(The following was sampled from The Huffington Post.)
I’ll be honest: I’ve had a love/hate relationship with turning 40 this past year.
As a writer, I’ve wanted to share what I enjoy about the new decade I’ve hit. In fact, I’ve been taking silent note of what is great about my life now, and how it differs from when I was in my 20s or 30s. I’m appreciating it with new eyes and wanted to record that.
But to be honest, I hit a few road blocks. First, my idea isn’t original. I’ve read blogs from newly 40 people both married and single, male and female and every ethnicity one could imagine. And for the most part, they have most of my own feelings covered.
Plus, while there are definitely things I love about being 40, I also battle with the other side of the coin, the things I struggle with.
However, even with all of the chatter, one topic kept jumping out at me: There is one thing that is markedly better in my late 30s and my 40th year, and that is sex.
At the risk of sounding cocky (see what I did there? ;)), I’ve always been good at sex. Ever since having it for the first time, I’ve had an open mind and been free-spirited about it, which allowed for a diverse set of experiences — some better than others. But something changed over the years. Sex is dramatically better now than it ever has been. And after taking the time to reflect, I’ve realized there are five specific things that make the sex I have now much better than the sex I was having in my teens, 20s and early 30s.
Here they are:
1. I trust myself now.
When I was younger, like many people, my sense of self was not what it could have been. While I didn’t know it then, my choices in partners were not always based on the healthiest of motivations. Unbeknownst to me, sometimes I was feeding my ego. Whether I felt lonely, wanted to feel loved or just to see if that hot guy would ever be interested in me, I was feeding something that wasn’t really me.
Now, I’m aware. My higher self chooses over my ego. I have a lot less sex, but that’s because I value quality over quantity. These days, I tend to have protected sex either when I’m in a relationship or through a fling with a trusted friend. I say no often — a lot, in fact. And because I say no, I trust my yes.
Before, I couldn’t really trust myself to pick what was good for me or what would serve me (not to mention my partner). Now, I trust that when I choose to be with a man sexually, it’s because he trusts himself, can provide a safe space for both of us and has true range when it comes to sex.
The fact that I trust myself to choose quality partners means I get the extraordinary freedom to go wherever I or my partner chooses to. And believe me, when there is trust, I’m extremely self-expressed in the bedroom! When I say yes to something there, it’s because I am a true yes to it. I trust my partner to be with me during it, to witness it and to appreciate the beauty of it as it unfolds.
2. I’m present.
How many of us were taught to kiss with our eyes closed? When we do this, how many of us drift off somewhere, taking ourselves out of the moment? Perhaps we go to a fantasy, maybe a scene from a porno. Or maybe we’re just wondering what the other is thinking. Do they like it? How far are we going to go? What position is coming next? Do I look fat? Am I doing it right?
We likely aren’t enjoying ourselves as much as we could if we were truly present. For me, learning to check in with my own self and my partner has made a world of difference. Am I actually feeling turned on? If not, what would have me feel it? How am I feeling emotionally? Is that in alignment with what’s happening between me and my partner? Where is my partner? Is he in his head, living out a porn and f*cking me the way he thinks he should, or is he in the room with me, attuned to what is actually happening?
Sex is better now that I’m more present with myself and with my partner. I credit the self-awareness practices I do (meditation, connection exercises with others, bodywork therapy, etc.) with the fact that the sex I have now is hot, and I’m there for it the whole time.
3. I invite in my senses.
Before, I used to numb out for parts of sex, either getting caught up in my head or tuning out because what was happening didn’t actually feel good and I just wanted it to be over, etc. Now, I use my physicality to take notice of him — all of him — and it makes it so much hotter.
How do his fingers feel as they glide against my skin? Is his touch light or is he pressing into my body hard, like he can’t let go? What does his weight feel like on top of me? Are we sweaty? What does it feel like to have our bodies slide up against one another?
I inhale him. What does he smell like? What does the room smell like with both of our scents mixing together? How does his breath feel as it touches the back of my neck, or brushes lightly against my lips? What does he taste like? His skin, his breath, his lips?
What does his voice sound like? Does it deepen? Do I let out a moan? Maybe we barely make noise, and all there is to hear is our breaths aligned, inhaling and exhaling in unison.
Eye contact, oh eye contact! While I love to look at my partner’s body and take it all in, I prefer to look into his eyes. Without saying a word, it’s a point of connection. It’s also a way of inviting him to see me, be with me. It’s an invitation to forget everything else and just be with the only thing that exists in this moment: us. It’s as if time has stopped and there is only now, the world we’re creating together.
4. I appreciate my body.
My friends reading this will laugh. I (like many women) can be very judgmental about my body. However, something happens to me when I’m about to have sex with a man I’m into. My best guess is that my animal instincts kick in.
One of the many things women were born to do is procreate. Historically, our fertility was a thing to be celebrated. Not only were we born to procreate, we were also equipped with the ability to orgasm so we could enjoy ourselves while doing so.
This means our bodies know how to move for pleasure. It’s instinctive. But we can only access that instinct if we shut off our mind chatter. You know the kind I mean: Do I look fat? Can he see my cellulite? Can I make him orgasm? Shit, I wish the lights were off. Why didn’t he take me to that other place for dinner? He should know by now I don’t like when he wears that shirt. And so on and so on.
When we learn to let go of this constant thought train and let our bodies do what they were meant to do, it’s easy to be amazed. I’m often in awe of how my body moves when I’m with a man. I often have no idea it knew to move the way it did until the very moment I happened to take notice of it. Sometimes it’s the way my back arches, the way my hips rock or how my body aligns itself to my partner’s such that we move in perfect harmony, or barely at all. We move in unison without my ever having to think about it.
Growing up has had me appreciate the fact that my body has all the skills and artistry of the perfect dance partner and I don’t even have to think about it. In fact, it’s only when I stop thinking that the movement and beauty of my body appears.
5. I know what I like and what I don’t.
I didn’t always. Or rather, I wasn’t slowing down enough to notice or I wasn’t willing to speak up. Sometimes I did things I didn’t really like, just to please someone or to seem cool or good in bed.
I don’t do that anymore. Now I know exactly what I’m willing to try and what I’m not. I’m not afraid to say no if I’m uncomfortable with something, and I’m also open-minded and up for experimentation. I use my intuition and the wisdom of my body to determine what my deepest truth is, and I follow that.
Because I know what I like, it’s also easier to get it! As I said, I like range in the bedroom. I want everything from making love to… well, I’ll let you use your imagination. Since I trust myself, I can easily access what feels good at that point. Am I a yes to being spanked? Having another partner invited in? Wearing a costume? Role play? Letting myself be so vulnerable that I let my partner see all of me? Choosing not to orgasm (it isn’t always about the finish line)? Communicate when appropriate?
For me being able to communicate my yeses and nos as well as theirs with my partner is actually the most important item on my list. If we can’t communicate well together, then what type of sex can we even expect to have?
Sex is both simple and complex at the same time. It’s one of the places we hide and where we come out the most. It can be raw and fierce or lovely and bonding. It has been one of the most thrilling parts of my life so far, and I look forward to it continuing to be so. I can honestly tell anyone in their 20s and 30s that it only gets better. And hey — if the sex is this good in my late 30s and at 40, I can only imagine what the future holds in store!