Back to School
...and Back to Priorities
September is back-to-school time, complete with new routines, goals and projects, whether or not a return to formal studies is part of your or your family’s life. However, our renewed expectations of all that we want to accomplish in the Fall can lead to stress, fatigue and feelings of being overwhelmed leaving our lives devoid of sensual connections with ourselves and others that bring us deep pleasure, satisfaction, joy, and peace. These are the moments where we take the time to really taste and savour the new harvest, to smell the autumn leaves, and to consciously notice our physical and emotional sensual energy subtly bubbling under the surface. They are also the moments where we can enjoy the erotic intimacy with ourselves and/or a partner.
Erotic connection offers many benefits: it reduces stress, brings us pleasure and re-energizes us with feel-good endorphins. At the beginning of a relationship, the chemical changes in the brain drive us to create these erotic moments spontaneously and regularly. After a few years of familiarity and busy schedules, intimate connection often becomes less regular and relegated for the end of the day or even pushed to the weekend or next holiday. When we do engage, our erotic interactions can often start to feel awkward, unfulfilling or like another task on the list of chores. Yet we might yearn for the pleasure and connection that we used to often and spontaneously enjoy, unclear as to how to manifest it again naturally.
Create the Moments. If we are going to enjoy the intimacy we desire, we need to create it. This involves planning and setting goals. Many folks judge planned erotic connections as trite, as though they necessarily negate their natural authenticity. Reflect, however on a typical day. Most of our days are planned. Exercise routines, professional appointments, vacations and new creative ventures all require some degree of scheduling. There is no down side in planning our dates any more than planning anything else that is important to us. Moreover, those of us with challenges such as chronic fatigue, pain or children in the house need to factor into our planning those times when we are most rested, when our bodies are in the least amount of pain and when the kids are otherwise occupied.
Make a Date- or More! Start by looking at your schedule and plan a date with yourself and/or a partner if you have one. Many couples plan times to “be together” in order to maintain a frequency that nourishes the relationship. Frequency depends upon the people and their situations: there is no right or normal standard. For some it is a regularly scheduled ‘date night’ while others’ schedules dictate more irregular date times. Some find that one person planning a spontaneous encounter for the other is the best recipe for them. Others love to take turns in the planning. Or a date can be booked while the details can be spontaneous and unfold in the moment according to mood. The goal is to create times to nourish the relationship, prioritizing and structuring time together to best meet everyone’s needs.
Anticipatory Eroticism Have a discussion about planning (using this article can be a good start!) or send an email asking your partner when they are available for a surprise date you have planned. Take the time to notice the effect of the discussion and planning on you (and your partner). Some find that the planning actually builds the anticipatory eroticism. This is the same excitement that you may have felt earlier on in the relationship when you had planned something new for each other. We can always create this same sense of newness and anticipation again. Further enhance the erotic tension through sending short text or email messages with hints of what you have planned or expressing what excites you about the date to come: sharing much- needed time together, reconnecting, pleasure and/or adventure.
Don’t Sweat It! Some will envision this type of planning as an extra task with added pressure in an already stressful life. Yet the plan does not have to be elaborate or fancy. It can begin with your favourite drinks and nibbles, a feather or massage oil, a bath or movie. For more creative ideas, there are plenty of resources to inspire you. Susie Bright’s “I Dare You” set of cards for couples of all descriptions initiates a conversation or activity with intelligent yet sexy questions and ideas. Alternatively, Laura Corn’s books such as “You Still Give Me Butterflies” for heterosexual couples contains recipes and a year’s worth of fun new adventures with minimal effort. The only suggestion for success is to make sure that you plan something you both enjoy and that you plan something a little different- not necessarily wild, but just not the same as the several dates.
Enjoy planning your times and hopefully you will discover, like many others, that although it requires a little extra time and effort (similar to an exercise routine or plan for personal growth), the time you spend creating and enjoying erotic time together will help reduce the stress in your life and add more intimacy and smoothness to your relationship. Many couples find that as a result each partner is more generous with their share of the chores, compliments and loving ways. A win-win for everyone!