Written by @drjulianahauser
Pleasure is a crucial aspect of our lives. It sustains us, enriches our experiences, and often grounds us in the moment and within our bodies. Pleasure is something we need to incorporate mindfully into our everyday lives, though it isn’t always easy, especially to talk about.
Our society treats pleasure like it is a luxury, something to be indulged in, and we develop a relationship with pleasure that’s all or nothing. We’re either grinding through life head down, or we’re lounging on a beach with a cool drink in hand. We’re always working hard to ‘deserve’ or ‘achieve’ pleasure, and for those who seem to live a pleasure-filled life, they’re often judged as indulgent or hedonistic. There is shame and guilt associated with pleasure, in seeking things we love to do, in talking about wha on t brings us joy and lights us up… and this is outside of sexual connection, outside of our experiences with others.
Talking about your pleasure with a partner firstly assumes you KNOW what you like without the shame and guilt that is often attached to pleasure, have a receptive partner(s), and that you can actually communicate what you know to be true about you, your preferences, and your body’s pleasure.
We need pleasure in our lives and it is part of being human, of being in the moment – I believe pleasure is our birthright. We are wired to feel and experience pleasure, and it’s time we learn what brings us pleasure on OUR terms.
Below you’ll find 4 steps to begin having open discussions about pleasure with your partner(s) while also learning more about your pleasure preferences both within and outside of sexual connection.
Step 1 - Learn About Your Pleasure On Your Terms
Committing to learning about pleasure on your own terms is a courageous and necessary step in being able to communicate this pleasure with someone else. Layers upon layers of programming, life experiences, cultural norms, etc. affect our pleasure and dilute our innate sense of pleasure.
Ask yourself the following questions to discover more about what brings you pleasure:
- How would you describe your relationship with pleasure?
- What messages did you receive about pleasure growing up?
- How comfortable are you with seeking and experiencing pleasure everyday?
- Does pleasure come easily and abundantly?
- Do you resist or feel guilt when it arises?
- What brings you the greatest pleasure inside of sexual connection? Outside of it?
- Flowers, foods, music, scents, activities, sexual acts, places, people, etc.
- Do you see/have you seen positive effects of pleasure (self-pleasure, sexual pleasure, everyday pleasure) in your life?
From these prompts, what comes up for you? What patterns do you notice? Are there things you feel you’d like to change or try? Are there roadblocks to your pleasure?
This is just the beginning to learning more about your pleasure. Uncovering your essence through holistic sexuality pillars, like pleasure, allows you to strip away the messages and frankly, bullshit, in order to get to the truth of who you are, what you like, and what brings you pleasure – all of which help you to learn more about yourself outside of sexual connection, too.
Step 2 - Practice Your Pleasure
Now that you know a little more about your pleasure, set up daily habits that encourage you to seek and share your pleasure with others in low-pressure situations. One of my favourite practices is to pick a friend to share your pleasure with everyday, big or small. Inspired by the concept of Bliss Buddies from my friend Anne Sussman, I write to a friend everyday with something that’s bringing me bliss – a delicious bite; a gorgeous flower; the cloudless sky; a foot massage; anything that helps me to stay present in the moment through pleasure. The more you invite pleasure into your life, the easier it is to see and connect with it.
Being confident and practiced in your pleasure helps you to share this pleasure with others and being encouraged and supported to share about what you like (and don’t like) builds your ability to align with what’s true for you without the influence of culture, others, or societal pressures.
Step 3 - Create a Safe Space to be Vulnerable
As you begin to have vulnerable, pleasure-filled conversations with your partner(s), take time to set the stage. Creating a sacred and safe space with intention, and outside of sexual connection, helps to promote the giving and receiving of information in a neutral and supportive space.
Keep in mind that there are 3 categories of safety to consider:
- What do you need from your partner(s)?
- Is it eye contact, active listening, nodding, feedback?
- What do you need from your environment?
- TV off, music off, dogs outside, kids asleep, privacy, no alcohol?
- What do you need to provide for yourself?
- Time of day, not tired, not hungry, emotionally regulated?
If you and your partner do not feel safe in all three categories, it will be difficult to have authentic, connected, relationship-centered conversations and communication, or the learnings and insights might not stick as you’d like them to.
Feeling safe and supportive, vulnerable and open, may even set you up to practice partnered pleasure with your new learnings too ;)
Step 4 - Pleasure Check-Ins
Together, commit to continuing to have conversations about pleasure. Pleasure Check-Ins keep the door open for all parties to share about pleasure in their lives and make the communication about pleasure easier and easier.
Questions to consider for Pleasure Check-Ins:
- Does my life feel pleasurable?
- Are there places I could have more pleasure?
- Am I restricting my pleasure? Why or why not?
- Are there aspects of my life where pleasure is coming easily? Or harder to access?
- How is pleasure showing up in your life?
- Can I contribute to your pleasure – sexually or otherwise?
- Where are we finding joint pleasure in our lives?
Schedule these into the calendar in fun and exciting ways as often as you find them helpful and fun! Remember pleasure is fun, should be expansive, and is vital to our holistic health. Keeping these conversations consistent, connected, and joyful can also add pleasure into your life! Maybe even add a new pleasure practice you’d like to try every time you check in.
Through these 4 steps, my hope is that you as an individual will be a few steps closer to discovering more about yourself, able to communicate and advocate for your pleasure – standing in your sexual agency! When you and your partner(s) are able to own your personal pleasure, encourage and facilitate your partner’s pleasure, and together dismantle pleasure-phobic behavior and ideology, it’s inevitable that your relationship to pleasure will evolve and expand.
If you’d like to learn more about pleasure, sexual agency, and the rest of the Holistic Sexuality pillars, there are many ways to connect with my work. Find me at www.dr-juliana.com, @drjulianahauser, and sign up to my newsletter at www.dr-juliana.com/newsletter.
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