Posts Categorized: sexuality

Being Brave in the Bedroom: Part 3

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By Lily, Already Pretty Contributor

Hello again! I hope thus far your journey has been enlightening and I hope that you are feeling more connected and grounded in your body. As you are able to embody what you desire, you may be ready to share it with others. Typically when people want to be brave in the bedroom, it is because ultimately they want to be brave in their bodies while sharing the experience with others. Part three will explore this through communication, non-sex sex (NSS), and partner exploration.

If you are just joining us, welcome! Before reading on, I would encourage you to read part 1 and part 2 of Being Brave in the Bedroom as these pieces build upon one another.

Sharing with a Partner

1). Communication

When is the last time you had an honest conversation with your partner(s) about sex? Communication is at the core of a satisfying and enriching sex life with others. No one is a mind-reader, so just like we wouldn’t expect someone to know our favorite food without telling them, we cannot expect them to know innately what we want and don’t want in bed.

I understand that there are often reasons why we don’t have these essential conversations. For one, talking about sex can be awkward or seem impossible especially since we likely weren’t taught how to have these intimate conversations. You may have every desire to start talking about sex and yet aren’t sure how to. Here is my best tip: be honest. Start by sharing that this conversation makes you feel nervous, scared, embarrassed, _____ (fill in the blank) and yet, you know how important it is so you’re going to start it. Chances are, your partner will feel similarly and feel relieved you’ve started it. This is a great opportunity to deepen your bond and intimacy.

Sometimes we don’t have these conversations because we don’t feel safe being so vulnerable. Perhaps you have tried before and it didn’t go so well and you’re now terrified to talk about it. I would encourage you to take time to get clear about what you want to communicate and again, begin with honesty. If it still doesn’t feel safe, it may be an indication that you may need some support in facilitating this conversation. A sex therapist would be an excellent resource for you.

Ultimately, by communicating, we are empowered to shape and create the sex life we desire and deserve.

2). Non-Sex Sex (NSS)

Non-Sex Sex (NSS) is a term I coined for what are essentially the acts we do for our sweeties – and what they do for us – that build emotional intimacy, which directly encourages physical intimacy. By showing our sweeties we cherish them, it invites true intimacy, both emotional and physical. Largely, the more emotionally connected we feel with our sweeties, the more physically intimate we will be. If you would like some NSS ideas, I invite you to download a free copy of my eBook: “Non-Sex Sex: are you having any?” here.

3). Partner Exploration

Have you ever really explored your sweetie’s body? Has your partner ever really explored your body? Even if you have, I encourage you to try it again with curiosity and the intention of discovery. Slow way down. Notice every curve. Continue to check-in with your partner by asking if they like what you are doing, if they would like you to change anything about your touch. Once you are done exploring, invite your partner to do the same to you. You may discover new areas and sensations that you or your partner enjoys that you may not have known before.

Additionally, in tying communication and exploration together, you can do the “yes/no/maybe” exercise. Grab a piece of paper and draw two lines to create three columns. Write “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” at the top of each column. In your own time and space, go through and write down everything you are willing to do in the “yes” column, everything that you absolutely won’t do in the “no” column and anything you are open to trying with the right circumstances in the “maybe” column. Once you have completed it, share it with your partner and compare your lists. Be gentle, open, and honest with one another allowing this to also begin a conversation about sex.

Phew! This concludes the third part of our trek – we are almost to the top of this mountain. Be sure to make time to relax, take a break, and breathe. Notice the progress you’ve made and give yourself a hug for making this a priority. We will be finishing up this journey in the next and final post of this 4 part series.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Have you found any of these to be helpful? Do you have any other suggestions that you care to share with us?

Until next time,

Lily

_ _ _ _ _

Dr. Lily A. Zehner is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice, The Center for Authentic Intimacy, is located in both Denver and Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She holds a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy from Regis University.

She is passionate about living authentically and helping clients do the same. She believes that letting our real selves shine is the key to self-love and finding true intimacy with others. She believes all bodies are good, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect. At times she struggles with this about her own body, but self acceptance can be a challenging road and it’s one she’s willingly chosen.

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Reader Request: Bodies and Decency

Reader Leah sent me this question via email:

Views on body hair seem to me like part of a larger trend of regarding certain secondary sexual characteristics of women as obscene or inappropriate. Here are several examples:

“Bikini area” – The top 6″ of my inner thighs grow pubic hair rather than leg hair. I don’t think I’m allowed to wear a bathing suit that shows this hair. Showing leg hair might be seen as icky or unconventional, but I’d be concerned about being reported for indecent exposure if I showed pubic hair. I’ve never seen a woman wearing a bathing suit that showed this type of hair in this location. (Incidentally, shaving gives me terrible ingrown hairs, so I eventually started wearing board shorts when I swim. I’m quite satisfied with that solution, but it makes me “weird” and people ask why I don’t wear a standard bathing suit.)

Nipples – You’ve mentioned several times that you have permanently erect nipples. Mine aren’t permanently erect, but they might as well be since I get cold easily. It irks me that it would be considered inappropriate to go around with the outlines of nipples visible through my shirt. (I’m pretty flat chested so otherwise have little need to wear a bra, and I find the thicker, more supportive bras uncomfortable. No good solution here.)

