You have a unique constellation of pleasures, desires and interests that make you who you are. How well do you know your own pleasure constellations? What are the brightest stars that are easy to go after and express, and what pleasures might be dimmed by shame or fear?
This episode was inspired by the responses to our talk in the Explore More Summit. We will continue next week with a conversation about what to do with desires that can not be fulfilled right now – or ever!
Transcription of Podcast Episode: Pleasure Constellations
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Chris Rose: 00:00 Hi, welcome to Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. I’m Chris.
Charlotte Rose: 00:05 I am Charlotte.
Chris Rose: 00:06 We are the Pleasure Mechanics, and on this podcast we give soulful yet explicit sex advice about every facet of human sexuality. Come on over to pleasuremechanics.com, where you will find a complete podcast archive, and while you are there, go to pleasuremechanics.com/free, and sign up for our free online course, The Erotic Essentials, so you can get started implementing our best strategies and techniques to start building a happier and more pleasurable sex life on your own terms. That’s pleasuremechanics.com/free. Welcome to our new listeners. Last week, we were on the Explore More Summit. It is 10 days of brilliant talks and idea sharing with some amazing, amazing folks. We were honored to be a part of it, and if you were introduced to us through the Explore Sore summit, we are so glad you found us, and welcome to the community and we look forward to serving you over time.
Chris Rose: 01:16 Definitely check out the podcast archive, over at pleasuremechanics.com. There’s 325 episodes waiting for you, and they are all sorted by topic in our index on the site, and be in touch. Send us email. Let us know what ideas sparked for you in the talk, and what you are looking to explore with us. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Explore More Summit is happening right now as you’re listening to this podcast, perhaps, or it is archived so that we will put a link in the show notes page, and you can get a copy of all of those talks, I think ongoing into the future, if you missed the live free event. All right, so today, we are going to start a little two part series, sparked by our Explore More talk. In the talk, we were talking about power, and pleasure, and touch, and intimacy. It was a very …
Charlotte Rose: 02:15 We covered a lot of topics.
Chris Rose: 02:17 We certainly did. We covered a lot of topics, and covered a lot of ground, and one of the ideas that sparked some conversation in the Facebook community, and in some emails we received, is this idea, of we all have pleasure constellations. We all have things we are drawn to. We all have desires, and fantasies, and parts of our sexuality that are being revealed to us at all times, right? We are living, breathing sexual organisms, and so first, how do we learn to explore those pleasure constellations? What does that mean to map those out and come to know ourselves as pleasure beings? Then what we do with desires unfulfilled? I made a little statement about, there is maturity in recognizing that there are some of your desires will never be met, and that seemed to spark some feelings for a lot of people. We’re going to talk in the second part of this, next week, about desires unfulfilled and how to come into a ease-filled relationship with those desires.
Charlotte Rose: 03:24 Great. I was going to say right relationship with our unfulfilled desires. What do we do with them? How do we hold them?
Chris Rose: 03:30 But first, how do we get to know ourselves? How do we know our pleasure constellations? What does this idea mean, in terms of getting to, getting in touch with what those desires are in the first place? Right? Before we know if desires can be fulfilled or not, we need to be able to name and articulate those desires.
Charlotte Rose: 03:54 Sorry, I was just going off into really wanting to paint pleasure. I want to do a painting about pleasure constellations, and I was painting it in my head.
Chris Rose: 04:02 Okay, so that’s really …
Charlotte Rose: 04:03 Now I’m back. Now I’m back.
Chris Rose: 04:04 That’s actually a really good clue. Okay, so how do we know who we are as human beings? How does our individual interests, and pleasures, and desires give us a map to who we are, and our purpose on this planet, and who we might be wanting to be in community with? There’s this idea embedded in this idea that we are all unique individuals within this beautiful human community, and that knowing yourself as an individual is important. If we just start there, that knowing who you are is important, and this includes your sexuality, right? This conversation can be about all pleasures, about what kind of food do you like, what kind of music you like, what kind of art attracts you? What do you want to do on your holiday? Do you want to go camping or do you want to go to the big city?
