We read Come As you Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski and Nicholas Boulton. We read the revised and updated edition released in 2021.

Why we chose it

We are always keen on discussing sexuality and expanding our perspectives around it. We see sexuality/sexual pleasure as an essential component of individual wellness and a healthy long-term relationship. This book got our attention for its title, which is a nice contrast to Ian Kerner’s popular books: She Comes First, and He Comes Next.

Key takeaways

We’re all made up of the same basic parts, just organized differently. The media, pop culture, and porn have misled people into incorrect expectations of what normal is. Everyone is unique and reacts differently to sex. For example, there is nothing wrong with reaching orgasm during sex, both for men and for women.

When it comes to desire, statistically more males are more spontaneous, and more females are more responsive. Context is very important – i.e. stress can affect desire significantly. The book also touches on arousal non-concordance – how our bodies and desires can act in opposite ways and why this can happen. This is an important concept to understand to avoid misunderstandings arising from mixed signals.

The main message of the book and our key learning point is on the Dual Control Model of Arousal:

  • Sexual Excitation System / SES is our sexual accelerator (i.e. visual, smell, flirty words, or behaviors)
  • Sexual Inhibition System / SIS is our sexual brakes: fear/mindset that prevents us from having sex (i.e. accidental pregnancy, STI, people might hear/walk into us)

Everyone has different levels of sensitivities on their accelerators and brakes. It is possible to improve your sex life by identifying our and our partner’s sensitivities and adjusting to each other.

Actionable advice

  • Ladies, take a very good look at your clit if you have not yet done so! This actionable advice is exactly what it sounds like. The main point of this exercise is really to be comfortable with your own body. The clitoris is essential to women’s sex life and so we need to feel comfortable enough to do this.

  • Take the quiz provided in the book together with your partner to identify your accelerators and brakes and your sensitivities towards them. We found this quiz interesting. It requires you to identify how you would feel under certain situations.

  • Put priorities into minimizing the brakes. This can be through a switch in mindset or through practical actions. For example, discuss with your partners that orgasm is not the goal and switch the mindset into enjoying the process, the intimacy, and the physical sensations. Or another example could be to hire a babysitter and go on a date or a hotel staycation if you have the means to do so.

##How we liked it

Fun: 6/10 | Thought-provoking: 8/10 | Actionable: 7/10

The primary target reader of this book is young women. Some chapters are insightful, and some are repetitive validation messages. We particularly enjoyed the part about the Dual Control Model of Arousal: our sensitivity towards our sexual accelerator and inhibitor. We also appreciated the information on arousal non-concordance. However, the first key message, “You are normal, nothing is broken” is delivered in a chapter that feels too long and winding for us. The metaphors and writing style are also on the “teenager-ish” side. However, it is a time-worthy book that can help women be more mindful of their perspective around sexual actions and reactions.