Recently whilst completing an intensive for my studies in sexology, I heard an elaborate sexual dysfunction called an Idiosyncratic Masturbatory Response which instantly grabbed my attention.
An idiosyncratic masturbatory response refers to an individual having a particular way of masturbating and reaching orgasm that cannot be replicated during intimate experiences with a partner. This has the potential to cause difficulties in a relationship or when being intimate with others as many people enjoy the experience of reaching orgasmic states with another person.
After doing a bit of research, I came across countless articles describing “the death grip” where men become so conditioned to receive hard and strong self-penile stimulation (usually whilst watching pornography) that they find it difficult to feel aroused when having penetrative or oral sex with a partner.
I know that it’s not just men that experience this need for strong stimulation. As a woman, I used to approach self-pleasuring in a way that did not honour my body. It was an experience that was often filled with shame & guilt that I just wanted it over with as quick as possible (I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that masturbation is seldom spoken of in mainstream sex education but that’s another article of itself!!) This hard and fast approach can result in difficulties reaching orgasm with a partner which can cause feelings of frustration and decreased desire for sex with your partner.
There is such a strong culture of seeking heightened orgasmic states in our society that the subtleties of being intimate with another human being go unnoticed. People become so fixated on the peak-the orgasm-the grand finale- that everything that happens beforehand is not fully experienced in its totality.
The beauty and pleasure from the softest touch, the sensations in our body when your lover looks at you, the fullness from feeling them in complete stillness inside us as we make love is all lost when we approach being intimate with them full of expectations of “achieving” orgasm. This is where Tantra comes in…
Many people are curious of what Tantra is and what Tantric sex looks like. Tantra is a complex philosophy however when I speak of Tantric sex, I mean a sexual experience where each moment and sensation is experienced in its totality with no expectations of getting anywhere or reaching anything. Tantra teaches us that a world of pleasure is accessible to us in the smallest of intimate experiences if we so choose to become attuned to the subtleties.
There are many ways to slow down and bring greater pleasure and presence into your sex life, with one’s own self-loving practice a perfect place to start. Bringing a level of conscious intention into your self-pleasuring and dedicating time to yourself with no intent other than to love yourself up can be a beautifully healing and pleasurable experience. Lighting some candles, having a relaxing hot bath and massaging your whole body with some gorgeous oils prior to any genital stimulation can really help eradicate that orgasm goal and teach you to slow down with your own body so that you can access more sensation and pleasure (A sexual health product available from Wildfire is All Over Pleasure Oil which is my personal favourite).
When men and women are used to hard and fast stimulation, having slow and gentle sex can bring up a lot of intense emotion. Frustration, anger, sadness, numbness and boredom can all arise when we begin to slow down and fully feel. It is not usual to be in touch with slight sensations and it can take some time for our bodies and minds to drop in and notice them. It is perfectly normal to feel the full spectrum of emotions when doing something that we are not used and often many of us have never tried slowing it down in the bedroom so be kind to yourself and your partner.
I highly encourage people to step away, if only on special occasions, from a hard and fast approach to sex, into an experience of love and connection with their partner. This could include eye gazing, breathing together, cuddling, kissing or extended foreplay-the key being that this will bring you into complete presence with your partner. Just remember, it is easy to get caught up in our minds when slowing it down so if this happens, practice mindfulness and come back to feeling sensation in your body.
Slowing down can take a personal and relational commitment, with open communication between partners extremely important to navigate any changes you both desire to make with your sex lives. It takes patience and being gentle with ourselves and our partner to make the transition from goal oriented sex to completely present intimacy however the magic that can be experienced when we do is completely worth it.
Author: Stephanie Curtis- BA Nursing
Meet the newest member to our team of experts. Stephanie Curtis is a sexologist with a huge capacity to care. Involved in spirituality and tantra her articles are professional, articulate and interesting. Enjoy Steph’s writings at the adultsmart sexual wellness and health blog.