Heading into a new year tends to bring up ideas about looking forward and looking back. We reflect on what we have and haven’t done, how things are, and what we would like to be different as we consider next years calendar. Resolutions are not always helpful or healthy though, and this approach is often about cutting things out or limiting ourselves in some way, rather than taking up something that is better for us. So these are some pointers for making sexual health and wellbeing a more important part of your upcoming year.
Explore your personal definition of sex
The general understanding of the word sex, is penis in vagina penetration. But, there are so many problems with this definition, the largest being that there are lots of people that prefer to have their sex in other ways, and lots of couples that do not have both, either or a penis and or vagina between them. As psychosexual therapists we work with a more circular model of sex, rather than a linear one. Sex can be both penetrative or non-penetrative, it is explorative, it is sensual, it is personal, and it should be pleasurable, and started with enthusiastic consent. Take time to sit and think about what your own personal definition of sex is, and importantly where that comes from. You may find that you have never even considered that it could be different.
Sex education can take many different forms and isn’t just for young people, it continues throughout our lifetime through touch, experiences with others, teaching, learning, reading, conversation; and the list goes on. This point is about curiosity. To be curious is to be open, and to be open means that we are knocking on the door of new experiences every time we look around us. Listen to the perspectives and ideas of others – download Podcasts, read articles and books, and watch Ted Talks, see what you can discover about what others are saying about sex and how it illuminates your thinking.
Know Your Body
Self pleasure and exploration is central to sexual pleasure, if you know what you like then this only gives you more confidence to be able to show your partner. We just assume that because sex is never really discussed that we are just meant to automatically know what we are doing. For anything else in life we learn through trial and error, and repeated experiences, but with sex it can often feel like we don’t know where to start. Take your time to explore your body, the skin is the body’s largest erogenous zone and all bodies are unique with sensitive spots and features. The most important life lesson is about learning what feels right and good for you, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing based on the ideas and experiences of others.
For example, You can start gently moisturising all over your body, but put yourself in a mindful headspace, paying attention to the sensations that this creates. Take these techniques forward to self-pleasure, exploring yourself and learning what feels good for you. Touch, be creative and be playful, you may find using lubricant adds to the sensations, but the key is to offer yourself touch whilst giving your body and sensations your full attention. Too often in life we are distracted and it takes away from our experience. Getting stuck in our heads too often takes us away from the experiences in our bodies, which play a key role in indulging in pleasure and reaching orgasm. Give yourself the gift of your full attention.
With all of the above, learn how to communicate about it. Challenge ideas that you don’t agree with, spark thoughtful conversation about important topics and break the taboo and stigma around sex as a subject. Good sex is a personal experience, but until we know how to show and tell our partner they can’t know those parts of us. They can not look inside our heads and understand exactly what we want them to do, and this means that nobody wins. Be clear, and non-critical, approach with ‘I’ statements, in sexual relationships. Don’t feel afraid to say I know my body, I know my preferences and I know what I enjoy, as it will also inspire your partner to do the same. Great sex is rooted in great communication.