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August 5, 2017

Why Sex is so Sexy. {Adult}

Considering the central role that sex plays in our culture, it’s amazing how seldom it’s honestly discussed in public.

We talk about what is sexy, as well as our numerous and enticing sexual excursions, but rarely do we inquire into the nature of sex in an attempt to discern why it is such a powerful and emotionally-loaded aspect of human life.

I listened to a lecture by Alain de Botton on the matter recently and would like to share some of his insights:

“What makes something sexy? Why are certain moments, situations, and positions especially sexy? I think it has to do with loneliness. Most of our lives, we are isolated, alienated, lonely creatures that do not find an echo to some of our deepest needs in the people around us. We inhabit large, anonymous cities, and then suddenly something miraculous happens. Someone allows us deep into their mouth! We can put our tongue at the top of their upper molars and it is just wonderful.”

We are most vulnerable, open, and exposed during sex, both in a physical sense and in an emotional sense. This is so appealing because we rarely get the opportunity to connect with someone deeply and truly in day-to-day life. Sex represents the union of self and other—the physical embodiment of connection that we all most deeply crave.

Individual life is a difficult thing; we have all sorts of problems and insecurities we are forced to contend with as a human being. Our imperfections make us feel alone, and when we express ourselves sexually we get to reveal the depths of our being in a pleasurable and empowering way.

We are honest in physical intimacy; at least it feels honest in some way. We get to momentarily forgo our cultural identity and embrace something deeply primal about ourselves in a way that is both personal and creative. Sex reminds us that we are not merely isolated ego entities moving separately from everything else. We get a taste of something transcendent of our separateness.

Botton continues:

“Now, this is also revolting. Nothing that is sexy is not also revolting, that’s the point. It is sexy precisely because it is private. It is a miniature utopia you are creating with another person. Think of oral sex. In oral sex, the dirty, poisoned, soiled side of you is welcomed by another person. You are no longer just dirty. The dirty becomes clean. Sex symbolically cleanses us. Another person accepts the whole of us, and that is a miraculously exciting thing! It is exciting because it is sexy, but it is deeper than that. It is psychologically enriching; it makes us feel fully human.”

Things are sexy because the seemingly shameful and messy parts of our humanness are transformed into the most beautiful elements of a remarkably gratifying experience. That which is regularly seen as repulsive and distasteful is made into something appealing and attractive.

We often attach ourselves to people we are physically intimate with because they have, in a sense, accepted us completely. This is a cathartic experience that speaks to our earliest childhood trauma, as well as the human condition in its entirety, and we attribute the deep sense of acceptance to the other person involved.

Many of us perceive sex as the focal point of a relationship precisely for this reason. We see it as the most amplified quality of the relationship because it represents the ultimate form of interpersonal and spiritual fusion, though of course, not consciously. When someone cheats on us, we see it as being the quintessential form of deceit and betrayal. Now, of course, this sentiment is misguided, but there are certainly deep psychological reasons for falling into this train of thought.

Sex brings to light a profound sense of humanness, a quality of being dignified and distinguished amidst our imperfections and peculiarities. This is why it is so central to the human experience. The better we understand this, the healthier our sex lives will be.

Botton sums it up:

“To conclude, we’d be awfully sensible if we didn’t have a sex drive. We’d be very mature, very respectable people by now. We could take ourselves seriously, we could almost be growing smug about the kind of people we are, ‘How clever! How wise we are!’ Fortunately, we have a sex drive and that sex drive doesn’t allow us very long to think of ourselves as sensible beings. Let’s respect how ridiculous sex makes us. It gives us enormous amounts of pain, but it also gives us that vital lesson not to take ourselves too seriously.”

Let’s allow our sexuality to continually remind us how silly we really are, and how unimaginably bizarre and complicated the human experience really is. This is really quite humbling, and elicits a sense of acceptance and gratitude as long as we don’t take any of it too personally.

Relephant:

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Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Freestocks/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Sara Karpanan

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