10 ways to please you & your partner AKA The Pleasure Map
It's easy to forget that your intimate life is about pleasure when it feels like a chore.
It's easy to forget that your relationship with your partner probably started off on the note of feeling good about spending time with them and feeling good about being in their presence. Oh, it was so addictive in those early days.
When did all of that slip away?
What inserted itself in the place of pleasure?
When the word bored is used, it also means predictable or even perfunctory. It’s like we do this, then we do that, then we do this and it’s done.
Now, before we go on. I get that the expectation is that we should just learn how to make sex fun by going straight to what we should add to it. Mmm but after talking to women for many hours (ahem…thousands of hours), I’ve learnt that there is this special magic that happens when women and their partners nurture everything around sex first. Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me how she doesn’t need ‘tips and advice’ but some special nurturing to let her body know that it is OK to come down from doing mode (along with a wee little sprinkling of permission granting to be sexual).
If familiarity and boredom are the status quo in your relationship then it's time for a shake up. So here it is: a pleasure map to source or re-source the treasure in your relationship.
#1 NOVELTY. It's time for a date. But not just any date where you do what's comfortable and you do what you know - it's time for a date with some novelty. ‘Cos nothing is an antidote to boredom like novelty. Let’s get you two creating some new memories. It doesn't have to be something waaaay outside of your comfort zone but it does have to generate a little bit of excitement. Search for activities that you can do together. Start off by looking at what your city or town provides you with and if it's something that gets your heart rate up a little bit even better! Think hot air ballooning, kayaking or even abseiling if you're up for it. Our own adventure activities for this year are archery and ziplining!!
#2 TASTE. Food. It's not only necessary to sustain us but it's also a reflection of pleasure. What are your favourites? What foods represent something erotic and sensual too to you? It doesn't have to be a food that's known as an aphrodisiac - it just has to have special meaning for you. And old favourite of mine is champagne and when I read of a different description for it as earth air fire water that made me love it even more. It’s a beautiful drink to share in sex but just make sure that you keep it at 1! Because #drunksex isn’t cool. Champagne is celebratory, it's sexy and if it isn't right for you then try and channel something that feels celebratory. I really love Kombucha and Appletiser as a champers substitute and have celebrated with these heaps more in 2018 than I have with Champers.
When it comes to food - keep it simple and light but don't pick anything too smelly. You want to be able to transition it to the bedroom and I can tell you right now that oysters and fresh linen don't make for great bedfellows! Fruit and chocolates are always solid favourites for good reasons…
#3 TOUCH. We are hardwired to touch each other and conscious touch is a key ingredient to sexual satisfaction. The right touch at the right pace can send us into orgasmic bliss or has us just feeling really good. What often (and dare I say should) precede sexual touch is affectionate, healing and erotic touch – these are styles that work to move us into a sexual space. When we have a lot of familiarity in our relationship, these stages are often skipped to get couples straight to the point.
Now, without the expectation of something sexual happening, consider what touch you would be open to receiving from your partner… This type of touch has no strings attached and is undertaken purely for your pleasure. Feel safe to go there and fantasise about it…
OK - switch it around. What type of non-sexual touch would your partner like to receive that is purely for their pleasure? Just keep coming back to the concept of pleasure and what feels good for you and for them. That’s it. The simplicity of pleasure unfortunately gets lost in expectations, anticipation, anxiety, not enough mentality and that touch and sex should look a certain way. Strip it back and stay on the course of touch for pleasure. All you need to ask yourself and your partner is, does this feel good?
#4 MOVEMENT. Spend some time together getting your heart rate up. Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about being in the bedroom just yet – more in the form of movement and exercise. Getting your heart rate up in this way takes your body from feeling sluggish and in sleepy down-regulation to moving it into up-regulation – basically gently activating the same system that's a little more dominant when you feel sexual arousal. When you experience that sense of arousal in your body through moving together you're creating an easier transition to doing something sexual with your partner. Heads up - make sure you aren't too far from home if the urge to express yourself sexually takes over sooner rather than later. This one worked well for my husband and I pre-kids when we did Bootcamp together!
#5 LEARNING. In the beginning of your relationship, you were constantly learning about each other and it was invigorating, exciting and you had a hunger to know more. If you are well past the honeymoon phase (or limerance phase as us sex + relationship geeks call it) in your relationship then it could well be time to get back to a space of learning about each other. Learning within a couple feels good because it unearths pre-conceived ideas and even some of the mind reading that happens when we know someone well. You can totally choose the style of learning you are ready for – it might be something completely unrelated to sex like a cooking class. It could be a personal development workshop or *bonus points* a couples retreat (!) When you see your partner in a new environment and are prompted to say and do new things, you are feeding that need for novelty whilst building intimacy. And that can seriously shake boredom up to get to the pleasure.
#6 INSPIRATION. We have so much available to us in our modern day lives - we live with an ease that is unprecedented. In this ease, it’s easy to lose sight of what we have when it’s in front of us all the time. I challenge you and your partner to go on a hunt to be inspired and to spark some gratitude for what you already have.
The simplest way to touch on something inspiring is to access different art forms and if you or your partner are visually driven, absorbing art will work to evoke that sense of pleasure simultaneously. When people look at works of art together (I particularly like photography for the real world element) and discuss their meanings, we touch on learning and gaining a valuable insight into their world. When we step outside of our everyday lives to view someone else’s reality, it’s hard not to feel something, whether it’s empathy, inspiration, compassion or love. And how much more special is this touching human experience when we share it with our lover. It’s great for bonding and superb at acknowledging the abundance that you have.
