The Giver/Receiver exercise is designed to help you practice what I call the nine tenants of a healthy sex life: prioritizing intimacy, communicating about sex, accessing desire, enjoying the journey, being present, being okay with “no,” being selfish, being giving, and exploring eroticism. If you have been following along for the past few weeks, I hope you have given the exercise a try and had some breakthroughs in these areas. Now, I want to introduce another exercise for you and your partner, the Taker/Allower Exercise.
Try a Version of the Exercise Focused on Taking and Allowing Pleasure
Once you have fully explored the Giver/Receiver Exercise, you may want to use the counterpart: the Taker/Allower version of the exercise. The person doing the touching is in charge—they are taking pleasure and the other allows it. Occasionally, people may choose to start with this one. The consent built into this exercise is important (especially if one of you has had abuse, trauma, or assault in the past). Doing this exercise can be a healing way to proceed, though I think doing the original Giver/Receiver Exercise first helps you develop the communication you need to be successful with this variation. Either way, you can use the Taker/Allower exercise to proceed through the same nine phases described earlier.
The same rules apply for this exercise as with the Giver/Receiver Exercise, but the directions and jobs are slightly different. In this case, it is the Taker that is in charge. The Taker is to think about how they would touch the Allower for their own pleasure. They ask for consent to do that specific thing, and then touch the Allower in that way. Unlike much of the touch people provide their partners, this exercise asks the Taker to think about themselves and what they would enjoy doing, for their own sensory pleasure. They are asked to think about themselves and what sensual or sensory experience they would like to have with their partner’s body.
It is crucial for the Taker is to ask for consent. Let the Allower know specifically what you want to do—where you want to touch and how. Get explicit verbal consent before proceeding. Ask again every time you want to change what you are doing. The Allower has the same job of saying no when they need to say no, and consciously choosing to step into the work of growth when they just want to say no.
You take the same 10-minute turns as with the Giver/Receiver Exercise, with the same jobs to pay attention to during your roles. Change happens experientially. You need to practice thinking and behaving differently to transform your sex life. These exercises are all about how to put these ideas into physical practice with your partner. They give you the framework for change; the phases give you the areas of focus to change. By the end of the process, however long that takes, you and your partner can discover freedom and ease in your sexual relationship.