Spontaneous Sex

Spontaneous Sex: Free Podcast EpisodeWant more spontaneous sex? Turns out, you may have to let go of the myth of spontaneous sex. This is just one of the paradoxical insights about desire and domesticity from sex therapist Esther Perel.

In this passage from Mating In Captivity, Esther unpacks the myth of spontaneous sex and invites us into a more conscious relationship with desire and erotic initiation.

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How To Set Erotic Goals

How To Set Erotic Goals

Setting Erotic Goals

The first step to having the sex life of your dreams is to define erotic goals specifically designed to fulfill your desires, one at a time. This is where thought becomes action, where you create practical goals and tangible steps towards enjoying a more fulfilling sex life, on your own terms.

First, you’ll define goals that move you towards fulfilling your desires. Then, you’ll prioritize those goals and pick one to begin working towards immediately. Many erotic goals are fulfilled on your own – through how you treat yourself, your attitudes and approaches towards your own sexuality, and actions you take in your own life. Other erotic goals require the participation of your lover.

For now, we begin by reclaiming the idea of a goal-oriented sexuality. Goals have become a dirty word when it comes to sex – we believe that well defined goals will help you optimize your experience of sexuality, just as they do in health, business and other areas of your life.

Goal vs. Agenda

We know, sex isn’t “supposed to be” goal-oriented. Our peers in the sex education field spend a lot of time getting people to give up having goals. We say HAVE GOALS! Greatness in all realms of life depends on setting and achieving goals. Why should great sex be exempt from this? Goals allow us to mutually agree on a desired outcome, to set our sights what we want to make happen.

Goals are essential to create a fulfilling sex life, but agendas can be toxic to your eroticism. Again, we turn to the dictionary definitions of Goal Vs. Agenda to discover the crucial difference.


the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result: going to law school has become the most important goal in his life.

• the destination of a journey: the aircraft bumped toward our goal some 400 miles to the west.

literary a point marking the end of a race.


• a list of items to be discussed at a formal meeting: the question of nuclear weapons had been removed from the agenda.

• a plan of things to be done or problems to be addressed: he vowed to put jobs at the top of his agenda | the government had its own agenda.

Here is the big difference: A goal is the desired result. An agenda is a to-do list. Most people approach sex with an agenda (kiss, touch boobs, blow job, fuck, orgasm – sound familiar?) instead of a goal.

As a culture we have lost our erotic imagination, and reduced the sexual experience into a predictable agenda.

The definition of “goal” has the key: desired result.

Remember the distinction between Fantasy and Desire. It is from the deep well of your desires that you will draw upon for your erotic goals. Your Desires (and your lover’s) are the inspiration for your erotic goals, determining what you want to experience sexually and how you might approach lovemaking to meet that goal.

Broad Vs. Specific Goals

There are two kinds of goals: broad goals (I want to feel fitter and healthier) and specific goals (I want to lose 10 pounds by June). Broad goals allow a range of successful outcomes, while specific goals are like the bullseye on a target – hit or miss. We encourage you to set erotic goals that are broad and open-ended in nature.

Goals are especially important for partnered sex, and the process of setting goals with your lover can be a loving, exciting and intimate part of your erotic relationship. Goals can also help you create accountability. Once you have a shared goal that you have agreed upon, it is much easier to make requests. For example, if one of your shared goals is to exchange more quality touch, you can easily say “Hey, let’s trade some foot massage while we watch this movie” or “Remember when we said we wanted to do more massage? Tonight would be a great moment for me to receive a back rub, my neck is really stiff.” These requests won’t be coming out of nowhere. Setting goals together puts you on the same page with your lover and makes it much more likely that you will get more of what you want to experience together.

Creating Erotic Goals

In naming our Desires, we become honest about what we truly want from our erotic life. In naming our Goals, we start getting real about how we’ll get there.

Here are a few examples of how fantasies become goals:

  • Fantasy: Being a Billionaire    
  • Desire: Financial Stability    
  • Goals: Work Smart 40 hours a week, Network 2x Month, Write a Book This Year


  • Fantasy: Anonymous Sex   
  • Desire: Flirtation, Seduction, Newness     
  • Goal: Make Sex with Husband Feel New Again


  • Fantasy: Ravished by the Pirate King     
  • Desire: Rough Sex, Domination   
  • Goal: Give Up Control, Be Tossed Around and Fucked Roughly

Sometimes the distance between the Fantasy, the Desire and the Goal is very narrow. Sometimes it is very distant, but the core of what you want to explore remains intact. As you gain experience with this kind of sexual exploration, you’ll be able to create more accurate and more efficient Goals.

