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Category Archives: Sexual Aversion / Avoidance

The Four Horsemen of Communication

Posted on: November 19th, 2013 by Nitasha Strait Leave a comment

The four horsemen of communication – a common theme among married couples is that anger and fighting are viewed as negative within the relationship. According to John Gottman, a leader in couple’s counseling and research, the release of anger can be positive within the relationship. Anger becomes problematic only when it is released in what Gottman refers to as the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” The purpose of this Self Help Tip is to give you, the reader, a brief overview of what the horsemen can look like, and to give a few examples of how to correct them.

The first of the Four Horsemen is Criticism. Where some might critique or complain about a specific behavior of their partner, Criticism touches on their partner’s core as a human being. When one partner attacks the other partner’s personality or character, the arguing and anger become problematic for the couple. A complaint may look like “I became angry when you did not take out the garbage like you said you would.”  Comments like this voice the complacent partner’s feelings while also reminding the other partner of a promise they made. Where this comment could become a criticism is if it uses all or nothing language in order to generalize, “never,” “always,” “you…” Statements such as, “you always break your promises, you’re never going to become responsible” work to portray the blamed partner in a negative light.

Criticism, if not dealt with right away, can be used as a gateway horseman into the other three. Due to Criticism attacking a person’s character, they may feel hurt, rejected, and/or assaulted. When a person is left feeling this way, they may not be capable of catching the criticism in order to help their partner correct the statement. Instead, the criticized partner may portray the second horseman, Contempt.

The second of the four horsemen, Contempt looks to psychologically damage a partner. The intent of contempt is to be outwardly unkind and attack a person’s sense of Self. This horseman is not only done through words but also nonverbals such as eye rolling, body language, and tone of voice.  Contempt in the form of words can be categorized as insulting, name-calling, sarcastic, hostile humor or mockery. The contemptuous partner is aiming to make the other feel loathed and valueless. Gottman’s research has shown that this horseman can lead to infectious illnesses such as the common cold and influenza. Contempt is also the highest predictor of divorce or separation among couples. Where a partner might say, “you are so dumb, even our 3-year-old can think of something” a better way to have said this message is in a supportive, loving way, such as “it seems as though you’re struggling, would it be helpful if I took a look at it with you?” The latter comment is able to point out the turmoil their partner may be feeling, while also offering help. Instead of playing on the struggling partner’s feelings of inadequacy, the non-struggling partner gives permission to the struggling partner to voice their vulnerabilities and ask for help; thus, allowing the couple the opportunity to bond and grow together.

The third, of the four horsemen that Gottman points out is defensiveness. Where contempt and criticism are a form of attacking, defensiveness is usually the reaction that one takes after being assailed. The defensive partner sees himself or herself as the victim. Defensiveness can take its form in multiple ways; the first is when a partner makes excuses. The excuses usually entail an external factor that was out of the defensive partner’s control, “it’s not my fault, traffic was so bad on the 90 no one would have been able to get here on time!” Instead, the partner could own the fact that they were late by saying something as simple as, “you’re right, I was late.”

Another form of defensiveness is cross-complaining, where one partner complains then the other partner complains about something different; thereby ignoring the first partner’s complaint. This may look like one partner stating, “I don’t have any time to myself” and the other partner responding with “work today was awful, no one seemed to listen to me and nothing got done!” The second partner ignored the first partner’s concerns and gave up an opportunity to be supportive, loving, and caring. This also may trigger the first partner to become defensive and go into a criticism that may sound like this, “you never listen to me.” When looking at the couple’s interactions in this way, the horsemen become interactive and cyclical.

Partners may also take the form of disagreeing then cross-complaining or using negative mind reading. Often times, the defensive partner hadn’t even taken into consideration what the first partner had to say before already forming their defense. This may sound like, “that’s not true, I know you think it’s a waste of time!” As an alternative, a partner could respond by checking in with what the first partner said before they look to get their own needs met. This might look like, “what I’m hearing you say is… “

Defensiveness may also take the form of “yes, but…” The defensive partner will start out by placating their partner. Later that partner will disagree and give a different opinion, thus negating the “yes” they used in the beginning of their statement.  Defensive partners may also just continue to say what they were saying before without any regard to what the other partner has said. Defensive partners may simply whine about their circumstances as well by stating, “it’s not fair.” Instead, partners should work to first respond in a supportive check-in to their partner’s comment. Only then should they inform their partner of their feelings or thoughts in a vulnerable way. Stating “I feel left out when…” will be a lot better received than “it’s not fair.”

To better address all of these defenses, it is important to not see them as an assault. By looking at these messages as information that is important to the disclosing partner. Under each defense there is an underlying vulnerability that the partner may not feel comfortable to disclose or may not know exists. If the listening partner can be receptive to the underlying message and help to explore the meaning of the surface message, couples can grow together by working with one another rather than feel attacked and isolated.

Isolation is the key concept to the fourth horseman, stonewalling. A stonewaller is usually checked out and lacking the energy to be defensive. A healthy receiver of messages usually includes “uh huh” and “hmm” or nonverbals such as head nods to indicate that they are following what the other person is saying. Stonewalling is a silent reaction with no verbal or nonverbal responses, and at times includes physically removing themselves from being in proximity with their partner. By not having a response, the partner utilizing stonewalling conveys a level of superiority, disapproval, and cold distancing to their partner.  Gottman’s research indicates that stonewalling may illicit physical reactions in females when their male partners partake in stonewalling. Female’s hearts start to race and their breaths increase in number.  Stonewalling is usually a response to the other three horsemen being present and not being addressed. Stonewalling not only takes the partner out of the conversation, but also tends to take them out of the relationship as a whole. They do not get their needs met and are unable to support their partner.

Summarizing and utilizing the alternatives given throughout this piece in your daily routine with your partner can help to reduce and exclude the four horsemen from your relationship. It is important to look at the underlying message that the partner encompassing one of the horsemen is trying to convey. The receiving partner can then validate the underlying message for their partner. If complaints need to be made, it is important to make them specific, with concise requests afterwards. For example, when X happened, I feel Y, and I need Z. Claiming responsibility is also important in reducing the influence of the four horsemen. Lastly, each partner should shift to appreciation within his or her conversations. Both validating one another and accepting the gift that the other partner is giving by being vulnerable and sharing these important messages.

ReCentering Yourself After A Break-Up

Posted on: November 12th, 2013 by Nitasha Strait Leave a comment

You just broke up with your partner, and you now find yourself with an enormous amount of energy that you used to spend on that person. Take this opportunity to re-center that energy onto yourself. Often times, people tend to use this energy in the wrong way. You obsess about what you did wrong or get overly angry with the other person for breaking up with you. You experience negative thoughts that race out of control to the point that you cannot sleep at night or function on normal, daily tasks.  You may find yourself excessively checking on your previous partner either through a social networking site, mutual friends, or direct contact. Other times, people jump into another relationship and spend that energy on someone new. While all of these activities may seem productive at the time, it is more beneficial to spend that extra energy on you, thus giving yourself time to self reflect and grow as a person.

Relationships can be fulfilling; however, sometimes they tend to distract you from meeting your own needs and wants as you get swept away in the other person’s likes/dislikes, needs, and wants. In order to be ready for a new, healthy relationship, you have to be grounded. Let’s get to know you! What are your needs? What do you like? What do you desire? If you can’t please your Self on your own, how do you know how to let someone else please you?

The first step you should take is to reflect back on the relationship and evaluate it. If you have not done this step for previous relationships, do it for them as well. What were some activities you did for your partner(s) but that you decided you like for yourself? How might you have self-sabotaged the relationship; what was your role? Are there patterns to your relationships, specifically in the way they ended? What is negotiable, and what is not in these relationships? How do you negotiate with your partner, and what are your hard limits? Lastly, what do you want to be different and the same going into your future relationships?

Think back to when you were an infant; you were less inhibited, less aware. In other words, you had no filter. In order to get your needs met, you fussed and cried, and people responded. You did what you wanted because it felt good. You weren’t held back by responsibilities, time, or rules. Let’s apply that to you, now. What is something you’ve wanted to do but have been putting off? Right now, make a list of at least 10 items that you have been wanting to do.  Now separate this list into “able to do now,” (activities that you are solely in control of) and “can’t do right now” (activities that you may have to rely on other people in order to obtain, such as getting a raise or making a new friend). The activities that you “can’t do right now” should be limited to financial reasons, time off of work, or other issues that are unrelated to your lack of a partner. Remember, you are trying to find your Self, and sharing your activities with someone may not be conducive to that. Your “can’t do right now” list of activities may include extravagant vacations, which take more planning and money; however, keep that list as you may come into more money or a bit more vacation time at some point. Your “able to do now” list should be made up of the smaller activities you have been putting off, but still mean a lot to you. Now, make it your priority, regardless of your responsibilities to other people (you have a responsibility to your Self), to do at least one item on your list each week.

Now that you’ve done something for you, without regard for responsibilities, time, or rules, how does it feel? What was it like to make your own decision on an activity without the influence of your partner? What was it like to take that personal risk and maybe having it fail (for example you signed up for salsa lessons, and it turned out to not be fun)? What is it like to pursue your dream regardless of the success of your dream? How influenced are you in these choices? If a girl from your salsa class asks you to go for drinks instead, what does that mean? What does it feel like to have boundaries? Is it scary to go after these things that are driven by your Self versus the idea of a relationship. Let’s reflect on it. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? Would you do it again? Get to know your thoughts, and be comfortable with them. Understand them.

It is important to be able to be on your own; after all, at the end of the day, it’s always going to be you you’re going to sleep with at night. Are you happy with the way your day went? What did you need that maybe you didn’t get? How could you have gotten it? Did you feel forced to do something, or did you struggle to manage your needs with others’ needs? Stay true to your Self.

Once you have finished your first list, start a new one, and finish that one! Remember, these lists are supposed to help you find your inner Self that you may have lost. These lists do not care about social stigmas, time, or responsibilities. These lists care about making you happy and helping you to figure out who you are, without having to rely on other people for your happiness. You may also want to think back to the first exercise you did, which was to explore possible patterns of your past relationships. You can also reflect back on what your partner did for Self care that you could adapt for your Self.

You’ve been working on your activities and have been making strides toward bettering yourself, so how do you know when you can stop? The truth is, you should never stop working on your Self. You should always work to stay in touch with who you are and stay true to your Self, even with a partner. However, there are some questions you can ask yourself in order to measure your progress.

The first few days after a break-up are the hardest. You have so much empty time to fill that you used to spend thinking about that person, with that person, or for that person. After participating in some of these activities that you have listed for yourself, the energy will seem more directed. Instead of thinking about your partner all throughout your day, you have now started to think less and less about him/her. Your thoughts may only wander in the morning when you first wake up or at lunch, on your commute from work, or when you’re laying down for bed. Will these thoughts ever completely go away? Probably not, however, these thoughts will go from longing thoughts to memories. Instead of seeing the bench where you had your first kiss with your partner and longing for that moment over again, you will see the bench and think of what a great moment in your life it was. You will be able to appreciate the moment without necessarily missing it or needing it back.

When you were together, the two of you probably made plans together. When you first break-up, it is natural to continue to make plans in your head that include your partner. Habits such as these will dissipate as well.  Eventually, you should start to feel the void disappearing, and you will have the ability to fill it with positive activities and thoughts that do not include your partner but do promote your Self. The void of not having someone will start to fill. Instead of becoming sad or upset when you realize your partner won’t be there with you for certain plans, you will start to enjoy that you can go by yourself. In the distant future, you may even be excited to do these activities with someone else, whether that be a friend or a future romantic partner.

The guidelines that were just listed above are meant to be helpful in provoking thoughts to help you and make sure you are covering all of your bases. Do not be afraid to ask yourself more questions; this is just a starting point. Some of these questions may not be for everyone as you make the transition from being in a relationship to being single and finding your Self. Each person will take these steps at a different pace. It may be helpful to give yourself a timeline. If you think about the amount of time you spend thinking about your partner per day, try to lower that by an hour or two hours each week or two weeks. Tell yourself you will be excited to participate in activities without your partner by 3 months out of the relationship or 6 months out of the relationship. Take into consideration how long you were in the relationship, how intense of a relationship it was, and at what stage of the relationship did it end (were you together for 5 years but the last 2 years were going toward break-up, or were you together for 5 years and the last year you were looking at rings).  Do not make an unrealistic timeline for yourself. If you find that you are not fitting in with this guideline, it may be beneficial for you to check in with your friends and family or even see a therapist to work on getting through your break-up and finding your Self.

 

Negative Velcro Loop

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by Nitasha Strait Leave a comment

Most of us are looking to obtain a healthy and happy relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes we find ourselves stuck in what seems like an unhealthy, unhappy relationship with no insight as to how to fix it or what is even truly wrong. Understanding what a Negative Velcro Loop is and how it might be playing out in your relationship, can be helpful in understanding where you and your partner are stuck. It can also give insight as to where to go from here.

There are many labels for the role that you may take on in your relationship. You might find yourself being the Pursuer, which leaves you defensive. Or you may find yourself being the Distancer, which also leaves you defensive. It’s not what you label yourself that matters; it’s the process taking place that is important.

For your purposes the Negative Velcro Loop occurs within a system, which is the dynamic between you and your partner. The Loop creates a certain level of comfort. The comfort comes from the established routine, regardless of whether it is a healthy routine or not. This is when your relationship starts to go on autopilot; you stop being present or in the moment. You become disengaged or you’re not mindful of what is going on around you and how you’re experiencing it. You are simply going through the motions without feeling them.

Let’s look at how this autopilot may be present in a real life example. Jane spends a good amount of time with her girl friends, which has never bothered Joe. He also spends time with his boy friends. They each have specific nights that they hang out with their friends. Joe and Jane have gotten into a routine of talking about their nights away from each other, work, the children, and other “household items.” These conversations can be healthy for the relationship if you do them properly. However, Joe and Jane have gotten into an autopilot routine of talking about the data of these issues (what they did, who was there) and not their emotional reaction (how much fun it was, how they became angry, that they were nervous). Bringing one another up to speed on what happened leaves little to no room in their normal pattern of interaction to share a negative or positive experience they’ve had with one another. If Joe and Jane were able to share their experience and thus experience it for another time with one another, their encounter has the potential to bring them to a deeper level of connection.

Sometimes the autopilot routine that Joe and Jane have gotten themselves into can be good. For example, Joe doesn’t need to have an emotional experience that should be shared with Jane when he is brushing his teeth or passing the salt. Being able to do every day tasks on a surface, data based level is beneficial to getting these tasks completed. It is when your needs change within the Loop that you need awareness of what you are experiencing. If Joe had a horrible tooth ache and it was causing him pain while he brushed his teeth, he could share this with Jane. This allows her to care for him and show him how much she loves him.

Another example of the couple staying in autopilot may look like this. Joe has been feeling stressed at work and has been needing more from Jane. However, because they have not left room in their Loop to share experiences like this, Joe only holds his need on a subconscious level, leaving him to perceive Jane spending more time with her girlfriends than usual. Instead of Joe being in touch with his emotional experience and being able to work that part of him into his and Jane’s normal pattern of expression, he expresses his needs through asking for tangible favors from Jane such as picking up his dry cleaning or making his favorite meal. Jane, however, does not put these things at the top of her list, as she does not have the awareness that these tasks are his expression of his emotional needs. She continues to go out with friends and not pick up the dry cleaning or make Joe’s favorite meal. Joe is not getting his emotional needs met through the tasks, so he starts to ask more from Jane such as asking her to go out with him or watch a movie at home. Joe may even request more sex of Jane. Jane starts to feel overwhelmed by all of this attention from Joe as it is not their “norm” or within their comfortable autopilot routine. She starts to pull away and make plans with her girl friends before Joe gets the chance to make plans with her. Joe then starts to make more plans in hopes that Jane will reciprocate. Jane finds this to be annoying and that Joe is nagging her all the time, which makes her pull away further; thus Jane is withdrawing from Joe’s pursuing. Joe then becomes angry and yells at Jane for never spending time with him. Jane feels she spends plenty of time with Joe and states that he is annoying with all his nagging and begging to spend time together. Joe blames Jane for not trying in their relationship, and Jane blames Joe for smothering her.

