Dating and Sex Woes
Dating and Sex Woes: How To Navigate Without Losing Ourselves To The Relationship
Unless you live under a rock that has no wifi, you are aware of everything happening in our sociopolitical scene these days. A lot of talk and action surrounding respect for all humans, women empowerment, and sexual rights. How is this influencing or impacting you?
It’s definitely got us looking at and questioning dating, relationships, and sex; however, are we really taking a moment to understand how WE are showing up in them and how WE are impacting each other with our words and actions?
I am seeing men AND women wondering how they are supposed to interact with one another that is out of love and respect without offending or harming the other. And it’s complex. While many women want to be seen as being the sexual and powerful creatures that they are, unfortunately many have grown hard shells as a result of being crudely approached or catcalled in public or online. At the same time, while there are men who are amazing beings and want to initiate interaction and connection with women, many do not know how to do so in a way that they aren’t perceived as a “creep” or experience rejection. It seems we are all walking around on eggshells and it is inhibiting our ability to be happy and in healthy relationships with one another.
The armor we have created over ourselves comes as a sensitivity to rejection, where our spidey senses detect faint indications of potential harm to our ego and we retract…or get so drunk that we don’t feel the discomfort of potential rejection. Google search dating and you’ll find millions of results about “how to dos” in order to “get the girl (or guy),” when in reality this may be perpetuating fear, anxiety, avoidance, and partnering with someone that is NOT their match.
So instead of thinking what to “do” I’m going to suggest we shift into thinking how to “be.”
How to BE?
Yes. To “be” suggests a sense of presence about you and how you move through the world. To “be” suggests a more intimate knowing and relationship with yourself that then influences your surroundings and contributes to more of an ease in your words and behaviors. To “be” is based in concept authenticity and transparency. No need to sort through your file folder of techniques in order to keep pace with this one.
How does “being” help you in your dating and sex life?
When you learn to “be” you are recognizing yourself as an individual person with their own individual desires, likes, dislikes, and personalities. When you are transparent and congruent with your behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and dreams, you are filtering for yourself who is going to be your right match and who isn’t. Don’t you want a partner with whom you can relax and be yourself around? If you hate sleeping in, but you pretend to love it only because this new hottie loves it, you will only be feeding into something that is supposed to pass on through your life. BUT if you are authentic from the get go, then you two can decide TOGETHER that this can work through negotiation or not. And then your non-match can exit themselves. Let’s positively reframe this from a “rejection” to “filtering out the non-matches.”
“Being” relaxes us, because we are giving ourselves permission to be in the moment and what we feel, rather than in the heady space of “what do I do next?” Have you ever caught yourself wondering: “How long do I wait before I text her?” “I don’t want to appear needy, but I really want to ___.” All of these thoughts bring us out of our center and our self and takes us to a place of comparison and right/wrong. As a result, we develop anxiety, creating greater distance from our true self and increasing the likelihood of losing ourselves. Ew.
The trouble is that “be” can be difficult concept to grapple with in a society that prizes “doing”, structure, control, and certainty. “Who am I?” is one of those difficult questions we seek to understand, but not always sure how to even start.
For learning how to show up in the world as yourself and “be”, here are a few key tips to remember.
Breathe. Tuning into your breath allows you to cut through the cycle of negative thinking that keeps us wrapped up in the head and out of the body and the present moment in front of us. We can’t possibly we fully there with another person or ourselves when we are upstairs in our own world of thought. Breath to relax your nerves. Breath to open your senses. Breath to be here now.
Listen fully. How many of us are listening to someone while simultaneously trying to come up with our own comeback or reply? Then you aren’t fully hearing their experience and you are contributing to greater disconnect. No one likes to not be heard, and you’ll experience a greater potential for defensiveness and conflict when you do.
Self-work. Doing any kind of self-work like therapy, yoga, meditation, coaching, journaling, studying, etc. helps you to understand how life circumstances and your own interpretations and unprocessed traumas are impacting your behaviors and beliefs. Self-work helps you to identify what beliefs you want to keep in your life and which ones you are ready to retire and replace with new ones. We don’t know what we don’t know about ourselves, and as a result we don’t know what we don’t know is contributing to a life and feeling we don’t want. Self-work is not easy; however, you will discover your life becoming closer to what you desire, as well as become easier to manage and embrace.
Remember: What someone is saying in front of you about what they like/don’t like IS NOT PERSONAL and is a projection of their own mapping of desire, eroticism, life experiences, needs, unprocessed trauma, etc. So let that sh*t go. Feedback is important to listen to and ponder as to whether this is how you want to show up in the world, but use it as feedback and NOT as a deciding factor of whether you are bad or good.
And one more for the road:
To develop authenticity, we must learn to listen to ourselves by tuning into our needs, feelings, and body reactions. Our body is in a constant state of contraction and expansion, often times unconsciously and subtly. When we can practice mindful awareness, we can realize what our inner belief systems and momentary needs are with each reaction. Acknowledge your reaction with a curious mind. Whoa. I just felt my stomach drop and my jaw clench. I wonder what that’s about.
Go into that a moment. Even if you don’t know what it means, can you call it out in your mind and/or out loud with your partner? I don’t know what this means, but my I felt myself contract when you said that. Even though I want to support you, something about it doesn’t sit with me well.
Only once you realize what your true reaction is can we then decide whether obeying the reaction or if moving through the fear of it is of our best interest. Sometimes the contraction is from an old fear belief. I’m not enough. She’s going to leave me unless I do better. I can’t keep up with her and she’s going to be bored with me.
Now is this reaction and thought based in fact? Or is it opinion and fear. The person and media pressure aside, how would you like to live? Is it being able to share about your fascination of pokemon or your kinky personality of being a dominant? Speak it. Own it. Embody it.
This is giving both YOU and the other person the clear opportunity to decide whether your lives will co-mingle or not.
If the person in front of you isn’t vibing with it, then they can exit themselves and create space for someone who is a better match to step into place.
And we’ve just saved ourselves from years of struggle trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
If you are in a long term relationship and have found that you’ve been inhibiting your own sexual or life desires for the sake of the relationship, it’s not too late to begin “being”. You may experience push-back from the system you are in, but are you currently happy in the system you are in now? If not, then it’s time to disrupt the system. Contact a couples or sex therapist who can help you navigate the change effectively.
Here’s to you all having happy, healthy, horny, sex and love lives to infinity and beyond!
If you want to hear more, check out this week’s episode on Eat Play Sex podcast in iTunes with Dr. Hernando Chavez
Dr. Cat Meyer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is also a Sex therapist combining yoga, reiki, and psychology for a holistic approach to healing. Learn more about Cat on her website and follow her on instagram@sexloveyoga