Fantasies: What They Teach Us About Our Erotic Architecture

Have you ever wondered what your fantasies reveal about your deeper self?

Our sexual fantasies are powerful doorways to make conscious what we long for, which often includes healing missing experiences from childhood.

A fantasy is an imagined situation or mental simulation that allows us to live out a need or desire. In fantasy, we dive into an imaginal realm and experience a feeling we long to feel.

Fantasies are normal and unfortunately we often feel shame about them. Much of what we fantasize about while self-pleasuring isn’t necessarily what we want to play out in real time. For the sake of this article, I want to focus on how fantasies serve as a goldmine into the deeper needs and desires they represent in our psyche.

The intention of Your Erotic Nature is to serve your heroic journey of embodied leadership through the unique ways your soul is seeking integration and intimacy with all of life. In Exploring Your Erotic Architecture, I explore the roots of sexual arousal, and how to investigate our turn-on template to deepen connection both with ourselves and with our intimate partners.

My desire is to investigate the wholeness of our human experience, including our sexual and erotic nature, as a means to crack open into deeper freedom, in all aspects of our lives.

Unlocking what lives in the subconscious mind and bringing it into conscious awareness helps us understand how we operate. It gives us the opportunity to create more self-love, conscious choice, and compassion for ourselves and others, as we navigate the complexity of being human.

The intention of this article is to focus on how fantasies provide important information about our unique needs related so intimacy, both sexual and non-sexual. While sexual fantasies can boost arousal and pleasure, they can also serve the key purpose of providing insight into missing experiences of safety, connection, power, freedom and worthiness that we’re unconsciously seeking to fulfill.

The inter-dependent nature of feelings, fantasy & sex

In addition to our biological impulse to procreate and experience pleasure, we come to sex to fulfill a need to feel something specific.

Today, I’m going to offer you various entry points to study your fantasy life. And if you think “I don’t fantasize,” stay with me, because you may not realize the ways in which you do fantasize every day. You may not fantasize about sexual acts, but you may very well, consciously or not, fantasize about relational situations. Scenarios that are designed to catalyze very specific feelings that you long to experience. These fantasies fulfill the same purpose as a sexual fantasy. They arise to answer a deeper longing or need.

We may long to feel the admiration or love of another, to be validated for our skills and abilities, to feel held safe, or to stand up to an oppressor.

We are imaginative creatures. Our daydreams and longings hold the stories of our losses and secret hopes.

We’re going to look at fantasies (including daydreams and longings) using the following two keys:

  1. What we want to feel through intimacy and sex.

  2. The missing experiences that our intimacy and sex life are guiding us toward fulfilling, as a means of integration and healing.

    Missing experiences are a conglomeration of developmental needs that were missed consistently enough throughout our childhood that they left a gap in our psyche and consequently, an imprint to be re-lived and healed in future relationships. An incomplete experience will drive us to seek to repair the pattern in our adult relationships, often subconsciously.

Embodied Sexuality

What are your turn-ons and sexual fantasies?

We may have sex purely for pleasure. But what actually gives us pleasure? Many times, we experience pleasure when a feeling we long to have fulfilled is experienced during sex.

Do you know what underlying longings drive your desire for sexual intimacy?

For example, do you want to feel special, loved, accepted, confident, valuable? Do you want to merge into divine union with another? If you’re like me, you may seek the freedom to express your primal animal without shame and withholding.

Maybe you’re turned on by the feelings that come with being humiliated and punished, followed by love and reassurance.

Mapping the feelings that we seek to experience through our sexuality can feel mysterious and confusing at times. The range of feelings that we each seek through sexual connection are vast and span across various aspects of ourselves, including our psychology, physical and energetic wiring, personal constitution, emotional nature, spiritual path, and so on.

Most often, the feeling and sexual experiences we seek are secretly in service of healing something incomplete in our psyche from childhood.

Unveiling and understanding your inner landscape empowers you with conscious choice. It makes it easier to clearly ask for what you want, and opens doors to more intimacy. This process is greatly accelerated when we are aware of the feelings we seek to experience through sex.


