When it comes to sex, attitude is everything. You’re much more likely to encounter a positive outcome if you approach things with a positive attitude (and doesn’t THAT feel good!). When you operate under lots of rules and conditions, sex probably becomes a chore for you (poor baby). On the other hand, if you allow yourself to be open to new perspectives and possibilities, you’re setting the stage for a lifetime of fun and surprises.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be examining how we function in the “Socio-Sexual Response Cycle” or SSRC. We’ve previously discussed the Masters and Johnson model of the Sexual Response Cycle (SRC)—that is, the physiological responses of our bodies to sexual stimuli. Now we’re going to take it one step further and look at how we respond socially to sexual stimuli; in other words, how we manage this thing that we sex experts like to call your individual sexuality. For example: how do we make the decisions that become our sexual choices, how do we negotiate them ( if we do indeed negotiate them), and more importantly—how do we handle what happens in that all important “post-orgasm” aftermath?
One of the great myths of our time is that great sex is—and should be—spontaneous. You know what that means: you have sex without any forethought, planning, contraception, discussion, etc. This is the kind of sex that only exists in romance novels and commercial erotica. Here where we all live (the real world), most good sex takes a certain amount of forethought and planning. Face it; you’re no longer a horny 16 year old ruled by raging hormones (a mixed blessing, to be sure!), so you do, in fact, need to take a moment to think and plan.
Look at the Man with the Plan
Let’s have some fun in the coming weeks. Most people don’t think that planning for sex is fun (and OMG, are they missing out or what?). Why? Because sex is something that’s just supposed to HAPPEN—magically. Where does this negative notion come from? Who said that sex isn’t important enough to plan? Are they the same people who feel we’re not supposed to think about sex because sex is somehow distasteful, bad and unless it’s for reproductive purposes, just plain wrong? This kind of thinking implies that if sex is planned, it can’t possibly be fun. And yet, all evidence continues to point to the conclusion that sex is actually very much fun! So, if sex is fun and you feel bad about it, it must be that you have a silly attitude about sex! To be sure, spontaneously discovering a new restaurant can be fun too, as can spontaneous sex, but if you make a reservation at a restaurant, the meal tastes just as good as if you stumbled on it accidentally, doesn’t it? And sometimes the planning and anticipation can be almost as pleasurable as the act itself.
Look What’s Been Happening
This message that sex shouldn’t be planned or thought about seems to be more pervasive in women. We don’t think about what’s going to happen, and very often it’s the women who end up disappointed because they didn’t get what they wanted. It’s as though you EXPECTED that someone would know you want that chocolate-covered cherry, but since you never said anything, you ended up instead with a caramel (eww), and now you’re disappointed and resentful because someone didn’t read your mind. Another trap: since sex is considered an inappropriate topic, so as long as it happens spontaneously, women seldom have the opportunity to take any responsibility for it. Is this a vicious circle, or what?
So if women lack the skills to talk about sex or negotiate parameters, then it’s not surprising that women often end up with unintended consequences (did someone say “unplanned pregnancy”?). Is it any wonder that women tend to convince themselves that now that you’ve had sex, you’re in love, you’re a couple, etc.?
Look at Things This Way
Let’s examine the individual steps of the SSRC. We can see that the first step is desire. You’re on a bus, someone gets on who looks kind of hot, you begin to think about what they look like naked, and pretty soon, voila! You begin to want something—really, really WANT it! What do you do when you have this feeling? How do you experience desire?
Once you desire sex (or pizza, or whatever it is that you desire), the next step is to consider your options. Let’s take the bus scenario. You actually have quite a few options, don’t you? You could:
a. Fantasize about the person until you get to your stop (of course, walking might be difficult!) and then rerun the fantasy during self-pleasuring.
b. Slip them your business card when you’re getting off the bus.
c. Approach them and start up a conversation.
d. Stay on the bus and follow them.
OK, that last one was creepy with stalker overtones, but you get the idea. I wonder how often we actually stop and consider our options? Sometimes, we’re unaware that we can make our own sexual decisions. When one person initiates sex, the other one (or ones) has the option to take a minute to consider what they’d like to do and whether they would actually like to do it. If your partner tells you he wants a pizza, you think about whether you’re in the mood for pizza too, right? You have options: you can share a pizza or tell him to just get enough for himself, and you’ll eat something else. However, when it comes to sex, many of us aren’t aware that we have options and that we don’t have to just go along with whatever our partner wants. Of course, if you talk about things and negotiate what you both want before hand, well let’s just say you can have your pizza and eat it too :}
Look before you Leap
Now comes the next step: Examine these first two stages of the SSRC, Desire and Consideration of Options, and reflect on which are challenging and which are easy for you. Perhaps you function well in both and can easily recognize your desire and look at your possibilities. Or perhaps you’re uncomfortable with those longings and suppress them. Or maybe you can recognize longing, but don’t feel comfortable identifying your options. Once we can begin to identify which phases of the SSRC are problematic for us, we’re on the path to finding creative solutions.
Ah, but we’re not done yet. Next week, onward and upward to the next phase: Negotiation and Agreement. See you then!