Sex is a part of our relationship life. We have our individually unique understanding and relationship to our sexuality.
But what do we understand about sex? Not the mechanisms of it, but the why of it. What makes us want to engage in the sexual part of ourselves? And what keeps us disconnected from our loved in our sex lives together?
The truth is, there is a myriad of reasons to want to have sex from emotional intimacy to a desire for love, to physical attraction, risk or pleasure. But not all motivations for sex create a positive relationship to ourselves and our partner.
Healthy sex lives can make us feel intimately connected to ourselves and our loved one. During intimacy, significant changes occur in our brains. These positive neurochemical changes can happen by just holding hands, hugging or kissing. These are acts of human bonding.
Oxytocin and Vasopressin, the feel-good ‘bonding’ hormones are activated and released during any bonding activity, whether sexual or not. Their release plays a large role in forming trust and building emotional safety. But all sex is not the same.
Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), defines three types of sex:
Sealed-off sex: This kind of sex is defined as emotionless and concentrated on the physical act; anxiety and performance are at the centre of this type of sexual coupling, but intimacy and authentic connection may be lacking.
Solace sex: This type of sex can be a way to connect with a partner when other aspects of the relationship, such as real intimacy, are not present. When a couple has solace sex, they may be seeking emotional fulfilment in the sexual context as the only available way to connect, creating colossal pressure.
Synchrony sex: In this type of sex, all aspects of the emotional and physical come together, defining a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship. Vulnerability, attachment, and positive feelings about giving each other what is needed sexually are likely to be present.
Do you talk about sex openly in your relationship? Can you identify the type of sex you and your partner are having? Sex and intimacy problems will eventually affect the quality of the relationship.
Research shows that couples who talk openly to each other have more sex and better sex than reticent couples or new couples. If you are single, can you identify the type of sex you have?
If you find your sex life unfulfilling, having a deeper understanding of the underlying issues will help. It is about getting to know yourself and your partner better to enjoy more of sex that connects, fulfils and satisfies.
If you find that sexual difficulties are occurring in your relationship and would like to speak to a therapist, please contact me. Healthy sex life can be an essential part of our over well relationship well-being. I offer sessions online and from my office in Hove.