How men getting off on women getting off is switching us all off
I have a sexy male friend who loves threesomes, but who over time has realised his body and pleasure isn’t getting a look in as he’s setting up then watching the femme on femme action. He’s had fantasies about group sex since he was younger, loves the attention on him and loves the company of women. Yet over time the he found the pleasure diminishing
It turned out that in setting up the threesome, the women were enchanted with each other and in themselves having a first bisexual experience and he ended up taking the photos and pouring the drinks. The visuals and the idea are pretty, yet the experience was unsatisfying on many other levels. According to therapist Michael Bader it’s all to do with avoiding rejection while courting double the possibility. Being the man in service isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
So where do we begin to unpack what’s going on here? Let’s begin with the road to nowhere that is external visual stimulation. Whether it’s death grip wanking to porn, voyeurism in a sex club or being left out in a threesome all loved by the male gaze, yet much of it leaves the male body bereft of real, direct, embodied pleasure. Pixels and secondhand pleasure can only do so much.
Sex Therapist Marty Klein writes about the real value of sex. “Touching, which most people under-value in sex, being known and knowing someone; feeling connected; and a sense of immediacy, that something is happening right now. That is unique to you”. And I want to add being touched, both physically and emotionally. We all need to be touched in ways that please us uniquely; more skilful touch of the whole body, not just the obvious bits between your legs. The skin is the greatest erogenous zone, the receptor of pleasure. Learning how to notice and value this is key.
Back to my sexy friend. Sometimes we get in our own way, where the idea, especially a complex one like a threesome, actually misses the point of the reason for setting it up in the first place. Fixation or fantasy can’t replace full attention, feeling appreciated and pure pleasure.
Embodied direct pleasure involves being able to place our attention on what’s happening in our own bodies, not our ego being satisfied that we’re making other people’s bodies do nice things for them. That’s just a head f**k in more ways than one. It’s often generous and well-intended but in the long term is unsatisfying, putting different performance anxiety on all parties. Meaning men have to have all the good moves and women are having an orgasm to make someone else feel good. Icky eh? It’s the age old thing of men conditioned to getting off on women getting off and calling it giving. And it allows women to be passive. It’s no one’s fault as who knew there might be another way?
I’m going to heretically suggest that waiting for the knight in shining armour or the Goddess to arrive might not be your best bet. As it’s a lovely fantasy, let’s not rule it out, yet while we’re waiting, let’s get on with letting go of the 3 main killers of good sex and pleasure: perfection, comparison and analysis. Whatever ever else we think is it, cock size, loss of libido, ED, an imperfect partner etc, at bottom, it comes back to those three things. Once we’re in our heads we’re out of the real pleasure zone. This is where the subtle radical revolution that is the Wheel of Consent comes in, where Taking is the new generosity. In the Wheel of Consent, my experience is that the Taking quadrant is the nuclear bomb of satisfying pleasure, the great untapped source of gold of noticing the feelings of pleasure in your own body.
The immediate obvious gift is the honesty of admitting you want to touch someone else for your own pleasure. That honesty can be so liberating for everyone. Yet the more subtle nuance and crux of taking, lies in being able to notice that your body is actually enjoying it. Or you might just trip back into a pattern of wondering whether your partner is liking it, old skool giving. It’s easily done as it’s hard to break the habits of a life time. Understanding your own arousal is key. Can you feel nice sensations on your skin, are you present, are you smiling, are you breathing steadily or holding your breath, is your mind busy anxious or are you relaxed? In fact, what are you focusing on and noticing? What is nice for you beside the more common signs of a hard on or feeling lubricated? Are you enjoying it and what would make it even nicer? These are the two questions to ask yourself.
