We’re continuing our series on empowering conversations this week, and today we’re talking about initiating in the bedroom. We live so readily in isolation on this topic, and women often suffer in silence. So we’re opening up the conversation in the hopes that us having an open, empowering conversation about this might encourage all my Diamonds out there to do the same.
Coach Donna is back with me this week to talk this through. We have known each other for several years and she also works with women in midlife to help them reimagine what’s possible for the second half of their lives and transform into that.
Listen in as we discuss why women tend to avoid initiating in the bedroom and why taking initiative with intimacy seems to carry so much weight. Discover how to start initiating, even if you’ve never initiated before, and how to have a beautiful, healthy, intimate relationship.
You are listening to The Midlife Sex Coach for Women™ Podcast episode 63.
Welcome to The Midlife Sex Coach for Women™ Podcast, the only show that combines a fun personality, medical knowledge, sexual counseling, and life coaching together. To create unique sex coaching that helps busy women awaken their libidos, address intimacy issues, and learn how to express their sexuality for the rest of their days. Here is your host, certified life coach and sexual counselor, Dr. Sonia Wright.
Hello, hello, hello Diamonds, so good to see you. I am so excited that you’re here. We are continuing our series on empowering conversations. And it is me, myself and I and Coach Donna which I introduced you to last week. And I’m going to introduce you to – well, actually I’m going to have her introduce herself. But she is fabulous. I adore here. Her name is Donna Jennings. And Donna, tell us who you are, Coach Donna.
Donna: Hey, hey, hey, nice to be here. Thank you. Always fun to spend some time with you, Dr. Sonia. So I’m Donna Jennings, Donna Jennings Coaching. And I work with women in midlife to reimagine what is possible. So midlife is not just a gateway to everything being downhill. But we can thrive and really enjoy the second half of our lives. And I help women in that transition be able to do that. And we have a lot of fun.
Sonia: Yeah, this is why I love you, because you’re helping women to thrive. And also I love you just because we are coaching classmates. We graduated from The Life Coach School together. We certified in 2018. And it just has been a wonderful friendship that we’ve developed over the years. And I just love talking with you any opportunity that I get. So today I wanted to talk to you about initiating. I did a podcast about initiating a couple of podcasts ago.
And then I wanted to do more than just do the podcast. I really wanted to have a conversation so that my Diamonds could listen, and ponder, and kind of think of things a different way. And so I wanted to talk about initiating. And I came up with that brilliant idea to equate it to sports in some ways, and to batting averages. And we as women, we don’t want to initiate it. Society says that it should be something along gender lines. And it should be something that men do more so than women which is not true.
But because society says it should be and we kind of are trained in that to believe, and to think, and to agree with it, we go along with it. But then we get to this place where women are not used to initiating. They’re not used to initiating and then they’re also not used to somebody saying anything less than yes. They’re only going to initiate if there’s 100% yes response. But if you’re only willing to initiate when you get 100% yes response then you’re not going to initiate as often as you might otherwise initiate.
And you don’t get a tough skin. You don’t get used to the idea that your partner sometimes gets to say no or as many times as they want to they get to say no. So this is also something that we don’t have in our minds. And we get into this situation where we have some difficulty and then we don’t try at all. So we are starting to talk about batting averages. So what do you think about this idea of equating initiating with batting averages? I was trying to come up with something like it doesn’t have to be a home run every time. It doesn’t have to be a batting average of 1,000, right?
Donna: Right. And I love this analogy. I grew up playing baseball. And I actually play in a women’s baseball league. And as I contemplated this and there’s something called on base percentage that has some tremendous advantages to winning the game. So it’s a ratio of the number of times somebody gets on base relative to the number of times they get up to the plate. So you don’t just increase your on base percentage by taking a swing at it and hitting it out of the ballpark. You just step up to the plate, just give it a try and get on base and what does that look like?
It may simply turn into some intimacy. And it may not be penetrative sex as we talk about. But it would be pleasurable. And though it may feel risky and it may feel vulnerable, well, I mean we consider the other quote in baseball, anyway, oh, actually, yeah. I think Wayne Gretzky actually, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Sonia: Yeah, so that comes from the hockey world, right?
