Did you know that horniness is one of hundreds of reasons folks feel motivated to have sex? It’s not even the most common. Understanding your own desire, and what sex and relationship therapist, Cyndi Darnell, calls your erotic template, can help you cultivate an erotically charged sex life – whether you’re single or partnered. Learn much more in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below. Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It, with Cyndi Darnell”
a lightly edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
SPECIAL OFFER: Are you a breakfast person? I love a good breakfast. But, I’ll be honest – I don’t usually feel like making it myself.Lately, Magic Spoon has been helping me out. It’s a cereal that comes in 4 flavors— Cocoa, Fruity, Frosted, and Peanut Butter—and such a simple way to get plenty of protein (especially if you’re a plant-based/flexitarian like me). It’s also great for folks who have special dietary needs because of diabetes, a gluten intolerance or a soy allergy.
The flavors are fun to mix together, and you can add fresh fruit or a sweetener, if desired. The Cocoa flavor topped with sliced strawberries is the tastiest way I’ve tried so far. Head to magicspoon.com/GIRLBONERto grab a variety pack of your own, and use the promo code GIRLBONER at checkout to save $5.
Magic Spoon is so confident in their product, it’s backed with a 100% happiness guarantee — so if you don’t like it for any reason, they’ll refund your money, no questions asked. Thank you, Magic Spoon, for sponsoring this episode.
Cyndi: I really want people who are listening to understand that this notion of being in a state of desire within 30 seconds, it can happen for some people. But for a lot of people, it does not function like that. And that is completely normal. You don’t have to change how you respond sexually just to impress the person that you’re with. If you are a slow burn, it’s okay to be that way.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Cyndi Darnell is a sex and relationship therapist, originally from Australia, now based in New York City. As a trained psychotherapist, she runs a global consulting practice for individuals, couples and polycules navigating relationships and sexual difficulties.
Her first book, Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It: The Truth About Mismatched Libido and Rediscovering Desire, was released last month.
Cyndi has appeared here on the show before, most recently about one of her own extraordinary sexual experiences — or awakenings, really — which took place before the start of her career, when she took an erotic embodiment course. [excerpt?
[encouraging, acoustic music]
I have a feeling many people will have their own erotic awakenings thanks to Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It.
August: So I love the title of your book. I think it’s so compelling and I’m sure it resonates with so many people. Would you talk about why we might want to have sex when we don’t feel like it versus just not having sex?
Cyndi: Oh, that’s such a good question. The truth is people have sex for lots and lots and lots of reasons and feeling like it is a great reason, but it’s not the only reason. And I think because a lot of us, especially women and especially those of us who are, you know, getting a lot of our sex education from social media, and sort of feminist publications, a lot of the narrative in those places is you know, don’t do it unless you feel like it. Don’t do it if you’re not in the mood. You don’t owe anyone anything, and, and all of that is true. So let me start by saying all of that is true. And, what we don’t talk about is the fact that horniness, which is what we generally associate with being in the mood: are you horny? That is unreliable for a lot of people. For a lot of people that’s quite foreign. And then depending on the age that you are, if you are, you know, perimenopausal or postmenopausal. So if you’re over 40 years old, it’s very likely to be unreliable.
So we have to start looking at reasons for having sex that are not based in horniness. This is also true for people in their twenties and thirties. And also it’s not just a woman’s problem. It does tend to be women who will talk about it more, but I know certainly that men experience it, they just don’t talk about it as much.
So reasons we might want to have sex when we don’t yet feel like it, she said, involve other motivations that feel meaningful to us.
Cyndi said her entire book aims to help us work through these questions: Why do we have sex? Why does it matter to us personally?
Cyndi: Because you don’t have to is also the message in the book.
If you really don’t want to have sex, I am gonna stand right next to you and say, that’s fine. You don’t have to. But there’s a lot of people who want to want sex again. And the book is really for those people who are interested in finding reasons other than horniness to find their desire again.
In the introduction to Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It, Cyndi talks about why this might be especially complicated these days. She wrote: “We have never been more connected yet less engaged, less satisfied, and lonelier in relationships. In other words: we’re fucked; but not how we want to be.” What does that mean? How did we get to that place?
Cyndi: So many couples that I work with will come to me and they will, in their first session, tell me how, you know, this person that they’ve married or this person that they’re with checks all the boxes and that they’re such a great partner and they have such a great time.
