To extend the topic of yesterday’s article on your relationship with pleasure, let’s flip that idea around and consider what it’s like for someone else to relate to you on the basis of pleasure.

How do you feel about playing the role of being a source of pleasure for someone else?

Such a relationship can be corrupted by weaving in manipulation, lying, abuse, victimization, etc. And just as with yesterday’s article, I encourage you to set aside those aspects because they aren’t endemic to pleasure-based connections.

Is it possible to connect with someone simply on the basis of giving and/or receiving pleasure without weaving in any negative aspects? Could you keep the pleasure aspects simple, clean, healthy, fun, and pure?

Of course. Many people connect this way very naturally. They’ve developed a healthy relationship with pleasure that’s good for them and for others.

It’s tempting to throw away the whole concept of sharing pleasure with someone when you’ve lost your childhood innocence about it and you’ve been subjected to abuse. Pleasure isn’t to blame for that though.

Abuse and pleasure don’t have to mix. Some people are adamantly opposed to mixing them. You can still engage with the purity and simplicity of pleasure-based connections without making them complicated.

Imagine having another person in your life who is willing and able to do things for you that feel really good. And suppose they enjoy playing that role for you. And suppose they’re honest about their intentions and you can trust them.

For some people it might seem like a monumental task to reach this point. For others it’s just their normal daily reality.

For me it’s been both. These days it seems totally natural as part of the daily flow of abundance, both to play this role for someone and to have someone in my life who enjoys playing this role for me. It’s delightful to enjoy pleasure abundance instead of pleasure scarcity.

But it’s so easy to push this kind of pleasure away, both in terms of giving and receiving, when you wrap negative aspects into it. It’s very easy to succumb to a dysfunctional relationship with pleasure.

For me the negative aspect I wrapped into it involved guilt and shame, mainly because that’s what I was taught from childhood. Pleasure was some kind of temptation from the devil and couldn’t be trusted. Many activities that felt good were deemed sinful and wrong. Sometimes I did things just for fun that I later had to confess to a priest as sins and ask for forgiveness. You can imagine what a messed-up relationship this creates with pleasure itself. It was confusing to grasp why some pleasure was wrong and some was okay when it didn’t align with my intuitive impressions.

It took a while to unload and release this corrupted mindset. Admittedly it’s still a part of me today, but I can at least see it for what it is and set it aside when it tries to rise up. It’s especially helpful to have reference experiences to remind me that sharing pleasure with people is actually really nice and that not every situation needs to be approached with suspicion and jadedness.

I also learned that some previous forms of pleasure do feel wrong to me, so I no longer engage in them. For instance, I don’t relate to animals’ bodies as products to be bought and consumed. I can never achieve a purity of pleasure there because this type of action always feels wrong and abusive to me. Trying to cultivate a pleasure-based relationship with animal abuse, as I was taught growing up, only pulled me out of touch with my deeper feelings.

Because of so many negative associations to pleasure, it’s hard to simply invite a pleasure-based experience, but the biggest blocks really are internal. When you transform and purify your relationship with pleasure, you’re much more likely to connect with others who feel similarly, and you’ll probably feel more compassion towards people who still wrap fear, guilt, or shame into it.

Another risk is that if you don’t come to terms with your relationship with pleasure, you may develop a distrusting and jaded relationship with this part of you that endures for years or decades. And that may make it hard to connect with people because a lot of human connection flows through the realm of pleasure. People will give you space instead of inviting you to share experiences with them because they’ll sense that you prefer to keep your distance.

What I found especially helpful here was to take a deep and honest look at my own intentions for pleasure-based connections and to consider how I really felt about them. Which intentions seemed good and honorable? What seemed problematic? Where were the right boundaries for me?

Is it wrong to want a hug? A make-out session? A massage? A sexual experience? A kinky sexual experience?

I had a lot of gunk in my mind that wrapped guilt, shame, or fear into many types of experiences that didn’t require those negative associations. Why feel guilty about receiving a massage from someone who willingly gives it? This guilt about receiving also corrupted the experience of giving, as if giving pleasure to someone automatically did them a disservice by potentially stirring up some negative feelings related to receiving pleasure. It was difficult to see that many people simply don’t have such negative associations to pleasure. That’s because these associations are learned, and we don’t all have the same learning experiences.

I found it especially helpful to journal about this to work through my thoughts and also to discuss this with people on similar journeys. It was eye-opening to connect with people who didn’t have negative associations to giving or receiving pleasure. For them it just seemed like a normal and natural thing to do… no big deal. They could still be cautious about risks and make careful choices regarding partners, but this caution didn’t devolve into suspicion of pleasure itself. They still trusted pleasure.