  • What do you know about your fantasy life? Do you have one? Do you trust it, judge it, or feel shame about it?

  • Have you had a recurrent sexual fantasy since you’ve been sexually active?

  • Do you express and explore sexual fantasies in partnership?

  • Do you watch porn? If so, what turns you on and what doesn’t?

  • What feelings do you seek to experience through sex? (i.e love, belonging, power, control, play, intimacy, etc.)

  • What turns you on the most? What feelings does it bring up?

  • What shuts down your sexual appetite? What feelings does it bring up?

Three entry-points to discover your fantasy hot spots

There are a number of entry-points to identify the specific feelings that drive us towards or away from sexual expression.

Below are three hot spots to further uncover your fantasy life and the feelings you seek through sex.

  1. the Moments when heat rises

  2. your Missing Experiences

  3. Your Hottest Sexy Channels

  1. The moment when heat rises

Integrative coaching

Jack Morin, author of Erotic Mind, suggests that if we want to uncover the feelings that drive our erotic mind, through studying our fantasies, we can reflect on what we’re imagining or feeling just prior to orgasm or peak arousal.

Yes, exploring the lift off just prior to orgasm is one entry point. Let’s expand this to include fantasies that begin to stir arousal as we self-pleasure or have sex with our partner.

If you fantasize during sex, what feelings are your images pointing you to? Do you imagine that other people are watching or playing with you?

Fantasies can also be explored with a partner through role play. In this case, study the archetypes and roles you feel turned on by and the associated feelings they elicit in you.

Ask yourself: What are my go-to fantasies in self-pleasure or during sex? Pay attention to the situation, people, and sensations. What clues do they give you as to the feeling you’re seeking?

Some examples to play with: Are you being worshiped? Dominating someone into pleasure? Being begged by your lover to give them what they want? Receiving the attention of multiple people at once?

Do you want to be in charge, telling people what you want while they’re eager to please you? Do you want to be the center of attention, calling all the shots and being the one in control?

Do you want to be taken against your own will (but are secretly turned on by this form of helplessness) because you want to feel desired, passively devoured, and out of control while at the same time feeling safe?

Are you being given permission by a hungry lover to consume them, or to be consumed by them? If so, does this situation heighten your need to feel desired? Or, does feeling safe to surrender your will to another’s appetite and desire allow you to let go of shame, control and tension?

Play with various scenarios and see what you discover!


  • When you want to be aroused, or to experience greater sexual pleasure, what is the fantasy that would be the very most likely to arouse you?

  • Describe the "climax" — the most intense point of excitement in this fantasy. What are you thinking and feeling just before orgasm?

  • Pay attention to what you want to feel in these scenarios. Do you want to feel loved, seen, degraded, powerful, exposed, desired, precious, disgusted, competent?

Journal Exercise:

  • Think back over all your sexual encounters. Allow your mind to focus on two specific encounters that were among the most arousing of your entire life.

  • Journal about each one, and then harvest the feelings that you were seeking through each one.

  • Is there overlap between them? Common themes of feelings you seek? What are your ideas about what made each of these encounters so exciting?

2. Your missing experiences

This map is drawn from William Reich’s prolific work, which was integrated into a model I learned through  the Hakomi Institute . Through self-study and working with clients, I’ve made some modifications and additions.

This map is drawn from William Reich’s prolific work, which was integrated into a model I learned through the Hakomi Institute. Through self-study and working with clients, I’ve made some modifications and additions.

As a child, when our needs are neglected, not attuned to, or missed enough times, the fear and hurt related to these “misses” become woven into the fabric of our belief system and our sense of self-worth. This is what we call a missing experience.

A missing experience is a social and emotional need that, when missed enough times in our early development, causes deep pain and confusion or a feeling separation, not belonging, and unworthiness. While missing experiences range far and wide, they’re usually related to five developmental needs.

