NAUGHTY AND NICE
THE KEY TO SPICING UP YOUR SEX LIFE
Those of us in the profession of helping couples emphasize values such as kindness, generosity and empathy. I have spent countless hours with couples bringing out these qualities in each partner even when under duress.
We teach communication skills such as expressing yourself using “I” statements and using non-blaming sentences.
We teach listening skills, helping couples wait their turn without interrupting their partner.
This is all good and very important…
However, since I specialize in sex therapy, I have seen many a couple develop these great qualities and thrive in the kitchen, den and living room, but still be disconnected and disappointed in the bedroom. Why would that be? Isn’t being warm, thoughtful and loving enough for a great sex life? Not necessarily and for many couples the limitations in the bedroom have to do with something quite the opposite.
There are many lovers out there who have a very difficult time being selfish. Sex is about giving, but it is also about receiving. Many people have grown up in families where they learn to inhibit their so called selfish urges especially when it comes to sex. Asking your partner to do a certain sexual act or touch you a certain way or accept your wild fantasy is not easy for some of you. You have learned lessons such as “you have to put others first.” That may be admirable but a number of sexual problems manifest due to not being selfish enough.
Take for example a man who learned early on the rewards of being a good boy. This hypothetical (yet common) man maybe even had to take care of his needy mother. This hypothetical mother needed her boy to meet her emotional needs. He needed to be a super achiever; he may even have needed to be the sensitive male his father wasn’t. This man as an adult then meets a woman and he is very loving, cherishing and kind to his new girlfriend; as a matter of fact the girlfriend has never met anyone as sweet and kind as him. Their sex life is pretty good also. Then they get committed; they get married and something starts to happen. The man seems less interested in sex. She gets resentful that she has to initiate and get sex going all the time. He is great everywhere else in life but in the bedroom, he is passive. This is what can happen when a person (in this case the man) has been taught to be nice but has not been allowed to be “naughty.” Once he commits, he slips into the role of helper, giver and all around nice guy. His inability to be selfish, ask for what he wants and reveal his own unique sexual self (with his desires, preferences, etc.) makes sex unappealing at an unconscious level. He does not know why he is not interested in his beautiful wife. And this is just one possible example of how too much nice and not enough naughty can put marriages in jeopardy.
In Part 2 of Naughty and Nice, I will go into the different ways highly successful sexual couples are both naughty and nice.
For this article, I want to emphasize that we all have learned to cut off a part of who we are. It is the nature of families where certain parts of us are encouraged (like the nice, sensitive part of the man above) and other parts of us are discouraged (like the sexual, aggressive, hedonistic part of the man above). Our sexual lives are places where we can explore our shadow sides; those sides that may feel somewhat alien to us but that when we experiment with those parts and roles, we come alive. It is as if our life energy is being stored behind one of the doors that we have never dared to open. However, when we take that courageous leap of faith and we open that door, being alive never felt so exhilarating. Using the sexual arena of our lives to open that forbidden door is one of the great gifts of sex in a long term relationship.
One of my greatest joys in my sex therapy is when a conservative, inhibited conforming partner begins to experiment with her alter ego; the wilder, crazier, sexual side. She starts to realize that this recessive side of her is who she is as well. That is why it feels so good; she is more whole than before as she claims her “naughtiness.” And when you feel this good about yourself, you know what is true- it is much easier to be nice!