And they’re great co-parents and they’re good at this and that and da, da, da, and yet there’s not enough erotic connection. Or at times sometimes there’s not enough emotional connection. I mean, there are probably again, lots of reasons how we end up in a situation like this. It’s also highly likely that things have also always been like this. It’s just that we’re talking about it a little bit more now.
Historically, when we think about relationships and partnerships, they were never really based on compatibility. They were never really based on something as fickle as romance, and certainly based on something like desire. They were always based on social and financial obligations because people had to get married in order to survive.
We had to pool resources. Women, especially, needed to marry men in order to gain access to status and financial favors. To a degree that is still true. But we tend to not talk about it because these days it’s all been sort of mushed up with the concept of romance and a lot of people want their marriages and their relationships to be romantic. And that’s fine.
So how is it that we’re fucked, but not how we wanna be? You know, we have all this information now at our fingertips. We can get online and we can Google quite literally anything. Anything you can think of someone else has thought of it before you and someone else has Googled it.
So we have so much information. We have so much knowledge now. What used to be the issue was that people would say, well, you know, we don’t have enough sex education. We don’t have enough sexual information. Once upon a time, that was true. There was a lack of knowledge. There was a lack of information.
These days the information is very accessible. It’s widely available. A lot of it is free. Not all of it is good. Not all of it is accurate, but it is out there. And most of it is very low cost or, or it’s free. So we have all this information, but what we don’t have is integration. We don’t know how to integrate the information that we find online.
So while on one side, we have this new era of romance culture that is whispering in one ear, sitting on one shoulder saying, “Find the right person. Don’t settle for less. Find your soul mate. Be with the perfect partner.” All this kind of stuff. And then on the other side is all this information about, you know, you have to have an explosive sex life. It has to be this, it has to be that. You have to have multiple orgasms and it has to be amazing. And then also the message for women is you have to be empowered. You have to feel amazingly confident every time you take your pants off.
So that’s a lot of pressure for relationships. It’s a lot of pressure for women. Then increasingly for men, there’s a lot of pressure to perform, to be very in tune with what women want, but there’s still not a lot of encouragement for women to speak up about what they want. And then a lot of that comes from porn culture. You know, I’m not opposed to porn at all, but as a source of sex education, it is not. It’s entertainment, just like Disney, you know, so Disney does a wonderful job of feeding the romance culture. Porn does a wonderful job of feeding the sex culture.
And then we end up with these couples who are sort of, you know, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And what they find themselves in is a situation where there is so much information, there is so much knowledge. Some of it good, some of it bad, like I said, but they dunno how to integrate it. They don’t know what to do with it. In some cases it’s information overload. So that’s sort of how we ended up here.
After speaking with Cyndi, I asked listeners, through an email list survey about desire, whether they’ve ever seen in porn and tried to emulate—only to have it go not so well. Here are some of their responses:
Some folks said they either don’t watch porn or don’t try to emulate it. Those who have tried to recreate something from porn in real life had lots of experiences to share.
Several people mentioned shower sex. One listener said, “I thought I broke my back or ribs when we both fell.”
Porn-inspired anal sex was another theme. One person put it really well, quote: “They don’t show the warm up, only the main event. Recipe for disASSter.”
Others pointed to hard or rough sex that looked hot or fun and ended up with bruises or feelings of disrespect.
Someone else tried a shoe-job, which involved, quote, “sticking the penis in a shoe and letting her pump the heel of her foot to a climax.”
The body types portrayed in the porn you watch may also play a role, according to one listener’s experience. They said they’ve learned that, “some positions are more challenging if your penis is average length.”
Other responses included standing up during sex, a golden shower and basically any wild sex act that turned out to be awkward, or even funnier, than they anticipated.
It’s not bad to get ideas from porn, in my opinion, as long as you keep it all in perspective. I think of porn like cooking shows, where you see the ingredients, a few activities and then bam! Perfect, magazine worthy creation. I imagine that behind the scenes and parts that were edited out would show a lot of preparation and messiness. Plus those chefs, like porn stars, are professionals. And at least for me, when I try a recipe from a chef, it seldom turns out magazine worthy — if I complete it at all. But those cooking shows often do make me hungry…just saying.
Speaking of appetite, Cyndi also explores myths around desire and libido in her book that I think so many of us can learn from.
