Sex on the menu? Make it slow dining
6 JUNE 2016
I have always thought of sex in terms of meals. Snack sex, junk sex, gourmet sex, solo sex as a bit of a nibble between main meals.
There’s the “Sorry I’m too full” sex where halfway through one would rather go to sleep — “But thanks, that was nice.” There’s the all-night degustation; the dreaded “steak and three veg” (squeaking mattress in the dark), which is OK when trying to write a column in one’s head but not great on the fine-dining scale. There’s the calorie burner; the order-in for one; the “all you can eat” (let’s just say with visitors); the tapas plate; and the creme de la creme dessert.
One of my favourites is what I’d call “warm cocoa and cake” sex. Nourishing to the soul, sweet to the senses. It’s the kind of rainy-Sunday sex where one wants to lie in bed, read papers and just laugh and cuddle up. But during cuddles it becomes suddles. A transition state without the champagne zing. Rather more like a hot chocolate in front of a slow-burning fire.
I started thinking about all the different forms of lovemaking and coupling as I read a story the other day on sex as we get older. A recent survey confirmed what I have found: sexual interest doesn’t wane so much as transform with age, with new experiences, tempos, tastes and fantasies emerging, adding layers to the mix. And maturity allows in more subtle dishes and flavours where once it was all calorie-buster, degustation or much-as-you-can-eat buffet.
The survey, commissioned by the makers of Trojan products and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, asked Canadians aged between 40 and 59 to reveal their sexual habits.
“There is a public perception that as we age, sex becomes less important, less enjoyable and less frequent,” says Robin Milhausen, sexuality and relationship researcher at the University of Guelph in Ontario. “The study findings indicate that most mid-life Canadians are indeed leading satisfying and active sexual lives.”
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they had a pleasurable experience the last time they had sex. And those sexual encounters are “happening at a pretty healthy frequency”, the survey reveals.
The word frequency is the key. I was involved in The Great Australian Sex Survey that News Limited conducted when I was a sexuality and relationships writer more than a decade ago. We found that couples in long-term relationships were likelier to have sex once a week to once a month rather than twice a day. The Canadian survey says more than one-third of its respondents are once-a-weekers.
But both the News Limited and the Canadian surveys show that when people in this demographic have sex it is good or good enough, and many have declared themselves to be very satisfied.
Satisfaction levels could be put down to the finding that a surprising 63 per cent of Canadians surveyed feel more adventurous sexually than they did a decade ago,
Couples — of all ages and backgrounds, short and long-termers — are responsible for 75 per cent of money spent in the Australian sex industry: sex toys, videos and services. This compares with the 10 per cent of previous years, when the industry was dominated by the male raincoat brigade.
Interviews I have conducted across many years show that openness and experimentation have become more commonplace in the suburbs. People are now interested in bits ’n’ pieces of sex: oral sex, sex toys and erotic videos.
Even mild fetishism is quite acceptable because prime-time television and advertising have made it all so accessible. Books and films such as Fifty Shades of Grey and online porn are giving people permission to explore.
Many people I talk to — single or in relationships — are having a go, which they say is adding fire to their tired old sex lives.
Sites such as Adult Matchmaker makes finding swingers, clubs and parties so easy.
But there is also something erotic about the opposite: exploring areas that are not so adventurous; letting go of expectation and just allowing for pleasure.
It’s redefining what sex is. Moving away from the hot, passionate pelvis-grinding version towards gourmet.
As one friend says: “It isn’t as regular but it is more tantalising.”
I take my inspiration from a favoured book, The Love Keys — now republished as The Heart of Tantric Sex — and its sequel Slow Sex by Diana Richardson of Loveforcouples.com.
Richardson, a remedial massage teacher and facilitator of intimacy workshops in Switzerland with her husband and co-author Michael (a tai chi master), says of maturing sex: “Arousal is not a prerequisite. You don’t need to heat up with excitement. Instead, you discover how to fall back into your body, to be more aware and relaxed, with a sense of not really going anywhere special. It doesn’t require lots of energy to engage in or sustain slow sex.”
She told me during an interview when she was visiting a few years ago that the friction of “normal sex” dulls the body’s capacity to experience and receive electromagnetic energy.
“Like the guitarist who develops calluses on his fingers, our genitals have become worn, tired, needing more and more stimulation on a gross level to feel alive; thus we thrust faster, rub harder, think up fantasies or yearn for stimulants such as new partners, to keep ourselves excited.”
Richardson claims that by lying together over time, connected at the genitals, in stillness, the polarities become sensitive again to their magical capacities and start “sparking”. The mere act of resting in a relaxed-aroused state can lead couples to a bliss so intense as to be overwhelming.
I guess this is what I would call suddles, the magical cuddle-sex blend. She says chi energy starts moving up the spine, particularly if combined with deep breathing, intense eye contact and other techniques outlined in her books that keep the lovers “present in the moment”. “It’s like electric charges running through the body and can go on for ages.”
Richardson isn’t suggesting there should be no movement in sex, rather that couples move together very slowly, consciously, and as a unit, rolling with each other, changing positions, as opposed to the “desensitising”, orgasm-oriented grinding we take for granted is sex.
She says true pleasure comes from relaxation, not furious, goal-oriented excitement. The pleasure lies in the journey, not the arrival. Which for those of us who are tired at the end of the day or week — or simply getting older — can feel reassuring.
It’s slow-food dining. But I can testify with a grin that it works. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
COMMENTS REPUBLISHED FROM THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER
It sounds like a lot of work and a lot more time, whats the point?
If you wait for your wife to be ready, youll often be waiting a long time.
Mixing the food and sex mataphors and language up isnt appealing to me.
Having a sucky sex life in my 30s and then somehow discovering this wonderful sex life when im in my 50s isnt going to help me much I dare say. Its just more stuff to do for the sake of doing it. Be honest now, do you do it anywhere as much as you eat desserts?