When you and/or your partner(s) are experiencing sexual concerns, you may find yourself occupied with the “problem”. You may find that anytime you think of sex, you think of what’s not working. Or anytime you and your partner(s) engage in sex, that it tends to take a negative turn. Getting stuck in this anxiety, hurt, fear, insecurity, disconnection or self-doubt makes so much sense. It is hard to be experiencing sexual challenges. There is so much silence and lack of support around sexual issues, so it can feel like there is nowhere to turn for some relief. Today I’d like to share a path towards working through these sexual challenges so that you can feel more hopeful, more connected with your partner(s) and more fulfilled sexually. This path is inviting more playfulness and fun into your relationship(s).
What if some of the space that gets occupied with focusing on the problems could be opened up for playfulness and fun? How would it feel to get to experience some fun and playfulness in your sex life again? Playfulness and fun are amazing tools for working through sexual challenges. It may feel like playfulness and fun are impossible when sex is feeling so overwhelmingly negative. But, if you can find ways to access them, it can actually help you move through the challenges and feel more fulfilled.
So, why are playfulness and fun helpful? Playfulness and fun are vulnerable and connecting. And vulnerability and connection are key to working through sexual challenges. When you are vulnerable and connected, you are more likely to be authentic, present, and open to sharing your experience. This creates a solid foundation for working through sexual challenges. You are more likely to hear your partner and to share your own feelings, wants and needs. Another reason playfulness and fun can be helpful is because it allows you to move away from being hyper-focused on the “problem”. Getting stuck on the “problem” tends to feed shame and can even create self-fulfilling prophecies. Sometimes getting some space from the “problem” can be healing. The idea here is that you can shift the time and energy occupied with hurt, frustration, sadness, and disconnection to time that gets occupied with fun, playfulness and connection. Sounds pretty great, right? This may sound great, but you may be feeling like this would be really challenging to actually do. If this is coming up for you, that makes so much sense! I’ll walk you through an example and offer some prompts to explore so that you can feel more grounded in how to make this happen.
Let’s explore an example to see what it looks like to invite more playfulness and fun. Valerie and Jane have been struggling to connect sexually for years. Jane has lower desire and feels guilt and shame for not having more interest. Valerie feels rejected, insecure, and frustrated about not getting to connect sexually more often. They are at a point where they both now avoid sex due to these challenging feelings. Anytime sex comes up, they both get stuck in the negative feelings. Valerie and Jane decide to try inviting more playfulness and fun. They dance together to their favorite songs, go to a sex shop and laugh when it feels awkward, and engage in more affectionate touch. By inviting more playfulness and fun, Valerie and Jane begin to feel a sense of lightness and connection. With this lightness and connection, they are now able to have more productive conversations around sex, feel relief around the challenging feeling and feel a building sense of passion in their relationship. Do you relate to any part of Valerie and Jane’s story?
In order to help you explore how you can access and incorporate playfulness and fun into your sexual life, I encourage you to consider the following questions:
- What does playfulness feel like to me?
- What does fun feel like to me?
- What are ways that I have experienced playfulness in my relationship(s)?
- What are ways that I have experienced fun in my relationship(s)?
- Is there a time that I have experienced playfulness or fun in my sexual relationship(s)? (Remember that sexual relationship includes any kind of touch and sensuality, not just genital stimulation.) What about in my sexual relationship with myself?
- How might I enjoy incorporating fun and playfulness into my intimate relationships? (Ideas: dancing together, gentle teasing, affectionate touch, playing games, etc.)
- How might I enjoy incorporating fun and playfulness into my sexual relationships? (Ideas: tickling, wrestling, laughing-especially laughing when things get awkward or weird, sensation play, sexting, showering together, fantasy play, toys, trying something new, visiting a sex shop, etc.)
If you find that you need more support with incorporating playfulness and fun into your relationship or with the sexual challenges you are experiencing, you may benefit from working with a sex therapist. Here at the Center for Couples and Sex Therapy, we are able to support you in reaching your sexual and relational goals.
To review, incorporating playfulness and fun into your sex life can be a helpful way to work through sexual challenges for the following reasons:
- Playfulness and fun is vulnerable and connecting.
- Playfulness and fun can help you shift away from focusing on the “problem”.
- Playfulness and fun leads to more fulfilling sexual relationships.