As I write this, I’m sitting in an adorable B&B in Middlebury, Vermont. It’s the kind of place that feels old, charming, and totally unlike where I grew up in Northern California.
I’m here because for the last several days, I’ve had the privilege of teaching the incredible students at Middlebury College. We’ve talked about relationship communication, pleasure physiology, and a whole host of other topics that have come up at their request.
When I do a Q&A session with a group of students, it always feels like an adventure; I never know exactly what will come up, even though I’ve done these sorts of sessions hundreds of times before. It’s one of my favorite parts of my work.
Cultivating adventure is one of the habits that consistently makes my life more wonderful.
Committing to adventure means a number of things. It means actively seeking out new experiences together. It means approaching challenges with curiosity. And it means being on the same side in the pursuit of those new adventures and in the face of the challenges that arise during them.
When you put yourself in environments that are a bit outside your comfort zone (but not so much so that you feel unsafe), you can learn about yourself and grow in powerful ways.
You will likely discover new interests, new palates, and new capabilities that you didn’t know you had. When you do this with a partner, you’ll get to see each other be competent in new environments (which is totally hot) and comfort each other when things don’t go so well (which is totally intimacy-building).
All that said, even though big adventures are fantastic, sometimes it’s the smallest adventures that have the greatest impact. It’s the walks through new neighborhoods, visits to new restaurants, and other small steps outside your comfort zones that make the most difference in your daily lives. Most people are well aware that variety is the spice of life, but it doesn’t necessarily take a grand gesture to have the greatest impact.
This can be true for sex as well. Complicated, swinging-from-the-ceiling, sexual acrobatics can be amazing. But sometimes it’s the vulnerability you get through eye contact that can make the most powerful, novel experience. High-quality empathy can be more earth-shaking than an elaborate sexual technique.
Want to create your own adventure?
Here are the three key elements you’ll need to make it wonderful.
In order to create an adventure, you have to be curious about something new. Novelty is key, and having an open, curious mind to explore that novel thing is a prerequisite.
Find something about which you’re both curious to guide your adventure. It can be as grand as an international move or as minor as a trying a new restaurant. For sexual adventures, you might want to plan a sexy weekend away entirely designed for exploration, or simply try a new lube to play with a different sensation.
The point isn’t the scale of your adventure; the point is the regular practice of nurturing an adventure habit.
Adventures don’t always go according to plan. Adventure is by definition a new experience and as such, you don’t know what will happen until it does. In sexual and non-sexual adventures alike, communicating before, during, and after the adventure is key to making sure that consent and fun are maintained through out the experience.
Fostering a playful attitude can go a long way to ensuring that the adventure remains a positive experience – even if things go slightly awry.
That said, if things go really awry during your adventure (like if someone gets accidentally injured), you’re under no obligation to stay playful. Just try to stay on the same team. I’ve heard plenty of stories from folks about sex positions that looked hot in theory, but in reality just made someone slip in the shower.
Our daily lives can be so full of distraction and busyness. Let your adventure be a container of presence. Put the phone on airplane mode. Just notice what’s happening in your immediate environment.
Since I live in an urban environment and don’t own a car, many of my micro adventures involve walking. Sometimes a walk will stimulate my brain and I’ll go into problem-solving mode. This can be a great tool for work days, but for adventure days, I have to make an effort to bring my attention into what’s going on around me.
My favorite tool for bringing myself back into the present moment is to ask myself, “What am I noticing?” I check in with my body and all its sensations, which helps me connect to my presence. When I’m present, I get more out of the experience.