You may have heard me and others on the show talk about responsive versus spontaneous desire. The ways Cyndi talks about these desire types are the most nuanced and helpful I’ve encountered.
August: I’d love to touch on three of the desire/libido myths that you bring up starting with that they are inherent within all of us. What’s wrong with that idea?
Cyndi: The notion of sort of desire and libido being something that exists within us, that these things are natural, that they just emerge out of nowhere is because for some people, some of the time that is true. And often that is being referred to as spontaneous desire where you see somebody on the train or you see somebody at a party or whatever, and you just think, oh wow, they’re hot. I wanna fuck them. That’s fantastic.
So that’s spontaneous desire and some people have that in abundance. Some people have that some of the time. But most people don’t have that all of the time. And again, we don’t talk about it when we see sex represented in movies. When we see desire represented in movies, and I’m talking about regular movies and porn, all of them.
It’s often presented as this sort of animalistic urge that just rises up out of nowhere and takes you on a journey. And it is always posited as the primary reason for people having sex. Yet, when you talk to people, really, really talk to people, about their sex lives like I do. And perhaps like you do August, you find out that people’s motivations are vastly different than simply feeling horny or feeling lusty or even feeling desire. Maybe they have sex because they wanna feel validated. Maybe they have sex because they want their partner to feel validated. Maybe they have sex because it’s been a while and they think they probably should do it.
I mean, there was a study done a number of years ago that listed 237 reasons that people have sex and horniness was only one of them.
I took a look at that study and it’s really interesting. It was conducted at the University of Texas in Austin in 2007 and the researchers surveyed over 400 people aged 17 to 52 about their motivations for having sex. Then they showed the list to over 1500 college students, who rated how often, if ever, they related to each one.
Of the most popular reasons, “horniness”ranked #7 for both women and men. Other popular answers were: “I was attracted to the person,””It was fun,” “I wanted to show affection”or “express love,” “I wanted to please my partner,” and “I wanted to achieve an orgasm.”
Responses that didn’t make the top 10 but still resonated with plenty of people included “I was bored,” “it seemed like the thing to do,” “someone dared me,” “I wanted to feel closer to God,” and “I wanted to gain acceptance from friends.”
Given this broad range of motivations for having sex, Cyndi said, being “in the mood” may not always be what it’s cracked up to be.
Cyndi: This idea of being in the mood, I mean, it is a thing. I don’t wanna say that it’s not a thing. It is a thing. But it’s not a thing in the way that we think it is. And we really have been tricked into thinking that it’s accessible to everybody at the drop of a hat, because most of us have absorbed that information from pop culture. And most of us have a lived experience that is actually quite different to that.
And when our lived experiences differ from those ideas of how or why we “should” feel desire, it can be easy to feel as though something is wrong.
When I’ve talked to folks about their own experiences with desire, many of them bring up the fact that they were more turned on at the start of a relationship – which is natural, by the way. It has to do with those punchdrunk, falling-in-love hormones. But Cyndi said that doesn’t necessarily mean your desire was more “spontaneous” then.
August: Is there a piece of that…I’ve heard from many people that when you’re first falling in love or you’re in a new relationship, your desire might be much more spontaneous. Is there this idea that, if it doesn’t stay that way, that there’s something wrong?
Cyndi: I think a lot of people internalize that idea and, believe that something is wrong because when you first start dating somebody and there’s that first flush there, and you can’t keep your hands off of each other and you get so excited about seeing each other and, you know, people call that spontaneous desire and maybe it is spontaneous desire, but I also wanna posit that when you’re dating somebody you’re not living together. You’re making a lot of plans to see each other. You’re texting, you’re calling, you’re sending each other sexy photos. You’re booking tickets to events and you’re booking reservations at restaurants.
And there’s a lot of preparation going into it. You’re making sure that you’re shaving, you’re wearing your best underwear. Like there’s a whole lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, again, that not a lot of people talk about. Or a lot of us, we sort of omit that from our minds when we think about, oh, you know, that’s the beginning of the relationship. That’s when sex is at its best.
But as we start to settle into relationships, we tend to not put that much into our dates. We tend to not put that much effort into our sex lives. And so really, I think a lot of what is described as spontaneous desire in that context is actually responsive desire, but it’s responsive desire in the context of dating because dating is a really great incentive for people, you know, getting prepared days and days in advance, booking tickets, calling each other, texting each other, sending each other pictures saying, “I can’t wait to see you.”
