As a marriage therapist I occasionally have to deal with issues around sex. My therapeutic understanding of sex was shaped by a mentor and friend of mine, James Vann Rackley. He not only taught my sex therapy class, but also performed the ceremony at my wedding. I don’t remember much about my wedding except that I was nervous. I mean like really nervous. My panic must have been obvious because as I stood at the wedding arch waiting for the music to begin, Rackley, kind giant that he is, decided to check on me.
“How you doing?”
“Okay. A little anxiety.”
“Performance anxiety?” He said with a sly smile.
Oh Rackles shackles. That goof ball.
But seriously I wish he had taught me more about sex.
There are two types of desire, spontaneous and responsive. People with spontaneous desire, the more culturally accepted form of desire, typically experience desire “out of the blue” and typically desire sex more frequently. This is the majority of men (75%). People with responsive desire experience desire in after being exposed to an erotic context and therefore tend to be pathologized for “wanting sex less” or for not being aroused. This is the majority of women (85%). If you’re the responsive partner, and it can switch at times, the trick is less about making yourself feel desire and more about being willing to explore what feels good and maybe in the course of that, you will feel desire. So just do what feels good.
Arousal works like a car. There is an accelerator and there is a brake. The accelerator is anything that turns you on. The brakes are anything which turn you off. Most problems of arousal are caused by too much pressure on the gas way before the brakes have released. The biggest brakes are stress/anxiety/worry. What does this mean on a day to day level? It means that often times people have trouble with sex because they are stressed/anxious/worried. This tends to show up in men as premature ejaculation or performance anxiety. In women this can show up as trouble getting aroused or having an orgasm (although female orgasm is complicated so this might not be the only thing).
So, if you wanna turn them on focus more on the releasing the brakes and less on the accelerator. One of the biggest brakes is pressure to perform. So, relax that pressure and simply do what feels good.
“only a minority of women are really reliably orgasmic from intercourse alone — the overwhelming majority are sometimes, rarely, or never orgasmic from intercourse and require more direct clitoral stimulation…the cultural narrative around women’s orgasms is that they happen with intercourse, while the reality is sometimes they do and often they don’t. [Also] the percentage of women who never have orgasms [is about] 5–10%.” — Emily Nagoski. Also, it’s quite common for a man to lose an erection during sex. Something like 50% of men do. So sometimes she can’t orgasm and sometimes he can’t keep it up. Okay. Why not just focus on what feels good.
All this leads to a central revelation: Sex is more about pleasure than orgasm.
Jordan Harris just passed his PhD defense and is waiting for conferral in august of 2017 (YAY). He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor. He has over 5 years of experience counseling individuals, couples, and families from a wide diversity of backgrounds. He sees clients both in his office and consults online. You can contact him at 318-238-0586 with him online or connect with him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.