Healthy relationships & sex: One skill to rule them all

Sex coach Dawn Serra talks about the one skill that can help create healthy relationships, great sex, and even a better life for yourself. What is it? Find out in this week's blog post.

People like to dismiss the thing that is simple in favor of the thing that is more complex and validating.

Why?

Sometimes we just aren't ready to change, and if the answer is simple, we'll look for any way to avoid actually solving the problem because change is scary.

Sometimes knowing that the thing we've been struggling with for weeks, months, or even years had a simple solution makes us feel foolish or ordinary. And we like feeling like our pain is unique and important.

Of course, simple does not mean easy, and sometimes that frustration can make us want to find another way.

Most of our relationship and sex problems stem from three things: assumptions, beliefs, and expectations.

The single most powerful skill that I've found that invites a healthy relationship and a sexy connection is curiosity.

Curiosity fosters openness and allows us to let go of those unhealthy behaviors that can keep us stuck. This is true of friendships, love, sex, business, family, and even your own inner thoughts.

We are a world built on labels, rules, and expectations.

While rituals and frameworks do lend a certain efficiency and stability to our lives, too often we cling desperately to the "supposed to" and the "should" or we remain rigid in the face of new information, unwilling to change a belief because it's too uncomfortable or scary.

After all, being right gives us a sense that we have some control in this world.

If you can't be right, what can you hold on to?

Let's take a closer look at how curiosity can strengthen and heal your relationship with yourself, with a partner, and with sex.

The path to inner peace and self-awareness is paved with curiosity.

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

I am famous for beating myself up. The perfectionist in me is loud and bossy. The mean girl inside loves telling me all the ways I'm not good enough, especially if I make a mistake with someone I love.

For years, I lived a life that wasn't what I wanted because I believed I didn't deserve more - who could love me in this fat body with all these flaws? I settled, over and over again.

Our internal dialog creates the life we live. Our thoughts and feelings birth the experience we have. That's why when we're caught in anxiety or worry or a shame spiral, things can feel so utterly bleak.

One of the most powerful tools I've learned is that of mindful curiosity.

When I react to something, instead of beating myself up for my reaction, if I invite honest, open curiosity about my response, I'll usually find a powerful truth hidden under the feelings.

This kind self-inquiry means you can tap into your real needs and emotions a lot faster than if you force, criticize, and insult yourself.

It's also really powerful to use this kind of open, honesty curiosity when you want to release old thought patterns or change a habit.

Imagine you come home after a long day to a filthy house and your partner is sitting on the couch watching TV. You completely clam up and stomp around the house silently fuming. Each thing that isn't done makes you more angry.

How would this moment be transformed if you caught yourself, took a deep breath, and then got curious.

Why am I so angry?

Because you-know-who couldn't be bothered to help around the damn house.

Why does this bother me so much?

Because I'm exhausted. I had a long day and I just cannot relax if the house looks like this. It's gross.

What can I do to let go of this anger so that I can try to relax a little tonight?

I could talk to my partner and ask for help instead of punishing myself and being passive aggressive.

What can I do to make myself feel better right now?

Take a deep breath and pause for a moment.

Real curiosity isn't manipulative, assumptive, or dishonest.

It takes honesty, vulnerability, and openness to be curious which is why it's such a magnificent tool. If you aren't tied to an outcome, you invite flexibility and space for a real experience to happen.

Wouldn't a little more space in your thoughts feel luxurious?

When you're curious about your partner, you create an invitation for connection rather than building a wall of assumption.

"Curiosity begets love. It weds us to the world. It's part of our perverse, madcap love for this impossible planet we inhabit. People die when curiosity goes." Graham Swift

Having a routine means things can run more smoothly when days get busy and you're short on time. But sometimes routine means putting your partner into a box where you assume you know what they want, what they're thinking, and what they'll say in response to you.

When your partner no longer has any mystery, they become two-dimensional. There's no spark, no sense of other, which is critical for desire.

And when your partner doesn't behave in a way you expect or want, it can be so easy to get frustrated with them. Making demands of each other and assuming your partner will always stay the same is a recipe for disaster.

So, what if, instead, you both approached each other with curiosity?

Because we all want to feel seen, heard, and valued. When our partners start to take us for granted we start to feel invisible inside of our relationship, even lonely.

