Michelle was a 43-year-old woman in my last bedroom class series before Covid began. She stood out as she was open with her thinking and she shared her inner experience more than the other women in the class. She also got my attention as her obstacle to having a good time in the bedroom was her thoughts, the ones in her head about herself.
She said sex wasn’t happening that often in her house, and she said it was mostly due to her. She said no to sex a lot – mostly because she didn’t want to be seen naked. She said that her husband reassured her that she was sexy, and that he desired her, and she just couldn’t buy it. She had gained 20 lbs since they had married 18 years earlier, and she didn’t like the way she looked. She couldn’t see how her husband could find her attractive, because she didn’t see herself that way. And she didn’t feel attractive.
I looked at her and thought I was probably seeing what her husband saw. Long dark hair, dark eyes, expressive voice. There was a luscious appeal about her and she brought a wash of the feminine into the room with her. She wasn’t lean, and her hips looked as if they had taken on those extra pounds. She was attractive.
I didn’t know Michelle’s husband, but I could imagine him watching her as he walked behind her, watching her hips undulate in front of him. She had the feminine mystique going on. It wasn’t about her shape or her weight. Maybe a bit about her shape in that there were curves, but more it was how she inhabited her hips and her body. She was in her hips, there was motion and aliveness there, and I imagined he wanted to get in there with her.
Michelle did not recognize her own beauty nor the power that her feminine nature had in attracting her husband. She was locked onto what she thought she should look like. You could say the twenty extra pounds were probably irrelevant to how attractive she was to her husband, yet her thinking about it created an obstacle for them getting closer.
I have heard hundreds of women’s stories, and I know that how attractive you actually are by society standards is not a determinant of how excited or pleased you are in the bedroom. Nor does your own value judgment of your looks necessarily limit your pleasure.
And I also know that many women feel more beautiful after a good romp in the hay than before, even if they felt down or PMS-y before they had sex.
Why would any woman not move towards pleasure and intimacy, or at least go in that direction, rather than stay with her negative thoughts about herself and not connect? In the big view of what would please a woman It doesn’t add up.
In that moment I decided to challenge her thoughts. I gave her another view to consider. It was more like her husband’s view. I let her know my honest, gut-level experience of her presence. I told her that she most definitely is an attractive woman with a strong feminine nature, her femininity was obvious. The extra twenty pounds did not take her attractiveness away. she would draw people with male energy like a magnet. Her own thoughts were inhibiting her, and they were not telling her the truth about herself. On top of misrepresenting her, they were keeping her from the closeness and pleasure that sex had to offer her. Perhaps she should listen to others on this one, and not listen to her own critical thoughts.
And if she were going to use her thoughts at all in her desire to have more sexual desire, she could put them to work for her and think sex-friendly and erotic thoughts. She could remember the last time she felt highly turned on and replay her physical sensations of that moment. Or she could recall the feeling of her partner’s skin on hers.
She took that in, and the class moved on to other disclosures and discussions of low desire and what to do about it.
Two weeks later we met for the third and final class. Michelle said that she and her husband had begun to flirt, and to tease back and forth. It was fun for her. It was enlivening. Their energy was like when they were first dating. To me this was a big motion – bigger than it looks. Flirting is an announcement that you are a sexually awake person, who is willing to engage with your own sexuality and your partner’s. It signals you are available to connect. And flirting has promise in it, promise that something sexual is going to happen at some future time.
In an ongoing relationship, flirting is especially poignant and necessary. Flirting reminds you to see your mate as a romantic possibility, a lover, not as the mother, the nurse, or the plumber, or any other identity he/she happens to be in that day.
That class ended and I haven’t seen Michelle again. I don’t know if she still doesn’t want to be seen naked. I suspect that she moved past her inhibiting thoughts as she had been moving in the direction of getting sexually closer to her mate through flirting. Michelle was going in the right direction for a woman that wants to increase her desire for sex.
There can be many obstacles that a woman may have to navigate through to feel and own her desire for sex. Many. And there are many resources to help you get around those obstacles. Each woman is uniquely herself, so there are many, many paths of activation, and they can be personal to you.
In general, the question to ask yourself is, “Are you moving in the right direction?” And how do you know? Here are the three questions I suggest you ask yourself to check that out:
1. Are you doing what brings YOU pleasure? Are you liking what you are doing? Does it feel really good? Is it fun for you? Is your whole being engaged?
2. Is what you are choosing to do moving you closer to your partner or further away? (You want closer.)
3. And finally, are you going in the direction of what is erotic?
Once you get started going in the direction of YES to SEX, one choice builds on another, which gives something back to you, which encourages you to keep going in that direction.
The erotic is what turns you on, delights your senses, in a way that makes you exquistely glad you are alive. You don’t choose what the is erotic for you, you discover it by feeling it activate your right buttons. You discover the erotic by happy accident or by experimenting. If you are tired of waiting for a happy accident, try experimenting. For a fresh and fabulous cut at what the erotic is click here to read Esther Perel’s article on the topic.
If you’re looking for more on how to create a marvelous sex life, check out Fanning the Female Flame for a more in depth exploration.