the f-2-n scale

F2N Scale: Understanding Sex and Energy in Relationships

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As your relationship continues to evolve, it will be a good idea to have the sex talk. I’ve written about this expectation we have in romantic relationships. (SEE: Reframing Sex and Intimacy: Men & Women Differ In Desire) In a previous relationship, the conversation progressed up like this.

“I feel a bit anxious every night when I come to bed,
that you are waiting to have sex.”

We had to have a frank discussion about sexual expectations as we entered the second year of our relationship. Even after two years, she imagined that I wanted to have sex every single time she came to bed. Nothing I could say or do, before the discussion, could alleviate the fear. We reached a new understanding of that evening ritual of checking in about sex and energy.

How Is Your Energy, Tonight?

A simple question can illuminate information that most of us keep to ourselves. We often do not speak of our “expectations” about sex. And, as they become unspoken agreements, we may find ourselves unclear on what the rules are, should be, or what we’d like them to be. Here are the two pieces of information being requested.

  1. Energy
  2. Motivation (desire/horny/inspired)

And my partner would say something like, “I’m not that motivated, but I’m open. And I think I have about two energy units left this evening.”

Motivation is pretty easy to understand. She was telling me, she wasn’t all that randy herself, but she was open to me if I wanted to get something started.  The energy part of the equation is something I want to address with a new concept.

F2N Scale (Fun-2-Nap Scale)

I observed recently, when I climbed into bed with my significant other, that I was having those butterflies of “yes,” as snuggled up to me. The odd thing I observed: I was excited about napping not making love. I had a tingly feeling about napping. I was more towards the NAP side of the scale, yes, but I was just as excited about napping with my partner. I do love a good nap. This information also gave me an opportunity to talk about my energy and motivation. I got to check in with her, in the way I described here.

I tried to articulate where I was, “I’m on the NAP side of the energy level, and midline on the Motivation scale.” What I learned is there is just as much motivation to nap as screw when I’m tired or stressed out. And, I can get really turned on about a snuggle fest. Things might move towards romance once we snuggle and all, but the clear message, the spoken message, I was given was I’m tired and not particularly motivated to have sex. I was also saying, I’m HIGHLY motivated to nap. I didn’t know I could get turned on by a nap. But there it is. I love napping with my partner.

Opening Up the Communication Between Us

Let’s admit that if we knew what our partners were thinking, rather than trying to mind read, things would go better for both of us. So, what we need is a simple way to update each other regarding our energy and motivation.

There are infinite ways to get to the check-in, rather  than always asking, “How’s your energy?” But, if you start there, you are being clear that you’re looking for a status update. Not necessarily about sex, but about energy and motivation.

I might start the conversation by stating where I am in my outlook for the hours ahead.

“Hi honey, I’m feeling super excited and energized. I’d love to set aside some energy for a little fun tonight.”

Then your partner can respond in a similar fashion.

“Okay, I’m also open, but I’ve got a lot of things to get done before I can play.”

And, the options then, “Sure, how can I help you with your to-do list?”

Compassionate Approach to Love and Napping

I was amazed at how my ex-wife would freak out when I wanted to take a nap on the weekend. Sure, she was dealing with some other pressures placed on her by our culture, but I was a fully-engaged husband, I was doing my part in the chores and child-raising. But, for some reason, my naps angered her. I asked her to nap with me, and she never accepted.

Napping is one of my superpowers. If my partner is also a napper, we’re going to get along better than someone who sees napping as being lazy.

It’s an easy proposition. If we’re both energetic and one of us it open and the other is motivated, we’ve got a date. If either partner is tired, it might be better to nap first and see if the intimacy happens later. Trying to make sex work (make good sex work) when you’re exhausted, is a recipe for disappointment. Check in with each other. How’s your energy? How’s your motivation?

When You Find Your Person

There will be no more fights about naps. Ever. If they are part of your tribe, they will always defer to you getting a bit more rest. Always. It’s one of the simplest ways we can take care of each other. Food. Affection. Rest. Shelter. Connection. When you nap WITH your person you both get the benefit of touch and empathy. I am here. I am resting beside you. I will hold your hand while you fall asleep.

By resetting our expectations about sex just a little (when we both have the energy) we can count on a more engaged and spontaneous partner. You can’t be present when you’re drowsy. Sure, it might sound like a formula for not having sex, but it doesn’t work that way in practice. When you care about your partner’s energy and vitality as much as you care about their potential for procreation, or practice-procreation, you’ll begin to see how the two feed each other. The more vibrant we are, the more attentive we are.

Good sex requires a good feedback loop between you and your partner. Attention on the details, attention on each other, attention on their enjoyment. Practice happy sex by affirming your F2N willingness and setting future plans from that mutual set point.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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