In this example, we can see that there is a push and pull pattern. Joe wants more, which pushes Jane away, which then pushes Joe to want more. There are areas within this pattern that can be changed and reworked in order to change the pattern and the dynamics between Joe and Jane. The most important correction to make has to do with Joe and Jane’s vulnerability to express their experience(s) within their Negative Velcro Loop. Both Joe and Jane have to have self-actualization and mindfulness of what they need. This can bring them together in the moments of sharing and have the potential to be very intimate for both Joe and Jane.

Both Jane and Joe tend to blame or attack one another for their unhappiness. Blaming and attacking tend to put the other person on the defense. If each individual can get in touch with what is really going on for them and verbalize that to their partner, this emotional experience will trigger both Jane and Joe to be more receptive to one another. For example, Jane may have been spending the same amount of time she always has with her girl friends. However, due to Joe feeling stressed at work, he did not have the capacity for Jane to be putting her attention on anyone but him. The first way the Loop could have been changed is if Joe realized he needed Jane more due to work. He could have verbalized his vulnerability in that moment of needing Jane. Joe possibly even missed her due to the mundane routine they have found themselves in, where they do not get to connect on a deeper level. Instead of saying he needed her or missed her, he blamed her for not spending time with him.

The second place the Loop could have been stopped is if Jane had been in touch with this routine and been able to check in with Joe. She perceived herself as spending the same amount of time with her girl friends. Jane can check in with Joe asking questions like “I’ve noticed you needing more or wanting more. Our routine used to be good for both of us. Where are you at with it now?” This could have triggered Joe to then be more in touch with his own needs in that moment. Thus Jane gave him permission within the Loop to express what he is experiencing, leading the couple to converse about their needs on a deeper level and giving them that connection Joe may have been missing within the autopilot routine.

In order to break the Negative Velcro Loop each individual has to be vulnerable. They have to put their needs out there and hope that their partner is receptive to them. This process can be scary, which is why we as humans tend to blame others thus putting the “bad” on others and not ourselves.

Please continue to “Breaking the Negative Velcro Loop” for a more in-depth look at overcoming the Negative Velcro Loop.

Just Because I’m Having An Orgasm, Doesn’t Mean I’m Having Fun.

Posted on: June 26th, 2013 by Nitasha Strait Leave a comment

Are you one of those people that orgasm every time you get aroused, or almost every time? Have you ever shared a sexual experience with someone close to you then got the response, “well did you orgasm?” Then had the thought, “so what if I orgasm?” “Is that all there is to sex?” If you’re in the category (men and women) of those who can get off at the drop of a hat, you’re probably thinking this. So many of us are groomed to think that orgasm is the ultimate goal of sex. Why can’t the ultimate goal be just to have fun or to enjoy being with one another? Think about your last sexual experience, what did you like about it? Sure, reaching orgasm was probably enjoyable; but did you like the same monotonous position for the entire 10 minutes prior to the orgasm as well? Let’s spice up your sexual experience with or without the orgasm!
For some, our partners just don’t try that hard because they know they don’t have to. You orgasm every time or almost every time, regardless of what your partner or you really do. Despite the idea that you most likely are going to have an orgasm each time, doesn’t take away from the aspect of your partner(s) really putting in the time and effort to get you there. You want to get just as much enjoyment out of the experience as they are!
For others, our partners may be goal oriented (orgasm focused) and know the exact position it takes to get you there. Sure there are those occasional anniversaries, birthdays, and even holidays where you change things up; but for the most part you have a routine. You and your partner do the same positions for about the same amount of time until climax is reached, which for you comes fairly easily. The problem with this, though you’ve reached orgasm, is that it leaves you wanting more! More vavavoom, if you will. Maybe you want to bring fantasy play into it, maybe you just want to try that other position that you felt more connected to your partner, maybe you want to try something that brings you out of your comfort zone; whatever it is, you want more! Have you ever tried a different way and found you really liked it but maybe it took longer to orgasm or you didn’t actually orgasm from that position? If you didn’t give the proper cues (verbal and nonverbal) to your partner that “hey, I like this,” chances are they don’t do it very often.
Communication is key. The idea that you’re not having an orgasm from a particular activity whether it be physical touch or even talking or seeing something may still be enjoyable to you and can increase your sexual experience overall. How are you letting your partner know that “this feels good” or “oh, he looks sexy when he does that” despite the possibility that you won’t necessarily reach orgasm from it. Nonverbals are just as important as verbals. Arching your back or moaning can give your partner signs that you are enjoying what they are doing. Using actual words either during sex or after sex to say what positions or activities you enjoyed can also be helpful.
Exploration can also be useful in figuring out what you enjoy, even if it won’t bring you to orgasm, so that you may share this with your partner. How can you explore? Watch videos or read stories, do any of the activities in them excite you more than others? What have your friends told you that they enjoy? Is there something you’ve done before and liked it but it hasn’t come back into your sexual experiences lately?
Monotony can be your answer as well. What are those moves that you do every time? Does he touch you there; do you like it when she rubs there? Take those touches, that kissing, pinching, blowing… and spice it up! If you only kiss from the neck up, take it down south. If you touch softly, try it hard. Take what you know you like or what already works and add to it or change it slightly. This can be especially good if you’re somewhat timid about changing your sexual experiences. It will help you to ease into the change.

There is also the idea of taking the orgasm off the table. Talk with your partner and let them know that orgasm isn’t your ultimate goal for your next sexual experience. Instead, let them know that you want to feel them, hear them, look at them and you would like them to do the same. Explore one another’s bodies and cue yourselves into what feels good and maybe what doesn’t feel good. Making sure you try some of the same activities and maybe some new activities. This will not only increase your sexual intimacy, but also your emotional intimacy.

Increasing Mind-Body Awareness Through Touch: An exercise that can be done without a partner.

Posted on: May 1st, 2013 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

A little bit about the importance of Mind-Body Connection, and what the disconnect might look like for women: Touch is an important element in having good sex, primarily because sex is a physical act. While engaged in a sexual situation with a partner, there will be loads of touching going on. Knowing what types of touch turn you on, what types turn you off, what pressure you prefer, and your ideal pace will allow you to communicate to a partner when and where to touch you to ensure maximum pleasure. your partner can’t read your mind so its imperative that women know what types of touch evoke pleasure to be able to have the best sex possible. If you’re not very confident about communicating how you like to be touched in the bedroom, this Mind-Body Awareness Through Touch Article is for you.

 

Using touch is a valuable way for women to begin exploring their bodies in a sensual, pleasurable, and sexual manner. Touch is especially valuable for those women who have experienced difficulty connecting the physical sensations they feel during sex with an emotional feeling about their bodies. Many women who struggle with achieving orgasm or low sexual desire often report they feel disconnected from their bodies. This Mind-Body exercise is designed to help women increase the connection between mind and body.

 

Prepping for the Mind-Body Exercise:  The time required for this exercise is 30 uninterrupted minutes of private time. For the setting, you should be alone in a room that is comfortable and safe (meaning no one will walk in on you). Ideally, but not necessary, have a large mirror to increase the ways in which you can get feedback. Make the room as quiet as possible, the temperature comfortable and the light bright enough to see clearly but dim enough to stay within your comfort zone.  Wear simple clothes that will allow you easy access to your body, specifically your arms, legs, and stomach since these are usually non-threatening areas on the body to touch. To make access to these areas easier, less is more.  We recommend wearing underwear and a loose nightgown, or being nude.

 

The primary types of touch used to increase the connection between mind and body are:

1)    Alight feathery touch
2)    A moderate pressured rubbing or patting touch
3)    A heavy pressured kneading touch
4)    An itchy scratchy touch

 

To learn each touch, take your dominant hand and use about 5 strokes of each type of touch up and down your bare non-dominant arm, then switch.

 

Light and Feathery: This touch involves taking the tips of your fingers and ever so gently grazing the skin on your arm. There is minimal pressure and this type of touch might even feel like tickling for some. As you stoke your arm, notice that the very tips of your fingers or just barely the palm of your hand will glide over your arm, barely making contact. This is the lightest pressure touch. This touch allows you to access sensitivity and subtlety.  The light pressure of this touch may be faint and hard to notice at first. using this type of touch in the exercise will help you connect with even the smallest changes in your physical environment and start training your mind to be open to connections that can be made between these faint sensations and pleasure.

 

Medium Pressure: This touch is essentially the kind of touch you use when you apply a light moisturizer or lotion. The pressure is mild to moderate. When using this touch on your arm, you will notice that your hand will be slightly cupped and will make complete connection with your arm.  However, the pressure stops there.  This touch will probably be the most comfortable and familiar touch of the 4. This type of touch will help you access comfort and make a connection between normal everyday sensations and pleasure. Using this touch in the exercise will help you develop a mind body connection in regards with the things you already know you like. Exploring the new sensations you get from touch you use most often will help will help facilitate communication with a partner since you already have an understanding of what it feels like, you can then better explain what, why, and how it makes you feel pleasure.

 

Heavy Kneading Touch: This is the heaviest pressured of the touches and involves the fingertips and whole hand. To use this touch, cup your hand, apply it to your arm, and squeeze or knead your fingertips and the heel of your palm into your arm as you move your hand in a semi-circular motion up and down your arm. This type of touch usually reminds most people of a massage since the pressure is deep. This type of touch is used to help you access power and safety. You will be exploring how to use intense pressure on yourself or a partner and that may trigger some connections between touch, power, safety, and you personal limits of what and how you prefer to be touched. Learning to use the touch will also teach responsibility for listening accurately and communicating accurately what limits exist in the bedroom. Maybe this type of touch is on your forearms or legs, but not on your breasts. Maybe you like to use the dominating touch to massage a partner, but are not comfortable having this touch used on you because you fear a loss of control. A simple moan won’t fully communicate that. As you use this touch keep your mind open to the pros and cons of the intense pressure, your safety and control needs, and the areas on your body where this would be preferred (tense shoulder muscles maybe) or off limits (on your next close to your throat).

 

Itchy-Scratchy Touch: This touch involves mild pressure and uses your fingertips and nails.  To experiment pretend you have an itch on your arm. Place your fingertips and nails on your arm and begin to scratch. You can expand this touch by lightening the pressure and scratching gently along your entire arm, rather than a focused spot. Be careful to use gentle to mild pressure so you don’t break skin. This type of touch allows you to access variety and playfulness. Using an itchy-scratchy touch will help you learn how your body reacts to unexpected sensations. Practicing this touch will help you learn to be spontaneous and increase your comfort with switching things up alone or with a partner. Interlacing playfulness with pleasure will allow you to gain access to memories you have stored about fun times you have spent with your partner in the past and learn new ways to recreate them in the present.

 

Note:  All four touches can be modified for personal preference by changing pressure, location, and/or speed. This means that a light feathery touch that moves very slowly up your arm may feel uncomfortable for some, but speeding up the touch to have it move quickly up and down your arm may feel good. When experimenting with the four types of touch try each one with very slow speed to start, the increase to medium speed, and lastly fast speed. Also keep in mind that every individual will have a different reaction to each touch. Not everyone will enjoy all the touches; depending upon the order of touch or even mood, a person’s likes and dislikes may even change day to day. Additionally some types of touch may feel uncomfortable for you, or you might trigger an unpleasant memory you have stored. Touch triggering memories is especially common for survivors of trauma (sexual, physical, or emotional). If you find yourself having a strong reaction, take the exercise very slowly and with a grain of salt. If you feel like your reactions don’t match with the described feelings you could access, don’t judge yourself. Just listen to your body and record what feelings you do have. If you get stuck somewhere or notice a block with some of the touches, try discussing these issues with a therapist trained in sex therapy and working with trauma who will help you connect with the deeper emotional content the exercise is pushing you to access.

 

The Mind-Body Exercise: To start, stand or sit comfortably in front of the mirror and take a few minutes to look over your body while taking deep relaxing breaths. Remind yourself that you are safe and that there is no pressure to feel anything in particular.  You are just here to learn about what your body prefers. When you feel ready; start with your dominant hand touching your bare non-dominant arm. Start with a light-feathery touch, and begin varying the speed. You can then change to an itchy-scratchy kind of touch, again varying speed and range of location from small to large. Next, add some lotion to your hand or arm and begin using the medium pressure touch with varying speeds; then finishing up with the heavy pressured kneading touch. Now cycle back through each type of touch but switch up the order: try starting with medium pressure, moving to light, then heavy, then itchy or whatever combination you choose. Repeat this cycle on your other arm, one leg at a time, and then your stomach. When touching your legs and stomach you can experiment with switching from your dominant to non-dominant hand or using both hands at the same time. Remember to keep varying the speed for each type of touch. Be careful with scratching on sensitive areas of your body and use a mild pressure to avoid breaking skin.

 

While engaged in this exercise, you will be getting a lot of data from your mind and body. If you have a mirror you can use it for feedback. Look into your eyes in the mirror or close them and follow along the different body parts in your mind to explore how they reflect any feelings such as: pleasure, happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, anxiety, shyness, or tension. Pay attention to your posture.  Do you inadvertently curve your body towards or away from any particular touch? If you have the mirror notice if you see yourself touching at a faster or slower pace than you pictured in your mind? Can you see what type of pressure you are using? Look at your body parts while you are touching yourself.  Focus your attention on your arms, legs, and stomach. Notice your facial responses. Are you smiling, grimacing, wincing, laughing, or have a straight face? What feelings story would your face be telling someone else? Looking at how your body reacts to each touch is very useful for women who often imagine that being touched by a partner or touching themselves will feel uncomfortable since you will be able to see exactly how your body reacts to each touch. Your goal with this exercise is to become mindful of how your mind and body reacts to different touches in a physical and emotional manner. The data you get from watching yourself touch the different body parts, or using the mirror for feedback, will help you interpret the sensations you are feeling, thus strengthening the mind-body connection.

 

Once you have explored all four touches on your arms, legs, and stomach, and have used the mirror to provide feedback about your body’s reactions; take some time to reflect on how doing the exercise made you feel. Using a journal or notebook to record answers to the following questions can help enhance your understanding so you can communicate with a partner.

 

  • What touch was your favorite and least favorite?
  • Did you prefer the speed to be fast, medium, or slow?
  • Did any touch make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Did any evoke a happy or pleasurable memory?
  • Or a sad, anxious, or frustrating memory?
  • Did you judge or criticize your body at any time in the exercise?
  • What thoughts did you have during this exercise: about your body, your sexuality, your partner, or your wants and needs?
  • Was there any pressure or expectation to feel a certain way?
  • Can you communicate to a partner what you liked about the exercise?
  • What might be difficult to share?
  • Did any touch make you feel embarrassed or shy?
  • What old belief is connected to the embarrassment or shyness?
  • What early messages did you learn about your body?
  • What were you taught about pleasure?
  • What do you wish you were taught?
  • How do you feel about women who touch themselves?
  • How did it make you feel to touch yourself?
  • Can you imagine yourself touching other areas of your body not included in this exercise: i.e. breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, face, genitals, etc… ?
  • What do you need to feel more comfortable and relaxed to do this exercise again?

