What if you could learn how to create desire in others by simply fostering a deeper self connection? 

In this first episode of our brand new Somatica Sessions video series, Celeste guides her client Spiritchild on a journey of self connection. By finding a connection to his own erotic essence and bringing it to every interaction, Spiritichild realizes he can increase his joy, creativity, spirituality and aliveness in the world.

Discovery of the Core Problem

The episode begins with Celeste helping Spiritchild discover what blocks him from enjoying non-sexual intimacy with his partner. At first, she tests to see if his problem is centered around not feeling free to choose when he wants to do something. She comes to realize that Spiritchild disconnects from his own erotic energy and, when he does, he feels less involved and excited.

Additionally, he goes into a pleaser mode. He jumps out of the self connection state and assumes a care taking role. When he is in this pleasing role, he feels more like a provider and less like a mutually interested participant. Celeste is able to feel this, and guesses that Spiritchild’s partner has this same experience. She is likely feeling that he has left the connection and is just doing it for her. But he isn’t really there for himself.

The Path to Self Connection

Celeste gently guides Spiritchild into touching for his own pleasure. She encourages him to to see what a non-sexual interaction can do for him. Staying connected to his own erotic energy allows him to attune to himself – while at the same time attuning to his partner. Celeste can feel the difference, and makes him understand how much more connected she feels if he is also in it for himself.

When you flow your own erotic energy into yourself, you learn how to create desire with self connection. You realize you don’t need to be in a mutually desirous situation. But you are also available to move into a sexual connection if your partner responds with desire. There is never pressure to do so. By keeping your erotic energy consciously engaged, you can bring it into every moment of your life.

The Lessons Learned

Spritichild’s erotic energy is a huge part of what motivates him in his daily life. Through his Somatica work, he now realizes this intensity is about more than just his love relationships. It’s what makes him feel vital, musical, loving, and connected to spirit in every moment.

The lesson to take from Celeste’s work with Spiritchild is that people often compartmentalize sex. They believe the only time to connect with their erotic energy is when they have sex with a partner (or themselves).

With the Somatica Method, you learn to help people stop shaming their erotic energy – and instead embrace it as a natural part of who they are. You can teach them to bring this erotic self connection into their lives – and in turn bringing aliveness into their daily activities.

Intrigued by Somatica? Learn more about the Core Training or attend one of our free intros!

Learning how to do relationship repair well will improve your life more than just about any skill you will ever learn. Tension and conflict are normal parts of every relationship. Relationship repair, however, can be tricky.

If you think you can make sure problems never happen by preemptively solving them, you will be sorely disappointed. There will always be tension and challenges in every relationship, so don’t try to eradicate them. If you do, you will likely spend your time together walking on eggshells, criticizing each other, or feeling distant. Instead, try to become efficient and effective in the relationship repair process. It will allow you to spend more time in joy, pleasure, love, and connection – and less time in pain, trauma, and conflict.

 

What is Relationship Repair? 

Relationship repair is the process you go through with a partner when you have a challenge come up in your relationship.

If you address relationship conflict like most people do – by blaming, shaming, defending, explaining, apologizing, demanding forgiveness, or avoiding all conflict altogether – trust and intimacy in your relationships will likely erode over time.

Practicing relationship repair whenever you or your partner are upset can exponentially increase the likelihood of getting to a better place of understanding. It deepens trust and connection, and can also pave the way for mutual support.

The 10 Steps of Relationship Repair

  1. Know You Are in an Emotional Conversation

    Either of you can bring awareness to the fact that you have moved from a regular, positive, neutral, logistical or non-triggered conversation to a triggering or challenging conversation. You might say, “I’m starting to get activated” or “I’m feeling tension inside me from this conversation” or “I’m triggered”.

  2. Gauge Your Level of Activation or Triggering

    Each of you can name your number from 0-10. Zero is neutral and 10 is my head is about to explode/I’ve completely lost it (can be rage, desire to flee, dissociation). The idea is to try and avoid having conversations – and especially making any decisions – when you are in high activation. Anything beyond a 3 on either side, and it’s better to look for a way to come down and reconnect before you even try to start talking.

  3. Remember – You are a Good Person

    Once you’ve started the conversation, your partner might say things to you that make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. At this point, instead of defending or explaining, see if you can take a moment and remind yourself or your inner child (silently inside your head) that you are a good person and you are doing the best you can.

  4. Decide Who Will Go First

    It is almost impossible to get both people’s feelings or issues heard at the same time. Either of you can generously offer though to be the listener first. You can also preemptively decide to let the person with the highest trigger number go first. If over the course of your relationship, the same person always seems to be the listener first, it’s a good idea to let the other take a turn. In the least, try consciously acknowledging and making sure everyone is ok with whatever is happening around turn-taking.

  5. Share Vulnerably

    Sharing vulnerably means talking about your feelings and not about what happened or about the other person. If you are the person who is sharing first, try to speak neutrally – in a non-shaming, non-judgmental way. Explain what the other person is doing and tell them how it makes you feel. For example: “When you decline my invitations for sex, I feel rejected and start to shut down or give up.”