Donna: Yeah, so we’ve got all these metaphors.
Sonia: [Crosstalk], hockey, baseball, whatever. So when we’re thinking about on base percentage and equating it with sexuality then we’re kind of talking about my concept around the sexual smorgasbord. There’s more than one way to have fun at this. And so there’s more than one way to get on to the base.
Although I have to say that in some ways there’s a negative connotation associated with associating baseball with sex and sexuality. Because at one time maybe our generation and the generation before us, base one, if you got to first base or second base with a girl, or third base, or fourth base that meant something, right?
Donna: Yes, fourth base.
Sonia: Fourth base is alright.
Donna: Is getting home. [Crosstalk], just saying.
Sonia: Yeah, right. So I’m not trying to equate it in terms of that type of shit. I’m just trying to equate it in terms of can we look at this a different way? And can we possibly not be too worked up if there’s a no? If we’re going to initiate something we don’t have to have the home run every time. We don’t have to have our partner say, “Absolutely”, every time. I mean our partner’s a human being too. And sometimes they will say yes and sometimes they’ll say no. And it doesn’t mean anything about us, right?
Donna: Yeah. So let’s just even just say another metaphor or it’s really a real life situation. We talk about what we want for dinner or what restaurant we want to go. And if I’m like, “Man, I’m totally up for pizza tonight.” And he’s like, “Yeah, I don’t really feel like pizza.” Do you never bring up wanting to eat out again? So why does taking initiative with intimacy carry so much weight? When we’re just trying to have a meeting together in the middle, so to speak.
But anyway having it coming together for some satisfaction, whether that’s physical satisfaction and intimacy. So what puts all the pressure on that?
Sonia: Because we make it mean something about us. We make it mean rejection if we hear a no. We make it mean that there’s something wrong with us. We make it mean that we’re not attractive anymore. We make it mean so much. And as I was mentioning in the podcast, come up with a list of things, when your mind starts telling you all this foolishness and these lies. You are thinking to yourself, okay, I kind of would be interested in sex right now.
And instead of trying to do this backwards type of thing where you’re like, “Hey”, or you wink at your partner, or you try to get them to understand that you’re in the mood. How about just saying, “Hey, I’m in the mood for a little sex tonight, what do you think, or a little intimacy.” And if they say no, it’s not necessarily the end of the world because we don’t have to make it mean something about us. What if we had that list that our partner made ahead of time. It says, when I say no, this is what I mean.
So you can actually just focus in that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not sexy enough, that you gained 10 pounds and your body’s not the way it should be, that you’re getting older. All these things that our mind starts searching for as to reasons why they would not want to have sex. But for some reason our mind does not search for, in fact, they might be tired tonight. The mind doesn’t search for the fact that they have had a busy day at work and they’re stressed out.
Why is it our mind goes to us and starts thinking of all the things that, you know, because if it’s the other way around with our partner they’re more likely than not to have some ideas of why. And they may also be dealing with feeling rejected. And that’s a matter of also talking to them as well and saying, “Hey, you don’t necessarily have to feel rejected if I say no. There’s other stuff that’s going on in my life and I’m at this place where it’s kind of a no.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to reflect on the other individual.
It’s just we have the right to say no. They have the right to say no and sometimes they’re tired. Sometimes they’ve got things going on in their mind and in their life. And it’s okay for a no. A no doesn’t necessarily kill you or anything.
Donna: Yeah, totally. And I really liked your question. Why do we make it about us? What I’m guessing, that for guys it’s not about – they don’t make it about them if we say, “Oh, I’m so tired, I’ve got a headache.” Because we’re stressed, pulled so many different directions sometimes our emotional bandwidth to be intimate is just not there. And so timing’s not there. Do we judge that? Do they judge that? I think at least my experience is we think about things a lot more than in general guys do, like, “Okay, no.”
And for us it’s like maybe it’s my body. Maybe they’re not interested in me. Maybe I don’t know.
