“Nobody marries their best sex ever” proclaims Jennifer Wright in the title of a 2012 New York Post article.
Well I wouldn’t say nobody. I mean, it’s an American cliche — two people meet, have amazing, passionate sex for three months, and it’s off to the altar.
Two months later it’s off to the lawyer’s office.
But what if it’s mostly true? What if, for the majority of long-term pairings, people trade wild nights of unbridled passion for unrivaled parenting, and the process of making kids becomes secondary to raising them?
On the flip side, what if the pendulum swings so far away from rocking each other’s world it’s more like rocking each other to sleep? How much are you willing to give up sexually in order to get comfort, stability, financial security, and emotional availability?
While it might be rare that the people who blow our minds are the people we grow old with, let’s try not to throw out the potential baby with the candle-lit bathwater.
Perhaps we can have both.
The Biology of Sex
There’s a reason why Hollywood ends the movie soon after consummation, conflict, and emotional resolution. That’s when everything’s at its peak.
Hormones and neurochemicals are flying around our brains and bodies, and lust, limerence, and anticipation have us on cloud nine.
When we have amazing sex, it’s like our state of being gets transported to the netherworld, where logic has all but disappeared and we think we’ve found our perfect match. Talks about the future, forming a business together, how many kids to have . . . all of it seems possible.
When we reach peak orgasm, we’re flooded with dopamine and oxytocin — two powerful “drugs” in our brains that let us feel rewarded and closer to our partner.
According to sciencealert.com, women’s oxytocin release is longer than a man’s which is why post-sex cuddling is so important to her. It also explains why men, not knowing any better (or not caring), will just fall asleep or break that post-orgasmic spell prematurely.
No matter how you slice it, sex is a very powerful bonding agent that’s facilitated our survival, and countless works of art detailing the pleasure and pain of sex-induced attachment.
When All There Is Is Sex
Being an all-powerful act of pleasure and connection, sex can override red flags, character flaws, incompatibilities, and hell…even make those things seem interesting!
The pain comes when that fantasy bubble pops, and both people fall from the stars onto the sidewalk, where belongings might be thrown from a second story window.
The higher the high, the harder the fall.
When all there is is sex and nothing else, especially if it’s mind-blowing, it takes a good deal of awareness to prevent the inevitable crash.
In his book “The Man’s Guide to Women,” John Gottman proclaims that the limerence stage — the part in which a couple can’t even get through a whole movie without tearing each other’s clothes off, is not the time to make big decisions about your future.
You don’t want to get married or buy a condo together when the basis of your relationship is confined to one room of the house.
Of course two people may have the wherewithal to make it a strictly friends with benefits situation, but due to the relationship-making oxytocin, it’s likely that one person will get attached. Additionally, the post-orgasmic comedown can have those prone to addiction craving an unhealthy dose of love.
Without careful consideration, long stays in fantasy and obsession over a person can make a sex-only situation a very painful experience.
When Sex Is All There Isn’t
So what happens when all the ingredients for a great relationship are there, minus the sexual synchronicity?
What if two people really care for each other, love each other, and want to spend their lives together, but during sex he’s thinking about Jenna Jameson and she’s thinking about an ex?
What if you get along like childhood friends but sex between you is downright boring?
Well-known relationship coach Jordan Gray attributes this “friends or sex” dichotomy to an energetic disconnect.
When someone is in a consistent pattern of attracting partners who are either a good fit sexually, or a good fit in terms of friendship compatibility… it is pointing to an internal disconnect between their heart and their sexual energy. — Jordan Gray
Perhaps this sentiment can be taken into a pre-existing relationship, where a shift in energy and consciousness can boost your libidos.
Is good sex teachable?
My answer is, “It depends.”
I don’t think that everyone will be a great sex partner, because not everyone will want to do what turns you on, or has that sexual energy that excites you. Likewise, the things that make you hot — kinks, fetishes, or even just sexual positions — may not be acceptable or enjoyable to your partner.
What’s necessary in all situations though, regardless of sexual chemistry, is communication.
