top of page

Dr. Sue Johnson's 3 Kinds of Sex

1. Sealed Off Sex: 

*Lack of emotional connection


*Focus on own pleasure 


*Focus on other's pleasure is primarily to reassure self of one's  own sexual prowess &/or sexual desirability, rather than care  for the partner


*Can serve to disconnect from one's own emotions &  vulnerability by objectifying the partner


*Either Fear, shame, hurt, sadness or some combination are:

  1. alive & well

  2. sometimes reinforced

  3. often arise out of misunderstanding due to lack of attunement, lack of safety to explore & process, but primarily  due to the belief that doing so is weak, shameful, & stupid

  4. pushed down & escaped from through focus on pleasure & shallow reassurance of one's own fantasy (or reality) of sexual  prowess &/or sexual  desirability 


2. Solace Sex:  

*Emotional connection is not secure;


*Can be soothing & reassuring, but feeling of reassurance    doesn't last long


*Focus on pleasing the other & performing in attempt to gain  partner's love and create greater security in the  relationship


*Either Fear, shame, hurt, sadness or some combination are:


  1. often (if not always) experienced 

  2.  sometimes reinforced

  3. often go unexplored because of lack of feeling safe enough  with partner

  4. often arise out of misunderstanding due to lack of attunement  & lack of safety to explore & process


3. Synchrony Sex: 

*Expression of authentic, reciprocal intimacy


*Connection to one's own sexual pleasure, emotional    experience & thoughts


*Attunement to partner's pleasure & emotional  experience


*Attunement guides partner's giving, receiving & exploring 


*Reinforces an already secure connection


*Couple's sexual expression can vary, depending on what the partner's desire in that moment:  can be tender, vulnerable, romantic, passionate, erotic, or playful, etc.


*Sexual interaction provides safe haven and secure base for partners to heal and liberate partners from shame, fear, sadness & hurt:  

  1.  safe haven to vulnerably turn to & receive reassurance. That reassurance has a healing effect & strengthens their emotional bond

  2. secure base from which to explore one's own & each other's emotional needs & sexual desires


Please click this link for her full description


*During sexual interaction, it is possible for partners to be experiencing a different kind of sex from the other, or to be experiencing the same kind of sex


*In an insecure relationship, partners can misread the kind of sex the other is experiencing during their sexual interaction

bottom of page