 

After reflecting on the provided questions, you can add your own thoughts and feelings in a journal entry. You may have some new insights you want to share with a partner. Or if you are not currently attached, you may make notes for things to try again solo. Your next steps will be to explore how you can strengthen a mind body connection to your other senses and learn what types of sensations increase your pleasure. You may also want to take some time to keep exploring where you get stuck. What is the emotional trigger? Where do you disconnect? Answering these types of questions may be difficult and scary. If you’re embarking on a journey to learn more about your physical and emotional preferences for pleasure, talking with a sex therapist will be extremely helpful. Contact us at The Center For Growth to schedule a session.

Sexlosteem: How Women Can Overcome

Posted on: February 26th, 2013 by Christian Dozier Leave a comment

 Sexlosteem: How Women Can Overcome

 If you are ready to take the next step to combat your fears, negative thoughts, and increase your intimacy with your partner start here. This tip is designed to help the women that are struggling with Sexlosteem during intimate moments with their partner.

As discussed previously, Sexlosteem is the manner in which you become self-conscious of your body during intimate and sexual experiences with your partner. This can lead to moments of distance when interacting with your partner causing increased distance due to your feelings of insecurity about your body, losing yourself in pleasing your partner, and/or having your needs lost in the process. These factors make it impossible for you to be tapped in to your likes, dislikes, desires, needs, and feelings during these moments.

The problem that the lack of presence has on your partner may not be noticeable or understood by you. As discussed before in Sexlosteem, how you evaluate yourself effects how your partner responds to you. If your view is negative, your sex life as well as intimate moments are in danger. You and your partner may have created a pattern that justifies your Sexlosteem without either of you knowing it. Your partner may overcompensate by making adjustments during intimate moments which may make you feel better, but can become daunting for your partner overtime (see tip on Sexlosteem: What it Looks Like Overtime). This tip will allow you to discover, challenge, observe, and tackle your Sexlosteem.

Discovering the beginning:

Evaluate the thoughts that arise about your self-image. What do you think about yourself? What evidence do you have to support this belief? What about these thoughts make you feel bad about yourself? Can you recall the first time these thoughts came to mind? What was the circumstance? Who was around? What did you feel at that moment? For instance, Marsha, a twenty-nine year old mother of one, recalled one of her earliest memories of feeling insecure.

Up until two years ago, I remember taking extra time to prep myself in the mornings before I left home in order to put on my make-up, fitted jeans, and shoes/boots. I made sure to have been well put together before I stepped out in the world. I also exercised at least three days a week to keep my athletic figure. I received compliments on my appearance and physique on a daily basis. When I went to work, I gave it my best and it paid off because I was able to get promoted from merit. I felt unstoppable, powerful, and sexy. I had my choice in suitors and was able to choose the coolest, cutest, and sexiest guy out of the bunch. About three years ago, I settled down and became pregnant with my first child. I was excited and happy to start this next phase. I was doing well at work, I had a wonderful boyfriend and relationship, and I was ready to have a baby. I expected to have an easy pregnancy which went along with losing the baby weight easily after birth. I also expected my relationship to be enhanced with my boyfriend. To my surprise, after the pregnancy, I didn’t expect to gain 30 pounds. I could not exercise as I did before due to my demanding job and fatigue after taking care of my son. When I did have the extra energy and glimmers of time to spare, I chose to spend that time with my son and caring for him the best way possible. My priorities shifted and my son became the most important person in my life. He came first in front of exercising, spending time with his father, work, consistently hanging out with friends, and so on. As a result of this shift, I neglected my self-care and came to a crashing halt when I looked in the mirror and found myself to be a frumpy, unattractive, non-sexy woman that I thought I would never become. I didn’t even feel like the same person inside. I didn’t want my boyfriend to touch me in certain places because it reminded me that I was not as fit as I used to be and that he may take notice and find me appalling. Sex was different. I lost desire after time. My boyfriend at the time was very much in our son’s life, but he become distant toward me over time and I just assumed it was because he didn’t find me attractive anymore. This is what I feared most. This made me feel worse and made way for me to become harsh to myself…in my mind. I started believing that I was not good enough, I didn’t deserve his affections because I let myself go, and that he was right to become distant. I just wanted to find a whole to crawl in, hibernate, and emerge as my old self.

Marsha, like many others, had become self-conscious of her body after gaining weight. Many times societal pressures make you believe that you have to look, dress, behave, and achieve above and beyond measures to fit into the perfect standard. For moms, if you don’t own your own company, take care of your children, clean your house, tend to your husband, remain in great shape, and look fabulous in every waking moment, then you are not super mom! For women without children or older children if you are not successful, or don’t own a house or car, have a romantic boyfriend/husband, and in great shape…you are lacking. Have you ever thought, “If she can do all of that, why can’t I?”

When you began doubting yourself and believing that you don’t measure up, you may start to compare yourself with your nemesis, family members, celebrities/models, your partner’s ex, and sex symbols to prove your point. Thoughts that arise from your negative evaluations of yourself will lead to a behavioral change toward your partner.

For instance, let’s look at Marsha’s case to express this point. After Marsha gave birth, her hormones made her mood fluctuate; her senses had become over stimulated by her child leading to an avoidance of touch by her boyfriend; she became less affectionate due to the lack of sleep, exercise, spit-up soaked clothes, and not feeling sexy.

During this transition, her boyfriend attempted to become affectionate as well as initiated sex which was met with, “I’m tired”, “I have a headache”, “Not now”, “I have so much stuff to do I don’t have time for that”, “Can you take care of ___ so I can take a bath?”, “Umm…I am just not in the mood”.

Marsha also expressed distance by shrugging him off when he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, squirmed when he touched her midriff, legs, hips, or breast. Her feelings of being over-stimulated and fatigue and thoughts that she was out of shape and not sexy made her create distance toward her boyfriend therefore altering his experience of her.

After some time, Marsha’s boyfriend felt the distance, which was a result of her internalized experience, and became distant as well to further avoid being rejected. After a while what tends to happen is that Marsha will long for her partner’s affections and have an increase of desire for touch but will be met with resistance from her partner due to the failed attempts he encountered and distance set between them.

Unlike Marsha, there are other women who may experience Sexlosteem due to negative attitudes about sex stemming from parents, religion, social stigmas, and victimization. These experiences force an internalization of negativity about sex and make it challenging to completely enjoy it. Whichever your experience, try to overcome it by taking these steps first:

Challenging your beliefs:

As a new mother:

Experiencing motherhood is a wonderful gift. Think about what your expectations were before you were pregnant. How did you think your body would have responded? How did you think you and your partner would relate? How did you believe your life would be different? Some of your expectations may not have measured up…heck, perhaps all of them didn’t. Being a new mom suggests a negotiation of your self-esteem and child rearing.

This takes practice because guilty feelings may arise when you put yourself first at any point in time while caring for your newborn/infant baby. Discover how much attention, affection, care, and being a nurturer your child needs in order for you to negotiate your own need to nurture.

Remember, when you take care of yourself you are giving your child the best of you. Perhaps it will be helpful to devise as schedule that plans your day to include all of your child’s needs and your self-care maintenance. It will also be advised to work out a schedule with your partner to incorporate date night every week, every other week, or every month to ensure your intimacy and connection. Then follow the next tip.

As a non-mother; or mother with older children:

Challenge yourself to look in the mirror and reevaluate what you see. As you stare at your reflection, notice what you like about your body. Now take notice to what you don’t like. Why don’t you like those areas? Are you judging them against a picture or other image you saw? Are you healthy? By this, are you able to lift objects and feel physically strong? What makes you feel sexy? For some women appearance is not the only evaluation of feeling sexy.

Being and feeling sexy for some woman can come after a success, achievement, or power has been established. As you are reevaluating, challenge the pressures that were shed the misconceptions about what you think you should look like so that you can embrace your unique and wonderful body that stands before you.

Just remember, your partner chose you and all of your glory if you don’t trust yourself at least trust them. Trust yourself to let go of the worries and embrace the moment so that you can be present with your partner and experience an enlightened experience.

Dress sexy every day and get rid of the clothes that make you feel frumpy, unattractive, and hidden. Take that same attitude around the house around your partner. Dress sexy outfits to accentuate favored body parts and taunt your partner by walking around the house and throwing flirty glances their way. They will love your confidence, because after all confidence is sexalicious!

If you experience unknown pressures of society, religion, and parents:

If you like the way you look and have a hard time connecting to your sexual experiences due to feelings of judgment, challenge what sex means to you and what type of negative feelings you have toward it. What type of messages did you inquire about sex? Are there certain sexual acts that make you feel “dirty”, “bad”, like a “sinner”?

Test those thoughts by inquiring data to dispel inaccurate information. Have a ladies night in with the hot topic of “Sex…the good the bad and the bad (thoughts)”. You could also read books about intimacy, sex, and experiences to form your own opinion. It might also be fun to incorporate a racy book like “50 Shades of Grey” to discuss as a girls night in.

During the conversation, you can ask exploration questions to test the beliefs of others and compare it with yours. It will be helpful to you to challenge the guilt with what you want to feel and experience without the weight of the guilt.

Be open to change your beliefs about sex by discussing your fears, vulnerabilities and wants with a therapist and your partner. A therapist can help you overcome your negative thoughts and give you tools to have a successful and satisfying sex life. Allowing your partner to be aware of your thoughts about sex can open up a door of vulnerability that will allow you to become closer to your partner. You can also follow next two steps.

Observe in context:

For mothers:

As mentioned above, you have to acknowledge your lifestyle transition in order to allocate time for you and your partner. Then follow steps below.

For all women:

Take notice of non-verbal messages from your partner. If when they kiss or hold you close and roam your body, notice where their hands end up (over your hips, legs, thighs, breasts, arms, buttocks, neck, hair, toes, etc.) because these may just be the parts that they find most sexy about you.

When in the bedroom, allow your partner to roam your goddess temple without you moving their hands or repositioning your body to take the focus from those areas. After doing so, start to realize how you feel during the moment of touch and play such as how good it feels when they touch you there, or the simple bodily pleasures his/her touch and movements are evoking within you.

Allow your partner to know how well they are doing by giving a moan, whispering how much you like when they touch you in the different areas and intensities, and simply verbalize your likes and dislikes. Yes this will allow you to be vulnerable, but keep in mind as your vulnerabilities are expressed, your fears subside, your needs are likely to get met, and your intimacy increases.

Lastly, take deep breaths and listen to your exhale as well as theirs so that you can relax your mind, which will relax your body, and allow you to reconnect with your partner with no reservations. Concentrating on your senses rather than your negative thoughts and this will enhance your experience.

Positive Talk:

Concentrating on your thoughts during sex can be redirected by concentrating on your responses to your partner’s interaction as mentioned above. Daily negative thoughts about yourself may be easy and automatic which makes positive self-talk challenging. Redirect negative thoughts to more positive productive thoughts by developing positive mantras such as, “I am fabulous”, “I feel good about who I am”, “I am worthy of love”, “I am confident and strong”, I am worthy of being treated well”, “I love myself”, “I am happy, and I will embrace it”, I am unique”, or come up with your own.

Pick mantras that are unique to you. Take time to say your mantras in the morning when you wake up so that you can take the positivity with you for the rest of the day. Say it loud and believe the message. Post them up on your dresser mirror, top of bed post, night stand, bathroom mirror, or any place that is visible for you to read when you are home.

If you live with someone and will be embarrassed to have your positive messages posted, you can also use a charm, piece of jewelry, hair accessory, heirloom, etc to remind you during the day of your message to yourself. Envision how you will feel with improved self confidence and how your partner will respond to you. Start to feel your confidence increase by combining all steps in your daily life.

These steps are the first in helping you become more aware of your negative evaluations of yourself. Be kind and gentle to yourself and evoke the warrior within to enhance the way your partner responds to you which in turn will enhance your satisfaction.

 

 

Sexlosteem: Stagnater

Posted on: February 8th, 2013 by Christian Dozier Leave a comment

Sexlosteem Stagnater: Stagnation in the bedroom is a matter of lacking the ability to grow and develop a more enhanced experience due to an oblivious sense of self and partner.  Being a stagnater does not mean idiocy just an inability to improve due to lack of awareness.  This can be avoided by being more attentive to your partner as well as gaining a better sense of both of your vulnerabilities and needs during your intimate moments.

Have you ever experienced doing the same sexual routine over and over?  Do you feel that your routine is effective enough that it does not need to be altered?  Have you seen that your partner does not respond to you the same way in the bedroom?  Are you not able to pay attention to the nuances of your partners verbal and non-verbal cues in the bedroom?  Are you ready for a revamping and a change?  If so my stagnater friend, keep reading…

 

START HERE (Sexlosteem Stagnater):

Having Sexlosteem may not be a stagnaters concern in the bedroom.  They are skilled enough to get the job done and will have limited complaints about their performance…in the beginning.  They very well may enjoy the ride as well.  If you fit this mold, you may want to pat yourself on the back…but before you do that, consider reevaluating your experience overtime and think about where those darn sparks went.  Read the next set of statements and see if you can relate:

 

  • I don’t ever get complaints.
  • I have time at this moment to initiate but in fifteen minutes I have to be done.
  • Our sexual routine works; there is no need to change it.
  • As long as we are having sex regularly, how we initiate is not important.
  • I don’t have to think about what I or my partner likes because I already know.
  • We are having good sex so there is no need to put additional energy into thinking about it.
  • We have a sex pattern that we always fall in to.
  • Sex…orgasm…that’s it.
  • Great sex is all about performance.
  • I change positions often and my partner is always accommodating..
  • I don’t need to stop and think about my feelings, what is there to think about!
  • My partner enjoys it and I get pleasure out of it, that’s good enough for me.

 

The sparks may have left from you not being aware of your partner’s needs and connecting to them on a more intimate level.  After reading these statements, if you identified with any of them, you may be considered a stagnater.  If you are not sure if you can identify or not, the true test of identifying yourself as a stagnater is your reaction to reading the statements.  Did you find yourself not having a reaction at all?  By that I mean, when you read the statements you didn’t have a rise in negative or positive emotions or put any energy toward it because the statements just didn’t speak to you.  If this was your reaction, than this issue may not apply to you.

 

Are you a Stagnater?

If for chance you became defensive, started justifying, or denying some of the previous statements, you might want to consider being a part of the stagnater club and reading further.  The energy you released in your reaction might be the result of your denied self seeping through.  To get a better understanding of the denied self click here: denied self.

 

Characteristics of a Stagnater

First, a stagnater can be either male or female at any age.  A stagnater’s focus primarily lies in the performance, that they think works for them and their partner, rather than the nuances between the act and experience.  What the heck do I mean by that??  For starters, when you are a stagnater you become so complacent in your routine, regardless of the effectiveness, that you might miss your partner’s verbal and non-verbal cues that will give you clues as to what works or not currently and overtime; hence the nuances that help you improve your technique and intimate connection overtime.

 

What happens when you ignore those clueless cues?

Negating these cues can lead to an experience that is depriving and awkward overtime.  For instance, what you do in your intimate moments at age 28 has a different appearance at age 58 due to physical and sexual changes of the body overtime.  So what you thought made you feel like “the man/woman” from your original sexual routine may not be as effective with your partner after years of the same routine.  Not only will the routine become stale, but your partner’s body may not respond the same with lubrication or limber capability as it once did.

 

You have the ability to become aware of you and your partner’s vulnerabilities, likes, abilities, and desires throughout your sexual experiences…if you take the time to actually focus in.  By focusing in you gain the ability to grow and please your partner in the long term.

