When I begin to work with clients in sex therapy, I first explore their relationship with pleasure. I ask them where they find pleasure, what brings them delight, what feels good in their body or on their skin, what activities they do solely for pleasure’s sake, and how they allow space for pleasure in their daily life.
I do this because I work from the Pleasure Model of Sexuality, which believes that all positive, thriving, authentic, intimate, and erotically liberated sexuality begins with one’s relationship with pleasure.
The Pleasure Model of Sex honors the birthright of all humans to experience pleasure. It is a model that prioritizes pleasure while helping clients release the ingrained “should’s” about what sex should look like, include, and with whom. It is a catalyst, transforming negativity, judgment, and shame into erotic freedom.
In this model, each individual is encouraged to seek out pleasure and to celebrate pleasure for pleasure’s sake.
This model moves away from cis-gender, heteronormative ideas of sex that glorify penis/vagina intercourse. Instead, this model honors the cultivation of pleasure through sensation and sensuality, curiosity and exploration, and the creative erotic energy that is available for us all.
While this all sounds wonderful ( I mean, who doesn’t like experiencing pleasure?), it is very challenging for many of us to embrace this. For many reasons. Here are a few.
First of all, many of us were raised to dishonor and minimize pleasure. Pleasure is often defined as unproductive, selfish, indulgent, sinful, and a waste of precious time.
Because of this, we have learned to disconnect from our sensuality and from our bodies. We go through the day either disconnected, numb, or distracted. We are focused on work, productivity, and getting things done.
The Pleasure Model of Sexuality emphasizes deeply experiencing the present moment, being embodied while also feeling completely safe, and letting our senses playfully guide and inspire us. This is a difficult, but not impossible, challenge for many.
Secondly, when people start to slow down and try to connect to pleasure after years of disconnection, they are at a loss for what actually brings them pleasure. I often hear from clients that they “just don’t know” what brings them pleasure and don’t even know how to start this discovery process.
Third, many of us have trauma around our sexuality and therefore, live in a dis-embodied state. The idea of mindfully being embodied and feeling the full range of our sensations can be overwhelming and scary. The experience of pleasure often cannot be trusted and so the work begins by first addressing the trauma and the internalized messages that come along with it. Then we can learn to open to pleasure, to experience our sensations while feeling completely safe. Much of this work includes learning to honor one’s choices, to create clear boundaries, and to practice ongoing consent. All things that make up the foundation of the Pleasure Model.
Finally, our socio-cultural messages around sex have successfully extracted and compartmentalized it from the rest of our lives. We are taught that we can work a full day, take care of children, do all the chores, be present for family and friends, feel stress, and then fall into bed exhausted but still have amazing, energized, highly satisfying sex.
But, of course, you can see that this is merely a myth.
Because of this myth, we don’t realize, or ever learn, that if we want to nourish vibrant and thriving sexual experiences, we must learn to integrate our sexuality into all parts of our day. We must learn how to dedicate time to our sensuality, to rest, to balancing work and play, to expressing our unique authenticity, and to our beautiful, inspiring creativity.
Our sexuality requires our consistent tender, loving attention. We must stop compartmentalizing it and stop expecting it to be a vibrant, satisfying, intimate, and fun experience without giving it even the slightest bit of intentional nurturance.
This intentional nurturance begins by first paying attention to what brings us pleasure.
We must create space for pleasure first, for the exploration and expression of this in our lives on a daily basis. We must honor our senses and our sensuality as portals into our sexual desire. We must learn how to listen to our body and respond to its requests for rest, relaxation, and pleasure.
Emily Nagoski, the author of Come As You Are, often says we do not desire what we don’t find pleasurable. So if you want to understand and connect with your sexual desire, first connect with your pleasure.
Pleasure is the breadcrumb trail that leads us into our sexual desires and into a liberated erotic expression.
So, what is your guiding model of sexuality?
Do you honor pleasure and its capacity for opening the door to your sensuality, your sexuality, and your deeply intimate desires?
I love helping clients learn to honor pleasure. Pleasure is a deeply healing and transforming energy. It reminds all of us that fully experiencing our body, our sensations, and our sensuality brings us into communion with the creative erotic life force. And it is in this communion when we feel most alive.
Want to explore pleasure and how this can enhance your life, your creativity, your sensuality, and your desire?
Please reach out today, and we can get you started on creating a Pleasure Model of Sexuality.
As always peace in the journey,