In my last post, I showed you the first key to your pleasure: knowing WHAT you want. The next key is WHY you want those things - what value does sex bring to your life?
Here’s a list of things people might value in their sexual experiences. It’s by no means comprehensive! But it can get you started thinking about your own sexual values.
The reasons we have sex aren’t necessarily the same as our values. Take a few minutes to think about all the reasons you have had sex lately. As many as you can remember. These reasons we have sex can be tremendously varied, multi-faceted, and even contradictory.
Researchers at UT-Austin surveyed 444 people from age 17 to 52 about their reasons for having sex in their last encounter and identified 237 different reasons falling into 4 categories: Physical reasons, goal-based reasons, emotional reasons, and insecure reasons.
The reasons included everything from a desire to show affection to “it would enhance my reputation;” from “the person had beautiful eyes” to “I wanted to feel closer to God.” Some of them were spur of the moment, like “the opportunity presented itself” or “the person caressed me.” Some were manipulative like “I wanted to break up someone’s relationship.”
Think about some of your reasons. What value does each reason represent? And now, here is the big question -- does that reason represent a value that you actually have? Humans are funny: we often do things that are counter to the things we actually value. Like someone valuing family, but letting work take precedence. Or valuing creativity, but not making time to do creative things.
For example: do you value sex for the emotional connection it creates with a partner? Ask yourself, are you doing things that enhance emotional connection? If prolonged gazing into each other’s eyes does that for you, are you making space in your sexual experience to eye-gaze? If talking does that for you, are you making space for pillow talk? Are you having sex with people that you don’t share an emotional connection with? Are you having sex when there isn’t time to emotionally connect? Are there things you don’t do that could enhance emotional connection -- like maybe learn about synchronized breathing techniques?
As long as what you value doesn’t include hurting someone else against their will (emotionally or physically), you can value anything you want. Culture sends out lots of messages about what you should value - but you choose your own values. For best results, find partners with compatible values.
Take some time for reflection on these questions: What do you value… what do you do…. Does what you do reflect what you value?
(By the way… this works for all aspects of your life, not just sex!)
Meston, C. M., & Buss, D. M. (2007). Why humans have sex. Archives of sexual behavior, 36(4), 477-507.