Psalm Isadora is the top tantra expert in the world and a highly sought-after sexuality, relationship, and trauma expert specializing in women’s health and empowerment and modern sexual education. In this weekly advice column, Psalm brings her expertise to common sexual and relationship issues. If you want to ask Psalm your questions (anonymously), email firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back every week to see if she answered yours!
Question: Do you think it is OK for someone in a relationship to seek awakening with a [tantric] professional like yourself before sharing that with his or her partner?
To answer your question, I am going to "tell on myself" a little bit. I started studying tantra while I was married. Because this is an issue I personally have experience with, I will share my personal journey with you.
When I started studying tantra, I was so excited about what I was learning and discovering that I extended the invitation to my partner. He, however, wasn't interested. That was his choice—in the same way that studying tantra was mine. But coming from a background of sexual trauma, I knew that sexual healing was crucial for my own path to happiness. It was something I felt I had to pursue, though my partner made a conscious decision to refrain from embarking on that journey with me. Here's how I dealt with it.
1. I owned my sexuality first.
Though I wanted him to participate, one of the many beautiful things about tantra is that, contrary to popular belief, you don't need a partner to practice it or to reap its blissful benefits. Do you have a body? Great! Then tantra is available to you at your discretion. And you don't need anyone else's permission—just your own.
There's a reason you're compelled to seek out tantra. You owe it to yourself to find the answers you seek—to ask the questions you have. I think a lot of people still have the misconception that tantra is simply about having sex. It's about so much more. Tantra helps you to understand your own sexual nature and how that energy drives you in all aspects of your life, from your career to your health to your finances and beyond. As Freud said, "The behavior of a human being in sexual matters is often a prototype for the whole of his other modes of reaction in life."
2. You might outpace your partner and leave them behind.
If you're ready to study tantra and your partner isn't, be warned. When you truly commit yourself to understanding and practicing it, you open a kind of Pandora's box. You'll experience sexual and spiritual growth that, if your partner isn't working on their own personal development, may put a wedge between you.
That's the risk you take with any path of personal growth—whether it's becoming financially independent or committing to living a healthier lifestyle. Growth means change.
But this isn't always how things pan out. Your partner may come to a realization as they see you move ahead on your journey that they want to grow with you. That's a wonderful thing. But the chances of that not happening and you reaching a fork in the road where you have to choose your spiritual growth or your relationship are very real. Every person has to make their own decision.
3. I chose to change my approach to sex and relationships.
When I found myself at a point of divergence with my ex-husband, I felt a lot of fear and shame. I was afraid that I would be judged for studying something that's so far outside of the box. Let's be honest. Most people in relationships and marriages don't talk about sex. In a recent post, one woman confessed that she had never had an orgasm and that she didn't want to talk to her boyfriend about it. She thought the subject matter was a little "too personal." But she had already allowed her boyfriend's penis to enter her vagina. That's pretty personal!
So, like a lot of couples, instead of talking about sex, she simply had sex. But our partners aren't mind readers. How can they know we're not happy or satisfied if we're unable to engage and discuss? That's how people end up lying to themselves and their partner.
Whether or not you want to seek professional help is really a personal choice—but it's a choice about personal growth. It's not a choice about sex. You have to be responsible for your actions, and you also have to be honest with your partner about your boundaries.
Here are a few steps that will slowly warm you (and hopefully your partner) up to the idea of exploring tantra to its fullest extent:
1. Practice self-tantra.
For starters, why don't you do some tantra with yourself? Give yourself an orgasmic breast massage, tease yourself with a clitoral massage. Cultivate your sexual energy and release your inner sex goddess with a jade egg.
2. Try some videos in the comfort of your home.
Meant to awaken your sexuality and deepen your mind-body-soul connection, my Tantra 101 class on mbg is replete with videos that are completely guilt-free and totally PG. And you can watch them in the comfort of your own home—with or without your partner.
Simply watching these videos is very different from going and practicing tantra with another person. I bring this up because, as I mentioned earlier, these videos can introduce concepts that might threaten your relationship. Should you reach the point where you start to want to try tantric techniques with other people, know that you're dealing with an issue of authenticity, not morality.
People confuse the two. So many people are unhappy and unfulfilled in their relationships, they end up cheating. But they completely skip the step where they let their partner know how they feel. That's why they turn to cheating, which ends up being a morality issue for them. They think, "I'm so bad, I cheated." They end up hating themselves, keeping secrets, and feeling shame, which often leads to more cheating and dysfunctional behavior.
3. Be authentic from the beginning.
Cheating (and all the shame that often comes with it) can be avoided if you're authentic from the jump. Tell your partner that you need more. Or maybe the conversation is about having reached a point of growth at which you now need them to be able to practice tantra with you.
If they're unable to do that or if you find that you're not compatible, you can be honest and tell them that you're going to need to explore with other partners. You can own your sexuality. You can own your desires and give voice to them. After doing that, maybe your relationship will become an open one. Or maybe you'll decide to end the relationship completely.
If you're seeking self-awakening through tantra, regardless of your relationship status, authenticity is key. By being authentic, you allow for a happier life for yourself—inside the bedroom and in every other area of your life. And that's what tantra is about.