Who Goes First?
Recently, I reread a couple of important books on adult sexuality–Passionista and She Comes First, by Ian Kerner, published in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Dr. Kerner is a relationship expert and sex therapist who writes about proper sexual functioning and techniques for giving and receiving sexual pleasure for both men and women. You can read more about his work here at https://www.iankerner.com/. I was inspired to take a look at these texts again because of the new research through the Kinsey Institute, which has resulted in a program specifically focused on how to broadcast and share newly learned information about female sexual pleasure–You can find more information at OMG Yes https://www.omgyes.com/.
As a woman, a wife, and a couples therapist, I support this movement. Both women and men need to have better understandings of female sexual responsiveness. While women have come to embrace their sexuality more fully in recent decades, many women still have a long way to go in learning about their own sexual pleasure. And many men want to give their female partner pleasure, yet they lack accurate, authentic information and teaching about what satisfies women sexually.
While rereading these texts, I found myself circling back to the question–Who Goes First? Specifically in sexual encounters, who are the starters and responders to sexual requests within our intimate relationships. What drives these requests? And how do we manage both inviting and receiving sexual invitations from our partner? These questions arise in sessions with couples whom I work with weekly as a couples therapist in Washington DC and near Bethesda. While exploring relationship blocks through EFT [Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy], we inevitably stumble upon obstacles in their sexual connection as well.
In working with couples, I often pose and encounter the questions: Why are you waiting to be seduced? To be loved? To be sexy? To be attended to? To be pleasured?
Do you have to let go of sexual and emotional expectations? Lower your standards? Need or want less to remain in a committed relationship?
Why are you waiting to be intimate? To open up? To connect and love freely?
Intimacy–especially sexual intimacy–is about knowing what you want, asking for it or inviting it and sharing it. Couples often wait for one person to initiate love, initiate sex, plan a date, or show love. Partners can get blocked when disappointed or disparage their partners efforts or lack of effort–they can take it personally when often it isn’t.
I’ve come to believe the following—We have to go first sometimes not out of being selfish but perhaps in an effort to claim what we want out of life and within our relationship. Just think—If I go first, perhaps she/he will come too.