The Five Areas of Intimacy: Sexual


I've heard many times that the two most common topics avoided by therapists are sex and grief. Yet these are fundamental, elemental areas for people; difficult to navigate and impossible to avoid.

We learn from movies, media, and popular culture that sexual intimacy is natural and just happens; like breathing. But when we are there ourselves it can be anything but natural. We can feel anxiety, fear, dread, and routine more than vitality, excitement, and pleasure. Sexual intimacy can hold a beautiful place in a healthy partnership, but like the other areas of intimacy it requires intentionality and work! 

I was fortunate to participate in a workshop with relationship expert Esther Perel and I really respect her work around rekindling desire in relationships. Perel says, "Desire is to own the wanting." Desire is not a biological urge we passively experience. We are authors of our desires. We create powerful stories that invigorate us and create all sorts of responses in us, physiological, psychological, and sexual. 

Esther says, "While desire is a mental component, it's never just in your head. If I am imagining the croissant that I'm going to be having for breakfast and I have a particular place where I want to go get it, I'm already in a plot. I am in a fantasy. I am in a story, and that story is energizing me. My body has already a different attitude just thinking about it, just fantasizing about it. I'm smelling it. I'm already almost tasting it. I'm already in the sensual sensory experience of this croissant that isn't even here yet."

Sexual intimacy with your partner means recognizing and honoring that authoring process with each other. Done well, couples can together author some of the most invigorating, satisfying, healthy, and erotic stories of desire. 

Of course, this is not easy and takes time and intentionality. But with the right efforts, mutuality, trust, and understanding any couple can be experts and have a sexual intimacy rich with desire that would make Hollywood jealous.

Begin again,

{Image courtesy of Pablo Heimplatz.}