For now, just allow yourself to start thinking about Erotic Goals. As you examine your Desires, what rises to the surface? What do you want to EXPERIENCE?

Setting Erotic Goals Exercise 1:

The Range of Erotic Desires and Goals

Here are just some of the potential goals you can explore in your sex life. Notice the range, from broad to very specific. Goals can be open ended or quite targeted. We like to frame goals in terms of what DESIRE you want to EXPERIENCE. It can also be useful to ask yourself the question How do I want to feel?

“I want to experience. . .”

  • Taking control
  • Giving up control
  • Not having to make decisions
  • Bondage and Restraint
  • Being ravished, claimed, taken by force
  • Rough sex
  • Fucking (vs. “Making Love”)
  • New sensations
  • Amping Up Intensity
  • Multiple Orgasms
  • Being Blindfolded
  • Going into trance
  • Arousal over long periods of time
  • Very light touch without being ticklish
  • More of a specific kind of sensation: Biting, Scratching, Pinching, Nipple Toys, Abrasion, Temperature play,
  • The thrill of flirtation
  • A first kiss with someone new
  • Kissing/Having Sex with someone of the same sex / opposite sex
  • Anonymous sex
  • Using sex to get something else
  • Using sex to get secrets, spy, espionage
  • Being the mysterious stranger
  • An otherworldly erotic experience
  • Profound “heart connection” with partner
  • Ritual or Ceremony with partner
  • Animalistic Sex
  • Being someone else
  • Sex in public places
  • A very specific script / reenactment

Read through the list again and take note of the goals that jumped out to you. Start broad – if any idea has even a little bit of appeal, take note. Also notice any feelings of strong repulsion – that might be a clue that there is something you desire but have shame or guilt about. Notice what you feel really neutral about – probably not the goals for you. If you are drawn to something but aren’t sure how you feel about it, allow yourself to work it into your fantasies and notice what comes up. Remember, fantasizing can be the first step in safely exploring any new sexual scenario you are curious about!

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you think about your personal erotic desires and goals:

Keep an Open Mind

If there is one cliche that is doubly true in the bedroom, it is “never say never.” Sexuality is fluid – it changes over the course of our life, and just when you think you know yourself is usually when the next level of mystery reveals itself. What turns you on today will not be what you want three years from now. So the key is not defining “who you are” as a sexual being in any fixed way, any more than health means eating the same meal forever. The key is in learning to decide what you want to experience at any given time.

We are offering you all sorts of thought experiments that will help you determine exactly what you want to discover. Ultimately, the only way to know what something feels like is to try it. More than once.

You can never assume what something feels like by watching it done to someone else, reading about it in a book or talking to someone who has tried it. This kind of research may provide some hints and clues as to what you might find pleasurable. But imagine trying to plan your entire diet based on reading cookbooks. At some point you have to try new dishes, and decide what you like and what you don’t like. This can be scary when it comes to sex – there is a concern that if your whole identity and value as a human rests upon if you like something or not. We are much more comfortable saying out loud “I happen to like sardines” than “I happen to like spanking”

Be open and expect your desires to change over time. Get ready to surprise yourself in very wonderful ways.

Setting Erotic Goals Exercise 2:

Choose a Solo Goal

By now, you may have a good sense of what you want to explore in your sex life. Many erotic goals don’t require the involvement of your lover, and for anyone who is single, there is lots of exploration and growth you can do on your own, no partner required. We think it is important to maintain ownership of your sexuality, no matter what your relationship status.

So make the very first erotic goal you set a Solo Erotic Goal. Think about one thing you can do to explore a new part of your sexuality, on your own. This could be about how you treat yourself as a sexual being, an attitude you want to shift over time, or a physical experience you want to try out when you masturbate.

The Venn Diagram of Desire

The Venn Diagram of Desire

Is it selfish to say “no” to your lover’s sexual requests? What role do healthy boundaries play in a satisfying sex life?

Discover the Venn Diagram of Desire! You have your desires, your lover has their own, and your shared sex life is where the two overlap.

Having different interests and desires doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your relationship, it simply means you need to find your overlap and choose to go deeper together in your relationship.

In this must-listen episode, we explore how to have a fulfilling sex life – while keeping your integrity intact! Being sexually liberated doesn’t mean doing anything and everything!

