Sexual Intimacy & Orgasm:  What's Love Got To Do With It?

 

Sex serves many purposes, one of which is emotional bonding. It is a

source of pleasure and is the means for procreation. Below are several

terms and concepts to help expand understanding of sexual intimacy.

 

Emotional Regulation 

  • Emotional disconnection from self (from one's own
    emotions)

  • Disconnection from others (isolating self & objectifying
    others)

  • Pseudo Intimacy (momentary fantasy of being connected,
    loved &/or desired)

 

Primary Myth:  Sex is always about pleasure and orgasm.

 

Secondary Myth:  Sex is always about an underlying desire for connection and emotional bonding.

 

Reality

  • There is not one right way to enjoy sexual pleasure and experience sexual fulfillment.

  • Subscribing to one-size fits all, with regards to sex, actually interferes with people's ability to create true sexual and emotional intimacy.          
                                                                                                                 

For Example

  1. For some people, emotional bonding is not necessary for sexual fulfillment.

  2. For some people, orgasm is not always necessary for sexual fulfillment.
     

HOWEVER

  • Sex is ALWAYS about attachment needs.

  • Sex serves as an attachment strategy to meet attachment needs, but the way sex is used to meet attachment needs depends on the person's attachment style.

 

Different ways people use sex as a means to address their attachment needs & longings INCLUDE:

  1. Connecting with their own needs and others' needs to create, deepen &/or heal an emotional bond

  2. Disconnecting from their own & others' attachment needs & longings to have power over others &/or protect themselves against others
     

Connected Sex: Safety experienced when in connection with others

 

Disconnected Sex: Needing connection is viewed as dangerous. For these people, power over people feels safe rather than connection with people. They use sex as a means of empowering themselves and objectifying others, thereby reassuring themselves that they will always be desired and therefore never alone and that they therefore do not need anyone...people are interchangeable and disposable.  No one is special except themselves and they don't need to count on anyone to be there for them. They just need themselves.

 

Sex is ALWAYS about attachment needs, even if the person is pursuing sex to distance them-self from his/her attachment needs and longings. Some people seek sex as a means of connecting with others to meet their attachment needs and longings. Some people seek sex as a means of disconnecting from their own attachment needs and longings because they experience needing connection as dangerous. When you understand YOUR OWN attachment needs and longings and the emotional and behavioral ways you seek to meet them you can apply this understanding to your sexuality and understand your sexual self. When you understand these aspects of yourself you can share them with your partner.When you understand YOUR PARTNER'S attachment needs and longings, and the emotional and behavioral ways your partner seeks to meet them, you can apply this understanding to your sexuality and understand your sexual self.

 

Pursuit of Sex as an Escape into the Fantasy of Connection

Sex can also be used to relieve tension or as a temporary escape from emotional pain (loneliness, shame, fear, hurt, sadness etc...).  Repeated use of sex as an escape and as the primary strategy for emotional regulation can lead to sexual addiction. This is especially true if the escape from pain becomes the primary goal of sex and is used as a way of disconnecting from oneself and from others, or if the only way a person knows how to connect or feel connected to others is through sex.  Often, the cycle of shame sets in where a person pursues sex to escape pain through the fantasy of being desired and accepted, only to come off of the temporary high from the fantasy and to realize that it was in deed only a fleeting fantasy. The person may feel sad and ashamed of the fact that he/she has been unable to fulfill his needs for acceptance, to be loved & desired, and that he/she repeatedly escapes the pain of this lack through fantasy.  The cycle ensues when the person then seeks to escape these painful emotions through the pursuit of more empty sex.  What the person needs, in fact, is to be able to turn to others who can help heal their pain through authentic connection.  Usually, sexual addiction requires the assistance of a professional and often times intensive treatment.  It also requires a lifetime commitment to self and the partner to process emotions in the context of their relationship and to turn to the partner and be there for the partner, rather than escaping painful emotions.  The partner must be equally committed to engaging in this process of creating and sustaining an authentic, secure attachment throughout their relationship.  See the section on sexual addiction.