We all share five universal needs that come online sequentially from our time in the womb until the age of 7 or 8, and lay the foundation for our beliefs systems about ourselves, our relationships, and the world we live in. As we grow up, this internal blueprint is typically reinforced through our life experiences, as well as the people and situations we attract.

When we are ‘missed’ or only met with intermittent frequency in any or multiple of these areas, we create adaptive strategies. Adaptive strategies protect us from the pain and powerlessness we experience when developmental needs are missed.

These adaptive behaviors, repeated over time, become subconscious, autopilot superhighways that play out again and again in our relationships and in our internal world. They become part of our operating system and personality patterns.

While these adaptations may have served us at one time, often, when manifested in our adult life, they tend to limit us and prevent us from receiving what we need.

Fantasizing is one of the adaptive strategies many children innocently take on. As children, we use fantasy as a wise method to metabolize the pain of missing experiences.

We self-soothe through fantasy, focusing on an imagined situation or feeling that would counterbalance the missing experience or unanswered need we’re having. For example, if a child feels lonely or lacks nourishing relationships, then the child might construct an imaginary friend to fulfill a nurturing, bonded and safe relationship. Children often use imagination as a creative means of getting their needs met.

As we grow up, our subconscious mind will search for the specific people and conditions that will elicit the distinct feelings we sought to fulfill as children. This is the way our being aims to repair a core wound or missing experience, and resolve the looping behaviors associated with the loss.

This process plays out interestingly when it comes to sexual fantasy. For example, if you felt invisible, forgotten, or didn’t receive the attention you craved as a child, then one way of coping with these feelings may have been to daydream about experiences in which you’re the center of the universe, and all attention is poured upon you. As a child, maybe your imaginary friend gave you this attention, or you gained this attention by becoming an accomplished student or athlete. In your adult life, this longing may subconsciously turn into a fantasy of being adored, worshiped, and devotedly focused upon. You may seek to attract partners who will intensely focus you in this way, or you may draw upon these fantasies when you self-pleasure.

Learn more about missing experiences in my power reclamation map, and discover the role of adaptive strategies and the way they shape our personality and adult relationships patterns.


  • What missing experiences do you feel you may have from childhood? What needs felt unmet or missed?

  • Did you ever daydream or fantasize as a child to fulfill certain missing experiences?

  • What longings or desires tend to feel unfulfilled in your present day romantic relationships?

  • Can you remember experiencing similar feelings when you were young?

  • What missing experience do you feel you may be seeking to resolve through sex and intimacy, or through attracting certain types of partners?

embodied coach

3. Your hottest sexy channels of arousal

A hottest sexy channel is a composition of certain situations, conditions, gestures, words, touch, and energy that become woven into our most desired sexual experiences. In short, your Hottest Sexy Channels (HSC) represent what you most desire to experience sexually. They’re clear indicators of the feelings you seek to experience through intimacy.

In addition, they can serve as allies in your journey to heal, integrate, and repair core wounds and the associated missing experiences that drive them.

While there are many ways we like to seduce and be seduced, there are usually one or two specific channels of arousal that elicit the most intensity and pleasure for us.

We may also find ourselves turning to different channels with different partners, or as we change and evolve. The menu is ever-changing, as is our appetite for growth, play, and healing.

Embodied Sexuality

While there are a number of of sexual turn-on channels, we’re going to dive into the five most common ones.

Studying these channels is a fun exploration! You can do it solo, or make it a fun exercise with your partner.

You can begin by taking an inventory of what movies, books, and art you find yourself drawn towards. As you do, start to notice, what are the specific feelings that get stirred in you, and why does that feel good to you?

For example, one of my favorite movies is called Dangerous Beauty. It’s full of romance, passion, and power. The main character, Veronica, lives as a poet, sapiosexual and courtesan who brings passionate and heartfelt medicine to the men in Venice. Eventually, she is accused of being a witch and danger to society by the Church’s inquisition. Her accusers prosecute her, denouncing the way she seduces and catalyzes passion, love, and emotional connection with the men she serves as a courtesan.

