Having just come back from the June Sex and Attachment conference in NYC, I was thinking about how we go for the sensational and the exotic in our public conversations and miss the obvious simple down to earth realities that truly define our sex lives.
A fellow presenter pointed out that at a certain point in our lives – probably around 30 – the only time we make love is late at night when we are already exhausted. The audience roared with recognition. On the way home on the plane, I thought of my client couples and the myriad of couples I have seen over the years when supervising other therapists or watching research tapes of sessions. One simple fact emerged. Couples, whether 25, or 55, don’t, won’t, can’t talk about their own sex lives!!
The irony is of course that we are now so open about sex. Sexual images, stories and recipes for how to reach the big O are everywhere. But it is impersonal sex that plasters our billboards. When sex is up close and personal, it seems that many of us are as inhibited as a 1940’s traditional couple. How can this be?
The answer is obvious. What is missing from all the commercialized sizzle sex is – emotion and vulnerability! Context matters! The music of the sex dance matters and the music many couples are dancing to in bed is fear of rejection or abandonment. In the work we do, using an approach called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), we see that once partners feel safer and more connected, they can actually communicate about their sex lives. And this makes – all – all – all – the difference. As their emotional connection improves, their ability to be sexual with each other expands exponentially.
As I have said elsewhere, good sex is an intricate act of responsive co-ordination and attunement. Hard to do when most of your attention is caught up with monitoring for incoming threats and reaching for your armor. Good sex requires opening up and being able to share what feels good, what is arousing, what turns you off and what moments are truly satisfying for you. Good sex starts with taking the risk to talk.
When we have the safety to share this, then we can tune into our own arousal cues and those coming from our lover.
The simple take home here is – take care of your emotional connection first – then go to the sex manual for ways to play. Great sex is a safe adventure – like a ride on a zip line.