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Week 4 Sexual Research

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The Backwards Way We’ve Been Having Sex (and a More Enjoyable Option)

One of the most common mistakes people make in sex is doing what they think their partner wants—not what they themselves want. This sets up an unsatisfying experience for both parties. When we touch our partners for OUR pleasure, we both get what we want—a turned on, engaged, real experience.

What Does This Mean, To Touch for OUR Pleasure?

The media shows us what sex is “supposed” to look and sound like—and let’s face it, the expectations it sets up are completely unrealistic. Even though you know they’re unrealistic, you still find yourself feeling guilty when you “take too long” or lose your erection, when sex gets awkward, or when you want something and don’t know how to ask for it.

Magazines are always touting the hot new technique to unlock his desire or satisfy her completely. But let me tell you this: you already have every technique you need to know literally at the tips of your fingers.

This week you will learn a new way to be sexual—one that you do for your pleasure.

In this new kind of sex, you don’t use sex for its affect on your partner—you instead use it for its affect on you.

When you use your partner’s body to turn yourself on, and extract your pleasure from their body, then you both get everything you’ve ever wanted… and more.

It’s really very simple. All of the rules and norms have it backwards. You do what feels good for you during sex. And you use the information of your own senses, curiosities, and desires to guide you towards the most satisfying experience for both of you.

Why Pleasing Your Partner Backfires

One of the most common mistakes we make in sex is doing what we think our partner wants—not what we want. This sets up sex to be a performance or act of service. We’re listening to every moan she makes searching for cues, or resentfully “giving” our partner the kind of sex he likes—or feeling frustrated and entitled when our partner doesn’t touch us “correctly.” Isn’t that their job, after all—to turn us on and make us happy? To give us sex? Isn’t that supposed to be one of the perks of marriage?

I’m going to break the news to you now: sex isn’t something you “give” to each other. It’s not your job to turn on, pleasure, or delight your partner.

When we’re overly focused on impressing or pleasing our partner, we are constantly monitoring “how it’s going” for them. This keeps us in our head, and out of our bodies. We also might feel anxious if it’s not “going well” or bored if they’re taking “too long” or don’t respond to our touch. We might find ourselves fantasizing about someone else. We may feel guilty, distracted, or even resentful as we perform an act of sex “on them” that we think they like, but that doesn’t thrill us.

I’m not sure when we learned that it’s kind or generous for us to touch our partners “for their benefit,” when we ourselves aren’t 100% enjoying touching them. Now that I have lived the difference, I find this attitude of indentured servitude shocking—as if by doing things we don’t really want to do proves our love or devotion.

But let’s think about this… who wants to be touched by someone who isn’t 100% enjoying the experience of touching us? Who wants to be touched by someone who is is feeling guilty, distracted, resentful, or fantasizing about someone else? Not me, that’s for sure!

In fact, I can’t think of a worse situation in which to be. I would rather not be touched at all than be touched by someone who is bored, resentful, or guilty. How about you?

End Obligation NOW and For Good

In weeks passed, we’ve discussed the greatest challenges that men and women face in sex. For men, a big challenge is dropping goal oriented-thinking and being fully present with what is occurring in this moment.

For women, it’s our learned shame about our desires, our genitals, and our pleasure. This shame and guilt has us (consciously or unconsciously)  turn away from our bodies and our own sexual sensations—and instead focus on our partner.  

When we don’t receive and enjoy sexual contact for our own pleasure, we inevitably instead have sex out of obligation—based on his desire or the internalized pressure to be “good partners.”

The problem with having sex out of obligation is that every time we do it, we turn further away from being able to feel our own pleasure, desire, and inspiration.

Even if we actually WANT and like sex, if we do it out of duty enough times, we won’t be able to tell anymore. It’s like being forced to eat our vegetables. Or better yet, being forced to eat ice cream. We might love ice cream. But if we forced ourselves to eat it, day in and day out, we would start to fear it, hate it, resent it, or resign ourselves to joylessly eating today’s helping.

Sex is far too energizing, renewing, and fulfilling of a thing to “resign” yourself to doing.

However, the conventional way of having sex is for our partner’s pleasure—to make them happy, bring them to orgasm, or fulfill our duty as a spouse. And it is not energizing or renewing for women—it’s exhausting. It feels like work.

In the outdated framework, sex is a commodity that we trade—I’ll do you, then you do me. I’ll touch you, and then you touch me. We think that this makes sex “fair.” We think it’s a nice thing to do.

