I’ve been asked by clients, whose ages range from 26 to 82, the following question:
How do I have great sex?
My answer? Kindness.
Yes, kindness—not technique—yields the most satisfying sex lives, and here’s why:
Kindness is a choice to treat ourselves and each other, especially in the most trying of times, with friendliness, generosity, and consideration.
An ethic in many cultures and religions, a medieval knightly virtue, for example—kindness is a timeless, universal value appreciated throughout history.
Over the years, I decided to adopt the same theology as the Dalai Lama while on my quest to find a humanistic and spiritual practice that suited me.
To quote the Dalai Lama, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
Aristotle, in his famed work Rhetoric, defined kindness as a spirit of unconditional helpfulness.
Nietzsche, in his collection of aphorisms in Human, All Too Human, argued that kindness and love are the “most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse.”
Kindness is the portal to self-compassion, the process of greeting ourselves with acceptance and understanding, which is necessary for experiencing enjoyment.
As Dr. Kristen Neff explains, kindness is one of three ingredients for self-compassion.
Along with kindness, mindfulness—the non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences as they are—and the recognition of our shared, imperfect humanity create the foundation for self-compassion.
While I believe self-compassion yields the most ideally satisfying experiences—which then by default include our sexual experiences—I find that self-compassion is more difficult to both cultivate and sustain.
And so, I encourage us to start with kindness as our entry point to self-compassion, especially in our sex lives.
This timeless, often taboo inquiry into unlocking satisfying sexual experiences is often interpreted as one of logistics: the act, or art, of engaging in sex—an inquiry that ranges from cultivating arousal and desire, exploring fantasies, positions, and toys, and experiencing orgasm.
All of these are important, and all require kindness.
Kindness yields creativity and safety, both of which are necessary for healthy sexual expression, especially for experiencing more adventurous styles of sex or coping with sexual dysfunction, trauma, or other medical concerns that compromise our sexual experiences.
My understanding of the necessity of kindness in sexual health is rooted in my understanding of the necessity of kindness to create a healthier society, grounded in my training as a social worker.
In short, I’m licensed to provide kind care to those in need in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during a time that is increasingly hostile, hurtful—and even deadly—to many people, especially the marginalized.
It’s a precarious position to be in as a therapist when my clients ask me to process and hold with them the very pain and suffering—brute unkindness—I myself struggle to understand and hold at times, whether these moments are related to sexuality or not.
In my office, I hold and acknowledge the pain, suffering, and joy we all share. We celebrate our humanity and resolve that actions that encourage community, love, and kindness are healing and necessary.
For those with emotional maturity and security, sex can offer an opportunity to experience union, belonging, love, and kindness. That said, sex of course is by no means the only way in which a person can feel a sense of this.
Further, we can cultivate kindness for ourselves and our partners during sex aside from satisfying our needs for belonging and love, because kindness is a fundamental human need, and is no different than our need to safely and securely express our sexuality.
We are living in a time where there is no act of kindness too random or too small.
Kindness is an active process, though. It’s a process that begins with being kind with ourselves, especially in the most vulnerable of experiences, like sex.
Some steps to cultivating kindness for ourselves to have great sex are:
- Giving ourselves compliments before, during, and after sex about our sexuality and bodies.
- Saying “no.”
- Treating ourselves to something that makes us feel special and sexy.
- Accepting the sexual experience for what it is—no two orgasms are the same, and an orgasm (or lack thereof) doesn’t define the quality of the encounter.
- Smiling more often.
- Expressing gratitude for our abilities and contributions.
- Reducing negative thinking.
- Enjoying our turn-ons, which does not necessarily mean we act on them.
- Being free of judgment.
- Honoring our need for pleasure.
- Seeking a licensed therapist to talk about these issues.
Kindness, then, does redefine for us, as Dr. Emily Nagoski writes, how to “come as we are.”
Author: Genevieve Marie Gellert
Image: Unsplash/Jeremy Wong
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis