This is a guest blog post on the theme of enhancing relationships, to celebrate the launch of Keely Kolmes’s upcoming monthly Relationship Skills Workshop. The first workshop will meet on Saturday, April 11th. The second one, just for singles, is May 16th. You can sign up here for newsletter updates. Those who receive the newsletter will get bonus videos and tips!
There are many depictions of sexual fantasies in modern media, television and film. However, with the growing popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” books by EL James have brought some of the less mainstream fantasies into a more “acceptable” light.
But why is it that “kinky” sex often has an air of the forbidden, or even shame? Why are so many people afraid to share their darkest longings with their partners?
As a therapist, I often am in the room when partners divulge emotional “secrets” to their partners; feelings they may have held, fears they had been hiding for years. But when it comes to sex, there is hesitance, a fear of the forbidden. I often find my role as creating safety and space for these conversations to happen.
In the new HBO show, “Togetherness”, one of the main characters, a housewife with two children at home, is introduced as refusing her husband’s early morning sexual advances. However, as the show progresses, we see her masturbating as she reads 50 Shades of Grey and her husband walks in. He is hurt and offended that she would be pleasuring herself, alone, when they haven’t been having sex. It turns out (spoiler alert) that she has been discovering that she may have more kinky interests than he and is unsure of how to introduce this into their sex life. Her sister helps her devise a plan to surprise him and act out her fantasy. Now, this may be all well and good, but in the scene that follows, he is clearly confused and unsure of why she is bossing him around (yes, she is the one who want to dominate—a refreshing role reversal from most mainstream depiction of BDSM). Just as it seems he is getting into it, the fun comes to a screeching halt when she is spanking him and accidentally hits his scrotum. Flash forward, they both are bundled in sweats on the couch, miles between them, watching TV.
What’s wrong with this picture? Is this how America thinks that we are supposed to introduce our sexual fantasies to our partners? How might have things gone differently if she had been able to sit down with her husband and tell him about her newly awakened interest in domination and roleplay? How could they have talked about boundaries, limits, and their own needs in a way that would have been satisfying and intimate?
As a sex-positive therapist, I propose that we embark on these journeys of sexual exploration with our partners in healthy, bonding ways. Let’s open these conversations with curiosity and excitement, not shame and fear.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Share erotica or porn that demonstrates a style of sexual activity that interests you. If you aren’t comfortable watching or reading together, give it to your partner and ask them to discuss their thoughts afterwards.
- Try writing your own “ideal sexual encounter”. Use all 5 senses. Be specific about what sensations, sounds, smells, etc turn you on. Share this with your partner and ask them to share theirs.
- Educate yourself about your newfound turn-on. Take a class together or read a book and discuss! This is particularly relevant if this is a type of sexual play that has potential to be dangerous if executed without the proper skills, such as rope or impact play.
- Ask them to share their fantasies or interests with you in the same way.
- Most importantly, have fun with it! Share this experience as an opportunity to get to know yourself and your partner better. Sometimes fantasies are better in the mind than in reality, and that’s ok! Trial and error is all part of the process.
However, even with these suggestions, sometimes it can be hard to start these conversations. If you are wanting to share your sexual needs and desires with your partner, it can be helpful to see a therapist who specializes in sex therapy to help create a safe space to explore together.
GEORGIA HILL, MFTi is a couples and individual therapist who is passionate about helping people of all kinds in the pursuit of healthy, fulfilled relationships. Her approach to therapy is a collaborative, integrative approach focusing on each client’s particular needs, drawing from internal strength and relationship. She has particular interest and training in working with trauma, queer issues, life transitions, and a broad range of individual and couple sexual issues. Learn more at her website: GeorgiaHillTherapy.com