The case for self-pleasuring

female sexual desireWith spring finally here and the juicy energy warm weather brings, it’s a perfect time to explore the sexual side of life. I want to share some thoughts on the art of self-pleasuring, originally published at Midlife Boulevard.

 

I hold my skirt, sash untied.

And stand before the window with unpainted eyebrows.

Silk clothes fly open so easily.

If my skirt opens, I’ll blame the spring wind!

Zi Ye, translated

 

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

What is it about spring that leads people to think about sex? Is it the phallic nature of flowers as they push out of the ground? Is it the shift in temperatures that tempts us to shed our heavy clothing and expose our bodies to the sun? Maybe it’s our pagan heritage.

Tennyson speaks of a young man’s fancy. I want to expand the idea of spring as an aphrodisiac to include men and women, young and old.

About 10 days ago I decided to treat myself to 25 days of self-pleasuring after hearing another sex educator talk about her yearly practice. The idea appealed to me and fit my spring-induced mood. I planned to journal about my feelings and experiences, privately, and maybe write a little about the experience of self-pleasure as a daily habit. A habit that’s not unlike going to the gym every day or vowing to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I believe that sexual wellness requires us to focus on our intimate body parts and our emotional needs. Self-pleasuring, whether you’re in a relationship or not, is good for us.

I got started, then fell into the trap I often warn others about. I got busy and failed to make time for self-pleasuring. Here are some of the things I let get in my way:

I’m too busy

Waste of time…

It’s late and I’m tired.

This is going to take work to get in the mood.

I need to be focused; this will be distracting.

Is sex all that important?

Some of you are probably asking, why does sexual pleasure matter? Or maybe you’re patting yourself on the back and saying, “I already experience desire, why do I need this?” Or, “I have sex with a partner, why would I want or need to self-pleasure?”

Do we ever know all we need to know about something? Do we get to a certain level of mastery or satisfaction and then step back? Of course not. And, why would we not think ourselves worthy of our own focused attention? I learn more about my own desire with every experience. I find new levels of arousal. I discover new sensations. It makes me a better lover and it makes me happier. And, if a low libido is the issue, then taking time to be intentional about desire may help women feel greater desire.

Let me get a little personal and tell you what happened on those days when I devoted my attention to my body. On the first day I found myself in full arousal just thinking about this idea, partly spurred on by some delicious erotica that popped up in my inbox. I stopped what I was doing and turned my focus on my pleasure. It left me with a smile and a sense of well-being.  I went back to work (I work from home) feeling more energetic. Later in the morning when I did my dry brushing before showering, I was more aware of the sensations of the brush stroking my skin. I slowed down, turning my attention to what I was doing and found myself again in a place of heightened arousal. My skin came to life, my body tingled and my mood lightened.

Day two was hectic and wasn’t finding the time for play, so I focused on the act of dressing—what did I want to wear, what would make me feel good. The smooth nude-colored bra or the black lacy one? Lace. The pleasure for that day was taking time to look at my body—to see and feel the way lingerie and clothes embraced my body and contributed to my uplifted mood. I found pleasure in what I saw in the mirror—I owned my sexiness in that moment. A different kind of self-pleasure.

I don’t know whether others set a goal for their 25 days. I want to be present to my body, my sexual moods and to expand my capacity for pleasure.  Sexual desire is not as simple as flipping on the bedroom light switch. Female desire is complex; our desire and physical arousal build in delicious layers. When we’re not directing all our focus on our body, and maybe our partner’s body, we can’t fully experience all that sex has to offer. It’s like wandering out to smell the flowers wearing dark sunglasses with a stuffy nose, while trying to read emails on our phone. The opportunity for enjoyment is diminished if we fail to give it our full attention.

I’m back to my daily practice, actively thinking about my sexual pleasure during the day. For me the practice of self-pleasuring is not goal-oriented, it’s more of an acknowledgement of the value I place on sexual arousal. Each day can present me with a chance to be playful, to allow myself to feel new sensations, and to teach me something new.  For the woman who experiences a lack of sexual desire this is a great exercise. In fact, it’s the focus of the book I’m writing on stepping into our sexual desire. Self-pleasuring is ideal for learning how to awaken the body, discover and explore erogenous zones, and increase your ability to feel desire. I’m committing to this practice and I invite you to add self-pleasuring to your daily routine.

Feel free to comment here, or come over to Midlife Boulevard and add to the conversation there.

