While looking for the best gifts during this holiday season, don’t forget a very special one — sexuality. Even if it’s been in the lost-and-found, it’s never too late to re-claim yours. Unwrap this wonderful gift, and you’ll remember how this touches your body and heart and soul. And the best part is, it grows in value the more you share it! Besides the most obvious benefit of sex — it makes you both feel good — here are some more subtle effects.
The sexual arena let’s you work out a big relationship question: How much to give, and how much to take? How do you hold on to yourself, and to your partner, at the same time? Sex provides the perfect answer! Your “selfish” focus on your own pleasure adds to hers, and vice versa. Responsiveness is a tremendous aphrodisiac — the more you let yourself receive, the more pleasure you give someone else. Where else can you be so totally self-focused and so generous at the same time?
Sexual encounters are also a perfect place to work on control issues. You just don’t have as much as you might like. You can be very empowered about getting yourself in the mood, creating sexy scenarios, and doing your best to charm your partner. You just can’t control her reactions. Furthermore, if the reaction is negative, it’s hard to force yourself to stay in the mood when you just want to pull back and shut down. So you need to do the best you can to create a loving sexual encounter, and also accept that sometimes it’s just not going to happen. Collaboration, yes. But not control.
And then there’s the chance to deal with your ego. Contrary to popular myths, sex isn’t really supposed to be about performance. And yet, that’s exactly where we focus. Not satisfying your partner? Must be a bad lover. Not feeling satisfied? Must be inadequate. Having trouble communicating about sex? Must be inhibited. Partner not interested? Must be my body. There are so many ways an ego can take a bruising in the bedroom. And all this ego-involved self-evaluation distracts from connecting with a partner, trusting more, and worrying less. What a relief to realize this isn’t about feeding my ego, or yours–it’s about what we can create together that brings joy to both of us.
There’s even a gift in sexual difficulties, because this can bring out the very best in a couple. If you want to make your sexual experience better, you have to be able to talk honestly and positively with your partner, without judging her or yourself. Being open and vulnerable like this can only improve communication and empathy and trust. If everything worked smoothly and pleasurably, every time, you wouldn’t have to risk exposing those chinks in your image. But think about it–you’d also miss a chance to build more trust, more empathy, and less judgment.
Sex also allows for a little healthy co-dependency, which is actually a really good thing. In our horror of being too dependent, or needy, we forget that humans are hard-wired to need each other. You really can’t have a great, mutual, reciprocal sexual experience all by yourself. Not to deprecate self-love — that’s a marvelous gift too, but it’s not the same as the unique exhilaration of leaning into your most basic needs, and hers. The fact that it needs to go both ways is what makes this the best gift of all.
So I hope during these winter holidays you have a chance to enjoy this gift that keeps on giving. And if that doesn’t seem very likely right now, remember — there’s a new year ahead!