Week 2 Upgraded Sex Ed
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This Week's Must-Know Concepts
Remember in Week 1, we spoke about the involuntary nature of women’s libidos? We agreed that we can’t MAKE feminine arousal, fulfillment, or orgasm happen—the same way we can’t make sleep happen. We instead set up the conditions that allow for our libidos to emerge.
You may have wondered, “What exactly are those conditions?” We’re going to talk about that now.
First, we’ll examine the internal mechanism that prevents us from unleashing the our uninhibited, sexual selves: our ALERT system.
What is my sexual nature?
In my TEDx talk on Feminine Orgasm, I compared having great sex to listening to music.
Each and every time we come into sexual contact with each other, it’s like putting the needle down on today’s hot new record. We don’t know how the music will go until we listen to it. We don’t know how we will want to dance until we start to move our bodies.
Radically fulfilling sex works the same way.
The unique “music” that unfolds between the two of you will be different every time.
- Sometimes, it will be a dramatic and beautiful opera.
- Other times, pounding heavy metal.
- One night, a quiet lullaby.
- The next night, a peppy, upbeat pop hit.
Sometimes, you will love the “music” and it will be your favorite. Other times, it won’t. It might be a new type of “music” you’ve never heard before. Or one that you judge as too loud and profane, or too quiet and slow.
This variety and breadth of experience is actually instrumental for our sexual fulfillment. It provides more surface area for intimacy.
When we put the needle down and listen to the music, what we hear is the unique combination of “us.” None of the music is ever more or less than who you really are. When we drop our expectations, come into contact, and allow ourselves to be moved, we leave the familiar, well-worn script of sex behind and step into fresh territory. By doing that, we reveal and discover more of who we really are.
Our upgraded model for sex is intentionally ambiguous. As we discussed last week: we never know what’s going to happen next. This hallmark of women’s sexual expression is precisely what makes sex so interesting. And it can also cause us to question our identity.
This questioning may be uncomfortable.
“I thought I knew how to have sex. I thought I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. Am I less competent than I realized? Have I been doing it all wrong?”
“What is my sexual nature?”
While questioning our identities may be uncomfortable, it also provides the opportunity for us to discover more about our unadulterated pleasure and our partner’s pleasure. We may discover, through the process of allowing ourselves to listen and be moved, that we enjoy sex acts we never thought we did. Or find that assumptions we’ve made about our partners aren’t true.
These are wonderful discoveries, and ones to be cherished, because they indicate that we’ve granted ourselves access to our more basic sexual natures. This gives us access to our instincts, and acting on our instincts in sex is one of the most pleasurable feelings I know.
How do I "listen to the music?"
The music is the unique expression of sexual connection that’s present between the two of you this time around. Every night, the record will be different. In the same manner that (if we are honest and don’t try to “steer” the conversation) we can eat dinner with our family every night and share a wide array of unique conversation topics and emotions.
Some evenings, everyone is in a joking mood. Other nights are more somber. Sometimes there’s a reason for the change of mood: a recent promotion, a health concern, an event at school. Other times, there’s no obvious “reason why” the mood has changed—only the very real experience that the table is more quiet tonight or more boisterous the next.
Ultimately, it’s not important WHY the mood differs one night to the next—it’s more important to embrace this natural human variety as a normal, wonderful, intimacy-building treasure. Varied intimate connection with our loved ones supports feelings of fulfillment.
Let’s bring it back to sex.
In order to approach sex from this new framework—away from “the bases” and towards the “music”—it helps to break it down into steps:
- Drop our expectations
- Come into physical contact
- Relax and listen
- Allow ourselves to be moved
Bez's steps to great sex
When we drop our expectations, we wipe the slate clean of how sex is “supposed” to go and set the proper conditions for the Feminine Operating System to emerge. This is vital. It’s like firing up the motor that causes the record to spin. Without the record player and the motor that moves it, there’s no way to get the music off the record. It will stay stuck in there, available but dormant.
