Want to expand and explore your relationship to your sexuality, and you’re in a relationship (or soon hope to be in one). Here are seven steps (to be done largely in this order) to help you explore your sexuality within your intimate relationship.
Check In With Yourself: Something that most people have rarely (if ever) done is check in with their own sexual needs and desires. It’s pretty difficult to know what to ask for if you haven’t first been curious about exactly what it is you want. I have many of my clients write up a sexual wish list on which they write three categories of things… 1) things that they already know that they enjoy, 2) things that they might be interested in trying out with a trusted partner, and 3) things that they know are things that do not appeal to them in the slightest. If this is too structured a format for how you work/learn the best, try completing the sentence “When my sex life is ideal, I…” twenty times. As in “When my sex life is ideal I will be having sensual, passionate sex several times per week with a person that I love.” Or it could be something even more specific than that… such as “When my sex life is ideal I will have a partner who loves leaving me with small bite marks.” As long as it’s taking place between two consenting adults, the sky is the limit! Every person in the world deserves to have a deeply fulfilling sex life and you are no exception.
What Are Your Sexual Blocks?: While it is a necessary step to think about what you are enthusiastic about, it’s also important to dive into the things in your sex life that you have blocks around. What makes you nervous? What makes you blush? What makes you want to run and hide or shut down in silence? Like a boulder in the middle of a river, everything about sex that we are unable to discuss with our partner is a block to the free flowing nature of our sexuality. Whether this is something that you want to journal/write about or discuss verbally with your partner (or both) is up to you.
Ask Your Partner To Write Up Their Own List: Diving deep into your relationship with yourself is half the battle (if not more), but it’s also vital that you understand where your partner is coming from. Have a chat with your partner, let them know that you have been wanting to work on your relationship to your sexuality (feel free to reference/blame this article if need be), and you’d love if you could do the exercise together. Have them write up their sexual wish list in their own time (no rush) and then move on to the next step.
See Where The Overlap Is In Your Lists: Whether you take turns verbally telling each other each point on your list, or you (rather bravely) physically exchange your lists to read in each other’s presence, the next step in your process is to become more aware of your partner’s sexual desires. Certain things may be slightly confronting or challenging for you to read (“They want THAT!? I had no idea! Have they been unhappy this whole time by not having that?”) but breathe into it. This exercise is basically another step in your mutual journey of “how can I love this person even better than I already am?” And remember that just because something appears in your partner’s “might enjoy this” list, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily true yet. It might just be something that they have considered trying out. Their list isn’t a legally binding contract that you need to carry out in its entirety. It’s a list of suggestions. It’s a list of starting points.
Aim To Feel Overly Safe: When delving into a topic so rife with fears/worries/insecurities as our sexuality, it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed or nervous. Before you start experimenting with your exploratory sexual play, it may be advisable to discuss it thoroughly. Talk about troubleshooting, choose safety words, and make sure that both partners feel taken care of throughout the process. I once worked with a married couple who wanted to venture into the kink/BDSM realm but neither one had had much experience with it. Through our sessions I helped them talk out their sexual desires and draw up a contract, which we discussed for several months before they actually integrated anything new into their sex life. And they weren’t being boring, stubborn, or unnecessarily cautious by taking their time… they were engaging in the ultimate act of love. They were respecting the years of love that they had already cultivated and they wanted to make sure that they set an even more solid foundation before they leaned into a type of sexual play that they both knew/assumed might be potentially more problematic in terms of triggering their trust issues. They didn’t rush because there was no reason to rush. Bottom line… they did what they needed to do. Every couple is different, every relationship is different, and it’s you and your partner’s responsibility to do whatever is best for the both of you. Your sex life, your rules.
Start Small: There is a tendency when overhauling our sex life to deep dive right into it. And I get it, it’s exciting. But, especially if you’ve been dating for longer than a year, the intention might lead you astray if it means that you leave all sense of structure and routine behind. So start small. Take baby steps. You don’t make a rolling tire change directions by spinning it 180… you make it change directions by gently guiding it, bit by bit, in a slightly new direction. Going slowly also helps you better recognize any emotional residue that gets churned up from your past as you start shifting your sex lives. If you’re racing towards the finish line of having a brand new, shiny sex life then you might miss the emotional nuances along the journey. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you abandon all certainty and routine in one go, so start small. You’ll both feel more comfortable and more taken care of if you do.
Schedule Sexual Play Dates: You will need time and safe space to bring your new thriving sex life to fruition. While you can carry on with your regular sex life as you do (follow your normal routine/schedule), I highly recommend scheduling in dedicated sexual play dates with your partner with the sole intention of exploring new territory with each other. By giving these sessions their own dedicated space, they can be isolated events that don’t ‘bleed’ into your regular routine. They are their own safe, separate entities that exist in their own space. That way, when something from your exploratory play dates is enough of a winner, it can make it’s way into your ‘regular’ routine. While some people might assume that having to schedule sex will take out some of the fun, that’s generally a limiting belief that doesn’t hold much weight once you actually get going. Do you enjoy sipping margaritas with your toes in the warm sand on your tropical vacation any less because you had to book it yourself? I didn’t think so. Give your sex life the time and space it deserves by putting your sexual play dates in your calendar. Remember, sex is supposed to be fun! How To Enjoy The Best Sex Of Your Life An intentional sex life is a thriving sex life. These exercises and discussions will pay dividends in your intimate relationship if you give them a shot.
Ryan is a Marriage Family Therapist who specializes as a sex therapist. Healing Souls focuses on intimate sexual relationships with couples and individuals as well as communication issues. Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952.261.5269.