We all have them. Sometimes they’re around how we want our mate to ‘be” with us – things we wish they would say, ways we would like to be treated, and words we would like to have spoken to us and these things may or may not come from what we see modelled for us. When we live within a couple, there is always a certain amount of vulnerability in just the way that we live; our partners see us when we are sick, not wearing any make-up, and when we are hurt or tired or stressed. In our intimate lives with our partners, we trust them enough to shed our clothes and inhibitions and make love with us. Inherent in this is a ‘nakedness’ that others don’t get to see – scars, extra body weight that we may have stories about, and past traumas that have occurred to our bodies are on display to be seen. It represents a great deal of trust to be naked with the person that we love and live with, and slide against each other as we sweat, in pursuit of orgasmic pleasure. There are bodily fluids and messiness and understanding when our bodies betray us and allow an embarrassing thing to escape (oops! I tooted!) at odd times. We are flushed and sweating and making animalistic sounds. Oh, isn’t sex great?
At the other side of all this, though, are our sexual fantasies. They can range from sweet and sensuous, to perhaps a little more risqué; being woken up in the midst of a dream to fumble in the sleepy dark together, elaborate role-play that involves costumes and an anonymous pick-up at a bar, rope systems, a bit of Fifty Shades pain, or even ones around humiliation where you would like for your partner to urinate on you.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that fantasies
can be all over the map and not one of ’em is wrong.
As with many facets of relationships, we also carry with us stories, stigmas and shame about our fantasies and what they might say about us. We know that “a good girl would never ask for that to happen” or that “my partner would laugh at me if I even brought that up!” We happily participate in sexual relations, but often bite our tongues when it comes to sharing what we really want and what we think about.
So what would it take for you to enter into this deeper level of intimacy with your partner? What would it take for you to hear your partner’s fantasy about his desire to wear your panties to a party without responding with judgment? How would that look? And what if, when you mentioned wanting to explore, say, beastiality, for instance, and were met with a grimace and a raised eyebrow, you bravely continued the conversation and asked for understanding and an honest discussion about it? What if your partner, in the darkness of your afterglow, said, “You know, I would really like for us to have sex in front of a bunch of people – that would really turn me on.” What would your reaction be? How would you support that very honest admission and create a safe place for exploration?
Very often, we have to agree to go to this level of ‘nakedness’ together, to agree and design to admit when we’re uncomfortable but also honour our partner’s thoughts. When your spouse comes to you and expresses a desire to have sex with another man, for instance, rather than go to a defensive place where your inner voices are shouting about jealousy, and threats to your relationship and, and, and, what if you tried a different tack? What if you acknowledged what a huge leap of trust it took for them to share with you? What if you simply said “Wow, sweetie, you really caught me off guard there, but I can tell this is important to you and I want to hear more about it”?
When we are truly vulnerable with other people, when we let them see us sweat, and cry and be wildly afraid, that is when we both create huge, deep levels of intimacy, and at the same time, we also create a safe place for them to share.
Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation, perhaps at a funeral. A woman walks into the room and maybe she has toilet paper clinging to the back of her shoe. You’re mourning, you’re present to what’s happening and the ceremony of it all, but you can’t help yourself, you chuckle. Maybe you stifle it with a cough, looking around the room to see if anyone has noticed that you laughed at a funeral! What that innocuous piece of toilet paper did was give you permission to express what was happening for you. It allowed you to be vulnerable.
If we all worked to create spaces for vulnerability in others with our own, then we would have a world where yes, there would still be uncomfortable moments, and incredulous shock when our partners share something we aren’t expecting to hear, but there would also be curiosity instead of judgment and acceptance instead of perception of a threat.
So this is your invitation: dip your toe into your own vulnerability, get just a little bit more naked with the people that you already love and trust. You’ll create an atmosphere for others to join you. Share a fantasy. Talk about what really scares you. You might just be surprised at what you discover.