What turns me on the most are the power dynamics and the impact of the patriarchy hunting her and threatening execution, in contrast to the men who defend and course-correct history by standing behind a courageous woman who risks her life to stand in her truth and heart in order to change the rights of women. She stands for love and passion, not sin and shame.

Since power is one of my favorite channels, this movie stirs me, but what I like is that it’s also peppered with romance and passion, which I enjoy as well.

Below are five general channels of arousal to help you identify aspects of your Erotic Architecture. As you read each one, notice whether you feel a spark or a flat line.

  1. Romantic

    Are you aroused by feeling cherished, or by telling your lover how precious and special they are? Do you get turned on by sweeping your partner off their feet, or by being rescued and taken care of? Do you enjoy surprise gifts, romantic dates, flowers, and courting rituals?

    Do you love expressions of affection through soft, slow, sensual touch? Do you melt when your lover says your name softly, as they run their hands through your hair or across your cheek? Do you long to hear that you are the one, or that you hold your lover’s affection and attention “forever”? Even if you know it’s not necessarily going to last forever, the idea may create a sense of safety, turn on, and heat in you, if you’re a romantic. Romantic turn-on tends to be less overtly sexual, and more about cherishing, safety, feeling special and chosen.

  2. Passionate

    Do you get turned on by imagining you and your lover tearing each other’s clothes off with a primal hunger? In the kitchen, in the car, anywhere? This is passionate play.

    Do you grin at the words, “I want you so badly. I can’t hold back. I want to eat you alive”?

    You may like the thrill of transmitting, through your eyes and body, a primal hunger. Or you may crave to be a willing prey: quivering, stalked, consumed.

    The lead-up to this kind of unfettered desire is often driven by primal impulse or tension built over time through limited availability or access to your lover.

  3. Power Dynamics

    Do you melt when your partner knows exactly what they want? Do you yearn to trust them enough to surrender and be taken? Or do you crave total control? Both roles of dominance and submission are expressions of power. Tension and play arise when one partner leads with desire and power (dominance) while the other feels safe to be an object of their partner’s full attention, care, desire and commanding presence (submission).

    We live in a culture where dominance has caused a tremendous amount of violence, fear, and repression. Dominance doesn’t have to be violent. In fact, it can be loving and nurturing. Mutual consent can be an empowering container.

    This channel of turn-on can activate healing and connection through exchanging power and attunement in a safe space of play and clear consent.

  4. Spiritual

    Do you feel turned on by gazing into someone’s eyes and feeling the depth of their soul? Do you make love in ways that open you to a sense of yourself beyond your physical senses?

    There is a multitude of ways in which the spiritual channel can be defined. For me, it’s a very soulful expression of the sacred nature of sexual energy and healing. To come into union with myself, or in partnership, is to consciously embrace loving and creative purpose. To explore the transcendent aspect of sexual union, whether it’s rough or gentle, is to meet parts of oneself, or a lover, with an intention to melt barriers and layers of protection. It includes spirals of healing, contraction, expansion and embodied integration of more parts of self through one another. I find it has a particular vulnerability, and nakedness, that is beyond our physical bodies.

    This channel is about subtle openness and awareness, remembering oneness, experiencing cosmic love and merging through sexual expression.

  5. Eco-Sex

Are you most turned on in the natural world? Maybe you get aroused by the smell of warm salty air in the tropics, or by plunging in cold rivers and warming on sun-heated rocks, or by wrestling in the grass smelling the earth.

Do you enjoy feeding your lover sensual foods? Does the opening of flowers make you quiver? If so, you may be an eco-sexual: one who makes loves with the Earth through your senses.

Eco-sex for me has included unexpected shamanic awakenings that I’ve had with nature, making love with life and experiencing spontaneous ecstatic and orgasmic healing from the energy I received from the earth and natural world. For more, see my article on Initiations Into Erotic Power.

These are just a few common channels of turn-ons. You may also want to take the exploration further, and develop a combination of the above, or your own unique channel of arousal, which may not be mentioned here.