  6. Listen Empathetically

    Listening empathetically doesn’t just mean parroting back what the other person says. It means actually taking a moment and seeing if you can let yourself, as best you can, feel what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes. Do NOT say, “I feel exactly like that” or “Yeah, I feel that way too” because it is not true. Even if you harbor similar feelings, your life experiences (core wounds, triggers, survival strategies) are completely different. You will never feel exactly the same thing as someone else feels in the same situation.

    Once you get a handle on what you think they might be feeling, say it while staying connected to your empathy. For example: “Yikes, that sucks. I can imagine how rejected and shut down you must feel when I say no to you.” At that point, they may need to elaborate more about how they feel, and you want to just keep listening and empathizing with each new thing they say.

    Make sure to track if you are getting too triggered or overwhelmed in the process. If you do feel too triggered, you will need to alert your partner to the new number you are rising to.

    Listening emphatically is critical in repairing a relationship.

  7. Take Responsibility

    Once you’ve listened to your partner as best you can, it is time to take responsibility for anything a particular way you behave may have contributed to their upset. You know you can be challenging sometimes. It is great to know the ways you are challenging and to be aware of how they affect your partner. Instead of defending or feeling guilty, you can instead acknowledge the impact.

    For example, you might say, “Yeah, I know I avoid telling you in advance when I’m not really feeling into it. I get afraid to hurt your feelings and go into some kind of denial thinking of ‘maybe I will be ready once you make a move’. I can definitely put things off. That means you are set up to initiate, but be rejected over and over again. I can imagine you feel really responsible for that happening between us.”

    This taking of responsibility can really help your partner feel like they are not overreacting. However – only cop to something if you authentically feel it is something you do.

  8. Reassure Your Partner

    Once you really understand the underlying issue, you can give reassurance to your partner. Do not reassure before you actually know what is upsetting them or you will likely miss the mark. A reassurance might be, “I know that I have a much lower sex drive than you and the discrepancy is really difficult. I also want you to know that I really do desire you. When I am in the mood, I love having sex with you.” Again though – only reassure if the reassurance is TRUE.

  9. Make Sure Both Partners Get a Turn

    If you have shared some challenging feelings with your partner, it is likely they have their own concerns come up in response. It is extremely important that both of you are able to share – and feel heard.

  10. Evaluate

    If at the end of this process, you are not feeling better or more connected, something may have been missed. Perhaps a feeling you weren’t able to voice, or a need for reassurance. This is the time to check in and see if you are both feeling heard, understood and reconnected. If not, you may have to go through the process again with whatever is still residual. This process is an ongoing exercise in relationship repair, and you might need to revisit the same topic multiple times.

The best way to fix a broken relationship, is to practice relationship repair frequently.


When emotions are high, it can be very difficult to switch into relationship repair mode, so be gentle on yourself and your partner. Instead of monitoring and correcting your partner around following the steps, see if you can do it well yourself.

The best way to make relationship repair part of your daily life, is to commit to practicing it as best you can – to share vulnerably, be honest about what is challenging about you in relationship, and treat others the way you want to be treated. You will feel better about yourself, and you will be the invitation for your partner to practice it well if they are able.

If you feel you need help learning and practicing the skills of relationship repair, find a coach near you via our directory. You can also get a tremendous amount of practice as well as learning how to help your clients with repair in our Somatica Core Training.

At their core, people have a profound desire to connect. So Valentine’s Day can feel a little played out. The pressure to please your partner, the expectation that everyone should have a partner, and the external societal pressure to conform to an idea of what the day should look like can really put a damper on it. Even for those of us who have dedicated our life’s work to sex, love, and romance year-round, it can sometimes feel like a burden. At the same time, Valentine’s Day can have a lot of power and excitement – and we want you to get the most out of it.

We wanted some fresh, practical and hot ideas so we asked other Somatica trained Sex Coaches, Sexperts, and Sex Educators what they do for V-day. It turns out they have very different answers – from awaiting the discount goodies on February 15th, to attending just the right sex party. Here are their unique Valentines Day ideas for folks who love or hate V-day – and everyone in between!

1. Just Another Day…To Attend a Kinky Genderplay Party

For many sex coaches, V-day is not so different from the rest of their passion-filled lives. We try and make sure to have impassioned connections and create unique special occasions whenever wcan. This sentiment was echoed by a good number of folks we spoke to, but any given day for a sex coach might look a little different than your average Joe or Jane. For instance Dori – who coaches in the Bay Area – offers a great example of a practical idea she knows she and her partner will love. And it can be encouraging for people to know that even sex coaches schedule date nights and sexual explorations.

Gender cosplay might not be your bag, but planning something you have done before and know you love is a great way to celebrate V-day.

