12 Ways to Change from Performance to Pleasure
By Karen Harrison, Ed.S. AASECT, LCPC, LCMFT
Men, do you ever worry about whether you will be able to get or maintain an erection? Women, do you worry about not having any desire for sex? Men and women, do you feel pressured by your partner to have an orgasm every time? Has your sex life become boring? Are you worried that your body isn’t responding sexually the way it used to? As a certified sex therapist and tantra teacher, these are concerns I hear from my clients on a regular basis. With some education about more realistic expectations combined with my tips below, you can find more pleasure in your sexuality. Additionally, sacred sexuality practices, often called tantra, focus on connection, being present, and enhanced pleasure. The tips below incorporate some tantra practices. We can expand our view of sex beyond the physical into the emotional, mental, and spiritual domains.
According to Barry McCarthy in Coping with Erectile Dysfunction, 90% of men by age 40 have one incidence of inability to achieve an erection sufficient for intercourse and 50% of men by age 50 have some erectile anxiety. Between the ages of 60-65, one third of men stop having sex due to inhibited desire caused by performance anxiety and between 70-75, this number has increased to two thirds. I share with men that it is normal to not always have an erection when you want one and that it is nothing to worry about. Instead, he can focus on pleasuring his partner with kisses and caresses or his fingers and tongue. The penis can still feel pleasure even when it is not erect. If the man focuses on his anxiety about getting or maintaining an erection, he is likely to lose the erection.
For women, the most common complaint I hear is a lack of sexual desire. They wonder what happened to the desire they felt in their younger years before their career, babies, and roles as a wife and home owner. Many women think that if they lack sexual desire, they won’t be able to be sexual. I suggest to women to get in the mood by creating the mood. Hire a babysitter and go on a date. Create a sensual evening at home. Get away for a romantic night or two where you both can relax and have fun. Most women need to be able to relax and connect with their partner in order to feel in the mood.
Men and women in my practice often think each one needs to have an orgasm every time. I share with them that it isn’t necessary for a man to ejaculate every time, especially after age 50 and that it can put pressure on a woman to feel she needs to reach a climax. Here are some interesting orgasm statistics from The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Ten percent of women are not able to orgasm. Only about a third of women experience orgasm regularly during intercourse. A third can reach orgasm with intercourse but need extra stimulation. A third never achieve orgasm during intercourse but can by manual and oral stimulation.  Think about love making as the journey rather than orgasm as the destination. Many women report to me that the most important part of love making for them is the physical closeness and intimacy. So how can we shift from a performance based mode to a pleasure orientation?
12 Ways to Change from Performance to Pleasure
- Expand your focus. Many couples head right for the genitals. Instead, try caressing the head, neck, hands, arms, legs, back, stomach, and feet. Every part of your body is a potential erogenous zone. Consider using an oil, such as coconut oil. Use light touch and don’t try to give a therapeutic massage. Give and receive pleasure without any goal.
- Take your time. Set aside 30 minutes to two hours for love play.
- Make it playful. Be silly and laugh. Act like animals. Create a role play such as she is the policewoman who has pulled over the man who now has to give sexual favors to her.
- Gaze into each other’s eyes. Spend time in the silence looking into each other’s eyes for five to 15 minutes. This exercise is very intimate!
- Take turns creating a night of pleasure for your partner. Make it all about your partner’s pleasure and take your time.
- Make intercourse off limits for a month or more but have weekly or more often sexual dates where you explore everything else but intercourse. Think back to all the things you enjoyed doing in your younger years before you began having intercourse.
- Have a long make out session. Or demonstrate on your partner how you like to be kissed. Many women have told me that taking time with kissing is what most gets them in the mood.
- Have a tantra coaching session. Explore how to shift into a sacred space, be mindful with love play, connect deeply, and expand orgasms. I love teaching tantra to couples. Or take a weekend tantra class. Check out www.ipsalutantra.org, www.tantraheart.com, or www.skydancingtantra.org .
- Breathe together. You can meditate together or spoon and breathe together. This practice literally gets the two of you on the same wave length.
- Dance together or for your partner. Moving your body, especially your pelvis, can stir up the juices!
- Show and tell. Demonstrate for your partner how you like to be touched.
- Learn the exciting new practice called Orgasmic Meditation. Check out www.onetaste.us. I can refer you to a coach.
So now you have lots of ideas on how to be more pleasure focused. Try one new idea each week or month that you both agree on. Trying new things will relieve any boredom that has crept into your sex life. As we age, it is more and more important to focus on pleasure rather than performance because our bodies may not respond as easily as in younger years. With a pleasure based focus, you can enjoy sexuality through your whole life rather than giving it up. For more sexuality articles, look up my website, www.karenharrison.net and go to Counseling Resources. I wish for you a pleasurable sex life your entire life!
Karen Harrison is a Certified Sex Therapist, Tantra teacher, marriage and family therapist, and Reiki teacher. www.karenharrison.net