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Permission for Pleasure

As summer weather quickly approaches, there are a few things that come to mind: sun, sand, and sex. There is something inherently erotic about hot summer nights, sunbaked skin and wearing less clothing that may motivate your mojo. If you, like so many other folx out there, have some hang-ups about experiencing sexual pleasure, here are some tips to break down those barriers.

You deserve pleasure. This one may be a lot to unpack but hear me out. Life is hard. The daily grind of work or school with limited time for play can wear us all down. Engaging in intimate time with a partner, spouse, or with yourself is a wonderfully fulfilling and no cost way to raise your endorphins. Pleasure does not discriminate against your age, race, ethnicity, size, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Pleasure is for all. It is customizable and accessible to all. Just remember, if you’re playing with a partner or partners, make sure it is safe, sane, and consensual.

Experiment with your senses. Pleasure is not just about orgasm. Our bodies are magnificent creations that are engineered to deliver all kinds of sensory sensations from taste to touch to smell. Whether you have a partner or not, experimenting with your senses to see what feels good is the first step in increasing pleasure in your life. Genitals aside, there are many different parts of your body that feel good when touched or stroked. Explore your body or your partner’s body to see what feels good and add in the sensory stimulation of a lotion or lubricant to see how the sensation changes. Put on music that makes you feel sexy and touch yourself to the beat. Try using your mouth instead of your hands to do the exploration. You may find new and exciting erogenous zones that you never thought were possible.

Slow down. There is a lot of stigma around masturbation and socially constructed “rules” around partnered sexuality activity that may add a level of anxiety to pleasure seeking. Instead of relishing in the experience, the focus switches to reaching orgasm as quickly as possible. Slow down. Take a mindful approach to pleasure seeking by staying in the present moment. Notice how your partner smells or what they look like as they’re receiving pleasure. Notice how your body feels when you touch it, and how it changes when the pleasure builds. Take the focus away from an orgasm as the only way to sexual pleasure or as the “means to an end.” The pressure of goal-oriented sex can make pleasure harder to attain and can make sexual dysfunction worse. Enjoy the connection with your body or with your partner’s body. Try different positions to see what feels best. Explore alternatives to intercourse or insertion, especially if you or your partner experiences sexual pain. When we learn how to turn down or tune out bedroom anxieties, the potential for pleasure expands exponentially.

Hopefully these tips will break down the barriers to pleasure that may be blocking you from euphoria in the bedroom. So, strip down to your skin after a day at the pool or the beach, and give yourself, or your partner, the pleasure you deserve.

Danielle Silverman, LCSW, MEd is a Staff Therapist at our Lawrenceville, NJ and Voorhees, NJ Offices; she currently sees clients via online therapy. To set-up an appointment, you can reach her at dsilverman@councilforrelationships.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 7015.