Dr. Steven Lake explains how understanding the difference between sex, sensuality and love will improve your love life.
Have you ever been in a relationship where for the first three, six, or even twelve months, the sex is great? Then, one day something happens and the sex is just not as available. You scratch your head and wonder what happened. What happened is that she now feels secure in the relationship and is demonstrating her real sexual needs and desires. This can be a major shock to the system, especially if her needs are dramatically different than yours. How do we get back to the sweet spot?
Sex, Sensuality and Love
As a society, we tend mix up these three concepts. Even more important, men and women have a different understanding of what these concepts mean.
Sex and Men
A short word for a complex physical process originally designed to get sperm inside women for the purpose of procreation. Sex can take a few seconds or last for hours depending on time and circumstances. Because sex feels good, men like to get as much of it as possible. Men are very clear about this. Chocolate only comes into the equation when we use it during sex – not as a substitute for sex.
Men have a reputation for not taking enough time for foreplay. There are several practical reasons for (straight) men to take their time during this stage of the sexual drama. Women are generally slower to arouse and foreplay allows them to warm up, which leads to lubrication of the vaginal walls. Another reason is that foreplay can increase the overall intensity of the sexual act. Sometimes, especially with a new person or when you haven’t seen your partner for a while, old fashioned lust and urgency can eliminate the need for foreplay without any negative effects. As you can tell from the description, so far, this is a traditional male perspective of sex. It’s simple and biological.
Sex and women
This is a whole different ball game. To begin with, the statistics for women and orgasms are just plain depressing. The majority of women don’t experience an orgasm through vaginal intercourse. Only about half even have an orgasm. That means half of women out there don’t know what the hell men are talking about when they say sex is great. In a way, it’s almost unfair that men can have an orgasm anywhere, anytime and with so little fuss. My suspicion is that a lot of women are faking it. If this sounds strange, check out Fay Weldon and her book What Makes Women Happy where she advises faking orgasms.
Men are faced with a rather bleak reality. There is a strong chance that your partner is either unsatisfied, lying to you about it, or both. And if you think you’re such a stud because she screams real loud, watch When Harry met Sally and then talk to me.
Why is it that men can reach orgasm in seconds and most women can’t get there through intercourse and those who can . . . take a while? One explanation is that male and female orgasm was once perfectly in sync during the prehistoric period, and that it was through male dominated cultures that female sexuality was repressed. Why you ask? The short answer is that historically, men were afraid of sexually powerful women and in order to control them, many cultures found ways to eliminate female sexual pleasure. Women who enjoy sex were “whores” and “wives,” important for bearing children, not for enjoying sex. Unfortunately, I still see this dynamic in my practice on a regular basis.
One way to improve this state of affairs is to empower the woman in your life (and/or give her the space to empower herself). You can support her in throwing off the shackles of oppression and getting in touch with her power, including sexual power. Think of it as releasing the passion within.
Another difference I have witnessed over the years is that women want intimacy to have sex and men have sex to be intimate. There is a lesson for men in that statement. Take the time to create intimacy first and then the possibilities of sex increase dramatically. Each woman is unique in terms of what she defines as intimacy, so communicate and find out what works for her.
You may think that this is all a lot of work, but it really isn’t. There is a little up front effort required, but once you know what she likes sexually and what she considers intimate – you’re home free. Not a whole lot of thinking.
For women reading this, you may be asking, “where is the love?” I’d argue that love grows when both partners are getting what they need. Then, through time, the possibility of love presents itself. Eventually, the man may even want intimacy first, then sex. This “maturing” process tends to happen when men feel secure in the relationship, with their sexuality, and with themselves.
The Oxford Dictionary defines sensual as “of sense or sensation, depending on the senses, carnal, fleshy . . . voluptuous . . . and given to the pursuit of sensual pleasures or gratification of the appetites.” Someone who is sensual is in touch with his or her aliveness. In this intellectualized world that we live in, a sensual person stands out and catches our eye.
Many men idealize sensuality and want sensual women—women in touch with their physical senses. Why? Because a woman in touch with sensation is easily aroused. A woman who is in touch with her senses makes for a better partner in bed.
There are many types of love. There is love we have for our children, parents, siblings, and love for our partners. The Oxford Dictionary definition is rather simple. It describes love as “warm affection, attachment, liking, or fondness.” When thinking of love, most of us envision something bigger than mere “fondness.” Heck, I can be “fond” of a pet mouse. The word “love” is different. It invokes images of rapture. Love is a large, unbounded experience of feelings encompassing the body, heart, and soul.
The above description of love can attack a twelve-year old boy or an eighty-year old man. Love’s arrow is indiscriminate and can pierce through any armor. Ecstatic love has been put down of late and described as immature, or being in lust, or under the influence of pheromones.
And yet we crave this experience and understand it as more than just biology. Most of us have felt the passion of love, whether it was for the girl across the classroom who didn’t know we even existed, our first girlfriend, or our current partner—at least at the beginning of the relationship. And if we lose that feeling, we naturally want to rekindle it. Love is like a flame we find difficult to live without—a beacon for the hopes and dreams of our relationship. Love warms our heart and eases our spirit. It is when all three elements come together (sex, sensuality and love), that the opportunity for spiritual and emotional ecstasy exists. Don’t settle for less.
Image Credit: Flickr/jamz196