Sonia: I’m wondering here, where does society and the patriarchal society sit in here? Maybe we’ve been learning to blame ourselves because that’s what we’ve been taught. Maybe we’ve been taught that there’s only one way to have sex, there’s only one way to look sexy, there’s only one, such a narrow view of what is sexy. And we have been raised as women as a sexual object and not the sexual subject, not the person taking the action, but the person that is viewed and has to meet a certain criteria.
And so maybe that’s always in the back of our minds that we have to meet a certain criteria in order to be deemed worthy enough, to be sexy enough to have sex with. And so maybe that’s why we are blaming ourselves for this whole scenario. And so that’s something else to take into consideration in terms of the different layers that are there and why do women choose to blame themselves for this situation as opposed to just seeing it as, no, not tonight. But we can choose also to decide and to think what we want to think.
We can choose new thoughts. If these thoughts are not serving us we can let go of the I’m not sexy enough, he doesn’t want me, or she doesn’t desire me, or whatever it is that we’re thinking. We can think new thoughts.
Donna: Yeah. And confidence is incredibly sexy. And is a tremendous turn on. And that was a surprise for me, I think. That was kind of eye-opening. And very often the things that I had in the past found fault with myself, with my appearance, with my body, with whatever, was just not the way he sees me. So he sees me, he sees me. And that’s what he’s attracted to. He wants to be connected with me. And that was eye-opening and has helped me just kind of – and it’s not perfect but move some of those things out of my head.
Particularly when it comes to intimacy, not to judge my cellulite, not judge any changes in my body habitus as far as being attractive to him, and desired by him. And so that also does free me up. That’s also freeing in the brain to not have all those obstacles getting in the way and be boulders to my emotions that gets in the way. And so I would say, and we’re on that same line, if you have the inkling then take a swing, step up to the plate, so to speak, step up to the plate.
Because as soon as you start overthinking it like okay, it’s gone away now, getting lost in the neurology up there somewhere, in all the neurons. Because just taking an initiative is also very sexy.
Sonia: Yeah, definitely. And I like how you’re talking about having to change your mind around thoughts around your body, and cellulite and different things like that. And coming from a different cultural background, I’m African American of Caribbean descent. I know that it’s all thoughts because what the mainstream society says is an attractive woman in terms of body form and stuff like that is not considered attractive within my culture. I mean they’re fine but within my culture as African American of Caribbean descent, curves are appreciated.
And I am always fascinated when I talk to some of my friends and they’re like, “Oh my goodness, my bottom’s getting too big or my thighs are too thick.” And I’m like, “You have got to be kidding me.” So that’s how I know it’s just all thoughts because in my culture the thought is, you’ve got a nice booty, you’ve got some nice thighs, you’re thicker. You’re beautiful. And the same body type might be put into a different culture and then they have a whole different concept about what’s beautiful and what’s not beautiful.
So it’s just all thoughts that we have. And so we can choose to think about those differently. And then I love how you say, you can, you know, if you’re thinking about it, go ahead and do it right away. Go ahead and initiate right away. Don’t wait because then you’re going to talk yourself out of it, so if you’re interested. And you can always initiate with boundaries as well.
If you’re thinking of initiating and then your brain stops you from initiating, figure out what your brain is – maybe your brain’s like, I could kind of have some touching or some pleasure, that would be really good with my partner. But I only have a half hour and this is going to take three hours. Well, if that’s what the thought is then you initiate with some boundaries.
You’re like, “Hey, I’d really kind of like to have some fun here but I only have a half hour and then I need to get to sleep. What are your thoughts about that? Would you be interested in doing something along the lines, maybe not a full penetrative sex but having some fun, some slap and tickle type of thing?”
Donna: Or can you wear me out quick?
Sonia: Yeah, 30 minutes, this is what you’ve got, right?
Donna: That’s right. Tonight I’m not a crock pot, tonight I’m a microwave. Let’s go.
Sonia: Exactly. You put that timer on and have some fun with it. Whatever it is that your mind is saying, just look at what the obstacles are. And you can always come up with a new strategy. But if you just listen to your brain that tells you, they’re not going to be interested or 30 minutes isn’t enough time, or whatever it is. You get to decide. If your brain says, I might be kind of interested but I am kind of tired as well, then come up with a new plan.
