What does it take to have a great sex life? Is great sex about good technique, about keeping desire burning by catering to each other’s sexual fantasies, or about feeling wanted and desired by the person you love?
Great sex is about all of these, but perhaps most importantly, it is about trust.
Sex as Technique:
Technique, such as putting pressure the right places and pleasuring each other in ways that are enjoyable rather than uncomfortable is obviously important. But to truly be able to do this, partners need to feel comfortable talking about sex with each other and asking for each other’s feedback and guidance. Men often find this difficult to do because they have an idea in their head that they are already supposed to know what to do and how to do it. Oftentimes they worry that asking their partner for feedback is a turn-off, and think of it as a blow to their masculine self-worth. Women too may feel pressured to live up to an expectation of the objectified woman they think their man might want, and may not always voice it when sex is not altogether pleasurable.
When both men and women enter into the bedroom with preconceived notions of the roles they need to play, sex becomes more of a performance than an intimate experience. Both partners are then holding something back and not fully trusting their partner with their true opinions about what is pleasurable and what is not.
Sex as Self-Expression:
In addition to knowing how to pleasure each other, a great sex life is also about allowing each other’s sexual fantasies to be fully expressed. This task is often a most difficult one because partners typically feel a great deal of shame about admitting to their sexual desires. Having a great sex life is thus really about a journey of discovering and fully expressing one’s sexual self with someone else. Each partner secretly wonders if their sexual desires are okay, and if their partner will turn away or reject them, if they truly express what turns them on. Great sex thus requires a comfort with self-disclosure and the courage to face possible rejection.
In many cases, the anxiety that this degree of openness brings about is simply too great, and a person may end up living out only an inhibited and repressed version of their true sexual self. Great sex, as you can see, is therefore not only about knowledge and technique, but also about comfort with self-discovery, acceptance of oneself, and the ability to let oneself be known to one’s partner in the fullest possible way.
Sex as Need for Affection:
A third dimension to a great sex life, in addition to good technique and open self-expression, is the ability to give and receive affection. Great sex is not just about reaching orgasm, but is also about connecting with your partner, and feeling cared for and wanted. To gratify this need for affection, you must be able to accept your own need for affection and allow yourself to surrender to the embrace and comfort of another person’s love, care, and concern.
This comfort that we can feel from the embrace of another person, sometimes even supercedes the desire for orgasm. It is not unusual to hear women say that they will “put up” with the sex in order to get this sense of being special and loved. Many men will also admit that what they are really after when they ask their partner for sex is a sense of reconnection and knowing that are loved.
Sex as Spiritual Journey:
At the end of the day, a great sex life is not an easy thing to achieve. Great sex hinges on an ongoing quest in each partner to push ahead in their own personal development and spiritual quest to become their fullest sexual self. This quest is about confronting personal barriers to fully trusting another human being with ones sensitive needs, longings, and wishes. It requires a journey both to accept these needs, longings, and wishes within oneself, and to allow them to be seen and expressed in relation to someone else.
Because this journey toward greater sexual awareness and expression is often a frightening or fragile process, it is no wonder that the biggest obstacle to a great sex life is the deterioration of trust in one’s relationship. Nothing can kill a great sex life like the feeling of rejection, the feeling of not being wanted, or the feeling of not being good enough as you are.
About me: I am Rune Moelbak, a couples therapist in Houston, Texas. I help couples work through issues that get in the way of having a trusting and fulfilling relationship. Visit my website to learn more about my approach to couples therapy.