Learning to Communicate

If you’ve read my May monthly wrap-up, you already know I shared some recent life updates that are both good and bad. If you haven’t read it yet, that’s okay! I forgive you. You’re reading this now. In that wrap up, I mention my new relationships and navigating my way through dating — not that dating itself is new to me, but being in a loving committed relationship has been redefined for me recently. I’m really enjoying the bliss and comfort that comes with that stability. Furthermore, being polyamorous is new to me and that’s a challenge to navigate all on its own. Figuring out what works for me and what works for my partners has been difficult, but I’ve learned over the years and specifically in recent months the ways I communicate best and how being open and honest with myself about my feelings and with my partners about how I’m feeling.

Along with my feelings, desires and needs are something I struggled to share with partners in the past for fear of scaring them away. Stating what I want and need is so very important to having a shame-free sex life and it’s often forgotten or put on the back burner out of fear of rejection. Those people that perpetuated that fear in me were never really worth my time, but those experiences were necessary for me to learn what my needs are in the first place. I’ve learned that understanding my own needs and not feeling ashamed of them helps me to listen and understand my partners needs as well. All around, this mutual understanding helps us cultivate an environment of free expression with each other.  I cherish that connection; I’ve been so afraid of not being loved due to my desires for so long, that now that I have this healthy mindset, it’s something I never want to let go.

There are so many positive and happy aspects to these new relationships, but alongside those positive things come the challenges. Differences in libido, in body acceptance, in sexual experience. As a sex, body, and pleasure positive person, I try to make the best out of what I’ve got and understand that everyone is in a different place. Most of sexuality and life is a learning experience and it’s our choice to see our experiences through a positive or negative lens. I’ll share an example of a relevant situation I’ve been in recently. I know in my heart and in my mind that an orgasm or multiple orgasms are not always possible and not necessarily the end goal of sex. Sex can be just as fun even when no one cums, but in that moment when I know I should cum and when I get in my head everything stops and it’s hard to not feel broken. I have to keep reminding myself and my partner that it’s okay and sex is still fun and pleasurable without a mind blowing orgasm. I am not broken. They are not broken.

My personal sexual history has taught me a lot about my body. In particular, not being self-conscious all the time when I get naked, but I know that’s not the case for everyone (it’s not always the case for me). Here’s a little tidbit that I hope will help someone like it helped me when I was nervous about undressing in front of someone. I have often thought to myself, “If they want to have sex with me while my clothes are on, they’re not going to change their mind once my clothes are off.” (Not that they can’t change their mind at all, but the appearance of my naked body won’t be the reason). However, knowing something to be true intellectually is vastly different than acting on it in the moment when nerves and nudity are involved. Being aware of your insecurities can make it so much harder when it comes time to perform, be that sexual “performance” or simply taking items of clothing off. Whether it’s you or your partner being challenged by insecurities, there’s never anything wrong with stopping, regrouping, and trying again another time when you’re ready. I think back to my past a lot and remember all the times I felt pressure to continue something that I might not have been ready for in that moment. I don’t regret those times, but I do wish I had known how to step into my power assert my boundaries and say no.

Knowing how to say NO in any situation is just as important as saying YES. For me, saying no often had shame attached to it. I thought, “Maybe the other person won’t think I’m good enough, or they’ll think that I think something is wrong with them.” In reality, there was never anything to be ashamed of. Saying no goes hand-in-hand with hearing no and accepting it. I have no control over what someone wants to or doesn’t want to do with their body and they have no control over mine, so it’s both of our jobs to communicate with each other those yeses and nos.

Something else I used to say to my friends afraid of commitment and understanding their feelings is: “It’s okay to feel your feelings. That’s what they’re there for.” It blows my mind that I had to say that, but running from what you’re feeling leads to more unwanted emotional territory, and possibly the very trauma you were trying to avoid in the first place. You can’t force it, only hope that the people around you share how they’re feeling, as well as listen to and understand yours. Removing shame and fear about opening up to people creates lines of communication that you may have never imagined were possible. Obviously, this applies to more than just sex, but it’s a powerful feeling to embrace emotions. I’ve met a large number of people that have impacted my life negatively, because they didn’t know how to deal with their own emotions and I didn’t know how to help so I let them step all over me until I learned to walk away.

Back to the aforementioned libido differences; these topics all tie in together. Everyone is different and is at a different chapter in their lives. Just because I communicate what I want, when I want, doesn’t always mean I’ll get it. I accept that and I expect that acceptance and understanding from my partners as well. From my experience, it can be tough to balance varied libidos in relationships, but that’s the key: Balance. No score keeping or anything, just acknowledging differences and creating a solution that works and knowing it can change whenever and however we’d like. Some of the solution we’ve tried is when we’re planning to spend time alone together one of the questions asked is “Do you want to have sex?” and that can change over the course of the night, but having an idea is better than guessing or expecting it to happen when the other person is nowhere near interested at the time. Maybe this is basic knowledge, but adding that dimension of communication to a relationship is so refreshing. It helps take away any pressure felt when you’re with someone. Another idea I had, but haven’t put into practice as of yet, is setting a number of times possible in a week to fool around. No specific days, or specific activities, but a number to give an idea of possible intimacy. The last solution for libido differences that seems to make a difference is masturbating while my partner who’s not in the mood is around maybe in the next room or right next to me. There are, of course, always different ways to have sex that don’t include penetration, but a solution to libido differences should mean getting the satisfaction you desire while still involving your partner in a meaningful and mutually pleasurable way.

I feel like I’ve really grown up this past year especially. I’m learning to cultivate relationships that feed my soul. I’ve learned to not fear the emotions that I am feeling, as well as how to freely express them. I have also gained a better understanding of when I need to move forward and be happy. I’ve definitely made mistakes and I’m likely to make more as time goes on, but the experiences I’ve had will help guide me to where I belong, just as they have before. The relationships that I now find myself in are evidence to me that I’ve become a better person to myself.

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