My aging clients all want help with reclaiming the sex of their youth. Men who cannot last long and women who experience dryness want to be turned on immediately and stay on. Parents of all genders usually experience a time in their sex lives where they have to start having sex in order to get into the mood, not get into the mood in order to have sex. Surgeries, spinal cord injuries, and illnesses will also mean that we may need to negotiate with our disabilities an physical pain before we negotiate sex with our partners. No wonder so many couples just chuck the baby out with the bath water and say "to hell with sex. It's too much work." Sex therapy can help you have even better sex than when in your youth, it's just not going to be the same. First, you have to accept these basic 11 principles:
It Is All About Sex
I have heard many clients try to justify their unwillingness to adjust to a change in their sex life with statements like "Sex isn't everything. this period of time has shown me I can live without it." Yes, you will not literally keel over and die from no sex, but it actually can prolong your life! The good enough sex (GES) model encourages the idea that sex is an integral part of a couples comfort, intimacy, desire, pleasure, eroticism, and satisfaction.
You Are A sexual Team
As a therapist deeply invested in the Gottman Method, I often tell couples that they must remain forever curious about their partner. You are intertwined and you will never know all there is to know about your partner needs and desires. Nor are you capable of mind reading, able to know everything they feel and believe about your new inability to perform the way you did in your twenties. Your partner's sexual satisfaction is not tied to whether or no you can last like a porn star. Your partner's satisfaction is inextricably intertwined with intimacy and the ability for BOTH of you to get off.
Come Back To Reality
If you think that men should all be hung 10 inches, last 2 hours, and ejaculate every time they have intercourse you will be sorely disappointed. If you believe women should all orgasm through penetration alone, maintain vaginal lubrication through an entire sexual escapade, and maintain the body of their 25-year-old selves with little to no exercise, you will be sorely disappointed. We must set reasonable expectations for our bodies as we age, face disability, and parenthood. In addition to reasonable expectations for our physiological reactions to stimulation and biological changes due to age, we must also be realistic about long-term relationships. Our partners will not always want sex in the same way as when we first met. There are many solutions to changes in sex drives over time and at some point we will all need to deal with a
Value your health and that of your partner. Increased blood flow comes from eating well and occasionally exercise. Blood flow is important to maintain an erection. And yes, ladies, if you have a vulva, you too can get erect. Your clitoris swells to three times its size when it's ready for penetration and that is when you are truly aroused.
Relaxation is key
We have a concept of sex therapy, called performance anxiety. Stop taking your fears about sex to bed. You will not experience pleasure if your thoughts are on being able to last, hiding your least flattering body parts, and trying to get wet immediately. Some helpful types of therapies for getting out of your head and back into your body include Sensate Focus and other mindfulness therapies. Also, if you're anxious your autonomic nervous system will react. You cannot have an orgasm if you're focused on willing yourself to have an orgasm. To my next point...
It's not All About The Big O
Desire and Satisfaction are more important than Orgasm. More than orgasms I find people seek out sex therapy because they want to be seen. It is very lonely to harbor desires for years sometimes decades. For instance, believing your partner will leave you for bing kinky can be incredibly burdensome. Closeting a lifestyle choice will quite obviously create a rupture in the relationship causing a lot of pain. Orgasms can be important if you've never experienced one and are curious, but being able to safely express our true selves is a bigger deal.
Take the 80% Approach
It means that we do not have to be overachiever and score a 100% on the exam. Performance anxiety wrecks our ability to be present in bed. It blocks orgasms and pleasure because we are overcome with negative beliefs about "keeping it up" "rocking her world" and images of behaving like porn stars. Rather, accept that your sex could be awesome even if you fall while trying a new positions. Your sex can be awesome even if in takes you hours to get wet. Your sex can be awesome even if it only includes mutual masturbation and 69 because that all the two of you can tolerate that night.
Have More than One Reason to Have Sex
Diversify your reasons for having sex.
Integrate the Three Arousal Styles
Difference is not A Problem
Accept your similarities to your partner but also respect their differences. Perhaps your partner is not into the same types of sex that turn you on, but that does not mean they disrespect you or your turn-ons. I once heard a presenter make the analogy that if you really like sex in California and the other really likes sex in Dubai, the commute may be bearable for a while, but eventually you will have to compromise and essentially live in Canada. If your partner no longer has the ability to participate in sex the way that you like, you may need to find new kinds of sex that both interest you.
Put Your Stamp On It
Sex is playful, energized, spiritual, and special. It does not have to be missionary and boring just because you are getting older. Sex can still be new and exciting if you remain curious to whats is out there and to how your body is responding. Touch is the last sense to go before we die and that to me shows us how important pleasure is to a holistic experience of life. Sex is just one means to exploring that pleasure.
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Sexpert & psychotherapist, Quandra Chaffers, presents Sass-y comments on love, health, and relationships--Comments too tangential or racy for the therapy room.