All of this stuff helps create an atmosphere of hope and anticipation between you. That is responsive desire. That’s not spontaneous. That’s something that’s planned and extended over time. So then when you get together, it’s like, I can’t wait to, you know, rip your clothes off. It feels really spontaneous.
But we forget, Cyndi said, that we’ve actually spent days or even weeks leading up to that. And this applies to hookups and online dating, too.
Cyndi: People talk about that as being the ultimate in spontaneous desire, I would actually argue that that’s the ultimate in responsive desire because that sort of texting back and forth and arranging where you’re gonna meet and what you’re gonna do, that’s all planning.
So very rarely I think does actual true spontaneous desire happen. It can happen, but it’s a lot rarer than I think we think it is.
August: That is so interesting. So is it then something we can learn from as far as planning and anticipation. Are those two elements helpful for creating the context where we do desire sex?
Cyndi: They are for some people some of the time, but they’re not for all people all of the time got it, which is perhaps not what you wanted to hear, but it is the truth.
We have to look at matters of desire on an individual level, Cyndi points out, especially important if you have what she described as “particulary sensitive sexual systems.”
Cyndi: There’s a, a process called the dual control model that you may or may not have heard about, which is a scientific way of understanding sex. And I’ll give you a very short version of it.
But the dual control model posits that our interest in sex is like a gas pedal and a break in a car. And that traditionally, we would think you would find a thing that you like and do a lot of that. And that’s the gas pedal.
So just find that thing that you like, you like having your boobs squeezed or whatever. It’s like, ‘Great. I like that. All right. I’m gonna put my foot to the floor and go for it. And I’m just gonna do lots of that and that’s gonna create desire.’
But what we also know is that on the other side is the brake pedal and what the brake pedal does is it encourages us to be vigilant. It encourages us to slow down. And so the things that might cause us to be vigilant and slow down, especially in this day and age of things like might I get pregnant if I continue with this. You know, I get an STI if I continue with this, I don’t know this person very well. We don’t have any condoms, for example. Is somebody gonna walk in, is my roommate gonna walk in? Is my mom gonna walk in? Is my, you know, is my partner gonna walk in? Like, you know, any of these kinds of things can activate what we call the breaks mechanism. So that’s the stuff that slows us down.
So the trouble with sort of these historical understandings of sex and sort of what makes us get in the mood is when we would think, oh, we’ll just find something that we like and do lots of that.
What we actually are finding now is that it’s not so much us being able to put our foot on the gas. It’s actually, how do we take our foot off the break? And that is a little bit more nuanced because for different people, it’s gonna be different things.
Given that, one of the easiest ways to start working out what kinds of things help you take your foot off the break, Cyndi said, is to reflect back on times you’ve had sex that have been fantastic.
And by ‘sex,’ she means anything from a good make out session or oral or a great hand session or intercourse – the whole spectrum of sexy fun.
Cyndi: Thinking about times when you’ve had sex, that’s been fantastic. What’s made it fantastic. And I can almost guarantee it wasn’t the positions that you used. It wasn’t Necessarily, you know, what you were wearing, but more than anything, it’s gonna have something to do with the context in which the sex happened.
So what was happening before and during, and perhaps even after, and also it’s gonna have to do with how you felt about yourself. And how you felt about your partner at the time. So that could be things like that you were feeling confident. You were in a really good mood. You were, had had a couple of drinks and your, some of your inhibitions had dropped away.
You felt really understood and validated by your partner. Any of these kinds of things can impact how you feel. So how we understand what’s gonna help us is a lot more nuanced than just, you know, find this thing and, and go for it.
There is a degree of self inquiry involved in it, especially once we understand that desire is not simply just waiting for horniness to take you on a journey, especially for people for whom horniness doesn’t come that easily, or it doesn’t come before they start having sex.
For a lot of people horniness will appear, but it will appear, you know, 20 or 30 minutes after they’ve started having the kind of sex that their body likes, which might be different than the kind of sex their mind likes.
August: Oh, that’s so important. I love that idea of also giving yourself the grace to start sex when like, you want to have it, but you aren’t desiring it, permission to have that seems really valuable. And it ties into another myth that I love that you brought up about desire being essential to good sex.
August: Why is that a myth?
