THE SESSIONS: 10 Things You Can Learn From a Sex Surrogate

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THE SESSIONS: 10 Things You Can Learn From a Sex Surrogate
Guilt, shame, fear, and feeling unlovable can all fuel anxiety over sex but these are treatable.

3) Acknowledge your partner’s anxiety—and your own—when it’s in the room. Much of what is good about surrogacy is the emphasis on communication and authentic sharing. Unaddressed anxiety can lead to panic and/or self-fulfilling prophesies of failure. On O’Brien’s way to his first session his attendant says, "Stop acting like you are going to your own execution."  O’Brien responds with his self-effacing humor, "I'm not acting." Cohen Green recognized O’Brien’s anxiety when she asked him how he was feeling and he replied earnestly that he was “out of his league" and terrified. O’Brien calls her on her anxiety when she compliments him on his shirt for the second time. In O’Brien’s essay, “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” he writes, “She asked me whether I had been afraid to see her that day; I admitted that I felt spasms of deep terror. She said it had been brave of me to go through with the session despite my fear…. I began to tell her about my life, my family, my fear of sexuality. I could see that she was accepting me and treating me with respect.” Talking helped them both to relax, a precursor to good sex.

4) When giving, ask what feels good and what doesn't. So many of us do unto others in the bedroom what we would like done to us. Usually this is a big mistake. During the sessions, Cohen Green introduces O’Brien to body awareness exercises or, what we call in the business of sex therapy, sensate focus exercises. She uses a variety of different touches on various parts of his body while asking for feedback. She instructs him to tell her what feels especially good or bad and not to tolerate anything that is uncomfortable. She learns that stimulation of his ears, something many find arousing, is “weird.” Different people react differently to the same stimulus, and to make things even more tricky, they may like a tongue in their ear in one context and not another. That’s why you should always keep an open line of communication during your pleasuring time together.

5) When receiving, ask for what you want and, equally as important, let your partner know what does not feel good. Cohen Green gives O’Brien permission to explore her body also. In one scene she guides him in exploring her breasts. “Now if you touch one, you have to touch the other,” she said. “That’s the rule.”

6) Give your partner positive reinforcement, or as what surrogates call, “appreciations.” During and after each session, Cohen Green makes it a point to offer O’Brien sincere compliments. Among other things, she comments positively on his soft hair, choice of cologne, and size and functioning of his penis, all of which help to build O’Brien’s confidence and enhance his enjoyment. Appreciations pave the way for a more loving partner and more pleasurable sexual experience.

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