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Language is the metaphor we use to communicate our deepest feelings. A couple’s sexuality is the most profound vehicle of communication available.

The words we use and our physical language of love define our love experience.

Penetration is the word often used to describe the culminating act of sex. It’s a word I often use when describing the best use of a good lubricant. But it was just this week after using the word in conjunction with the act that I wondered what I was saying.  The verb to penetrate has six different definitions in the dictionary and as in the power of any metaphor, the meaning one attaches to the term may deeply influence our relationship to the act.

A lesbian friend of mine once told me that it is not uncommon for many of her friends to maintain a no penetration relationship, and among my heterosexual friends, it is not a small minority who avoid penetration with their spouses.  I never asked them, but I wonder if for them the meaning of penetration feels like a military force entering into enemy territory or a projectile into a target.

Certainly the idea of women as targets for men is rampant, and so the need to protect oneself is also deeply held.

To penetrate also means to have an effect throughout, spread through; permeate, move deeply, or imbue. Applied again as a metaphor for sexuality, this penetration is an act that transforms, that has the potential of changing everything.

This sexual act can have the force of inspiration, the possibility of being completely saturated with love.

The act of penetration is a force of nature that is loaded with meaning and mystery.  Not surprisingly, to penetrate also means to gain insight and to have a marked effect on the mind and emotions. Our language about our sexuality is as layered as the act itself, and knowing what you mean when you speak about love and sex can only be helpful.

Sexuality is a metaphor for many things in life. Those things that we share in our sexual encounters, like language, attitudes and openness with one another, have a long reach into the depth and intimacy of our day-to-day relationships.

Consider your relationship to penetration: the word, the idea and the act.  Penetration means all of these things all at once.  But if I were to make a leap, in the name of making love sustainable, it would be that couples who build a strong and consensual relationship with the meaning and act of penetration are much more likely to have a strong and consensual relationship to each other.

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About Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy, she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook, as well as in paperback online. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


24 Responses to “Penetration.”

  1. mssunbug says:

    Fabulous. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. elephantjournal says:

    John W: something more !!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for venturing into this mysterious territory !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    10 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·
    Adrien M: yes, thanks for penetrating our minds and our hearts with this beautiful article:o)

  3. namasteinmontana says:

    Biologically, the purpose of life is that gametes want to become zygotes. It's not a very romantic notion but it's a fact for all living creatures. So, rather than intercourse being the culmination of love, love actually is a lure for intercourse. Love and nesting in the bigger brained creatures turn out to be a beneficial way for gametes to become zygotes and zygotes to mature to produce more gametes etc. Our bigger brains add pleasure, fulfillment and security to the mix, but the gametes still rule.

  4. Denise says:

    Absolutely a very engaging and poignant look at the male-female interactions and was food for thought for me! Thank you.

  5. I use the word in my vibrational healing/wellness practice, "Energy will move to the extent you allow the sound to penetrate you." In terms of intimate relations though aren't we always penetrated? One physical part entering another's body is really a superficial description of the act and the experience. In a healthy relationship we are always penetrated and expanded by the experience of the other.

  6. […] The collective brain tries to tell me what to do with my body. Wait. Why? What do you know about my body? […]

  7. Reader says:

    Interesting. Thank you. As a woman who is penetrated by male lovers I find it fascinating to also give consideration to a male lover's corollary experience of being received, taken in, swallowed, contained.

  8. […] did you know the main connection to a women is initially her breasts not her clit. Did you know a woman’s body craves deep penetration not clitoral numbing stimulation? Did you know that after twenty minutes of lying naked together […]

  9. Lori Bell says:

    I am a heterosexual female.

    Recently, I have had the experience of being/feeling so mentally and emotionally connected with a man that I felt his emotional-empathic/mental insights (regarding subjects that were very meaningful to both of us) "deepened my depths" – and that's saying a lot, because I feel I'm a pretty "deep" and insightful person to begin with.

    At the same time, there is a point where I do not want to be locked into the merely mental/verbal level of our "intercourse", that I want it to be able to communicate Without Words for a change. I feel my more non-verbal (feminine?) side is being deprived of an opportunity for full expression, because the communication of feeling remains at this mental/verbal level.

    Is this just me? Or do other women also have this experience when they are in a close, emotionally/mentally "intimate" (but otherwise "platonic") relationship with a man?

  10. roo whetstone says:

    I don't have a problem with the word penetration but our language is SO gender-ized. Consider the following words and you'll catch my meaning. Envelop, engulf, surround, encompass, absorb, hold, receive, accept, take, contain. Why do we not use these words to describe is the culminating act of sex? You know why……. 🙂

  11. Strbryte says:

    We cross paths again! Beautifully written…perfectly captures the giving in receiving.
    Thank you for voicing it!

  12. Oleg says:

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this web site. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming also.

  13. Art Stevens says:

    David Deida also explores the use of this word as a metaphor for so much more than the sexual act in relation to male/female energy exchange relationships. Definitely worth checking out his work on the subject.

  14. socolaura says:

    Interesting and timely, since I recently embarked on a relationship that has much promise, but lacks penetration. We had "regular" sex once, but that's it. Since then it doesn't include intercourse because I have genital herpes and he's scared of catching it. There are other things to do and we still have a good time, but it does seem a bit weird. I keep telling myself that it's my head and the proof is that we have a satisfying sexual relationship. Still….eons of conditioning are hard to get rif of….

  15. Bill says:

    As a huge fan of jazz, I have come to appreciate the music in between the notes or the silence. Often that is where you will find the impact or the meaning. At this stage of the game, I am looking to convey my meaning when engaging in as you say"Penetration". There has to be something behind it. In the past I used my own aspect as more of a sensor and a way to gather information to feed my own pleasure hunger. Now I use my entire structure to penetrate even when the actual penetration is absent. Stimulating the external is a skill set. Penetrating down to the heart is more of an art form that requires time, patience, intent and purpose beyond the achievement of pleasure.

  16. darline says:

    if you want to stay young come to haiti, they have a stone once you smell that stone you will stay young for ever

  17. M says:

    Penetration is literally referring to the penis entering the vagina. That is all. The English language often has many uses for one word. You could write an article about how when a couple “spoons” they are becoming like dinner utensils.

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