 

For instance, you and your partner have great sex for five years.  One day your partner comes to you and states, “I want more.  I want to feel a spark.  I want you to do the things I like.  I want to feel passion”.  But wait, you are confused because up until now you hadn’t realized that there was a problem.  However, in your partner’s eyes, in this case, they could set off fireworks, light a rocket, and start a fire in the bedroom all at the same time during sex and you wouldn’t even notice the chaos because you are not in tune with your partner’s cues and signals.  Opening your awareness of your partner’s cues will allow you to overcome your developed plateau.  This will take effort on your part by listening to your partner and creating a physical, emotional, and sensual awareness that will result in growth and a more enhanced experience between you and your partner.

 

Extreme scenario of what stagnation looks like

A couple attended therapy and was asked, “What is it that your partner likes you to do in the bedroom?”.  One partner said a few things and the other partner stated, “Well everything”.  At an extreme case, the stagnater may reply by staring blankly, not able to recall or even have the knowledge of the answer.  This often happens when a person is not tapped into their senses when engaging in sexual activities.  For instance, Donna recalls an intimate moment with her boyfriend Jeff:

Jeff and I always have the same experience when we engage in foreplay.  He sucks my breast too hard, I jolted, he continues, I physically move my body so that we are face-to-face, and then we have great sex.  It was not until therapy that we discussed that routine and discomfort.  He said that he did not realize that I jolted or even felt discomfort from the sucking.

Sometimes it is hard for the partner of a stagnater to express their discomfort and perceived staleness in the bedroom to protect their partner from hurt feelings and crushed pride.  As seen in this example it was also difficult for the stagnater, Jeff, to become aware of his girlfriend’s discomfort by not being aware of her cues (jolting, physically moving).

If the couple eventually enjoyed themselves, what is the problem you might ask.  From the outside looking in, it does not appear to be an issue especially if both partners have a happy ending; however, it becomes and issue of boredom, loss of connectedness to partner, and a staleness with intimacy overtime.  The partner of the stagnater may become fed up with their partner’s inability to recognize that they are sucking on their breast too hard; not sucking the penis hard enough; or not realizing that thrusting at a certain angle results in bruising their insides.

 

Ignoring yourself

As if ignoring your partner was grounds for an intervention, so is ignoring yourself.  You may not be aware of experiencing a heightened level of intimacy because you are stuck in your own comfort and  unwilling to acknowledge the presence of the underlying feelings, needs, moods, connection and awareness of self.  Without experiencing the physical, visual, behavioral and emotional awareness to self, how can you experience it with your partner?

Practice awareness by opening your senses to awaken your feelings, thoughts, and sensations that align with your intimate behaviors.  For example, ask yourself, “What do I feel when my partner touches me here?”, “I like it when they do…but would like it more if they were to do…?”, “I just felt a shiver, does that mean; do I like what they are doing or not?”; think about the smells in the room and from your partner that are intriguing to you,  the sounds your partner likes that turns you on, the sight of your partner’s body movements that are sexy and drives you crazy, and so on.

 

So I’m a Stagnater, what the heck do I do next…

Although you may not suffer from Sexlosteem, you may want to enhance your sexual experience.  This will take an increased amount of energy and participation in thinking and exploring.  If you are ready to increase your experience, the Six Sense Strategy below is particularly helpful for stagnaters.  First step is to identify which of the five senses your partner likes and you can use the skills below to shift and enhance it in the bedroom.

 

 

Six Sense Sex Strategy

Overcoming Stagnation

Visual

The cliché that “men are visual creatures” has some truth in it but consider the possibility of woman being visually stimulated creatures too as well as the consideration that some men not at all.  But have you ever stopped to think about what you actually find visually stimulating?  There is not one way that visual stimulation occurs.  Each person has their own definition of what is visually stimulating for them if they are visual creatures.  Here are some visual stimulants:

 

Clothing

If you saw your partner in drab attire including wearing sweats, holes in their pants/socks/undies, granny panties or droopy boxers, or in a snuggy are you likely to be turned or or not?  Or would it matter to you? Some men appreciate watching their woman dress in lingerie and walk seductively toward them; others like to see their woman with his button up shirt on and thongs underneath; others may prefer an over sized sweatshirt with nothing underneath.

 

On the other hand, some women who are visual appreciate their mate being neat with clean under garments on.  Others like seeing their men in costume in gear for a role play.  Lastly, some like to see their partner in just an army boot or utility belt in the nude.

Body Type and Physical Features

Perhaps you are turned on by your partner’s mere body type.  For instance, you are turned on by their robust, svelte, average weight.  Maybe their height does something for you.  Are there features that tickle your fancy?  Some people are stimulated by the shape of lips, ears, nose, toes, breasts, booty, thighs, calfs, legs, biceps, stomach, color of skin, etc.  Is this something that gets you stimulated?

Media

Would you be visually stimulated by an image that your mate sent you through text?  Does looking at suggestive magazines, watching pornography, or making your own sex video stimulate you (note: to the extent that it does not impair your sexual function in the absence of using these media outlets)?

 

 Mirror Images

Do you enjoy seeing you and your partner getting it on?  Some people find this stimulating and become more aroused watching themselves; some watching their partners facial reactions to the experience.

 

Now that you have some idea of what can be visually stimulating, experiment with your partner by paying attention to their attempts to turn you on by using visual stimulants.  Do you notice that sexy lingerie that they put on just for you?  Have you noticed the physical position that landed you both in front of your reflection?  If your partner is no longer attempting to visually stimulate you, it may be in part to your rejection of their advances by you not paying attention to it.  Let them know it is okay to try again by nudging them with a new piece of lingerie, boxers/briefs, etc.

 

After identifying you and your partners visual stimulants, decide how you can incorporate it into your intimate moments.  This can be done as foreplay or during your intimate moments where you slow down and appreciate these visual stimulants by embracing the thoughts and feelings you have during this step.

 

Smell

In our primal stages of development as humans, our pheromones used to be our guide to picking our mate.  Since then, we have adapted to using perfumes, deodorants, scented lotions, and hair products that stimulate our senses.  Have you ever thought about the smells that put you in a good mood, relaxes you, or stimulates you?  Identify the scents that you like on your partner that puts you in an enhanced mood before, during, and scent memories after sexual intercourse.  Scent memories are memories that are tied to scents.  Do you ever recall remembering a lover because of the scent they wore?  If so, it is like that.  Some scent memories may include, but are not limited to, sweat, perfume, scented candles, oils, hair products, cologne, lotions, etc.

 

When thinking about smell, it is also important to notice what is a turn off.  For example, some people tend to like engaging in sexual intercourse or intimate cuddling in the morning.  This can be detrimental if one or both partners have smelly breath or a pungent body odor.  Also, if after a long day at work you initiate sex not thinking about your putrid body odor, this may pose a problem for your partner.  Remember, this is about enhancing the experience for you AND your partner.

 

When identified, try including this in your intimate moments with your partner and become aware of how it enhances your experience.  If your partner likes it when you smell clean, initiate taking a shower together before you introduce sex.  You might also want to wear that special cologne/perfume/oil that just drives your partner to ecstasy, and so on.

 

Taste

Foreplay and Food

So you may wonder what taste has to do with all of this.  Well, taste can also enhance your experience during moments of intimacy.  Have you ever heard of aphrodisiac foods?  These are foods that are supposed to increase sexual desire.  For example, oysters have been said to stimulate this desire due to its shape which is similar to the female vagina.  Can you identify foods that put you in the mood or make you desire sex?  For some, substances like chocolate, asparagus, bananas, figs, and avocado may do the trick.  Some of these choices may have a physiological effect that increases blood flow to the genitals, while others have a psychoactive effect due to the mere suggestion of their phallic shapes.

 

Body and Taste

Some people may not a connection to food in this way, and in those cases there are other methods of identifying what you like to taste during intimate moments.  For instance, the taste of sweat from your partner’s body, the minty taste in your partner’s mouth after they cleaned their breath, or the soap residue left from their shower may be some of the appealing things that do it for you.

 

Now consider the taboo topic of taste…genitals.  Do you like the way your partner tastes?  Does your partner like the way you taste?  If you or your partner can answer no, you might want to experiment with your diet.  For instance, some foods may contribute to your non-tantalizing come or vagina smell.  Acidic vegetables (e.g. some greens, asparagus, tomatoes) can produce a foul odor whereas some fruits can enhance the smell and taste of your genitals such as pineapple for example.  Switching up your diet can also effect your taste when you sweat as well. The idea here is to experiment to see what works better with your body and getting feedback from your partner.

 

Whatever your preference, try to identify your taste interest and incorporate it during your intimate moments.  For example, eating oysters first to set the mood; using syrup, chocolate, whipped cream on your partner’s most tantalizing body parts; sharing a shower/bath with your partner…you get the idea.

 

Touch

Understanding your comfort zone: Giver/Receiver

Are you more comfortable being the giver or receiver?  Start to pay attention to your response as your partner strokes your body, gives you massages, or embraces you.  Do you feel uncomfortable accepting pleasure because it brings up feelings of guilt? Or do you find yourself always in the giver mode because you fear you may be rejected  if you ask for what you want?  These questions will only be answered when you gain awareness of your pattern.

 

Assessing Vulnerabilities

Another thing to consider are you and your partner’s vulnerabilities in the bedroom.  As humans, we develop a coping style to protect ourselves from being hurt, rejected, criticized, or anything else that invokes fear in us.  Being intimate with your partner is no exception.  With this in mind, creating a safe place in the bedroom will allow you and your partner to feel safe enough to experiment and grow.  For instance, your partner may feel too vulnerable to ask for what they want and how they want it; they may be self-conscious of their body; they may feel too submissive to try domineering techniques; or perhaps they feel that they don’t want to feel pleasure because they are afraid of looking animalistic when they express enjoyment.

 

Allowing Vulnerability

It is important for you to be aware of and accept you and your partner’s vulnerabilities in order to create a safe space to become vulnerable and grow intimately.  I suggest using a touch exercise that incorporates verbal feedback to encourage a safe space in the bedroom:

 

1. Touch exercise: Conduct this exercise with your partner without the pressure and expectation of sexual intercourse.  Do a full body massage using your hands, lips, and tongue.  You can either start from the feet up to the crown or vice versa.  Avoid the genital areas.  Spend about 3 minutes on a particular body part.  Use different techniques and intensities.  Allow your partner to respond to the touch by asking, “Which feels better, A or B”.  After you get the answer, ask your partner why it felt better to increase your awareness of what they like to do in future intimate moments.  Practice being the giver and receiver.  Then answer these questions:

  1. Am I aware of how my partner likes to be touched?
  2. Was I able to accept my partner’s critiques and modify them to please my partner?
  3. Am I more aware of how I like to be touched?
  4. Was I connected to the experience by allowing myself to feel vulnerable?
  5. Can I duplicate this during our moments of intimacy?

For more exercises about touch click: Sensate Focus.

 

2. Verbal exercise: while engaging in sexual activity:

  1. Be specific and tell them how what they are doing is making you feel
  2. Be honest by letting your partner know if something is unsatisfying
  3. Ask your partner for feedback and learn from it

 

When you become aware of these interactions, you will begin to notice how the power shift allows your partner to express their sensuality and how you respond to it.  You will also be able to use touch to make your partner feel connected to you and allow yourself to be vulnerable in the process and motivated to change your techniques to enhance you and your partners experience.

 

Sound

Are you aware of the sounds that turn your desire a notch up?  Some people like to hear music as a means to put them in the mood to engage in intimate moments.  For example, having soft music playing in the background, love songs, or jazz will set the stage of relaxation.  This can reduce tension and anxiety around sexual intimacy which can allow each partner to become more involved in the experience itself rather than the performance of it.  Here are some examples of how sound is used in the bedroom:

 

Talk

Verbal sounds during sexual intercourse can be a turn-on for some people.  For example, hearing your partner whisper that they “like it”, or hearing them talk dirty or sweet while engaging in sex can “drive you crazy” with pleasure.  If these things are not interesting to you, you can try character voices or sounds depicting that character.  How about a story telling session where your partner is setting a scene and you are playing it out as you both go along?

 

Bedroom Noise

Some people prefer less talking and more moans or other bedroom noises.  Consider the sound of the bed rocking against the wall or the creeks of the wooded floor.  How about the sounds of your bodies as they clash together.

 

Other Noises

Does the sound of people in the other room; next door; downstairs make your experience more exciting?  Do you have the urge to crank up your sounds or keep it quiet so that they won’t find out.

 

Whatever your choice of sound make it clear to your partner that you want them to continue the sound effects and how it turns you on.  Think about how to assess sound effects to make your experience enhanced.  How can you make it safe in the bedroom?  One way is to encourage your partner to continue or merely introducing it to your partner and giving kudos when they attempt it.  By your partner knowing this, they have a sense of what you like and would be more inclined to continue.

 

Pleasure

Lastly, if you find yourself in the same routine you may be putting your partner in a stale sexual experience.  Become aware of your experience with sex.  Is it humorous, serious, passing of time, or an emotional experience?

 

Try switching things up by choosing different settings, positions, varying between coitus, cunnilingus, fellatio, and anilingus (sexual intercourse, oral sex performed on female, oral sex performed on male, oral stimulation on anus).  Gain insight on what positions your partner likes and dislikes.  Some partners may not be to fond of oral sex.  If not, what are some other ways that you can receive or give pleasure negating this?  These questions vary and will be important to you communicating with your partner about this.

 

Which positions give you the most pleasure?  What emotional expression comes to the surface when being vulnerable and opening up these senses to explore your sense of pleasure.  With that information, how can you use that to move your experience forward with the emphasis to grow with your partner?

 

Answering these questions will allow you to become aware of your emotional connection to this experience.  Challenge yourself to connect to your emotions and overall awareness to be a better partner and to enhance your own experience.

 

 

If this is all new to you, than give it a try to boost your stagnated state.  These exercises will allow you to tap into your emotional awareness, hence increasing your sexual experiences.  Connecting emotionally during intimate moments allows you to become vulnerable to the process, open your awareness to you and your partners needs, and enhance the interaction between you and your partner.

What Is Your Sex Drive

Posted on: January 25th, 2013 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

What is your sex drive? For some couples having a different level of sexual drive / desire in a relationship creates problems, and for others it is not a big issue. There is a wide range of sexual variations that people may experience. For some, the ideal frequency of sexual contact would be at least 4 times a day, and for others sexual contact maybe desired only once a month. Sexual behaviors may range from kissing hello, holding hands, to oral sex, anal sex and intercourse. In the ideal, even with the huge differences between the natural level of desire, each partner will experience sexual desire for the other person and enjoy their own sexuality with themselves at a similar level as their partner. A balanced couple will find a way(s) to make the needed compromises. Compromises may include the person with the higher sex drive finding ways to satisfy themselves, such as masturbation. Sometimes the partner with the lower sex drive, while not deriving any sexual pleasure (but emotional happiness) may find themselves offering to give their partner sexual touch such as oral sex, or manual stimulation as a way to help her/him relieve her/his sexual tension.  Being aware of the other’s needs and being flexible usually works well, as long as the person receiving the sexual stimulation does not expect the person who is giving to be sexually excited. And of course, to show some appreciation that each partner has gone out of her/his way to accommodate to the other person’s need. A little bit of respect often goes a long ways.

Now that you have successfully administered the test to determine if you have ever experienced sexual aversions (see below), have you ever experienced sexual desire? I will assume yes. Most people at some point in their life have. If you closed your eyes and imagined yourself marooned on a desert island with the most perfect partner(s) how frequently would you engage in sexual behavior? Which sexual behaviors would you enjoy the most? Which ones would you avoid? When is the last time that you felt hungry for sex? When are you sexually excitable? To help you answer some of these questions, have you ever . . . (again please write in if you can think of other things that were not included in this group).

