Slow Sex: Stage 3 - Skin Time
In my previous blogs, I gave an overview of a philosophy of Slow Sex that is all about slowing down to pay attention to and get pleasure from the nuances of our erotic or romantic encounters. Whether starting a new relationship or maintaining or rebooting an old one, setting dates consciously and with clear intentions is a good idea. All the self-help literature on relationship improvement (gay and straight) recommend carving out time to focus on the relationship. And I wrote about getting our communication on board to support a more complete and self-revealing intimacy, which is also recommended by therapists and counselors across the country to help relationships grow in depth and satisfaction. But what about the touchy feely stuff? Do we need to slow this down too?
We guys like our sexual experiences lots of different ways. Rough, sweaty, and hungry tend to dominate the porn depictions of two men with lots of testosterone trying to come together (double-entendre intended). That style tends to work for helping us watchers get off quickly. Have you noticed that most porn scenes are over in a matter of minutes? But fast sex backfires as a strategy for rich and long-lasting real live relationships.
When wounded egos, insecure body-images, and depleted emotional reservoirs are present, (as they are for all us real men), all that heavy action with no time for noticing, listening to, or feeling for authentic responses pushes us apart more often than it draws us closer together. We are likely to feel increasingly unmet and unsatisfied by the guy we were once so attracted to. At least I am. As the Pointer Sisters so lustily sang,
I want a man with a slow hand
I want a lover with an easy touch
I want somebody who will spend some time
Not come and go in a heated rush
I want somebody who will understand
When it comes to love, I want a slow hand.
When I began to get serious about understanding my sex life, I was heartened to learn what social scientists had discovered. Masters and Johnson’s research in the 60’s and 70’s presented the radical idea that when one person in a relationship is having trouble it is actually a problem of the couple. To test their theory, they pioneered a program of teaching couples what they called “Sensate Focus” exercises...essentially a step by step process of learning (or relearning) to bring full attention to the feeling of touching or being touched, while emptying the mind of thinking about what is happening or what might happen. Essentially they were proposing body-centered presence as an antidote to boredom, anxiety, dissociation, and end-gaming. Among other things, they proved their work to be highly effective in treating erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Their work is still a cornerstone of sex therapy today.
Why do I mention this in a blog aimed at proud, functional gay men! Well because, if you are at all like I was, I thought I was a natural at sex. It wasn’t something I needed to analyze. It just happened, and was good until it wasn’t. Then I left the relationship and looked for another.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have insisted on a lot more time in foreplay, refining it to an art. I would have devoted undistracted hours to caressing every square inch of my partners’ bodies with every inch of mine. I would have tripled the time I spent rolling around in slow, sensuous slithering, and quadrupled the time I relaxed in amazement as my guy’s caresses awoke the sensory tingles of aliveness in my body. I’d have devoted way more time being physically present with the man in front of me, and way less time faking it while I dreamed about his replacement.
There is no guarantee this would have helped me get more sex, although it certainly would have led me to more pleasure along the way, and much more intimacy with each of my lovers. It is certainly working that way for Nick and I.
Read Roger’s fourth blog post – “Stage 4 – The Main Course”
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".