Often, the questions we ask of ourselves are what finally carve the shape of our lives. A great question excites us, opens new doors, and invites both compassion and curiosity. I’d like to offer two such questions about sex. Your answers will teach you rich lessons about your sex life—and more.
These two questions are simple. In fact, they are obvious. They are also gentle, yet, like so many gentle things, they have the power to change us deeply. (Perhaps this is why we spend so much time avoiding them!) However, as with any real adventure, the first consideration is safety. Please read the caveats at the end of this post. If any apply to you, consider getting support before doing the deeper work these questions invite.
The first question is this: What turns you on most in sex?
Frequently, our sexual turn-ons just don’t fit our self-image. We might fantasize about being sexually submissive, but feel humiliated by that desire. Or we might fantasize about being sexually dominant, but feel afraid of who that makes us. Perhaps the things which truly excite us are embarassing because they are just so “vanilla;” so uninventive and basic. Whether exotic or not, our deepest erotic sparks are portals to a deeper experience of sex and of self.
Often, these sexual portals illumine parts of ourselves we just don’t know what do with. Few of us have been taught how to handle our most evocative sexual fantasies in a creative, celebratory, non-destructive way. Sometimes, we may judge our most colorful desires as odd, even perverted.
David Schechter, theater director and lyricist for the recent Broadway musical “Soul Doctor,” rescues the word perverse by proposing a lovely twist to it. Schechter asks, “What if perverse means ‘per-verse’—or, ‘through poetry?”‘ When we explore our wild side, we play in a landscape of sexual poetry; a world of inner symbolism which may never make conscious sense but which still feels gratifying and meaningful. The majority of us need help in embracing our wild side in sex, and in distinguishing between behaviors which are harmful to us or our partner, and those which are simply—and wonderfully—“per-verse” So, take a moment to think what kinds of sex excites you most. What actions, what body parts, what behaviors—what outfits?
Allow yourself the freedom of play in your reflections. You will probably hit some waves of discomfort as you go. Track them; if they are too disturbing, it may be best to enlist the support of a skilled, credentialed and non-judgmental psychotherapist. If your fantasies just feel embarrassing, surprising, or out of the pale, see if you can imagine embracing them. Whatever they are, I assure you that there are others who share the same turn-ons, and with whom sharing those turn-ons would be an experience of mutual delight. Our partner (or if we are single, our future partner) has hidden desires of his or her own! Following our own deeper turn-ons, including ones we have been timid about exploring, can help deepen and enrich our entire sexual experience.
More on next page…