How might curiosity help us through a situation that would normally lead to an argument or hurt feelings?

Let's imagine you buy a new outfit or get a new haircut or do something special around the house and your partner doesn't even notice. What's your first reaction? Frustration? Disappointment? Feeling like they just don't see you or want you anymore? Maybe even anger, if you've told them how important this stuff is to you?

What if instead, you pause and get curious?

Wow. I was hoping they'd notice my new haircut. Why do I feel so disappointed?

Because I think I look really nice, and I thought they would, too.

What can I do to appreciate myself and enjoy this feeling of my fresh haircut anyway?

Maybe take some selfies and post them on Facebook. I know my sister will love this look.

What can I ask my partner that would engage them in this moment?

Maybe we can play the appreciation game or let them know I got a haircut and I'd love to show it off for them.

When you get curious, you allow space for your partner to have their own set of experiences and you realize they can't read your mind. Curiosity means approaching each other with mindfulness.

Instead of assuming your partner wants the same thing for dinner again or the same kind of sex or that their day was the same as yesterday, getting curious shows your partner that they matter, that you care about their feelings and experiences, and that you're showing up for them.

Sometimes we have to show up a few times before our partners realize we mean it, especially if they've felt invisible or unheard for a long time.

Often when you model openness and vulnerability, it creates space where the people in our lives can slowly begin to do the same.

This same curious approach is great with children and family members, too. Instead of yelling at your kids for doing that thing you've told them not to do, if you get curious and engage them in a conversation, digging into the why and the how, you may discover something new.

And nothing feels better than having someone who really wants to show up and listen to you, right?

Curiosity does take time and it takes self-awareness. That's why it's so powerful.

When you and your partner both feel important and autonomous, like it's safe to have your own experiences and feelings, that's when you can thrive together rather than drift apart.

Sex is an adventure, and an adventure requires a curious spirit and a willingness to explore the unknown, otherwise you end up lost or never going anywhere.

"The cure for boredom is curiosity." Dorothy Parker

Sex is often one of the first things that gets stale in a relationship. There are many reasons for this: we aren't taught how to navigate sexual conversations, we are never told all of the amazing options available to us when it comes to sex, we can be too tied up in what's normal or what we're supposed to do instead of what would feel good, and prioritizing our pleasure can feel selfish when there are so many other things to be doing.

Even sadder than that, for many of us, we've never had truly spectacular sex, so it can feel like something we do out of obligation rather than for the sheer joy of it.

People are so scared of saying the wrong thing, or of being rejected by a partner, or we're ashamed of what we don't know or secretly want.

Add to that the societal roles that tell us women shouldn't be too aggressive or slutty (or frigid, for that matter) and men should know how to please a woman and always get hard, and it's a mine field with any number of bombs just waiting to go off.

Curiosity in bed can transform you from an awkward or stale lover into a spectacular lover overnight.

What happens if you ask to see how your partner likes to touch themselves and try to mirror it?

What if you try a new position or a new toy and then have an after action report where you laugh and share all the wonderful and disastrous ways it totally worked or totally didn't?

What could change if you ask your partner if they'd be willing to try exploring you in a different way that you think might feel good?

When you hold genuine curiosity about your partner's needs, wants, and desires and get curious about your own body and experiences, everything changes.

It's not about getting anything right. It's this big curious experiment where no matter the outcome, you tried something new and have new ways to talk about sex.

Curiosity allows your ego to take a back seat while your child-like wonderment can come out to play.

Sex from a place of play is so much more fun than sex from a place of dread, guilt, or shame.

So, what can you get curious about in the bedroom? How can you explore your own body and needs in a new way? How can you connect with your partner in a way you never have before? What is something new you could try that would invite a sense of play?

It's time to let go of old ideas, patterns, assumptions, and expectations.

Adopt a mindset of curiosity in all things and experience the honesty, vulnerability, and openness that it invites into your life.

Work with me

Do you need help tapping into your sexy self? Are you feeling stuck in the bedroom? I'm here to help. It's what I do.

From one-on-one coaching to my Sex is a Social Skill group calls and DIY workbooks, there are a number of ways we can get you the support and inspiration you're longing for.

  • This is a great read Dawn! Curiosity – that is so true