The feelings of betrayal that come from an affair being discovered or revealed can be overwhelming. Our world that felt safe in one minute, now feels dangerous and threatening. We can’t think straight, adrenaline is coursing through our bodies, and we shift from a calm, logical mind into fight, flight or freeze. When we feel triggered, or threatened, our amygdala brain is running the show. It’s purpose is solely to protect us from a perceived threat and keep us alive.
I woke up this morning feeling emotionally battered by the bullying behavior in our first national Presidential debate this week. I thought about how many people who currently live, or have lived under the same roof with an adult bully. I wondered how many of them were left triggered by the bullying behavior that is all too painfully familiar.
If sex is not on your mind these days, don’t beat yourself up about it. Our bodies are not designed to think about sex when our brains are communicating that we may be in danger. We can’t convince our bodies that we’re safe, when in fact we’re not. When stress is dictating our lack of sexual desire, we need to find ways to regulate our stress. We may not be able to avoid stress, but we can learn to manage it.
You may not identify with having sexual shame. You may be quite liberal when it comes to the sex you see on screen and in advertising. You may support honest and truthful sex education, and have a tolerant, accepting attitude toward less conventional sexual expressions. The shame I’m talking about is found less in spoken opinions and more in unspoken feelings and beliefs. Not wanting to talk about sex in our relationships is how we carry forth our ancestor’s sexual doctrine, and I see it in many of my clients.
Teri and John (we’ll call them) came to see me a few months ago. They described their 15 year relationship as compatible and loving, except when it came to sex and intimacy, neither of which they were able to figure out how to change for the better. They reached a point where they could see three roads ahead of them...
You may think that having a threesome would be exciting, but the truth is, you’re already in a threesome. There’s you, your partner, and your relationship. When we begin to view our relationship as the 3rd in our threesome, it’s easier to see how we are either feeding it with attention and nurturing care, or we’re literally ignoring it to death.
Savoring is more than mindfulness. Mindfulness brings us to a razor’s edge of awareness that has qualities of neutrality and acceptance. Mindfulness teaches us to be with what ‘is’. Savoring brings an additional layer of experience with it. It brings a depth of noticing that is filled with feelings of gratitude and appreciation, and even a sense of preciousness.
Sharing fantasies with your partner is the 2.0 of sexual communication. In order to support each other’s sexual growth and learning, ask your partner if they’d be interested in sharing their sexual fantasies, for the purpose of deepening your sexual connection and expanding your erotic experience. When we’re tuned into our partner’s erotic mind, we can support them having the experience they’re drawn to.
Shame doesn’t change behavior or eliminate the desire that is motivating our actions. It drives our desires into secrecy, and secrecy coupled with shame undermines the trust and intimacy of a relationship.
“When was the last time someone touched you?” I asked him. “It’s been 6 months”, he said, looking shocked at hearing his own words. Something so natural as touching a friend in a happy moment has been taken away from us, unless we’ve joined in a pod with one or more equally cautious others. One of life’s great pleasures is suddenly dangerous to ourselves and to those we long to touch.