A Circular View of Sexual Play

Published author Cabby Laffy talks about redefining how partners negotiate their sexual repertoire…

What we are taught about pleasure; sexual intimacy and our sexuality, as distinct from reproductive abilities, is limited. Our goal-orientated view of sex implies a progression through activities; some desirable, some only to pave the way and allow for penetration/intercourse and thrusting, which should lead to (male) ejaculation/orgasm. This marginalises other sexual orientations and minimises the many other satisfying sexual behaviours people engage in, as ‘just foreplay’ or somehow lesser than the real thing. It encourages the belief about sex as something we do, rather than about being a sexual person. A circular view of sex allows us to flow in and out of whichever behaviours we are in the mood for, in whichever order we choose, bringing and allowing for creativity and spontaneity in our sexual encounters. In this way we might think of sex as a delicious buffet of tempting ‘foods’ (activities, ways of being sexual), rather than a three-course meal.

Clients can often talk about feeling stuck, bored or even like they are lacking in desire completely. A good starting point can be to ask “What does sex mean to you?” and encouraging people to talk about their ‘sexual lives’ rather than just sex. In many cases, particularly in heterosexual couples,  this will be a goal driven model of penetration and this can be an unspoken agreement. 

Using the model below, you can invite clients (individuals or relationship clients alike) to cross out any activities they don’t want in their buffet menu and add in any sexual activities that they want to include. Those in relationships can then compare their choices and draw up a menu that works for them both/ all.

Having ‘a sexuality’; being a sexual being, includes a desire for pleasure and often a desire for other. It hooks our curiosity and our desire to play and have fun. Sexual desire is a reflex; a sexual energy charge in the body, causing many physiological changes and feelings and emotions. By becoming more conscious of our desires, what turns us on and what turns us off, physically, emotionally and psychologically, we become more aware of our feelings about these desires. When we are also more conscious about our values and beliefs about sexuality, we can consider options and make choices about which ways of expressing ourselves and which sexual behaviours will enhance our sexual self-esteem. Connecting more with the idea of being sexual and of sexuality as a subjective experience, we can see how objectifying our current perceptions are. 

You can purchase a copy of LoveSex: An Integrative Model for Sexual Education (UKCP Karnac) and an 10th Year anniversary update will be with landing this summer. 

Would you like to know more about professional training in working with sexual issues? Our 8-day certificate course run at The Grove will support  therapists/counsellors to become more skilled in working with this topic.