P is for Pleasure: How to Focus on Pleasure and Leave Pressure in the Dust


Last week we talked about the key elements of orgasm including the body, mind, and vulnerability.  Although it is helpful to know what is needed to contribute to the potential experience of an orgasm, I want to emphasize that orgasm does not necessarily need to be the sole pleasure goal when enjoying intimacy with your partner. Instead, intimacy is about a shared pleasurable connection and the best way to do this is to expand your intimacy focus so that you have a whole array of pleasurable ways to connect that isn’t focused just on orgasm.

Move Away From Pressure

Despite what gets drilled in our heads about what intimacy and pleasure are “supposed” to look like, an intimate connection does not have to include your genitals, penetration, or even orgasm. Including these aspects doesn’t define whether or not that sexual experience is a success or not. Yes, it can be a nice part of the experience but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t mean you failed or the whole thing didn’t matter. If we think it does then this often provides a lot of pressure, which tends to lead to avoidance of having intimacy with a partner.

Because what if you don’t want to step onto the all-or-nothing escalator of sex and feel stuck that once you step on you are committed to “the top”. What if instead what you really want to do is kiss and cuddle in bed. Intimacy isn’t about following a script, it’s instead an opportunity for shared pleasurable connection. You do this by creating wiggle room for what you want intimacy to look like for you and your partner and not what it’s supposed to look like.

The Pleasure Pie

A good way to consider the possibilities of pleasurable ways to connect in your relationship is to ditch the escalator mentality and embrace the “pleasure pie” concept. Each yummy slice represents a different way for you and your partner to share in connection and pleasure. You can enjoy multiple slices or one slice. You can change it up each time you are intimate: once slice today, 5 slices next week. And there is no particular order that you need to enjoy those slices. Any way you cut it (ha, see what I did there) you get to enjoy intimate connection and pleasure with your partner.

I want to emphasize that regardless of the number of slices you enjoy during your intentional intimacy time together there is no good/bad success/failure. I mean, how could you go wrong with a yummy pie slice of pleasure? You can’t fail with a pleasurable connection. Also, don’t go comparing your pleasure pie to other couple’s pies. What you and your partner decide to include on the slices of your pleasure pie is up to you and is not comparable to others. Bake your own pie if you will. Oh, and if you don’t like pie feel free to imagine cake, or maybe a yummy cheesecake, OR pizza. Speaking of pizza, the video below is super helpful when thinking about negotiating activities, avoiding the all-or-nothing trap and “winning”.

Now It’s Your Turn

I want you to list out all the different pleasurable and connecting ways that you would want to share in intimacy with your partner. This list makes up the slices of your wheel of pleasure and connection. Example slices may be penetration and it may be suds and up in the shower. It may be a foot massage. It may be oral sex. It may be holding hands on the couch. It may be toys. It may be a naked cuddle.

I also want your partner to participate in the creation of the pleasure wheel so that this isn’t just about you but both of you. Intimacy is a shared space and so both need to be involved. Once you have your pleasure slices, on your intimacy night you both have options to choose from and negotiate from so you both feel good. You could pick one slice of exchanging naked massages in bed. Or perhaps you exchange naked massages in bed and then you enjoy the “make out” slice of pie.

Again, the idea is that it doesn’t have to lead anywhere and it doesn’t have to end in orgasm. You are not obligated to go up that escalator. If the slices of pie you and your partner choose end up in that order, that’s OK! It just doesn’t have to. As long as you both are wanting to enjoy those slices then you get to enjoy as many as you want and in whatever order. Just as long as you both are on board with both saying yes and you both are enjoying the connection and pleasure.

Things to Remember:

  • Orgasm is not the goal

  • You aren’t obligated to the escalator of sex

  • Intimacy is mutual pleasure and connection

  • Don’t compare your pleasure pie to others

  • The number of slices and the order doesn’t matter

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