Maybe say, “Hey, first thing in the morning, how would you like a little fun if I’m still in the mood?” So there’s a lot of different ways to initiate. But I think society and women in general think that there’s only one way to initiate and you’re only initiating one thing. That when you’re saying, “Hey, I’m in the mood for something”, that means full on penetrative sex. It doesn’t have to at all. It can mean whatever you want it to mean.
And I think that this is where it kind of is helpful for me, not necessarily being in heterosexual relationships where there’s different options as to what is considered intimacy and sexual intimacy. So maybe that’s how my brain sees things in a different way. And so that I can offer that to my Diamonds that it’s okay. You can explore and have fun in a different way as well.
Donna: Yeah. I would say there are two times that really stand out to me that were just like wow. And kind of out of the blue but once was me initiating and the other was him initiating. But we were working around the house and I was up on a ladder doing something and he was down on the floor doing something. And I don’t know, I just kind of looked down and just got this wave of desire.
Sonia: Yeah, if our partners could really understand about foreplay the house would be spotless. Honestly. Such a big turn on when your partner has done the dishes, or the laundry’s done, or the kids are asleep. It’s a huge turn on. And then it’s a turn on but it’s also a wave of love and appreciation. And both of those together, that starts some good hormones flowing. And you’re like, “Hey, how are you doing? You’re looking mighty fine.” When my partner mows the lawn it’s on, I’m just like, “The best thing in the world, this person is, they’re looking so good, oh, look at them.”
Donna: And that lawn mower makes you look hot.
Sonia: They’re all sweaty, they smell like grass and I am right there.
Donna: Batter up!
Sonia: Exactly. Yeah. So what they think is sexy and what I think are sexy are two very different things. But if they have an understanding of love language as well, that plays a role, into what you find attractive and what kind of helps us get in the mood, our accelerators and our brakes, that type of thing.
Donna: Yes. I also notice it sometimes, interestingly enough I will have waves of desire and I’ll feel all mushy. Sometimes it’s mid-morning. Sometimes it’s early afternoon. I’ll be at work but that stands out, oh, hey, how much of this is a pattern? So I can look forward on the weekend. We just had Veterans Day off from work. So what national holidays are going to be available, if that’s a pattern of when you have these surges of emotion?
When I just think about, I just get all warm and fuzzy and usually we text each other and be like, “Hey, I’m just thinking about you. I’m just so grateful for you. I love you.” Sometimes that sets things up for the evening. But even if it doesn’t set it up for the evening, it’s just a pattern to watch where these waves of emotion come from and when they hit. So maybe you can target that timeframe on a day when you’re together, or can you recreate it?
Sonia: You know the best way to recreate it? Well, if that wave comes up, first check and see if you are buffering with sex. Is there something at work that you don’t want to be doing?
Donna: Like I don’t want to be here. Yeah, I’m picking in some ears, nose and throat. Oh man, I’d rather be with my husband right now.
Sonia: And then why don’t you go try to do your taxes or something and put on the list of things like buffer with sex. This might be part of it, but that part of it just may be, yeah, our circadian rhythms and what time of the day are we interested in it? As we get older it may be the middle of day is a good time because you’re more alert at that period of time, or after you work out, we all get a little hit of testosterone. Then you want to tackle somebody.
Donna: Yes. I’ve got to tell you, after your comment about taxes, I’ll never look at a 1040-EZ form again the same way.
Sonia: How you doing?
Donna: Yeah. I’m adding up all these things in the column, anyway. So anyway.
Donna: [Crosstalk] This is what happens when we get together, it’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
Sonia: I’m always laughing because we are so opposite, we are polar, in terms of if somebody were looking at our sexuality and our sexual story. You were a virgin till you got married at 40. Yeah, I lost that thing a long time ago. I wasn’t trying to keep it. You’re relatively religious, I’m more spiritual. You’re monogamous, I am poly. You’re hetero, I’m not.