  1. Felt like your partner knew your body better than you do… to the point that you can’t wait to be touched by him/her again.
  2. Had a wet dream.
  3. Sexual Desire – Anticipated how you were going to touch each other, to the point where you could almost feel her/his breath on your skin.
  4. ‘Accidently’, left something at her/his house so that you could see this person again.
  5. Sexual Arousal – Do you find yourself getting ‘hard’ for no reason (both men and women get ‘hard’ when they are sexually excited).
  6. Taken an extra shower, put on your favorite clothes, best smelling perfume/cologne so that you will look and smell more appealing to your partner.
  7. Sexual Fantasy – Fantasized about what will happen in the evening, or tried to orchestrate a particular situation to occur where the two of you (or even three of you) could get super close.
  8. Masturbation – Masturbated while imagining it was someone else touching you?
  9. Felt so in love with a person, that you just wanted them in every way possible.
  10. Used sex as a form of exercise so that you could strengthen your abs and/or arm muscles in a more fun way than going to the gym for a traditional workout with weights.
  11. Used sex to express an emotion?
  12. Felt alive while having sex?
  13. Wanted to act on a sexual tingling right away without regards to anything else?

How does this category fit you? What is your level of sexual desire? In my experience, most people fluctuate between the two groups. There may be periods of ones life where your sexual desire will be extremely high or extremely low. Maybe sex is a stress release, or sex is stressful. Maybe you are feeling really in love with your partner, or are in the midst of fighting. Whatever the causes, having a different sexual libido in a relationship than your partner, can be problematic. Especially, if it used to match well. This difference can cause the person who is not in the mood for sex to feel guilty about their lack of desire, or the person with a high sex drive may feel rejected.

If you are in a sexual relationship with someone at the moment, compare your answers against each other? Did you learn anything new? What was difficult for you to share? What was hard for you to hear? If you are single what would be hard to share? What would be easy? Do you imagine that it would be easier to share you responses with a close friend or a lover? Why?

In my experience as a therapist, what I have found to be most useful in a discussion between couples with different levels of sex drives is to focus on the following:

  • Determine if and when a change in desire occurred
  • Define what is wanted
  • Define what can be done to make a change
  • Negotiate for a change

Note that most of the focus is on communication. It is mostly on your ability to communicate your needs to one another. Remember, sexual problems do not usually disappear over night, change takes time. Often in the beginning, you may not trust the changes to be real, therefore, relax, and do not work too hard to find a ‘solution’. Rather, simply take the time now to understand what caused the changes in sexual desire to have occurred, or when did the different levels of sexual desire to become problematic in the relationship.

(Please note: in some relationships men want more sex, while in others women want more sex. This is not an issue of man versus woman, rather it is an issue of two (or even three) individuals negotiating their needs).

  1. In the past, the sex life with your partner has never been particularly stimulating for you, therefore you may not look forward to your next experience.
  2. Your partner is not a particularly talented lover, and thus does not touch you well. He/she does not know your body well enough to know how to physically stimulate you so that you could have an orgasm.
  3. Your partner’s desires and your desires clash. For example when you want more genital play he wants to feel more emotionally connected.
  4. Maybe one person feels used and abused, not valued and therefore not sexual.
  5. The two of you no longer plan in advance to have sex. Often couples who have been together for a while stop planning on having evenings that are set aside for sex. Suddenly, they find themselves getting caught up in the day to day pressures of life and no longer prioritize simply spending quality time together.
  6. The two of you are in the midst of a big argument, therefore the last thing you want is to be sexual.
  7. Sex feels empty and disconnected. Therefore, it does not feel like a pleasurable experience.
  8. Your partner is not physically attractive to you. Maybe he gained weight. Maybe she lost too much weight. Maybe he got a haircut. Maybe her breath stinks.
  9. Maybe you are having difficulty having an orgasm, experiencing premature ejaculations, having difficulty maintaining an erection, or feel ugly; therefore averting sex is a way to avoid your embarrassment caused by your discomfort.
  10. It might be that the side effect of one of the medications that you are on, reduces sexual drive. This is a pretty common side effect for some forms of prescription medication.
  11. Old sexual tapes from the past, the ones that say sex is dirty or wrong (etc).
  12. Acute and chronic illness or pain decreases sexual desire. For example, a woman who has had chronic back pain, may have a harder time focusing on the parts of her body which are being stimulated because the physical chronic pain that she feels every waking minute is too overwhelming. Or maybe the man who has survived a heart attack is now afraid that any extreme feeling may aggravate his condition, thus he avoids all situations where he could make himself in a vulnerable situation.
  13. Then there is always good old depression. Depression simply slows down the whole body, so therefore everything might feel less enjoyable.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, than your sex drive may be lower than it naturally is. In fact, I would be surprised if this category does not fit you at all. Almost everyone at some point or another has experienced sexual aversions. The question is what to do about it. As you have heard me say a million times already, the best way to deal with this situation is to be open and honest about it… both with yourself, and with your partner. A little bit of communication can go a long way. You are not doing yourself or your partner any favors by hiding this information. You do have a sex drive and it is best to start tapping into it – so that you can better enjoy your sexuality.

Your Right To Write

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

Your Right to Write: Surviving Rape/Sexual Abuse

When you hear the word “journal,” you think of a personal book in which you record all of your thoughts and desires whenever you need an outlet for them. It is a safe space, and one which you share only with yourself. For the purpose of recovery from sexual abuse or rape, you can take the concept of journal writing one step further. To do so, use this journal to write about the things that make you feel unsafe or scared. By writing these thoughts down, you are gaining control of them. Eventually, you can advance to sharing the journal with another person to aid you both in the process of developing a language to describe your feelings and help them help you. Read this article to discover how to first unleash your inner feelings and ways to help yourself, and then how to become comfortable sharing these writings with your partner.

Please note, the journal that you are about to record your thoughts in is markedly different than what a traditional journal is. We are referring to journal as a place to track specific types of information. The goal of this journal is to help you become aware of your experience of how you have been coping with the trauma of rape/sexual abuse. One advantage of making this journal separate from traditional journals is that many people find it easier to share with their partners- thought some opt never to share it.

Once you find a comfortable book (or word document style) to write in, it is important that you find a way to keep this journal safe from prying eyes until you are ready to share your feelings. If you are constantly afraid someone will find your journal and read it, you will not be able to truly release your feelings without monitoring them for content. The most important aspect of a journal is honesty. Find a lock, a special box, a password for a document, or some other way to keep the information secure until you decide to share it.

Next is the question of what to write in this journal. There is no preconceived requirements for what you can write- it is up to you to decide what aspect of your sexual life or emotional feelings need to be worked through and recorded (either for yourself or to help your partner). If you are having trouble beginning, we recommend the following assignment:

  • If you have problems expressing feelings of unease or unhappiness about your sex life, use the journal as a recording of all of your feelings and frustrations in a list.
  • If you have trouble touching yourself or letting others touch you, record your progress and suggestions of what helps you feel comfortable.
  • If certain things make you freeze- for example, when someone wraps their legs around you, making you feel trapped- write them down. If you have reoccurring images of your abuser or of a certain act, describe the image completely.

Writing your emotions (or typing them) does not alleviate the problems, but it does give you a way to look at them more objectively. You can use your journal entries to find trends in your actions or those of your partner, to discover what makes you happy and what makes you freeze, and track your progress. For example, if you read the article “Reclaiming Your Sexuality: Masturbation,” you can use your journal to record your progress with touching yourself and feeling comfortable with your body. You can write down trouble spots on your body or spots that make you feel good.

Your journal can also be a safe space to write positive words of encouragement for yourself. If you manage to touch yourself in a previously untouchable place, write yourself a verbal high-five. If you are in your first relationship after the experience, praise yourself for your courage at trying again after what happened. If you already plan on sharing the journal with a partner, you can write positive things about them that you wish you could express but can’t.

 Your Right To Write

This introduces the next, more advanced decision: to share or not share your journal with your partner. If you are having trouble expressing your feel

Your Right To Write

ings, telling your partner when images are playing in your head, or explaining what touch makes you feel uncomfortable or numb, this journal is the perfect way to fix the breakdown in communication. However, you have to make sure you are ready to advance to the next stage. A good clue is when you have perfected the art of silent communication but still have a lot of secret thoughts you want to communicate- for example, if when you squeeze the other person’s shoulder and they stop you wish you could actually speak the words in your head. If the idea of someone reading your thoughts makes you feel uncomfortable but you still wish you could let them, there are a few things you can do to make you and your partner more comfortable:

  • Be clear in the journal when something applies to your partner, for example labeling the writing with “James.” This will draw attention to the parts you want your partner to focus on, so he or she does not feel overwhelmed reading a huge bundle of writings.
  • Separate the sections you feel comfortable letting your partner read. If you typed the document you can copy and paste the passages into a separate document, and if you hand wrote them you can photo copy only the parts you want or type them up.
  • Decide whether you want to be there when he or she reads the journal. If you want to be there, make sure you are there for questions your partner may have but do not distract him or her with excuses. If you do not want to be there, make sure you prepare your partner and then let him or her ask questions after reading it.
  • Read the passages you want him or her to read out loud. This is only for people who feel incredibly comfortable sharing the intimate information with their partner, and think reading it out loud will help them with their verbal communication skills. Make sure to check with your partner if you choose this option, since he or she may not feel comfortable with it.

Offer your partner some suggestions about the type of feedback you are looking for. Maybe you just want to be help. Maybe you want the partner to hold you while you cry, or talk to you, or have an intellectual conversation with you.

Although the journal seems like a daunting task now, once you grow accustomed to it the writing process will become much easier. Not only will it give you an outlet, but it can be the bridge of communication between you and your partner. If you feel uncomfortable sharing your feelings with a partner, or you need to look for trends of your sexual behavior, list your likes and dislikes, or document the positive steps you’ve taken, pick up a piece of paper and give it a try.

By writing about these feelings, they become less frightening; you can now name them. Once you name them you can categorize them, and find a less harmful place for them. You can re-read the journal in different emotional states- happy, sad, angry- and see if your reaction is different. Your mode can completely impact your thoughts, and the morning after an incident you may find the same feelings silly. By recognizing these reactions they become less scary; perception is everything.

After you have found a way to deal with your emotions without the book or are successfully communicating with your partner, there are many things you can do with it. Some people find it helpful to find a safe place for the journal, keeping it tucked away in the back of a closet or under a bed. Others find it fun and meaningful to burn the journal at the end. Whatever.

Where Has The Good Sex Gone

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Aimee Wood Leave a comment

Where has the good sex gone? Maybe it’s in the bedroom! Have you recently realized that you can’t remember the last time you and your partner had sex? Are you struggling to remember the last time you wanted to have sex? One of the common ingredients in promoting and maintaining frequent sex with your partner is your bedroom environment. It is an easy factor to overlook, but the bedroom can often be a deal breaker when it comes to initiating and engaging in sex. You want your bedroom to be a place where you enjoy spending time, and a place that separates you from the outside distractions that life often brings.

The following 5 items are crucial elements when it comes to setting the mood and redirecting your focus in the bedroom. If you have noticed the quality and frequency of intimacy with your partner has changed recently and you are wondering where has the good sex gone, this checklist is a great way to assess your current pattern and possibly identify areas to make a change.

Take this list, go into your bedroom and while going over this list take a look around your room. Rate your like or dislike for these five areas on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being you hate it and 5 being you love it) Have your partner also rate the items. Share your answers with your partner, and then take turns going over each item at a time, discussing your thoughts.

Bedding (Comforter, pillows, mattress) You want a bed and bedding that is comfortable for you, as well as colors and patterns that appeal to you and you find comforting to look at day and day out. The goal here is for you and your partner to be spending more time in bed together, therefore the actual bed needs to be inviting and enjoyable to be in.

Wall Décor (Curtains, wall color, framed pictures, etc.) Again, the room needs to be inviting and calming to you and your partner. Do you like the color of the walls? Has the outdated wallpaper always bothered you and you try to avoid looking at is as much as possible? Are the framed pictures you have up on your walls pictures that make you smile and think of memorable and loving times?

Television Do you and partner keep a TV in your bedroom? Is it on all the time, and does that take away from quality time spent distraction free? TV can often be a major unknown mood kill for couples. No one wants to compete with the TV volume, or with whatever is so exciting on the television, that your partner just can’t focus on you. Some couples may have a healthy does of watching television in bed only twice a week, other couples may automatically head towards the remote the minute they walk into the bedroom. Try this experiment, take the TV out of the bedroom for one week, and record the difference you notice in the amount of conversation and overall quality time you have in bed with your partner.

Messes Do you have stacks of laundry taking your focus? Unpacked boxes? If you are wondering where the good sex has gone and any of these mentioned items are currently sitting in your bedroom, it is completely understandable if you haven’t been clicking your heels at the idea of putting everything else on pause to have sex. It takes a lot of mental energy to stay focused enough to be turned on sexually, so if you have a reminder of your daily stress (i.e. a stack of clothes to fold), some may find it difficult to ignore the incomplete tasks that are staring right back at them in the bedroom. This would be especially important if you or your partner has a tendency to continue taking on tasks and cleaning up on his/her way to the bedroom until the last possible minute before bed.

Bedroom/Office Combo Placing a workspace within the bedroom is a common mistake many professional couples make; they believe they are making a great use of their living space. This workspace in the bedroom includes computer and printers, fax machines, filing cabinets, or even a work phone line that rings in the bedroom. Once couples cross this line and welcome the bedroom office, they tend to forget the primary purpose of a bedroom, not to mention it’s a surefire mood spoiler!

To take this exercise further and to forever answer the question of where has the good sex gone, you can expand it into a great date! After you and your partner take turns and discuss all 5 items, have you and your partner agree on two of the items that you will change right now. Whether you agreed to separate your bedroom from your office, or to create a separate space for laundry, arrange a date with your partner to work on these 2 items together. If the changes require shopping and purchasing items, make sure to go together as a couple so you can both have a say in what items belong in the bedroom. Don’t forget, this exercise is about helping you enjoy your bedroom space more, in order for you to want to spend more time in the room focusing on quality time alone with your partner. Therefore, only add things to your room that you both like and find comfortable. Have fun with the exercise and with the date. After you improve two of the areas in your bedroom, and you have answered the question where has the good sex gone, be sure to celebrate your good work by spending a night together and uninterrupted in your new and improved bedroom.

When To Use An Intervention

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Aimee Wood Leave a comment

When to use an intervention?Have you recently experienced a loved one’s ongoing inability and failure to take care of themselves? Have you given him/her the books to read, provided the suggestions to improve their situation, engaged in endless discussions and pleas for how to practice self-care? Has he/she lost jobs, or friends as consequences to their negative behavior? Do you find yourself at your boiling point? If so, an intervention may be right for you.

Many turn to interventions when confronting a loved one’s sex addiction, drinking problem, or an inability to manage their bipolar disorder, etc. The person’s life is spiraling out of control and it’s only a matter of time until the unspeakable happens. An intervention is typically chosen when family and friends feel that their loved one’s behavior has become so damaging to the point that everyone around this person is negatively impacted by the addiction. Often family and friends who are on board with an intervention truly believe that if the person of concern doesn’t seek treatment immediately, permanent consequences are right around the corner (death or jail).

