If your body isn’t on board, then the chances are high that you shouldn’t be, either.
There’s this movement in women’s health that claims that our bodies don’t always match our experience. The oft-recommended book, Dr. Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are (which is great, in many areas), defines this as “arousal nonconcordance.”
The idea behind arousal nonconcordance is that you can be super aroused and not be wet (or hard), and that you can also not be aroused at all and still be hard or wet.
This is useful when it comes to experiences that many people have during sexual assault or rape. Often, people will get wet, hard, or even have an orgasm during rape – which can set off a flood of awful feelings like, “Does this mean some part of me liked it?”
The answer to that is no, and it’s not what I’m trying to argue here. Bodies can certainly respond to sexual touch, words, or thoughts, by getting physically aroused, even if we’re mentally not into it.
But when it’s the other way around… arousal nonconcordance becomes an easy excuse for not connecting with our bodies.
It becomes something to blame for not getting wet, and it tells women that we should just buy lube and get over it. It allows women to believe that their bodies just, for some reason, do not always cooperate.
This makes me angry, because it has not been my experience at all.
Let me be clear: I am not saying nonconcordance does not exist. I do believe it is currently true for most of the population. I believe it is true when research is done with women who have never been taught to connect deeply with their bodies or understand their sexual energy.
I believe it is true that most women think they are ready to have sex and their bodies are just not responding in the way they would like.*
And I also know that it used to take me a super long time to get wet when I interacted sexually with partners.
I used to sometimes not get wet at all.
I used to get frustrated with my body for not cooperating with me.
I used to experience arousal nonconcordance.
But now… I absolutely don’t.
This is the same to me as when I see the narrative around orgasm that’s currently happening, with this seemingly revolutionary idea that most women actually experience orgasms that are quiet and only a few seconds long.
I get the point – in a culture that shames women constantly, telling us the things our bodies do are normal is helpful. Yes, it is true that most women orgasm like that. And it is also true that my orgasms used to be like that, and then when I worked with my sexual energy and connected to my body, they expanded to minutes-long, seemingly endless, multiple full-body orgasms.
Just like it is true that I now flood with wetness extremely quickly, every single time I sexually engage with my partner.
I don’t wait til I don’t get wet to realize that I’m not aroused. If I’m not aroused, I’ve already felt into and listened to the fact that my body doesn’t feel like being sexual that day. There is no moment that comes where I’m like, “Oh, I really want to have sex, but my body isn’t cooperating.”
It. Doesn’t. Happen.
This doesn’t mean that I always feel super sexual. There are many times when I don’t feel sexual. I might be stressed, or be working a lot, or be sick, or be tired.
Sometimes my partner and I are able to break through those things – if he does something that immediately turns me on, for example, I might get wet and want to have sex even if minutes ago I felt super tired. I don’t always say no right away. Sometimes I wait to see how my body is feeling when he touches me. Sometimes I can feel I’m getting wet but need some more of a specific type of touch to get wetter, and I ask for that.
But if I’m not into it that day, I realize it early.
And if I realize that, I respect my needs and say so.
Here’s the thing: I realized when I began working deeply with my sexuality that I had A LOT of held-onto traumas and experiences from the past that were getting in the way of my body responding in the way that I wanted.
All of the times I had ever said yes when I even a tiny bit wanted to say no.
All the times men had touched me in ways I didn’t want to be touched, and I hadn’t said no.
All the times I had said no, and what I wanted wasn’t respected.
I had a lot of embedded cultural narrative that I owed sex to my partner, and he needed it, and if I got him a little turned on I should finish it through, and if I said no I was becoming one of those women who just got older and didn’t want to have sex anymore and that was the most terrible thing to be ever.
I even had a lot of unprocessed trauma unrelated to sex that I wasn’t addressing, and because I wasn’t regularly processing my emotions, it was getting in the way of me experiencing pleasure.
MOST OF THESE THINGS WERE NOT CONSCIOUS AT ALL.
They came up to be healed when I started fully, one hundred percent listening to my body. When I started saying no every single time my body did not feel one hundred percent into sex – which meant that for a few months I said no almost every time my partner wanted to sexually connect with me. It meant many times of getting it wrong, where I felt like maybe I wanted to but then my body didn’t get wet or I felt annoyed with my partner and I would realize through tears that I actually knew ahead of time I didn’t want to but that it hadn’t registered consciously enough for me to listen.
It meant teaching my body that she could learn to trust me again.
I want you to know that this is possible for you, too.
It comes from a willingness to say no. To learn your body deeply. To do emotional work that moves unhealed pieces through your body. To begin to own your boundaries.
But it is possible.
I think it is a deep disservice to women to tell them that unsatisfying orgasms and bodies that don’t cooperate are just part of the “beautiful complexity of being a woman.”
It’s true that you are beautifully complex.
It’s true that you can choose to adore yourself just as you are, use lube whenever you want, and not want to change anything.
And it’s also true that you can choose to explore your body more thoroughly and shift your experience, if you want to.
There is immense pleasure, beauty, ecstasy, and self-love on the other side.
* this may not be as true if you are in perimenopause, have been through menopause, or are on some type of medication that can impact your body’s response, including the birth control pill. I know some women who work with their sexual energy who have not experienced more dryness through menopause, and I also know some who say it takes them longer to get wet now, but they still do. I suspect that it still holds true that doing the emotional work increases your body’s response, even though it might not be as intense as in younger years – I don’t feel like I can speak to this as fully without having direct experience. In all of these cases, though, getting in touch with your body is still (and maybe even more so) important.
If you want to learn more about processing emotions, connecting more deeply with your sexuality, and understanding your body, click here to learn more about my online course, Falling in Love with Yourself