2. If You Gotta Work, Spread the Love

Like Dori, a lot of sex coaches will be sharing their expertise with clients for V-Day. Sex coaching is one of the fastest growing fields, so taking time off might not be what you want to do when you love your work and have amazing opportunities for connection. Unless it randomly falls on a weekend, most people work on Valentine’s day. Spending a day at work and then needing to figure out a special night can feel less than ideal.n.

For example, don’t feel too bad for the multi-talented Xanet. Poor thing will be in Costa Rica this February: “I will be assisting my mentor at a Tropical Couples Valentine Week Tantra Workshop and doing private Somatica coaching sessions with them! Helping to Spread the Love!!”

3. Make a Plan with Friends

Bay Area-based Annie has a fun, sexy and unique valentines day idea: “I’m going to shake my booty to Rhye – one of my favorite sexy bands with a couple foxy lady friends in San Francisco! Come join us!”

A great way to spend Valentine’s Day is to plan ahead and do something you love with people you love – no matter if they are romantic partners. This can work for singles or couples who don’t want the pressure or expectations. It’s a failsafe plan that will make Annie feel grounded in who she is – and she will feel sexy, embodied, and fulfilled at the end of the day. We may join. 🙂

Your plan can be joyous and playful like Annie’s, or you can find your most angst-ridden friend or crew, find a dark corner and sing along to Morrissey or whatever maudlin music feeds your broody soul. Having a plan that reflects what you love and the friends you can be yourself with is a brilliant way to take the pressure off and make this day truly yours.

4. Know Your Needs

For some people, the best thing to do on Valentine’s Day is to know it’s just not for them.

“I set my expectations really low to avoid disappointment on an overrated romantic holiday”, shared Santa Cruz based coach, Megan. “Apparently I am triggered by romance… probably due to the high level of disappointment the whole fantasy inherently brings to my world.”

We really appreciated Megan’s honest answer and agree that it reflects the sentiments of much of the population. Instead of feeling shame about this day by bringing up negative emotions, she strategized ways to take care of herself, knowing that romance fantasies are not her thing. Many people – especially women – feel that romance is the only appropriate kind of love story to desire. From working with hundreds of couples and individuals, we know this is not the case.

If celebrating Valentine’s Day feels like it is about a kind of romance you can’t stomach, you can make it about something else. Or just shift your expectations and wait for a holiday that speaks to you. After all – there’s always International Fetish Day or National Underwear Day. Yay.

5. Make It a Day for Self-Love

What if you could really be your own Valentine? Susan, in Denver, has an amazing plan for spoiling herself that brings this unique Valentine’s Day idea list to a fitting end.

“Whether I have a lover or not, I do a thing I call Courting Your Inner Partner. I ask myself: “How would Susan love to experience this day?” Then I get down to the detail, with self-love notes and pre-cooking food- so ‘Susan’ doesn’t have to. It’s a total mind game, but it totally works and I always go home with myself!”

While this may seem a bit advanced, there are many ways to follow this example and give yourself what you need on Valentine’s Day.

Need more inspiration?

We are always happy to chat with you. And if you want to spend a day connecting with all sorts of lovely folks, check out our FREE intro to Somatica on March 9th in Berkeley + Oakland (or Portland, Seattle, LA, NYC, Charleston NC, Washington DC, Toronto, and British Columbia).

Year after year, we make New Year’s Resolutions trying to turn over a new leaf and change our lives for years to come. The most common resolutions are generally ambitious, or downright unrealistic. More often than not they are motivated by shame and self-judgment.

In psychological terms, resolutions tend to be backed by avoidant motivations, by what we don’t want, instead of approach motivations, what we do want. While this difference might seem minimal or largely semantic, it is actually extremely important in terms of what we can achieve and how. Here are some examples of common New Year’s Resolutions and how we have changed them to make them more possible and fulfilling.

Love My Body Vs. Change My Body

Let’s take weight loss as an example, this is one of the top resolutions every year. Most people vow to go on diets or begin intense workout regimens which maybe last until February or March. Why? Because changing habits is actually a pretty difficult venture and when you do it from a basis of being unkind to yourself it is very unlikely to work. What if your resolution was to think of small, daily ways to try and love your body more. This is not an easy task in a society that promotes self-hatred and unrealistic standards, but it can be done with patience and mindfulness.

So here is a reminder from us – your body is beautiful, strong, and has the potential to experience amazing amounts of pleasure. Think of a few kind things to say to your body – your body will be kind back.

Loving your body may well include exercising more and focusing on foods that make you feel good longer versus foods that fill an emotional void in the moment. But the emphasis on acceptance is much more likely to lead to change than the obsession with change. This goes for much more than body image goals, which is why we encourage people to de-shamify as an essential focus for any personal growth.

Explore My Passion vs Get a New Job

While an employment change may be in your future it can be daunting as a New Year’s Resolution. Also, sometimes simply changing jobs does not actually offer long-term satisfaction. So let’s leave this for another kind of to-do list and make the resolution to explore your passion. Finding ways to include what you are passionate about in your routines about can transform all aspects of your life. Not all passions will translate to a career, but many can even if the connection is not obvious at first. From our own career trajectories, we have learned that following our passions, even when we were not connecting them to a clear career goal, kept leading us back to gaining deeper understandings of sex and intimacy.