Chris Rose: 04:57 Right? We can think about this in these very broad terms of pleasure, and then we can also think about it in terms of the most intimate terrain of our sexuality, our core desires, what we want to do when we are naked and sweaty with another human being, even if that is only in our minds. We will try to straddle both of those things, talking about pleasure broadly, because that broad category of pleasure is actually super important, and we all need to know ourselves better there, but also our sexual core pleasures and desires.
Charlotte Rose: 05:34 Yeah. What we do with our time really influences and impacts our entire life. The choices we make about how we spend three hours of time on a Saturday or a Sunday influences how we feel in our body, the level of connection we have with ourself, with our family, with our community, and we are all making different choices all the time, and shaping our lives with the places we go, the food we eat, the communities we’re touching. It’s just really powerful to reflect on sometimes of, is it what you want it to be? What would you desire more of? What would you desire less off,and to sort of do an inventory of your life, and of the amount of pleasures you’re experiencing outside of the bedroom. Then we can think about it also in the bedroom. Sometimes it’s easier to think about in a nonsexual way. We have less …
Chris Rose: 06:28 Baggage.
Charlotte Rose: 06:29 Yeah, we have less emotional like feelings about it, so it’s sort of an easier place to practice.
Chris Rose: 06:35 When you think about your constellations of pleasures, think broadly, and try to pinpoint those stars in your sky that might start shaping who you are, if you are thinking about who you are through the lens of your core pleasures. Forget your identities, your profession, your family. Just think about you as an organism, as a being, and think about what gives you as a being the most pleasure. Is it the ocean? Is it golf? Is it food? Try to get really both broad and then specific, and we will provide you in the show notes page, a PDF, where you can print it out and actually do this on paper, and I think that can be really helpful to start making it graphic, really writing it out, or visualize it, if you’re more of a visual person, but think of who you are as a being, as a constellation of pleasures. Charlotte mentioned in the beginning of this conversation, oh, my mind went to painting this conversation. That is because one of Charlotte’s core pleasures is art, broadly, more specifically, painting, and even more specifically than that, bright, beautiful colors. Is that accurate?
Charlotte Rose: 08:02 Yes, and-
Chris Rose: 08:03 How would you name that?
Charlotte Rose: 08:05 Yeah, I have loved painting and making art, but it is something that I’ve had so much resistance around and I … It’s taken a lot of courage and support to really create, and I think this is true for a lot of people, like trying to make space for something that you feel deeply in you, in your internal landscape that you want to do but are not doing, is a whole relationship that is worth looking at, I think, for a lot of us.
Chris Rose: 08:39 Okay. Let’s transition there in a second. Let’s talk about, what is one pleasure for you that you have not had resistance around, then you’ve had full social permission to just embrace, and go for? What’s an easy pleasure for you?
Charlotte Rose: 08:52 For me, movement, like dance. In my own home, not in like any kind of professional or organized way. I literally mean like dancing in my bedroom, dancing and other big room stretching, all of those kind. That is so joyful for me, and is such an important part of my vitality and wellbeing, and changes my life when I do it, and I love it, and I’m so clear that it is important to me.
Chris Rose: 09:17 These are the good things to look at, so what are the pleasures that have felt easy for you to go for in your life that you’ve felt social permission around, that you have felt social support? Naybe your parents put you in a class when you were a kid, or you got encouragement from other adults in your life. What pleasures and interests of yours have been socially supported and easy to embrace?
Charlotte Rose: 09:41 What about you, honey?
Chris Rose: 09:43 My intellect. That was always my primary thing that people applauded and supported, and so the pleasure of being a student, and getting good grades, and weaving ideas together, and writing. Those were all things that we’re really encouraged for me, and so as an organism, when things are encouraged for you, and you have the adults, your caretakers around you saying, “Good job. Yay, that’s great. You’re so good at that,” it’s natural for us to gravitate towards those pleasures. Right? Because we are confirmed, we are affirmed from the outside, like, those are good things. Go for it. We are getting to sex here, people. Don’t worry. Then think about what are the pleasures that you might feel inside you that were not socially supported, so things like painting, or dancing, things that are outside of your gender box. If you’re a macho boy that loves football and cupcakes, like the football might’ve been applauded, and you were put on teams, and bought uniforms, but when you went to bake with your grandmother, maybe your father came to pick you up and said like, “Take off that sissy apron,” or something. Right? What pleasures were you drawn to as a kid and throughout your life that you were restricted or shamed about?