If you’re still not sure, take notice of the kinds of movies you watch and what scenes turn you on. For romantics, it might be movies like Sleepless in Seattle that draw you. For power dynamics, it could 9 1/2 weeks or 50 Shades of Grey that get you hot. For passion, it might be a movie scene in which the lovers are passionately tearing each other’s clothes off before they’ve even stepped through the front door.


Four ingredients that contribute to your sexy channels of arousal

We’ve talked about how our erotic mind and fantasies contain various images and ideas, which represent what we want to express and feel through sex.

Now let’s go more granular, and look at the physical expressions and experiences that can further your study of your Hottest Sexual Channels. During my training to become a Somatica Method, Relationship and Sexuality Coach, we learned about these HSC’s and four ingredients to deepen our relationship with each one.

The following four ingredients have a multitude of expressions that increase or decrease turn on for each of us. We’re unique, ever-evolving beings. These ingredients point to how we want to be approached, touched, spoken to and attuned to.

The four areas are:

  1. Gestures

  2. Verbal expressions

  3. Touch

  4. Energy

  1. Gestures:

Gestures are acts of service that are focused on expressing our desire, love, adoration, and affection.

  1. Romantic channel: These gestures that convey that “you’re the most important person in the world to me, and here is how I will remind you and show you today.” For example, this could be surprising a partner by drawing a bath for them as they arrive home after a long day. Or planning a romantic evening, sending a text during the day about how special they are to you, or secretly stashing a love note in their wallet or luggage as they depart for a trip.

  2. Passionate channel: These are gestures that convey an unadulterated hunger that must be satiated now. For example, undressing one another with a feverish urgency and primal hunger before getting through the front door. Or intensely looking into a lover’s eyes with the message “I want to consume you.”

  3. Power channel: These gestures are ways to engage a power differential, where one partner is holding the reigns, and the other is surrendering. For example, blindfolding, spanking for pleasure, using handcuffs, or tying with rope to take control and show who is boss!

  4. Spiritual channel: These gestures are ways to express cosmic union and a sense of sacredness with one another. For example, eye gazing into the depths of each other’s soul. Lighting candles, setting up an altar, or preparing a Tantric meditation or breath practice for your lover.

  5. Eco-sex channel: These gestures could look like planning a day hiking in the mountains with a blanket to lay upon and make love on, or river plunging followed drying together naked on a rock warmed by the sun.

2. Verbal Expressions:

These are words that are used as a form of verbal seduction. Finding the words, or statement, that turn you, and your partner, on can be a fun exercise and self-discovery process.

  1. Romantic channel: Verbal expressions may include themes of long-term dreams together, beauty, special-ness, and sentiments of being together forever. Some examples are: “I’m so lucky to be with someone as special as you.” “Being with you makes me feel more complete and whole.” “I don’t want to be with anyone but you, ever.”

  2. Passionate channel: Verbal expressions may sound like “I want to eat you alive.” “I can’t get enough of you.” “You turn me on like I’ve never been before.” “I can’t wait to be inside of you and taste you.”

  3. Power channel: Verbal expressions may sound more like commands. Some examples of commands with permission or praise are: “Spread you legs and show me your pussy.” “Did I tell you that you could get up? No, get back on your knees until I tell you that you can move.” “Good boy, I love when you listen and don’t talk back to me.” Some commands may be more disapproving such as, “You’re a dirty slut.” Or “You call that cleaning my boots? Get back on your knees and scrub again until I’m satisfied with your efforts.”

  4. Spiritual channel: Verbal expressions may be chanting, singing to one another, or other tributes to one’s spiritual path. This may look like sitting face to face initially without words to slow down and feel each other’s presence beyond agenda and time constraints. When a deeper sense of meeting is felt energetically, express to your lover how you experience their medicine, in bed with you, but also in the world at large. You exchange the depths of seeing into each other’s exquisite superpowers and gifts.

