Spring Clean Your Sex Life

Spring Clean Your Sex Life

This time of year, we take the time to clean-up from the winter. Warmer clothes get packed away, the house gets aired, the garden furniture comes out of storage and the washing can finally go back on the line. At work we think about how the rest of the year looks, asking how 4 months has already gone by so fast! However, do you ever take the time to spring clean your relationship and sex life? To dust down the cobwebs and pay attention to that very important area of your life that quite often doesn’t get the time or attention it deserves. If you are in a committed relationship, the chances are that there will definitely be room for improvement, but where do you start and how? My advice;

Talk, Talk, Talk (and remember to listen)

Working with individuals and couples for many years now, it is clear to me that the majority of people can talk to their partners about work, money, the family, household stuff etc. but can rarely discuss their sex life.  Surely talking about sex would be more fun? Why do we avoid it these conversations? Some couples are together years without ever talking about sex, yet they have sex!

It is a tricky and personal subject and quite often feels fraught with danger, especially when the couple involved have different levels of desire and different wants and needs.  There is sometimes a misunderstanding that Sex Talk needs to be crude, smutty, or dirty. That you need to sit down and tell your partner your deepest and darkest fantasies. You may worry that it will open up unpleasant feelings, and inadequacies.  What if your partner laughs, or thinks your silly or weird? Worse still, what if what you suggest is criticised or rejected? It’s much easier to not talk about it.

However hard it is, being able to talk about their relationship and their sex life is what the majority of couples are missing.

Opening up a line of communication with a promise to be open and listen, will give each of you support and comfort. You can then feel able to talk about any issues and desires. So how do you start a conversation? When is the right time?

There is no hard and fast rule that works for everyone. It is all about you as a couple, but here are a few ideas that might help you start:

1. The blunt approach

Sometimes it is best to just ‘rip off the plaster’ and say what you mean. Straightforward and clear, that you would like a conversation about your relationship. Of course, consider where you are, who is around you and whether it’s a good time first before you make the suggestion to talk. If your partner agrees, then there will be no better time than the present.

2. Walk and Talk

Removing yourself from your everyday environment is a great way to talk to your partner. Take a walk, with no destination in mind, and talk.

3. Phone and Sexting

One of my clients recently told me that she has the best conversations with her husband on the nights that they are away from each other. Talking on the phone gives a sense of anonymity, and an escape route if it becomes too much. Could this be the way forward for you? It might simply be the way you start the conversation, telling them that when they are home, you’d like to talk about your relationship. Texting is also a great way to raise the subject, and a ‘Sext’ every now and then keeps the passion alive! 

Educate yourself; about yourself and your partner

We are taught basic biology at school, how our brains work to keep us alive, how our organs work and their importance. Throughout our lives we are constantly bombarded with messages on looking after ourselves, getting exercise, eating well. The question I want to ask is – when was the last time you learnt something about sexual health? If the answer is when you were at school, then there is much to learn.

School sex education concentrates on the reproduction system and how babies are made, how to avoid getting pregnant, how to avoid sexually transmitted infections, periods and consent.  All very important, but where were the messages about pleasure? What we know about sex is changing year on year with advances in research and changing social and cultural attitudes.  Our bodies change with age and illness and women’s bodies go through many changes with their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.  There is always much to learn.  We never know it all.

Sex is a really broad subject, and something that I will be expanding on over the coming months in my content. Including how our sexual organs work, how we get pleasure and how our minds can control our enjoyment of sex.

Are all you fellas doing your pelvic floor exercises?

Are all you fellas doing your pelvic floor exercises?

Yes, that’s right! Men have pelvic floors too.

It’s common knowledge amongst women, that if we don’t exercise our pelvic floor muscles they will become weak and can lead to some embarrassing leaks as we mature, especially when we laugh, sneeze or cough. Standard ante-natal advice tells us to exercise these muscles before and after childbirth to tone our pelvic floor muscles to keep ourselves honeymoon fresh.  However, men are rarely given any advice about these exercises.

Men have the same pelvic floor muscles which run from the tailbone to where the penis attaches to the pubic bone. Because it connects the front, the back and all the important bits inside, it stands to reason that strengthening it will increase control and sensation in the entire genital area.

