By Roger Tolle
This is the first of a series of blogs, and it’s about sex -- from my professional study of it, from my personal experience along the way, and especially from my current partnership with Nick.
I’m going to borrow themes from the “Slow Food Movement” which some of you may have read about. It is based in the simple, profound idea that when we slow down, take time to savor the process, and give attention to the details, we enjoy it more and get more out of it. And since both food and sex supply us with some of our basic human needs, the way we approach each of them has a similar impact on our potential well-being and happiness.
What I’ve learned through years of having lots of sex with lots of men, is that quick, spontaneous sex can sometimes (but not often) open the door to astonishingly real and lasting connections. I am glad I had the chance (the many chances) to find that out. In any case, being deeply met and sensually nourished is what I was really looking for in all those encounters, and occasionally (OK rarely) I found what I wanted.
For years I started my relationships by first having sex with a guy. Or rather, I had sex with guy after guy until I accidentally hit it off with one of them. If a first sexual encounter went well, we explored other aspects of each other (interests, hopes, dreams, conversation styles, preferences, quirks, etc.) And if that exploring went well, we got more involved with each others lives. A couple times that led to long-term, committed relationships.
But more often than not, starting off with sex led nowhere. Fast sex -- that is, jumping into sex without enough time to find out who this person was, and with insufficient focus on the practices that lead to real intimacy -- became little more than a perfunctory interlude...sweet, hot, playful, or adventurous, but none-the-less transitory and ultimately not nearly as nourishing to my body, mind or soul as I wished for. Fast sex was (is) fun, a way to blow off steam, handle my incessant horniness, and de-stress. And as long as I am not deluding myself about what is going on, sex without emotional involvement can still be good healthy recreation, a sensual sport, or a great way to spend time with a favorite buddy.
But (and here is the metaphor) I began to realize that just like fast food gobbled down in a rush standing at the counter, fast sex kept me wanting more. The “empty calories” were delicious but not nutritious. A quick slice of pizza on the way to the movies is a fine stop-gap. But a steady diet of greasy pizza stuffed down in a hurry day after day, will surely increase my waist size and decrease my life expectancy. A steady diet of fast sex without sufficient time and attention to meeting my needs for real intimacy will increase the size of my insecurity and decrease my life satisfaction.
So in recent years, I have adopted what I think of as the “Slow Sex” philosophy. Like driving in the slow lane on Skyline Drive in order to take frequent pull offs to admire the view, a slower approach to the whole luscious event of sex also makes good sense to me. When I eat a meal that is caringly prepared, elegantly served, and slowly savored in good company, it feeds more than my body. It offers all the health enhancing, soul enriching benefits of mindful presence, as well as smoother digestion and better portion choices. Slowing the approach lets me savor the details, and this applies to sex, too.
If I want to intentionally ease my way into satisfying intimacy with a guy, I’ll make a date far enough in advance to enjoy the anticipatory excitement, and to prepare myself to arrive in a receptive attitude. I’ll make time to clear my mental space, and when we get together, I’ll ask for time to communicate honestly about our concerns as well as our desires. I’ll put value on both of us feeling safe, and allow gratitude to elevate our connection. I’ll spice up the appetizer course of our lovemaking with conscious movement, breath, and touch, and plenty of time to arrive together in undistracted sensate focus. And when we’re ready for a main course of sensual pleasuring and/or sexual intercourse, I’ll feel fully satisfied whether or not either of us comes. Without ejaculation as the primary goal, I have noticed that the sweet tastes of afterglow stay with me longer. I savor it further if we invite some stimulating “after dinner conversation”, so we can share what we loved most and what we anticipate for next time.
Speaking of next time, I plan to write more about Slow Sex in subsequent blogs. I hope you enjoyed the journey of reading. And even more, I hope you find your own joy in going slow.
Read Roger's second blog post - "Stage 1: In Defense of Dating."
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 were on the faculty of the 2015 Gay Freedom Camp at Easton Mountain, and they will be facilitating a Fall workshop called "Pathways to Intimacy".