Before you can have a meaningful conversation about sex with a partner, you have to agree with yourself that your sexuality and your needs are important.
Seems simple enough, but let me tell you…
Sexuality is one of those funny things that’s simultaneously robust and fragile. It’s always there, rooted in biological imperative. But it can be damaged and repressed by any number of psychological conditions; from daily stressors to serious trauma.
And even if it’s healthy, sexuality is still subject to emotions, expectations, and the individual’s infinite experiences leading up to that moment. You might hate a particular sex position, for example, because of one bad experience you had years ago.
The good news is, wherever you are in your sexuality journey, you can always practice sex-positive self-empowerment. Done consistently, it can set you on a path toward a sexual future that works for you and your romantic relationship(s).
Read on for 3 sex coaching exercises to try at home.
1. Face the mirror
There are two very important tools for communicating with yourself that everyone can do. One of those is journaling, which we’ll get to.
The other method involves sex-positive self-affirmations in the mirror. This can feel awkward or a little silly at first, but it can be incredibly helpful for people struggling to communicate their sexual needs.
Sex coach homework
It’s simple: Look yourself in the eye in the bathroom mirror (go ahead and laugh) and check in with how you’re feeling.
Then pick 1-2 phrases and repeat each one 3 times like you mean it:
I’m grateful for who I am and the experiences that made me
I deserve satisfying sexual experiences with myself and my partner(s)
Sexual health is a vital, along with physical and mental health
I am working toward a more sex-positive mindset
My sexuality is valid now—and it’s valid when it changes due to conditions
My sexuality is a work in progress and I’m ready for the journey
Why it works
Ritual repetition is a powerful tool for cognitive restructuring. That’s why religions, sports teams, and political movements all use it in one way or another. Thoughts and memories live in your brain as electrical pathways. The more those pathways are traveled, the easier they are to travel.
And words you speak aloud are especially powerful for forming those thought pathways.
We all know how negative thoughts can echo into anxiety. But the same mechanism can work for positive thoughts—by consciously repeating them until they become embedded in memory. That’s called a mantra.
Repeating sex-positive affirmations is a way to habitualize validating your own sexuality and needs.
2. The hand mirror’s tale
Have you ever used a mirror to examine your privates? It’s not uncommon during adolescence to do so, when our bodies are awakening into sexual consciousness.
In fact the show Big Mouth—a sex-positive cartoon about puberty—has a great scene where one of the characters uses a hand mirror to “meet” her vagina and discuss with it the possibilities for pleasure. (S1:E5)
But most clients I talk to are surprised or even repulsed by the idea of exploring their genitals in a mirror now. As grownups. With respectable jobs. And maybe children.
Sadly that’s often a result of cultural repression. Whether we’re aware of it or not. There’s this underlying idea that sex and horniness are just youthful phases to “grow out of” and that we aren’t supposed to talk about sex directly as adults.
On top of that, many of us struggle with sexuality as a lingering symptom of trauma—whether major or minor. Which is why sex therapy and coaching exist.
So let’s change the narrative. Starting with looking between your own legs.
Sex coach homework
Set aside some time. Get alone, get comfortable, get naked. Make sure you’re familiar with the different parts of your sexual organ. Repeat your sex-positive mantra (see above).
Then using a mirror, spend some time exploring yourself.
Options for any gender or genitalia:
Bring a hand mirror into bed
Straddle or squat over a full length mirror on the floor
Spread your legs or kneel in front of a wall mirror
See how the hair grows, how the skin reacts to your touch. Flex and relax the muscles (like how you’d stop yourself mid-pee). Feel them moving under the skin. Find the different creases; where you sit, how your legs open and close. Touch each part, experimenting with different pressures and directions. Get some blood flowing and notice what swells and what flushes with color.
Remember, your goal isn’t to masturbate (though you can if you like). Instead your goal is simply to get more familiar with your body parts. To understand which areas bring what sensations, and why.
That way when you’re in the heat of the moment—whether self pleasuring or with a partner—you’ll know better how to direct the sensations exactly where and how you want.
3. Mirroring dialogue for oral sex
Every week people ask me how to get better at oral sex. Cunnilingus or felatio, the answer is always the same: Listen and invite direction.
Your job is to serve pleasure—not to work through your toolbox of techniques. Encourage your partner to direct you. Listen and adapt, with patience and gratitude. Pay attention to their nonverbal cues. Remember what they don’t like, and avoid it.
The best way to get better at oral sex? Yep, turns out it’s empathy.
One way to help that along is by talking about it separately, when you’re not actually involved in the act. That way there’s less pressure on both partners. Think of it as long-game foreplay.
Imago mirroring is a relationship therapy technique for developing empathic communication habits. It splits a strategic conversation in two parts. The Sender talks. The Receiver repeats what they said and asks for more. After a while they switch roles.
Here’s how to use mirroring dialogue for better oral sex:
MOUTH: Your pleasure is important to me. Can you tell me what you like and don’t like when it comes to oral sex?
BODY: Haha comes, get it? No but really what I like is starting slow. Like almost teasing.
MOUTH: Okay so you’re saying you like it slow at first. What else?
BODY: Well I like when you focus all around the area for a while. Not right on it.
MOUTH: Oh yeah that makes sense. What I’m hearing is you don’t like when I dive right in.
BODY: Right. When I’m not ready yet.
MOUTH: Anything else?
BODY: Well you could go a little slower. Sometimes it feels like you’re hurrying me along.
MOUTH: I can understand how it could feel like I’m hurrying. How slow are we talking?
BODY: Pretty slow. And much longer
MOUTH: Okay I hear you. I should go a lot longer and slower. Long enough to orgasm?
Well you can imagine where the conversation might go from there. Keep asking specific questions to deepen your understanding of what they’d like. And then switch roles. But you shouldn’t expect to become an oral sex hero with just one conversation. You’ll also have to practice!
Oral sex is a craft. Your mouth is the tool. Your partner’s pleasure is the medium. Every artisan knows: the masterpiece already exists within the medium. It’s the artist’s job to see it and bring it out.
That’s why gratitude is one of the pillars of my DIY coaching course. Your mindset is crucial.
You didn’t think I’d mention journaling in the beginning and not come back to it, did you?
Look, sexual health is mental health. Progress can only happen through self awareness, which can only happen through self reflection.
You have to step outside yourself to really see yourself.
You can look yourself in the eye in the mirror, that’s one way. Another way to see yourself from another perspective is by writing your thoughts in a journal, so you can see them later and reflect on them.
I recommend (okay, require) that most of my clients spend time journaling each week. And even the ones who grumble about it the most—even they always get something out of it.
Insights, surprising discoveries, emotional management...because self reflection is the gift that only you can give yourself. And it’s the kind that keeps on giving.
Don’t have a journal? Try this one.