It’s not. While wanting to make our partners happy is a wonderful sentiment, it backfires in practice—especially over time. It backfires because it removes us from following our own desires and urges, and instead has us acting out of obligation.

Sex degrades from an experience of joyful exploration to one of trading favors. We start to go through the motions to “get the job done.” While it might feel OK sometimes, friction alone does not produce thrilling, intimate sexual experiences.

We can tell when our partners are paying attention to us. We can tell when they’re enjoying themselves and when they are not.

Women, you might think you’re doing him a favor by at least “giving him some.” You are not. You would both be better served to stop having sex completely until she discovers her own desire rather than does one more resentful act of service “for him.”

It’s insulting when we as women think he can’t tell the difference. Cheap food does not pass for a gourmet meal. Only when two people are willing to lie to each other would they ever pretend that McDonald’s was Chez Panisse.

The Much Better Alternative—Do It for YOUR Pleasure

When you touch someone else for your own pleasure, you give them a great gift: the gift of feeling delicious, sexy, and desirable.

Ironically, when we touch our partners for OUR Pleasure—not their pleasure—our partners can fully relax because the pressure is removed—the pressure to return the favor, to hurry up so you don’t work too hard, or to pleasure YOU.

When we touch for our own pure, unadulterated enjoyment, our partner gets to feel adored. I know it might seem backwards at first… but think about it and it will make more sense. We feel adored, safe, and turned on when our partner WANTS to touch us—not when they do so begrudgingly or half-heartedly.

Being touched by someone who is doing it for his own enjoyment is one of the most arousing experiences I know of. When I know my partner is turned on and doing what he loves—when he is extracting pleasure from my body—I get to relax and savor the experience of being treated like a delicious object.

Use Your Whole Body for Your Pleasure: Your Mouth

You probably already know this even if no one’s pointed it out to you, but your mouth—your tongue, your lips, your soft palate, the back of your throat—are some of the most sensitive areas of your body. The inside of a woman’s mouth, in fact, has more nuanced sensation than the inside of her vagina.

Your mouth is exquisitely sensitive to pressure, texture, temperature… and your mouth can also taste. This exquisite sensitivity is why food is so damned enjoyable, and why kissing feels so fantastic.

When focusing on the sensitivity of your mouth, using it on your partner’s body becomes a sensual, sensuous experience. Instead of treating kissing, sucking on, or licking your partner as foreplay—the necessary precursor to intercourse—you can slow down and actually feel more pleasure from the beginning.

How can YOU enjoy using your mouth on your partner’s body? Not for the effect it has on your partner… but for how good it feels to YOUR lips, your tongue, and your mouth?

A fully awakened mouth feels very different to both giver and receiver. It’s the difference between “doing your duty” and savoring every lick of your partner’s skin.

Trust me, your partner can tell the difference. And so can you.

Use Your Whole Body for Your Pleasure: Your Eyes

Your eyes are the seat of your attention. Attention has the power to arouse and cause emotion. Don’t believe it? Think of the last time someone made you blush. Chances are they didn’t touch you at all. It was just a look, a thought that passed through their head—and suddenly your cheeks were hot.

This is the power of eyes and attention. We all long to feel truly seen by each other.

You can use your eyes to experience your partner in all of his or her states: aroused, awkward, peaceful, turned-on. Your eyes allow you to take in the visual nuances and color changes of his skin—the texture of hair, muscle, and fat… All of her body can be observed by your eyes and painted by your attention.

Being seen is a deeply intimate experience. In fact, the reason we don’t use our eyes more in sex is that it skyrockets heat, arousal, and discomfort in our bodies and in our partner’s bodies. It can make our partners squirm. It can cause us to feel everything from embarrassed to ragingly turned on.  

Use Your Whole Body for Your Pleasure: Your Fingers

Fingers contain some of the densest concentration of nerve endings anywhere on your body and provide rich feedback about what you are touching. They are highly dexterous and can reach places no other part of your body can.

Have you ever slowed down as you made contact with your partner’s body? Have you relished all of the possible sensations your fingertips provide FOR YOU: the temperature, texture, pressure, moisture of your partner’s skin?