True sexual freedom means knowing what your authentic desires are, being willing to have open and honest communication with your lover, and choosing what you honestly want to explore together. Negotiation is an essential skill for a successful relationship – but how do you negotiate while respecting your lover’s desires (even if they turn you off!) How do you stay true to yourself while growing and being open to new experiences?


Sexual Desire

Many people want to increase their sexual desire. Loss of desire is very common and, thankfully, something you can take control of.

What is Sexual Desire?

DesireSexual desire goes way beyond a simple craving for intercourse. Sexual desire is an entire galaxy of needs and wants, pleasures your body craves. The first step in reclaiming your sexual desire is getting honest about what you specifically want, right now.

What pleasures do you crave? What kind of touch do you long for? If you could be the architect of the perfect evening of pleasure, what would it look like?

Desire is the hunger for pleasure that fuels us as humans. We desire that which feeds and nourishes us.

Humans are incredibly creative sexual beings. Each of us has a very specific constellation of sexual turn-ons and interests, and most of us have not even begun to get to know ourselves as sexual beings. We have lost the ability to fantasize freely, to give ourselves blanket permission to explore our erotic creativity and discover what it is we truly desire. So we settle for a narrow and predictable sex life, enjoying the familiar pleasures we permit ourselves, and yet find ourselves wondering what else is erotically possible.

What Is Blocking Your Desire

If you aren’t feeling as much sexual desire as you wish, the first thing to get real about is how much stress is getting in the way of your desire. Stress is highly toxic, and many people find that the more stressed out they are, the less sexual desire they feel. This makes sense, as the body shifts it’s resources to manage stress and away from the less essential systems. If you suspect stress is killing your libido, start with couples massage. Sharing massage with your lover is an amazing way to connect with your lover, melt away stress and get back in touch with pleasure.

It is also important to get real about what else might be blocking your sexual desire. Is there resentment or regret clouding your relationship? Is there anything you need to clear up between you and your lover so you can feel ready to be intimate and vulnerable together. If you do fine and get aroused while fantasizing about strangers, but can’t seem to get interested in sex with your lover, work on your relationship before worrying about your own libido!

True Desire Is For What Is Sustainable and Nourishing

Of course, desire can go haywire and turn into compulsive cravings and addictions. That is not true desire. True desire is for that which pleasures our body and soul in a long-term, sustainable way.

What desires do you allow yourself? Notice all the places in your life you have desire and don’t allow it.

Desire ≠ Fantasy: Discover The Crucial Difference!

Desire is not the same as fantasy. It is easy to fantasize about things that you do not truly desire. Fantasy is the realm of the erotic imagination, where anything is possible. Desire is that which you actually want more of in your life. Our book The Fantasy Method uncovers the crucial difference between fantasy and desire and guides you in naming your authentic desires so  you can have the sex life you really want.

In this culture, we are taught to desire consumer goods and foods – but not some of the more satisfying things in life (fufillment, touch, intimacy, freedom.) Learning to authentically name your desires is the first step towards creating the sex life that will fulfill you.

Responsive Desire

Responsive Desire

Let’s face it: life is busy, our to-do lists are long and at the end of the day it can feel exhausting to think about getting intimate.

Here’s the problem: if you de-prioritize your sexuality again and again, you can fall into a dry spell and it becomes much harder to get your sex life started again. Every time you choose the TV over your erotic life, your pleasure potential narrows a bit.

So here is some advice that can do wonders for your sex life: even if you aren’t in the mood, get intimate anyway. Choose to get naked, get in bed and simply explore full body touch. Don’t put pressure on the situation, don’t have an agenda to have sex or even have an orgasm. Just touch. Then notice how you feel. Most of the time, your body will start warming up and feeling really good, your mind will relax and you’ll say things like “Why don’t we do this EVERY night?”

This “get naked and touch” advice is even more important for women, as female sexual response is often “responsive desire” rather than “spontaneous desire.” This means that women are more likely to feel aroused and ready for intimacy once they are already in an erotic situation (naked and touching their lover!) rather than spontaneously as they are washing up after dinner.

Once you are naked and in bed, focus on full body touch, using all of the strokes you have learned from the couples massage videos. Then, if you find yourself aroused, you can move on to erotic touch or other kinds of orgasmic stimulation. But remember that even a few moments of full body touch is enough to trigger your brain’s pleasure response, create head-to-toe relaxation and release all the health benefits of touch. Make a few minutes of full body touch part of your daily routine and you’ll notice tremendous benefits for your health and your relationship.

So don’t wait to be in the mood for intimacy. Choose to get naked and start touching and see what happens!