When people come to our Somatica Core Training they tell us that the changes they make as a result are not limited to romantic relationships or professional growth. Whether our students become sex and intimacy coaches and apply our method daily in their careers or simply in their relationships and personal growth, it still impacts satisfaction in all elements of their life.

Connect More vs. Make New Friends

Adults over 30 report struggling to make new friends as a major point of dissatisfaction. While the spirit of the resolution to make new friends is great, it might feel a bit overwhelming. What if instead, you resolved to connect more in general and to give yourself points just for putting yourself out there in your daily life.

This might mean making more eye contact, striking up conversations, pming a Facebook acquaintance for a coffee date or a FaceTime date with an old friend. When people join us for a Somatica Training they find a community that they only ever dreamed about before. The nature of the work means that people can’t hide behind small talk or devices, instead, they enter into an immersive experience where they get to know each other and create lasting bonds and support networks. Friendships grow organically once we come to an experience with our full selves.

Explore Your Sexual Self vs. Have More Sex

There is nothing wrong with wanting to up the frequency of your sex life. However, as sex and relationship coaches we can tell you that the way to make sustainable and highly pleasurable changes to your sex life generally involves taking some time to explore what you really want and to learn how to ask for it. This is not as simple as quality over quantity, because, the truth is, both are important.

Read more…

Ok, we like this one as it is. We are avid readers of fiction and non-fiction. Let’s face it, books are sexy. Knowledge is sexy. But once again, we are going to emphasize reading for pleasure as a New Year’s Resolution. It will be much easier to make reading a sustainable habit if you start of with your pleasure reads and cycle in that book on personal finance a bit later. We like a steady diet alternating fiction with new books in the field of sex and intimacy. This way we have something to read for whatever headspace we are in, but we love it all.

Oh, and if you have not already read our books, Making Love Real and Cockfidence we would love to know what you think.

So…what are the Best New Year’s Resolutions?

Anything that makes you smile when you think about the year ahead. We can’t wait to hear all about your New Years Resolution ideas.

The signs of shame are all around us. Sometimes you can see people’s shame seep out slowly – other times it explodes. When you pay attention and listen to people long enough, you begin to hear not only what they are saying about themselves, but what they desperately want to hide. Many people seek coaching or therapy because they want to change something about themselves. We work on overcoming and healing shame first. Then we look to see what the person really needs in order to grow.

What is Shame?

At its essence, shame is a feeling you get when there is something about you that you feel is inherently bad, wrong or unlovable. You fear that, if people knew this thing (or things) about you, it would make you unfit to be in their heart, their family, their embrace. Or that instead, you would be cast out.

While we are ultimately in the business of helping people obtain new tools that will help them live happier, more fulfilling lives, we certainly never want to reinforce the extensive amounts of shame that are part of the day-to-day air we breathe.

Identifying and Uprooting Toxic Shame

We begin every session by attuning to ourselves and others, listening deeply to a person’s desired outcomes, and ruthlessly rooting out toxic shame. We call this last part of the process “de-shamifying”. And why do we start with de-shamifying before transformation? Because shame fills a person with pressure, apprehension, and restriction.

It is very hard to learn something new if you believe you are completely unlovable the way you are. That level of pressure causes a person to freeze, shut down, fake it, and run away. Trying something new is risky – it requires patience, gentleness, and self-acceptance.

And Finally – De-shamifying and Healing Shame

Once you have begun to identify and name your feelings of shame, there are some key ways you can begin to let go and heal shame. In the Somatica method, we de-shamify in multiple ways, including the following three:

1. Admitting we are flawed

Unlike many other coaches and teachers, we very vulnerably share the ways we do not have it all figured out. This helps our clients realize that it’s ok not to be perfect, that we ourselves are not perfect and are ok with it.

2. Exposing unrealistic expectations in our culture

Another way to de-shamify is to shake our fists at a world that creates all that expectation. It practically requires us to pretend that we have it all together and are ok and happy all the time. To point out that this is not true for ANYONE often helps clients realize it is actually the world that is messed up – not them.

3. Loving someone – even as they tell us what is unlovable about themselves

When someone shares their shame with us, then looks us in the eye and sees we have nothing but love and appreciation for them – that is often the key that helps to melt the shame away. This love and compassion, in fact, is often enhanced by their bravery in sharing their shame with us, and by expressing those sentiments, the person can relax, let go of anxiety and breathe again.

YES, AND

Sometimes people get confused by the process of de-shamifying. They ask the question: “Is our job to help a person accept themselves as they are – or to transform?” This is a false choice – the answer is actually YES, AND. Yes, it is our job to help someone accept themselves exactly as they are AND to transform. Our desire to continue to grow does not go away because we accept ourselves. Quite the contrary – self-love unfreezes us enough to exercise our freedom to experiment, to take the big scary risks, and to step more fully into the bigness of all that we can be!
 
