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In my first blog, I gave an overview of what I mean by Slow Sex: Slowing down each stage of an erotic or romantic encounter to savor the details, and to (pardon the pun) suck the juice out of the experience.

The first stage, and where intimacy can really begin is when my partner (or new love interest) and I set a date.  With a new relationship, setting a date well in advance can seem fairly retro. In the age of Grindr and Scruff, who dates anymore? The answer for me now is simply, “I do.” I may need to call myself old fashioned if necessary, and admit it can take time for me to get comfortable with someone new, or just that I prefer slow, conscious connections over anonymous sex. If pleasure is the point of getting naked with another guy, why not plan for it, and give it the best chance of being a really deep and satisfying pleasure?

By planning well in advance, we’ll both have more time to savor the anticipation. Our imaginations are powerful aphrodisiacs, so why not harness that power to ripen the enthusiasm for the pleasures to come. In the days (or hours) before our date, I can imagine how deeply I am going to surrender as he holds me in a prolonged hug. I can imagine the look in his eyes when I slowly peel his clothes away with my teeth. I can imagine how my body will tingle when he caresses my back or nibbles my earlobe, or when I caress his belly with my lips. I can take time in the days coming up to our date to enjoy feeling the physical pleasures of my imagination. And I can remind myself that those imaginings may only be half as good as what actually does happen when the two of us are finally together.

With time to prepare, I can meet with friends (or my coach or therapist) to talk through and maybe let go of any nervousness or old psychological baggage. After all, it is only my own baggage that keeps me out of the loving space where I want to meet this guy. If, as some wise folks have suggested, love is a space that can only be entered by leaving our baggage at the door, then I may need time to let mine go, before I can meet him there.

When Nick and I were first dating, and even when we started calling each other boyfriends, we would ask for a “real date” a week or two in advance. This was different for us than the spur of the moment “wanna get together tonight” or even “what are you up to right now?” Because by “real date” we had come to realize that we were not only agreeing to a sizable chunk of time together (usually starting in the late afternoon and running through the night into breakfast), but we were also agreeing to show up, consciously, with the intention to give our full attention to each other.

We needed to plan ahead to be sure both of us could clear our schedules and that neither of us had other dates (me with clients, Nick with his wife) that would interfere. I often needed to re-plan my work week so that I could bring tasks to conclusion and relax my way into more mental/emotional equanimity by the appointed time. And Nick would have to work out his schedule of intense, long distance bike rides so that by date night he wouldn’t be physically exhausted. This adjusting of plans was a gift we gave to each other, and also a chance to demonstrate to ourselves that we were giving the relationship and its pleasures a higher priority in our lives.

We found that our dates also benefited by having an agreed-upon structure we could trust to guide us slowly into more intimacy. We have had to acknowledge that this needs to begin with time for settling in together, a necessary step after each of us has spent some days or weeks of being with other people and engaged in other activities. It used to take a lot of time - sometimes several hours - to do the first pass of relaxing together, of reacquainting our bodies and energies with each other. Now that we are seeing each other more often, settling in only takes a few minutes and we can get on with the other delicious elements of our dates. But we can’t skip the moment it takes to look each other in the eye, share a full breath or a full body hug, and acknowledge that we have arrived for a “real date” -- here, now, together.

Read Roger's third blog post - "Stage 2  - Couch Time."

Roger Tolle and his partner Nick Evans have been building a conscious and open relationship for seven years. They are each long-time meditators, and are trained as Sacred Intimates through The Body Electric School. In addition, Roger leads workshops that focus on professional and personal growth through movement, awareness and touch, and is certified as a Surrogate Partner, working with gay men as an adjunct to sex/intimacy therapy.  Roger and Nick will be on the faculty of the 2015 Gay Freedom Camp at Easton Mountain, and they will be facilitating a Fall workshop called "Pathways to Intimacy".