An Updated, Honest Definition of Sex
When we expand our definition and understanding of sex, not only are we likely to have more of it, but we start to discover new possibilities. Beyond goal-oriented intercourse is a new universe of exploration. Many of my clients end up having better sex lives simply from expanding their view of sex. They feel safer to imagine and explore a wider range of experiences, sexual styles, and erogenous zones. These ideas then enter into their conversations and eventually their experiences. Sex also gets better as we are willing to embrace the honesty and vulnerability of our humanity. When we are not trying to prove ourselves to be right or good enough in our sex lives, we are more available to each other. Masks and facades fall away, and we can be truly intimate. Honest intimacy keeps sex connected and evolving, allowing us to love and be loved by our partners in profound ways. My clients ask incredulously:
• I can enjoy sex without orgasm?
• I can have sex without an erection?
• My whole body can orgasm, not just my genitals?
• Sex can be energetic, not just physical?
• Eye gazing and breathing together can be as pleasurable as genital contact?
• I can release stuck energy and trauma through sex?
The answer to all of these is yes! The new definition of sex I propose has a foundation of exploration. Rather than striving for a climax, we can let go of the goal and focus on the experience. Curiosity becomes the guide. Honest sex is about waking up our senses and hearts. We become more mindful and aware, and we can take delight in one’s own and others’ bodies, hearts, and spirits. Beyond a rote definition of how body parts engage (i.e., Webster’s definition of moving genitalia in rhythmic movements), sex is a way to explore pleasure and connection through as much of ourselves as possible. Honest sex is a curious exploration of pleasure and intimacy without an agenda or goal orientation.
Honest Sex in Action
A client told me about a sexual experience with her partner during which they never took their clothes off. They allowed their bodies to connect and move with the flow of the moment. It was as if they were not moving themselves, but they were being moved, she said. As they breathed together it turned into a kind of dance, even as they were lying down. She felt the energy of a snake in her body, and her movements were slippery and fluid. He felt the energy of a panther in his body and moved with strength and agility. They let go of self-consciousness and allowed their bodies to move together in a spontaneous rhythm. There was no genital climax, but the heightened energy of the whole experience was primal and passionate. After it wound down, they remained elevated. They felt more openness and love in their hearts for days after. This is one possibility of what happens as we let go of our limited maps of sex. Setting aside self-consciousness allows loving, primal, and expanded energies to flow through us.
There is no way to know what will happen, but the willingness to engage in the unknown is often thrilling and new. Our bonds deepen with our partners because we expand from mental knowledge about each other—ideas, history, values— to visceral experiences of each other—in our body, heart, and soul. Finding words to describe this is challenging, but when we are more present and aware—letting go of shoulds and expectations—we can experience a depth of love and excitement that bonds us deeply.
Sex cannot be done wrong, as long as we feel good about it. And I dare say that no matter what we have experienced, more is possible. Every moment is unique, and we are always evolving, which means new and different experiences can always happen. Having practiced yoga for twenty-five years, I continue to open up to more possibilities for my body, breath, and awareness in each class. I have racked up more hours doing yoga than having sex, and for this reason alone, I see that we never reach the end of what is possible. There are many more reasons why this is true as well. As we continue to discover ourselves and our partners, we find that each moment is full of different flavors of connection and pleasure.
Sign up for the Love Notes Newsletter
Get the latest on relationships, parenting, therapy and more from the experts at The Gottman Institute, plus get a FREE download every month!
How can you know you’re in a happy relationship that’s both good for your health and everyone around you? Can such a thing be measured? It can! Take this free quiz and find out how well you know your partner.