Donna: The more the merrier, that’s right.
Sonia: But at the same time when we get together and talk, we have these good conversations. And that’s what I like my Diamonds to understand is you don’t have to be one way in order to be comfortable with your sexuality. You can be relatively conservative in your religion and in terms of your relationship with your partner and stuff like that. And you can still have a beautiful, wonderful, healthy sexual relationship which enhances your relationship and makes that a stronger bond. And that’s just what I’m here for.
I’m not here to advocate that everybody become poly, or pansexual or anything like that. I’m just here to say that you get to be a sexual being in whatever way is comfortable for you. And if I can help, and if we can continue that conversation then yeah, let’s continue the conversation, so yeah.
Donna: Because I think we do a disservice to not talk about it in the light. And it’s such a hush, hush topic. I mean I can’t even recall ever talking about sex with my mom, definitely never with my grandmother. And so I think about the next generation, my nieces, nephews, who’s having the conversation with them? Well, they’re going to go and figure things out somewhere. So they’re going to have conversations with kids their own age, or online, or whatever. So initiate it. Don’t pretend it’s not happening.
I think that’s maybe the biggest mistake we can make is just keep brushing it under the rug and be hush, hush, and let it just happen automatically. But that’s why you and what you offer is so important because we live so readily in isolation on this topic. And women suffer in silence. So I have had women come to me as a health practitioner and they’re looking for something that can help them go through the motions because they want to be there for their husband but they personally would be fine if they never did again.
But he’s still stepping up to the plate so they will, and it’s painful so they’re like, “Hey, can you help me through this?” And run the gamut with women with all different needs. And they’ll come talk to a healthcare provider maybe. But otherwise they just suffer in silence maybe thinking, well, this is normal. And it doesn’t have to be.
Sonia: It doesn’t have to be. And that’s really what it’s about. In whatever way that we can be of service and we can help women so that they can find the pleasure in sex and sexuality, find that connection, find that satisfaction. That’s the reason that I do this work is just so, and I try to do it with some fun and amusement because sometimes it’s a difficult conversation to have. And if you can lighten it up a little bit, it makes it better.
And if we can just start people thinking about – if our empowering conversation leads to conversations among the partners about initiating, like, oh, I never really thought of it. Yeah, I guess it was this unwritten rule that if you’re a man you get to initiate. And if you’re a woman you just, you know, well, if you’re lucky and it comes when you’re interested, that type of thing. But we also can empower ourselves to initiate if we would like pleasure, we get to have pleasure, we get to initiate it. And you can initiate in whatever way you want to.
I’m always talking about initiating in terms of speaking but you could initiate in terms of if you want to put a little flower on a door or something.
Donna: A sign.
Sonia: A sign, a flag or whatever it is, if you need to put a green flag outside the door as they enter the house to tell them it could be on if they’re interested.
Donna: We mean go, baby, go time.
Sonia: Yeah, exactly. But also explain what this is. And also consent is important. So recognize that just because there’s a green flag there doesn’t mean that the partner always has to be ready for sex. They get to say no. They get to be tired. They get to not necessarily be in the mood. And it was very enlightening to me to talk to guys and find out reasons why they might not be interested in sex. If they think it’s going to be a quicky and they would like something that’s a little bit more intimate and longer, they might say no.
Or maybe if they’re concerned about performance and do they have their ED meds onboard or something like that? They might say no if they’ve had a stressful day. If they had an argument. Some people think that it doesn’t matter if you have an argument or not, a man is always ready. And that’s not the case, I mean if your partner is a man. So I think that one thing that non-heterosexual couples have an advantage over is that they don’t have things necessarily divided along gender lines where it’s one gender has to be the person. Maybe it’s divided along personalities.
Maybe one person’s more of an extrovert than another. Or one person is the one that’s more likely to initiate than the other. It may go along those lines. But it’s not specifically along gender lines. So there’s a lot of opportunities there. But as we are talking about this, empowering conversation, I think that kind of what I would like to bring up is just the fact, how would you like to empower yourself around the issue of initiating? How would you as a woman, as a Diamond like to empower yourself?
