Wanting to be taken care of

We were standing in front of Penn Station talking about why I didn’t need him to come down to the waiting area with me. I was resisting his offer, for no good reason. It was an unspoken resistance that I now understand was about taking care of myself as opposed to allowing someone to take care of me. We talked for a few minutes, had a nice goodbye kiss, then he left–after escorting me down the escalator to help with my bags. I waited for my train to arrive, alone and regretting the decision.

Seth Godin writes about our fears and dreams. In his list of what one dreamed of was the phrase–being taken care of. In that moment I recognized myself. The emotion that had surfaced on my train ride home and the following day. A mixture of sadness and bewilderment at the intensity of feelings I was experiencing after a long weekend in the city–with a man I had just met. A weekend of long walks and meals and conversation–being seen and heard, and feeling attended to.

On Monday morning it came down to being taking care of as he led me along the crowded city street to the subway, carrying my bag. Checking to make sure I was comfortable taking the subway instead of a cab, navigating the train station. Small stuff, but all focused on my needs in the moment. Considerate, thoughtful, generous.

I’m not always comfortable with being attended to so thoroughly. And I often say no, politely, but a no that serves to isolate me a little and deprive others of the opportunity to do something nice for me. I insist that I can handle it. I shut down a little. I protest, silently, fearing I might be perceived as needy rather than understanding that the offer comes from a different place. The giver has his/her own motive that is based in kindness and concern.

And deep inside, I do want to be taken care of. The little girl who learned to hide her emotions, who fought off feeling helpless at times wants that. The strong woman who has fought too many battles alone would like a strong arm enveloping her–inviting her to relax and lean back a little. But she can’t always allow it. I’ve had to learn that it is OK to fall apart a little and to admit to needing help. And, that none of this diminishes me.

Maybe the only way to fulfil the dreams is to let go, to face the fears–confront my vulnerabilities. Feeling the freedom in letting go and being accepted in all my weaknesses and frailties. My wonderful traits as well. I know I’m not alone. We each have our own lists of fears and dreams. I’m processing my recent experience and thinking about what I need in my life and what I have to do in order to satisfy those dreams and desires. One of the answers, for there are many, is to accept. To trust, to let go, to be willing to embrace my vulnerabilities. And maybe what all of us need is to welcome our fear–knowing that by seeing it and labeling it, we are in charge, no longer controlled by our fears. Creating space for dreams to be filled, for good things to happen, for the right person or right experience to come into our lives.

I’m musing aloud on this. It’s a part of my process, and it’s a bit uncomfortable admitting to this in public, but that’s also part of the process.  I used to think it was harder for women to let themselves be taken care of, in our struggles to show our strength and independence in a culture that labels us as the weaker sex. I believe men also have that desire for someone to want to take care of them–it’s what happens when we’re connected to another. It’s not an indicator of neediness or frailty, actually it takes strength to admit to wanting or needing a little assistance or attention at any given moment. It’s not about making one of us weaker, it’s about giving. Pleasure comes in all forms. When the offer is heartfelt and we say no, we have denied both of us an opportunity for something good.

Your thoughts?

Finding Our Voice–How It Benefits our Relationships and Sex Lives

communication, words, sexy talkThere are lots of ways we add that extra bit of oomph to our relationships–communication is one of the best ways to strengthen our connections with others. For me, flirting and seduction involve words. I recently shared an example from my life in this article about finding our voice, Words Matter—In Real Life and In Intimate Relationships, which first appeared on Midlife Boulevard.

It was a day of playful distractions as I emailed back and forth with a former lover. It started with my comment that he rarely used endearments unless he had consumed a beer or two. Stone cold sober he started sending short messages the next morning—on his way to the airport at 5:45 am. Doll. Babe. Cutie Pie. Sugarplum.

I replied to each email with my own term until I hit a creative block and wrote “pukkie-bear”. Laughing, I broke down and googled Endearments for Men. It was a fun day with a light spontaneity that felt easy and sexy.

We forget the power of words in our day-to-day conversations.  Most of us don’t use words often enough to convey our desires or communicate fully with our partners. And when we fail to use our voices we shortchange ourselves and the people we are with—friend, family member, co-worker, boss, lover.

