So as human beings, we were designed to physically enjoy sex. We are naturally wired to get pleasure from it both physically and emotionally. Now, we know that when there is trauma, and I mean any sort of trauma (physical, sexual, and yes, emotional) this capacity to enjoy sex may no longer exist at all or at least may not exist as it might for someone that is trauma-free. And while it would be easy to say that for the sake of today’s discussion, that we are going to ignore the emotional trauma piece, it often plays a huge role and is truly what today’s topic is about. Because emotions themselves, all on their own without any trauma, typically play a huge role in one’s relationship with sex.
And while we know that sex is supposed to feel good physically, we spend less time thinking about or even talking about what sex means for us emotionally. There are plenty of people out there that will say, “it’s just sex,” implying that it has no emotional significance, but that seems unlikely.
Science has shown us that orgasms lead to a huge dump of feel-good chemicals in our brain (oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins) and that these chemicals can lead to a more intense emotional connection to a partner. And that’s all fine and good.
But what happens when you begin to have sex simply to get a dose of those feel-good chemicals? What happens if you are having sex with someone that you can’t/won’t/would never/can never partner with in a way other than sex? What does that do to someone? And what does that do to someone that under the surface truly DOES want to be in a relationship with that person?
There are some people out there that truly do seem able to have meaningless sex. And while it is likely that there is more going on emotionally than that the person is willing and/or able to recognize, on the surface it seems like, well, just sex and that they are doing, well, just fine.
There are also some people that seem just fine having sex with someone they care about, or even love, but do not have any hope, expectation, or desire for a more serious relationship. And that’s, well, just fine too.
But for a lot of people, it seems that sex can act as a binding agent and whether or not it’s real or intended, sex can create an illusion of relationship. So if someone is struggling to feel wanted, what better way than sex? And if someone is struggling to feel wanted AND their negative core beliefs keep telling them that nobody really does want them, than what better way to reinforce all of that stuff than sex with someone that doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you?
Now, this may sound like I’m saying sex is bad or that sex with someone that is not relationship material is bad. And that’s not the case.
What is important about sex is to really understand WHY you are having sex (besides the feel good physical part). What does it do for you emotionally, both on the surface and under the surface? Is it somehow reinforcing positive self-talk or negative self-talk? Or maybe it’s doing a little bit of both?
It may be uncomfortable to sit down and have a serious and deep conversation with yourself about what sex really means to you and does for you. It’s super easy to say “it feels good” and leave it at that. But that’s simply not how our brains are built. Sex typically does more than that and it seems like a good idea to understand what it does for you on a deeper level ahead of time. So that way the outcome, if any, won’t be as much of a surprise. And you can enjoy the experience in a way that honors who YOU are. Because you, yes YOU deserve to feel good both physically and emotionally.