Chris Rose: 11:02 What are the ones that are just a little more tender and vulnerable? I think the arts, for a lot of people, it’s like, oh, you want to be an artist? Ha ha ha, that’s not realistic. Capitalism and all of these things, like the social pressure of performing and getting a good job, also start interrupting our pleasures. What are the pleasures we would do if we didn’t have to grind it out at our job every day, is also a great lens here. What pleasures do not give your space, time, or permission for? What we’re painting here is this landscape of, we all have these pleasures within us, but over our lifetimes, and within our social conditioning, some pleasures are amplified, and given a lot of space and encouragement around, and other pleasures start to be dimmed, and maybe even quashed, constricted, silenced, shamed.
Chris Rose: 11:56 When we start zooming into our pleasure constellations, and then thinking about our sexual pleasure constellations, this is where these two forces of what has been given social permission, what has been encouraged, and what has been dimmed, silenced or squashed becomes really obvious.
Charlotte Rose: 12:16 Totally.
Chris Rose: 12:17 As you think about your sexual pleasures, your sexual desires, just notice, and be really compassionate and easy with yourself, because we’re all going to have desires that are really easy to express out loud, and desires that feel terrifying to even acknowledge to yourself, and this is because we live in a very narrow window of sexual permission in our culture. It is totally okay for a man to say out loud over a couple beers that he is a boob man, right? For a guy to like be like, oh she’s got nice boobs. I l,ove tits. Not going to really disrupt a lot of social circles, but for that same guy to be like I love feet and sucking on toes. That is not as socially acceptable in that conversation. Right?
Chris Rose: 13:13 This social gaze on our desires matters. It matters what we see representation of, what we see permission around, and then how we hear other people talk about the things that might be lighting us up inside. If you’ve known you’ve always been drawn to feet, and want to suck on toes, and you hear one of your friends or a girlfriend kind of talk about, ugh, those guys with fetishes are so gross. Like, what do they get out of it? Like, what pervs. That causes your inner light to flicker, that causes you to doubt yourself, and it certainly causes you to say to yourself, “Do not reveal this, because if you do, you will be judged.” This is just the reality. And then all of us live within like micro cultures within our relationships, and sub cultures within our communities, and cultures of race, and clas,s and education that have different barometers of what is okay and what’s not okay, what is permissible, what is forbidden.
Chris Rose: 14:13 All of that affects our internal gauge of what is okay to express and go for in life, and what is okay to seek out within our relationships, and integrate as like part of your sexuality versus what has to stay in your shame, and in your most private landscape, and not even be acknowledged to yourself. Then the range between those. Can you masturbate to something but not ask your partner for it? This is all a lot of self reflection. I get that, but it’s also really important in the process of knowing who you are as a sexual being. When we, or your partner, turns to you and say, ‘What do you want to explore next? What do you want to play with? What do you want to experience? What kind of sex do you even want to be having,” that we can have a more specific response to that, we can name our longings more clearly, and know that those longings, just like you’re longing for art or cello music, those longings are part of who you are. They’re part of you as a unique and beautiful individual, and part of what you have to offer this human community. Reel me in, Char. I’m going broad.
Charlotte Rose: 15:33 I love it. I think it’s really valuable, so we can understand all of those as big ideas, and then what does that look like in the body? What are we listening for? What are we observing within ourselves that then we want to notice, so there can be slight flickering of interest.
Chris Rose: 15:53 Wait, just a sec. What are we noticing within ourselves to feel like what are desires? How do we feel a yes? Is that what you’re saying?
Charlotte Rose: 16:00 Yeah. Yeah, because I think that so many of us don’t allow ourselves to really notice what we love, because of that social conditioning, and we have to get into the practice of listening internally in our own flesh, in the landscape of our body, for information, for cues, for twinklings, I want to say, but I have to go keep going on this [inaudible 00:00:16:27], but of information that is telling us actually, you were a little bit interested in this thing over here, that maybe you have some feelings, and judgment, and shame about, but if you maybe explore a little bit more, and give yourself a little bit of kindness and compassion just to explore it. Let’s see what you discover, because that is one of the first pieces to really discovering our constellation, is giving ourselves a space of not so much judgment to explore.