“Camel toe” – When did this become a thing? Having random creases in the clothing around one’s groin probably isn’t the most flattering look, but now there’s a name for it and it’s considered gross. As someone with unusually large labia, I’m more likely to have problems with this than some women are.

Certainly there are plenty of characteristics that are considered gross and shouldn’t be, such as being fat. However, the specific ones I list are secondary sexual characteristics. I’m usually fine with violating norms for what’s stylish or flattering, but it’s much harder when one is considered obscene and when it’s a sexual characteristic. What do you think?

Oh, I think so many things. I think about my friends with big busts who have been called “slutty” even when they’re wearing high necklines and layers. I think about the movie “The Cooler” – which is just marvelous, by the way – and how I learned that one of the sex scenes originally showed the leading lady’s pubic hair which caused the MPAA to give it an NC-17 rating. Because women’s body hair is that scandalous. (The scene was removed so the movie could get bumped down to R.) I think about the fact that unlined bras are almost impossible to find because of nipple fear. I think about the multitudinous ways in which women’s bodies are policed, and how strict and judgmental that policing becomes when it pertains to body features that are related to sex and sexuality.

But beyond that, I don’t know what to think. American culture is simultaneously obsessed with pushing the boundaries of bodily exposure and shaming anyone who enjoys exposing her body. I have no idea how to react to that, much less change it. I understand that the simplest way to push back is to refuse to conform – let your nipples show through, wear your swimsuit even if you haven’t shaved or waxed your bikini line – but, as Leah points out, when you run the risk of crossing the “decency” boundary, it makes that pushback trickier to navigate.

Have any of you had direct experiences with these issues? Have you been scolded or called out for dressing in clothes that expose or reveal secondary sexual characteristics? How did you react? Any ideas for how to stem the tide?

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Being Brave in the Bedroom: part 1

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By Lily
AP contributor

I recently gave a talk to a group of mothers on being brave in the bedroom. This is something I can talk about with anyone for hours on end. It is something I have talked about at length with my clients, with friends, and it’s something I am constantly working on myself.

I know this is a very common goal and yet, it isn’t always seen as obtainable. I believe it absolutely is. There isn’t a perfect or easy formula, there isn’t even just one way to do it, but it is possible.

Now, visualize a mountain. I like to think of being brave in the bedroom as the ultimate goal – the top of the mountain, a goal that one can achieve after building upon some very important steps.  To get from the bottom to the top, you have to walk, hike, and push through the discomfort. At the top, you are able to take a look around, soak in the journey, and appreciate every step of the way.

This journey can be broken up into four parts. For this post, I will be focusing on the first part.

Part 1:

This journey begins with the self – you. Your self is the foundation upon which this all builds, and therefore the first phase is focused on the self.

 

1). Self Care

Taking care of ourselves is the most important piece of this whole journey. If we are neglecting ourselves, this journey is impossible. Imagine trying to hike a mountain with no sleep, an empty stomach, very little water, and no oxygen. So, what are you doing to nurture yourself? How are you taking care of yourself?

Incorporate daily self-care, remembering that you must always put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping someone else put theirs on.

2). Confidence & Self Esteem

Are your self-esteem and confidence lower than you would like? Begin to boost them. Here are just some ways to do so: focus on what you can do or did at the end of each day (especially at the end of tough days), develop purpose in your life, create goals (big and small) and note when you achieve them. Finally, find a way to move your body: practicing yoga, running, stretching, walking, swimming – whatever movement feels good, continue to do that.

3). Body Image

Examining and working on our body image is essential in this process because we have sex with our bodies. Here are some helpful strategies in cultivating a postive body image: practice gratitude for what your body is capable of, wear things that make you feel sexy, focus on the positive or neutral rather than the negative (i.e. my hair looks fabulous today; if you cannot find something positive to say, choose something neutral such as “I have brown hair”), and fuel your body with foods that feel good in your body.

4). Know Thyself

Three important questions to ask and answer yourself:

  • Who are you?
  • What are your likes in pleasure and sex?
  • What are you dislikes in pleasure and sex?

The more you know about yourself, the better. This is especially true in becoming brave in the bedroom!

 

This concludes the first part of climbing the mountain. I encourage you to begin to implement and incorporate these suggestions and notice how you feel once you do. Keep in mind that just like on any other trek, you may need to sit down and take a rest. You may have to ask for help. You may surprise yourself in your abilities. Be open to the process and to the feelings that may emerge.

In my next post I will discuss the second part: daring to be you now that you know yourself.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Have you found any of these to be helpful? Do you have any other suggestions that you care to share with us?

Until next time,
Lily

_ _ _ _ _

Dr. Lily A. Zehner is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice, The Center for Authentic Intimacy, is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She holds a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy from Regis University.

She is passionate about living authentically and helping clients do the same. She believes that letting our real selves shine is the key to self-love and finding true intimacy with others. She believes all bodies are good, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect. At times she struggles with this about her own body, but self acceptance can be a challenging road and it’s one she’s willingly chosen.

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