Learn About Sexuality

Understanding the value of non-sexual intimacy

Sexuality is about our emotions and how we feel loved in our relationships with others. Even in committed sexual relationships, sex is rarely about producing children. At its best, sex can create a sense of emotional connection between two people.

Although sex is often described in terms of the erotic aspects, many people also look for emotional rewards from sex. Some people define sexual satisfaction in terms of quantity and others in terms of quality. As with all things in life, the less we expect or the less demanding we are, the easier we are satisfied. Sex involves responsibility (even with contraception). Individuals of both sexes can suffer if a lover behaves callously.

Adults are embarrassed about sex because of their emotional insecurities. Our emotional needs include a need to impress, a need to belong and a need to be valued. Some people look for validation from others and this leads to a lack of self-esteem, which stems from anxiety. A person spends so much time trying to keep other people approving that they lose track of their own values. Women are particularly susceptible to anxiety.

Most of us have a desire to conform and to be considered ‘normal’. Most women assume that men’s interest in sex qualifies them to know everything about sex. Few women are confident enough of their sexuality to question the male view. We have a desire to be loved and to please a lover. A man may want to believe in fantasies that help with his arousal and sexual ego. A woman may want to boost her self-esteem by believing she can respond just as a man does in exactly the same scenarios.

Some people only want sex with someone they love. Others are motivated by lust. Some people find it easy to demonstrate affection. Others are more reserved about showing their feelings. Some relationships are superficial and others can be more meaningful. Different personalities enjoy each of these to different degrees. Emotional (non-sexual) intimacy develops as a couple spends time together sharing conversation, humour and friendship over dinner, while out walking or as they prepare a meal together.

Women are more sexually self-sufficient than men because they achieve orgasm alone rather than with a lover. Men are more emotionally self-sufficient than women because their sexual urges drown out any other emotional response. Women enjoy dancing close to someone they admire and find attractive. But dancing only causes men to be more aware of their sexual needs. Men’s arousal means they do not appreciate these emotional aspects as much as women do. For men sex is intimacy.

Men and women look for different emotional rewards from their relationships because of their very different levels of responsiveness. Men’s sex drive focuses them on their own orgasm. Women tend to need an emotional context to enjoy lovemaking. A loving relationship involves supporting each other’s life goals of family and an active sex life.

Men and women engage in sex for different reasons. Women are motivated by the emotions that arise from enjoying affectionate companionship. Men are motivated by the emotions that arise from obtaining sexual release. Critically women do not have an arousal cycle (an inevitable or reliable progression from arousal to orgasm) as men do. Consequently, women’s sexual willingness depends on non-sexual emotional factors.

Women’s sexual instincts focus on their caring and nurturing instincts. They approach sex from the perspective of demonstrating their affection towards a lover. Men translate this affection into a sexual opportunity. Women need to talk more than men because they want to build trust. Women need to know a person’s motivations, their values and their morals. This is self-defence. A woman hopes that a lover with be kind to her rather than callous. She hopes that he will be loving rather than unfeeling.

Sex with a new partner most usually begins with kissing. Men initiate kissing to indicate their desire for intercourse. In French (or deep) kissing one partner inserts their tongue into the other person’s mouth. Kissing varies depending on how open the mouth is, how long kissing lasts and how much movement is involved. Some people dislike too much saliva flowing which tends to happen if kissing goes on for too long. Passion can also be communicated by the firmness and how much the whole body is involved in a kiss. The most romantic kisses are firm and not too wet.

When we love someone, we feel good being with them. We enjoy sharing physical intimacy. When we care about another person, we have their interests at heart. We make effort for them and we consider their feelings. We feel valued when they give us what we need emotionally. Each of us needs to have respect and affection, to feel supported in the role we play in the family and to gain from family life what we need emotionally. We all want to be loved and appreciated; just in different ways.

If a person is not prepared to embrace the needs and genuine desires of their partner, then they shouldn’t get into a relationship. People have to understand and be willing to provide what their partner needs more of in their relationship. (Stephan Labossiere 2012)

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