In 1952, Arnold Kegal devised some simple exercises as a method for increasing genital strength. The exercises are now often referred to as Kegal exercises or Kegals. During his research into ways to help people with incontinence, he found that the stopping and starting of the flow of urine was very beneficial for women whose muscles had weakened post-pregnancy. What Dr Kegal didn’t anticipate, was the number of patients who would then report that their vaginal muscles had become stronger, resulting in increased sexual arousal during intercourse and better orgasms.

If you don’t use it you lose it, and strength in any muscle that doesn’t get used is no different. Regular Kegal exercises not only prevent the consequences of poor muscle tone, like urinary incontinence, but help to increase vaginal and penile strength. Kegals increase sensitivity and vaginal lubrication, they can intensify orgasms, improve erections and assist in ejaculatory control.

Steps to get you on your ‘Kegal’ way:

1. Find your pelvic floor

First find out where your pelvic floor muscles are by stopping your flow of urine mid-stream. This will require you to pull up/squeeze/tighten your anus in, as if trying not to pass wind and doing the same with your urethra as if trying not to wee at the same time. It should feel as if you are lifting it up and squeezing it from inside. Women should feel it in the vagina and men should feel it in the anus. Be sure not to tighten the muscles in the chest, abdomen, thighs or buttocks.

Word of warning! Now you know where the muscle are and what it feels like to contract them, you are well on your way. A word of warning, once you have learnt to do your Kegal exercises don’t continue to do them whilst you’re urinating as this can eventually weaken the pelvic floor and can cause bladder problems.

2. Squeeze

With an empty bladder, contract or squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and hold for the count of 3-8 seconds before releasing slowly, then count to 10 and repeat the process, ensuring that each time the contraction is strong, slow and controlled.

3. Increase your sets

Once you’re in the swing, increase your sets of Kegals to 10 sets at least 3 times per day. It may take some time to reach this, but be patient and do whatever you can manage until you’ve reached this level

4. Get into a routine

Try and get into a routine, for example, one set when you’re brushing your teeth, one set when you’re on the train coming home from work and another when you take your evening shower. Get the picture? You don’t have to take any time out of your day for this important part of your fitness regime.

There are Apps you can download on your phone which will offer you some variety on your Kegal exercises and send you reminders to do them; Search Kegal Exercises.

So guys (and girls) tell your friends and family, look after your sexual health and get squeezing!!

Are we defined or doomed by our attachment styles?

Are we defined or doomed by our attachment styles?

Did you know that our adult relationships may be heavily influenced by our upbringing? The way we attached to our primary caregivers in childhood and other life experiences as we grew, may have shaped how we attach romantically.

Have you noticed that some couples seem happier than others and are more able to work through their problems? Whilst others seem to run from one relationship to another, never really finding that happy ever after that they are searching for.  The reason for this is very likely to be rooted in attachment styles.

Attachment Theory, in psychology, is based on the belief that we are biologically wired to connect with others and form deep emotional bonds. It originates from the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and through the development of this theory during 1960-1970’s three major attachment styles were identified;

  1.  Secure,
  2. Avoidant; and
  3. Anxious/Ambivalent.

The primary caregivers of a securely attached child are attuned to their child’s needs and are consistently responsive to those needs. The child feels secure, and knows it has freedom to venture out and explore, safe in the knowledge that there is a secure, loving dependable base to return to.  This is replicated in adult relationships, when secure people attach, they are happy, friendly and are more trusting in their relationships.  They can have friends and interests of their own, independent to those of their romantic partner knowing that they have a secure, loving base to return to. When problems arise in their relationship, they are more likely to be able to talk about them with their partner and work through them.

A child may develop an avoidant attachment style when the primary caregivers are regularly distant, preoccupied, indifferent or absent. The child will quickly learn to fend for itself and not rely on others.  So, it is easy to see how this attachment style could later affect adult relationships. Avoidant types will find it uncomfortable forming close relationships, they may find it difficult to rely on others and could have trust issues resulting in a fear of intimacy and an unwillingness to commit wholeheartedly to their partner. When there are problems in the relationship, they cope by distancing themselves and will often choose the safer option of quitting and maintaining their independence, believing they would be better off on their own. Relationships with people of an avoidant attachment style are very often brief, and consequently, you will find many of these types in dating pool.

