If only everyone knew what sex therapists know, our world probably won’t need any sex therapists.
Needless to say, though, most people do not study sexology, and sex therapists are still much-needed.
But there are three important principles, that if people would fully understand about their sex lives, would reshape their sex lives for the better.
These are so obvious for any sex therapist, but ground-breaking for almost everyone else.
If I knew these things myself in my early days, my sex life would have been much better. And so would the sex lives of most of the people who write to me to share their most intimate sexual woes.
Principle number 1: there’s nothing wrong with you.
Our society’s portrayal of sex and sexuality has affected the way we think we should enjoy sex.
We absorbed endless messages that contributed to our understanding of what sex is, how it looks like, how it feels like, what we should be doing, and how often we should be doing it.
Many people do not find pleasure in sex which falls into this narrative. Perhaps at some stage in their life or their relationship, but not on an ongoing basis.
And when sex is not as awesome as we think it’s supposed to be, we start to think there’s something wrong with us.
The most important thing you need to know about your sexuality is that you’re normal. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Human sexuality has endless ways to express itself.
That odd thing that turns you on? It’s normal.
The peculiar place in your body that fills you with pleasure? It’s normal.
You need to use lube? It’s normal.
You can’t get an erection? It’s normal.
Enjoying sex comes in different shapes and colors, and personal experiences and inclinations will affect your preferences. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you if the way you enjoy sex doesn’t look like what society tells you is “normal”.
The only thing you need to make sure is that whoever you have sex with is as thrilled as you are.
There is one exception:
It is not normal to experience pain during sex (unless you are turned on by pain and you inflict it upon yourself — that’s a different story altogether. And by the way it’s normal).
If you are experiencing any unwanted pain, physical or other, investigate its causes and treat them.
And please know that you can learn how to enjoy your sexuality with whatever condition you might have.
Principle number 2: communication is vital.
Many of us feel uncomfortable discussing sex. There’s shame, guilt, or embarrassment lurking around.
Couple these with the notion that sex is supposed to happen naturally, all by itself, and that everyone knows what they’re doing — and you get a recipe for disaster. Or at least for disappointments.
Communicating with your sexual partner about what you expect, what you enjoy, what you hate, is imperative.
There’s nothing unsexy or unattractive in letting your sexual partner know what you want. And it doesn’t all have to be in words. Communicating with your body can be very effective, sometimes more than communicating verbally. So long as your partner can read your signals.
Sometimes you might feel comfortable communicating about sex but your partner doesn’t. Don’t despair! Find a way to open up about sex with your partner in a way that keeps them on board. It might be tricky at times, but it’s well worth it.
Principle number 3: the dual control model.
When looking to improve your sex life, what do you do? If you’re anything like what I used to be, I’m guessing you Google “tips to make sex better” or something of sorts. Which would lead you to loads of information about enhancing your sex life. The right moves to rock your world, mind-blowing positions, sex toys, and all that jazz.
What you are less likely to find is something that every sex therapist knows: it’s not just about making it better, it’s also about working on what holds you back.
In her book Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski uses the analogy of the accelerator and the break. No matter how hard you hit the accelerator pad in your car, if you’re also hitting the break, you ain’t gonna go anywhere.
When it comes to sex, knowing all the techniques in the universe will not help you if something in your psyche is stopping you from enjoying it.
Your job, hence, is not only to assimilate the knowledge you acquired from your favorite sex columnist. You also need to ask yourself if you feel guilt, or shame, or embarrassment, or any combination of those. And if you do, you’ll have to teach yourself how to release that break until you can drive full speed ahead.
You don’t need to be a sex therapist to have a great sex life.
But if you know and apply these three principles, there’s a better chance your sex life will be just fantastic.