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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Wylie

Selfish in Bed? How Selfish Sexuality Came to Be.

I wanted a name for my intimacy guide practice that would speak to the investment of hiring a surrogate partner therapist or sex and relationship coach. I wanted a name that was edgy and proactive that invoked curiosity. And so, I conjured the name. As I settled in for a nap, a flash of bold words appeared: Selfish Sexuality. This materialization forever a reminder that rest is vital to receive messages and inspiration.


Being selfish is not a sought-after goal. In fact, a quick internet search shows that many articles have been writing about the warning signs of a selfish partner and what to do about it. And yet, I chose a business name highlighting this negative adjective. Why?


In 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Wednesday Martin, author of the book “Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free,” speak at a small gathering. Paired with jeans and bejeweled booties, Dr. Martin wore a white shirt with black lettering that read "Selfish in Bed.” She described the importance of the shirt in that men have been selfish in bed for most of history and now it was time for women and non-binary folx to be selfish. In further conversation with Dr. Martin, I learned that while she recreated the shirt, the credit goes to Sarah Lucas. Lucas is a British artist known for creating proactive sculptures and self-portraits that get at the essence of sexuality ownership. For more on her work check out this article: Sarah Lucas Boner.


The sentiment of this shirt stayed with me. A sentiment tucked in cervices of my mind ready to be plucked and repurposed as I allowed my subconscious to emerge. Selfish Sexuality.


A year after seeing Dr. Wednesday Martin in her “Selfish in Bed” shirt, we went into COVID-19 lockdown. As I muddled through confining my life to a home I shared with 3 other beings, 2 of which have an incurable lung disease that I was now, in addition to being responsible for keeping them alive, responsible for their education and while culturally we tried to get on the same page about how germs spread, I kept coming back to the differentiation between the individual and the collective. Parsing through these dynamics of where I (the individual) end and you (or the collective) begins in my home life, work life, community, and country I became fixated on one aspect of human behavior often developed as a trauma response: people pleasing.


People pleasing, or fawning, is a nervous system response to fear, trauma, and stress. Like comrades fight, flight, freeze, and flop, fawning is often developed at a young age based on a person’s relationship with caregivers. Simply put, fawning, is a way to avoid conflict by yielding to what another person wants. Fawners appease. Fawners may defer to their caregiver to see how they feel instead of understanding their own feelings. Over time this engrained people pleasing stress response builds habits and in these habits an identity is formed, an identity that may be built on someone else’s interests. Where do I end, and you begin?


My previous piece How Yoga Improved My Sex Life delves into how people pleasing showed up in a yoga class and ultimately how yoga became a tool to disengage from people pleasing. But y’all yoga wasn’t the only place that I had people pleasing tendencies. My friendships and family life were snarled in fawning. And there is nothing like seeing your kid display an attribute that makes you examine your own identity. Through self-examination, the calculation I have configured is that disengaging from fawning patterns allows us to understand our own desires, which leads to embodiment, which leads to greater intimacy. And it turns out I wasn’t alone in this thinking.


The 1960’s Kinsey Institute researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, developed a program where touch was for self-interest without regard for trying to make sexual response, pleasure, enjoyment or relaxation happen for yourself or your partner. Known as Sensate Focus, maintaining neutrality and focusing only on temperature, texture, and pressure helps the toucher connect with their senses. I will go into more detail about this work in future writing. But for now, know that once I began surrogate partner therapy training I learned that there is a lineage of work that centers becoming “selfish.”


As Linda Weiner and Constance Avery-Clark write in “Sensate Focus Sex Therapy,”

"The Masters and Johnson approach of touching put forth the radical idea that sexual responsiveness is essentially self-focused. This is different from being selfish where you only focus on yourself. The problem is that in our culture, we have been taught that being self-focused is the same as being selfish.”


This quote positions us to not only examine how we touch but also how the word selfish has been culturally defined. Selfish is often thought of as being egocentric and inconsiderate. This is not what Masters and Johnson (or I) want. Becoming selfish, or self-focused, in a sex therapy lens is about understanding your desires, before you learn about someone else’s. To be clear, knowing your desires doesn’t mean your partner has to comply with them. That would just take us back to fawning or people pleasing.


Declaring to be selfish in bed like Sarah Lucas and Dr. Wednesday Martin is a proclamation about knowing your desires and taking up space. Taking up space can be interpreted to mean anything other than making yourself meek. It may mean taking up literal physical space or logistical space. Yes, I will have multiple orgasms before you have yours. No, I don’t like that, but I enjoy something similar. In this context being selfish is confidence. I know what I want. This is what Selfish Sexuality is built on.


Selfish Sexuality is an intimacy guide practice inviting people to be self-focused, embodied, able to communicate their desires, and have deeper intimacy with themselves and others.


Selfish Sexuality is…

putting the power in your own hands.

vulnerable and deliberate.

interdependent rather than co-dependent.


in a relationship of consent with our bodies.

self-authored pleasure.


attuning to another who sees you as whole.

re-writing your story.


embodiment revolution.


Selfish Sexuality leads to hotter sex, if that’s what you desire. Really, sex is a small piece of the matter. As somatic sexologist Jaiya on the Sexual Shamen podcast said, “Sex is a tool for us to remember our oneness which we already are. And then in recognizing our oneness, play twoness. And the beauty and joy of playing twoness to remember our oneness over and over again. Sex is a tool for our own awakening.”


We use sex to remember ourselves, to reawaken to what we know of our oneness. Of course, we can also use sex in a myriad of other ways, sometimes to even numb out. But that’s writing for another time. For now, I want us to consider being selfish in bed to not people please, to become interdependent rather than co-dependent, to awaken.


Liberation and embodiment revolution listed as core principles of Selfish Sexuality may be lofty. The grandiose is sincere - Selfish Sexuality is a way of life. I know it because I’ve lived it / I am living it. The principles that Selfish Sexuality are built on have been fine-tuned over decades of conversations, readings, teachings, trainings, and self-reflection. Like the oyster’s pearl created as a response to a parasitic intruder, the name was always there. The pearl in this case, an opportunity to re-write your story (and your nervous system response). Selfish Sexuality.


Healing the individual is collective work. Changing an engrained trauma response can’t be done in isolation. We need each other to repair. As either a surrogate partner therapist or sex and relationship coach, truly, it is a pleasure to witness people stop the fawning process and step into their selfish sexuality.


If you are curious about getting selfish, please fill out the short intro form and I will follow up to schedule a call.


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