Cyndi: Again, I think it’s this idea that we have to be in the mood. We have to feel like it… Again, it’s based on this thing that we have to be horny. And good sex is co-created by two people, or more, who have the intention of making the sex session good for one or both partners during the session. If you are going into a sex session and. You’re not talking about what you like and what you want.
Your partner’s not talking about what they like and what they want. There’s a little bit of nervousness. There’s a little bit of awkwardness. There’s a bit of you know, shyness and trepidation and, and these kinds of things. It can be very, very hard then to be able to sort of hand yourself over into the experience because you’re constantly sort of double checking yourself and them and these kinds of things.
When these kinds of contexts happen, sometimes it takes a little bit of time for your body to relax and for their body to relax and to be able to get into the sex so you start to find a flow with each other, where it does start to feel good and your body starts to come online. Your nervous system starts to come online.
And then the desire comes afterwards. I mean, again, we understand from a science point of view, that desire can happen before sex happens. Absolutely. And again, for a lot of people, desire will happen 20 or 30 minutes into the sex. So the notion of good sex needing to be led by desire is a myth because for a lot of people, desire happens after the good sex has already started.
So we have to accept and understand that in the beginning, as we are sort of, you know, greasing our wheels and moving in the direction of good sex it, it might be a little bit awkward for the first 10, 15, 20 minutes. And that’s okay. As long as you have control of yourself in the situation that you at least feel, you have a voice that you can say, “Hey, I wanna change this,” or “can we do more of this, less of this, or I’d like to try this.”
Or, you know, again, depending on the context of the relationship, if it’s somebody that you’re in a longer term relationship with, I encourage people to take turns and, and be able to have pleasure that is solely focused on one person at a time rather than going for this notion of mutual pleasure, because I also think mutual pleasure puts a lot of pressure on people. It is not necessarily something that’s accessible to all people at all times and turn taking can be a wonderful way to circumvent that. Again, that’s not necessarily a desire-focused sex practice, but it’s certainly a very pleasure-focused sex practice.
August: As you were describing that I couldn’t help, but think of flashes from like TV shows and movies where pretty much every sex scene is mutual pleasure the whole time.
August: Start to finish. And you do write about and talk about in your book, sex myths and romance culture and how they impact people’s sex lives. Are there any examples of real life couples that you could share?
Cyndi: Who are affected by romance culture. I mean, I think to a degree, a lot of the couples that I work with, probably all of them are affected by this.
And all of us are to a degree I am, and I’m sure you are, or perhaps have been. Because we’ve all grown up in this, this world where we have been told that you’ll find “the one,” and it will be amazing. And when you find the one, the relationship will be effortless. The sex will be effortless.
You’ll just be in sync. And you might be at first, she said, but that often doesn’t last and then you’re left with the bare bones of the relationship and having to do work at the emotional level in terms of sex. That is something we learn from romance culture.
Cyndi: Romance culture affects all of us. It’s sort of like that story of, you know, asking the fish, what it’s like to live in the ocean? And the fish says, “What’s the ocean?” It’s just home.
All of us are so immersed in romance culture, we don’t even know that we’re in it until we stop to look around us and notice how many, through Hollywood, through pop music, through fashion, through art, through so many parts of our lives have been influenced by looking for the one that we can’t help, but think it’s real until it doesn’t work out for us.
And then we internalize it and then we think it must be me. without even thinking for a second that maybe it’s the culture that’s wrong.
This episode is supported by The Pleasure Chest, my favorite place to shop for toys, lube and more to make the most of your sex life. They offer free, discreet shipping over $75 and it’s super easy to find exactly what you’re hoping for on their website—whether that’s a new vibe, dildo, cock ring or kink set. Learn more and start shopping at thepleasurechest.com. Again, that’s The Pleasure Chest at thepleasurechest.com.
If anxiety plays a seemingly unhelpful role in your desire or sex life – which is also common – Cyndi recommends working with someone who specializes in somatics. Therapies and practices that can help us not only manage or cope with difficult emotions, but get more in touch with pleasure.
August: You also talk about somatics, which I love. Could you briefly define what that is for folks who don’t know, and then what role can somatics play in any challenges around desire?
Cyndi: So somatics is basically the practice of feeling your body, noticing that you have a body that you’re not just ahead on a stick. So an example of that right now August I could say to you, can you feel the heel on your left foot? And then can you feel the back of your right knee?