You can use your hands and fingers to extract pleasure from your partner’s body. It starts by paying attention to what your fingers “want to do.” If that sounds like a woo-woo spiritual practice, I assure you it’s not. It’s actually very simple. Imagine that you are taking a walk in Central Park. There are a thousand options of paths and meadows you could take, and even thousands of options of whether to talk on the path or the grass, whether to walk on the right side or the left, etc. We are constantly choosing based on “what feels right” in the moment—I turn left, then I slow down, then stop for a drink of water. When taking a walk, this type of improvisational movements are so automatic we don’t often think of it as a skill. If you watch a toddler, however, you will soon realize that it is in fact a skill and something we’ve learned to do. How do you know you want to turn left? You just do. You just go left. You stop for water without a lot of mental anguish—you simply stop and drink.

Eventually, it will be the same way for you with sex. Keep practicing!  

Start by intentionally turning UP your curiosity. Explore new crevices of his or her body based on your own interest. Use all of the dexterity and control your fingers have to offer. Play with different speeds and pressures—find which ones YOU like best, which ones feel right for you.

Forget about what she wants, or what he wants.

I know. This is backwards from everything you have ever learned about sex.

Trust me on this one, and do the research yourself to prove it.

The way to have sex that blows not only your partner’s mind but also your own is to get curious about what feels best for your fingers, for your body—then do that.

How to Ask for What You Want

One of the the fears that many of us have when faced with touching our partner for OUR pleasure is: What if he doesn’t like what I’m doing? What if I accidentally hurt her? What if what feels good for me doesn’t feel good for him? What if she gets offended?

First off, I want to reassure you from in-depth personal experience on both sides of the equation that this won’t come up nearly as often as you imagine it will. We are, in fact, ravenous sexual creatures who love to be enjoyed—when we feel safe with each other.

When all the pressure is lifted off of us and there are no goals or expectations, we naturally feel more turned on and exploratory.

While we all need attentive, consensual touch, we can also take more sexual intensity than we often give each other credit for. In fact, we might be dying for more, having stuffed down our hunger for our entire lives.

Throw Customs Out The Window

In order to have sex for YOUR pleasure, you must throw the norms, customs, and “how to’s” of past sex advice out the window. Almost all of those customs, norms, and how-to’s are based on producing a reaction in your partner—and therefore put pressure and expectations on both of you.

Forget about how “normal” oral sex is supposed to go. Forget about how long it should take, or what Cosmo said about the latest technique. You don’t need that. It doesn’t feel as wonderful as truly letting go of control and allowing YOUR unedited desire to move you.

Forget about what you think your partner wants. They’ll tell you if they want something to change. Instead, focus on the sensations in your own body and follow what feels the best for your mouth, your eyes, or your fingers.

Ask Yourself: What Would Feel Even Better for Me?

As you practice touching for YOUR pleasure this week, continually ask yourself: what would feel even better for ME? If you notice you are wondering about your partner, simply bring your attention back to yourself.

These are the solid gold questions of radically fulfilling sex:

  • What does my mouth want?
  • What do my fingers want?
  • What am I curious about?
  • Where is my own desire here? What does it tell me to do?
  • How could I enjoy this even more?
If You Catch Yourself Touching Your Partner Out of Obligation, STOP and Return to Your Own Senses.

If you find that you are trying to produce a result, STOP. Bring your attention back to your own body. What do you want? Where is your pleasure at? If you discover that you don’t know, take a moment to feel your body. It’s OK to stop sex “in the middle” to reorient. It’s okay to take a breath while giving a blowjob and reset your own desire. You won’t lose momentum. That doesn’t exist in radially fulfilling sex, since there’s nowhere to get to and there are no goals except to connect and feel each other.

If you notice you don’t want to touch your partner anymore, stop. Take a break. Don’t push into obligation just to “finish.” It will cost you down the line.

If you discover that you have been going faster than you wanted to, slow down. Feel your body. Turn on your curiosity. Keep returning to your own senses. Every time you return to your own sense, you grow stronger and more able to feel pleasure and give pleasure.

Every time, be proud of yourself. You are getting stronger.

Get Very Comfortable Asking for What You Want

One helpful practice women in particular can take up is to get very comfortable asking for what they want during sex.

Many men have a natural fear of hurting women. Therefore, men will often “hold back” from following their true sexual desire.

Many women have a natural fear of upsetting men. They don’t ask their partners for what they want or need for a few reasons:

  1. As women, they don’t know what they want.
  2. They feel embarrassed to have needs, and don’t want to appear demanding, picky, or desperate.
  3. They don’t want to offend or disappoint their partners, invoke his anger, or start a fight.

Asking for what we want is always vulnerable and takes guts. The payoff, however, makes it well worth it. When we are willing to ask for what we want and adjust our partner towards our greatest pleasure, you both end up more fulfilled.