A way to assess if you are at the point of calling an intervention. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you fear for your loved ones life and safety due to their negative behavior and poor decisions?
  • Do you find the your loved one is no longer effected by natural/negative consequences (friends distancing, DUIs, employment problems, etc).
    • A) For example, friends of your loved one no longer call, accept calls, or make plans with this person because they feel their efforts and encouragement to stay sober and honest are pointless, or they can no longer put themselves in positions where they have to lie for your loved one, or tolerate inappropriate or risky behavior, like infidelity, drinking and driving, etc.
    • B) Your loved one may continue to choose to get behind the wheel regardless of the number of driving violations, car accidents, or events arrests due to driving while intoxicated.
    • C) Your loved one may have been demoted at work, given less responsibility, or even has hopped from job to job due to his his/her inability to get to work on time regularly, or produce work efficiently.
  • Are you concerned for the addict’s health?
    • A) Impending heart attack, failure to make needed medical appointment
    • B) Lack of medication management(skipping prescribed pills, self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, food, etc.)
  • Has your loved one failed time and again to implement his/her own self care to address their addiction?
    • A) Attending regular therapy, outpatient treatment, support groups, practicing self-control, etc.)
  • If this person continued going on their current pace, could they end up in debt, lose their kids,
  • Do you ask yourself, “If I wasn’t around to help out, what would happen?”
  • Is your loved one preoccupied with the wrong pieces, are they missing the big picture?
    • A) For example, dating or turning to exercise to “feel happy” instead of returning to psychotherapy to address emotion pain or trauma
  • Does your loved one have a realistic perspective of what they are doing? Is their game plan reasonable? (Quitting job to write a book, going back to former therapist after years of quitting and inconsistency).
  • Has your loved one distanced from his/her “regular people” or support system? Have they befriended new people who enable or support his/her negative behaviors?

What are your goals with the intervention? There are many options when it comes to confronting a loved one’s destructive behavior and asking them for change. Options could be as simple as an outpatient treatment center, rehab after work, a career change, an increase in individual therapy, and/or support groups. Or have you already tried asking this person for these things, and they have failed to commit? Are they so over the top that you’ve exhausted all your own resources. If so, inpatient treatment is a better fit for individuals who have struggled to utilize outside resources (therapy, groups, doctors, medication) while managing all of their other daily events (job, kids, family obligations, community roles, etc).

Inpatient treatment options are endless, from the location, type of facility, length of stay, etc. It will help if you do your homework and research online recommended facilities. Start with one facility that appeals to you, and call and speak to the intake coordinator, briefly explain why you are looking for treatment for your loved one, and they can give you feedback as to if their facility would be an appropriate fit based on your concerns and descriptions of your loved one’s behavior. Treatment facilities often have their own recommendation or even requirement as to what they believe is enough time for treatment. Feel free to speak up and ask the facility questions, “Do you address childhood trauma?” “Do you include family in the treatment process?” “Do you prescribe medication, or handled dual diagnosis?” It’s just like picking a school for your child, there is a right fit, and a wrong fit.

Are you comfortable with the person rejecting the intervention? For example, an 85lb anorexic may not have any other option because of the risk, vs the functional bipolar. The person you question “are they going to survive until tomorrow?” is different from the person who creates havoc on their professional life. Your loved one may not have hit their “bottom” yet, and may have few to no consequences that negatively impact their daily life.

With this information, is important you and the others in the intervention have a clear map of expectations for the loved one receiving the intervention. When you are dealing with someone who’s preoccupied with any addiction (food, exercise, work, sex) they are viewing things through a foggy or cloudy lens. When this happens, it’s helpful to be as clear and as black and white as possible. “Will you or won’t you?” “Will you accept this gift and attend this 5 week treatment facility in Texas or not?” The clarity of black and while will give the individual no room to manipulate, as well as little information to be confused by.

How do you want to frame the intervention? Someone in the group will have to be appointed “the messenger” role. Someone in the family will agree to be with the loved one while the rest of them family and friends are arriving together to the agreed location of the loved one. Once all the participants are in place, this person will have to turn to the loved one and inform them of what’s to take place. The person chosen can be decided by the group, the interventionist, or by the person who wants to take on that role (adult child, sibling, etc). When it’s time to inform the loved one, a simple statement like, “Mom, there’s some of the family downstairs to see you.” or “There’s some people who want to talk to you.” Once you get the loved one in the room with everyone, there is someone who informs the loved one of each step, “Mike, your family because they love you and are concerned for your health, they each have prepared something to say.” This person again can be different from the originally messenger, if you have hired a professional, this is a great job for that person because they won’t get distracted by their emotional investment in the family (because they don’t have one.)

It is all about how you frame things, if you use more positive language, and key words such as: love, concern, health, accept, gift, help; you will be coming from a place of positivity and concern, rather than a place of blame. At the end of the letter, all readers should have the same last line to signify a united front and to promote consistency. Such as “Please accept this gift and go to the treatment program.” Again, words like gift and accept and please are not words of blame or implying wrongdoing, these are words that come form a place of love, and deep concern.

Are others on board? You can’t do this type of intervention alone. You need backup, support, and other family and friends who have similar negative experiences and serious concerns for your loved one’s well-being. It’s best to start with primary/immediate family members (spouse, children, siblings). Reach out to these identified family members, share with them your experiences with the identified addict, and share your current concerns, explaining your reasons for exploring rehab options. This is your chance to find out if other immediate family members are in agreement with your assessment. It’s important that everyone involved is in agreement with the goal of the intervention (inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, etc.). The more support and unity there is in the group, the less chance there is for the addict to manipulate any of the family members, and an overall higher chance for the intervention to be successful. When the intervention does take place, remember to be discussed as a group if there is anyone else that you want to include who happens to be a positive or strong influence in the addict’s life (best friend, brother in-law, etc.).

Letters Interventions require a lot of work, and time from the loved ones putting this together. There is a lot to organize, and consider. Letters are typically prepared and read to your loved one the day of the intervention. These letters include details of the relationship you have to this person, the positive qualities the he/she has, positive memories you hold onto, as well as what you see the problem to be (including an example and the impact it has had on you.) These letters are read one after the next in person to your loved one. This is a lot of emotion and information for anyone to take in, especially someone who doesn’t have a clear perspective right now. Interventions are emotional, time consuming, and when you are dealing with someone who can manipulate the situation to their advantage and avoid discomfort its easy for the intervention to get off track and off it’s focus. It’s much easier to organize an intervention and stay on task with a professional third party. Whether it’s a counselor, addictions specialist, or interventionist, this type of professional is not emotionally invested, and therefore it’s easy for that person to stay unattached and on focus with the intervention and the goal. There are the little things to consider, like time of day for the intervention, the location, the order of the letters being read, the quality of the letters, even the seating for the intervention, and much more.

It is best to approach your loved one and initiate your loved one when they are most vulnerable, and most “off their game” in order to catch him/her off guard. For example, the morning time is on ideal time for many because one’s day has not fully started yet, most people are often still groggy and waking up before being fully “on” and ready for the day. This time of the day often ensures the least resistance, less of a “show” from your loved one, and less of an excuse that they are in the middle of something, or off to work. One other factor you want to consider is sobriety, or a manic state. When is your loved one least likely to be high or low functioning? You want your loved one as present and clear minded as possible in order for them to really hear you and take this all in. (It’s important to note, this doesn’t always happen depending on the severity of one’s problem, but try to at least factor this in when planning).

The order of the letters being read believe it or not, is an important decision. It’s like any music concert, or Broadway musical, you want to save the best for last. Meaning, ease your loved one into this experience of hearing his/her flaws, and what they will perceive to be negative, by starting with the friends or family members who have a less direct involvement to the problem, and likely this person will also have a letter with less pain and hurt than someone closer. As the letters continue, they should increase in intensity of what the friend/family member perceives the problems to be, as well as how close the person is to the loved one. For example, if the spouse of the loved one in question has been most impacted by the problematic behaviors, and has the closest relationship with this person, then he/she should go last. The point of the letters is for the loved one to hear their family and friend’s experience of his/her negative behaviors and exactly how they hope change will occur.

Consequences You are probably reading this tip and asking yourself, “Well what he/she says no to getting help?” That is a good question, and a realistic possibility. If your loved one rejects the intervention and the offer for help after all family and friends have read their letters, that is when you share the written consequences you plan to implement if your loved one does not accept your terms. These consequences are what you plan to no longer, or are things you plan to now do in response to your loved one refusing to help himself/herself. For example, “Mom if you do not complete the treatment center program we are asking you to attend, I will no longer loan you money.” Or, “Dad, if you don’t complete rehab after work, I refuse to no longer visit you and witness your health deteriorate anymore.” In order to create your consequences, it is helpful to look back at your own behavior and identify where do you contribute to your loved one’s problems? Where do you help your loved one continue their addiction and remain uncomfortable. People change in response to discomfort. Your loved one will never change until his/his life is so uncomfortable that it becomes unmanageable. So take an inventory of how you interact to your loved one and how to you typically respond; what can be your change in all of this? Please be sure to only choose consequences that you know you can follow through on. If you’re unsure if you can really stop accepting your dad’s phone calls, find a more feasible consequence.

Interventionist or not? Many families and friends hold interventions on their own without the guidance of an interventionist. Some families want to keep it intimate involving only those who know the loved one, or believe they have enough knowledge without turning to a professional. However, we’re therapists, and we recommend plan A’s, B’s, and C’s. Of course we would recommend to at least come in and talk with a therapist or specialist to ensure you have all your ducks in order, about how envision the intervention to go. Having a professional guide the intervention will take pressure off of you. You already have a big enough job participating in the intervention, it’s great self-care to assign an outside member the role of organizing all of the participants, editing and organizing the letters, etc. A professional in this scenario provides the structure to help friends and family organize in a way that will feel support to the individual with the problem.

This description of an intervention may sound overwhelming, and like a lot of work. Don’t be fooled, it is a lot of work. It’s even more work helping someone fail to manage their addiction. It’s exhausting watching someone disappoint, lie, and put their life in danger yet again. An intervention tests every part of you (physically, emotionally, mentally). This is often because an intervention is way long overdue, and you and your loved ones are more burnt out than you realize. This can be a very cathartic experience. Anything you have been bottling up, not saying to your family, and to the addict; this is your chance to say in way to influence positive change, and the acceptance of help.

The point of this intervention is put the person in a position where they have no choice but to make a change even if they are not willing. This type of intervention is designed for person who is so out of control they are unable to see that they are out of control. For the person who is so anorexic, they are so out of touch with their own reality. An intervention is asking everyone in this persons’ life to go on a risk and limb.

 

 

Sex Addiction Treatment in Philadelphia / Sex Addiction Recovery Articles

When Sex Is A Trigger

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

When Sex is a Trigger

For some people with PTSD sex can be a trigger. Sex as a trigger is common among survivors of sexual assault and rape. However, other types of trauma could still impact a person’s desire to have sex or impact a person’s feelings about sex. Some people with PTSD may try to avoid sex altogether, while for others they may only try to avoid certain acts or certain aspects of sex. If sex is a trigger for you, and you are finding it difficult to be sexually intimate with your partner, consider the following suggestions below.

When Sex is a Trigger: Consider other reasons why you may not want to engage in a particular sexual activity.
The next time you find yourself not wanting to engage in a specific sexual activity, take a moment to consider the following six questions: Have I ever liked this specific sexual activity? Do I like my partner as a person? Am I physically attracted to my partner? Do I like my partner’s approach to sex? Is my partner bad in bed? Am I even in the mood? These questions help you to figure out what else could be influencing your lack of desire besides your trauma. As a survivor of sexual violence you might too easily fault your traumatic experience as the only reason for your lack of desire. There are other valid reasons why you may or may not want to engage in sexual activity that have nothing to do with your trauma.

When Sex is a Trigger: Identify the pieces of sexual intimacy that are triggering.
Sexual intimacy encompasses how you and your partner relate physically and emotionally. Thus, you need to not only think about sexual activities that are triggering, but also think about patterns of relating that may be triggering. Consider the issue of control in the relationship. Think about who is usually in control in bed, going out to dinner, when you’re running errands, paying bills, etc. Are you triggered when your partner is in control? What about when you are in control? How do these experiences differ for you? What is control? How does control get switched back and forth? Feeling in control is often a requirement for survivors of sexual violence to feel safe, not only in bed, but in the relationship. This means you need to feel safe in communicating your needs to your partner, both sexual and otherwise. Also consider the differences in triggers when your partner initiates sex versus when you initiate sex. Think about who has the power in the relationship? How are the power dynamics impacting your ability to feel safe or in control?

When Sex is a Trigger: Identify triggers in your surroundings.
Think about where and when you have been triggered during sexual activity. Consider whether certain aspects of your setting are triggering. Consider the lighting in the room, your partner’s smell, the size of the room, the color of the room, the temperature of the room, the time of day, etc. Are certain aspects of your surroundings similar to where or when your trauma took place? If so, change your scenery. This could mean moving to a different room, changing sexual positions, engaging in sex in the morning instead of at night, turning on the lights or even painting your walls a new color. These are all great examples of changes you can make to reduce the triggers in your environment. Whether these changes are temporary (like switching sexual positions) or more permanent (like moving the furniture around in your room), this is another way to exert control. Another consideration is to think about what you are bringing to your surroundings. For instance, if you are already anxious you are more likely to be sensitive and are more likely to be triggered. Think about what you brought to the surroundings emotionally the times when you have been triggered.

When Sex is a Trigger: Understand the power of touch.
Touch can be comforting, soothing, exciting, etc. However after experiencing trauma you might perceive touch differently. Different types of touch are likely to trigger different reactions. Think about how you were touched during the trauma. Were you touched roughly? Were you squeezed or scratched? Was the touch slow or fast? Were you touched differently in different areas of your body? If for example, if during your assault the perpetrator very tightly squeezed your forearms to keep you from moving, you are likely to be triggered by similar touch. Then when your partner touches your forearms, or even grabs you a bit tightly you may begin to experience PTSD symptoms. You might dissociate or have the same physical reaction you experienced during the trauma like getting a stomach ache or feeling overcome by intense fear. Identify what types of touch and where, trigger you to experience PTSD symptoms. You might also be €œcycling your experience of touch. This means one moment touch feels good, the next it feels terrifying. Your experience of touch will flip flop quickly if you are cycling. It is important for you and your partner to understand what types of touch are triggering because it helps both of you understand your reactions and allows you to both process what is happening.

When Sex is a Trigger: Determine if you are dissociating during sex.
As a survivor of sexual violence you may find yourself dissociating during sexual experiences. Dissociation is one of our body’s clever survival mechanisms. During the trauma your body likely released pain reducing chemicals. As these chemicals were released, your ability to feel (both emotionally and physically) was reduced. The process of dissociation protects you from the full impact of the trauma. However in your body’s attempts at protecting you from further trauma, it may begin to default to dissociation when you are triggered by an experience that reminds you of the trauma. For survivors of sexual violence, sexual activity could trigger dissociation. If you have ever felt the following things during sexual activities you may have been dissociating: a feeling of shutting down, feeling numb, feeling detached from your body, feeling as if you are having an out of body experience, feeling spaced out. Some survivors will also experience flashbacks of their trauma during dissociation with can be particularly distressing. The point at which you can recognize you are dissociating represents is a major hurdle in your recovery process. It signals the fact that you are in a safe enough space in your life to go back and process what happened to you. Processing trauma of course cannot happen in the moment of the trauma and must be revisited to heal.