If you’re interested in deeper learning around the process of overcoming and healing shame – either for personal growth or your own therapy practice – consider taking part in our Core Training sessions. We also conduct a Free Intro so you can get acquainted with the Somatica Method. We look forward to seeing you there.

Last weekend I had sex at a sex party

Presumably, that is what one does at a sex party. However, I had been ambivalently having sex parties experiences for two years (five in total) – and this was a first for me.

When I attended my first party I was seven months out of a 16-year relationship and three months back home in the Bay Area. In a vortex of long-term monogamy, motherhood, and grief I had lost a vital part of myself. I set out on a journey with no roadmap to rediscover my sexuality; everything felt new again. My curiosity about sex parties was both anthropological and personal. I was intrigued, it was ridiculously outside my comfort zone, and I wanted to see what it was all about.

I like testing my edges

When I go to the edge of my comfort zone, I get to see how much I can handle. In doing so, I open myself to new experiences and people.

The initial party I attended was epic: a weekend-long event at a Northern California retreat center. I was flying solo, invited by a man in an open relationship whom I had met online. We’d been dating for a couple months (online dating, another first). The weekend was a somewhat awkward experience punctuated by moments of brief connection. The fact that it spanned a weekend turned out to have benefits. I had private space to retreat to, and plenty of time to step in and out of the party as my comfort level allowed. I made a few connections that weekend that lasted, and a couple that imploded. Such is life.

For some reason, I kept going to sex parties

I questioned myself as to why I continued to go to parties. Drawn to neither exhibitionism nor voyeurism I wondered: were sex parties experiences even a thing for me? Why was I continuing this experiment? I didn’t have an answer.

I continued to feel awkward, and often out of place. Then, at one party, I had a lovely experience of desire and consent. A sweet and sexy man (who I had initially met at the first epic weekend) asked if he could kiss me and I said yes. He asked if he could escalate a bit, and I said yes. When I told him that was all I was up for, he was great about it.

I experienced an embodied sense of my boundaries, felt empowered to communicate them, and felt genuinely cared for, desired, and respected all in that one exchange. Maybe I was learning something about navigating a challenging space. Challenging because the whole point is exploring the rawest, most naked human experience – sex.

What do you like about the sex parties experience?

I interrogated friends: what is it about sex parties that appeals to you? Why do you go? I received thoughtful and vulnerable answers. One person expressed desire to be in an environment of positive sexual expression, to be immersed in sex positivity. Another described the attraction to expanding boundaries of sexuality and sexual experience, to push edges in service of growth and to keep discovering more of what is possible. These responses stayed with me, affecting the lens through which I observed my own experience, and the changes taking place in me.

The latest two parties I attended were in June of last year and most recently, this month. I surprised myself by enjoying both. In June I had the company of people I really liked, and with whom I felt a blossoming sense of trust and safety. I made out with and had an intimate exchange with a couple of friends. It was a comfortable social experience with a dash of erotic charge.

Know what you want and be flexible

I anticipated the most recent party with a mix of anxiety, hope, and excitement; the anxiety peaking on the day of the party. The experience I was looking for did not involve sex, but rather a feeling of ease and belonging. I wanted to let my guard down, to dance and feel my body, without pressure or inhibition.

OH, this is happening…

It was one of those nights that aligned so well it almost feels like magic. I showed up, feeling confident, sexy, social. I made easy contact with people I knew well, introduced myself to some I didn’t. Later, one of these newer people approached me. At previous parties and for most of the last two years I’ve projected a pretty unapproachable vibe. My guard was definitely coming down. It took me a bit to catch up to what was going on and then I thought, OH! This sex party experience is happening, to me, right now. And I was into it. And into him.

As a sex and relationship coach, embodied knowing is part of what I teach and practice. What does that mean? How did I know? Lots of reasons. First, he was hot. He was also adorable, and seductively shy in expressing interest and asking for what he wanted. My core erotic theme – my biggest turn-ons – was getting lit up. More than anything, I felt relaxed and comfortable in my body and the only direction I wanted to move in was forward.

In some ways this is all new to me, and in some ways not. As I think back, it was kind of miraculous that in my teens and twenties I felt entitled to my desire for and enjoyment of sex. I was enthusiastic about it and not particularly restricted by ideas of how, when, or with whom I should or should not be having it. The freedom of going with the moment and following my desire came back to me that night. I didn’t care if people saw me having sex, or that I was having sex in a room full of other people having sex. I felt my desire, I felt his desire, and I went with it.

Somatica skills at sex parties and beyond

A significant part of my journey has been practicing and refining skills I learned and teach as a group leader in the Somatica Core Training and in one-on-one sex coaching. I practice listening to my body, connected communication, resilience and flexibility in navigating shifting boundaries (whether they are expanding or contracting). A common sex party guideline is a high possibility, low expectation, which is a relational philosophy full of potential. It speaks to a zen of putting what you want out there and being open to getting it (being able to receive), or not getting it (being with disappointment), or getting something you hadn’t even known was possible (presence and flexibility).

