I often like to ponder about one of the big contradictions in the world of sexology. This contradiction can be summarised with the following two ideas:
1. Sex is sacred
In many ways, we are taught that sex is a unique and special aspect of life and relationships, separated from the hum-drum of life. This idea is epitomised in the practice of Tantric sex – where sex is seen as a deep and rich experience, a union of the souls, a meditation on the body and the senses, and a life creating and enhancing process.
As in Tantra, this view of sexuality as a sacred and fundamental life force is common in many religious teachings, but also in many Western cultural messages. Messages such as “I’m waiting for that special someone” and “Sex should be romantic and passionate” reinforce this idea that sex is sacred, and more than just the sum of its parts.
And with this view of sexuality can come ideas about how love-making should play out – the conditions should be just right, there should be deep focus and eye-contact, it should be loving and intense, and both partners should participate with equal energy and enthusiasm.
2. Sex is just another part of life
On the other end of the spectrum is the idea that sex is just another part of life, squeezed in between brushing your teeth and falling asleep at night.
Along with this line of thought might come the idea that our culture puts too much emphasis on sex being special, and that if we just treated sex more like a normal part of our lives, we wouldn’t get so caught up about it. Yes sex can be fun, but can’t we just have a quickie, a giggle, and head to bed?
This view of sex also acknowledges the inherent busy-ness in our lives. We want an enjoyable sex life, we want to feel intimate with our partners, but we also need to work 9 to 5, pick up the kids, cook dinner, wash the car, do the yoga class, hit the gym, read an article or two and sneak in 6-8 hours of sleep.
Sex is sacred…..Sex is just another part of life…..Two very different ends of the spectrum…
Of course, there is truth to both of these ideas.
So perhaps this is better viewed as a dialectic rather than a contradiction. A dialectic (in psychological terms) refers to:
- The way we think, understand and appreciate things by also understanding their opposite;
- The reality that two opposing ideas can be equally true and relevant;
- The knowledge that wisdom often lies in the integration of two opposing narratives.
If we focus too much on sex as a sacred act, people may feel like there is too much spirituality in bed with them. That too much time and energy is needed to make love, that sex lacks a certain variety of pace and intention, and that it is difficult to switch in and out of love-making and the less passionate areas of life.
What happens to the quickie? When do we get to be kinky? How do we switch from nail-clipping into being a sexual powerhouse?
And if we delegate sex too much into averageness, how do we keep sex a priority amongst the backdrop of a busy life? How do we put in the time and effort to keep up a sexual connection over time? How do we respect the pleasures and potential of our own sexual bodies?
How do we capture the wisdom that lies in between?
I can’t speak for everybody, but my best guess about how we find this sweet spot in-between is this:
We acknowledge that sex can be spectacular, and that it can also be just okay, and we weave between the two.
We clip our nails and watch our partner pick up dog poo in the backyard, and then we have a shower and make-love.
We are quick when we need to be quick, and slow when we finally get a Saturday morning sleep-in.
We let our partner do most of the work on a Tuesday night, but put in some special effort to sexually connect on our rostered day off.
People weave between the realities of life, the fantasy of the perfect sex life, the varieties in their sexual preferences, and the passion or lethargy they bring to the bedroom/kitchen bench/shower/car/lounge-room.
We weave the sacredness and the averageness of sex into our everyday lives. And its always a balancing act.
Dr. Alice Hucker