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Embracing the Pause in Our Sexual Relationships

By Carly Sackellares, MSW

It's no secret that navigating sex while dating is hard and perhaps more challenging than ever before. A recent NYTimes article, Straight People Need Better Rules for Sex by Christine Emba, boldly recognizes that while straight relationships have come a long way regarding sexual stigmas, rigid gender roles, and the lack of consent, there's much we have missed in providing a safe sexual space for daters.

New research has found that heterosexual women daters continue to feel pressured to engage in unwanted sexual acts. Consenting to “having sex” seems to be a blanket agreement to any kind of sex that arises. The article cites Asa Seresin, who calls this darkness within the straight experience "heteropessimism." With old heterosexual dating patterns still defining unconscious behavior, many heterosexual daters are feeling unsafe in their sexual relationships.

The article quotes Fannie Bialek, a Washington professor and ethicist,

"One of the most important pleasures of sexual intimacy is feeling like you have the possibility of the unexpected⁠—but not too much possibility of the unexpected."

Chapter 7, Sex: Steering Towards Satisfaction in Naked Online invites us to be aware of our appreciation of similarities and our delight with differences in romantic relationships,

"We want to be safe in our sexual choices, and we want to be fulfilled. In our efforts to find emotional and physical safety, sometimes we seek a partner with a certain kind of sameness, but too much sameness can cause our libido to decrease and our sex lives to tank. In our efforts to ramp up our arousal, we could migrate into unsafe sexual territory. Again with the zen⁠—let's find balance."

When consent is moment-to-moment, there is more room for the playfulness that makes sex fun. However, if we say "yes" to the movement of the moment and we do not feel we can say “no” to the movement of the next moment, this lack of honest conversation can turn dangerous.

Slowing down the dance of consent with a pause—"not right now" or "let's talk about it"—opens up the possibilities. The Chi for Two® Pause practice gives daters a tool for further consideration with a shared signal among partners representing a Chi for Two timeout. Making space for partners to find the balance between their desires allows for more intentional, safe, and arousing sex.

Embracing the "pause" as a sexual norm in the dating space benefits all those involved. While women typically experience more sexual violence, men have different struggles—for example, the expectation to always be ready for the pounce. Pouncing on prey is more scary than sexy—for everybody.

Mindful Pause helps us amp up the heat and find sexual satisfaction. If you're struggling to navigate your sex life while dating, no matter your sexual preference, I'm here to help. You can contact me at or (770) 846-0128. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

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