And can you feel the inside of your left ear? And can you feel the inside of your left ear and also notice the rise and fall of your chest with your breathing? Can you concentrate on both of those things at the same time?
So somatics is the practice of being able to be with the body despite what the mind is thinking. So even if your mind is thinking, oh, I’ve gotta take the dog out. I’ve gotta put the trash out. I’ve gotta do the grocery shopping. I’ve gotta call my boss, whatever, whatever, that you’re still able to be with your body. And you’re able to choose between the narrative in your head and then actually what’s physically happening in the body. So this is the practice of somatics broadly.
In a sex context, being able to tune into the body, especially when the mind is going off on a tangent, it’s really helpful to be able to sometimes override the mind because often the mind will be going, you know, with chitter chatter and often stuff that’s not especially helpful, stuff that can distract us, stuff that can make us panic, stuff that can make us worry.
And it’s often not based in fact, it’s just based in historical stuff that may not actually be happening in the moment. And for a lot of people that can be a passion killer that can certainly be a desire killer.
So the reason that somatic work is so important in helping us cultivate desire, especially for people, for whom horniness is a struggle, we need to understand that. Like I was saying before, sometimes we have to start doing things, making out, kissing, touching, rubbing, massaging, allowing the body to start having blood flow happening because that’s what arousal is. It’s the presence of blood moving through the body under the skin.
That when we start to experience arousal, we are actually able to stay with the sensations in the body long enough for then for desire to emerge, which for some people can take, you know, 30, 45 minutes in some cases. This is completely normal.
I really want people who are listening to understand that this notion of being in a state of desire within 30 seconds, it can happen for some people. But for a lot of people it does not function like that. And that is completely normal.
You don’t have to change how you respond sexually just to impress the person that you’re with. If you are a slow burn, it’s okay to be that way.
And so this is where somatics comes into it, because if the narrative in your head is, “oh, I’m taking too long, this is taking too long, my partner’s gonna get bored. I’m gonna get bored. It shouldn’t be like this. I wish I was somebody else. I wish I was with somebody else.” You know, whatever goes on in your head, all of that stuff takes you out of your body.
And then you’re just lying there, she said. Like a bag of wet sand, having thoughts.
Cyndi: There’s no sensation going on. So the practice of being able to feel your body, being able to feel your skin, being able to feel things like pressure and sensation and weight and temperature and texture and all of these kinds of things.
And be able to feel what’s going on inside your body, as well as outside your body enables you to have more leverage, enables you to have more skills at navigating sex, rather than just running with the story that’s in your head.
So instead of thinking about your grocery list or what you need to do tomorrow or what your butt looks like, you can be more present. Cyndi said it’s like that saying you may have heard, that:
Cyndi: Being present simply means being able to have your mind and your body on the job, whatever the job is at the same time. And in this case, we’re talking about sex. Can you have your mind and your body on the job at least momentarily, when you’re engaging in sex? And then for long enough, you know, over back to back sessions, to allow for the desire to start to emerge?
I love that she used the word “momentarily.” Feeling connected to the present during sex doesn’t require doing away with all other thoughts, which isn’t possible or easy for many folks.
As we’ve talked about before here, if your mind feels busy or distracted, arousal can take over as you move along — making it a very centering, soothing thing. In the meantime, take those moments to check in.
Going back to responsive desire, I asked Cyndi about the role turning ourselves on might play in all of this. Because it could be easy to assume that responsive desire makes us dependent on someone else. Someone else to seduce us or “get us there.” But that’s far from the case.
Cyndi: Some people, find that their turn ons are mental. And so that could be thinking about things, hearing things, reading things, anything that sort of engages the mind in stories of pleasure and eroticism that engage that part of ourselves.
For some people, that preparation might be physical. So it might involve, masturbating a little bit. It might involve making sure that your vibrators are fully charged and ready to go.
It might involve quietening, the fear stories in your head about, you know, do you smell funny? Do you feel funny? That you wanna take a shower and make sure that all your bits are washed and everything’s clean, that the sheets on the bed are clean? That you know, the door is locked and the phone is silent and you’re not gonna be interrupted. For some people that is a way of engaging in preparation. So that notion of sort of responding, you are responding to things around you, but you’re not necessarily responding to a person, although that can be part of it.