Recently I was grumbling about a romantic encounter that hadn’t gone the way I envisioned when the woman I was talking to pointed out that I had lost my voice. She was absolutely right. In that crucial moment I had chosen to keep quiet. It’s not easy to admit that here, where I write about sex and sexuality and often tout communication as a necessary tool for intimate relationships. I didn’t speak up about what I really needed and, as a result, the experience wasn’t as satisfying for me as it might have been.

There are several levels of communication you can employ during your intimate moments. (I love words and wordplay so the man who uses his words well already has an advantage!)

  • Sweet, silly words of endearment are fun for breaking the ice, sharing your affection in a light-hearted way. A smile and a ‘sweetie pie’ convey warmth and affection.
  • Hot and sexy words—some of us don’t like to use explicit language while others find it a huge turn-on. Do you want a partner to murmur sexy words to you as part of your intimate play? Does it add an erotic charge? Typically men are more comfortable with talking during sex than women are—but it’s important to test the waters carefully. You want to find the right tone. Men do seem to like it when you tell them what you like about their actions.
  • Serious communication–a must in any relationship, regardless of the level of connection. I have found that midlife women aren’t always comfortable expressing their sexual needs. It can feel awkward asking for what we want—particularly if we have the mindset that a ‘good’ lover should know. And surely after so many years of marriage our partners should have figured us out, right?


Our partners aren’t mind readers. And if you’re in a relationship with a traditional midlife or older man he may also feel some discomfort when it comes to talking about matters of intimacy. It’s not something we learned to do nor do we have role models for that kind of communication. And yet there is something incredibly sexy and powerful about stating what you need and want.

Most importantly, when you give voice to what you’re expecting or hoping for you avoid misunderstandings by communicating clearly. You know your body, your desires, and your comfort level better than anybody. The burden is on us to state our needs. We forget that sometimes.

If giving voice to your intimate needs feels hard, then start small. Tell him/her why you liked the kiss you got earlier in the day. Talk about what you think would be fun to try—do it in a nonsexual setting so it feels less vulnerable. Ask for what you want. Directly.

“I would love it if you would rub my feet as we get into bed.”

“Could we spend some time _____________ tonight?  

Finding and using one’s voice is the ideal way to nurture and sustain your relationships—easier when things are smooth sailing, but vital to having the experiences you want to have. It requires a certain amount of trust in your partner and a willingness to be a little vulnerable. Suppose he says no, or ignores your wishes? It might hurt, but it’s a good judge of character and useful information. Chances are your partner will appreciate the trust you’ve placed in him or her and respond in kind. The possible benefit of giving voice to your aspirations, your needs, your comforts and discomforts far outweighs the possible negatives.

So, Sweet Cheeks…start practicing!

Why it’s important to make time for sex

desire, sexuality, self-careI’ve been AWOL for so long that I don’t quite know how to get back in the flow of writing. I’m thinking about sex; I spoke about sexuality and education for midlife women earlier this month at the Sexuality and Aging Institute at the Woodhull Sexuality Freedom Summit. I’m practicing a little self-love. I just haven’t been writing about it.

In the last 6 weeks I’ve moved, sold my house, had two separate visits with my granddaughters, given a presentation at a national conference and unpacked and unpacked and unpacked. It’s been busy. I’m currently working on finding a little compassion for myself in the face of all the things I think I ‘ought’ to have done during that time.

It’s challenging when our lives are stressful or we’re undergoing changes. Aside from the actual tasks that need to be accomplished we often have the emotional challenges arising from our own expectations. Those expectations can either help us get the work done or overwhelm us to the degree that we feel trapped. My experience is somewhere in the middle–leaning towards the trapped end.

Add a partner to the mix and all the expectations that come with maintaining relationships and fulfilling our ‘roles’–whatever those may be—and feeling sexy isn’t on the agenda. I think it’s important, maybe even more so now, to make time for sex and intimacy.

A sexual state of mind is essential for most women if they are to have satisfying experiences. The definition of that state of mind varies from person to person. What works for me might not work for you. I have a hard time shutting down the ‘monkey brain’ (a term Pema Chodron uses) even during sex. So, a to-do list or other concerns/stressors often get in the way of me being in my body. I can get distracted by the smallest, silliest of things.