 

Image by Milada Vigerova at UnSplash  

An intimate conversation about casual sex–just you and me

casual sexOne of my older male readers wants to know how to find a woman for casual sex. I don’t know how to tell him where to find this woman but I do have some thoughts on the subject. In fact, I wrote an article in defense of casual sex for older adults for Boomeon and another one on a more personal level that was published at Kinkly.

I am in favor of casual sex (for adults). And I think it’s going to be more satisfying (my female perspective) with someone you know–rather than a stranger you meet in the bar, library or grocery store. While I’d say that women need to be more cautious than men, it’s a good idea for all of us to be careful in approaching someone for casual sex.

Let’s say you’ve met someone and find yourself attracted to this person, but don’t necessarily want to start a relationship. You just want sex. The first step would be to convey that to him or her, in a tasteful way. If some strange man walked up to me in a bar and told me he wanted to have sex, I’d be a little put-off, a little concerned, a little amused and possibly flattered. But I probably wouldn’t say yes…unless it was Pierce Brosnan. You can start with flirtation, as hopefully there is already some degree of sexual attraction, or you can be more direct. Tell this person what you’re thinking.

“Eek, I can’t see myself doing that.”

If you can’t imagine yourself having that conversation maybe the idea of casual sex isn’t for you?

Try something like this, “I think it could be fun to explore our sexual attraction. Are you interested? (pause for a response). If this idea appeals to you let’s talk about it.”

Having the Discussion About Casual Sex

  • Be clear that you’re only looking for casual sex. Make sure that both of you are in agreement. Talk about how you’ll handle things if one of you changes your mind.
  • Discuss what happens if one of you feels some stronger emotional or romantic attachment after the fact.
  • Are there any sexually related issues?  Are you non-orgasmic? Does it take you a long time (the case for most women) to reach orgasm and, if so, does that makes you self-conscious? Is erectile dysfunction a concern? Do you take ED meds?
  • Is pregnancy an issue?
  • Talk about where this will take place. It’s not a good idea to invite a relative stranger to your house, so consider a hotel room.
  • Apprehensions? Body image issues. Fear that you might change your mind. Performance concerns? You may not talk about these but you certainly need to think about them.

 

Additional Considerations Before Having Casual Sex?

I think the best way to approach having sex, in the absence of an emotional connection, is to start slowly. Mix talking with flirting. If you’re a female worried about taking too long to orgasm share that in a sexy way–talk about what turns you on and how you like to be touched. You can find a happy medium between speaking about your needs and being playful.

Speaking of needs–you have to be clear on what you do and don’t want and any expectations you might have. If you’re into kink, are you going to share that or leave it out of the experience? Do you want something specific from this person? Tell them. Your experience will be better when the two of you are fully informed.

You might have the first conversation on the phone and follow-up over drinks. This allows you to establish your interest and get over the first hurdle in a less threatening way. I would not recommend that my 70-year-old male reader just walk up to a woman and ask her if she wants casual sex.

But how do we know who might want to have sex with us? That’s the tricky bit. Do we just charge ahead looking for a partner or do we subtly tune in to those around us–sensing mutual attraction first, then exploring? I suspect what’s behind the reader’s question is that age-old dilemma of singles–where do we find compatible, desirable people?

Attraction often comes when we least expect it and in places we can’t anticipate. Friends might give out subtle messages we overlooked or the guy across the room looking your way might be interested in getting to know you. Think about what you want and then explore how to find like-minded individuals. Be patient and open to possibilities.

Have you thought about, or had, casual sex? What went right for you? What might have been better?

 

Image by Gleangenie, Morguefile

Research on Older Adults & Sexual Health

sexual health issues A national sexual health survey, released in November 2014, examines the impact of sexual health issues on overall health, happiness, and communication among 3,015 US adults in committed relationships in which at least one partner was experiencing a sexual health issue. The study was conducted by Kelton in collaboration with the American Sexual Health Association, the Men’s Health Network, HealthWomen, and Pfizer.

