Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Sex is a very complicated subject. Without a clear map of sexual self-awareness how do we navigate the mystery, power, history and paradox of sex? Clear maps are not easily found. So it’s no wonder that many of us struggle with it!
Dr. Alexandra Solomon’s book “Taking Sexy Back” offers a dynamic and holistic guide to help you reclaim your sexuality, communicate your desires, draw boundaries, be safe, and build the satisfying relationships you truly want.
Her excellent map of sexual self-awareness inspires you think broadly and deeply about your sexuality and your sexual self. She shows why self-awareness, differentiation (the skill of self-soothing; naming your thoughts, feelings and needs; then communicating these clearly to your partner), as well as teamwork, are vital ingredients for a fulfilling sex life.
Before reading on, note that sex therapist Esther Perel describes sex as “a place you go, not a thing you do.” If sex is a place you go, then you’re definitely going to need a map so you don’t get lost. Without understanding your own sexuality first, sexual communication and negotiation with your partner about each other’s different needs, wants and desires will be extremely difficult.
Dr. Solomon’s map of sexual self-awareness emphasizes seven aspects of sex and provides a framework to guide a curious and compassionate exploration of your sexuality and your partner’s sexuality.
The Seven Components of Your Map of Sexual Self-awareness
Your sexuality is embedded in a larger cultural context, and you have spent years absorbing highly gendered stories about who you should be sexually. These stories are everywhere and sneaky. Completing this Genderbread Person exercise developed by Sam Killermann helps clarify five aspects of your sexuality. Bringing these and all your stories into awareness for examination frees you up to make conscious choices instead of kneejerk responses governed by cultural conditioning.
- What are the main stories I have internalized from my culture about who I should be sexually?
- How do those stories enhance or compromise my sexual experiences?
Who you were sexually as a teen is different from who you are sexually today, and who you are sexually today is different from who you will be ten and twenty years from now. How we sexually develop over the course of our life is a field of study called lifespan sexual development. The sex we have changes—in terms of why we have it, how it feels, and what it means.
- As a teen, my sexuality was…
- Right now, my sexuality is…
- In the future, I hope my sexuality will be…
Your brain is your biggest sex organ. The thoughts you have about sex shape your sexuality and affect the sex that you have. Mindfulness and self-compassion are powerful and well-researched pathways toward more wholehearted sexual experiences.
- What are the thoughts and beliefs I carry about my sexuality?
- How do my thoughts enhance (or detract from) my experiences of sex?
Sex is an embodied experience, so the relationship you have with your body shapes your sexual experiences. The more you know, understand and appreciate your body, the more you can enjoy the pleasures of sex. Watch sex educator Dr. Emily Nagoski’s TED talk explaining how confidence and joy are the keys to a great sex life.
- What is the quality of my relationship with my body, including my genitals?
- How does my relationship with my body enhance or constrain my sexual experiences?
Our culture tends to hold the world of feelings in disdain, associating emotions with weakness. Yet when it comes to sex, vulnerability is 100 percent unavoidable. All emotions—good, bad, and ugly—are data. Painful experiences leave imprints that shape how you experience your sexuality, but healing is always possible. Here are simple steps about how to manage painful emotions through mindfulness.
- How do I tend to feel before, during, and after sex?
- What are the emotions that I would like to associate with my sexual experiences?
- To what degree do painful experiences from my past shape my sexuality today?
Most sex takes place between people, even though auto-eroticism is common, entirely normal and healthy. Sex is an experience of relating to another—a dance that requires communication, collaboration and consent. Sexual consent is permission that is voluntary, conscious, and able to be withdrawn at any time. Watch this 4 minute video on How do you know for sure that someone wants to have sex with you. Relational sex yields connection and pleasure. Closeness is the outcome.
- What do I believe is the role of sex in an intimate relationship?
- To what degree is sex a source of pleasure and play in my intimate relationships?
- To what degree is sex a source of stress and conflict in my intimate relationships?
Spirituality is that deeply personal and unique relationship between our human self and self-transcendence. The link between sex and spirituality is strong, says Dr. Deepak Chopra in this four minute video. Spiritual practices and beliefs can enhance or constrain our ability to experience sexual pleasure, empowerment, and connection. Sex can be a profoundly spiritual experience with the potential to move us toward greater compassion, awareness and connection to all of life.
- To what degree does my relationship with the divine, oneness, higher power, or spirit enhance my experience of my sexuality?
- To what degree does my relationship with the divine, oneness, higher power, or spirit constrain my experience of my sexuality?
If you’re interested in learning about your map of sexual self-awareness so you and your partner can learn research-based skills to develop a good sexual team, call 0421 961 687 or email us to schedule an appointment. International callers should call +61 421 961 687. You deserve the best trained coaches if you’re planning to invest time and money in your relationship. If you’re not ready to book an appointment, call us on 0421 961 687 to book a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you.