Hacking Sexuality (part 2)

Copy of Get your sexual self sortedThere are three steps to getting your sexual self sorted:

  1. Get Sex Positive;
  2. Conduct a Needs Assessment; and
  3. Experiment.

In part 1 of this post I explored step one.

In this post we’ll look at the next two, plus the #4 bonus step: keeping a sense of humour.

Step 2: A Needs Assessment

A need is a gap between what is and what would enable you to thrive.

Abraham Maslow introduced the concept of needs to psychology in the 1940s with the Hierarchy of Needs model, and sex finds it’s way into two levels of the hierarchy.

Sex in the Hierarchy

According to Maslow, sex is a basic need, as fundamental as sleep and breathing.

He also placed sexual intimacy little higher up in the hierarchy, at the level of love and belonging.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Start at the bottom and work up!
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Start at the bottom and work up!

Though sex and sexual intimacy are both considered universal needs by Maslow, not everyone agrees. One of the elements of being sex positive is acknowledging that we are all unique, and for about 1% of us that means being asexual.

For the other 99%:

A Sexual Needs Assessment

A sexual needs assessment (like any other needs assessment) involves asking the following questions:

  1. What is my current situation?
  2. What would enable me thrive?
  3. Through comparing 1 & 2: what are my needs? What are the root causes of these needs?
  4. Which needs are most important?
  5. What strategies can I try that might address these needs?
  6. What assets and barriers are present? How can assets be amplified and barriers limited?

Possible Strategies

If you’ve done your sex positive homework from part 1 of this post, you are aware of a range of sexual practices.

They don’t all have to be your thing. But knowing about them will help you in the process of finding strategies.

YesStart a sex research notebook and continue your n=1 by creating a list with three columns: Yes, Maybe, No. Input every sexual practice you can think of.

Is an activity something you know you like or would definitely like to try? It goes on your Yes list.

Something you will never try? No.

If you don’t know, that’s what the Maybe list is for. Be open minded. Putting something on your Maybe list isn’t a commitment.

Be generous with your definition of sexuality. There may be some activities that relate more to relationship dynamics than to specific sexual acts. Let your sexual umbrella be big.

If you are single, you now have a list of things you are open to exploring, by yourself or with other people.

Working with a Partner

If you are in a relationship, you and your partner can each create lists and compare them.

Find the compatibilities: everything that is on your Yes list that matches anything on your partner’s Yes list. Expand to potential compatibilites by including both of your Maybe lists.

Do this at a time when you are both feeling benevolent. If talking about sex sometimes leads to difficulties, set yourselves up for success by anticipating potential problems in advance.

If talking about your sexual preferences with your partner is too intimidating, go back to getting sex positive. And check out Why We Should All Be Talking About Sex A Lot More Often.

Assets & Barriers

As part of the needs assessment, it’s helpful to identify assets and barriers, both inside and outside the self. That’s why ‘getting sex positive’ is step one: shame and lack of information are common barriers and they are 100% reducible.

You can explore assets & barriers through a force field analysis.

Step 3: Experiment

Once you have completed step two, you are ready to begin experimenting.

This is where good old-fashioned science comes in.

Use the scientific method and start by identifying a hypothesis: If I do this, I hope to achieve that.

Everything on your Yes and Maybe lists are potential strategies. But there are likely other strategies that will support your sexual self or help you experiment safely. Brainstorm and write everything down in your research notebook, then develop a hypothesis to test.

Safety

Build safety into your strategy. Emotional safety and physical safety.

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 30 sexually-transmissible viruses and parasites out there.

Be a Sexy Safer Sex Superhero in 6 Steps may be a good place to start when considering safer sex, but it doesn’t address additional steps you may need to take to ensure emotional and physical safety if you are managing a chronic illness. This is where knowing yourself and your health condition comes in.

Most of us are emotionally vulnerable when it comes to sexuality, so plan to take good care of yourself, and make sure that anyone you are in relationship with is going to take good care of themselves (and you) too.

Bonus step #4: Keep your sense of humour

A sense of humour can be a conscious choice.

A practice.

Obviously, I don’t mean the derisive kind. That’s not really humour, just insecurity in disguise.

Keeping a sense of humour can be a great way to hold your reactions and attachments lightly as you move through this process.

Humour also helps us acknowledge that we are all imperfect and marvelous and marvelously funny.

Which, when it comes to sex (or almost anything else) is a great place to begin.

we are all imperfect, and marvelous and marvelously funny

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