What are the components of optimal sexuality?

While there is still more to learn, a surprising amount of consensus exists on the science of optimal sexuality

optimal-sexStudying “optimal sexuality” has long been a struggle for psychologists and sexual health experts. Defining “optimal” has been somewhat of a challenge, as the area of sexual health has been taboo for so long.

In recent years, as human sexuality has become more mainstream, it has opened the doors to study how sexual health really affects a person’s overall health and well being. How we are exposed to the ideas and concepts of “amazing sex”, however, has us believing that this is something that is easy to achieve. The fictional sex that is depicted to us, thanks to Hollywood, portrays sex as an easy and extremely satisfying experience — every time! This often leaves us with feelings of inadequacy in our own sex lives.

Even in more recent years, studies into sexual health have focused on the ability to have sex; not how satisfying it is. I think we can all agree that just because we are having it, does not mean that the sex we are having is satisfying our own personal desires and needs. And what may start out as passion and satisfaction in the beginning of a relationship, may diminish throughout the years. Keeping passion alive is something that many couples struggle with.

So, what does it take to achieve sexual satisfaction and maintain it for life? In 2005 a study began to look into the sexuality of 64 individuals. 25 of these participants were over the age of 60 and have been in relationships for 25 years or longer. In an age group where sexual activity is typically on the decline, any individual who can keep a healthy, active sex life up for that long NEEDS to share their secrets with the rest of us! In addition to these individuals, 20 study participants were sex therapists, and the remaining 19 participants were considered to be members of the sexual minority group. This group was comprised of gay or bisexual men and women, polyamorous individuals, and individuals who practiced SM. Sex therapist asked participants a series of questions relating to their sex lives. The information was gathered and compiled into eight major components and two “minor” components of what it takes to have great sex. These components are broken down below:

Being present or focused on the sexual experience

Focusing completely on the encounter is the biggest component in lovemaking. Give yourself completely for the duration of the encounter. Don’t let life’s other hassles get in the way!

Having a strong connection

Whether you’re making love to someone you’ve been doing so to for many years, or you’re having an one night stand, being able to really connect with the other person heightens the intensity and pleasure experience during sex.

Deep intimacy

Your relationship outside of the bedroom will affect the relationship you have in the bedroom. Couples who have a deep emotional bond are more likely to feel connected during sex; thus allowing for greater pleasure!

Communication and Empathy

Being able to communicate verbally and non-verbally before, during, and after having sex can really enhance the experience. Listen to each other’s wants and needs, and provide feedback! This allows partners to give each other exactly what is wanted. Picking up non-verbal cues, such as reactions to different touches and sensations, and adjusting to their reactions also helps to fulfill needs.

Being true to yourself while in the moment

Regardless of your wants and desires, it is important to be able to be yourself while giving yourself to your partner. Being able to feel uninhibited and unselfconscious during sex allows you to open up and experience all that your encounter has to offer. Instead of feeling shy in that outfit your lover bought you, embrace it! Don’t worry about how you look in it; think about the fact that your partner thought about how sexy your would be in it. Even if you are trying something completely new sexually, embrace it and realize that the other person might be feeling exactly the same way. Just release your inhibitions and self-consciousness, and just go with it!

Feelings of euphoria

Sex can give us feelings of peace and bliss. Much like a drug, sex can give us a high and make us feel like we are in a euphoric paradise. Being able to achieve this makes the experience just that much more satisfying.

Sex needs to be an adventure

I think we can all agree that sex is fun! But, being able to be adventurous and explore new things helps create new and fun experience s every time! Don’t be afraid to try new things!

Surrender yourself to your partner

Surrender your fears and doubts! Unlike letting go of insecurities, letting go of other hang-ups with help you better connect with your partner. Many of us let past relationships and encounters play a role into current ones. Feeling vulnerable is completely normal, but being able to let go will only help you connect to your partner more! Let go and don’t let your past experiences hold future ones hostage!

There were two other components that didn’t play a factor for the majority of participants. However, it is important to discuss these minor contributors, as they play a role in many situations.

Experiencing intense pleasure

It’s odd to think that the end result, pleasure, is not a major component of optimal sex. After all, for most of us, the pleasure is the reason for the act in the first place. A great relationship is about much more than just pleasure though. Which is why this is considered one of the lesser components of great sex. Being able to let go, have fun, and really connect during sex is much more meaningful. The pleasure is definitely an added bonus!

Having a strong sexual attraction to your partner

Not surprisingly, being sexually attracted to your partner plays a big role in sex. Above just a physical attraction is having a strong sexual chemistry. For many of us, it is important to have that spark that isn’t just based on looks alone. Being able to connect of an emotional, intellectual, or spiritual level plays a huge role in your attraction and intimacy together. Just because someone looks good, doesn’t mean that you’ll share hot passionate lovemaking!

Having a healthy sex life helps in so many areas of our lives. Good sex has been linked to many areas of good health overall. Not only does it help us physically, but mentally as well. Achieving optimal sexuality for yourself will aid in these areas and can help build a strong, lasting bond with your partner.