A child brought up by caregivers who are inconsistent; responsive one minute and not the next, may form an anxious attachment style. They wouldn’t know what to expect next. They may feel loved one minute and not the next. Did they do something wrong? Would their parents be there when they got home? A child living with this sort of inconsistency would become unsure and clingy.  As an adult, they would seek intimate relationships but would worry that others wouldn’t reciprocate their love or stay with them. They are likely to obsess about the relationship, constantly checking their phone in the hope that some contact has been made. They may become possessive and easily feel jealous.  The fear of abandonment would be strong, and their coping strategy would be rumination.

It is important to know that this theory was not brought about to be critical of parenting styles. Life events such as death in the family, divorce, financial problems, physical and mental health issues and the parents own attachment styles can all play critical roles in the child’s upbringing and their view and interaction with the world.

Research has shown us, that more than half of adults have a secure attachment style, with the other half split fairly equally between avoidant and anxious. However, more recent studies have indicated a decline in secure attachment styles and an increase in avoidant and anxious styles.

Studies have also shown a noticeable difference when it comes to gender. In avoidant and anxious attachment styles, there are more avoidant men than women and more anxious women than men.

So, are we defined or doomed by our attachment styles? No, not always. Just having an awareness of our style can be of great help when maneuvering our way through adult life. 

We can be more aware of the type of relationship we may be getting into when we are dating, if we better understand what types of behaviour to look out for in our potential partners. It may interest you to know that several studies have shown that avoidant individuals actually prefer anxiously attached people. Also, anxious women are more likely to date avoidant men.

If we recognise our own behaviours too, we can consciously navigate our way to healthier and happier connections. We can notice that sending countless texts in a day to help us feel connected to our partner may mean that we are anxious in our relationship. When we ignore our partners calls, determined to maintain our independence and remain a free spirit, despite the damage it may do to the relationship, we may very well be working in an avoidant attachment style.

These styles are continuous but not categorical. We may experience aspects of all of them at different times as life experiences change us. Our style can be altered at any stage in life; negative changes, such as separation or divorce, and positive influences such as a relationship with a securely attached partner.  We can also be aware of our own style and it’s typical behaviours and work actively to change it.

If you think your attachment style is getting in the way of a healthy, happy relationship, you may want to identify and explore your attachment tendencies within a safe, non-judgemental environment. Speak to me, or your local Psychotherapist, who can help you to understand and adjust your style of attaching, for better healthier and happier relationships. 

Are you an EXPERT SEXTER?

Are you an EXPERT SEXTER?

Do you titillate your lover with flirty messages suggesting that you’d like to skip dinner and move straight into the bedroom for dessert? A picture of your lacy knickers is sure to whet their appetite? Maybe you tantalise your online date with an explicit step by step commentary on what you are going to do to yourself in the shower with the promise of a soapy naked selfie later? For some, the more graphically explicit, the better.

Sexting has grown in popularity over the years since it first came about circa 2008 especially since it has such a disinhibiting affect. It’s a bit like feeling brave after a few drinks. How much easier to talk ‘dirty’ to someone when they can’t see your face, and doesn’t an expertly posed selfie in skimpy underwear look so much more enticing than seeing it all in the flesh? How bold we can be on the other end of a device. There is less at stake, no anticipation of a direct verbal response, less chance of being critiqued or judged, hence the opportunity for greater sexual expression.

So, what exactly is ‘Sexting’? It is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit image, video or text message on their mobile phone, computer or tablet. It can include nude, or nearly nude, photos or selfies and messages that propose or refer to sex or sexual acts.

Sexting is a practice often associated with teenagers, and young adults but the reality is that it has become popular across all age ranges. Relationship experts report that more and more of the 50 plus’s routinely use their mobile device to send naughty pics and teasing texts to their partner or love interest.

So, is it a good thing?

Sexting can be a great thing! It can be an intimate expression between two private, caring and consensual parties, whether they are single, dating, in a committed relationship or married. It’s a great way for couples with busy schedules to stay romantically connected especially when they travel, work or live apart.  Your intimate pic is very likely to bring a smile to their face when you show them what they are missing.  A few choice words can spice up a relationship or set the stage for passion. You can breathe excitement into a dull day at the office, and don’t you feel young, carefree and alive when you’re flirting?  It can be your naughty secret and it can be far more comfortable to hide behind a text when you want to say something ‘dirty’.