Would you like to give yourself permission to explore initiating? Would you like to give yourself permission to think about it and see what obstacles or thoughts might be coming up for you? What else do you think would be ways to empower them around the issue of initiating?
Donna: Yeah. My brain goes to we’re really just a generation or so removed from home ec. textbooks that just talked about having the house ready for your husband. Literally pictures bringing him a drink while they lay down on the couch. And sending the kids away so it’ll be quiet because he’s probably had a hard day. And I literally have had a friend of mine whose mother told her, she’s a stay at home mom and her mom literally told her, “Honey, before he comes home you should probably put some makeup on.”
Sonia: Spruce yourself up a little bit.
Donna: Yes, “Because he’s been around beautiful women all day.”
Sonia: Oh wow, that’s interesting.
Donna: So there’s so much implication there that it revolves around him. And I think that this is a great opportunity to discover the ways in which – the things in which we believe are true that we didn’t even really contemplate before. So that with being challenged, with the topic that you’ve given of initiating and then thinking, how would I like to initiate and maybe that’s walk into the shower with them. Or just come out of your shower wrapped in a towel and then drop it. Or have a signal. Or just offer a back rub, offer a foot rub. There’s connection, there’s touching.
And as you contemplate initiating you’ll start to be challenged by the beliefs that you may not have realized that you had. And then you get to decide whether you want to keep them or not. Where did you learn to believe that? Well, do I want to keep believing that or not?
Sonia: Exactly. Is this thought serving me? Do I want to keep it?
Donna: Yeah, because it puts a lot of pressure on him too then. I have him take care of the yard, and the car, and the checkbook, and initiating. Where did you learn that it was always his responsibility to do that?
Sonia: Yeah, or any of it. So you get to – once you start initiating in one area you might start thinking about things differently in a lot of different areas of your life. And it’s okay. It’s okay to do it one way for 20 years and then switch it up. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to initiate even if you haven’t been initiating before. And you might get exactly what you want as well because if you put the asking and then add the initiating to it then you’re more likely to get exactly what you want instead of you kind of taking what’s available.
Alright, so as we are wrapping up this conversation about initiating, is there anything else you want to add in there?
Donna: I’m so glad you asked that because I do, I want to add one more thing. And that is the saying that, think of the thought that just because one ride is closed down doesn’t mean the whole theme park has to be shut down. So in our marriage I have had knee surgery and a separated AC joint in my right shoulder. And so I have been in straight leg brace, and in surgery and then in straight leg brace again and all these things. And then I had an arm that was wrapped up and couldn’t move that.
So I offered, there was no way, forgive me, there was no way somebody was climbing on top of me and there’s no way in those two situations in my life, I was climbing on top of anybody else. We still found a way. And it was very much appreciated because I was down with my knee for, I mean for eight weeks immediately after the injury and then another eight weeks after surgery which was seven months later. And then my shoulder for, I think, 12 weeks. So the poor guy can be just looking at a big old dry spell.
But we decided, I decided actually, let’s be creative. And again just because one ride was shut down didn’t mean the entire park had to be closed.
Sonia: And you might find a new ride that you like even better.
Donna: There you go, that’s right. So I want to mention that, so that just like you talk about, it doesn’t have to be full on penetrative sex. There are ways, there are variety of ways to enjoy intimacy. And I think that they do appreciate not having to always be the one to be responsible for that, nor should they be. I think we get to be responsible for our own pleasure.
Sonia: Exactly. If we take responsibility for our own pleasure, there’s so much more that’s available to you. So I definitely appreciate that. Well, here we are. We’re having our conversation about empowering women, empowering ourselves, having an empowering conversation about initiating. This has been wonderful as always talking with you, Coach Donna. And so I’m looking forward to our next conversation, empowering conversations.
And you Diamonds, that are listening to this call please feel free to email us as to what additional empowering conversations you would like me and Coach Donna to talk about. Because we will talk about anything. So ask us and we will have an empowering conversation about that. Okay, Diamonds, I love you so much. Take care.
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