We must then come into contact. That is like putting the needle down on the record. Again, the record can spin but without the needle to register those grooves and translate them into sound, we won’t hear anything. A record that doesn’t get touched is a spinning, silent, highly frustrated record. (Ahem—men take note.)
Coming into contact doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but it must occur in some form. Sex in this new framework can literally start by simply laying next to each other and letting your fingers touch. Or sitting face to face and looking into each other’s eyes.
The next step is very important and one that confuses many of us: relax and listen. In our quest for “great sex” we often resort to our old habits of “trying hard” and “making things happen.”
And for good reason. In this new framework of sex, we voluntarily enter into unknown territory together—that blank ambiguity of the yet-played record. When faced with that ambiguity, we naturally feel some sense of panic. This has us fall back on knee-jerk, nervous strategies, such as:
- We strategize in our heads about what to do next.
- Fearing the loss of momentum, we rush to “make a move” or get things going.
- We switch on “performance mode,” leaving our bodies behind and running a familiar script instead.
Which of these do you do?
Feeling nervous in sex is normal—and there's less to worry about than you think
We employ anxious habits of performing or going into our heads in sex because pausing, relaxing, and listening are not typical Western approaches to productivity or happiness. Few people counsel: “If you want that project to really take off, I suggest you stop trying and instead listen and wait to be moved.” Not your average business—or sex—advice.
We live in a “go get it!” culture that favors action. We often treat striving and stress like badges of honor. The busier and more achieving we are, the more status we gain.
We also equally (and desperately) crave letting go of control. We jeopardize relationships, spend large quantities of cash, and risk our physical health, even, for a few moments of letting go: we drink and do drugs, we have affairs, we obsessively watch porn, or we gamble.
Sex is the most healthy, intimacy-building way I’ve found to go out of control—together. It’s our chance to let go. However, the reason we often don’t let go in sex, even with our life partner, is that losing control is downright scary (more on this in next next module).
Here’s a tip: that small nervous jolt at the beginning of sex is actually normal. Just like it’s normal to feel scared when we’re about to go skydiving. It doesn’t mean we’re incompetent! It means we’re alive. Staring down at the tiny Earth below, strapped to only a parachute, about to jump—yeah, we should be nervous! That’s the appropriate response to be having.
The same goes for sex. Our partner is taking their clothes off. Intimacy is impending. Our own desires are starting to flutter inside our bodies. We feel our cheeks flush. We’re nervous—and we should be. We are about to enter a state of the unknown, while being intimate and vulnerable. We are having the appropriate response!
What helps with that small moment of panic—the moment we often try to rush through and bypass with our round-the-bases script for sex?
I’ve discovered that if we drop our expeditions, come into contact, and relax and listen, then we will be moved. We can also turn up the volume on the music, which we’ll be practicing extensively in this training.
With practice and research, we learn to open up to each other and how to connect in new, unexpected, and radically fulfilling ways.
How your libido is like a little funny animal
Have you ever seen meerkats at the zoo or on TV? They’re a type of adorable desert mongoose. Being of a small and edible size, they are naturally nervous creatures.
If you watch meerkats, you’ll notice they always have at least one group member on “lookout.” The lookout stands on its hind legs with its little paws in the air, scanning the horizon for danger and making sure “everything is OK” at all times.
A woman’s brain works very similarly to this. It’s near-constantly on the lookout for what could go wrong, who needs help, or what needs to be done. I call it the ALERT system.
The survival of our species has depended upon our ability to scan for danger and make sure “everything is OK.” This is not a bad thing!
However, when it comes to sex, our inner ALERT system halts fulfillment by preventing us from relaxing, letting go, and enjoying ourselves. Instead, we’re stuck in our heads wondering if “everything is OK.”
This real, animalistic protective response is designed to keep us safe and alive. When we’re in ALERT, we listen for noises without realizing it. We keep our bodies tense, ready to react. We notice body language, and try to interpret it.
When we’re in ALERT, we fear that if we let go, relax, or put attention on our pleasure, even for a few moments, something bad might happen.
