Slow Sex by Diana Richardson Book Summary

Slow Sex (2011) makes a powerful case for a deceleration of our love lives in order to have more fulfilling sex and deeper, happier relationships. In our hectic and consumer-oriented society, sex is often used as a quick fix for physical satisfaction – but this can leave us feeling empty. Slow sex helps us unfold the potential of our sexuality by learning how to make love in a conscious, mindful way that is ultimately as healing as it is stimulating.

Slow Sex by Diana Richardson

A practical guide to a more fulfilling sex life.

Romantic relationships often begin with a storm of sexual passion. But at some point that storm subsides, and the desire for sex stagnates. Many people think it’s because they’ve chosen the wrong partner – so they move on, only to have the same experience again in the next relationship. Is great sex simply incompatible with a long-term partnership?

In the following blinks, you’ll discover that the exact opposite is true. We just have to change our perspective. Instead of rushing from one thrill to the next, we should shift down a gear and take our time – time to be mindful, to connect with our feelings, and to experience a new depth and intensity in sex.

In these blinks, you’ll learn

  • why it’s hotter to stay cool during sex;
  • that an orgasm isn’t such a big deal; and
  • why stimulation shouldn’t be confused with pleasure.

Slowness during sex is an elixir for body and soul.

Nowadays, we put a premium on speed and instant gratification. A subway ride without social media, texting, and playing mobile games? Unthinkable. An online purchase without same-day delivery? Disappointing. We want everything, from the food that we order to the series we stream, to be available right now. This desire for immediacy extends into our love lives, too.

Sex is often absurdly fast. Sure, we may pine for it day in and day out – but a lot of the time, gratifying that desire amounts to no more than a quickie before bed. We race to orgasm as if we’ll get a reward for speed, then return to our hectic daily lives without really feeling satisfied or happy.

But what if satisfying sex is a basic need, just like food? In this sense, we live in a society of people who are sexually undernourished.

The key message here is: Slowness during sex is an elixir for body and soul.

It’s high time to slow down and give sex the attention and space it deserves. It’s not so much about what we do, but how we do it. We don’t have to run the gamut of contortionist positions or reinvent the sexual wheel. The key to slow sex is to use mindfulness to connect with both your body and your partner. In this way, physical love becomes a spiritual experience.

The following blinks highlight different aspects of slow sex and provide you with simple exercises to try out alone or with your partner. But the suggestions aren’t meant to be yet another thing to add to a long list of to-dos – quite the opposite, actually. Approach slow sex with an easygoing attitude, and spontaneously try the exercises that appeal to you.

At its core, slow sex is a spiritual practice that makes it possible to come into contact with the inner wisdom of your body, and to experience the happiness that ensues. When we understand that our sexuality is not limited to physical pleasure, but is a key to more serenity, joy, and health, we’ll automatically give it more attention and appreciation. In this way, the positive effects of slow sex will be self-reinforcing.

Don’t hunt for an orgasm – instead, relax during sex with deep breathing.

Harder, better, faster, stronger. Our society loves optimization, and this value encroaches upon all areas of our lives – with negative consequences for our mental health. Competition, fear of failure, and performance anxiety structure our day-to-day. And many of us find no respite from this stress in the bedroom, where it often applies to climax.

We want the best sex of our lives every time, and we approach the act with a goal-oriented mindset – the goal being orgasm, of course. But such high expectations for what good sex should be just end up stunting our sexuality.

Here’s the key message: Don’t hunt for an orgasm – instead, relax during sex with deep breathing.

Too often, sex only occurs when we feel the need for an orgasm. During the act of love, we want two things: to come, and also to bring our partner to climax. With these missions in mind, we’re always one step ahead of our bodies. Pressure and tension arise, which leads to a loss of sensitivity. The greater the expectation, the less we can really feel – and so we rob ourselves of the real pleasure that a sexual encounter can offer.

So the first step toward slow sex is to stop trying to achieve orgasm. When we don’t have to race to a destination, we can let our bodies guide us. This alone will automatically slow us down. We can then begin to explore the true value of our sexuality.

But the tension doesn’t come solely from our expectations of sex – we also bring it with us from our hectic everyday lives. There are many ways to free ourselves from it, but one particularly simple and effective way is breathing.

When we’re tense, our breath is shallow, and the air usually only reaches the chest. On the other hand, when we breathe slowly and deeply into our abdomens, our muscles relax and our bodies release endorphins. This has the positive effect of loosening us up and increasing our well-being. So focus on deep breathing during lovemaking. You’ll notice that this opens up completely new worlds of feeling. You can even set a ritual with your partner by taking a few deep breaths in and out together before you commence the act.

Awareness helps you to stay in the moment and anchor yourself in your body.

Breathing consciously and setting aside the goal of orgasm are two simple ways to bring you closer to the healing experience of slow sex. But these relaxing practices are just the beginning – the setting of the stage. The real sexual magic begins when we turn on our awareness and pay close attention to every breath, movement, touch, and shift in the body.