When we’re not present to our body or the body of our partner our ability to engage fully in intimate acts is affected. Obviously you don’t want to wait to have sex until all the pressing issues have been addressed–there will always be a pressing issue. What you can do is find a way to set aside time, to devote your minds and bodies to your desire, and engage with your partner. It is the act of giving yourself permission to step out of one mindset and embrace the other.

In fact, if we take care of our emotional and physical desires we may find ourselves refreshed and ready to tackle daily tasks, work and other more mundane chores with a renewed energy. Sexual satisfaction and orgasm energize us. The hormonal release of oxytocin floods us with a sense of well-being, relaxes our body, and nurtures us to our core. So, there are very good reasons to make time for intimate connections.

The choice to be present to sex, to engage willfully with our fullest presence and intention, is ours. We can make decisions that allow us to embrace intimate moments by prioritizing what we want or what we need to in the moment.

What will you do to make time for sexual intimacy?

So You Want to Seduce a Woman–Here’s How!

I told you in my last article about my trip to NYC and my visit to the bar—this recent article on how to seduce a woman, written for Midlife Boulevard, sprang from that experience.

Ten Tips For Seducing A Woman

After recently meeting a sleazy guy in a bar who I’m sure was trying to ‘get in my pants’, I thought it might be useful to come up with some tips on how to make a good impression when seducing a woman.

Let’s start with the understanding that we can learn a lot about a person’s sexual skills by how they interact in other situations. In no particular order here are my observations and best advice for seducing a woman, especially a mature woman:

1. When you start a conversation with me, don’t turn it into a one-man bragging fest. Ask me some questions; engage in a conversation with me. Don’t talk at me. Do not shush me or talk over me continually. It feels like a put-down, with a hint of gender bias.

2. Show me you understand consent—ask if you can sit next to me; ask if you can get me something. If you’re going to put your arm around me, check to make sure I’m OK with your touch. If you see me flinch, or feel me tighten up, you should stop touching me–even if I’m too polite or shy to say anything!

3. If you can’t tell how I’m receiving your advances your lack of intuition tells me that you’re not going to be very good at reading my level of desire or responsiveness in an intimate situation.

4. If you want to kiss me don’t make it a surprise attack. Use some delicacy—approach with care and, again, make sure I’m enjoying it.  You could even ask permission to kiss me.

Done in the right way, checking for my consent is pretty sexy. It means that you understand the back and forth of sex. And, that you understand sex is better when two people can communicate wants and needs.

5. Bad kissers—you know the ones who come at you with a wide-open mouth and try to shove their tongues down your throat? That lack of finesse applies to other intimate acts. Trust me, I know.

6. Seduce me. Tell me why you want to be intimate with me. Let me know that you have a desire to please me in the way I ask to be pleasured.

7. Politics and seduction do not mix. Unless you see me wearing a specific candidate’s button and you also support that person, don’t start sharing your views. Start with something neutral.

8. Save the angry rants, the criticisms of your ex-wife, your hatred of your job. Anger and intimacy don’t go together.

9. If you’re married and want a secret fling on the side, move on. Deception and dishonesty don’t make for a good relationship. Even if you disclose that—move on.

10. If I ask you about sexually transmitted infections and you refuse to discuss it, I’m not having sex with you. If you refuse to wear a condom, I take that as a sign of disregard for my well-being.

Intimacy is a big deal—even if it’s non-romantic sex with a friend. It requires trust and comfort with the person you’re about to engage with. We all want a good experience so we need to be aware of who we’re about to get naked with. We can be proactive in choosing partners.

I’ve made mistakes in the past and looking back, I knew it was going to be a mistake but ignored my intuition. The sleazy guy in the bar didn’t get very far because I have learned my lesson.

What about you? Do you think about how public behavior might translate in the bedroom?

Read more from Thornton about communicating your needs in the bedroom, what might be wrong about faking your orgasm, and why women might need to change their “sex-pectations” over 40. You can also read more on her blog, WalkerThornton.com