Q&A-How to Rekindle Sexual Desire

In my last article I spoke to a reader’s question about how to rekindle her sexual desire. I talked about steps she could take, on her own, to feel more interested in sex. Hopefully she’s tried some of my suggestions or, at the very least, thought about ways to reengage her mind and body sexually.

The mental component of feeling sexy, or sexual, is essential for women. Men too. We have to get beyond the automatic response of “I don’t want sex anymore” and find a way to build interest, and then desire. You do it as a solitary practice and you do it with a partner. 

The second step—moving towards exploring sex with a husband, partner or lover can be a little more complicated. You want to be able to trust that your partner (fill in with the preferred term) is willing to let you lead. The last thing you want is for him/her to rush forward eagerly pursuing sex if you’re not ready. 

If you’re ready to experiment sexually, to see if you will feel some arousal, you can decide if you want to go for full sexual contact or something else. Maybe you’d like to receive a non-erotic massage or a full body embrace. Would you like to be caressed first and see how that feels?   

 You get to decide what you want to happen in this first encounter. And to communicate that, clearly and truthfully. For example, “I want to see what it feels like to have you touch me, but I’m not sure how far I want to go. So, I may ask you to stop if I change my mind.” 

Each of you may have different ideas about what you want to happen in this first encounter. Some therapists advise planning a romantic sexy interlude and going right into having sex. Others suggest more ‘neutral’ ways of connecting with a partner to gradually ease you back into intimacy. You are the only one who knows what might work for you.

However, there are a few things to consider as you talk with your partner about trying sex again: 

  • Have a positive attitude about this. You have to want to be intimate with your partner. Do not force yourself or feel pressured.
  • Take a little time to think yourself into sexy. Or as I wrote in an earlier post, step into your sexual desire
  • Take charge of your sexual desire. Don’t expect your partner to make it happen. Don’t assume that he or she will know what you need or know when to stop. You have to play the lead role and tell, or show, that person what you want. Your partner may be just as nervous about this as you are. This is where my earlier recommendations come into play. If you’ve taken the time to do some self-pleasuring and getting reacquainted with your body then you have a better idea of what will turn you on.  
  • Don’t set a goal or have unrealistic expectations. Your goal is to be present to the sensations in your body. Be open to whatever happens—orgasm or not. Each step forward is another step to creating the kind of sexual relationship you want to have.

 

These are my thoughts and recommendations based on personal experience and study.  I am not a sex therapist, so keep that in mind. But I do believe that we have the ability to think ourselves into pleasure. 

 Image from morgueFile

Q&A-Help, I’ve Lost My Sexual Desire

sexuality, loss of desire, medication, libidoI got a question today from a woman who is on a medication that has taken away her sexual desire. As she says, “zero, zip, nada, nothing.”

So, I’m going to tackle this topic delicately because I don’t want to diminish the validity of this woman’s feelings. And, let me acknowledge right now that I can’t put myself in her head or really know how my suggestions might work for her. But it’s worth a try if she’s willing to experiment and her husband understands that she gets to call a halt if it’s not working out.

Dear Reader,

It sounds like you and your husband are having an open conversation about your loss of interest in sex. That’s wonderful! You care about him and you want to satisfy him and that’s great. But, don’t do that if you’re going to resent him or find yourself growing more distant in the process (not that you’ve indicated anything like that). 

In my experience much of desire is a mental process. We have to think about sex and visualize our bodies being aroused. As with many things in life, the more we think positively about it, the more likely we are to genuinely slip into those feelings. Just like we force ourselves to get dressed on those days we’d rather stay in pjs. Or going to a party we’re dreading–we get all dolled up and put on our happy face and find that the party turns out to be a lot fun! We make an effort and give it a little time, knowing we can leave at any point.