Awareness involves observing ourselves closely and without judgment, and it’s the most important key to unlocking sexual potential.

The key message is this: Awareness helps you to stay in the moment and anchor yourself in your body.

Awareness is the driving force behind slow sex because it opens up a space for appreciation of the here and now without any agenda or goal. When we engage with sex consciously, as opposed to mechanically, slowness and new experiences start to unfold naturally. And you’ll find that paying attention to any enjoyable stimulus actually increases your pleasure.

We’re used to focusing our sexual attention on excitement, stimulation, and fantasies – so staying in the moment during sex is not always easy. Awareness needs to be brought into the bedroom consciously and sustained with care. The following exercises can help.

Instead of focusing on your partner or on the outside world, pay conscious attention to your body’s sensations. If you notice tension anywhere, deliberately tense the muscles in question. For instance, try tensing your upper body for a few seconds, and then let go all at once. Relax your shoulders, neck, jaw, stomach, arms, and hands, and you’ll notice how your body automatically takes a deep breath.

You can do this exercise, which combines mindfulness and relaxation, with different parts of your body throughout the day. Don’t forget the pelvic floor, because a relaxed and vitalized pelvic floor increases the pleasure of making love. It’s a kind of sexual flavor enhancer, so to speak, for both men and women.

The most important thing in this exercise is to bring yourself back into focus. It may sound selfish, or even counterintuitive, to focus your attention on yourself rather than your partner or the situation. But the only way to create deep harmony with your partner is to bring your consciousness to you and your connection with your body.

Look at it this way: instead of heating up your partner, you increase your own sensitivity and thus fuel your own fire. During sex, the two fires can then connect and rise to a blazing flame. This is what makes slow sex so hot!

To improve sex, focus on training your sensitivity rather than increasing stimulation.

When we slow down our minds and become more attentive during sex, our bodies become more sensitive at the same time. During the author’s slow sex retreats, she’s always amazed to hear both men and women report that their genitals have become more sensitive after just a few days of increasing their awareness. When we say goodbye to the hunt for frenzied stimulation and orgasms, our bodies give us much deeper pleasures that resonate within us for a long time.

The key message here is: To improve sex, focus on training your sensitivity rather than increasing stimulation. 

During wild and frenzied sex, we achieve exactly the opposite of the highly pleasurable experience we’re striving for. Since the movements quickly become mechanical and the arousal is mainly based on pure nerve stimulation, the high sensitivity of the genitals gradually dulls. Many people then try to make up for this loss of sensitivity with stronger stimuli and new practices, which only leads to more desensitization. In extreme cases, such hyperstimulation can even lead to a complete loss of sensitivity, or to impotence.

Slow sex can break this vicious cycle. At the beginning, however, you should not immediately expect the same fireworks as with frenzied sex. Just start experimenting, and don’t judge your feelings. Over time you’ll become more open and sensitive, and learn to shift your attention from your mind and desire to your physical sensations. Superficial stimulation will be replaced by a deeper sensual experience, and you’ll create a place of tranquility deep within your body.

Especially for couples in long-term relationships, the switch to “cooler” slow sex can be a saving anchor. Boredom in bed or a lack of sex have destroyed many relationships that could have been happy. This is due to a widespread misunderstanding – namely, that good sex is synonymous with hot, fast, explosive stimulation. In their frustration, many people see changing partners as the only way out – only to experience the same disappointment over time in the new relationship.

Slow sex solves this problem because the cooler, more deliberate lovemaking doesn’t become dull. Instead, new dimensions of sensuality are revealed, and the bond between partners is strengthened.

Arrange enough time and an inspiring atmosphere for your slow-sex experience.

Now that you know the most important aspects of slow sex – slowness, relaxation, mindfulness, and sensitivity – let’s dive a little deeper into the experience itself. In the remaining blinks, you’ll discover how to start your slow sex practice. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so let your intuition guide you. It’s important that you trust your instincts and not expect miracles – especially in the beginning. And, as with everything, practice makes perfect.

Here’s the key message: Arrange enough time and an inspiring atmosphere for your slow-sex experience.

Changing your sexual habits isn’t a trivial matter, and it’s not something you can do on the side. It can help if you arrange fixed sex dates with your partner. Scheduling sex may sound unromantic, but really it’s the opposite! Sex is something so essential that you shouldn’t leave it to chance. Besides, this way you can enjoy the pleasure of anticipation – and, even better, you’ll probably have even more sex than you did before.

Slow sex and time pressure aren’t compatible, so you should give yourselves a minimum of three hours. The full power of slow sex unfolds with regularity, so try to have it three to four times per week if possible. Set the mood in an uncluttered room with a soft bed and romantic details like candles.

Next, it’s time to prepare your inner self. Recall that a deep connection with your own body is essential for slow sex. The following exercise can help to establish this connection. You can do it alone, or you can do it with your partner. If you choose the latter option, be sure to face each other – either standing, lying down, or sitting – but don’t touch each other.

