Sexuality is simply the way you experience and express yourself as a sexual being. “Helping people get in touch with their sexuality and seeing it in a really positive way is my main focus,” says sex therapist and relationship coach Jacqueline Hellyer. “Many of the sexual problems that we have in modern society stem from the fact that we have a very narrow view of what sex is all about, and it’s not a particularly good view.
“Sex is an intrinsic part of our being. It’s as natural as eating food. However, society tries to compartmentalise the experience, to judge it as good or bad. It’s left a lot of people confused. No one really knows what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Additionally, there’s not a lot of good information out there about how to optimise your sexual experience. My goal is to give people that information so they can experience sex as something that is life-enhancing and very, very enjoyable.”
“The challenge for me is the way sex is viewed by society,” Hellyer says. “Because of that view, people may avoid my type of work because they expect it to be about sex toys and Tantric sex techniques. Or they think they couldn’t possibly do something like that because they don’t feel good about sex or because it’s too confronting.”
“So many people are hung up on what is ‘normal’: how often should they be having sex, how long should it last, what time of day should they do it? Some people think they should be one thing but they feel another. For example, should they be dominant or submissive? Should they initiate sex or not? I’m trying to spread the message that you have permission to desire whatever you like, as long as it feels good and enhances your life.”
Sexless marriages are very common says Hellyer. She believes the core of the problem is people don’t value sex: “So many people don’t understand how important sex is. They say that they’re too tired; that they can’t be bothered to make the effort. They don’t understand that it doesn’t take much effort; that it doesn’t have to be a major production every time but that it may require a little creativity.”
Another fallacy … you don’t need to be in the mood to have sex. Often, arousal will kick in once you get going. “Everyone goes through lulls, but they shouldn’t go on forever,” she says. Many people have a stressful job and switch off by watching television, so they may come to bed too tired. If you want to improve your sex life, you may need to watch less television or change your priorities.”
Originally a scientist, Hellyer understands how the chemicals released during sex can be the best thing for you if you’re tired, stressed or angry: “Sex helps you to set up a positive feedback link. During sex, you release feelgood hormones that also help you to bond with your partner.”
Some people attribute their decline in sexual enjoyment to being “too old for it” says Hellyer. They’ve bought into the whole concept of raunchiness that suggests you need to be young, thin and beautiful and have plenty of time to have good sex.
It follows that if you don’t meet this criteria – and most people over the age of 25 don’t – you’re not going to have good sex.
“People need to understand that we are intrinsically sexual beings and our sexuality is as natural as breathing and eating,” Hellyer says. “It doesn’t make sense to put it aside and say there’s something wrong with it. I’ve heard of many women who have become sexually active and fulfilled in their 70s after their husbands have died; they have a new partner who knows what he’s doing and they’re having good sex for the first time.
“We are physical beings and the core of our physicality is our sexuality. I don’t mean everyone has to be sexually active – many celibate people are very energetic and sensual, but that’s about rechannelling sexual energy, not denying or repressing it. I think a lot of sexual dysfunction comes from the belief that sex is simply not all it could be.”
“Some people do have biological problems, but on the whole, if a person is not feeling empowered and supported in the relationship and they are not being proactive and creative in their lovemaking, they are not going to have a good time and there’s going to be trouble with arousal. I don’t see it as a physical problem but more a spiritual and emotional issue.”
“What I’m teaching isn’t just about sex; it’s about the whole experience of life. If you have a good sensual experience of life, you won’t abuse sex, because it won’t feel right. Why would you eat bad food when you can have good food? Why would you have bad sex when you can have gorgeous sex?”
“One of the main myths that holds people back is that sex is natural, therefore it should be easy. But sex is really like cooking,” Hellyer says. “Anyone can cook, but to be a good cook takes learning, practice and dedication. Really glorious sex is an art that we all have the potential to experience.”