opinion

Understanding the Connection Between Sex and Life in a Retail Setting

Charlie Glickman

Do you know what the most amazing and challenging thing about sex is? It’s the fact that everything connects to it. Anything in your life can affect your sexuality, and your sexuality can affect anything in your life. That’s good news because it means that when your sex life is feeling good, it can support and enhance everything else. That’s one reason a great sex life makes the rest of your life amazing.

On the other hand, it also means that any challenges or difficulties you’re facing in other places can impact your sexuality. Stress about money, health issues, friction in your relationship, not getting enough sleep, poor diet or exercise, overall health, unresolved emotions from past experiences — any of these can make it hard to have a happy sex life. And that means that some people’s sexual difficulties are really about something else.

There are plenty of times when a pleasure product is exactly what a customer needs, and in most customer interactions, there’s no need to look at the larger picture of their life. But some people will be coming to you when they really need to contact a therapist or doctor.

I once had a client who came to me because he was having erection difficulties and he wanted to know if a cock ring would help. I asked him a few questions about his situation since cock rings can actually make some problems worse. For example, if erection difficulties are caused by nerve damage from diabetes, a cock ring can add to the problem rather than helping. So whenever someone asks about them for erection difficulties, I do an assessment of possible causes.

It turned out that he had lost his job, his house was in foreclosure, and he and his wife were considering getting a divorce. That level of stress is going to make erections more difficult because adrenaline can interrupt the arousal process. Your body doesn’t care where the stress is coming from, which is why performance anxiety can cause erection difficulties. In fact, he wasn’t facing erectile dysfunction because his body was doing exactly what it’s supposed to, even if it wasn’t what he wanted. He was having a functional response to a dysfunctional situation.

The problem was that he didn’t understand how his worry about his financial situation was affecting his sexual arousal. He thought that his stress was separate from his sexuality, so it’s no wonder that he was looking for a quick fix. Once he understood how everything that was going on impacted his sexuality, he started looking for better ways to manage things. He talked with his wife about how the stress was affecting him. They talked about how she felt about it, which opened up a conversation about their money worries. They decided to stay married, move into a less expensive place, and explore different ways to stay emotionally and physically connected. Over time, they discovered that by addressing the root causes of the stress, their sexual relationship improved. And that made it much easier for him to get erections.

Since anything in your life can affect your sexuality, it means that sometimes, people come to your store or website thinking that they have a sexual problem when it’s really about something else. If they buy a vibrator or other pleasure product in the hope that it will fix things, there’s a good chance that they toy will end up gathering dust in a bedside table. While you might make that one sale, odds are that customer won’t be coming back. Why should they? After all, the last sex toy didn’t fix anything. And given the value of repeat customers, that does everyone a disservice.

Of course, many of these kinds of issues are outside the scope of what you can ask your staff to do. Even if you have an employee who’s trained as a coach or counselor, a retail setting simply isn’t the place for it. There are other customers to help, there are shelves to clean and products to stock, and there isn’t a lot of privacy on a sales floor. But what you can do is develop a list of referrals to other resources. Keep a list of sex-positive doctors in your area. Know where to send someone for STI testing. Develop a connection with local sex therapists and coaches so you can refer a customer to them. Your customers might feel overwhelmed with trying to locate resources, and you can be a big help. That builds the kind of positive relationship that will keep them coming back. They’ll also be a lot more likely to tell their friends how great you were.

There are plenty of times when a pleasure product is exactly what a customer needs, and in most customer interactions, there’s no need to look at the larger picture of their life. But some people will be coming to you when they really need to contact a therapist or doctor. So it’s important to be aware that everything in their life connects to their sexuality. That way, you can be sure to give them the best customer service and create the kind of experience that will build the high-quality, repeat business that makes for retail success.

Charlie Glickman PhD is a sexuality speaker, trainer, writer, blogger and coach. He’s a certified somatic sex educator and has been working in this field for more than 20 years. Glickman is the co-author of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners.” Find out more about him at www.charlieglickman.com.

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