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Tristan Taormino on Better Sex
Sex educator Tristan Taormino is an author, filmmaker and regular contributor to The Village Voice in a sex advice column titled “Pucker Up.” Her how-to and erotic books include True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion, Down and Dirty Sex Secrets: The New and Naughty Guide to Being Great in Bed and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. Taormino is the winner of a Firecracker Alternative Book Award and was named Amazon.com's Number One Bestseller in Women’s Sex Instruction in 1998. In this interview, Taormino explains how exploration can be helpful for a better sex life.
What are the most common problems or issues that you hear from your readers who want a better sex life?
Many people feel isolated about their own sexual desires and they think they’re the only ones out there that have them. A lot of questions start with: “You’ve probably never heard this before, but now I’m going to bare my soul to you.” And, in fact, I heard it yesterday and I’ll hear it tomorrow. People have this very clear notion of what great sex is and that they’re not having it. They believe, truly, that everyone else around them is having it.
What are the most important actions to take in the first 30 days of improving your sex life?
The first thing that people need to do is masturbate. We think that masturbation is for people who are lonely or don’t have a date. But, actually, masturbation is the first step to becoming a better lover and to figuring out what you want and need. It’s reacquainting yourself with your body and figuring out what feels good and what kind of touch you like. If you can open yourself up and let your mind wander, where are the places that you go when you masturbate? Who do you fantasize about? Is it a real experience, or is it something you’ve never experienced? Is it a fantasy? Being open to that—or even journaling about it—is the first way that you can get in touch with your fantasies.
The other important action is communication. The thing that’s really tricky is that no one has ever taught us how to talk about sex. It’s a learned skill and it takes practice. When you talk about sex, I think it’s important to come to the conversation with an open mind, an open heart and without judgment of yourself or your partner. Talking about sex makes people feel nervous, inhibited and really vulnerable. It’s true that revealing this part of yourself to someone else can be very, very intense. If you don’t reveal it, you’re never going to take your sex life to the next level.
How can one overcome any negative experiences in the first 30 days of working to improve his or her sex life?
I think part of it is giving yourself permission to explore and let go of these ideas of what you should be doing, or what you think everyone else is doing. I know what everybody else is doing, and it’s so incredibly diverse and unique. There’s no “one” sex life.
What can people expect to experience emotionally during the first 30 days of improving their sex lives?
Your sexuality is dynamic, not static. People, whether they’re in long-term relationships or not, see themselves as one particular way sexually and we get kind of stuck on that. We can also do that with our partner: We think we know our partners inside and out; we know what turns them on; we know what kind of things they like. So when they come to us and say, “Hey, I was thinking maybe we could try this,” it’s hard for us to let go of who we think that person is.
What are the benefits of introducing porn or erotica to one’s sex life?
The thing about erotica and porn that can be really good is that it gives singles or couples a window into different worlds where there are different activities, different positions, different dynamics, different fantasies and different scenarios. Often I think it can actually help you communicate with your partner. I’ve heard from people that they just don’t know how to say something, but if they see it in a movie they could say, “Honey I want to do that.”
What would you say to people who believe their partners are the biggest obstacle to better sex?
The first thing they have to realize is that sexual incompatibility is one of the number one problems that couples seek therapy for, so you aren’t alone. If your sexual style and your partner’s sexual style match perfectly, more power to you. But, in reality, that’s not always the case—or it changes. I think we need to cut each other some slack. What’s most important is, if you value this relationship, then find a way to create a sex life that will work for both of you.
What’s the most important thing to do beyond the first 30 days in order to continue this sexy progress?
As with any other growth or improvement, you’ve got to sustain it. It’s a matter of being really honest with yourself and your partner about what it is you want and you need from your sex life. Then remind yourself to keep at it. There are people who recommend making an appointment to have sex and other people say, “Oh that’s not romantic! That’s not sexy! You’re scheduling me now?” But the truth is that’s how most of our lives are. People are busier and more overcommitted than they have ever been. I feel that a reminder in your Palm Pilot or a circle on a date in the calendar is not un-sexy. Whether you’ve made an appointment or not, once you get into it, it’s pretty fun.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
I thought it was impossible, but I did make it through the last thing. So I’m going to make it through this.
The best thing about change is...
…growth, because with change really comes growth and you become a better person.
What is the best change you have ever made?
I recently moved to the country after living in the city my entire life and it’s been really amazing for my mental health.
For more information on Tristan Taormino, visit www.puckerup.com.