I’m currently writing a book about finding and cultivating our desire, after hearing from so many women who feel disconnected from their bodies. One of my suggestions is to begin a sensuous self-care practice to awaken your body. You start by surrounding yourself with the little things that activate your senses-silky body creams, food that melts on the tongue, aromas… You practice creating and experiencing pleasure,  gradually expanding to the sexual. Caressing your own body in the shower, getting a massage, reading erotica. And, keep going. Get out the coconut oil and get to know your body all over again. Don’t expect to feel waves of desire, don’t push for the orgasm. Explore your genitals- get to know your clitoris, the feeling of fingers gliding across the delicate inner thighs, your labia. What feels nice? Do you like light pressure or a firmer touch. Is your skin tingling? Breathe deeply and relax. Enjoy this and consider it a form of meditation if you will. The goal is to strengthen the pathways that lead to sexual desire.  Three minutes, twenty minutes…whatever you can tolerate at first. No pressure, no expectations. 

I could go on but this is enough to process for now.  The next steps involve bringing your husband into the practice with you. The two of you would plan to add in a little physical contact depending on what you’re up for. It might be as simple as cuddling on the sofa or something more intimate like lying in an embrace in bed. You might try taking a shower together and washing each other.  It will depend on your comfort level and how willing you are to be vulnerable. We’ll talk more about this in my next article. 

I want to applaud you for talking about this with me and for taking steps to recapture the sexual desire you experienced in the past.  

Dear Husband,

Accept that she’s trying and be open to exploring this slowly with her.   She cares about pleasing you and that’s a wonderful thing for your relationship.  It must be difficult for you to understand what’s happening; she feels the same way. As challenging as it is when you feel desire and she doesn’t, try to accept the level of intimacy that she can give now without expectations. If a foot massage is what she needs to feel connected, go with it. The bigger problems tend to arise when couples stop touching completely.

~

When sexual desire diminishes it affects both partners. It has an impact on our relationships, our energy, our sense of well-being and our femininity. I do believe it is possible to rekindle sexual desire, but I can’t promise that it’s as easy as I’ve made it sound. 

Take your time. Give yourself permission to feel uninterested if that feeling arises. Give yourself permission to play and explore. You are already open to the possibility of change and that’s the first step. Now go turn on some hip rocking music, close the curtains and let your body feel the music.

Walker 

Comments are welcome but please don’t “tell” her what she should do. We each have to find our own way-suggestions or tips that work for you are welcome. 

Aging and Sexuality-These Grannies Are Strutting Their Stuff

aging and sexuality, Edwin OlafThis series of mature women posing in classic pin-up shots from an earlier time popped up on Nerve.com recently. I posted it on my Facebook page and in a group composed of women around my age. It struck a nerve. 

Here’s what the introduction to the photos said, “Hoping to crush the stereotypical idea that sex appeal lies with youth, these 10 aging models took on classic pin-up poses for Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf‘s series, ‘Mature.’ Wearing skimpy lingerie, the septuagenarians truly embraced their age and owned their bodies’ matured sexuality by displaying the features they’re most fond of after all these years.”

As I see it, the photo shoot was as much about looking at society’s concept of sexuality as it was expressing the idea that we can continue to feel and be sexual beings despite our age. The comments I received ranged from enthusiastic support to disdain that we still connect ‘sexy’ with semi-naked bodies. Some of us focused on the ability to see and experience aging in all it’s glory-wrinkles, sags and all. Others pointed out that sexy isn’t about the body–it’s about who we are, our relationship to ourself and our partners. And, there was a bit of an “enough already” feeling in there as well. 

I see this photo shoot as a way of reminding us that the images we see today are not real. They are enhanced images of women that hold out some artificial notion of “sexy”. So much so we’ve come to associate the idea of being and looking sexy with perfectly round breasts and satiny smooth blemish free skin–with oh so delectable curves. Olaf, the photographer of this photo shoot, brought us real images of real women. Women displaying poise and guts.  Women who possess enough confidence and comfort with their bodies to pose in alluring, daring outfits. 

One woman, in my group, commented that as we age sexy becomes more about who we are rather than how we look. I see her point. But, shouldn’t sexy always be about who we are, how we feel and how we choose to act? If we hold to a notion that only the youthful and beautiful get to show off their sexiness it serves to negate the rest of us. Can we be 25 lbs overweight, saggy and not gorgeous and still be sexy? What about all the women who don’t get to be in the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition? Or those of us classified as “Old”? Are they not sexy in their own right? The people in wheelchairs? Those with other disabilities-physical, emotional, intellectual. Do they have sexiness, or sexual desires?

