Treat your sex life like your Volkswagen
It’s a known fact that sexual problems such as pain, erectile difficulties or loss of libido are common difficulties experienced in the UK, with around half of UK adults surveyed reporting experiencing these in the latest NATSAL survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles (click here for more information). This latest work from the NATSAL team has gone a long way to normalise and demystify what goes on in the private moments of a huge randomised selection of the UK public, and raised important and timely questions about how we address these given how common they are.
Sexuality is greater than the presence or absence of a problem and is made up of multiple and complex layers of experience, expression, self-confidence, physicality, and what happens between us and those we choose to have this connection with. So, sexual ‘problems’ are just one aspect of how our sex life is functioning, a snapshot into just one small moment of time in a sexual encounter. Being without a sexual problem is a good and important goal for some, but should that be the case for all? Is that where the effort stops? Our sexual satisfaction and functioning are an aspect of our lives like any other that we should check in on from time to time and wonder- is everything in order? And how could things continue to improve?
Not doing this could be seen as the equivalent of not checking your tyres, changing your oil or filling your car with petrol, then taking it to the garage when its finally conked out. The mechanic may be able to fix it, but also needs to repair the knock on effects of the car operating this way for some time, as well as fixing the ultimate and obvious problem it caused- the breakdown.
Whether you are having solo sex, sex in casual sexual relationships or (supposed to be) having regular sex with partner(s), allowing sex to fall off the agenda or topic of conversation can leave some relationships prone to the onset of a more habitual or entrenched pattern which can be difficult to reverse.
As a society we are awash with media images and suggestions about how our lives should be and sex is high up there on the list. We live in a post behaviourist era where the likes of Masters and Johnson (great as they were) have convinced us that we can and should be ‘good at’ sex. We see front covers of glossy magazines that convince us that this is so (and tell us how to in 5 simple steps).
It doesn’t need to be this way. You don’t even need to be having sex at all, and at the very least sex in the way the term is used in mainstream society. Sex is not a learned skill, or an IKEA wardrobe that needs to be put together in a particular order to achieve a desired end point. It’s a pursuit of being comfortable being in the moment and an awareness of knowing what you and your body want.
But do take a moment to consider. Things might be good but can they not get better? Do you put as much time into this part of your life as you do to your diet? Your exercise regime? Your friendships? If not why not? Perhaps take that car for a valet, get it polished, vacuumed- hell, buy the fluffy dice if you’ve always fancied some. And if you’re really feeling it, talk to your co-driver about whether this year you should change your usual route from time to time, take it for a spin in a completely new direction, let the one of you that usually drives by default be the passenger, or go on that road trip you always talked about but never actioned, as everything else got in the way.
Dr Karen Gurney, Clinical Psychologist and Psychosexologist – The Havelock Clinic
The Havelock Clinic offer a Sexual MOT session for individuals or couples who want to prioritise keeping it hot. http://thehavelockclinic.com/who-we-see/