Anyone who has young children knows what it feels like to be in constant ALERT. It’s the heightened state we enter while driving through an unfamiliar part of town, or the startle that jolts through us when we hear a loud noise.
Our ALERT system tells our brain: “It’s not safe to let go. Pay attention.”
Why typical sex feels like "work" for women
Having sex while in a state of ALERT is like driving with the e-brake on.
Sure, we can do it—but it’s not a smooth ride. We’ll feel the car dragging, and constantly be wondering what’s wrong.
Driving with the e-brake OFF feels very different. It’s smooth, responsive, and powerful. It feels much easier.
Being in ALERT is what makes conventional sex feel tiring for women.
We’re not relaxing, letting go, and feeling rejuvenated by sex. Instead, we’re tense and stuck in our heads.
It is impossible to feel true physical pleasure and be in ALERT at the same time. We can’t scan for danger while letting go with wild abandon. It’s one or the other. Because when we’re in ALERT, we’re in our heads—not our bodies. And our bodies are where we feel all the pleasure.
Despite what it may seem, our ALERT systems are not a problem. They help us stay safe! We don’t want to get rid of them.
However, in order to have the radically fulfilling sex we want, we all—men and women alike—must become skilled at creating the conditions that lower ALERT.
You may have never truly let your guard during sex before. That is perfectly normal. Letting go and trusting your body takes practice. That’s why you’re here.
It makes perfect sense why we don’t let our guard down often. Sex is vulnerable and personal. We penetrate and expose parts of us we normally do everything in our power to keep hidden. It’s thrilling—yes, and also terrifying and courageous.
Let’s learn how to take our guard down so we can actually enjoy ourselves during sex.
Logistical fixes to lower ALERT
When a woman is in ALERT, she is not relaxed. She is on the lookout, making sure “everything is OK,” and scanning the room or her body.
There are two categories of conditions that require our attention in sex: practical and emotional.
The Practical Conditions for Better Sex
If there are real and imminent threats or demands that require a woman’s attention, she will be in ALERT and won’t be able to relax enough to have sex. I’m talking about:
- The front door is wide open.
- Her children are running right outside the bedroom door.
- Her colleagues are coming over for dinner in 2 minutes.
- She can smell something burning in the kitchen.
If a woman attempted to have sex under such conditions, she would naturally be physically tense, distracted, and worrying the entire time. I can’t imagine that sex being enjoyable in the slightest.
Practical demands can also be more subtle:
- She has a big project due tomorrow.
- She’s in the middle of writing an email or drafting an important idea.
- One of the kids is ill or in distress.
- Money is tight or she’s feeling stressed in general.
It can be a real challenge for a woman to feel that she can “let go” even for a few minutes and NOT have the entire household fall apart. Do you relate? However, letting go is essential for our sexual fulfillment. It’s what makes sex nourishing, relaxing, exciting, and worth having. It’s worth taking the time to set the conditions so we can let go.
Here’s what you can do—WOMEN:
As a woman, we can lower our ALERT Systems by resolving any physical distractions or needs before we get sexy.
- Lock the bedroom door, if it helps you feel more relaxed.
- Take 5 minutes to complete that email you’re writing so you won’t be thinking about it the whole time.
- Go pee, so you won’t think about it every 5 minutes.
What activates our ALERT Systems doesn’t always make logical sense. This is absolutely fine. Lowering your vigilance is about doing whatever it takes to support your body and mind in relaxing and receiving pleasure.
Just give it to yourself.
Ask for what you need. Don’t settle for “driving with the e-brake on.” Help your inner meerkat off its perch.
No, you are not being demanding. You are being a responsible woman who is creating the conditions she needs to let go and have a great time.
What you can do—MEN:
Learning to lower a woman’s ALERT response is an art form. Like all things feminine, there is no logical, point A to point B solution that always works. That’s because the Feminine Operating System is different and unique every time, and what calmed her down yesterday might infuriate her today.
However, creating the conditions for her ALERT to go down is critical to helping your sexual advances go over favorably and turn her on, rather than cause her to swat you away, roll her eyes, or tighten up.