Whether the edginess of sex parties experiences appeals to you or not, erotic and relational literacy is for everyone. It empowers and enhances every part of our lives. Come and learn with us – see a coach or join the training. Let them know you heard about it from this blog when you sign up!

Love,
Elena

There is no questions the date between Aziz and Grace was a disaster

We have watched as people have taken sides, but that’s not what we want to do here. It was a bad date, Aziz pushed too hard, Grace didn’t leave. Instead of taking sides, what we’d rather do is ask “Why?” For the sake of simplicity, we will start with Grace.

There’s an important piece of the story missing

While many writers, including Emma Gray from HuffPo, call on the socialization of women to be nice and accommodating, we think this is only part of the story.

A much deeper problem is lack of women’s sexual empowerment. Because women are taught to say “no” to sex, they go into sexual situations from a defensive mode. They are not thinking, “I love sex and have every right to it. So, do I want sex with this guy, under what circumstances would or wouldn’t I? And, what kind of sexual experiences would make me feel great physically and emotionally?”

Instead, they go into a dating situation thinking, “What is this guy going to want from me and how do I navigate it so that I am sexual enough for him, while still getting him to respect and take me seriously?”

Boys are praised and girls are protected

Girls are sexually disempowered from a young age. When you see people talk to parents about their children, they look at boys and say, “Oh, he’s flirting with me, he’s so cute, he’ll get all the girls.” When they look at a pretty girl, the say, “Boy, you better watch out, all the boys are going to be after her, you might need to keep her locked up ’til she’s 18.”

The protectionist attitude is everywhere in our society, and it contributes to women feeling like victims instead of people driving their own lives. We have worked with so many parents struggling with how to deal with their teenage daughter’s budding sexuality. When we float the idea that they might talk about how wonderful and pleasurable sex is before telling them to be careful, it’s like the thought has never even occurred.

So, why didn’t Grace just leave (or why don’t women just leave)?

She probably had a romantic fantasy that she might end up being Aziz’s girlfriend, though he clearly was only out for casual sex. She was probably being nice, because she was socialized that way. And, importantly, it is VERY unlikely that she had any idea of what her sexual desires and boundaries were in the situation, so she was in a reactive instead of empowered mode.

Reactive mode

Unless you’ve experienced it, it is very hard to imagine what reactive mode is like. It is almost as if the world becomes very small and you are only in the current interaction. You are trying to deal with the moment-to-moment experience of decision-making in the face of the force of someone else’s desires. And, sometimes like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water, you only realize how bad it’s gotten once the pot is boiling.

Trauma

While it may not have been the case in Grace’s situation, it bears mentioning that people with a history of unresolved trauma can have a freeze response, which might lead to them not being able to stop a violating experience. In a similar situation, a woman with a history of unresolved trauma, would have one or more of three potential responses, fight, flight or freeze. Fight is great in these instances — a woman with this response might have pushed Aziz away and said, “Get off of me.” Flight also would have been great — a woman with a flight response would likely have run out of the house. The tougher one in these situations, and one that women will often then be blamed or shamed for and feel terrible about themselves after, is the freeze response. A woman who has the freeze response will generally dissociate, never say no or stop saying no, and let the other person do whatever they want to do until it’s over.

Lack of sexual empowerment

Even if Grace did not have a trauma history (and we don’t know whether or not she did), we strongly believe that the fact that she did not leave the date sooner was not Grace’s fault. We think it is highly doubtful that Grace received the message that she has a right to pleasure and can decide what she does and doesn’t want. Until women are fully empowered to not be so nice and to have their own internal compass, bad dates will continue to look like Aziz and Grace’s. Even when we are highly empowered, women still might occasionally not take perfect care of themselves, but we will at least have the best possible chance. Also, even if we are totally clear and empowered in dating situations, we can still get violated and raped if a man is willing to use force. We must keep all of this in mind if we are going to change our culture around dating and sex.

What does women’s sexual empowerment look like?

At minimum, if we want girls to grow up to be empowered women in these kinds of situations — to ask for what they want, to stay when they like it and leave when they don’t — we need to treat them like adult sexual beings. We need to get rid of the protectionist attitude towards girls and teach them that sex is pleasurable and that they deserve pleasure. We need to tell girls that sex is for them and not something that boys get to have and they get to try to stave off in order to get a relationship.

What needs to change in the minds of men and women?

  1. It is time to celebrate women who have multiple sexual partners as wise women, not sluts (or reclaim the word slut as something positive)! We need to imagine a future of wonderful, pleasurable sex for girls and give them the knowledge to do so once they become women.
  2. Both men and women need to think of women’s sexual desire as an essential part of every women. We need to stop thinking of sex as a commodity that women trade for love and relationships.
  3. It is only through knowing what we want and that we have a right to it, that we can also know what we don’t want and be crystal clear about it.