Without having a formalised practice (cos nothing makes me retreat more than having to have a practice!) Ed and I often organically share how much love we have for each other and our girls at the end of the day. So many couples freeze over in their love when there is hurt firing back and forth. This one is a nice anchor for defrosting a little and reminding ourselves of what’s important and how we are all choosing to stay together amidst all the stress and busyness.
#7 SENSORY. It’s time to get dirty. But in a sort of clean-ish way. This time, we’re combining pure joy with some dirt and earth (if you’re up for it). Yep, you’re sending your partner digging. It’s time to go on a treasure hunt.
Find a space in nature that feels good for you both – beach, bush, your backyard… Have some sexy trinkets on hand to spread around in a designated space. Don’t let your partner see you setting it up. Then have them go searching with some clues. Make it personal, fun and sexy. The items you hide can be food, they can be attached to sexy memories or they could be sex toys or products that enhance sex play.
Want to up the ante for some bonus points? Make the treasure hunt all about your body. Put a blindfold on your partner and have them go searching for parts on your body using their hands and mouth. Direct them to where you want them to go and how much pressure you want. This is so sensory for them because they need to use their ears to listen to your desires and use their taste and touch to take in all of your body (which heightens sensation).
I did a variation of this with Ed earlier in the year. I planned a big surprise for his milestone birthday and it felt a lot like a treasure hunt. I was giving him clues and he was fishing for the answers. It was so much fun! Needless to say, it culminated in a surprise party and the joy was palpable. So good for our connection and tending to our senses AND the taste + decadence part of the pleasure map.
#8 LAUGHTER. This one is a little more relaxing and down-regulating but equally good for the soul as the more active pathways to pleasure. You need to laugh together. You need to let your guards down and get vulnerable. Laughter is mood boosting and when you do it alongside someone, you are creating new joyful memories. Get into your full belly laughter and feel the pleasure that follows by seeing a comedian that you both love.
Can’t get out of the house? We are fortunate enough to have ample comedy at our fingertips through streaming services like Netflix and Stan or watching something spoofy and satirical. If you need more ideas, get into your most child-like and creative mode and start with a bit of tickling or touch that generates laughter. There’s a time for silliness and it’s great medicine when everything feels very serious. It’s also an ingredient that’s missing from heaps of couples sex lives and can’t be beat as an ice-breaker when things get awkward or go sideways. Hey, it even happens to sexologists!
#9 PLAYFULNESS. There’s an abundance of activities for adults now that channel our inner child – that part of us that giggles, prioritises fun and learns through play. Your mission to be playful, should you accept it, will be so fruitful in generating pleasure and joy.
Get out and go to a giant trampoline centre, try acroyoga or circus classes. These also satisfy the parts of the pleasure map that endorse novelty and movement. Honestly, even going to the park and pushing each other on the swing can melt the hardest of hearts. My favourite is jumping on the big circular swing that fits more than one. Playful and relaxing (oh and free!)
Keen to stay at home? Create your own cubby in your bed or somewhere in your home. Remember how cosy it was to be in that exclusive zone as a kid? You’re in close quarters – great for intimacy. And if it’s summer, get the hose out!
#10 DECADENCE. Your relationship is your best investment and investing means that you are going to need to part with some money at times. This is an order to splash out, to go bold and to touch on decadence with your partner. If there’s been a destination or a restaurant that you have always wanted to go to but money has always been a reason not to then now is your time to do it. Let’s face it, if it feels a little over the top then there will probably never be a right time. But go on, doing things that are really far out from the everyday will create special memories. Probability alone says that you are going to remember it in a really positive way (as long as you don’t sabotage it!). You’ll not only enjoy it in the present moment but you’ll enjoy it again as you recount the memory. Step out of the trackies, dress up and touch on opulence (and it might just even make you feel more open to sealing the experience with sex. Bonus!)
This last one is really important and I’ll tell you why. Recently, one of my clients said that she and her husband had forgotten what it was like to be a couple. They were co-existing. They let every birthday, anniversary and mothers’/father’s day become just another day. They didn’t invest in each other to show that they meant something to each other. Now that they are trialling temporary separation, she regrets it. She wishes they had made the effort to splash out on each other rather than thinking it was all too hard. People lie on their deathbeds saying their relationship meant so much to them but are we living a life that really aligns with that meaning?
I hope that you’ve gotten some ideas for boosting novelty and squashing boredom in your relationship from absorbing this Pleasure Map. Stay tuned to my blog, there is more to come!!
P.S. I get that this blog may not be able to touch on your very real problems relating. That’s OK, I’m here to help if it feels like what you need requires more input and TLC than spending time together in new and different ways. Perhaps the boredom is a symptom of the anxiety about sex that you are having trouble shaking. If that’s the case, it’s time to come in and talk about it in a productive and pressure-free space. When you’re ready, I’m ready. To book your introductory session, go straight to the sessions page and the only button you can click is my calendar button. We can speak in person if you are in Brissy or via Skype if you are elsewhere. Let’s shake the boredom and frustration for good. (And if you book and pay for your intro session before July 31, you beat the gentle price rise!)