One of the most common statements I make during a therapy session is telling people to take responsibility for their own sexual pleasure. But what does that really mean? When I advise people to be responsible for their own pleasure the first thing I want them to do is let go of the myth that they are responsible for their partner's orgasm. Each person is only responsible for their own pleasure and orgasm (if orgasm is what they are after). Partners are definitely encouraged to be enthusiastic participants and help with the O, but like you, they are responsible for their own sexual pleasure.
In order to experience pleasure, certain conditions need to be met. These conditions are different for each individual. Some thought may need to be given to figuring out what needs to happen, or not happen, in order to stack the deck in favour of the best sex possible. For example, many people talk about being distracted by their to-do list. If at all possible, scratch off as many items as you can before becoming amorous (though said tongue and cheek, it is no joke that a partner doing the dishes or folding the laundry can be considered foreplay).
An MRI study observing people bringing themselves to orgasm, reported that wearing socks makes it easier to orgasm. When the women were barefoot, 50 per cent were able to climax, but when participants were given socks, 80 per cent were orgasmic. Why? They were warmer, more comfortable, and less distracted by the cold. This study illustrates that many of the reasons people do not want to have sex, are not sex related and can often be solved with a simple solution. Cold? Put on some socks. Tired? Take a short nap. Distracted by a messy room? Tidy it up. Worried the kids will walk in? Find them playdates. You want to feel fresh and clean? Take a shower.
When there is an obstacle preventing you from having or enjoying sex, take it seriously, and then do something about it!
So you have identified some of the obstacles getting in the way of sex, but your work is not yet done. Now it's time to consider what you want to add to make the experience more pleasurable. Do you like sticking your finger in your partner's ear? Find a partner who will let you stick your finger in their ear. Want to eat chocolate cake while having your feet massaged? Get your partner to rub your tootsies while forking some Dufflet double decker chocolate fudge cake into your mouth. Want to use a vibrator? Go for it. Think of all the things that you can control to help set the mood. What do you need to do for yourself? What could you ask your partner to do to help? Where is the best space (public, private, bedroom, vacation)? What body parts do you want touched? Which body parts do you want avoided? What do you want to do to your partner?
I was recently at a conference and one of the presenters talked about getting "wet between the ears". I wholeheartedly agree that orgasms happen in your brain not your genitals (although genital stimulation can be helpful). So, what gets you wet between the ears?
About the author: Rae Dolman is a full-time mom and a part-time sex therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital since November 2002. She is a regular Contributor to Her Magazine. Read more from Rae here.
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