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I Did It For Science: Intimacy Coaching
Can the secrets of good sex really be taught?
All photography by Susan Egan
By Ella Milgrom
To get over my inhibitions by visiting an intimacy and sensuality coach.
I've taken classes for just about every other area of my life, so why wouldn't a mindful-sexuality class work, too? I'm hoping these experts can help me loosen up, get down, and end my six-month-long dry spell.
As a single, twenty-something woman supposedly at the peak of her desirability, I should be running wild like a pre-kids Angelina Jolie. Sadly, my real sex life is another story. If things continue at this pace, I'll be a de facto born-again virgin. It's the nunnery for me. Ever since my cherry was popped at eighteen, the fears and insecurities I associated with sex had been mounting. I continued having sex with boyfriends, fuck-buddies, and random strangers until my feelings of guilt and emptiness made me avoid sex all together.
That's when I read about the Slow Sex movement. (If it was anything like the Slow Food movement, I was already on board. When you're not having sex, spending three hours on a Saturday baking suddenly makes perfect sense.) Founded in San Francisco, Slow Sex is based on the belief that by being mindful of the value of raw intimacy, we can bring meaning back into our sex lives. It sounded a little new-agey, but I was willing to try anything for science.
I scheduled an appointment with intimacy coach, Jessica. She helps individuals and couples build their confidence and enhance their sexual potential. Jessica explained that the other half of her company — her boyfriend, Sam — would assist in the playful exercises that were part of the process. I wasn't sure how "playful" things would get, but Jessica encouraged me to give it a try.
My first session was on a Sunday afternoon. I had been at a party until ten that morning and still hadn't slept. I'd also been seconds away from having sex when the guy went limp-dick on me and passed out.
The fact that I was still pretty drunk from my breakfast of Coronas and whiskey on the rocks also helped.
Another failure seemed to be just what I needed: I'd been nervous when I'd scheduled my appointment with Jessica, but now my sexual frustration outweighed my nerves. The fact that I was still pretty drunk from my breakfast of Coronas and whiskey on the rocks also helped.
Jessica opened the door in a lacy low-cut top, worn over an effective push-up bra. I felt overdressed, but I relaxed when she greeted me with a warm hug. Sam gave me a big hug too, smiling, "Welcome, come in." He was tall and slender, and his fisherman pants and loose T-shirt made him a very low-key presence.
Jessica led me to their "office," a small bedroom furnished with a massage table, a queen-size bed piled with earth-toned cushions, and a few armchairs. Naturally, Enya played softly in the background. "Make yourself comfortable," she said, removing her sandals and climbing on the bed beside Sam, who'd propped himself on a pile of pillows. We sat cross-legged facing each other, and Jessica explained that in the first hour of the session, we'd talk through my sexual history and figure out what I wanted to work on. The second half would involve a communication game or exercise. I couldn't tell if this college-orientation vibe was comforting or disturbing.
"So what brings you here?" asked Sam. I had never really discussed my sex life with anyone before. I used to write a sex column for my college newspaper, under the name "Jenny Tails," but now there was no pseudonym to hide behind, and I was expected open up a raw part of me to two people I barely knew.
"Well... I haven't had sex for a really long time. And to be honest, at this point I'm convinced that I have no sexual appeal or potential." Jessica and Sam listened attentively. As I forced myself to keep on oversharing, they continuously reassured me, encouraging me to let down my guard. Gradually, we realized that past rejections had made me feel sexually inadequate. In response, I'd started spending all my energy worrying about the other person's pleasure and wondering if I was acting the "right" way. Hence my post-coital anxiety. Whoa, did I have issues.
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