Now gently close your eyes. Breathe deeply into the abdomen a few times. Then, in your mind, quietly note any points of tension in your body and release them as best you can, one by one.

When you’re completely relaxed, turn your attention inward again, and find a place in your body where you feel at home. This can be the heart, the belly, the genitals, or any other part of the body that seems right to you and feels good. However, it’s important that the place be below the head.

Your inner home serves to anchor your consciousness within your body. When you feel that inner connection, you can slowly open your eyes and make eye contact with your partner. Now you’re ready for your first slow-sex experience!

Stay relaxed during the encounter, and make space for your growing feelings.

When you and your partner are both rooted in your bodies and feel that you can stay present with yourselves but still be open to each other, it’s time for the first touch. Slowly get closer by reaching out a hand – or in any way that feels good in the present moment, whether it’s holding hands, hugging, or kissing.

If you then lie down together, it’s very likely that the slowness and lack of habitual movements will initially irritate you. This is completely normal. A typical sexual encounter is closely linked to our egos and personalities. By breaking the habitual pattern, we leave our comfort zones. So give yourself time, and get involved in the new experience – and keep in mind that it’s not about arousal or achieving a sensational, orgasmic feeling. Slow sex is all about the present.

The key message is this: Stay relaxed during the encounter, and make space for your growing feelings.

In the beginning, it can be especially useful to settle into a comfortable position and support yourself with pillows, so that you can enjoy a long encounter without strain. If you practice penetrative sex, one partner can lie on his or her back with one pillow under the head, while the other lies on his or her side, and you connect in the scissor position.

Again and again, you may lose your mindfulness and connection with your body during slow sex. No need to worry. Reorient yourself in the present moment by exchanging gentle, inviting glances as often as possible. Make sure to keep breathing deeply, in and out, to release tension.

Don’t be surprised if strong feelings suddenly arise in you during sex. For all of us, sex is also connected with pain and sadness – even if we’re not aware of it. Misunderstandings, suppression, confusion, and frustration accumulate in us through personal experiences and the social distortion of sexuality. With slow sex, these emotions are released and find their way to the light of day.

These released emotions can take the form of tears, a laughing fit, sobbing, or even anger. Let any feelings flow calmly; don’t analyze them or transfer them to your partner. Pain and pent-up feelings are part of the healing process that slow sex sets in motion. Allowing them to flow freely in the presence of your partner will bring the two of you closer.

Movement has a different quality during slow sex.

Of course, slow sex doesn’t mean coming to a standstill. You’re certainly still in motion, but there are no rules for how much or how little you move during slow sex. The question is rather: Are the movements mechanical and mere habit, or do they arise naturally from the present moment?

The key message here is: Movement has a different quality during slow sex.

Since slow sex is not goal-oriented, but rather rooted in mindfulness and presence, every movement arises from the moment. Your bodies are reactive to the now, which can be quite dynamic. Still, every movement stands for itself, without intention, and is the opposite of an in-and-out on autopilot. If you engage in slow sex and break away from the fixation on orgasm, you’ll automatically discover the enormous range of movements beyond it.

There is one common obstacle that you may encounter on your slow-sex journey. It often happens that couples feel very little or almost nothing at the beginning of their first slow-sex experience. This can be very disappointing. But as hard as it is, try to be patient. It’s all about mindful awareness – not about results or progress. Depending on how our previous sexual experiences have shaped our sensitivity, it’ll take time and regular practice to experience the subtler, deeper pleasures of slow sex.

Unlike conventional fast sex, slow sex also involves the time after the physical encounter, which has a lot to teach. It’s not about how intense the climax was, but about your overall feeling a few hours later – or even the following day. Do you feel more comfortable, spiritually nourished, and connected to your partner? Were you able to engage in the experience with all of your senses, or was there something missing? If so, what?

By reflecting on your experiences, you’ll get to know yourself and your needs better, and you’ll deepen the connections with both yourself and your partner. With a little patience, you’ll soon long to immerse yourself in the atmosphere you’ve created together through relaxation, attentiveness, and presence.

Final summary

Sex is a source of liveliness and joy, and it can create a deep bond in a partnership. But social conventions and individual conditioning mean that we usually only scratch the surface of sex – which leaves many of us feeling unfulfilled. Slow sex is a practice that enables couples to unfold the full potential of their sexuality through slowness, relaxation, attentiveness, and sensitivity.

Actionable advice:

Massage your pelvic floor.

To increase your sensitivity during sex, it helps to loosen your pelvic floor by massaging it. Lie on your back and massage the pelvic muscles around your genitals with small circular movements of your fingertips. Take about an hour, and repeat the massage a few times over the next few weeks.

About the Author

Diana Richardson

Diana Richardson is known as the pioneer of the Slow Sex movement and, along with her partner, Michael Richardson, is the creator of the life-changing weeklong Making Love Retreat, which they have been offering in Europe since 1995.

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