We have to get past the sexy images and get to the essence of what makes a person feel sexy. Or feel sexual. It’s not about looks or red high heels and push up bras. It’s not about enhanced bustlines. And, maybe we need to drop the word ‘sexy’ all together. 

aging and sexuality

“I don’t see sexy as something to turn on or off. I see it as something that broadens in meaning.” From one of the women in the conversation.

 It’s clear to me that within a group of individuals there will always be a range of opinions. When the topic is SEX, personal feelings and experiences come into play and shape our responses. Sexy to me is going to be different from your definition and experiences. It’s that diversity that keeps the conversation going.

Do you see that photo shoot as being all about “sexy”?

The Pleasure Plan 2014

At the beginning of the year I wrote about my Pleasure Plan for 2014. I want to share the full article with you and encourage you to think about creating intentional pleasure in your life–sexual or not. It’s also a good reminder for me to take note of how I’m doing! 

Planning for a Year of Pleasure

Are you in planning mode? It is the time of year when we begin to think ahead with goals and hopes for something different. Have you thought about making a plan to increase your pleasure?

Last week I wrote about risks I took in 2013.

I reread the article and realized I had omitted one of the riskiest things I did this year. It was a brazen beginning to a journey I’ll be taking for quite a while. I wrote about it on my website, WalkerThornton.com.   I went to a Back to the Body Retreat run by Pamela Madsen, Will Fredericks and Ron Stewart. Five days of total immersion in the body—appreciating, learning and experiencing ourselves as women.

One of the conversations we had with the facilitators was about creating pleasure in our lives. We were asked to go home and create a pleasure plan for the upcoming year. It’s a fabulous idea and I want you to consider creating your 2014 plan for pleasure too.

Mine will be a mix of pleasures of the flesh and sensual experiences.  We can call pleasures of the flesh sensual, but for now I want to differentiate the two.

There are a couple of ways to approach this. You might make a list, use a calendar, or get playful and combine collage with notebook to create an array of things that will bring you pleasure over the next year. Documenting your journey could be fun.

There is only one rule:

This is about YOUR pleasure.

These are some things I want in my life next year:

Pleasure of the flesh

  • Monthly massages.
  • Schedule a facial for February.
  • Plan for sexy evenings—tell my partner what I envision and ask him to participate in ‘my’ pleasure plan (note that I’m not leaving this to chance).
  • Go shopping for a new corset or bustier.
  • Swim more—I love the way my body feels in the water and after I’ve finished my laps.
  • Lots of kissing.
  • Make love on the back deck on a hot steamy summer afternoon.
  • Experiment with sex toys to increase my body’s responsiveness.

 

Sensuous Experiences

  • Start eating with intention—adding color and richness to my meals. Create a pretty plate and eat at the dining room table.
  • Indulge in high thread count sheets for my bed.
  • Watercolor classes.
  • Buy flowers.
  • Take walks.
  • Read stimulating books, erotica and intellectual.
  • Light candles.

Some of the elements of my pleasure plan involve changes in habits. Others are about taking up new hobbies or activities. Some—pure indulgences. All are designed to provide me pleasure.

Pleasure is not a naughty word.

As mothers, caregivers, grandmothers, single women or partners we need individual moments of pleasure to keep us going. They stoke the fire; they give us the energy to participate in a full life.

Feeling good about ourselves—however that manifests for you—helps us feel more vibrant and sexier. There are several components to a good pleasure plan. They include the physical and the emotional. Get the blood flowing, the skin tingly, the senses engaged and you will feel the sexual energy flowing through your body. Don’t forget the mind.  Incorporate pleasures that engage you mentally—whether it’s explicitly sexual or a more overall sensuous feeling.

There are no limits to where and how we find pleasure in our lives. The key is to be intentional. Look for opportunities to connect, explore, and be open to new experiences. Stand in front of the sink in your panties and eat a juicy mango, letting the sweet juices drip down your breasts. Imagine a lover licking those juices from you. Dress in your sexiest lingerie and admire your curves. Feel the sexiness. Feel the decadence of wrapping yourself in soft pleasing textures.

Open yourself to the pleasure that awaits when you bring yourself into awareness. It’s there, just waiting for you. Embrace it.

Article first published on Better After 50. 

Image from Morguefile: http://morguefile.com/creative/ManicMorFF