By now, you have probably read the article about a date Aziz Ansari had with “Grace”, which is sparking a debate about the complexity of the #MeToo movement and starting a much-needed dialogue on the nuances of consent. As Sex and Relationship coaches we have spent countless hours analyzing specific dates, dating culture, and working with men and women to better understand consent, boundaries, and desire. When we hear stories like Grace’s, and we do, regularly, we are reminded just how crucial and rare communication about desire is.

Most People Don’t Know What They Want or How to Express It

As people are taking sides on Aziz and Grace, trying to pinpoint one or the other as a truer victim they are often missing an important point that can help frame this conversation and allow us all to better understand how and why these kind of dating scenarios are both terrible and commonplace. Most of us don’t even know what we want out of dating and sex. And we sure as hell don’t communicate it.

Aziz and Grace were on two different dates

He was looking for his version of a hot sexual experience, likely a one night stand, and she was hoping for something more romantic and potentially ongoing. They were both undoubtedly inside of their own fantasies, not noticing or caring about what the other one wanted. Of course, this was not impactful to Aziz in the same way it was to Grace, but it is still useful to explore where both were likely coming from.

What Did They Each Want?

From the story Grace told, this is what we can imagine it looked like inside of each of their minds:

The Aziz Fantasy

Man, I met this really cute girl, she seems to be really into me, I’m going to go through this whole bullshit dating thing and then I’m totally going to fuck her. I really can’t wait for us to get back to my place. We better get through dinner quick because I want to eat her out and get every part of me in her mouth — my fingers, my dick. It would be so hot to watch us in the mirror, I’m going to bend her over. Then she can see how hot it is that a famous guy like me is doing her from behind. C’mon, let’s get this party started. Sweet, she’s already talking about my counter-tops, that’s a great place to start. Girls in their 20s are really horny, I hope we can just skip all the bullshit and get right to it…

The Grace Fantasy

OMG, I can’t believe I’m going on a date with Aziz Ansari. He seems really cool and I Iove how sweet he is on his show. It will be so romantic, we can sit and sip our favorite wine and have a long, leisurely dinner. We already love the same camera, I bet we have a bunch of other things in common. I hope this dress is ok, I hope he thinks I’m cute, I can’t believe I’m going out with a celebrity. What if we end up dating, what if we end up in a relationship Ok, I’m cool going to his house. Maybe we can go out on his balcony and kiss under the stars. He seems really cool, I bet he’ll know how to kiss me just right, and touch my face, and we can make out and touch all night long. Who knows, maybe we will even end up having sex, but I probably shouldn’t because I want to make sure he still respects me and wants to go on another date.

Did They Care What the Other Wanted?

Obviously, this is not a perfect re-enactment of what was going on in their heads, but it is probably not too far off the mark. More importantly, whatever was going on it was entirely projection on both their parts. On his- a hot, porno fantasy, on her’s -the perfect romantic movie. We can only imagine the countless times this similar dating scenario has been played out, with women feeling used and taken advantage of and men feeling shocked that anything they did was wrong. It seems to us that Aziz didn’t really care what Grace wanted and Grace was in denial of what Aziz actually wanted.They were hoping for really different things but never talked about it.

Aziz seemed to be able to stay in his fantasy regardless of the pretty clear evidence that Grace wasn’t into it. A lack of empathy, insensitivity, or high levels of turn-on mixed with not really caring what the other person wants often lead to this. Aziz doesn’t actually have the luxury of claiming ignorance, since he literally wrote a book on dating, Modern Romance, which leads us to believe he simply thought there would be no consequences for continuing to push much harder than he should. As a culture we don’t consider a one-night stand an ok desire, so Grace isn’t even tasked with accepting that might have been what Aziz wanted.

Why No One Says What They Want

In dating there is way too much unspoken and both men and women are afraid to speak it, often for different reasons. As a guy, it’s nerve-racking because you don’t want to scare a date away by being too forward, or by just wanting sex, or a particular kind of sex. As a woman, if you are hoping for something more long-term, you don’t want to scare men away on a first date by grilling them about whether they want something serious. The fear that talking about sex might impede on the sexual tension or ruin the romantic fantasy means we don’t talk about what we are really after. With this approach, it’s surprising that any good comes of dating.

Regardless of whether or not we agree on how this should have been handled by the media or the parties involved, we can all agree that Aziz and Grace had a bad date. Ultimately, there was actual harm done, even if not criminal. Grace was emotionally hurt and, as a result of the article, Aziz suffered harm to his reputation and, undoubtedly, his feelings. Surely there would have been harm done to Grace’s reputation as well had she used her real name, since many people are blaming and shaming her around her approach to the evening.

While probably not criminal, certainly some of what Aziz did was not consensual. He continued to press Grace even after Grace told him she didn’t want to go any further and he agreed to just chill. Theoretically, Grace could have left at any time, but this would take a level of personal, sexual empowerment that our culture does not teach girls and young women. Check out our upcoming blog on Why Grace Didn’t Leave.

So What Do We Do About It?