  5. Eco-sex channel: Verbal expressions may sound like the noises of various non-human creatures or the sounds of the earth. For me, I like to wrestle outside on the grass. Sounds can range from thrills of delight when I’m being tickled to primal growls as I assert my power to keep pace with my partner’s attempt to pin me.

3. Touch:

Touch is a way to deepen contact and turn-on. Let’s look at the nuances with each channel.

  1. Romantic channel: Expressions of touch might be softly stroking a lover’s face softly, lightly kissing the back of your lover’s neck until goosebumps appear, making slow and deep love without a need to force or hurry, or giving a foot massage while telling your lover all the reasons you love them.

  2. Passionate channel: Expressions of passionate touch often include more physical exertion than the romantic channel. Some examples are grabbing a partner and forcefully pushing them against the wall until they’re pressed against you for your passionate devouring, crawling around on the floor like wild animals with wrestling, biting, licking, and sucking each other.

  3. Power channel: Similarly to gestures, this may include blindfolding, spanking for pleasure, using handcuffs or tying with rope. Touch may be requested with specific commands ranging from gentle and soft to wild and rough.

  4. Spiritual channel: Spiritual touch may be massaging your lover’s whole body for ecstatic pleasure and and divine union, rather than chasing an orgasm. A quality of touch that sinks beyond the skin and into the essence of one’s being. Instead of spoken words, you may hear through what you feel with your hands, lips, mouth, which is no less powerful and real than a verbalized tongue.

  5. Eco-sex channel: This kind of touch may include rolling in the mud, swimming in a lake out to a raft to have sex, or sex under your favorite tree on a blanket.

4. Energy:

While this is an area that’s harder to describe because it’s a subtle language of its own, we’ll discuss the various flavors and energetic qualities that come with each channel.

  1. Romantic channel: Romantic energy usually feels soft and safe. It brings the feeling of being protected by love, and safe to be our true selves because we’re loved and adored.

  2. Passionate channel: Passionate energy feels primal and animal-like. As we claw, bite, or nibble on our lover’s ear, we bring an energy of “I want you now, and my hunger is unquenchable.”

  3. Power channel: For the dominant person, the energy is one of “I’m in charge, and you will be taken care of by me. You can choose to be good or bad, and I will respond to your behavior in whatever way I please. You have no rights here because you are mine.” It’s commanding and confident and conveys, “you’re mine.”

    For the submissive, the energy is of surrender. It can feel like no-mind, as your dominant partner takes care of you, surrendering with trust even when your partner may use tactics of punishment through spanking, flogging, biting, tying up and so on. The energy might have a blend of fear and excitement.

  4. Spiritual channel: Spiritual energy is often an expansive state of being and feels like union, synergy, and merging. I notice a particular quality of presence when I’m kissing my lovers body and I lose track of where we begin and end. Or, when I close my eyes and sense love filling the room and us both. This occurs whether we’re engaged in expressive power dynamics play or quiet meditative time. The actions aren’t as relevant as the energy of wholeness, timelessness and utter trust and safety to be as big as I/we want to be together.

  5. Eco-sex channel: Eco-sex energy holds a sense of communion with the natural world that often fills the space with innocence, wonder, joy, and playfulness. For me, this energy feels enlivened as the sounds of the birds and crickets soften my heart, and quiet my mind, as my body pulses with life. In these moments, I’m awash with a desire to drink in the warmth of connection with all of life.

Integrative coach

Exploring sexy channels in relationship

When you’re conscious or your channels of arousal, and which ingredients contribute to them, you can understand the nuances of what turns you on (or off). This allows you to ask for what you want, and better identify your partner’s channels of arousal. This exploration also provides more room for dynamism and play between you and your lover.

You can create arousal maps and share them with each other, so they can become templates for how you can expand the ways you play and experiment together. Often, this process heightens arousal and deepens sexual satisfaction and intimacy.

Conversely, exploring arousal maps may help you understand where there is a clash or conflict between your and your partner’s needs and desires. If one of you is highly romantic while the other is inclined towards dominance and submission, there may a gap to close.

