I often see clients who have put their partner on a sexual pedestal. They believe their partner has their sexual act together, and somehow they have to meet their partner’s sexual level. I see this whether in long-term relationships or in casual encounters.
It’s this belief that you are sexual inadequate and your partner is sexually competent, and you set the sexual bar at the other’s supposed level of sexuality.
This approach is destined to fail.
- For a start, no-one is perfectly sexually proficient, we’re all fallible human beings who are never perfect or totally competent in any area of life.
- Secondly, sexuality is an ever-fluctuating thing, it’s never a static constant ‘level’.
- And most importantly, quality sex is never about meeting another person’s sexual needs/wants/expectations, it’s about two people co-creating a unique experience of pleasure and connection based on their own desires moment-by-moment.
I do see this a lot more in women than in men (including same sex attracted women). No doubt it comes from all those millenia of patriarchy where a women’s sexual role was solely to satisfy the husband. At least back then the demands weren’t so high, just lie back and think of England while he does his business inside you, and pop out a couple of heirs along the way. These days though, the assumed sexual bar is way higher. Women feel they have to provide all sorts of sexual services to satisfy their partner’s presumed expectations.
And yes, there are men who are still caught up in a toxic masculinity of sexual entitlement. But when we really get down to it, it’s a rare person who wants to engage sexually with a partner who doesn’t want to be there, especially when it’s someone you love.
Often women don’t even realise they’ve internalised an assumption that they have to meet their partner’s needs. They are often shocked to realise they’ve unconsciously put him or her on a pedestal, and that that is why they are feeling inadequate.
Men certainly do this too. I see so many men who are also burdened by the weight of assumed expectations and requirements. The pressure and the anxiety it causes leads them either to avoid sex or to have erectile and ejaculatory problems if they do engage.
Can you see what the underlying problem is here? Notice all the words I’ve used – belief, supposed, assumed, presumed. You don’t know, you’re assuming!
So, the solution is straightforward – find out. Ask, talk, discuss, get curious.
My last blog article was about finessing your understanding of your partner, and there is no area of relational life that requires more understanding, than the sexual. So much of our sexuality is unspoken, unshared, unknown (often even our own, let alone our partner’s). Yet without that awareness of self and other, it’s impossible to co-create. In the sexual realm that means limiting ourselves sexually and generally falling into set scripts and often resulting in little, if any, sex at all.
It’s actually one of the things I love most about my work, seeing how people transform when they realise that they’ve been operating under a whole lot of assumptions about sex and about their partner, which has kept them closed-off, fearful, anxious, feeling inadequate and unsure. That’s a very heavy mantel to be cloaking yourself with in an area of life that is supposed to be light and pleasurable and connecting.
Just this week a couple I’ve been working with for some months came in. Despite her husband’s ongoing insistence that he didn’t want to have sex with her if she didn’t want it, and that he really wanted to know what she wanted, she was really struggling to believe him and remove her entrenched beliefs that sex revolved around his supposed requirements that she had to meet. She attended my Luscious Woman Workshop and came into the next session bright-eyed and beaming saying: “I get it! I totally get it!” Going on to explain how finally being able to let go of all those assumed expectations was such a weight lifted that she is now able to be free to feel and express what she wants. They are now loving the mutuality of sexual intimacy, the lightness and freedom, and are feeling it flow through the whole of their lives together.
This is such a good example of how profound and liberating it is when you can feel and express your authentic sexual self.