As someone who has had their fair share of chronic pain since childhood, I know how difficult it can be to have a high sex drive (or rather, not a lot of breaks and a whole lot of accelerators, thank you Emily Nagoski) and a body that can’t keep up. Whether your struggling with mental or physical health, changes in pregnancy, or healing postpartum, sex can get really frustrating really fast.
The best piece of advice I ever got came from a women’s self-defence class:
Don’t worry about what you can’t move, remember what you can move.
In other words… If penetrative sex is painful, what else is sexy and not painful? When we’re used to sex going a certain way, or if we’ve been taught that heterosexual penis-in-vagina sex is the only “real” sex, we forget just how much other sex is out there. It’s easy to become focused on the frustrations of what we can’t do and forget entirely about what we can do if we apply a little imagination or ask for help:
Erotic massage: grab the coconut oil (or whatever massage oil is your favourite) and give and receive lots of sensual, slow, or rough and hard! body massage. Linger in areas, see what feels nice, talk your partner through it. Learn your bodies together. If breastfeeding doesn’t leave you touched out, breast massages can feel really great! A good foot massage after being on your feet all day might just make you melt. Also: did you know the area of the brain that receives signals from your feet is right next door to the area of your brain that receives signals from your genitals? I learned that in psych class once. Pretty cool!
Make out: remember going to a highschool party and just making out and calling it a night? No? I definitely did my fair share of making out before I was ready to have one night stands. It’s relaxing, fun, and when my partner puts a hard boundary on making-out only, I find it kind of extra hot. And then I usually…
Masturbate!: I have such a strong love affair with maturbation. I, personally, love my hitachi magic wand, or my right hand. I don’t like penetration during masturbation, though I did for a brief stint in highschool. That’s the best part of masturbation- it’s whatever you want on your terms. There’s some great porn out there too, if you need a little inspiration. My favourites are spit.exposed and ErikaLust.com– feminist porn that doesn’t follow the usual boring porn narratives.
Partnered masturbation: no, I don’t mean handjobs and fingering/clitoral stimulation with hands. I mean, watching each other masturbate. This is absolutely no fun if it makes you feel weird and self-conscious, but if you want to be sexual and not touched, desired with no pressure to perform, or you want to perform with no touch, or maybe you just want to watch some porn together- oh the possibilities are limitless here.
Role play: this is a great way to take a mini vacation away from your life as a parent. Who do you want to be for an evening? Can you find a babysitter, and meet your partner at a restaurant as their alter ego Guy Babe (please do not feel restricted to this name)? What’s Guy’s motivation? What’s your alter ego’s motivation? Are either of you kinky? Developing this story together can be as fun (maybe even more fun) than playing it out at the bar next weekend. Maybe you and your characters don’t have sex for a while, they just date and tease each other until you both can’t take it anymore!
I also want to note that it’s a completely legitimate choice to completely abstain from sex if the frustration has become so high everything partners suggest can feel like pressure. Pressure to have sex is like pouring a bucket of water over a spark. My advice to partners of those struggling is always, “brainstorm ways you can stay physically close and intimate that you’ll both enjoy, and let your partner come to you when they’re ready to have sex again.” This can be really hard to do in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships. For many of us, sex is a powerful avenue to feeling loved, secure, attractive, desired, and connected with partners. If you have any history of being in a past relationship where you felt your sexuality was stifled this can bring up all sorts of complicated feelings and it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a sex therapist to help you both navigate through these difficult periods.
But before you start to lose all hope and think everything has gone to shit forever… ask yourself: what can I do?
If you need help getting started with some ideas that work for you and your partners, contact myself to set-up a consultation! TynanRhea (@) gmail.com