Take a look at your relationship with pleasure on the giving side. How do you feel about serving as a source of pleasure for someone else? Are you ever in the mood for that? Do you ever feel like it’s okay or even fun and rewarding to allow someone to enjoy you for their own pleasure? Could you do this without feeling resentful, abused, victimized, or used in a bad way?

Under the right conditions, I like playing this role. It’s nice to make someone feel good. It’s nice to be enjoyed and appreciated as a source of pleasure for someone. I like making people feel good. I love the simplicity and the purity of it. It’s a delightful way for humans to connect.

There are lots of ways to be a source of pleasure for someone. Maybe someone finds you intellectually stimulating. Maybe they want to do something physically or sexually pleasurable with you. Maybe they love your sense of humor or your positive attitude. Maybe they enjoy your beauty, they love hearing the sound of your voice, or they just feel delighted to be in your presence.

Do you ever feel this way towards other people? How do you feel about someone feeling this way towards you?

Could you even say to someone, “Enjoy my body. Have fun with me. Do whatever you like. I want you to feel good”? Does that seem exciting or threatening? Of course you can still specify any boundaries to define your limits.

How would you feel if someone said these things to you? Could you receive this happily and deservedly without feeling like you have to earn it? Could you say a “hell yes” to it? Or is it too much muchness?

This is an area where we can benefit tremendously from more honest and courageous communication. Instead of having to disguise pleasure-based intentions and sneak or manipulate your way into someone’s space, we could just be honest and upfront about what we’d actually like to share and explore together.

Suppose that what you really want is to explore a pleasure-based experience with someone. Could you invite or offer that when you realize that it’s what you want? Or do you need to disguise your intention and pretend you want something else?

My romantic relationship with Rachelle began with a mutual intention to share and explore pleasure together. We didn’t go on any dates first. We simply decided to play together. We wanted to enjoy each other. Co-creating and co-exploring fun and pleasure have been embedded in our relationship from the start, and this is still a significant part of our relationship today. We enjoy making each other feel good – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I like being a source of pleasure for her, and she likes being a source of pleasure for me. As I noted in a previous article this week, we see each other as gifts.

If you’d told me 30 years ago that I could someday have a relationship like this, I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a long journey to recover from so many negative associations to pleasure. But I have to say that it’s been an immensely rewarding path. In fact, I think I enjoy pleasure even more because of how much work I had to do to clean up this relationship and restore it to a state of health, flow, and abundance.

How do you begin such a journey, especially if your concept of pleasure is wrapped up in negative past experiences or associations? You decide that it’s time to heal this relationship. That won’t happen overnight. It may in fact be a very long journey, but it begins with the decision to heal your relationship with pleasure.

You can have a lot of pleasure in your life – every day if you want. You can share pleasure with willing partners, free of fear, shame, or guilt. You can restore your relationship with pleasure to a pure and healthy state. You can have abundance instead of scarcity in this area of life.

Pleasure isn’t evil. It isn’t addictive. It isn’t dangerous. It isn’t abusive. It isn’t unsafe or unhealthy.

Pleasure is satisfaction. It’s smiling. It’s feeling good. It’s a hug from reality. It’s a gift.

How will you relate to this gift?

Healing this relationship is just one phase of the journey. Beyond that you can continue to explore and elevate this relationship, such as by weaving in caring, beauty, playfulness, and curiosity. Once you feel safe and secure in the space of pleasure, you can also do a bit more risk-taking to explore your boundaries and other people’s boundaries if they’re willing. You can map out more of the possibility space to discover where the most delightful gifts are.

Do you trust pleasure? Do you think it’s a curse that just messes people up? Or can you see it as an invitation? It really is an invitation to grow, to heal, to connect, to align with abundance, and to have more fun in life.

Your relationship with pleasure is a delicate one to get right. It may seem like it’s leading you astray now and then, and sometimes you may be tempted to swear it off completely, but the invitation to dance with it is always present, and pleasure is a very patient dance partner.

Here’s another key benefit of healing this relationship. As you go through this inner journey for yourself, you can also help others who also want to heal this relationship. That helps to put this challenge in context. You’re not just healing this relationship for yourself alone. This isn’t just about your own pleasure. Your healing journey will also influence and uplift others who want to heal this relationship too. This may help you see that this is a more meaningful and purposeful pursuit than you initially realized.