In this episode we talk about changing your mindset about sex and about relationships. This episode will challenge your ideas about roles in a relationship and describe a list of new rules to follow that may replace some assumptions that could be getting in your way.
A previous episode described the sexual avoidance cycle (quick recap: the circle of disappointment in sex, feeling afraid which leads to avoidance of sex and talking about sex thus inducing increased pressure on your sex life which is followed by a perpetual sense of disappointment). The disappointment portion of the cycle comes from unrealistic expectations. Today we learn where these expectations come from and what myths we buy into that set us up to fail. Two important questions are asked and answered: what do we replace these expectations with and what is sex really?
What is sex really?
This is an important question to ask because your definition will inform what you expect from sex. You will be challenged to think about your own definition. In the meantime, the following definition is offered: “Sex is the physical expression of our innate drives for love, intimacy and pleasure”.
How can a definition change your mindset?
While the internet may try to force us into adapting heteronormative definitions, that sex is “sexual intercourse, especially between a man and a woman” (whaaaat?) or “sexual activity including specifically sexual intercourse” (so biased!), consider what your own requirements are. The example you’ll hear in this podcast is a personal one. First, sex has to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. Furthermore, rather than focus on specific acts or body parts, it should focus on pleasure and connection. Lastly, it is based in consent. Consider a person who says they lost their virginity to rape. With this definition, because it was certainly not consensual, that was not sex. This mindset shift is explained in even more depth with a great analogy about how sex is like going to the playground… listen in to figure exactly what that means!
Time for some new rules
What assumptions and unrealistic expectations are getting in the way of a successful relationship? How does your definition of sex work in your relationship? Give this episode a listen for a full description of new rules to follow. In the meantime, enjoy some highlights below.
Knowing what you want…and knowing that what you want is okay!
That is, we are responsible for our own pleasure. Creating your own definition of sex means you know what you want; it’s not the other person’s job to magically know what you want to be an effective lover. Building on this concept, what you want is okay! There is nothing wrong with what you want and both you and your partner’s sexual desires are valid and important.
No more blindsides
What is safety in a relationship? Being fully accommodating of a partner’s feelings and thoughts is not safety. Real safety comes from honesty and knowing you’re going to tell it like it is (and vice versa). Being honest means no one will be blindsided by festering thoughts and opinions that eventually come out.
Empathy in Communication
During an argument or discussion, we are often building our defense or rebuttal when listening to our partner instead of really understanding what our partner is saying. Therefore, empathize first and then respond. Try to climb into your partner’s shoes and see things from their perspective.
Addressing the interpersonal gap
The interpersonal gap is the gap between what someone’s intention is and what the impact is on the listener. Empathy is important to both notice the gap and then to figure out what happened to cause the discrepancy. What were you trying to say and what did your partner hear?
Thoughts and feelings – what’s the difference?
Another important rule is to differentiate between thoughts and feelings. Feelings are emotions that fall into 4 basic categories: sad, mad, glad and afraid. Everything else is thoughts and beliefs. What’s wrong with the phrase “I feel like you don’t value me”? Listen to find out!
After listening to the full podcast, you can start to use all of these new rules as a framework. Future podcasts will dig deeper into some of the assumptions that are made. If you have your own definition of sex to share, any ideas or experiences with these rules or any questions to ask (remember you can also record questions), please get in touch!
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Better Sex with Jessa Zimmerman
Jessa Zimmerman is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. On Better Sex, she and her expert guests share their insights, strategies, and ways of thinking about sex that will help you improve your intimate relationship.
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James Hamilton Healy is a Best Selling Author, host of Business Innovators Radio and contributor to Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine covering Influencers, Innovators and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance and Personal Development.
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