Sex or is it physical intimacy?

OK - Let’s talk about sex.

What is it about sex that makes most people uncomfortable? Is it because of the way we were brought up? By parents, whose parents didn’t really talk about it, but just did it. Or has religion over the centuries made it a ‘dirty thing’? Or maybe because it is something we do, mainly, in private in the dark of night and so is a little secretive?

If only we could be more comfortable with this very important and natural human activity, firstly with ourselves and then with our partner/s. Sex, I believe, should be split into two types of activities. Firstly there is the animal instinct activity - just pure physical. A man wanting to spread his seeds as wide as possible to ensure the survival of his genes, and the woman to have children with the best possible mate.

Then there is the more human activity - the emotional and physical connection. What I call physical intimacy. This is where the physical activity is coupled with an intense emotional connection.

Despite what people try to suggest, and religion can encourage guilty feelings here, there is nothing wrong with animal instinct. In fact it is usually what drives us to be together. What is it you usually first like about a person - their physical appearance. But in general it is physical intimacy that couples, especially those wanting long term relationships, are looking for.

Puberty and adolescence was confusing for lots of us, and also embarrassing. Young men just thinking about the physical act, and young girls being a bit more romantic about love. Unfortunately, the ready access to internet porn has emphasised the physical act. More and more are driven by the ‘highs’ provided by just physical release.

On top of this there are also a lot of myths about sex. Commonly believed is that men want ‘it’ all the time. Sex drive varies between individuals and it is not unusual for the female partner to want sex more than the male. Some women really just want physical sex. On the other side of the coin, there are some men who really can only perform when they are emotionally attached to their partner.

There is also a debate around sexuality. I follow the belief that about 5 - 10% of the population are pure heterosexual (are only attracted to the opposite sex) and 5 - 10 % are pure homosexual (only attracted to the same sex). That leaves about 80% of the population who are bisexual. However, because of historic, and in some case still existing, society pressure and beliefs most of the population acts in a heterosexual way. It is very difficult for those who are attracted to both men and women. Especially if society says that you have to have one or the other!

And then there is sex drive. Accepting there is a variation in sex drive, means that there will be those who have no drive or interest in sex. To these it is extremely difficult as society expects everyone to be sexual. Some believe that if you aren’t, there must have been something sexually traumatic in your childhood that turned you off. Maybe, but maybe not.

Wherever you are on the comfort scale talking about sex we, as a society and individuals, need to talk more. Be more open. If this very natural human act was just a natural part of our lives then the shame, guilt, confusion and sometimes deep depression that counsellors come across when working with clients on sexual issues would be a thing of the past - almost.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Canary Wharf, E14 4AS
Written by Owen Redahan, MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)
Canary Wharf, E14 4AS

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