I have been a psychotherapist in New York City for thirty-five years. During this time, I have counseled innumerable patients. In nearly every case, regardless of whatever problem that led someone to seek therapy, the conversation will inevitable turn to sex.
Some patients express disappointment over the amount of sex in their lives, some are frustrated by a partnerâs lack of interest in sexual experimentation, some are concerned about sexual performance, some look in the wrong places to fulfill their desire and still others are simply curious about their sexual fantasies and desires.
What I tell everyone, no matter what their issue, is that sex is more than any of these topics.
It is a doorway into our deepest psyches. More importantly, sex can help heal our lives. By discovering our true sexual desires, as well as discovering their origin, sex can be much more than just great. It can be life-changing.
Why? Because true sexual fulfillment is based on self-knowledge and authenticityânot just the sexual act itself.
Sexual fantasies can not only be enormously enjoyable, but enacted under the right circumstances, they can counteract feelings of powerlessness, guilt, shame, fear, or loneliness, and, remarkably, heal old and deep wounds.
Sex begins in our thoughts. What excites one person may turn another off. A gentle kiss on the neck can send a partner into swoon, or make him or her cringe. It is how we interpret a touch or gesture that makes it pleasurable or not. While sex may be driven by a desire for physical pleasure, our individual psychology determines who we find attractive and what we prefer to do with another person.
Hereâs my theory:
No one grows out of childhood without some conflict or unmet need. For most of us, the pain or unhappiness associated with these conflicts does not preoccupy our thoughts and feelings, but does become part of our individual psychology, setting the stage for how we interact with the world.
As human beings, we are naturally driven towards self-healing, whether itâs a small cut on our skin or a deep psychological trauma. Self-recovery enhances our chances of physical and emotional survival in the world. We are designed to do whatever we can to lessen pain.
At some point during the heightened sexuality of adolescence, we unconsciously eroticize these unmet needs or unresolved conflicts from childhood in a complicated attempt to heal ourselves. In other words, we turn early painful experiences into pleasurable ones in order to counteract their power over us. As human beings, we are driven towards reconciliation and catharsis.
As we grow into adults, these same conflicts, which now have sexual themes, are coded in our fantasies and desires, or, in some cases, our sexual behavior. Through our sexuality, we attempt to gain mastering over feelings of powerlessness, shame, guilt, fear, and loneliness that might otherwise defeat us.
To help clarify this idea, hereâs an example from one of my patientsâthirty-eight year-old Sarah, the only child of unhappily married parents. Sarahâs father, a warm and affable man, had failed in business as a contractor because, out of kindness, he often underestimated the cost of jobs, giving his clients bargains he couldnât afford. He also had a secret habit of gambling on weekends and, over the course of a few years, lost the family savings. Furious, Abby, Sarahâs mother, never let her husband or Sarah forget this; Sarah was constantly compared to her father for her weaknesses and inability to assert herself in the world. Over the years, Abbyâs anger grew increasingly abusive.
Sarah secretly wished that her father would stand up to Abbyâs attacks and protect herâand himself. Instead, he withdraw from the family by sitting in front of the television for endless hours. Sarah felt abandoned by her father as he faded from her life.
During adolescence, Sarah daydreamed about sailors and sea captains and devoured romance novels with these themes. By the time she reached her late teenage years, like most boys and girls, she was flooded by confusing sexual feelings. Soon she was having sexual fantasies in which she was kidnapped by pirates, only to be later rescued by a strong and handsome sea captain. In her fantasies she unconsciously found an erotic solution to her childhood feelings of helplessness and abandonment by inventing a story in which she was held captive and finally rescued.
These fantasies reflect a common pattern. By sexualizing unmet needs and childhood conflicts, we convert the pain associated with these experience into pleasurable events. Our true sexual desires, such as Sarahâs rescue fantasy, emerge out of an unconscious attempt to work through deep-seated feelings.
