My attitude toward life in general is that knowledge is usually a good thing, and more knowledge is often a better thing. But experience is often the best teacher of all.
When it comes to relationships and sexuality, I think most of us have had the “if I knew then what I know now, I’d have made a different choice” kind of experience. It’s usually after things have gone wrong that we go back and learn – or unlearn – what we need to. Thankfully there are lots of books and videos and workshops and sex therapists to choose from.
Remember how you learned to ride a bike? Riding a bike (like relationships and sex) is a fairly simple thing with 1,001 details. In all likelihood, you started on a tricycle to get the basics of steering and coordinating your feet. At some point you graduated to “the big bike” and after being told about braking and perhaps safety equipment you sat on the bike and started pedaling and figuring out how to keep your balance.
Unless you were a bike-riding prodigy, you had training wheels which saved you from countless bruises and abrasions and possibly broken bones. Then, one day, the training wheels got raised a few inches and you took that first wobbly ride. And soon after, the training wheels came off and “Look at me! I’m riding all by myself!!”
The funny thing is, when it comes to solving sex and relationship problems (often fairly simple things with 1,001 details) the idea of training wheels is often overlooked, or worse. In most cases, the opportunity for real “practice” in therapy somehow goes out the window when the problem involves touch. Popular opinion, it seems, is that when it comes to intimacy problems, it’s “no training wheels allowed” and you’re supposed to keep listening to the lectures and watching the videos and reading the books and falling off the bicycle until you magically learn how to ride.
Thankfully, a growing number of professionals hold a different viewpoint, i.e. there’s nothing shameful or inherently dangerous about “training wheels” in sex therapy. I’m one of those professionals and it’s a key reason I’ve chosen holistic and experiential therapies. People seeking help with their sexuality, intimacy or any kind of problem should have that option.
Related post: A Question of Ethics