The magnetic power of the word “SEX” is magical. We cannot help ourselves but to let our eyes lock on this word, as our bodies are filling with excitement and anticipation. You would have to agree with me that this magical appeal is not in these three letters, since these letters in any different combination, such as “ESX” has no power at all. So what is it? Why does the word “SEX” trigger this visceral chain reaction?
In couples counseling and marriage counseling the issue of sex comes up quite often. As a psychologist and a psychotherapist I had to look deeper into the issue of human sexuality and desire. Interestingly, the main sex-organ in humans is….? You got it! It is the Brain, or even greater – the Mind.
The word “SEX” is a trigger; an invitation for our mind to create a picture, an internal representation of what “SEX” means to us. In psychotherapy and couples counseling we would call the word “sex” a label. Label gives a name to an idea we have about the thing itself, which, in this case, is sex. So our response to the three letters “S-E-X” has nothing to do with the letters or the word as in of itself, and everything to do with the meaning we attribute to it in our mind. The word “sex” has no intrinsic power of its own, except the power to evoke pictures and images in our mind that in turn awaken our body, stir up our emotions, and turn on our imagination.
Let me ask you a very important question. A question you probably haven’t thought about before right now. Since the matters of sexuality are so common in couples counseling and marriage counseling, let’s look a bit closer. The question I have for you is when does the sex begin? Is it when our eyes first lock? Is it at the glimpse of the first smile we exchange? Is it when we first touch; feeling each other’s skin? Is it when we first kiss and taste each other’s body? Or perhaps it is the moment our hot naked bodies lock in the thrusts of passion?
Just like the word “sex” is just a trigger, evoking our subjective and highly personal meaning, the person in front of us, our potential lover, is also just a trigger. Our response to the person in front of us is based on the meaning we assign to what we perceive in him or her. The trigger for our lust, passion, and desire, is the meaning we assign to all the attributes we perceive through our eyes (their body, skin, eyes, clothes, etc), our ears (their voice and communication), our own skin (their touch, warmth, etc.) our nose (their smell), and so on – you got the point. This “meaning” is a subjective idea we have about the person in front of us that makes him or her so sexually appealing for us. It is our fantasy that makes our potential lover into what we would want him or her to be. The fantasy is grounded in certain attributes we perceive in our potential lover, however, it is not about these attributes per se, but the meaning we assign to those and the inferences we make about our potential lover. It is our fantasy of the person in front of us that fuels our desire, not the person him-or-herself.
So now let’s go back to the question “when does the sex begin?” We agreed on the key role of our mind in it. As a psychologist and psychotherapist, I would like to propose the idea that sex begins at the very moment of initial attraction. This is not to say that we will find ourselves in bed with every single person to whom we are attracted. The chain reaction of possibilities as well as the mental, emotional, and physical stimulation begins right then and there. The moment we feel the initial tug toward the object of our potential desire might be the very beginning of potentially sexual interaction.
In my Beverly Hills and Valencia clinics I always encourage the couples working with me in marriage counseling to apply what they have learned in their own relationship. So now, being equipped with the understanding of the role your mind plays in sex, how can you put this understanding to action?
Beverly Hills and Valencia Couples Therapy Tip 1: Know thyself.
Learn about your sensual nature, notice the things that turn you on, explore things that spike your curiosity and look for ways to get in touch with the sensual and sexual part of your being. This is very different from just having sex. It would be the same difference as eating in all-you-can-eat buffet vs. enjoying a gourmet entrée in a five star restaurant. The quality of sexual experience is far more significant that the quantity of it. The more knowledgeable you are about your own body and senses, the more profoundly pleasurable sexual experiences will be for you. And if this is not enough as an incentive: the more connected you are to your sensual nature, the better of a lover you are for your partner.
Beverly Hills and Valencia Couples Therapy Tip 2: Focus on the process, rather than the end result.
To all the end-result-oriented folks amongst us let me point out one thing: the quality of an orgasm is a direct result of the quality of the experience that led to it. If you are focused on getting off, the quality of the experience is likely to be mediocre for you and you lover, and the orgasm is likely to be unremarkable as well. However, if you choose to focus on the sensual process of lovemaking and allow yourself to become immersed in the pleasure of it, the entire experience is much more likely to be fantastic.
Beverly Hills and Valencia Couples Therapy Tip 3: Know your boundaries.
It is important to allow yourself to explore your sensual potential and the sexual aspect of your being. And it is also important to do it on your terms, when you are ready and prepared. In marriage counseling at times couples bring in the issue of boundaries. Setting boundaries in sex is as important as setting boundaries in relationship and marriage. Avoiding the process of setting boundaries will ultimately result in resentment and emotional distance. So do yourself and your lover a favor and let them know if you are less than comfortable. It can be done in a playful manner, while redirecting your sexual interplay back into the area of mutual comfort.
The absolute goal of sex is pleasure, joy, and love. Our bodies are a magnificent gift with many wonderful secrets waiting to be unlocked. The process of finding the keys is as deliciously rewarding as the unlocking of the treasures itself. Many couples that come to my Beverly Hills and Valencia clinics bring the issue of intimacy and sex to the table. In relationships sex has the power to bring partners closer together and maintain the fire of love burning hot. Enjoy!
Dr. Harel Papikian
9300 Wilshire Blvd. #306
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
25350 Magic Mountain Parkway #170
Valencia, CA 91355