When Sex is a Trigger: Stop conditioning yourself for dissociation.
If you have sex when you do not desire to, your body may default to dissociation as a coping mechanism to protect you from any further trauma. If you continue this pattern, you may be conditioning your body to dissociate during sex. This means when you are ready and want to have sex you may still dissociate. It is important that you do not engage in any sexual activity if you do not want to! Further ingraining a pattern of dissociation during sex will only make recovery from your trauma more difficult. In addition, each time you engage in sexual activity that you do not want to, you are revictimizing yourself. In order to heal sexually you must say no to unwanted sexual activity. Some survivors may need to take a temporary break from sexual activities that cause them to dissociate in order to break the pattern of conditioning oneself for dissociation. This break allows survivors to step back and better understand their behavior.
Part of preventing dissociation during sex is becoming familiar with your pattern of dissociation. Consider the following questions to learn about how your body feels when you begin to dissociate: Does your breathing pattern change? Do some body parts feel numb? Do some body parts experience pain even when not being touched? Does your heart begin to race? Do some body parts seem to disconnect or drift away? Consider the following questions to learn about what happens in your mind when you begin to dissociate: Does your mind go blank? Do you experience racing thoughts? Do you experience flashbacks? Do you feel as if you are watching yourself from up above? When you begin to feel your body and mind dissociate take a moment to determine what triggered you. What was happening just before you dissociated? Often people dissociate to escape physical sensations or emotions that are uncomfortable. Once you familiarize yourself with the sensations and feelings that cause you to dissociate, you can slowly learn to tolerate these sensations and feelings. Eventually these sensations and feelings will not feel so overwhelming. You will slowly be able to change your pattern of dissociation during sexual intimacy by learning to sit with and experience the emotions and sensations that are triggering to you. In addition, once you become familiar with the ways your mind and body feel during dissociation you can confront your dissociation.

When Sex is a Trigger: Learn how to confront dissociation during sexual intimacy.
If you desire to engage in sexual activity, it is important to have coping skills to confront dissociation, as it will likely happen. First, tell your partner what it is like for you to have sex. This is a critical part to maintaining safety in the bedroom because it gets your partner on the same page. There are several techniques to confront dissociation that you and your partner can try. Learn which techniques work for you and inform your partner. One technique is to state something like €œI want to be in my body, or €œI want to be in the present when you feel yourself slipping away. When you begin to experience dissociation try noticing where you are and who you are with. Reach out and touch your partner. Look him or her in the eyes. Lightly grab your partner’s arm, hair or perhaps your favorite body part of your partner. Touch your sheets, a piece of furniture, something to remind you that you are in a safe place and not back where the trauma took place. If a specific part of your body feels numb to you, gently touch it, rub it, tell yourself €œThis is my neck. Another technique is to tell your partner that you are dissociating. Have your partner remind you where you are and who you are with. Have your partner state, €œYou’re at home, with me, your partner. You are safe. Have you partner tell you to return to your body by saying something like, €œCome back to your body, or €œCome back to being here with me. Another way to confront dissociation during sexual intimacy is to redirect your attention back to how your body feels. Focusing on how your body feels in the moment may allow you to return to your body.
If you are unable to interrupt and stop your dissociation then stop engaging in the sexual activity. If this occurs take time to think about what was triggering about that particular sexual experience. Get feedback from you partner about what he or she thinks may have been triggering about the experience. Consider whether a new memory, feeling or sensation came up during the sexual experience. Often unprocessed aspects of the trauma will emerge as you make progress in your healing. While it may feel frustrating to have to yet again process another aspect of your trauma, when you experience new material from your trauma it is actually a positive sign that you are healing. Your body stores those memories until you are able to handle their content.

Remember…
Healing from trauma is a process which requires you to be forgiving and patient with yourself. When sex is a trigger, it can be one of the most challenging triggers to understand and overcome. If sex is a trigger for you enlist the support of your partner to help you reclaim your ability to be sexually intimate. Consider seeking therapy if you and your partner find you are unable to make progress in this aspect of your recovery.

Vacation From Sex

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

Vacation From Sex (Philadelphia, The Center for Growth)

Determining if a Vacation From Sex Could Help You with The Center for Growth in Philadelphia:  Survivors of sexual abuse who are trying to heal from their trauma should taking a vacation from sex. This break from sex allows survivors to step back and process some of their emotions and feelings about sex. It can also help survivors rediscover their sexuality in a new and healthier way. If you are a survivor or sexual abuse, consider the following statements to determine if you should take a vacation from sex. If any of these statements are true for you, taking a break from sex could be beneficial to your sexual healing and healing from your trauma overall:

  • I have sex when I don’t want to.
  • Sometimes I pretend to be interested in sex or pretend that I enjoy sex.
  • Using drugs or alcohol helps me enjoy sex.
  • I make myself unavailable for sex by filling my schedule either with work, hobbies, or activities with family or friends.
  • I have faked an illness before to avoid having sex.
  • Dissociation or feeling numb is a common experience for me during sex.
  • Memories of my sexual abuse often occur when I have sex.
  • I feel obligated to have sex with my partner.
  • When having sex I just want get it over with.
  • It is difficult for me to orgasm during sex (when medical problems have been ruled out as the cause).
  • Physical or emotional abuse is often present in my sexual relationships.
  • I experience humiliation or humiliate others during sex.
  • I’m not always fully awake when I have sex.
  • My partner’s sexual needs scare me or make me angry.
  • I oversexualize my interactions with other people.
  • My sexual fantasies include sexual abuse or physical abuse.
  • Some of my sexual behaviors are compulsive (compulsive masturbation, compulsive porn watching, compulsive phone sex, etc.).
  • I wish that sex did not have to be a part of intimate relationships.
  • I engage in high risk sex (having frequent casual sex, having unprotected sex, having sex with strangers, visiting a prostitute, prostituting myself, etc.).
  • I am embarassed, eshamed and / or regretful about my sexual behaviors
  • Many of my sexual activities are secretive.
  • I seem to be involved sexually with many people at one time or many people in a row.
  • I have cheated on my partner (s).
  • Sex is more enjoyable for me in a casual relationships and more difficult in an intimate relationship (I shut down, I lose my sex drive etc).
  • I’ve demanded sex or forced another person to have sex with me.
  • My sexual relationships have been based on lies and false pretenses.
  • I feel depressed, hopeless, angry or lost during or just after sex.

What Does a Vacation From Sex Really Mean? A vacation from sex means to take a temporary break from all or certain sexual activities. The exact specifications like length of time for example, are dependent upon the survivor taking the vacation. The steps below will help you explore and define your vacation from sex. While there will be differences among survivors as far as the parameters of their vacation, the purpose of the vacation for many survivors will be the same. The purpose of taking this break is to foster healing sexually and to reclaim your sexuality. Finally the pressure to have sex will be off the table and you will be able to experience some much needed space from sex. You will be able to focus on developing a healthier sexuality and a more intimate understanding of yourself and your partner as sexual beings. You will also learn that sex is not just about mechanics but rather is a more inclusive mind body experience.

Planning Your Vacation. You must always do some level of planning when you take a vacation. You have to plan the length of your vacation and think about what activities you would like to do. You must also consider the purpose of your vacation. Do you need a relaxing trip or do you want to see and do a lot? Finally you must consider the costs and determine what you can afford. The same considerations apply when you are planning a vacation from sex. Consider the factors below as you begin to plan your vacation.

1) Length of time: To experience the benefits of a vacation from sex you will need at least three months. Make sure to set aside at least three months for your vacation. Understand however that you may find yourself needing much longer than three months. Often you will not know that you need to extend your vacation until you are actually taking the vacation. Keep in mind that it is normal to extend the length of your vacation from sex if you find yourself needing more time. Needing more time does not mean you are “failing” at your vacation. There is no failing, only giving yourself more time and permission to heal. Recognizing that you need more time to reclaim your sexuality is actually a strength, as it shows you are in touch with your body and your sexual experiences. Like other survivors, this many be the first time in your life that you are in touch with your body and your sexual experiences! This is an enormous accomplishment and should be recognized as such. If you are in a relationship you will need to negotiate with your partner about the length of your vacation from sex. You may need to make some compromises depending on your partner’s needs and level of understanding. Explain to your partner the purpose and importance of this vacation. Emphasize the fact that for both of you to experience the benefits of the vacation from sex, you will need at least three months. It can often be hard to determine and negotiate with your partner about the appropriate length of time for your vacation. Consider seeing a therapist to help you identify a healthy amount of time for your vacation from sex.

Activities: Some survivors need to take a break from all sexual activity including cuddling or kissing. Other survivors take a break from intercourse and other activities that involve genital stimulation but still engage in sexual touching like cuddling and kissing. Another option is to take a break from sex with others but allow for masturbation. Some survivors may only choose to take a break from specific sexual activities that are triggering for them. You should also take a break from other people, places or things that remind you of your trauma. To determine what activities you would like to include and exclude on your vacation, make a list.

For a sexual or intimate activity to make the cut to the “include” list, 5 requirements must be met:

1. You have clear boundaries. This means you are able to engage in the activity without it leading to an escalation in other sexual activities. This also means that your partner is able to respect the boundaries you have with this activity. If he/she cannot respect your boundaries then the activity must be placed on the exclude list.

2. You are present. This means you are 100% in your body while engaging in this activity. If you are dissociating, fantasizing or experiencing intrusive thoughts or images while engaging in this activity you are not 100% present.

3. You are comfortable. This means you are comfortable both physically and emotionally.

4. You are active. This means you are in control and are setting the terms, rather than passively going along with whatever seems to be happening in the moment. You are engaging in the activity because you desire so, not because you feel obligated or pressured.

5. You feel positive during and after the activity. This means if at any point you are feeling guilty, ashamed, sad, angry, empty, alone, etc. then the activity does not meet the cut. Don’t be confused between feeling uncomfortable with something that just happened because of where you are in your healing process versus feeling uncomfortable because the way in which you are engaging in the activity is unhealthy. You may need to talk to a friend or a therapist to help you determine whether this uncomfortable feeling is healthy for you or is part of the problem.

Activities that do not meet the “include” list should be placed on the “exclude” list. There is an extensive list of possibilities for each list. You should have at least 15 activities on your include list and 15 on your exclude list. If you are specific and consider a broad range of activities you will find this task easier. For instance do not simply write “kissing” on your include list. Make the distinction for yourself between your need versus your partners need, for instance like kissing when you want to. There is a difference between types of kisses. You should consider the differences between a kiss on the cheek before your partner heads to work versus kissing with tongue in bed. Also consider different types of touching on different types of body parts. For instance there might be a difference for you between a light touch on your back versus a kneading knuckle on your back. Again, also consider who needs or wants the touch. Is it okay for your partner to touch your back when he/she wants to? Or is it only okay for your partner to touch you on the back when you want him/her to? Generating your activity lists may seem tedious but it is well worth the time spent. These lists will serve as an important guide and reference for you during your vacation.

3) Purpose: Before beginning your vacation you need to determine the purpose of the vacation from sex. What are your hopes and goals? Listed below are possible goals for your vacation from sex. These goals are only a few examples of the many possible goals you might have for your vacation from sex. Reflect on each goal. Write down any other goals that are not listed that you would like to accomplish during your break from sex. Then list the top ten most important goals for you. Rank them in order of importance. Then decide which goals are most important for you to focus on during your vacation from sex.

Possible Goals:

  • Be in control of the way I express my sexuality
  • Experience feeling safe sexually.
  • Be more assertive sexually.
  • Determine my emotional needs.
  • Understand my sexual needs and desires.
  • Learn how to communicate my needs more effectively
  • Become able to set healthy sexual boundaries.
  • Learn to enjoy touch.
  • Realize that touch does not have to lead to sex.
  • Learn to enjoy sexual sensations.
  • Be comfortable with my sexual urges.
  • Realize that I do not have to act on my sexual urges.
  • Develop a more positive body image.
  • Get in touch with emotions related to my sexual abuse.
  • Confront memories about my sexual abuse.
  • Familiarize myself with my triggers.
  • Better understand my negative automatic reactions towards sex.
  • Learn to approach sex in a healthier way.
  • Define the kind of intimate relationship I want.
  • Rebuild my relationship with partner.
  • Learn to establish friendships before sexual intimacy.
  • Be more honest with my partner about my sexual needs, desires and boundaries.
  • Treat my partner as an equal rather than a sexual object.

4). Cost: Like any vacation you should consider the cost. To make an informed decision about your vacation you need to ask yourself if you can “afford” a vacation from sex right now. A vacation from sex is not simply avoiding sex. Real work is involved in a vacation from sex if you want to experience the benefits. If you are doing real emotional work and healing around your sexual trauma you will likely feel emotionally drained sometimes. Realize that these feelings will impact the relationships you have with others and your ability to perform at work. There are however may things you can do to reduce this impact such as taking time off from work, going to therapy and engaging in various self-care activities. It is important to consider the financial costs of your vacation from sex such as therapy, support groups and books. Also consider the costs to your relationship. Ask yourself if you think your relationship can endure a vacation from sex. How will this vacation from sex impact your partner and your relationship dynamic? If you do not believe your relationship can last through a vacation from sex you must deal with the fact that your relationship may end. Also, as you do emotional work around your sexual trauma and begin to heal you might find yourself wanting to come out your family and friends if you have not already done so. The stakes can be very high in coming out to your family and friends, especially if the perpetrator was a part of your family or was a friend. Understand that a real cost of healing may be that you become estranged from your family or lose a few friends. Only you can decide if you can afford a vacation from sex and if the costs are worth the potential gains.

The Next Steps. You’ve realized that you could benefit from a vacation from sex. You have considered the specifics of your vacation such as the length of time, activities, purpose and costs. After taking some time to process what a vacation from sex will be like, you decide you want pursue this vacation despite some of the challenges. Realize that this is one step in a long healing process. However taking a vacation from sex to process your trauma and develop a healthier sexuality is a very big step. Applaud yourself for taking this courageous step. Do something to treat yourself and celebrate your decision to take a vacation from sex. Before you begin your vacation from sex you will need to get your partner on board with the vacation and familiarize yourself with various exercises you can engage in during your vacation to help you meet your goals.

Sexual Desire Issue

Posted on: November 20th, 2012 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

Expressing Needs With A Sexual Desire Issue:  Are you and your partner struggling with sexual desire?  Do you feel pressure to perform although you’re not in the mood?  Is sex unsatisfying?  Does it feel like a chore?  Do you feel like you have a great relationship in all areas but just don’t connect sexually?  Are you concerned with what your partner will think about you?  Have you fallen into a pattern of avoiding sex because you fear the outcome?  If so, this tip will be helpful to you.  This tip contains an exercise that would be given to a couple in counseling who are trying to learn to express both their sexual and emotional needs in a non-threatening way so that they can begin to break the cycle of avoiding sex. The major purposes of this exercise are to help partners learn to express their needs and to be more comfortable with desire and pleasure again.

Partners are encouraged to develop a cohesive team through which they will perform the exercises in order to break their current cycle of avoiding sex.  Working as a team will allow you to develop healthier ways of expressing sexual desires and needs without judgment and pressure to perform.  Although partners will act as a team, it is likely that one partner will be the one pursuing the use of this exercise.  This partner will have to set up the exercise.  In order to do so, you will need to pick a time and place to sit down with your partner so you can openly discuss your relationship and the current sexual avoidance.  Then, you will then explain the exercise and develop guidelines together.

During your discussion, express to your partner any concerns you may have.  Tell him or her that the exercise contains two stages. In stage one you will stop having intercourse for a short amount of time.  The amount of time is to be agreed upon by both partners. Intercourse is not allowed in this stage because the current dynamic and emotional association that sex is negative. Removing the option of sex takes the pressure off so that as a couple you can begin to engage in other sexual and emotional bonding activities.  Intercourse will be allowed once both partners have completed the first stage of the exercise three times each and feel comfortable with the new dynamic. The amount of time without it will depend upon the number of times the couple engages in the exercise per week.  It is advised to only do the exercise once per day and to skip a day between each encounter for emotional processing.  For each encounter try to plan for at least one hour of uninterrupted time, where you are fully focused on pleasure.  However, there is no set time limit, no set number of times the exercises need to be done, and no pressure to resume having sex once stage one is completed. Set a pace together as a couple and go with that.  Just don’t be too comfortable; remember you are trying to create a new dynamic, so you have to get outside your comfort zone in order to make lasting changes.