Yet, in my experience, sometimes we don’t know what’s possible or what we like until we expand our explorations in a safe container of trust and play.

The more you know about yourself, and share with each other, the more you tap into a broader range of potential solutions and explorations that can embrace and address differences in deeply powerful and nourishing ways.

Mapping your hottest play date with your partner or lover

Ready to take it even further? It you want a deep dive into your internal sexual landscape, I encourage you to sketch the perfect scene with your lover. This exercise builds intimacy with yourself, and enrolls the creativity of your erotic mind.

If done with a partner, this fun exploration can be a means to learn more about one another and spice up your sexy menu together.

Embodied Sexuality

Here are some areas to play with as you sketch your ideal scene:

  1. The Setting:

    What does the environment look like? Are you indoors or outdoors? Are people around, or are you bubbled into your own private space? Do you have music playing, candles, food, wood burning in the fireplace, or rain falling on the skylights above you? Is it daytime or nighttime? How much time do you have? Are you luxuriating in time, or do you only have a small window to work with, so that pressure to move quickly is woven into your turn-on?

  2. Gestures:

    Drawing on the examples of gestures listed earlier, which ones sparked your desire? What would you build onto them to make it your own in your fantasy?

  3. Verbal Expression:

    Is your lover talking softly and sweetly to you, showering you with compliments? Or are you longing to be commanded as you surrender your will to your partner’s desires? Maybe you want to be passionately told “I want to eat you alive”? What specific words would most spark your arousal?

  4. Touch:

    What kind of touch would you want to give and receive? Is it soft, sensual and feathery? Is it firm, commanding, and lustful? Where do you want to be touched? Are you partially clothed, or fully naked? If partially clothed, what are you wearing? What’s being hidden and revealed for direct physical touch?

  5. Energy:

    How do you want to feel? Do you want to feel romantic, safe, and loved? Do you want to feel wild and playful? Or do you want to feel out-of-control, feasting on passion and lust? Do you want to feel edgy and uncertain as you take on an energy of dominating with your desire or submitting to your lover’s desires as the object of their desire?

What about potential conflicts between your and your partner’s sexy channels of arousal?

If you’re struggling with sexual satisfaction or desire in your relationship, you’re not alone. Our current cultural and social paradigm has placed immense pressure on couples to fulfill each other’s every need, domestically and sexually. Inevitably, there will be differences and friction. Depending on life’s circumstances and on the various seasons of the relationship, we may find ourselves prioritizing certain aspects of our shared life. In her book Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel speaks brilliantly about this universal struggle to manage our domestication needs while maintaining erotic aliveness.

The way through is to transparently share our needs and disappointments.

To co-create deeper intimacy with one another, we must be willing to account for our differences with love and compassion, especially when fear, blame, shame and control try to run the show.

Relationships are one of the most complex riddles of the human design. They are also one of the most fulfilling and nourishing aspects of existence. Knowing why you chose the relationship and what your values are inside of it is key. I suggest that every couple explores whether they have a shared reality. To learn more on this topic, check out an Ask Anne-Marie response to finding one’s authentic erotic expression in partnership.

As you explore your internal map of arousal alongside your partner, you may find that you clash in certain areas of desire, which doesn’t have to mean that something is wrong or someone needs to change. Depending on how you relate to this perceived difference, it can be an invitation to go deeper into the feelings and missing experiences you each hold, and what is driving your desire.

A common clash I’ve seen in heterosexual relationships is a belief that men want more sex than women. I’m grateful to see that this stereotype is shifting, as we explore our own authenticity and find freedom and permission to break indoctrinated cultural boxes of appropriate or inappropriate sexual expression.

And yet, it’s still a real dilemma for many couples. When I track this in my life, and through countless conversations with others, it seems there is clash of needs. If men seek connection first by having sex to create emotionally intimacy, but women lack a desire for sex until the emotional connection is established first, then what?