The truth of the matter is this:

Men just wants to know how to please women, and women just want to be pleased!!

Women often have a hard time believing that their partner wants to please them for a few reasons:

  1. It can be difficult to receive sexual attention. It activates our shame and fears about owing him favors in return or not being “good enough” to deserve his attention.
  2. When women have asked for what they needed or wanted in the past, they’ve been met with anger, rejection, or upset.
  3. Women don’t know what they want because they’ve had their attention off of their own bodies, and have been overly focused on other people for their entire lives.

What’s true is that asking for what we want is sensitive on both sides. We are revealing something deeply vulnerable about ourselves by admitting to our desire. We might get rejected. We might get laughed at. We may have memories of experiencing both of these reactions in our past.

As someone who is being asked for a different sexual experience, we can feel equally as inadequate. If our partner expresses a need or desire, we can immediately think that we’ve done it wrong or are bad lovers, or worry that our partner is trying to control us. We can also feel overwhelmed, as if we’ll never get it right.

Why Not to Use the Compliment Sandwich

The following format for adjusting is very effective. It provides a way to clearly express what we want in a way that feels great for our partners.  

It’s called The Stack.

Step 1. Recognize that you want something different. This may seem basic, but it in fact takes skill to notice when something isn’t exactly as we want it. We are so conditioned, as women in particular, to “make the best of things” that we often skip over slight pain, pressure, or touch that doesn’t feel quite right. We can also follow his desire rather than our own. My rule of thumb: if something that I am not liking or that I want pops into my head during sex more than once or twice, I ask for it to change.

Step 2. Verbally acknowledge what IS working. Sexual contact is just plain vulnerable. It’s easy to hear our partner’s requests as code for, “You’re doing it wrong,” or, “I don’t like how you touch me.” This can feel devastating. Avoid this devastation by telling your partner something that you ARE enjoying about what they are doing first. Example:

  • I love kissing you.
  • The way you’re touching me feels so good.
  • I love having you inside of me.

Verbally acknowledging what IS working also lets your partner know that you are not a bottomless pit of needs or criticisms. You are happy with what they are doing—you just want it even better.

Step 3. Make an adjustment or request in the “Would you please _________? That would feel even better.” format. Now ask for what you want to be changed or for them to adjust or do differently. Examples:

  • Would you please move a little lower? That would feel even better.
  • Would you fuck me even deeper? That would feel even better.
  • Would you lighten your touch and go slower? That would feel even better.

Step 4. Acknowledge what feels good about the change. After your partner has changed, tell them simply and honestly how it feels now. This lets them know that they adjusted correctly and supports their confidence. Examples:

    • Mmmm, yes, that feels so good.
    • Oh yeah! Just like that.
    • {contented sigh}


Don’t fake it or get overly theatrical. Simply allow your partner feel the results of his or her actions.

Step 5. Repeat as often as needed while also enjoying the sensations you are experiencing. Don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want as often as you need to.

If you make a request and your partner doesn’t quite get it, don’t tolerate that! Just start back at Step 1 and ask again. “Oh yeah, that feels so good. Would you go even lower?”

Be aware of your own pattern with asking for what you want. Do you rarely or never ask for what you want or need? Or are you always adjusting him and trying to make his touch “perfect.” If you notice you are constantly asking for adjustments or changes in sex, and that he never quite get is right, consider this:

  • What would happen if you simply let go and paid attention to the touch you are receiving—even if it’s not “perfect?”
  • What enjoyment could you extract from what you are receiving just the way it is?
  • How could YOU enjoy yourself more without changing his behavior?  


A Word of Caution: Do you ALWAYS ask for what you want?

Be aware of your own pattern with asking for what you want. Do you rarely or never ask for what you want or need? Then your task is to employ the stack often. Ask more than you feel is reasonable. Ask so much that you feel embarrassed about how “demanding” you are being. Tell your partner that you’re hell bent on trying something new, and that you plan to ask every 5 minutes for something new. Use your research time to practice doing this. 

On the flip side, are you always adjusting him and trying to make his touch “perfect?” If you notice you are constantly asking for adjustments or changes in sex, and that she never quite gets right, the remedy is not to continue asking but instead to surrender, let go, and learn to enjoy what you DO have. Consider this:

  • What would happen if you simply let go and paid attention to the touch you are receiving—even if it’s not “perfect?”
  • What enjoyment could you extract from what you are receiving, just the way it is?
  • How could YOU enjoy yourself more without changing his or her behavior?