Changing our society so that these types of dates are a rare exception and not an unacknowledged norm is not a simple task. We cannot stress enough how important communication is even in the most casual relationship. We need to start talking about desire while also exercising embodied empathy, verbal and embodied consent and gradual escalation. In general this means men need to do a better job of reading their partners; she didn’t say no is not a reason enough to proceed. And women need to learn that their boundaries and their desires are important.

Here are a Few Practical Steps

  1. One way to remain mindful of your boundaries and desires in dating is to get past wishful thinking and projection. Whether your fantasy is for a hot one night stand or a romantic date, pay attention to what the other person actually wants. As long as boundaries are being respected, try accepting what the other person wants without judging it.
  2. Even better, you could openly acknowledge what you want and have an honest conversation about it.
  3. Next, if there is any part of what the other person wants that you want too, be clear and communicative about your desires and boundaries.
  4. Once you know what each of you wants, engage in whatever feels mutually good to both of you.
  5. If it ends up you are on different pages, let yourself feel the disappointment of your desires not being met. This disappointment is not their fault and, likewise, you are not responsible for fulfilling their fantasy when it doesn’t fit with yours.

While this moment of societal reckoning is difficult, we are hopeful that it can move us towards more communication around sex and a better understanding of consent.

So many people call us searching for the right sex coaching training. As teachers and former students of multiple programs, we understand how important fit is since no program is perfect for everyone. There are more and more programs out there and it can be really hard to find the differences between them just by reading a website. As we guide people through this process, we have gained unique insight into what questions people ask as well as the ones they often overlook.

Here are some questions to ask, when you need to find the right program for you:

What is my philosophy and does the program reflect this?

For example, do I believe that verbal coaching and giving advice works best or do I believe in the importance of hands-on, interpersonal work? If you are interested in giving advice you can take a talk coaching training. If you are interested in a relational approach you should consider a training that offers in-person practice and experiential exercises.

Is it only a sex coaching program or does it include relationships?

If you feel like you have a solid grounding in helping clients navigate the complex dynamics of relationships, then a program that focuses primarily on sex might work for you. For some people, these programs feel detached from underlying issues and they need a more integrated approach that addresses the interplay of sexual and emotional connection.

What is my learning style and what are the tools and the learning methodology offered?

If you have an easier time learning at your own pace in the privacy of your own home, you might consider an online training. If you need a higher level of embodiment or interactive learning, it will be better to do in person, group learning.

Do I want to be able to see clients right away?

Some people don’t realize that with the right intensive program they will have the confidence and tools to see clients right away and start earning money while getting ongoing training to learn and build on their skills.

Will it be enough to take a year-long training?

The short answer is no, it is never enough because even the longest, most in-depth program will only give you a foundation, but you there will always be so much more to learn once you get out in the field and start working with people. If it is the right training that offers practice and theory, it will be enough for you to start your practice.

Will I have a place to keep growing?

After you finish your initial training it is your job to keep growing and sharpening your skills as a professional. A good program will offer ongoing classes and supervision so you can keep learning – ideally, you can do this while already seeing clients.

Is community important to me?

Finding a program that has an emphasis on learning from your peers and offering a continued network of support is crucial for most folks to have continued success. You are looking to work with people and who you surround yourself with matters. Each of the people in your training represents an opportunity to grow your personal and professional network. We have watched the Somatica community grow into a thriving resource full of mutual referrals, as well as a place for professional and emotional support.

Do I need letters after my name?

For some people having an MA, MSW, MFT, PhD, etc. after their names gives them a sense that they deserve to do the work they are doing. For others, these letters may be something they perceive as important to impress others either from a marketing standpoint or to feel acknowledged by their relatives etc. There is no right answer here – we ourselves both love higher education! At the same time, it’s important to understand the difference between getting a degree and attending a professional training. Both can be amazing for personal and intellectual development. Just make sure if you want to work with clients that you are going to get a full set of useful tools to work with instead of just a theoretical education.

What Couples Tell Us about their Traditional Therapy Experience

We have couples calling us every day looking for help around sex and intimacy. Here are some things we hear from them:

“We had a wonderful couple’s therapist. They helped us so much with our communication and connection, we are fighting way less and feel much closer, but they really had nothing to offer when it came to sex.”

Or

“We came to therapy to talk about sex and our therapist said that we should make time for sex, so we did, but we had no idea what to do when we got there. It was awkward.”

If you are a therapist or a professional that works with couples and want to help all of your clients, and especially couples, with the full range of what they need, sex is an essential ingredient. It’ is also a huge part of what falls apart in coupledom.

The Myth of Intimacy

“My therapist said that sex is the cherry on top, and if we have a good connection sex will follow. Well, that didn’t happen to us…”

Creating emotional intimacy is usually not enough to get people sexually connected again.

We Help You Understand Sex

In our Somatica Couple’s Training, we offer a set of practical tools that can really help detangle sexual issues, bridge differing turn-ons and desires, and get to a place where couples can make their sex lives hot, connected, and expansive. In addition to helping you work with couples around sexuality the class also offers powerful tools for attachment, dealing with disappointment in relationship, and repair.