What's your sexual potential? Or moving beyond sex as leftovers.

Sex and Intimacy

Sex is a popular topic.
I’ve written on it many times.
Ways to ruin it. Mistakes men and women make during it. How to talk about it. The differences between sex and intimacy. And the idea that sex means something.
In light of the recent post on the dangers of pornography, I want to frame the discussion in a slightly different way.
What about your sexual potential?
Is it safe to say that many people reach a level of functioning in (or tolerating) their sex life and then cease to continue their development?
Each of us will have sex up to a tolerable level of anxiety and this anxiety helps determine what unfolds during sex.
Dr. David Schnarch refers to it this way: Sex is made up of leftovers. When you got together with your spouse, you were able to decide whatever you thought was disgusting, sick or perverted that you didn’t want to do – your spouse was able to decide whatever they thought was disgusting, sick or perverted that they didn’t want to do – and you did whatever was leftover.
Never thought of it that way, right?
Hang with me. Where we’re headed is more than the act of sex itself, its a process of knowing and being known, and an act of growing a more solid sense of self.
Remember the first time you heard about french kissing? I’m willing to bet your first thought was it’s disgusting and the first time you experienced it you were likely filled with anxiety.
But over time, you became more comfortable and perhaps have even grown to enjoy it.
Sex is the same.
So, am I saying that you should do whatever you want when it comes to sex?
Yes. It’s completely up to you and your spouse.
Growth happens most when you stretch beyond what’s comfortable.
So sex becomes a great way to grow and create a great life because sex is actually a language.
How you live life is how you do sex, and how you do sex is how you live life.
So to further frame this discussion, look at it this way. When it comes to sex, couples in a committed relationship fall into three categories:

  • Dysfunctional sex
  • Functional sex
  • And the Blessed few

Granted, we each may get glimpses of categories beyond the one in which we reside but to take up residence in a higher category requires more … much more.
And before you plant yourself in the Blessed Few category, realize that those truly in the Blessed Few are likely not reading Simple Marriage … they’re too busy having great sex! 🙂
Here’s a bit more about each category, and notice that membership in each category has little to do with physical anatomy and more to do with your sense of self and connection with another:

Blessed few

This could also be viewed as a spirituality based or health model of sex (don’t necessarily read religion into this – it’s spiritual) which is very different than the traditional model of sexuality.

This view of sexuality is sex out of fullness (i.e. being known and knowing another) rather than sex out of emptiness. The most distinguishing characteristic of a spiritual based model of sexuality is passion and is mind/brain driven rather than biology or hormone driven.
Sex is enjoyable for both partners and is rarely a one-sided encounter. It involves the recognition of wanting and being wanted by your spouse rather than needing them. Spirituality based sex is more about the meanings attached to sex rather than the number of positions or orgasms.
Spiritual based sex would be sex as conceptualized by God rather than the devil. Ask yourself this: Looking at your sexual behavior would an observer conclude God or the devil invented sex.
Spiritual sex is based on mind and soul not on genitals.
With spiritually based sex there is a nice distance between the excitement threshold and the orgasmic threshold. And passion based sex not only tolerates but encourages a high level of eroticism. Those who operate at the this level can distinguish erotica from pornography.
Spiritual based sexuality pleases self as well as partner.
Passion based sex fosters improved levels of self-actualization and growing up.
And finally, few couples experience spiritually based sex on a regular basis. And many couples may never experience passion or spiritual based sex.

Functional sex

Functional sex is the sex that characterizes most committed relations (marriages) most of the time.
Functional sex is more likely to be need based and coming out of emptiness or partial emptiness (i.e. horniness, release, anxiety). It is characterized as wanting sex rather than wanting your spouse.
Most often one partner is dominated by the desire for the sexual act and the release of sexual tension while the other is merely accommodating.
Sadly many couples are too willing to settle for functional sex and may spend a life time never or rarely experiencing passionate sex.

Dysfunctional sex

Dysfunctional sex is absent of passion, fun, love, and appreciation. It also kills the desire for the other person as the act is mechanical, routine, or scripted.
This category doesn’t necessarily mean there’s some sort of sexual function problem (ED, premature ejaculation, low to no desire, etc.), dysfunctional sex also is the result of poorly differentiated partners. Due to both partners low level of differentiation (development and emotional maturity) the sex act is often not worth the effort and it is often characterized by overwhelming anxiety by one or both partners so much of the act is spent trying to get the other in the mood.
Dysfunctional sex is often very paradoxical in that it may result from the absence of meaningful connections or fusion between the partners. If there is no real human connection, there will be an inadequate excitement phase during the sexual response cycle for one or both partners. Or if the couple is fused (i.e., no separateness) there will be inadequate excitement because there is no separateness.
Couples that are too close will expect joint ownership of each others genitals thus no one has their own genitals so the sex act loses its meaning. It takes two mature, well differentiated, individuals who own their own genitals to create passion.
Many people never use committed relationships to grow more basic self to the point that they can be passionate.
But don’t lose hope. You can use your marriage to help you grow up.
You can unlock your sexual potential and create a great life and marriage at the same time.
What do you think … interested in more on this idea?