“People are increasingly taking charge of their health in other areas, but that level of comfort hasn’t translated into addressing sexual health issues,” said Eli Coleman, PhD, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, Professor and Chair in Sexual Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota. “We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives, which has important implications for their overall health and happiness.” Source

Key Study Findings

The survey included 3,015 adults aged 40-74 who are sexually active and in committed relationships where at least one partner is experiencing one or more sexual health issue. Key findings include the following:

  • 64% believe that their sex life influences their overall satisfaction with their lives; however, only 38% are satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Embarrassment and resignation prevent many from talking to their doctors (26%) about sexual health challenges they are experiencing. 37% believe that these are obstacles for their partners as well.
  • Fewer than one in four couples (24%) facing sexual health issues feel that they’re always able to be honest with their partners about their sex lives.
  • Men and women have differing priorities for improving physical intimacy. For women, priorities were improving their ability to achieve an orgasm (28% vs. 19% of men), emotional bonding with their partners (32% vs. 20%), and general enjoyment of sex (34% vs. 22%). Men are more apt to focus on their physical ability to have sex (38% vs. 22% of women) and being able to experiment (28% vs. 12%).
  • More than a third of those surveyed—aged as young as 40—are resigned to a worse sex life in 20 years, especially those who are already dissatisfied with their sex lives.

 

I wanted to share this with you because it’s so exciting to seeing scientific research applied to a) older adults and b) sexual health. We should be paying attention to research on sexual health–it’s a positive step for addressing concerns, helping normalize issues and encouraging us all to pay attention to our needs and those of our partners. Sadly only 38% of the survey population expressed satisfaction with their sex life. Clearly we have work to do.

 

Men Get Their Own Day–Steak and Blowjob Day

Let’s talk about steaks, blowjobs and gender quality—with a little wit and whimsicalness.

gender, steak and BJs, sex,

Women get roses and chocolates in February. He gets a big hunk of beef and a blowjob in March. Did you know that Saturday, March 14 has been declared as Steak and Blowjob day? I’m not sure exactly who came up with that but it had to have been a man. I don’t think it has a Hallmark card just yet, but it does have a website.

Here’s what The Urban Dictionary has to say (clearly written by a man):

Steak and BJ Day was invented by Tom Birdsey, may he live forever, and may the gods eternally bless his fate. Men everywhere should build shrines and worship this man, who has been so kind as to bless us with a day devoted entirely to devouring massive hunks of cowflesh and having one’s member gobbled. Truly, he is a saint among swine, and deserving of the highest accolades in the worlds beyond.

Seriously though, Steak and BJ Day was invented as a response to Valentine’s Day, a day in which men get the ‘privilege’ of showing their affection for their significant other by spending ludicrous amounts of time, money, and effort in showering them in gifts, dinners, shows, and various other things to show them just how special they are to us.

Isn’t it about time that there was a day just like that, but devoted to having the ladies show men just how much they appreciate them? Thanks to Steak and BJ Day, this dream has finally come true.

 

The idea is that if women get their day–which is based on the presumption that Valentine’s Day is only for women–then men should have their day. And of course we know that all men want steak. And a blowjob. Is it equality, silliness or what?

I don’t have a man right now so I may just spend Saturday night alone, having a steak and watching porn clips of women giving BJs.

So, let me just say that I find this silly on one hand…and yet, the idea of reciprocity make sense. Why do we need to relegate affection and sexual pleasure to designated days, or attach gender? I’ve railed against Valentine’s Day for several years now, here and here. Restricting a show of love to one day and setting up expectations is ridiculous. So is the idea that V-day is so women-oriented that men don’t derive pleasure from it.

If Valentine’s Day is just a one-sided event then we need to rethink the whole thing. Because implicit in this women=flowers & sweets and  men=red meat & sex is the notion of different standards for men and women when it comes to love and sex. Don’t women want sex? And, more importantly don’t men want to have their feelings and emotions recognized as well? Steak and BJ day doesn’t seem to be about emotions and tender affection—it represents testosterone-laden, caveman-style thinking.

If I were in a relationship right now I would probably fix him a nice rare steak, paired with a full-bodied red wine. That blowjob might be in the picture as well–if that was his preferred way of being pleasured. The intent is to show that we care about our partners and to show our affection and our desire. If you miss Saturday, surprise your guy one afternoon after work–fix him a drink and direct him to the sofa..unzip his pants, pull it out, and show him a little affection. Who needs holidays?

So, ladies if blowjobs aren’t your thing? Buy him a big juicy steak, put on your sexiest outfit, ply him with lots of booze and hope he falls asleep early.

Here’s another take on the Steak and BJ Day concept–with a decided feminist tone. What’s the Deal with Steak and Blow Job Day Anyway? by Feminista Jones.

 

photo credit: Almost via photopin (license)