This is a re-post of an email I sent yesterday… enjoy!
Hello dear reader!
I’ve put significant thought into what hampers our sexual interactions, or conversely vitalizes them. I’ve noticed that many of the conversations I’ve been having in both my personal and professional life have all been coming back to the same idea, over and over. The other day that just clicked, and I had a realization I think you’ll find totally fascinating. I also want to share a story about how I was personally affected by this realization.
In the Pillow Talk Summit, the *very first question* I asked all 21 of my experts was, “Why don’t people talk about sex with their intimate partners?” The answers varied, but ultimately I realized that they orbited a central theme, coming back to the three things I mentioned in the subject line of this email:
I could almost distill this down to “Fear OF Shame and Guilt.” These three things are at the absolute center of why our sex lives (and in fact all of our relationships) struggle.
With sex, many of us were raised to believe that it’s “bad” or “dirty” or at the very least “naughty.” And this judgment doesn’t just include the many acts we can get up to with a partner. It encompasses fantasy, masturbation, and sometimes even hugging and dancing! That’s just *so* much weight placed on simple, natural, and ultimately life-affirming behaviors.
Allow me to illustrate with a story:
A few lifetimes ago (AKA 8 years), I was married. I was working in a movie theater as a projectionist/manager, and I had a crush on one of my co-managers. It was pretty innocuous as crushes go; nothing ever “happened” between us (meaning I had no physical interaction with him past the very occasional friendly hug).
Except in my head…
In the privacy of my wild fantasies, we would have torrid love affairs in the projection booth. There would be a lull between sets, and he would stroll casually into my booth… our eyes would meet over the spinning film platters, and we would close the distance with romance-novel adjectives, drawn by the magnetism of our mutual attraction, meeting at the lips, and enveloping each other in a passionate embrace… etc. (Actually, LOTS of etc!)
I never acted on these fantasies and I never told my husband. To this day I have no idea if my co-worker was attracted to me *at all,* but my level of distraction nearly drove me TO distraction!
What I remember most about that time is the feeling of overwhelming guilt. I remember lying in bed one night feeling so awful about being powerfully attracted to someone else, while my wonderful and loving spouse slept not two feet from me. I felt so guilty that I actually cried. I was so ashamed of myself for not being able to “keep it (even just mentally) in my pants.” I thought there was something seriously wrong with me! Was it this hard for everyone else? Was I a horrible spouse because I was attracted to other people?!
My then-husband had once said that he’d know if I was attracted to another guy by how many times I mentioned that person in casual conversation. So I was terrified to even talk about friendly interactions with this co-worker, for fear that he’d somehow see that fantasy in my head. And it definitely didn’t help that I *had* actually, years before we were married, cheated on him! (More on this later…) I knew right away that I would *never* do it again, told him about it, and we resolved the issue and rebuilt the trust in our relationship, but never entirely.
For months, I suffered silently, fearing that if I even broached the topic with my husband that he would be so upset he’d leave me. He had feelings of inadequacy around his physical attractiveness, and a few additional pounds around then, so was even more insecure. The thing is, his extra pounds didn’t bother me. I loved him. What was killing me inside was my inability to be honest and transparent about what was going on for me.
These fantasies seemed to be taking over my brain, and I couldn’t even talk about them with the most important person in my life. I was too ashamed, afraid, full of guilt.
Eventually this kind of story in our lives, the story of hiding shameful thoughts, and being inauthentic about our true desires, was a major factor in why we couldn’t be together anymore. I was so afraid of the consequences I was *sure* would follow my expression of my truth, that I stopped sharing things like this, and then eventually I stopped sharing almost everything. I ended up in my own little world of fear: fear of judgment from him and our friends, fear of hurting him, and of course, of losing him. The irony is that we eventually did divorce because we could no longer communicate authentically.
I’ve experimented with a vast number of things in relationships. I’ve indulged my attractions, and I’ve accepted the advances of others when I knew they were not being honest with their partners. Not only did “cheating” not work for me, but most “don’t ask don’t tell” relationships I see end up broken, too. My most powerful realization was that “cheating” is *not* about having sex with someone- it’s about breaking the trust of your intimate partner. And here’s the biggest thing: your #1 intimate partner is yourself!
So I started having the difficult conversations with my partners, not just about my attractions but about everything.
Authentic, transparent communication can be wildly terrifying…
AND it can be astonishingly rewarding.
My discovery was that being open, honest, *and* transparent (not holding anything back) about what’s up for me can result in a deeper understanding of the most important people in my life: myself and my lover. The payoff has been deeper love, more intimate connection… and more satisfying sex.
My experiences with this kind of relationship work have put me on a completely different path in my life. The world in your head doesn’t have to be a place of guilty shame leading to fear, or the loss of your partnership. Simply opening up in your communication with your partner can work wonders.
You might find that your new transparency leads to amazing breakthroughs in your partnership, and moves you to a whole new level of intimacy; not just in the bedroom, but in your lives together.
There are tools and techniques that can get you there. I know and practice many of them, and I want to teach them to you.
It’s tough work, and it’s SO worth it. If you’re ready to do some work to vastly improve your relationships, follow this link to set up a call with me this week. I’m opening up my private coaching program to just 10 new clients, and you could be one of them.
I have space on my calendar this week, before I fly to a conference, so let’s talk soon! I would love to help you get out of your patterns of fear, shame, and guilt, and back into beautiful, passionate intimacy with your lover, even if that lover is yourself!
Go get on my calendar now! I can’t wait to hear from you. 😀
Yours in cellophane-like transparancy,