A weird chicken and egg situation, right? How can the needs of both partners be met, in a way that serves the relationship? The answer is a unique path to be lived out by each couple. Often, the answer is ignited when we bring a hunger and willingness to look at the dynamic that lives under the surface of this pattern.

Investigating a common dilemma: “I need sex first to create emotional connection” vs “I need emotional connection first before I want sex”

I recently explored this topic in a couple’s coaching session. He expressed, “I need sex first to create emotional connection.” While she responded “Yes, but I need emotional connection first, before I want sex.”

Together, the three of us unpacked this pattern. As we dug deep, we pruned to the root, and here’s what we found for these two lovers.

He felt the need for sex every day in order to assuage the fears that creep in between acts of sexual intimacy. He experienced voices of fear that said “You’re not enough, you’re not lovable,” and having sex served to reaffirm his value and place in the world. It was a young aspect of his early conditioning that was manifesting in his adult relationship — an innocent and wise attempt to heal a missing experience through sexual connection.

On the other hand, his partner felt pressured by his need for this frequency of sex. Not because she didn’t love sex with him, but because he was projecting a need onto her to fix a part of him, which ended up feeling un-sexy to her. This shadow pattern resurfaced old trauma from her childhood, in which she had to attend to everyone else’s needs, regardless of what she needed and the pacing that felt most aligned to her system. The present situation tapped into her history of needing to care for her father’s emotional needs and feeling engulfed by another man’s need for her to complete something in him. The feelings she sought through sex was freedom to go at her pace, take her time, and to be tended to in slower and more spacious ways. She needed to feel her sovereignty and choice, and not respond to sex out of an obligation to fulfill another person’s need for wholeness.

Underneath the differences was common ground. They both feared losing each other, but felt stuck in this dynamic.

As these deeper feelings were revealed, they embraced and cried in each other’s arms. Time stood still. Between tight squeezes, they would pause, pull back, and look into each other’s eyes as the tears fell. Eventually, each of them spoke of their love for one another. They reflected back what they could now see within themselves, as well as what they clearly perceived in the other’s world, which they couldn’t seen before.

Their willingness to be vulnerable and bear witness to each other’s core wounds was the gateway to deeper clarity and intimacy. Compassion and love filled the room.

Now that the shadows that had been at play could be welcomed with love and care, a new level of intimacy became possible. They could see where they had both previously wanted to look outside themselves for internal fulfillment, and had given in to impulsive conditioned responses in their relationship, at the cost of honoring their authentic needs and desires. They now both wanted to heal and transform these patterns, within the container of the love and safety they had created.

Differences, when embraced with loving curiosity, can bring us to profound levels of Love and healing together.

Integrative coach

Wrapping it up

I hope this article has enabled you to touch new insights about yourself, and opened up doorways of exploration for you and/or your partner to play with and venture into.

While sex fulfills a biological impulse to procreate and experience pleasure, we come to sex to fulfill a need to feel something. Fantasies are one of the entry points to explore our missing experiences and patterns of anxiety and fear.

Studying our sexual expression is the fast track to investigating the whole of our human experience, and cracking into deeper freedom in all realms of our being.

We reach deeper intimacy with ourselves and each other when we expose and embrace the undercurrent of feelings we seek to experience through connection, intimacy and sex.

To continue the exploration, you can visit my blog article Your Erotic Architecture, where I detail other forms of self-discovery that help you map your internal erotic terrain.

The more you know yourself, the more you can share this intimacy with another, forging deeper bonds of love and enjoying playful explorations in the process.

You’re an empowered erotic being who can create more of what you want, once you’ve unearthed what desires truly live within your authentic self.

I want to pay tribute to Celeste and Daniele, the founders of the Somatic Method, for my amazing journey of becoming a certified Somatica coach. They have brilliantly organized these hottest sexual channels and ingredients, to which I have only slightly built upon by adding the spiritual and eco-sex. To learn more about their relationship and sexuality training program, click here.

Your stories and questions are welcome here. If you prefer to send a question anonymously, you can do so via the form included on Ask Anne-Marie. Or chime in on Instagram, @youreroticnature.