Connection, intimacy, giving and receiving in mutuality, is the height of pleasure for us humans. We crave these energies. Some might say that we cannot live without them. Which is why sexual intercourse has so much potential to activate our pleasure centres.
Yet without a feeling of true connection between those engaging in this act, the pleasure is not only transient, it can also feel incredibly hollow.
In this era of anything goes, this isn’t the most popular of observations. We are a pleasure-seeking species. We wish to minimise pain and maximise pleasure in all areas of our lives. Entire industries rely on this desire.
Whether it’s the music industry, adult entertainment, or the wellness, beauty and fitness industries. At their root, their success lies in connecting us with something that gives us pleasure, no matter how transient.
The physical sensations we experience during intercourse are heightened when they are combined with love, respect, admiration and care for the ‘other’ involved. These feelings can be experienced in monogamous or polyamorous encounters. They can be there with a single partner or with multiple partners-either at the same time or separately.
I share this just to make it clear that I have no desire to impose a moral code on how we experience the pleasure of physical intimacy. But without the add-ons of love, respect or admiration, the encounter can certainly feel hollow.
In fact, you can experience great intensity during the sexual act because there is an internal force that is seeking out a connection. That intensity can be mistaken for feelings of connection because the force is so strong. Yet intensity doesn’t necessarily lead to intimacy or even to real pleasure.
Feelings of emptiness and hollowness.
We know this because whenever we have engaged in an encounter with someone we find attractive but don’t feel a real emotional connection with, we can feel very empty once the sexual act is completed.
That emptiness and hollowness can lead to a desire to keep repeating the encounter in the mistaken belief that next time the physical pleasure will create a sense of fulfilment. It is this endless seeking for a true connection that leads to sex addictions.
Rather than explore the loneliness and emptiness that is felt when there is no true connection, the addict would rather keep repeating the act in the hope that this time they will feel something real and true.
Loneliness is a very visceral feeling. It can be so painful to experience or even admit to, that we can avoid exploring it. We will do anything rather than sit with it, sit in it and let it be what it is. It has true intensity. An intensity that feels very uncomfortable to those who prefer superficial experiences.
Yet when that loneliness arises out of our desire to connect in terms of physical intimacy, it can only be diminished by our honouring our need for deep connection.
When we let ourselves admit that need then sexual encounters that only give pleasure at the surface level, start to feel mundane and unfulfilling. The pleasure we gain is too transient and feels as if it requires too much of us.
There is nothing wrong with staying at the surface level when it comes to sexual intimacy. But as long as you do, don’t expect to have a transcendent experience. That type of experience can only be achieved when you are seen, honoured and known, in the most intimate way.
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