You are also responding to a series of contexts and conditions, many of which you have a lot of control over. And I think one of the big things that people need to remember is that if you have this passive kind of relationship with sex, where sex is something that’s done to you, where sex is something where you get taken on a journey.
Even if that’s you want and that’s okay to want it, you still have to be able to participate in creating that journey for yourself. It’s unlikely that someone is going to be able to access those deep parts of you without your permission, first of all. And secondly, without you really even knowing what those parts are. You don’t need to have a crystal clear vision of them, but you at least need to be curious.
You need to be willing to be curious about yourself and find out, well, what are the conditions that best suit me? And, and sort of work backwards from times when it’s been good, to work out, if I were to take a wild guess about the kinds of things that are gonna get me in the mood, what would those things be?
She said your desire history is a great indicator of where your desire future is going to lie.
Cyndi: But you have to pay attention to the clues that your body has been giving you. And if you’re not paying attention to your body, if you’re not paying attention to your feelings, and you’re only stuck in the sort of in the anxious thoughts, then you might miss a lot of vital information, and I’m not saying that to shame anybody. I’m saying that to say, hey, it’s kind of like wrong way. Go back. It’s over here, move in a different direction. Start paying attention to your body. Start paying attention to when sex has been good, historically, because that’s gonna give you some of the clues you need to move in a helpful direction to go forward.
August: That sounds so much more positive.
August: And enjoyable. It almost sounded like a, not a game, but like a, you know, a mysterious puzzle that you want to play because it’s leading to pleasure and it’s leading to connection or whatever it is that you enjoy from sex. Instead of self shame, that curiosity seems really, really powerful. I love that.
Cyndi: It’s so important. You know, you have to be interested in yourself, at a minimum. To have good sex, you have to pay attention to what you like. And then it’s easier to show up for other people and find out what they like.
But even if you are kind of in a submissive sort of role, and you just want to be taken on a journey and you’re like, you know, just, take me away to do whatever you want, even then there needs to be some sort of framework, some sort of guidelines around, you know, when I’m having a good time my body responds like this, or when I’m having a good time, these are the kinds of noises I make, or when I’m having a good time, these are the ways that my body will quiver and shake and move.
You need to at least know those things so you can tell your partner I’m gonna be really passive in this session, but these are the things you need to know to be able to read my body, to know that I’m having a good time. And only you know what those things are.
August: I love that. And I know your book has so many wonderful tools and wisdom and insights to guide people through this journey with ourselves. What would you most like people to know about your book?
Cyndi: I would like them to know that the, the book is the best way I can take you by the hand and teach you all the steps you need to go through to work out what your erotic template is. So your erotic template is effectively the user guide, the manual to how you like sex being.
And then at the end of the book, if you’ve gone through and done all the activities and all the suggestions and all the exercises you will effectively have your erotic template, which is gonna be that user guide that you can then share with a prospective partner, not necessarily in a written format, although you could, but at least when a, when you’re with a prospective partner or a current partner and they say, so, you know, what kind of sex do you like?
You can actually say, I know how to answer that question. I can actually tell you what I like. I can tell you the kinds of things that create desire for me and it’s these things.
The next part is talking about that with a partner and sometimes you’re gonna come across things that are gonna be different and not to panic when things are different.
These differences are a good thing. These differences are what creates spice and sparkle and, and enthusiasm. You’re never gonna find a partner who is a hundred percent exactly wanting sex in the same way at the same time, in the same, everything as you, that is normal. Don’t think for a second that your relationship is falling apart, if you’re not 100% on the same page sexually. And this is why it’s so important that you see it as a quest and not as a problem. And this book is designed to take you literally step by step through all the things that you need to know about how to create a sex life, whether you’re single or partnered, that is fulfilling and honest and erotically charged.
Learn more about Cyndi Darnell and her work at cyndidarnell.com. Click the books tab (or the link in the show notes) to save 30% on her book, Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It: The Truth about Mismatched Libido and Rediscovering Desire.
And, if you’re enjoying Girl Boner Radio, I would so appreciate a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or the iTunes Store — and if you’d share links with your friends. You can also support the show, and get fun extras, by joining my community at Patreon.com/girlboner. Lastly, I won’t be releasing an episode next week. I’ll be back with more fun stories and practical tips after that.
Thanks so much for listening (or reading!).
[outro music that makes you wanna dance…]