Since being introduced to the swinging lifestyle several years ago, I’ve learned so much about myself. One of the biggest (and also one of the most important) lessons I’ve learned is how to express my sexual wants and desires not only with myself, but with others as well.
I know this may not sound like a big deal, but being raised like I was, it kind of is. You see, I was raised in a very conservative and strict religious family. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being conservative or religious, but being raised this way did have a bearing on how I viewed myself sexually as well as in a romantic relationship.
To me, sex and/or love and marriage went hand-in-hand and you couldn’t have one without the other. This was confusing to me as a young adult because whenever I felt a sexual urge toward a boy, it must’ve meant that I loved him and that we should get married. And so this was what was instilled in me and what I followed.
When I look back on what I was taught about sex, love and marriage, I realize how limited, narrow-minded and unfair those lessons were to me as a woman. Here I was, being taught that sex shouldn’t exist outside of marriage, and even when you do get married, the focus really isn’t on the woman.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, a woman’s role within the marriage was vital, but from the standpoint of how we as women were going to satisfy our husbands and be available for their sexual appetites. I was told to do special little things for my husband:
“Wrap a big red bow around your naked body and greet him at the door when he gets home from work.”
“Fix him a special meal.”
“Say yes every time he wants to have sex, it will only take a few minutes anyway.”
While I do think the red bow and special attention lavished on your partner is important, I never remember the topic of sex being geared whatsoever towards my pleasure, my body or how my husband could fulfill my needs. The responsibility was on my shoulders to do the pleasing — because after all, sex was way more important for the man. At least this was the story I was told.
I had learned to masturbate, gosh, when I was in grade school.
Of course I didn’t even realize what I was doing had a name, I just thought I had found some secret way to make my insides feel all tingly. I had no idea this same tingly feeling could be achieved from sex. I definitely didn’t realize I could take the same kind of time I spent masturbating and reach an orgasm with my partner because I was too focused on my partner orgasming.
I was victim to what I was taught — the false belief that if the man orgasmed the sexual experience was a success. I would wonder why I felt so empty after sex with my husband and would cry at my doctor’s office, telling him there must be something wrong with me to not feel any kind of desire or interest in sex. I had no idea part of the reason I was feeling this way was because I never had an orgasm while having intercourse. But I also didn’t know I was orgasming when I masturbated — I never saw the connection.
Wow! Even as I write this, it doesn’t even seem like I’m writing about me. How naive I was at 18, and how tragic that I had to suffer through all those years because of a lack of education about my body.
Fast forward 30 years. I had finally learned about orgasms and the connection between pleasuring myself and being pleasured by my partner; however, I still worked within that same old framework of being a subordinate in the relationship. I knew what felt good to me, but sex still revolved around my husband orgasming. If I happened to orgasm as well then it was a bonus, but it was not the focus of the lovemaking.
How did I find my voice?
How did I learn to say what I wanted from sex?
How did I elevate myself to an equal partner in the bedroom?
So much of my transformation had to do with my husband John. John showed me that my sexual appetite was just as important as his. This seemed so backwards to me at the time. I spent all those years believing I had to be the shadow in a marriage to finding a partner who encouraged me to step into the light.
As most of you know, when John and I first began dating we would talk about sexual fantasies. I found those conversations to be so invigorating because John would let me express my deepest, most intimate desires, and instead of becoming jealous (or fearful as I like to define jealousy), he embraced those desires by applauding my courage and honesty.
He was truly interested in what I wanted and genuinely wanted me to be interested in what I wanted. John gave me permission, through his love and acceptance of me, to reveal my sexual self and find my sexual voice. I wasn’t being selfish or monopolizing our time during sex if I asked for something. I wasn’t taking away from John’s pleasure by saying I wanted him to touch me in a certain way.
Little by little I began to understand what John was talking about. All those years I spent thinking there was something wrong with me was actually the result of not seeing myself as an equal in the bedroom.
I began to realize that I had a powerful desire for sex, and having those desires wasn’t odd, it was just me being me…finally.
By speaking up about what I liked and didn’t like, I also became a better (and dynamite) partner in the bedroom. I could throw my head back in ecstasy; I could moan and wiggle and move against my partner without fear; I didn’t have to wait for instructions, I could give them—it was okay!
Sex evolved from being a responsibility in marriage into a vital life giving, stress relieving, bond deepening pleasure filled moment of intimacy I could share with my spouse.
Being in this swinging lifestyle, not only had I found my sexual voice, but I was learning to speak the language.