Ex­plor­ing the no-sex or­gasm

Ac­cord­ing to a new book, re­con­nect­ing with your sex­ual self (full-body or­gasms with­out pen­e­tra­tion) starts by for­get­ting ev­ery­thing you think you know about sex. An­nie Rid­out tests it out

Red - - CONTENTS -

For­get ev­ery­thing you know about sex, An­nie Rid­out dis­cov­ers

Hav­ing chil­dren has changed sex for me. Not only was it all about mak­ing chil­dren (one aged three and one who’s cur­rently 10 weeks old) for a few years, but preg­nancy and birth al­tered my body. I have fat rolls and stretch marks around my stom­ach, and a vagina mod­i­fied by the rigours of child­birth. I’m aware the scars of our lives are meant to be em­braced, re­minders of what our bod­ies are ca­pa­ble of, but some­times I long for my taut, scar-free pre-chil­dren body.

There’s also the is­sue of where to do it. The kitchen work­top and sit­ting-room car­pet are a lot less ap­peal­ing when you find your­self face-to-face with a pot of Play-doh or on a piece of sharp Lego. And the bed­room means silent sex when there’s a new­born sleep­ing in his moses bas­ket at the foot of the bed.

I’m not suf­fer­ing from lack of at­trac­tion or de­sire but, with all these bar­ri­ers, it’s no won­der our sex life has gone down my pri­or­ity list. And so, when I was of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to try out a new method that promised to re-en­gage my mind and body in sex – in fact, to in­crease my ‘erotic in­tel­li­gence’ – I was game.

Part­ners in both work and love, psy­chother­a­pists Mike Lou­sada and Louise Mazanti’s de­but book Real Sex is a ‘how to’ for re­con­nect­ing with your sex­ual self. They say we all need to strip back our learned ideas about sex, to start again. Be­cause, they say, there’s a lot wrong with 21st-cen­tury sex. For one, there’s ‘porni­fi­ca­tion’, where what’s seen on screen has be­come nor­mal. And, more con­tro­ver­sially, they say we’re con­stantly told that the ob­ject of sex is to cli­max, but or­gasm is not the only pos­si­ble way to feel sex­u­ally sat­is­fied.

Now I’m con­fused. What is sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion if it’s not an or­gasm? I email Mike Lou­sada, who clar­i­fies. “Peo­ple of all gen­ders are ca­pa­ble of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing deep, pow­er­ful sex­ual en­er­gies in their bod­ies with­out the need for ‘fric­tion sex’ [rub­bing gen­i­tals, he later tells me]. When we get to know our sex­ual en­ergy, we can eas­ily gen­er­ate it into full-body or­gasms with­out any phys­i­cal stim­u­la­tion.”


And if we can or­gasm with­out touch­ing, by sim­ply tun­ing into ‘en­er­gies’, couldn’t we ‘have sex’ with ev­ery per­son we found at­trac­tive? Lou­sada re­sponds, that to feel at­trac­tion to some­one is not to have sex with them. He says it’s about a mu­tual “ex­change of sex­ual en­ergy”. If I’m hon­est, I’m still not ex­actly sure what he means.

Lou­sada goes on: “To ac­ti­vate our erotic in­tel­li­gence, we need to sense our body’s sen­sa­tions, to have de­vel­oped psy­cho­log­i­cal self-aware­ness, be in touch with our feel­ings, have good per­sonal bound­aries, a good sense of re­la­tional dy­nam­ics.” That sounds like quite a list to master.

He says that with­out erotic in­tel­li­gence we tend to ap­proach sex from our minds, with a pre­con­ceived idea of what it’s sup­posed to look and feel like. We “take our­selves out of con­nec­tion with our bod­ies and out of con­nec­tion with our part­ner”. Now that makes more sense: I want to be present when hav­ing sex with my hus­band, to open my body and mind to new pos­si­bil­i­ties. But then I do yoga

“It is NOT nec­es­sar­ily about ‘hav­ing’ SEX, but about nur­tur­ing the sex­ual EN­ERGY that is al­ways avail­able”

and I med­i­tate, and friends would prob­a­bly de­scribe me as a bit of a hip­pie, so it wouldn’t sur­prise them that this ap­peals to me. My hus­band? Noth­ing hip­pie about him. He laughs when I ex­plain the con­cept of en­ergy sex.

In one of the prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises in Real Sex, you lie naked with your part­ner – nu­dity is im­por­tant as it’s about re­turn­ing to our nat­u­ral state – and al­low your gen­i­tals to touch, but don’t stim­u­late each other, or re­sort to pen­e­tra­tive sex. In­stead, you re­main locked for half an hour, then stop. Ap­par­ently, it’s pos­si­ble to reach a full-body or­gasm this way. I’m not con­vinced. I’ve also heard you can or­gasm dur­ing child­birth but my first was a labour more akin to tor­ture.