Sure it might be nice to be watching some femme on femme action, that’s such a common male fantasy, beautiful, risqué and like an insight into another world of soft female pleasure, yet this indirect pleasure is only half the picture. How do we move beyond conditioning into the new world of direct pleasure? It’s a bit like a parent standing on a freezing football pitch waiting for a kid to score a goal. When they do everyone is happy, the parent gleeful for the child. For at least a couple of minutes, then the action moves on. What’s actually mostly happening is that you’re cold on a football field, watching life out there, ignoring your own experience, which frankly could be miserable, dutiful and not half as much fun as doing something for you. You’re willing though and it matters to your child that you show up and pay attention and offer praise and encouragement. Though I also wonder how much pushy parenting puts the kid under pressure to perform?
For grown ups in the bedroom let’s ponder the similarities.
Male conditioning runs deep, from walking along the outside of the street to paying for dinner. While all of this is nice, what I notice is that when it gets out of balance, there’s a building resentment and then either resignation or revolution. I favour the latter. Women’s conditioning is equally insidious, waiting for the magical lover to arrive who’ll know our bodies better than we do. And we wait, all the while complaining about everyone else, reading about narcissists and toxic masculinity, while as sex coach Kim Anami might say, being seriously underfucked. All of us. It’s actually tragic that we’re so far apart while wanting the same thing: touch, being known and knowing someone; feeling connected.
Hung by our own petards, habits and core erotic themes, we can break free of our past experiences by taking the focus back to ourselves and our bodies in the present moment. When we come back to asking for what we want from listening to the body, all the manoeuvring and complexities can drop away and things can take a different direction. Once we’ve come back to the basics of how to recognise, notice and value pleasure, any and all of the above of my friend’s particular predilections, take on a different sense of possibility. Or can fall away gently to something more in the moment and real.
Betty Martin says the best sexual experiences are when both people in an encounter know how to take. Understanding how to be deeply in and of the sensual interaction, not the voyeur spectating on your own experience, wondering if you should be feeling more or differently, in your head and out of the moment. My friend John, another sex coach divulged that most men don’t pay much attention to women most of the time. Yet in bed and in sex they observe avidly. Why is this? My sexy male friend above says it’s because that’s how men learn over time what works. Looking for affirmation and what they’re allowed rather than focusing on what could be nicer for their own bodies. And it’s the opposite for women, watching men and trying to get attention much of the time in relationship, yet bailing out in the bedroom. None of this matters if a good time is being had by all, yet it matters a lot when the honeymoon period is over and the gap in the bed has widened. For us all to show up in bed, we have to have something to look forward to. I don’t know about you, but as a woman I don’t want to show up for sex that is routine or disconnected, or someone is using me just for a release of tension or being fitted into something someone saw in a porn film once. You can keep the basque and the stockings, I’m not a commodity and neither are you.
Natural embodied sensuality rests on first you knowing you exist, that you matter and that you have both rights and responsibilities for your pleasure. Magic doesn’t just happen. Understanding arousal is key, learning to be mindful of what’s happening in your own body, using breath, voice and movement to explore relaxed, extended sensory pleasure. Learning about how male and female sexual arousal are different is fundamental. I saw this from Sarita which is a simple tantric explanation of the difference. “A man’s sexual energy is centred around the lingam. By arousing this first, he’ll feel most honoured, seen and loved. Once he feels his potency rising you can then spread this awakened sexual power all over his body. A woman is opposite, her sexual energy is awakened through the slow and patient arousal of her whole body. Start at her edges, kiss her, hold her with full presence. Only when she feels truly loved and adored do you approach her sexual centre, the Yoni”
And other days it’s time for a quickie, when all tantric rules are off, the times when you can’t keep your hands off each other and the energy is more ravaging and exciting. Or some days let it get kinky. On other days let it be nurturing and healing. When much of sex is reduced to a focus on the genitals, everyone loses out on the deep satisfying whole body pleasure
Whether you follow the ancient or the modern masters of sex, what I know is that there are no rules in sexual pleasure, cultivating connection with our own erotic energy and that of our partner is at the heart of it. When we can touch another and feel the pleasure of that in own bodies, trusting our partner is doing the same, we’ve reached the holy grail of both people Taking. Unadorned, abandoned, consenting, relaxed and adoring of ourselves and the other, being in the moment. This feels like freedom and pleasure in action.
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