Chris Rose: 16:57 I think that’s a really good question, of how do we notice a yes in our body? How do we pay attention to pleasure in our body, and we’ve been talking more and more about interoception on this podcast, which is that really sexy super power of feeling the feelings inside your body. Not the sensations coming from the outside, but the sensations internally, and paying attention to your yes is a process of interoception, so think of it this way. Let’s just do an exercise right now, so think of one of your favorite places in the world, a place where you feel happy, and secure, and safe, and also maybe even a little sexy or pleasured, and just go there in your mind, and notice how it feels in your body, and pay a specific attention to those sensual details that you love.
Chris Rose: 17:56 Is it the way the light hits the water? Is it the fabric of that couch at your favorite home? Anchor this fantasy in a few sensual details that you know with your body, and start paying attention to how your body feels. Can you feel warmth flowing, buzzing, a streaming sensation? What language can you bring to those sensations around something that feels good to you, or think about one of your favorite sexual experiences, and take this into the arousal realm. We’ve talked about peak erotic experiences on this podcast before, so take yourself into the memory of a peak erotic experience, and really pay attention to how your body feels.
Chris Rose: 18:46 Then take a few deep breaths, notice that in your body, and then we can start summoning a no. Think about a person you don’t like. Think about a situation you don’t want to be in. Think about a worst case scenario, and start noticing, I just felt that shift in my body right away. Just saying the words, notice the constriction, the tension, the tightness, the catching of your breath. This is a process of getting to know what your body is telling you about things based on sensation. It is a super power. It takes time to hone, but you can’t do this without noticing, so next time you’re thinking about going to a restaurant, you’re investing your time, and your money, and what you’re putting in your mouth based on that restaurant choice, so summon up a few choices. Visualize yourself sitting in that restaurant, and figure out where your yes is. Right. Does that?
Charlotte Rose: 19:46 Yeah, totally. I was just wondering if we could take them back to like a pleasant experience so we can like …
Chris Rose: 19:50 All right, so let’s go back to a really pleasurable experience. Let’s go to that peak erotic experience, because that’s one of the best ways to feel a yes, is to make it big. Thinking about a subtle yes between, do I want to join that PTA committee? That might be harder, so go to your big yeses, or go to the everyday yeses, but go into a peak erotic experience and again, locate the sensual anchors. What are the feelings you felt? What are the smells, the sights, the tastes, and then also how did that other person treat you in a peak erotic experience? What are the social cues of that feeling good?
Chris Rose: 20:36 This is complicated in the fact that there are ways we want to be treated, in high states of arousal and eroticism that, that’s not a yes in everyday life, but the process of feeling your yes and no in your body, and people have been talking about this more and more with our talks of consent, and boundaries. How do we know what we want? We have to go inside and give ourselves space and time to feel, and sometimes that means taking time, giving yourself the time for a few moments, pause before making a decision, before making a reaction, and really feeling the landscape of what’s going on. Let’s bring this back to sex, so when you’re mapping your sexual pleasure constellation, there will be those bright stars that you know you like. You love fucking your wife. Awesome. Locate that, and then kind of zoom in and like, what else is within that node in your pleasure constellation?
Chris Rose: 21:36 What do you like about fucking your wife? What are the micro pleasures within that, and then zoom out and it’s like, without social conditioning, without the limitations of real world, what would be in your pleasure constellation? Next week we’re going to talk about, how do we navigate naming and being authentic with the broadest sense of who we are, the most true sense of who we are as sexual beings, and also acknowledging we do live in real world, with real world limitations and conditions, and even something like being interested in more than one gender, or more than one person at a time, that might be a desire you have to live with not fulfilling, if you are in a monogamous relationship. Or things like sucking on toes. If your partner doesn’t like their toes sucked on, what do you do with that? What do we do with a parts of our desire maps, our constellations, that we will not reach in this lifetime?