Communicating with your partner openly — as scary as it can be sometimes, can lead to much-needed conversations about wants, needs, desires, and body dynamics. Everyone is different, so what worked on one woman or man may not work on your partner.
Tell your partner what they’re doing right and ways they can improve. Do this tactfully enough, and you could turn your tepid, tuned-out procreation moves into orgasm overload.
Let go of fear, judgment, insecurity, and that inner critic.
Ok, this is a tall order — I get it. But this is a must for mind-blowing sex. All of these things are deterrents to the most important aspect of the sexual experience:
Presence and connection.
Sex without presence is creepy. — Erwan Davon
Erwan, one-half of the husband and wife Bay Area coaching duo, proclaims that no matter the circumstance — whether it be a random hookup or the 14th year of marriage — the key ingredient in healthy, enjoyable sex is presence.
With presence comes the ability to connect, but fear, doubt, shame, and insecurities will block this. That’s why it’s vital that internal struggles and childhood traumas that block sexual energy are dealt with head-on.
Furthermore, locking into your partner’s energy during sex, as opposed to tuning out and thinking about someone (or something) else, will create that connection and intimacy we crave.
I know we live in a time where everything should be equal, fair, and apologetic, but letting go of that rigidity could save your sex life.
Say those curse words out loud. Talk to each other about what the limits are and call each other names. Do what feels “bad” for a change and bond over that shared taboo.
You don’t always have to fuck like you’re eating at a fine restaurant. Sometimes quick, dirty, and even a little degrading is the ticket, which will make the emotional love-making seem all the more elegant.
Embrace your shadow sides and get to know the hidden truth about each other. While this may seem like a scary prospect, doing so with love and connection in mind can deepen intimacy and trust, and strengthen your bond.
Be willing to experiment.
While there are some things that we just know we’re not into, adopting a “Don’t knock it till you try it” mentality could add that spark and novelty that’s missing. The key here is the willingness to be vulnerable and express what you want, and opening that door for your partner.
A common mistake that men make is that he thinks he can’t try new things with a woman, or he fears that she’ll reject him.
Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy and veteran men’s coach, has three rules for great sex:
- Tell her that you’ll try new things with her, and if she says “no” you won’t take it personally.
- Treat her like she’s the most adventurous woman you’ve ever been with.
- If she’s says “no” or “stop,” then stop. Remember not to take it personally and to keep going with what she’s comfortable with.
Embrace the power of fantasy.
The most erotic sex organ in the body is the mind, so if you thoroughly stimulate that first then what follows should be easy.
The problem that most couples face when in a long-term relationship is routine. When we get into a routine, our brains are reluctant to dole out those pleasurable neurochemicals like dopamine, because there’s no anticipation of reward.
If you successfully stoke your partner’s flame with some provocative texting or a well-worded email, you can rebuild that anticipation you had while dating.
Studies have shown that the brain can easily mistake fantasy for reality, which can then lead to physiological engagement. If you use this to your advantage, you can have your partner begging for sex before they walk in the door, as opposed to it just being another item on the todo list.
Be careful however not to replace reality with fantasy, or become addicted to it. In order for it to work and lead to true intimacy, there needs to be a balance. Whatever you do, stay grounded, and above all, present with each other.
Use fantasy as an enhancement and never as a crutch or replacement.
It’s a fact that we will sometimes end up with partners who are genuinely, awkwardly incompatible with us physically, and no amount of sexting, talking, or teaching will change that.
However, if we do meet someone who’s great in all areas but sex, it’s probably worth it to find out what can be improved.
To Jordan Gray’s point, if you find yourself frequently choosing between someone you phone with and someone you moan with, it might serve you to dig a little deeper.
Perhaps there’s a disconnect between your heart, mind, and body, and a rejection of intimacy, leading you to categorize people instead of accepting the whole package. I know I’ve done this, and it was all based on fear, shame, and insecurity.
By removing our blocks to intimacy, presence and connection, we can find suitable partners who check most of the boxes. I don’t believe that the perfect partner exists for anyone, but if everything’s great but the sex, there is hope.
While statistically we may not marry our best sex ever, I believe that with willingness, inner work, presence, and communication, our current partner might turn out to be better than our ex.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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