3 Ways That Perfectionism Affects Your Love Life
…And How to Get Intimacy Back Into Your Love Making
Why would Perfectionism be a matter for a sex coach?
Perfectionism has steadily increased in the past 27 years, and is still on the rise (Thomas Curran & Andrew P. Hill, 2019). Perfectionism is not limited to work. As a sex coach in London, I now see men and women who are mainly interested in increasing performance, in lasting longer (men), and in having bigger and better orgasms (women). Pharmaceutical companies remind us that pill popping ensures performance ‘order online, deliver in bed’. What happened to pleasure and intimacy?
The other day I went to my dentists for a check-up and a polish. In my sex coaching sessions I work with my clients on pleasure, while dental hygiene appointments range from being uncomfortable to downright painful. ‘Aha,’ I thought, ‘this is a situation where I prefer NOT to feel that much!’. Squashed in the tube at rush hour may be another situation of that kind.
There are always reasons why we prefer not to engage our senses. Our senses make us open for impressions, and not all impressions are pleasurable. Unfortunately, we can’t feel selectively. Opening up for sensation can entail feeling the bad and painful stuff, too, even if we had expected pleasure.
Do you remember your first sexual encounter? I’m sure that a number of you had very positive ones, spine tingling and exciting and beautiful! Sometimes however our wide eyed expectations get squashed. That could be a reason to make sure never to be quite as open again.
When I was teaching Mindfulness for a London charity in women’s shelters, I innocently proposed a very simple exercise – or so I thought! I carefully instructed the 12 women in my class how to breathe into their abdominal area. All 12 women reported back to me that they disliked the exercise, and didn’t want to do it!
There are times when we need to hold it all together. Having run from their partners, living in temporary accommodation with their children, these women were in a crisis. They couldn’t allow themselves to feel too much, or they would fall apart.
A safe space is a prerequisite for allowing ourselves to open our senses.
Imagine a single cell organism in the sea – it expands towards pleasure (food) when it feels safe, but contracts when enemies are around.
Perfectionism is in essence controlling behaviour, wanting to be in charge of the situation.
Women, but also men, may be overly conscious about how they look, even in lovemaking. Perfection is achieved by seeing themselves as if in the mirror, even if mirrors are not around.
Partners may not admit vulnerability, low moods, or failures to each other, which has significant impact on intimacy in the relationship. Trying to keep the relationship constantly perfect prevents us from reaching points of honesty where we can actually evolve together, and rise to the next level. Intimacy is a prerequisite for that.
Sexuality doesn’t take well to control, it wants to be wild and free, and evolve, even in relationships. As a sex coach, I know that a lot of male performance problems are a kind of vicious cycle, where a perceived ‘failure’ has left a dent in self-confidence, and causes performance to become erratic. The individual struggles to employ the rational mind to regain control, which usually makes things worse.
In order to be intimate with ourselves and others, we need to be able to perceive things as they are. Intimacy requires information from the senses. A great way to achieve intimacy is to create a safe space to allow for sensations and feelings, and invite pleasure in. As a sex coach, I work with people on getting back to pleasure, and anchoring themselves in the moment via sensation, which can counteract perfectionism, and projections from the mind. Intimacy means feeling and seeing things and people—including ourselves—as they are.
Via staying in the moment of pleasure, and allowing it to go to a deeper place in ourselves, our habitual responses get interrupted.
We learn that it is safe to feel, and come back home—into our own bodies, which are perfect as they are, and can relax.
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