Undoing Shame with the Two-Minute Game

Attractive brunette woman putting a blindfold on her bare chested partner sitting on the bed

We all have shame around our sexuality.  Unless you grew up in an isolated, utopian, and very sex-positive community, you will have received all sorts of socialisation and shame around your sexuality.  This tends to take the form of (sometimes contradictory) messages about what you are and are not allowed to do, who you’re allowed to be attracted to, and how your sexuality should express itself.  These messages, for most of us, are part of what makes up the cultural soup we swim in, and they get under our skin through what we read and listen to, and – perhaps ironically – our partners.

In practice, this shame (or ‘sex-negativity’) expresses itself in a lot of ways:

  • Frigidity, or lack of arousal (which can sometimes be caused by a lack of trust in one’s self or one’s partner, but is also often the result of an internalised voice saying that sex is bad).
  • Hyper-sexuality (which can be an attempt to push past the shame – as Peaches said, to “Fuck the pain away”).
  • Muted sex – sex without much feedback or communication (which is often a sign that you don’t feel free to congruently and fully be present to your pleasure, and express it).
  • Anorgasmia (which, again, can have multiple causes, but a common one is that it’s hard to get off when there’s a strong internal voice saying your arousal is a bad thing).
  • Any of the many things bodies do that are often regarded as dysfunctions, such as vaginas that don’t get wet when you want, cocks that don’t get hard when you want, genital pain, etc.  (These symptoms are sometimes physical, and sometimes a very understandable psycho-somatic response to internalised shame and negativity).
  • Criticism of our partners (which is sometimes just an externalisation of our own inner critics).

So what to do?  …There are a million solutions, and it can complicated – and expensive! – trying to work out what approach is right for you.

Or you could just play the Two-Minute Game.  It’s free, it’s fun, and although it won’t solve all of the world’s problems, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ll make out of one little game.  I’ll describe it in full, now, noting that it’s also one of a whole bunch of similar activities you can experience in the workshop ‘Fun Little Sex Games’, which is coming to Sydney and Brisbane in July 2019 (and that runs frequently in Melbourne).


To play, you’re going to need a partner, or at least, someone you can explore some touch activities with.  They don’t have to be a sexual partner, because this game doesn’t need to be remotely sexual in nature.  Which in itself is one of the first important pillars of the game; often, to get into our sexuality, we need all of the pressure and expectations around sex to be taken off.  Most people find it very hard to commit to the idea of having the sexy times, because that involves a certain state of mind, a decent amount of energy, and arousal (which is sometimes impossible to imagine).  The Two-Minute Game, on the other hand, only requires a commitment to your sense of curiosity, and a willingness to listen to your body.  You don’t even need to take your clothes off.

Work out who’s Player One, and who’s Player Two.  Player Two starts a two-minute timer on their phone. Player One asks for what they want, and if need be, a quick negotiation is had, to make sure both players are happy with the request (which is how consent is built in).  Once you’ve reached an agreement, you start, and that’s what happens for the remainder of the time.  When the buzzer goes off, you swap over, and repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.

A couple of rounds each (so, about eight minutes in total) is fun, but it’s very easy to get lost in this game and play it for hours.  It’s important, when your partner asks you for something, that you thank them for their request, and find a non-shaming way to suggest something different if it’s not something you’re into – otherwise, we run the risk of contributing to shame, rather than undoing it.

The game is deceptively simple, but it teaches you many things:

  • To get quick, and accurate, at asking for what you want.  (Many people have little experience at this, and it can be hard at first; just trust your intuition, knowing that the worst that’s going to happen is that you might need to negotiate towards something slightly different.  The best that’s going to happen – actually, the most likely thing – is that you’ll get exactly what you want, to the level you want it.  Don’t underestimate this; it’s a minor miracle, for a lot of people).
  • The joy of giving.  (When your partner asks you for what they want, and you know exactly what you’re meant to be doing, all of that chatter in the back of your mind disappears, and you’re left with the joy of giving.  It’s a lot of fun).
  • Creativity.  (When you take away the pressure of needing touch to look like any particular thing, all sorts of creativity comes out.  The whole act of sex starts to feel a bit like playing an instrument, or decorating something).
  • Staying in sync with your partner.  (Since the structure requires that you touch base with each other every two minutes, it has the effect of making sure you stay in lock-step together.  If you do wind up taking the game to sexy-town, the structure also makes sure that you pace each other’s foreplay and arousal curves accurately).
  • More about what you like, and what your partner likes.  (You’ll be amazed at what you both come up with; some of it will be familiar, and some will be new and possibly surprising).

The game has the effect of addressing the shame that many of us have in relation to asking for what we want.  In an attempt to avoid being perceived as demanding or selfish, we tend to ask for very little; this sometimes works, but mostly means that sex is a very hit-and-miss experience.  The joy of this structure is that you’re only asking for something for two minutes, and then you’re anyway going to be swapping over; the built-in egalitarianism tends to free us from the fear of being selfish.

The two-minute timing is important, as is having an external device to sound the alarm.  More often than not, two minutes is just enough time for something to be enjoyable, without going past its used-by date; as soon as you catch yourself thinking “Well, I was enjoying this, but now I’m wondering how to make it stop without sounding rude”, the moment and the mood have gone.  For this reason, although you might sometimes wind up playing three-minute or five-minute games further down the track, it's important to start with two minutes.  It forces you to be efficient with your requests, and builds trust in the structure and each other.

Some of my favourite requests over the years have been things like “Make me a cup of tea for two minutes”, or “Cradle my head and tell me why you like me”.  I have one partner, and our favourite thing is what we call the ‘Quirky Two-Minute Game’, where we almost compete with each other to see who can come up with the weirdest requests.  We’re both creative and kinky and like a sense of humour with our smut, so you can imagine we get into some interesting territory – very little of which looks like traditional sex.

So now it’s your turn; what would you like for two minutes?

Roger Butler is the principal facilitator with Curious Creatures, who run a variety of workshops on communication skills, sexuality, and relationships.  They’ve taught many hundreds of sexuality workshops to over 5,000 people, and have a style that is consistently described as safe, welcoming, and empowering. Curious Creatures are based in Melbourne but do travel annually to Sydney & Brisbane. Watch the Event section for upcoming workshops.


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  • Freespirit252


    More than a month ago

    I'm so glad there's something like this! It is so much needed! Thank you Roger Butler

  • DDdelite


    More than a month ago

    Well hello Mr Butler.

    Could you please consider running one of your workshops in Canberra? I along with oodles of others would be very appreciative I am sure.

    Thanking you kindly.

    • AMM.Editor


      More than a month ago

      Hi, I touched base with Roger to ask if Canberra was going to happen. His reply, "I’d love to do Canberra, but in short, I can’t see it happening in the short-term. Unfortunately the smaller the city, the harder it gets to cover the costs of venue hire, travel, etc."

    • DDdelite

      Account Closed

      More than a month ago

      Hi, thank you for inquiring on my behalf. I completely understand what you mean. Unfortunately we miss out on many things because of our size, despite being our nations capital.

  • Photos in private gallery


    More than a month ago

    Have tried, can verify! This sh*t really works. <3

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