The most important thing is this: a woman in ALERT is not available for sex, she’s feeling vigilant. She’s in her head, not her body. Acting in a manner that lowers her ALERT is vital for everyone’s sexual fulfillment.
When it comes to lowering physical ALERT, you can help by taking action to eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV, lock the door, close the blinds, take her laptop away from her if it’s 10pm and she’s still trying to work in bed (my boyfriend did this with me the other night, to great effect).
Don’t just say you want sex, set the stage for it to unfold smoothly. Silence your phone, so you won’t be distracted by it. Give her your steady attention.
If there’s one thing that helps more than any of the others to calm down a woman’s hair-trigger ALERT response, it’s this:
Your undivided attention.
That means giving her your focus and increasing your own attention on any other needs going on in the house, and helping lower any of the ALERT-raising conditions. Helping put the kids to bed and doing the dishes are turn ons for most women not because you’re “showing up” but more because you are doing things that help LOWER her sense of panic and distraction, and provide feelings of relief and relaxation for her—which creates the space and freedom her libido needs needs to come out.
Emotional fixes to lower ALERT
Emotional ALERT wreaks the most havoc on our sex lives because the reasons we tense up or can’t relax aren’t always as obvious as “the front door is wide open” or “the house is on fire.” Once you understand how emotional ALERT works, however, you can successfully create the conditions to lower it and unleash your sexual desire.
Here are the six common emotional conditions that are known to raise the ALERT, in both women and men, and make it difficult to impossible for us to let go, feel pleasure, and enjoy ourselves sexually.
- Expectations and agendas
- Mismatched messages, half-truths, or lies
Expectations breed performance anxiety.
Expectations and agendas: Expectations about what is supposed to happen or how we are supposed to act during sex keep up in ALERT. These are our Have-to’s and Rules about sex.
Common expectations for sex are:
- To have intercourse
- To give or receive oral sex
- To reach climax or make your partner climax
- To get hard or wet
- To feel or act ____________ (happy, horny, loving, energetic, sexy)
Expectations breed performance anxiety.
Expectations send us into ALERT because rather than unleashing our true desire, letting go, and listening for “the music,” we are in our heads, trying to manage our experience so it matches our expectations.
Drop your expectations. Question your assumptions. Wipe the slate clean of “shoulds” so you can discover your desire and radical fulfillment.
Women’s desire needs room to come out
Pressure: Pressure to have sex squashes our desire for it faster than anything. REMOVING the pressure we put on ourselves or each other is essential for women’s libidos. Have you ever experienced that?
- Women: when your male partner tells you, “It’s OK, we don’t need to have sex—let’s just cuddle.” And suddenly your body lights up and you want sex NOW?
- Men: when you happily agree to just call it a night, give her a quick peck, and roll over to sleep—and she’s suddenly jumping your bones?
The conventional wisdom on this is that “women like to play hard to get” or send mixed messages. This may or may not be true. What’s more constructive to note is that when anyone says, “It’s ok to not have sex,” the pressure gets lifted.
And in the absence of pressure, a woman’s OWN DESIRE has the room and freedom to rise inside of her. This feels really good. And it’s a missing experience for most women, who are used to being pounced on by men at the slightest show of sexual interest.
Women’s desire needs room to come out
Women often perceive men’s excitement and hunger for sex as pressure. This can be tricky, because men don’t know how to approach women for sex. We will be practicing this often this week in Sexual Research.
Take all the pressure off when it comes to sex. Practice saying yes and no, and make your relationship a place where yes and no are both equally valued.
It’s not your job to give your partner sex
Obligation: Obligation to have sex is born of the false belief that it’s our job to “give” sex to our partner, keep them sexually satisfied, or make them happy.
- Sexual obligation can be overt (“I need to have sex twice a week”) or very subtle (“Smile, sweetheart.”)
- You will usually experience sexual obligation as the thought, “If I don’t do __certain action____________, then ______negative consequence_____.”
