You might be well aware you're considered attractive by other people – but what if you feel completely out of touch with what really turns you on, what actually makes your body feel good?
After all, it’s this mind-body connection that lies at the heart of what is known as ‘erotic intelligence’.
‘So many of us are just living from the neck up,’ explains therapist Rafia Morgan, one of the founders of the Path of Love personal development process. ‘Erotic intelligence is all about having the capacity to trust yourself, to be in touch with your own body, your boundaries, your values – and how you feel your own energy.’
1. Unblock your body
The first step to enhancing your sexual awareness is to become aware of what your body is trying to tell you. This type of work is best done in the presence of a trained therapist, but if you want to begin to investigate your relationship with your body, try this letter-writing exercise.Allow yourself half an hour without interruptions. Begin by writing a letter to your body – tell it how you feel about it, what you like about it, and what you don’t like. Then, with your non-dominant hand, write a letter back ‘from’ your body to you – imagine how it would respond. Because our hands are ‘hooked up’ to opposite sides of our brain, this helps to access different thoughts and emotional responses.
2. Tune in to each other
‘Conscious relating’ is the practice of encouraging authentic, genuine communication between couples. It is sometimes linked to tantric sex, but as psychosexual somatic therapist Mike Lousada points out, ‘the world of conscious sexuality is as broad as the world of sexuality itself,’ so couples who are more into kinkiness, dressing up or S&M can get just as much from conscious relating as those couples who like to practise tantra, and it may incorporate some of the techniques listed on the next page. Essentially, it’s about staying in the present moment and exploring what is fulfilling for both partners.
3. Try reversing your roles
‘One of the exercises I do regularly with my clients helps people learn how to say yes and no with physical touch,’ explains relationship coach Jan Day. ‘So, one person would begin to touch the other and the person being touched would have to say whether or not they enjoyed it. It sounds simple, but it can have very powerful results. You might ask the person touching to attempt to get a “no” response, so they try something, and then they are amazed to discover the other person says “yes”.’
4. Share your fantasies
The key is to allow for an element of risk that enhances excitement between you both, but with a foundation of trust. Day often works with couples on revealing their sexual fantasies to one another slowly. ‘The way I start is to have both partners separately write a list of their visions and what they’d like in their relationship. Then I encourage them to share their desires, one at a time, and ask the other partner to repeat it back to them. This way, they build up a picture of the other person’s dreams and desires without ever saying that they have to do it. It’s about not being rejected simply for sharing.’
5. Experiment with slow sex
We tend to think of slow sex as an intense, often laborious practice, but the reality can be quite different. Yes, it may well be intense, ‘but it can be very funny as well, especially at the start,’ Day says. The aim is not, as some people mistakenly believe, to maintain impossible yoga positions for hours, but to focus on sex with a different dynamic to fast, penetrative sex.