The Sexual Shadow of Performance (+ the antidote)

Performative pleasure can be really exciting for the person watching, but it can also be under-stimulating and even self-sabotaging for the person performing, depending on the setting.

Why? Because performative pleasure seeks to entertain rather than feel!
This tends to keep the performer in a disembodied and sometimes disassociated state, with a hyper focus on other, rather than an embodied state with more awareness on self.

For example, he’s going down on you and you feel absolutely nothing, maybe even discomfort, but you moan and arch anyways and perhaps even fake an orgasm. You notice the way your actions impact his, and puppeteer the whole thing accordingly.

This style of performance keeps your partner’s pride satisfied but does absolutely nothing for you. In this way, performative pleasure can also be a way to stay in the act of giving rather than receiving. 
Why would a person want to do that? Receiving can bring up a lot of self worth issues; cue the thought we’ve probably all had “Am I taking up too much space? Is this taking too long?”
In this scenario, the comfort of your partner becomes more important than you. Additionally, receiving can be uncomfortable for those who like to be in control. It can be quite unpredictable to surrender the act and let things play out naturally.

What if it’s bad? Awkward? Vulnerable? In short, receiving sexually means opening yourself, and allowing your experience to become the most important one in the room. Imagine what might surface under this kind of magnifying glass!

But more subtly, performative pleasure tends to take a front seat unconsciously, when sexual engagement has a goal or agenda. If one or more partners are focused on having a specific experience, the added pressure can create a feeling of obligation to create said experience. Suddenly the speed, sound, appearance, and even flow of it all can feel forced. This is what most people have witnessed in pornography. But we must remember that this is acting, and not at its finest.

But before we dive into how to have more authentic pleasure, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Because performative pleasure isn’t all bad! In fact, if we look at erotic performance, like burlesque or even stripping for example, we can observe the craft of seduction and how an awareness of other can enhance the experience for all, when done correctly. This is affirmed by the universal notion that a strong trait of a good lover is one who is reading their partners cues, even while submerged in sexual bliss.

So where’s the middle ground? Well, it’s making sure that those cues are authentic! Meet embodied pleasure.
Real pleasure happens when you listen to your own body, and let your personal preferences have a voice. This means having a larger focus on self rather than other. What is feeling good? And what isn’t? Do your movements, sounds, and words reflect those truths?

Not only might this require vocal advocacy, it might even require you to lead! And I don’t mean stop receiving and put your partner in the hot seat. I mean guiding your partner. Do you need to switch positions? Are you needing a pause for connection? Do you need to clear up an argument? All of these scenarios and more ask you to validate your experience and stay present with the moving current within.

It can be hard to follow these threads of embodied truth when things start going really fast, which is why slowness is encouraged. At times, this may even require you to stop completely. All of this becomes an equal part of the journey when the experience is free of agenda. There is simply no “shoulds” when it comes to exploring sexually with another person. And if there are, I invite you to ponder the roots of those judgments. You are inherently worthy of real honest pleasure!

In fact, did you know that real pleasure, in all its presentations, is hotter than fake pleasure? It creates real turn on, whether being experienced or observed. Humans are intuitive beings who unconsciously read energy. This is why the best “performers” have learned how to be alluring through the experience of their pleasure. They are able to stay in their center, while tactfully directing the energy for their viewer. (Think snake charmer).

This is the interdependence of performative pleasure and authentic pleasure.

Authentic pleasure might look like a person receiving oral sex while closing their eyes and laying completely still while following the micro traces of pleasure.

While there might be a container for this, if done every time, a partner might feel confused or unsure about which direction to lead the sexual experience without feedback. The person receiving might be TOO immersed in their body.

Performative pleasure might look like a person receiving oral sex, howling and panting, moving their body rapidly until a fake orgasm that appears to shake worlds.

This might end up in someone finishing, but could also potentially result in disconnection, a shallow-fast ending orgasm, or even a feeling of self-betrayal. Perhaps the partner feels something is missing in the end. This person might be TOO in their head.

A blend of both could look like a person receiving oral sexual, breathing into their body, orchestrating their movements to match their inner world, letting out a natural sigh or moan, as the intensity builds inside them, making eye contact and biting their lip to signal to their partner how turned on they are.

Can you feel the texture of all three examples? Hopefully you can feel that the third feels true while also inspiring the unique erotic dance that happens between two people.

Are you in your body? Your mind? Or are you living the best of both worlds?
The path of authentic pleasure is a long ever unfolding journey that reveals itself through your being, and grows stronger in confidence when honored in company. Do you dare to claim your truth before another, without shame?
Remember, there are no shoulds…

Written by Megan Bloom
Instagram @bloomingwombs