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Why we avoid sex and what to do about it

Why we avoid sex and what to do about it

For the past few weeks, Bloody Good Bloke and I have been chiselling out time for sex or intimacy before 8am every morning before we get stuck into work. With interesting results!

As I wrote in last-last week’s blog post (How to stop self-sabotaging your happiness (and pleasure)), I came up with this scary (for me) idea because I wanted to confront the subtle fears that I’ve recently unearthed. They’ve been loitering beneath the surface of my desire to be as alive and full of pleasure as possible.

I wanted to create the conditions where I couldn’t avoid or hide from my fear with half cut “I don’t have time for intimacy” excuses.

So now every morning at 7-8am,

I have a date with fear… and also with BGB, and sex.

So far, fear has been mostly behaving herself, and perhaps even enjoying herself a bit.

My libido seems to have a lot of inertia. Once it gets going, it gains momentum, and it’s all a hell of a lot easier to get turned on.

But once I fall off the wagon for too long, the stood-still inertia is just as momentous, and it takes a few oxen worth of effort to kick my libido into gear again.

Taoism has a beautiful way of symbolising this.

Men’s sexuality is like fire — quick to ignite and quick to extinguish.

Women’s sexuality is like water — like a big pot of cold water on the stove — it takes a longggg time to bring it to boiling, but if you keep it at a low simmer, it can be brought to the boil with ease.

Repeatedly. And stay boiling for ages.

This Taoist analogy stuck with me from Kim Anami’s Well F#%ed Woman program (I highly recommend checking out any and all of Kim’s free video series if you haven’t already. I’m a proud affiliate for the Anami programs — they’ve changed my life more than any other program I’ve done).

In the first year of a relationship, (the limerance phase, as I’ve just discovered it’s called) when in-love hormones are flying, I want sex all the time. But as our relationship spills over into the beautiful comfortableness of the past-the-one-year mark (and as I stack on the 5kg comfort kilos, which I’ve done yet again, goddamnit), I start feeling that there are more important things to prioritise than sex. Like working. All the time. Or reading. Or ironing socks.

Our morning sex experiment has proved to be very useful for my libido in this regard. It’s been kept simmering, so even when some mornings I wake up feeling like “meh”,

I can go from “Can’t be bothered” to “Oh um ok, hell yes” in seconds. Very handy.

But aside from inertia, the subtle fears that I wrote about last week have a lot to answer for.

Those dastardly fears have been busy sabotaging me from getting to peak states of happiness and pleasure in many areas of my life. Not because they’re irredeemable scoundrels, but because they’re protecting me from the many threats they’ve encountered through our lives.

As I wrote last week, even for women who haven’t experienced explicit sexual trauma as I have, I’d bet that almost every woman ever has at the very least experienced a lifetime of mini traumas, with inexperienced sexual partners who learnt their “skills” from misogynistic porn, lurky lurkison men lurking everywhere, subtle or overt sexual harassment, having their ass grabbed in night clubs. Not to mention the regular old objectification and sexualisation of women that pervades advertising and media to this day.

In my youth I considered having my ass grabbed —by at least one bloke I didn’t know nor fancy — a fairly standard Saturday night.

I remember turning and kicking a number of men in nightclubs,

turning on them with the full force of my fury when they grabbed mine or my friends’ asses unsolicitedly. Always unsolicitedly.

I used to think perhaps I was a little too aggressive when it came to grabby men, particularly one time when I was living in Dublin and kicked the guy more than once, with tipsy tears pouring down my face. But I now realise my nervous system had an understandable and appropriately defensive reaction against men who frankly, deserved to be kicked much harder.

Since a far-too-young age, my nervous system Bev has had a tough time when it comes to sex and intimacy.

I’m not surprised that Bev has closely paired sexuality and pleasure with fear and shame.

Sometimes I cry, in the middle of sex.

Sometimes I feel full of rage.

Sometimes disgust.

But these days, thanks to the work of some phenomenal sex coaches like Layla Martin and Kim Anami, I welcome and allow all of it. I’m healing old wounds.

Bloody Good Bloke knows this too, and he holds me and allows me to sob or punch pillows if I need to.

I’m learning to reclaim and fully express all the parts of me through sex.

It’s not how we were taught sex should be. But finally, after years of practicing this, I’m ok with sex being a beautiful tapestry of emotions — good and bad, comfortable and uncomfortable.

As the legend Vidyamala Burch puts it, I’m learning to be “discomfortable” during sex. Comfortable with discomfort.

I’m slowly learning to give my body full permission to do what it needs to do, to be frustrated, angry, upset, alive, passionate, wild, surrendered, gentle. As does Bloody Good Bloke, who has been so open and caring as he’s learnt this new way to navigate life along with me.

As a result our sex life is a million times more beautiful, alive, and embodied.

All of it. Nothing rejected, nothing stifled.

Just as in meditation we learn to allow all the feelings without judgement — the frustration, the boredom, the stress, the agitation included — we can learn to do the same in sex. We can help our partners realise that the same is true for them too.

From time to time I feel pulled to write a rather personal blog post like this, where I reveal things about myself and my relationship that I feel a little eek-y about sharing (with BGB’s permission, always). But this feels important.

We don’t talk about the nuances of sex enough.

We don’t talk about the many complicated, challenging emotions that get intermingled with pleasure and joy. Especially for women.

We don’t talk about how normal it is for sex to be full of highs and lows. Numbness and too-muchness. Pleasure and pain. Pleasure and shame.

A soaring symphony orchestra.

It would be so lifeless without the low notes.

Truly alive sex can and will include the full spectrum of emotions.

Just like life.

If only we’ll let it.

Pstt - enjoyed this blog post? Splendid news! If you fancy getting these snippets of self-deprecating radical honesty delivered freshly to your inbox moments(ish) after I take them out of the gluten free oven (every week or three-ish), subscribe over here.

I have an online workshop coming up (details TBC) called How to be Less of a Dick to Yourself (AKA Self Compassion for Sceptics)! I would love you to join us — It’s going to be bloody splendid! Click here to register your interest.

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