On intimacy and letting go

Dear Coquette,

I’m a 25-year-old female in my first serious sexual relationship, after a “Welcome to Sex!” phase of one-night stands during which I hated myself, men and bodies. Since then I’ve learned to like what I’m able to share with him, and I “get it” a whole lot more, but now I’m stagnating and in danger of reviving old patterns. I’m so nostalgic for the enormous amounts of time and attention I used to give to myself that I fail to see how sex makes up for it. If I could learn to really love, love, love sex it would make my life so much easier … How do I prove to myself once and for all that closeness is not time wasted, and that vulnerability is not, necessarily, stress? Because most days I would almost rather masturbate.

Babe, sex or no sex, most days I do masturbate. I hope you don’t think getting off is a one-or-the-other type situation. More importantly, sex isn’t supposed to make up for the attention you give yourself. It’s not a zero-sum game. There doesn’t have to be a conflict between pleasuring yourself and the pleasure you get from your intimate relationship.

Intimacy is never time wasted, but intimacy isn’t about orgasms. Hell, intimacy doesn’t even have to mean sex. As for vulnerability, well, if you equate it with stress, it’s because you aren’t quite capable of detaching vulnerability from anxiety. In other words, you don’t know what its like to really let go.

That’s okay. In fact, it’s not the least bit surprising, considering your body issues and foregrounded self-consciousness. Letting go is what you need to work on, and the best way to do that boils down to what is essentially a series of emotional trust exercises in the bedroom.

It’s time you got a little creative with your closeness. All that time and attention you used to give yourself? Do it with your boyfriend. Invite and incorporate him along for what you used to do by yourself. Bring him with you.

There are no rules to this. No right or wrong way. This isn’t a goal-oriented endeavor. The whole point is just to share yourself physically, honestly and completely. 

No, I’m not kidding, and no, that’s not impossible.

Just let go. Whenever you get all up in your head during sex, I want you to remember those three little words. Say ’em with me now. Just let go.

Will it be scary at first? Sure, but the good kind. Replace the knot in your stomach with butterflies by being present in the moment and trusting that your boyfriend just wants you to be satisfied. I think you’ll be surprised at how open he is to everything.

Of course, you should also talk to him about this. Tell him what you told me. For the sake of his male ego, be sure to let him know that the stagnation you’re feeling isn’t about his performance, but about your own sexual anxiety.

Again, this isn’t about anything that either of you are doing right or wrong in the bedroom. It’s about opening up to your boyfriend and sharing all the stuff in your head. That’s an act of intimacy in and of itself.

If you’re emotionally honest with him, your vulnerability will separate from your anxiety, and you’ll finally make the transition from your “Welcome to Sex!” phase into the infinitely better phase of truly enjoying it.


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