Chris Rose: 22:38 How do we be in integrity with that? I think that’s a really tender conversation. We will go there next week, but for now, and with the resources in the show notes page, I really invite you to start mapping your pleasure constellations, and then your sexual constellations, and get to know yourself as a sexual being. If I wanted to know who you were as a sexual being, how would you explain that to me through what you enjoy? As we define ourselves, think less about your identities and more about what you enjoy, what pleasures you enjoy giving and receiving, what pleasures excite you, and entice you, and arouse you, and light you up. Let’s go back to that Audre Lorde definition of eroticism. What gives you life? What excites you and sparks your flow of life energy. Start there. Marie Kondo recently is been hitting all the news. What sparks joy, and we need to figure out how do we feel joym and then notice what sparks joy. What creates pleasure in your life. That is the inquiry of this week.
Charlotte Rose: 23:50 Yeah, so this is a lifelong inquiry that is always changing, always evolving, but any time, and attention, and effort you put into exploring this right now can be really valuable, no motto where your partner, if you have a partner, or if they’re interested in exploring this with you, it’s a really valuable personal inquiry that is worth returning to as you discover new interests, and as you’re out in the world, notice and feel for sparks of interest, of warmth, of excitement, about anything, and just let that be information for yourself, that that is a part of yourself that you are noticing.
Chris Rose: 24:31 As you map these pleasures, again, a reminder for self compassion here. As you recognize pleasures that you have longing for, there may be steps to start recalibrating your life, to allow more of those pleasures in. When you recognize, oh, I love swimming and I haven’t been swimming in two years, finding a local pool for a weekly swim might be accessible to you, and there might be pleasures that feel really far away, and there can be a sense of longing, and grief, and mourning that opens up there. This is really what we want to dive into next week, is how do we make friends with desires that feel further away? How do we excavate desires from underneath the shame and secrecy, and even if they stay private, honor our desires a little more? But this is all about getting to know yourself, and feeling a little bit more permission about being who you are, instead of being on the script, the social script that tells us who we should be, and who we ought to be, and start really re-centering into this, the radical diversity of the human family.
Chris Rose: 25:43 We all have so much in common, but we all are really interesting, unique individuals, and as soon as I started going to dinner parties and asking instead of like, oh, what do you do for a living, and we start asking, what excites you? What are you excited about right now? You get into such better conversations, because instead of knowing that someone’s an accountant, I know that they’re really into Greek tragedy opera. I don’t even know if that’s a thing. They’re really into something, and when they told me what they’re into, I see who they are, and we can start there. Tell me about your obsession with opera. When did that begin for you? This is such a better way to get to know each other as human beings, and so let’s all do the work of mapping a little bit, who we are through our pleasures, through our interests, and our excitements, and including our sexual pleasures within that.
Chris Rose: 26:38 Even that process is honoring that sexuality as part of who we are, and our unique sexual pleasures matter. Not only setting you on the path for fulfilling those desires, but even just knowing who you are as a unique sexual being is incredibly powerful. Let’s start doing that a little bit more together. Yeah?
Charlotte Rose: 27:01 Sounds good. Let’s do it.
Chris Rose: 27:03 Thank you for listening to this podcast. If you are a new listener who found us through Explore More, welcome. There is a huge podcast archive to be discovered at pleasuremechanics.com. While you’re there, sign up for our free online course at pleasuremechanics.com/free, and if you have been listening to this podcast for a while, and love what we do, and are delighted by the idea of an influx of new listeners, and more people being exposed to the heart and soul we bring to this topic, then please support us on Patreon. Go to patreon.com/pleasuremechanics, and throw in a monthly donation of a few bucks a month to help us do this work in the world, and continue to reach new people, and spark new conversations and ideas for folks. We are so thrilled to be doing this work. Thank you for your support. We love you. We are so happy to be in these conversations with you, and next week we will be back with you, with continuing this conversation about desires, fulfilled and unfulfilled. Yes? I’m Chris.
Charlotte Rose: 28:16 I’m Charlotte.
Chris Rose: 28:17 We are the Pleasure Mechanics.
Charlotte Rose: 28:18 Wishing you a lifetime of pleasure.
Chris Rose: 28:21 Cheers.