To penguins or pandas, dogs or dolphins, the sex act is simple: genitals meet and greet, and orgasm results…or doesn’t.
But it isn’t nearly that simple for us. Sex is fraught with meaning and quickly eludes our ability to understand.
I had decided that we wouldn’t have sex. I had my reasons for making that decision, but as we lay cuddling, my reasons melted away: her touch, her smell, the feeling of her lips against mine brought out the wild passionate lover in me.
The desire to have sex comes from deep primal aspects of ourselves. It has to do with our biology and physiology, and if that isn’t enough, it swoops in like a tornado reeking havoc with our best laid plans, best interest and common sense.
We inflate the importance of sex, imagining that we can’t live without it—that it is key to our satisfaction, relationships and well being. But when it comes to sex, it might be better if we just accept that we don’t really know sex at all. There is relief in admitting that we are powerless when it comes to our sexual desires, and that is the first step to gaining some influence over them.
Sex isn’t unique.
We treat sex like it is totally unique, unlike tennis, golf, eating or ironing. It is somehow much more important than anything else we do. It is alternately embarrassing, demanding, the holy grail and an ethical dilemma. But it isn’t any of these unless we make it so.
Sex is a physical act imbued by us with supernatural powers.
Sex with the “wrong” person breaks up marriages; even sex with the right person in the wrong place is taboo.
Maybe it isn’t really even sex that we desire. Perhaps it is closeness with another person or acceptance. Sex is never what it seems to be—it comes disguised as love, acceptance or self affirming.
Sex can be hot.
The one thing that is quite obvious about sex is that, “When you’re hot, you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re not.”
But what will make us hot or what will make us not isn’t nearly as obvious. In fact, we can be hot with one person, but then the next morning or later that night wish never to see him or her again. We can have the best sex ever with the same person several times, commit to them or get married, and soon our sexual desire for them evaporates.
Sex is more variable than the weather. Yet it appears to be what largely determines whether we live apart or together.
I don’t really understand gravity. Sure, I know that when I drop something it falls, but I don’t get the mechanics behind it. I don’t really understand sex either. It, like gravity, has a huge and ongoing influence over us and we can’t escape it. So we may as well learn to live with it.
Living with it.
Sex is like surprise company. There is a knock at the door: “Who’s there?”
Sex visits without warning. And it leaves without giving notice. One moment we want it, the next we don’t.
Sex is uncertain. To learn to live with sex is to welcome uncertainty. Embracing uncertainly is as simple as questioning any thought that seems very certain or too good to be true.
Questioning our thoughts opens the door to doubt, and also to new possibilities.
When we have the thought, “I need sex right now,” we can ask ourselves any of the following questions:
“Do I really need it now?”
“Is it sex that I need?”
“What will sex do for me?”
When we say to ourselves, “I am not in the mood for sex,” we can question ourselves about what it is we are in the mood for, whether we could get in the mood or we could ask ourselves if being in the mood really has anything to do with sex.
Questioning thoughts mellows us out, softens us and disarms the power that sex wields over us.
When it comes to sex, we are uncertain—so we might as well enjoy the uncertainty.
Putting sex in perspective.
No other species makes sex as utterly important, time-consuming and serious as we do. Sex is incidental to cats and coyotes. But to us, it has become vital, thinking about it consumes our day. It’s a full time job, and our national pastime. To us, thinking about sex has taken center stage, often dominating our experience and offering very little in return.
It is no wonder that we don’t understand sex. It is a primal drive that brandishes such power. But we can learn to live with it, and when we do, we are free to enjoy sex for what it is: a pleasurable part of our human experience that doesn’t have to be a dominating force. And when sex takes it rightful place in our lives, we tend to have much better sex.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May