I de­cide it’s too ad­vanced to start with the cou­ples’ ex­er­cises. And, ap­par­ently, you should be­gin by work­ing out what your sex­ual ideas are, and where they came from. In a med­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise, I’m asked to think back to my par­ents when I was young. What were they like to­gether; were they af­fec­tion­ate? And at school: what was I told about sex and how did it make me feel? Mov­ing into the teenage years: what, now, were the mes­sages about sex­u­al­ity and the body? As I work through, it dawns on me that it’s not just that I don’t have body con­fi­dence, with my post­par­tum jelly belly, but a deeply in­grained be­lief I can’t have good sex or be good at sex when I don’t look the way I think I should.

I ALSO DIS­COVER AN­OTHER SUR­PRISE: I have an un­der­ly­ing be­lief that men are only at­tracted to women with lit­tle or no pu­bic hair, which ex­plains my time and money spent on Brazil­ian waxes over the years. But again, I’m in the fourth trimester so I’ve cur­rently got

’70s-style pubes – that my tod­dler has, on oc­ca­sion, called “your doggy, Mummy”.

I make a note to stop giv­ing a crap about ap­pear­ance and in­stead en­joy the sen­su­al­ity of sex. But I don’t feel any dif­fer­ent. For­tu­nately, later in the book, an­other ex­er­cise ad­dresses this is­sue. This time, I’m asked to think of some­thing about my ap­pear­ance I dis­like. I choose my tummy. I have to imag­ine how my belly feels (gross, ne­glected) and what it would say if it could talk (ummm… “Please love me”?). I’m told to di­rect pos­i­tive mes­sages to it. I start and, ac­tu­ally, feel bet­ter. I re­alise how much self-hate I’ve been dump­ing on my body. I start let­ting my belly hang out and, when lift­ing my top to breast­feed in pub­lic, I stop suck­ing it in. I feel rather lib­er­ated.

As I read on, I be­gin to un­der­stand Lou­sada and Mazanti’s no­tion of feel­ing sexy in­side. About own­ing your body, em­brac­ing your curves and rolls. It’s about view­ing your­self as a sex­ual god­dess who, of course, de­serves your part­ner’s love and de­sire.

The case stud­ies in Real Sex tend to fo­cus on women for whom sex is just about her male part­ner’s plea­sure. They make me re­alise that my sex life isn’t based on these things; it feels hon­est, equal and like we have a good con­nec­tion. How­ever, I am oc­ca­sion­ally left want­ing in terms of non-sex­ual af­fec­tion – I crave long cud­dles on the sofa, spon­ta­neous kiss­ing – and per­haps this is the point? Ac­cord­ing to Lou­sada and Mazanti, these are about hav­ing my sex­ual needs met, be­cause be­ing truly con­nected, sex­u­ally, is as much about this as it is about pen­e­tra­tion.

But there’s still one seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able is­sue with our sex life: time. If “spon­tane­ity is one of the keys to ‘real sex’”, as the book says, what is this work­ing mother of a tod­dler and a very young baby to do? I put this to Mike Lou­sada. “It is not nec­es­sar­ily about ‘hav­ing’ sex, but about nur­tur­ing and feel­ing into the sex­ual en­ergy that is al­ways avail­able in your body,” he says. I’d counter that for time-poor par­ents and those who haven’t got time to lie op­po­site each other naked for hours, see­ing pen­e­tra­tive sex as the main event is fairly un­avoid­able. How­ever, the other stuff – tick­ling, ca­ress­ing, show­ing af­fec­tion – can be done any­where, and I want more of it, so I make an ef­fort to do them that night. I no­tice a pos­i­tive ef­fect on us both

– it feels more lov­ing. Per­haps this is the ‘ex­change of sex­ual en­ergy’ Lou­sada’s been try­ing to ex­plain?

What I’ve found most use­ful, though, is that I’m sim­ply con­tem­plat­ing sex more. As a new mum, my body is re-ad­just­ing to sex and Real Sex has taught me I should em­brace this chap­ter, while be­ing hon­est about how I’m feel­ing phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.

I like the idea that we’re still sex­u­ally en­gag­ing by be­ing phys­i­cally close in other ways; this feels like a sen­si­tive ap­proach to sex right now. Though I can’t say my hus­band is as con­vinced. Real Sex by Mike Lou­sada and Louise Mazanti PHD (Hay

House UK, £12.99)

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