- “If I don’t have sex at least once a week, my partner will be upset and unhappy.”
- “If I don’t make him cum, he’ll pester me all week for more.”
- “If I don’t make her happy, she’ll leave me.”
Even if we LIKE and WANT sex, we can’t feel our desire when we are acting out of obligation or under pressure.
It’s not your job to give your partner sex
Obligation causes major damage to relationships because it hijacks our true desire and replaces it with resentment. This is not a good tradeoff!
Half of the work I do with couples involves cleaning up the residue of resentment that’s built up by acting out of obligation. This type of resentment leads to disconnection and divorce; I highly recommend eliminating it from your relationship. (We’ll be doing that extensively in Week 4 of this Training.)
Stop having sex out of obligation. Period. I know, it sounds drastic. But if you knew the damage you were doing by having sex out of duty, or allowing your partner have sex with you out of duty, you would never allow it again. For the sake of your future happiness, kick the habit of obligation. Practice yes and no, and keep following this training. It will help!
Tit-for-tat limits fulfillment for everyone
Commerce: When we view sex as a commodity that we “give” to or “get” from our partner, we go into ALERT. Sexual enjoyment disappears because there are so many strings attached.
Common commercial exchanges in sex:
- I give you oral sex, and then you give it to me.
- I make you cum, then you make me cum.
- I make the money and you give me blowjobs.
- I take care of the kids, you give me touch and attention.
This tit-for-tat thinking is meant to ensure everyone’s fulfillment and keep the scorecard “even.” Ironically, this backfires.
This is also why a woman may recoil when a man says, “You look so beautiful tonight, baby.” In her head she’s thinking, “Great, what do I owe him now?”
Tit-for-tat sex limits fulfillment.
Radically fulfilling sex isn’t based on reciprocity. It’s based on exploring what feels the best for tonight.
Forget about keeping things “even.” Appreciate the fulfillment that comes from giving without any strings attached. Do your Sexual Research—we practice this often.
Ditch your goals. Instead, go on an adventure
Goals: Goals don’t belong anywhere near your bedroom. They grind sexual freedom and fulfillment to a halt and keep us stuck in our heads.
When a goal is present, voluntary muscle functions must stay alert in order to achieve the goal.
This takes us out of our physical experience and into our heads, strategizing and managing. This is when our minds really wander during sex: “Am I taking too long? Am I doing this right? Is he bored? Does she like this?”
Ditch your goals. Instead, go on an adventure.
Even “fun” goals like making your partner climax, looking sexy, or “driving him wild” can massively backfire because the effort to reach the goal causes us to override our true expression in the moment.
We resort to the canned script of sex-as-we-know it, and even if we reach the goal, we will be back where we started: Feeling that something important is missing.
Drop your sex goals—ALL of them. When we drop our goals and instead embark upon an adventure together, we feel more turned on, confident, and connected. We will do this extensively in Week 3.
Women pick up on messages you don’t even know you’re sending.
Mismatched messages, half-truths, and lies: Women’s sensitivity and perceptiveness—our sharp ALERT systems—have us pick up on EVERY subtle cue a man sends.
Women pick up on messages you don’t even know you’re sending.
- When there is a “mismatch” between what he says and what he does or what his body language says, her ALERT will sound the alarm.
- When we tell half-truths or white lies to each other, ALERT goes up.
- When we have not shared important facts or thoughts with each other, or have actively lied to each other, ALERT goes up—even if we don’t know why.
Tell each other the truth. If you have unspoken lies or secrets from each other, get support in revealing them. Make your relationship a space of truth-telling—which always fosters intimacy, despite what you may think. I have many resources for you regarding telling the truth if you need help.
Say what you mean and what you really want. If you really want sex, don’t ask for a back-rub, and then try to steer the back-rub towards sex. This will raise the ALERT. If you want to rip her clothes off, say that. Don’t tell her she looks beautiful and hope she gets the hint. Get vulnerable and say what you want and what you mean—unedited. It sounds backwards, but trust me, it will go over WAY better with her.