How can I tell how a woman wants to be touched?Sex / Jan 10th 2017  at 08:30PM   /   0

Dear KC, I'm a fairly experienced guy, yet with every new partner I discover no two women are wired the same. Some love oral, some don't. Those who do want it done in highly specific ways. I've tried asking for instruction and guidance, but it makes some women uncomfortable. It's hard to get clear answers. Am I not asking the right way?

As natural as sex is, it rarely happens naturally ... as you've pointed out here yourself.

Many men will ask a new partner, “Tell me what you like” or “What do you want me to do to you?” as soon as his and her clothes are off. It seems like a logical approach, and yet it does make some women bristle. I've heard this same story from women, except from them it's framed as a complaint. They don’t want to be asked for guidance. They claim it “ruins the moment” and makes a man seem less confident than inexperienced and clumsy. 

If I didn’t know any better I’d think some women expect all men to magically know how to sexually pleasure all women all the time. But I don’t think that’s the case. What I believe is that many women find it almost impossible to discuss their sexual needs and desires with a new partner. And that feels awkward and makes them uncomfortable, so escape their untenable discomfort they blame men for introducing what feels like an impossibly awkward conversation.

The disconnect starts in childhood. Girls, much more than boys, are raised to prioritize the needs of others to the extent their nurturing instinct gets stuck on overdrive. By adulthood it’s automatic. The average woman goes through life putting everyone else first: parents, partners, bosses, coworkers, kids, and even neighbors. Combine this societal conditioning with the demonizing of authentic female sexuality, and it’s no wonder women struggle to vocalize desire. Cultural shifts are happening, albeit slowly. In the meantime everyone suffers ... women and men both.

If they’re aware of it at all, most men would be shocked at how deep this issue goes—that a woman’s capacity to tolerate unpleasant touch often far surpasses her aptitude for making it change or stop. When he says, “Tell me what you like,” and she replies, “Whatever you want,” he’s unaware her agreeableness is masking real discomfort. Or that he’s asking her to focus on herself in ways she was never taught. 

There’s no worse time for an awkward moment than at the onset of sex. It can bring up feelings of shame and inadequacy, not to mention blame and finger-pointing at men who ask innocuous questions in bed. 

So where does that leave us? Forging ahead like brutish cavemen leads to more vilification. Besides, no two women are alike, and not even James Bond gets it right 100 percent of the time. Expecting men to be mind-readers and superheroes is a tall order. They put too much pressure on themselves already, hence the current epidemic of performance anxiety.

Intimacy takes courage; there are no two ways about it. A vulnerable appeal for sexual guidance is something to be admired. A few words of instruction needn’t take longer than removing your clothes or putting on a condom. The relief it provides—to have one less obstacle blocking the fun and potential intimate connection—is no small thing to a man. 

And therein lies another problem. 

As an intimacy coach I see this time and again—clients so concerned with satisfying their partner they dissociate from their own sexual pleasure. They are so stuck in their heads trying to “do it right” they’ve lost touch with bodily sensation, their natural pleasure compass and (ironically) the best guide he could have. Instead, sex becomes another thing to achieve, a competition to be "won" as opposed to a celebration, intimate union, or blissful immersion. A man who’s hyper-focused on his partner may get an ego boost from her satisfaction, but it comes at the cost of his own.

One-sided intimacy is a contradiction in terms.  

If women are raised to put themselves last, men are raised to keep score and outdo everyone else. Whether in a ballpark, boardroom, or bedroom, men are goal-oriented. If he's more concerned with ringing her bell than experiencing a spectrum of erotic delights, performance anxiety will result in erectile dysfunction or inhibited ejaculation (inability to orgasm). As an intimacy coach I see that a lot.

The solution is improved communication and focusing on sensation. It's about touching for pleasure versus performance. Just like women should practice stating their needs, men should practice mindfulness. When we reconnect with our erotic energy, everyone wins. Modern life confuses our best natural instincts. We’ve forgotten how to be present. We place limits on our enjoyment. All that can be changed, sometimes in an instant.

Asking for what we want and allowing ourselves to experience it can end women’s silent suffering and men’s Superhero Syndrome.

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