SexSmartBodyMaps© for Great Sex
In relationships, past the lust stage, for a lot of people— especially women—TOUCH is the ground zero of sexuality. But when you’re a sex therapist, you get to know the intimate details of how frustrating it is for a lot of people to get their touch preferences met
I came up with the idea of having people draw a colored map that indicates how they would like to be touched by their intimate partners in the 1990’s and published it in 1998 in SexSmart.
SexSmartBodyMaps© are incredibly helpful for sexual communication, and sexual communication is the number one ingredient for hot sex.
How to Draw Your SexSmartBodyMap©
To draw your BodyMap, draw two rough outlines of your body. One is for the front of your body, the other is the back. It does not have to be artistic. It can just look like a gingerbread man or woman. Honestly. The key is to color them in, thinking about how you like to be touched.
Now, the body maps you see here look really neat and perfect, but that’s only because I can’t show you the actual BodyMaps my clients draw for me. Trust me, ninety per cent of them are as bad artists as you or me.
So, color GREEN any area in which you love to be touched.
Color RED any area where you do NOT want to be touched. Ever.
Color YELLOW (or on these maps, BLUE) any area where how you feel about being touched “depends.”
Date your BodyMap.
Next, sit down with your partner and talk about what all the colors on your map mean.
All of the middle color, the blue or yellow areas, needs to be discussed thoroughly.
If you look at the map of Avery, above, you’ll see the map of a very common “everywoman.” Every=Avery. Get it?
The reason she has blue on her vulva and her breasts is that she does not want to be touched there until she has gotten warmed up to touch by being touched in ways that are not so sensitive. This is a very common pattern among women, and it is a big difference between men and women.
If you’re fighting, or if you just had a less- than- fabulous sexual interlude, don’t do this exercise right then. There is no point to doing this exercise if it is going to be too painful to give or receive constructive criticism. But trust me, if you keep telling each other the truth about what you each enjoy and don’t enjoy about the other’s touch, your sexual relationship will just keep on getting better.
A Note of Caution:
SexSmartBodyMaps© for Self Exploration—and the Possibility of Discovering Trauma
There is such important information stored in our bodies. But most of us live in our heads, so sometimes the BodyMaps can be very startling.
It is possible that when you do this exercise, you might get more than you bargained for. Look at the map of Mr. Darling. Mr. Darling was having some problems with his sexual desire. As it turned out, he actually had had some bad experiences with abuse when he was younger, along with a medical condition that caused him concern. Although you would think that all men absolutely love sex from movies and tv, actually, there are plenty of men who don’t enjoy sex all that much. Because of male socialization, they are much to embarrassed to say so.
Some people who don’t have much green came from families where there was very little affectionate touch, although there was no overt violence or abuse. They just did not store many good associations to touch from their childhoods.
I’ve seen people have a lot of yellow and red from growing up in a family where there was a lot of “harmless” tickling which the child did not want, but could not stop. Memories are stored in the body.
If it turns out that you don’t have very much green, or you have a lot of red, it probably would be a good idea not to tackle this on your own. If you live in the New England area and you can’t see me for therapy, http://www.nesttd-online.org/ is a good resource for a therapist who would be able to help you process these feelings. If you live elsewhere, look at the resources on the bottom of the trauma page to get some help.
Whatever you discover, you’re not alone, and there are wonderful, highly trained mental health professionals who can help you reprocess any bad feelings stored in your body. It’s worth the investment in yourself not to ignore what you have discovered. Touching and being touched by someone close to you is a wonderful way to experience being loved, and it’s actually good for your health.
For Sex Therapists and Other Professionals
For a further discussion of the huge numbers of people who have developmental trauma stored in their body and why it is important to assess and address this, Click Here to read my 2003 AASECT Contemporary Sexuality article discussing the importance of using SexSmart Body Maps© as part of your intake process.