To begin stage one, sit down as a couple and have a discussion of SENSUAL and romantic behaviors that both partners feel comfortable with.  This may include cuddling, kissing, holding hands, walking together, giving or receiving a sensual massage, watching a romantic movie, reading erotic literature, etc.  Do not include SEXUAL behaviors such as foreplay activities in this initial list. Stage one of the exercise is just to increase sensuality and romanticism in the relationship.  Once you have developed a list that both partner are ok with, one partner takes on the role of asker and the other becomes the chooser. In the role of asker, chose two activities from the list and ask your partner to engage in one of the two options.  As the chooser, pick which of the two activities you want to engage in as a couple. The only rules are that the asker MUST pick activities from the approved list and the chooser MUST pick one of the two options presented.  Basically: NO MORE AVOIDING!

After partner one acts as asker two times, the couple will switch roles so the other partner can act as asker two times.  Lastly, each partner takes a turn to spontaneously act as asker and chooser.  This way both partners get to ask and choose at least three times each.  At this point, the exercise is all about replacing internal/perceived or external/verbalized pressure with shared and mutual pleasure.  Your goals as a couple in stage one are to share and express needs, get comfortable with pleasure, and form a new perspective of your sex life.  In the day between exercises take time to process your emotional and physical reactions to the activity.  Discuss theses reactions with your partner before your next encounter.

In stage two, the same basic rules still apply.  One partner acts as asker and one as chooser.  There is still a list of activities both partners agree to pick from as the asker and the chooser still must pick one option for the encounters. Once again, partner one acts as asker two times and partner two will be the chooser twice.  Then switch it up again so that each partner gets a chance to be chooser and asker at least one more time. Keep to the pattern of one encounter per day and at least one day in between to process. But you may wish to extend the time for each encounter to more than an hour for this stage.  Keep in mind, the big change in stage two is that sexual intercourse and foreplay are back in the game!

This is the time for the couple to begin connecting romanticism and pleasure they learned in stage one with sexual activity. Just move SLOWLY! Don’t end stage one on Tuesday and start having intercourse on Friday.  Take another day and discuss your list of sexual activities again.  Talk about your feelings on making out, fondling, genital touching, breast play, solo and mutual masturbation, using toys, oral sex, bathing or showering together, intercourse and various positions. Naturally some activities like oral sex and intercourse can bring more pressure than kissing and groping.  So you can break stage two down into smaller phases where you move from kissing and massages, to cuddling with lingerie, to genital toughing, and then intercourse.  Remember the progression does not have to be linear. You can choose to have intercourse in one encounter and then go back to an hour-long make-out session the next time.  You don’t always have to choose the most intense action; but you do have to choose something!

As you progress through stage two, you may notice that asking and choosing becomes second nature.  You should also begin to feel more in control of your role in the sexual dynamic and more at ease with sex.  The primary reasons for this exercise were to break a negative pattern of avoiding sex, increase comfort with sexuality, and learn to enjoy pleasure and desire.  If you have made it through both stages, you have probably met these goals; but some people may need a little extra help from a sex therapist if they continue to get stuck in a negative pattern.  As you continue progressing in your sex-life feel free to use this exercise as a “game” to spice things up once you’re comfortable again!

Sexual Shell

Posted on: November 20th, 2012 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

Bringing your partner out of their sexual shell;  have you and your partner fallen into the same sexual routine?  Have you noticed that your partner always initiates sex play the same way?  Does sex feel repetitive or does your partner have a hard time being creative?  If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then it is possible that your partner suffers from sexual anxiety.  This tip is designed to help you break your partner out of their sexual shell through a particular communication technique so you and your partner can work on having the sex the two of you want.  The most effective way to break someone out of their ‘sexual shell’ is to use only sex positive language.

What is sex positive language you may be asking. Sex positive language is an intervention that sex therapists at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia have been teaching for years. In our office we teach couples to talk about sex / sexuality by only commenting on the emotional and sexual behaviors that is enjoyable, turns you on, or you want to have repeated.  Imagine that your lover is technically horrible in the bedroom. In our office we would not allow you to say anything negative (other than the very first session).  In our office we help our clients find the one positve statement, and then build a story around why the behavior is positive. For example, if your lover kisses like a vacuum cleaner, instead of saying “your kisses are too wet and I feel like the life of me is getting sucked out, you might find the one compliment by simply saying “I appreciate your enthusiam.  Being with someone who is excited is a turn on.  Or you might say, “I like the fact you don’t seem to mind my bad breath.  Having my bad breath makes me feel accepted”.  Naming the negative is seen as shutting a person down.  This style of positve sex talk is designed to build a person’s sexual confidence. It is only when someone feels like they are doing the right thing that they will feel confident enough to become creative in the bedroom and try something new.  It is only through experimentation that most people learn how to be good lovers.  Positive sex talk builds a person’s confidence which breaks the person out of their anxiety which has created their “sexual shell.”

A useful technique to increase a partner’s sexual comfort is to talk them through sex.  Forget the “dirty talk” pictured in movies and go for the “lite” version.  Imagine using direct language that focuses on quiting a persons inner anxiety. For example you can start off “lite” by saying: “It’s Ok to focus on yourself.”  Rather than saying: “I love when you fuck me, it makes me so wet.”  After all, the point is to give them permission to be more in the moment.  You can take it slow and make sure what you are saying is comfortable to both parties by using discretion while using this “lite” version of dirty talk. With time finding the words will come easier. A lot of the problem for the inhibited partner stems from a lack of self confidence or basic insecurities.  If you make your partner feel like a sex god(dess), he / she will be one.  It is important to make him / her feel sexy and to focus on the connection.  Additionally, talking “dirty” to your partner can really get them out of their own head and instead can allow them focus on their body.  As you talk to your partner you can suggest that they focus on what their body is doing and their specific body parts.  For example, you can say: “Take a breath and let your body relax, focus on how you are breathing.”  You can continue to encourage your partner to focus by asking them to become aware of their genitals and how they feel.  Ask your partner what kind of genital touching feels better.  For example, if your partner is a male you can gently rub the head of his penis and ask: “Do you like when touch ‘a’ better . . .” then move your hand down his penis and begin sliding your hand up and down the shaft of his penis and continue to ask: “ . . . or does touch ‘b’ feel better.”  Your partner can choose the touch that feels best to them and now you can continue to introduce new ways of touching and ask your partner to identify which feels best to them.  By introducing various methods of touching to your partner you are inevitably going to try something new; you can slowly build on the touches that your partner enjoyed to expand your sexual repertoire.

Another common source of anxiety for individuals is the fear of how their body looks while they are having sex–this can lead to a partner’s refusal to have sex with the light on.  Decreasing a person’s focus from their looks will enable the person to relax into sex and enjoy sex (ultimately with the lights on).  The following is an example of how this may look practically: perhaps your partner is uncomfortable having sex with the light on because they are worried about how their body looks in the act.  In this instance you can begin the “lite” dirty talk while having sex without the lights on.  Focus on complementing your partner and assuring them how good it feels.  Once you are your partner are both comfortable with this communication in the dark, ask your partner if it is OK if you introduce some small light into the situation (you can use a night light, a candle, or a hallway light–all things that are subtle).  Once they agree to introduce a little light continue your “lite” dirty talk and now add slight compliments about their body as well.  The focus has shifted slightly because you are now able to see their body–the source of their insecurity–and you can give your partner subtle encouragers to make the experience more comfortable for them.  If your partner is listening to you and engaging in the conversation as well as the act of intercourse they will have less time to be nervous about how they look.  This can continue until your partner is completely comfortable again and then you can introduce a new light source–maybe a bedside lamp or something brighter than what you were previously using.  Continue the “lite” dirty talk and complementing your partner.  If you continue to build up your partner’s confidence they are bound to feel better and be more adventurous with their new found self-assurance.

Another great way to get your partner out of their “sexual shell” is to mirror their behavior (or desired behavior).  Typically people touch you the way they want to be touched.  If they touch you softly, touch them softly. If their speed of breath increases, match yours to theirs. When you are able to recognize your partner’s sexual patterns (which are likely, but not always, their preferences).  The process of mirroring someone is called “pacing them.”   Pacing someone creates a safe atmosphere.  Nothing will be introduced that they are not comfortable with – this is because any sexual change will have been introduced by them.  Thus, without verbally articulating anything you will have placed your partner in full sexual control.  Interestingly many couples experience increased foreplay.  The rush to intercourse often is slowed down.  Sometimes the sexual experience stops with foreplay, which in the long run, can feel more arousing. Nothing is a guarentee! Ultimately, the combination of figuring out what turns your partner on, making them feel sexy, and increasing the overall sexual safety will aid in unleashing your partner’s wild side.   Here are two different ways to make their dreams come true:

  • Assume your partner’s role. Often we are the kind of lover that we would like to have, so if you take note of your partner’s sexual behavior and return the observed behavior they will think you are a great lover.
  • Brainstorm their fantasies.  Take about a week and think about your partner’s favorite movie or book.  Observe what they are watching on TV or what they are reading and make a list of these and imagine what they find seductive about the book or movie–you can use a particular scene or generic plot.  As you create a list think of how you can make each fantasy a reality.  Pick the top 5 ideas you have generated and go to your partner with the list.  See what they would be comfortable trying and always reiterate to your partner that you can keep it simple and still keep the “hotness” factor.  For example you can begin by saying: “I’ve been thinking a lot about your favorite movie, Unfaithful, I think we can reenact the bathroom sex scene.  We can start at home though, when you are ready you can go into the bedroom and in a few minutes I will follow you.  Then we can start making out against the wall and continue standing up the whole time.  What do you think?”

The three most important goals to help break your partner’s “sexual shell” are: increase their sexual safety, make them feel sexy and become sexually savy – know their sexual turn-ons.  Sexual hang-ups are created by anxiety, meaning that they are currently not safe. Poor sexual self-esteem is caused by anxiety, and lasting turning someone on requires you to get your partner out of their head and into their body.  Lastly, remember good sex takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.  If at first you don’t suceed, try, try and try again.

Sexual Self Esteem

Posted on: November 20th, 2012 by Alex Caroline Robboy CAS, MSW, LCSW Leave a comment

Sexual Self Esteem:  Self Esteem can be defined as a person’s overall evaluation of their self-worth. Self esteem includes how they feel about their self beliefs, emotions, as well as how self esteem manifests itself in behaviors. Self-esteem is identified as being vital even indispensable to normal and healthy self-development. How does this connect with sexuality? The way that this reflects itself sexually is virtually the same. Sexual Self Esteem is defined at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia / Center for Growth can be seen as our beliefs, emotions and behaviors about sex / sexuality which can look like questions such as:

  • Am I too fat?
  • Do I look good?
  • Do I satisfy my lover?
  • Is my Lover having a good time?
  • Does my Lover think I am good in bed?
  • Am I loveable?
  • Are my sexual fantasies too bizarre?
  • Why do I feel such shame and guilt around sex / sexuality?
  • Am I sexually promiscuous?

Some of these questions can lead to unrealistic expectations in how we see ourselves, our bodies, our partners and sex itself. If they are reflective of low self-esteem then it becomes challenging to enjoy the intimacy and excitement that comes from healthy sexual interactions. In constructing a healthy and vibrant sexual self-esteem, a person must examine a few personal beliefs such as:

  • How your mental and physical ways of being impact your ability to enjoy the engagement of sex versus the performance of sex. Sex can be fun, sometimes awkward, intimate, passionate and a wealth of other adjectives. The experience of these adjectives is much more impactful to the success of your performance. If you focus on your performance, i.e. form, stamina, how loud you scream or don’t scream, porn star comparisons etc, then it will decrease your ability to actually enjoy the moment you are supposed to be experiencing.
  • An appreciation of your body for the pleasure it brings you and your partner instead of focusing on how it looks. Do you think your partner really cares about that extra dimple in your butt cheek, or whether the lighting makes your breasts look lopsided? It’s not likely that this is where your partner’s focus is at the moment. They are there because they enjoy you and your body, you should do the same thing.
  • Get in the habit of loving yourself, emotionally and physically. Does this mean you need to increase your masturbation habits? Not necessarily, but it does mean you need to appreciate yourself more. Increasing your sexual self–esteem means feeling good in your skin, in and out of your clothes, appreciating your perfection and imperfection, knowing that all of this makes you need a unique sexual creation. One way to assist with accomplishing this is to take some time looking at your body in a mirror and identifying the parts of your body you appreciate and enjoy.
  • Questions such as “Am I fat?” or “do I look good?” are ridiculous. Your partner is attempting to be intimate with you they clearly feel you look good. Typically, people are not motivated to have sex with someone they are not attracted to. So reframe these thoughts into “I look good, my body looks good, I am sexy” and allow your mind and body to enjoy the good time. One way to help make this happen is to be honest with your partner. If they are touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or takes you out of the moment, then let them know. They may not be aware of the situation, nor will they learn unless you tell them. Take power back in how you feel about your body by accentuating your positives…we all have them.
  • Other thoughts such as “Do I satisfy my lover?” and “Are they having a good time?” impair sexual self-esteem because your partner will have a good time if you are having a good time. Part of the sexual experience includes a person’s ability to throw caution to the wind and yourself into the experience. That personal liberty, confidence is what people find sexy, appealing and fulfilling.
  • As far as emotions such as shame and guilt regarding sexual histories or fantasies…in the heat of the moment is not the appropriate time to experience it. While they can understandably impact sexual self-esteem, if it is something that truly bothers you then address it before you have sex. If your past continues to haunt you, then this may be something you want to journal about so you can better understand the pattern of emotions you experience, what triggers these emotions and possible resolutions.
  • So to enhance your sexual self-esteem here are some sure fire ways to increase positive thoughts, positive feelings and positive behaviors:
  • I am a good lover is a positive thought to have. Whether you are a good kisser, good masseuse, gentle touch, fabulous licker, whatever defines your specialty helps to define you as a lover. Celebrate what you know and go from there.
  • I feel like a sexual god/goddess is a positive feeling to have. I know it’s cliché but the self affirming feeling statements like “I am good enough and people like me” really do work. In creating a healthy and positive sexual self-esteem, it is necessary to understand that you are not less than anybody. Feeling like a sexual god/goddess can assist in making you feel sexy, enticing and alluring…who doesn’t like that?
  • I’m going to live in this moment is a positive behavior to exhibit. In creating a positive sexual self-esteem, one has to live in the moment. Not focus on the past or try to predict the future but simply live in the moment.
  • I feel good is a positive feeling. While it doesn’t sound important in building positive sexual self-esteem, it is. Feeling good when you are about to experience or are in the middle of having a sexual experience is helpful in getting you to relax and become more in tune to your body’s reactions and responses.
  • My body is my temple and I am in charge of this experience is a positive thought that is probably one of the most important beliefs to have. Whatever your sexual pleasure, it’s important to be in charge of the experience of it. This does not mean you have to literally be in charge of initiating sex or sexual acts but it means that you are in control of what is permitted and not permitted to occur based on your comfort levels.
  •  Understand that this is not a final list of positive thoughts, feelings or behaviors to have. This is a guideline or a starting point for you to construct your own list because you are building YOUR sexual self-esteem. However, you create your sexual self-esteem just remember that you are worthy of great sex, worthy of feeling good and worthy of having the experience over and over again.

Developing your sexual self esteem is a key component of having a healthy happy sexual relationship both with self and others.