Who’s Responsible for My Arousal?
When your partner isn’t showing up sexually the way you’d like…
blame, shame, or get up and create change from within?
For most of my experience with sexual partners, they’ve largely ignored both my arousal and my climax in favor of their own. Some partners thought I finished when they did, though I made no effort to fake it or imply that I was done. Others scarcely touched me below the waist, not even to see if I was wet! Over the years, with my current primary partner, my biggest complaint has been the disparity between the amount of climaxes he achieves versus I do. And yet, in a book I read about female arousal and climax, called Comes as You Are, by Emily Nagoski, she suggests that I can be in charge of my own arousal and climax, even when sharing a sexual episode with a partner or partners.
Just this afternoon, after a fight with my partner that started with work complaints (we run a coaching business together) and ended with lamenting that we haven’t connected much in the last few days, I sat alone at my desk while he took up some project in the garage. Eventually, feeling lonely and even more disconnected from him than before, I decided to warm my cold bones in the backyard hot tub, which is conveniently located near the entrance to the garage – maybe he’ll see me and join me. As I sat and waited, for a considerable amount of time, self-absorbed criticisms ran through my thoughts: You’re even less likely to get laid when you criticize or complain. The colder your mood, the further he recedes into his man cave. Haven’t you learned enough communication hacks to share vulnerably and stay in connection? Yes, we have more tools on board than many couples we know. We are relationship coaches, after all. What do I need to do to re-invigorate my mojo so I can be present when he finally shows up?
Eventually, he left the garage to go into the house – and didn’t see me at all. On his way back to the garage (lucky for me his project wasn’t done yet!), he finally noticed me and asked if he could join. While I’d been waiting, I decided to get in touch with my body. I ran my fingers over my skin, first gently, barely touching, and then with my nails, really feeling into the different sensations. It wasn’t long before my midsection gravitated to my favorite water jet – if I can count on anything to get me aroused, a hot tub jet is as good as a vibrator or fingers, especially when I’m alone and no one for whom to perform. By the time my beloved entered the water, my anxiety had dwindled, my muscles were soft like jelly, and my arousal had nearly peaked, but seemed miles away at the same time, as if what my emotional arousal needed was resolution for the disagreements of the morning. Coming up behind me, he brought his hands to my thighs. Again, remembering some of the themes in Nagoski’s book, I asked him to slow down and start with some light touch. As his fingers grazed my arms, shoulders, and back, he brought his body and face in closer to mine, gently grazing my skin with soft kisses. Feeling his excitement below, but letting it take a back seat to mine, I felt myself relax and respond on all fronts. It wasn’t long before I found what I was looking for – intimacy, connection, tenderness and pleasure. As soon as I took responsibility for getting things started, they seemed to flow like a hot knife on a stick of butter.