Are you always passive or inhibited during sex?
Are you always passive during sex? questions and answers
How might the more passive partner try to break out of his or her passive role and start initiating sex? It would be wonderful to have some very practical tips and strategies here...
There are two key ways to break free of a passive sexual role. The first is through clear, honest and loving communication with their partner. The second comes from within and tackling the way they think and feel about their sexual self. The best way to develop clear, honest and loving communication is to start with "I statements" that indicate you're claiming responsibility for you're part of the relationship and the specific conversation. For example, say, "I feel a bit insecure about X, Y or Z", rather then beating-around-the-bush. Always prefix any tricky or sensitive statements or conversations with something positive. You can do this by highlighting something positive that’s happened between you two before bringing up something more sensitive. Next it's important to keep statements simple for clarity’s sake. You can best do this by tackling one small area or small step you'd like to take at a time, rather than having a big conversation about loads of issues or dilemmas. Finally, never be frightened of letting your partner in by disclosing some of your insecurities and worries. This will encourage them to open up themselves and you develop a sense of mutual support. Let them know if you worry about making the first move and why you worry about it. Perhaps you were once rebuffed and that painful memory lurks inside you. Opening up this conversation will help to create a more honest atmosphere that's relationship-enhancing.
When it comes to breaking free of your passive role within yourself, try these little tricks. Identify a positive role model - a really sexy, confident, powerful woman that you admire. Adopt them as your personal - and private - role model and think about how they’d cope with the little hurdles in relationships. Imagine how they would allow themselves to be more active, rather than passive, in a sexual relationship. Let yourself adopt their style of coping with insecurities and relating. Next, really get to know your own body and how it responds sexually. It's very empowering to learn how to pleasure yourself and identify what feels good and what doesn't. When you know more about your own sexual responses you feel more confident about sharing these with your partner and taking a more active role. The next step is to familiarise yourself with your fantasy life. Allow your mind to break free of your passive role and fantasise about being a feisty, empowered sex siren. Once you find a fantasy that turns you on and places you square-and-centre in an active sexual role you could share this with your partner.
How might they tackle any embarrassment/fear of rejection that might surface?
By building up trust and mutual respect in their relationship generally, and their sexual relationships specifically, partners are more likely to feel less embarrassed and fear of rejection is greatly diminished. Simple "trade-offs" and trust exercises can build this confidence. For example, they can give each other permission to trade-off one particular concern or worry. These trade-offs can cover any of their worries or anxieties and can even be written down. If a couple prefers to write them down then they can take turns to read them. Trade-offs might include one partner saying that they worry they’ll sound silly when they sigh or moan during lovemaking. The other partner then trades off one of their worries and admits, e.g., that they worry their skin doesn't feel soft enough to be sensual and sexy. Each reassures the other verbally or looks to finding a mutually satisfying solution to the worry. Simple trust exercises can include things like allowing their partner to choose a sexy outfit to for them to wear or taking turns in a sensually-lit room being blindfolded while they allow their partner to caress them.
Why is it so hard to break out of the sexual patterns that we end up in? Is it possible to change and how quickly might we expect change?
Just as with any social and emotional role it can be quite difficult to break free of the sexual role that you've adopted and to change patterns of sexual behaviour. This is because our roles become like a habit. We go into auto-pilot and fall back into this mode of relating as soon as the possibility of sex or behaviours around sex arise. That said, I have a huge belief in the power people have to be courageous, decide what they want change about their life, and then take the steps to put their desires into action. Change can happen quite quickly for some people. As soon as they identify a new way to communicate or feel a little more secure about themselves through something like learning about their own body, change can be rapid. With a willing and sensitive partner change is also more likely to happen quickly.
Anecdotally it seems many women have been socialised to adopt the more passive role sex. Could you say a little bit about this, and why it seems to be the case?
At an anecdotal level many women appear to be socialised to adopt the more passive role. Until recently it's been considered unacceptable for a woman to be the pursuer or initiator. However this is definitely changing and due to these changes many men are concerned that a sexual relationship is balanced and fair to both partners. They actually want women to give clear signals of sexual desire.
Looking at more formal roleplay and how it can invigorate a long-term sex life, could you suggest some tips/tricks/strategies in this arena which might help couples break out of the respective roles they have assigned themselves?
There's definitely a certain "etiquette" to role-play so that both partners feel comfortable with it. First off, through mutual enjoyment of chatting about each other's fantasies they should identify any overlap in their fantasies. Perhaps they both find that they quite like the idea of a fantasy where she plays an active role. Once they’ve decided the content of this fantasy they can have fun deciding what props or even "costumes" will be needed to develop this into a role-play. This should always be done in a trusting and loving atmosphere without either person feeling pressure to play out the fantasy.