I was reading a newly published book called The Soulmate Lover written by the couple Mali Apple and Joe Dunn, whose own union is a lab setting for practicing what they preach.
The book takes the reader on a journey through the landscape of loving self and others. It re-defines what it means to be in relationship with life and those we attract to appreciate it with us.
A word leapt from the page that tickled me: sexpectations.
The Urban Dictionary defines it as:
The state of anticipating or expecting sexual intercourse from a social encounter, be it a date, a party, or a booty call. It describes a period of optimistic waiting that is just shy of a sure thing.
Dunn and Apple caution against the pre-conceived notions of what sex is and is not. Sadly, for many, sex is only about “get it on, get it up, get it in, get it off, get it out.” For me, and for others who I have been blessed to have had as lovers, it is about far more than what goes on below the bellybutton.
I prefer to think of Sexpectations as a positive mindset: what it is we desire, think we are worthy of and what we are willing to ask for and receive in with those from whom we receive pleasure.
Pleasure can look and feel all kinds of ways depending on who you ask. In a recent workshop I attended called Fearless Relating, which was co-facilitated by my friends Monique Darling and Reid Mihalko, we explored the various perspectives and ways to love self and others.
Throughout the weekend, I faced fierce fears that had me ducking for cover for decades and kept me from living full-out in my relationships. Over the years, I had randomly sleepwalked through them and tap-danced for approval depending on what presented itself. Co-dependent patterns were themes that led me into less-than-satisfying unions both in and out of the bedroom.
I settled for less when I desired so much more.
I held back when I wanted to burst out of my cocoon.
I felt all “gived out” often.
I pushed love away when it wanted to enter and stay.
My sexpectations were often based on what I thought others were willing to give, rather than what I craved. Blessedly, I had a few lovers who insisted that I receive. As challenging as it was, I sighed and surrendered.
Some folks I know “play way deeper in the pool” than I do and engage in activities that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot (not sure they come in that size) flogger. I practice cognitive dissonance with them. I don’t do pain, either giving or receiving. Not my cup of tea. It occurred to me that I am “vanilla with rainbow sprinkles” when it comes to my sexplorations.
For most of us, there was no guidebook for ways to be a fully expressed sexual being. We were the effect of what we were taught by our parents who were influenced by previous generations. Culturally-infused mixed messages about sex such as “Sex is dirty; save it for someone you love” always boggled my mind. I wasn’t taught that, but neither was I encouraged to embrace sensual pleasures.
My first awareness of orgasm occurred when I was around 10 as I was sitting on my foot in class. As I wiggled it, a wave of energy coursed through me. “What was that?” I had no word for it at the time, but knew I liked it. When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, women were taught to withhold pleasure. “Slut shaming” is not limited to this era.
I have a clear and visceral memory of the summer between my senior year in high school and freshman year of college, having an interlude with my then-boyfriend. We were on the couch in the kitchen; I don’t think I know of anyone else who had that particular piece of furniture in that room in their home, but I loved knowing it was there for lounging. The lights were out and my pants were around my ankles, about to be slipped off. My mother walked in at that point and the room was still dark. Somehow she knew there was some hanky panky going on and remarked that it was time for him to go home. The weird thing is, I don’t remember a lecture and he wasn’t banned from the house. She and I had already had “the talk,” before I turned 10, so I knew about contraception. We had always had open communication, so I wonder why it didn’t go beyond that point. I guess she trusted me to make good decisions.
I have found that being comfortable with my body and what it is capable of has opened the door to more pleasure than I ever thought imaginable. I own my experiences and don’t expect a partner to be responsible for what I feel emotionally or physically. As a seasoned woman, I honor myself and my needs, and ask for what I want in ways that the younger me hesitated to request.
As I am becoming more daring internally, it is mirrored externally. I give myself permission to immerse in the sensual, and it ripples outward in all of my relationships. I am in lust and love with life and it reciprocates.
My sexpectational questions:
Do I want someone in my life and bed who, with respect for both of our hearts, minds, souls and bodies, engage lovingly?
Would I prefer someone who is comfortable in his own skin and who takes good care of his body?
Do I welcome someone who sees intimacy and not just orgasm as a means of enjoyment?
Do I want someone who views sex as doorway to the Divine?
Yes, yes and oh my Goddess, yes!
Do I desire someone who is playful and spontaneous?
How about someone who doesn’t allow shame to overrule love?
Am I asking for someone who I can trust and with whom I can be safely vulnerable?
Can expect someone who knows that sexy is a state of mind, not just how someone looks?
Might I totally and completely surrender to the love a partner has to offer without needing to immediately reciprocate?
And, finally, am I willing to live and love full-out, expressing my needs and deepest desires as I hold sacred my heart and that of my beloved?
I invite you to name and claim your own sexpectations.
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Caroline Beaton