendering requires you to open yourself up to the unknown and to trust that what comes next is exactly what is meant to happen. That means releasing expectations. When we’re free from expectation, we create space for pleasure to bubble up and take over.

Surrendering is not giving up. It is not passive. It is not weak. In fact, surrender takes tremendous courage and strength because we can only truly surrender when we feel safe enough to let go.

So, I’m declaring 2015 the year of surrender. I will be focusing on all of the ways you can surrender in order to reconnect with your erotic self, your sensual side, your confidence, your needs, your lover(s), and most importantly, with yourself.

This year we will surrender to the art of receiving, to the art of giving, and to the art of living with passion.

This will be the year that you surrender to what is so that you can finally create space to breathe life into what can be: bliss, happiness, radical authenticity, ecstasy, and anything else your soul desires. It all starts with surrender.

What have you been resisting? What has been holding you back? What are you afraid of or hiding from?

And what does it look like when you finally surrender and release those things?

All you have to do is let go.