When is it Bad?

Yep, like anything else that’s fun, it has its dangers too. For one thing, it can be easy to send a ‘sext’ to a wrong number, and that can be embarrassing, or worse! Wrong number or right number your content could be shared.  You will have heard many a tale of someone who has been a victim of a partner who shared the sexually charged picture or text with mates or co-workers!  Even if the image, video, or text was only meant for one person, after it’s sent or posted, it’s out of your control. Can you completely trust the discretion or privacy of the recipient?

It’s important to understand that messages, pictures, or videos sent via the Internet or smartphones are never truly private or anonymous. In seconds they can be out there for all the world to see. If a compromising image goes public, or is sent to others, you could be at risk of humiliation, embarrassment, and public ridicule. Even worse, it could damage your self-image, career, relationships and even lead to depression and other mental health issues.

If you are concerned that an intimate image has been shared online the Revenge Porn Helpline offer practical assistance in reporting and removing content online. You can contact them on 0345 6000 459. However, they can only help victims over the age of 18.  Victims under the age of 18 can get some useful advice at Childline but should also report what has happened to the police on 101 (non-emergency) as soon as it becomes apparent that images have been shared. 

Then there is the effect sexting can have on your psychological health. There are plenty of people who love sending out sexy selfies of themselves, they get a massive buzz and it’s great for their self-esteem when their eagerly awaited pics result in ego boosting comments.  However, when you heavily rely on the approval or validation from others to feel good about yourself, it can become unhealthy.  When you start to need these comments then it may be helpful to consider the impact this is having on your mental health and wellbeing.

Teens and adults may participate in sexting for different reasons: for teens, reported peer pressure is something to be aware of, as they may feel pressured by friends or a boy/girlfriend to share inappropriate images to prove or signify affection. Teens and children, in their first experiences of romance, may feel curious or think they are in love with the individual they are sending images to.  It is important to know that it is a crime for anyone to possess, take, make, distribute, download or show anyone an indecent image of a child or young person under 18 years of age. Yes, that’s right! A sixteen or seventeen-year-old can legally have sex but they cannot legally share, send or possess explicit images, even of themselves  This would be classed and treated as a criminal offence under child pornography laws.

My top tips to be a safe and sexy ‘sexter’

1.  Make sure you and anyone you are sexting are over 18.

2.  Be sure who you are sending your saucy sexts to and think about the level of genuine respect they might have for your privacy, trust and reputation. Remember, you may be in love now, but will they still have the same regard for you if you should split in the future.

3.  Send then delete. If you’re sending or receiving racy notes or photos, delete them straight after you’ve sent/received them and maybe ask your partner to do the same. A lost or stolen mobile phone could mean that your stolen pics are uploaded in a heartbeat. There is also the other horrible possibility of your kids innocently flipping through your texts or photos!

4.  Lose your head! If you are hell-bent on sending the picture that leaves nothing to the imagination and you can’t guarantee it’s safe-keeping, neck down may be best.

5.  If you’re dating, keep expectations based on Sexting in check. Getting hot by text doesn’t mean you’ll get hot in person. Don’t over sell or over promise, you may want to get to know your new hottie better outside the bedroom, before you promise too much too soon.

6.  Think less is more. Being slightly suggestive can have more of a sexual charge than graphically spelling it out. For example; A bite of a cherry will leave you wanting more, scoffing a big bag full is likely to leave you never wanting cherries again. Leave, something to the imagination. Your partner can then have their own fantasies about what is to come. Like they say, it’s the journey, ‘or ride’ that counts and not the destination. Many a romantic conversation has been spoilt by a sudden ‘dick pic’. Remember, not everyone wants a sexually charged text or photo pop up on their phone as much as you think they might.

7.  No false advertising, your lies will find you out! Online daters are all too familiar with dates that show up looking 20 years older than their picture. If you are serious about forming a genuine relationship, be as genuine as you want your partner to be. Don’t talk about your yacht, your virginity or your massive manhood if it doesn’t really exist.

 

Has this made you want to start sexting, think about stopping or be a little more cautious? Share your thoughts with me on Facebook!