For many of us, our true desires (and their meaning) remain hidden from our awareness. When we are conscious of them, they are often shadowed by shame; we tend to think of them as âdeviant,â âperverse,â or âsinfulâ because we do not understand their significance and instead internalize how powerful institutions such as religion and psychology have defined them. We police our erotic lives, deny, suppress, or keep them secret. In the process, we disown an important part of who we are and who we could become.
The consequences of this denial can be enormous. If we do not understand our true desires, we can easily be lost in the dark. We may well choose the wrong partner. Or, if we act on the downward emphasis of lust alone without understanding the nature of our bodybuilding with hgh desire, we may mistakenly become attached to someone simply because we have great sex with him/her.
Likewise, if we choose a mate solely on the basis of personality or family background, while we may attain stability or security, sex can feel boring, empty or, in time, entirely disappear from the relationship. Even when we do have a good time sexually, if we are not sharing our deepest desires and fantasies, we miss the opportunity to widen our vision and fully engage our true selves.
On the other hand, if we set out to identify our true sexual desires and the unmet needs or conflicts they serve to counteract, we take a giant step closer to wholeness. We lift our attention upward and create an experience of life based on self-knowledge and self-acceptance. And if we chose, from this position of strength, we can choose a partner with whom we create a sexual and emotional bond that satisfies our deepest needs.
How can we identify our true sexual desire and use Intelligent Lust effectively?
The answer, which can be found in the pages of this book, is not complicated. Readers will be given step-by-step instructions on how to discern their true sexual desires, interpret what they mean, access the childhood conflict from which they originate, understand chemistry, honor and communicate their true feelings, and act out fantasies in healthy ways.
They will also learn how to use sex to create a âcorrective experienceâ with a current partner or a new one, based on openness, honesty, respect and trust.
Typically, people apply themselves industriously to school, work, friendship, health, raising children and numerous other aspects of life. In the process of working hard, we acquire skills to succeed in these critical areas. With time, We can teach themselves to become almost anything, a master cook, gardener, or tennis player.
But when it comes to sex, we leave it to happenstance or take a laisses-fare attitude. We expect sex to occur naturally without thinking or learning about how to succeed at having it. Even worse, there are successful movements to keep sex education out of the schools where young people can begin to explore their sexuality. And where courses do exist, the curriculum is so limited by conventional attitudes and political concerns, that there is no true exploration of what sex means, no less how to make it satisfying. How can we be so fatalistic about it, when sex is so central to our lives. There is so much to learn about sex and how we can improve it. How many men know where a womanâs source of pleasure â the G-spot â can found? For that matter, how many woman know?
For those willing to apply themselves, INTELLIGENT LUST will take you through the steps that will teach you to become an expert on your own sexuality. Sex will cease to be shaped by fate and the universe. Instead, as you gain knowledge and learn to take action around your fantasies and desires, sex will takes you deep into your body, emotions and soul and deep into the tangle of relationships. Sex becomes more intimate, open, trusting and generous.
Ideally, this process of self-discovery takes place before we choose a partner with whom we make a life-time commitment. When we undertake a fearless personal inventory of our desires and their origins, we will learn what it is we are truly attracted to and what would constitute the maximum level of sexual compatibility with a partner. Just as we would take into account such variable as religion, family background and education in choosing a perspective mate, sexual compatibility should be high on the list of considerations. While steps can be taken to integrate a spouse or life-partner into the world of our true sexual desires, discovery them after a commitment has already been made, can challenge the stability of relationship, particularly if a partner is unwilling to embark on a similar journey. A partner may fear that discussing sexual desires may be hurtful and create distance and thus refuse or avoid it. In fact, the opposite often proves to be true. Sharing sexual fantasies with our partner brings us closer to them. By joining fantasy with reality, we create an experience of authenticity with our partner that exponentially strengthens the union. Smart sex goes a long way because it brings pleasure, meaning and fullness to life.
More intimacy does not mean less autonomy. More passion does not mean less stability. In discovering your true desires, you open the closet door and take stock of all thatâs in it. You get to know yourself by observing what youâve shelved or hidden behind other things. As the pieces of you erotic history and their meaning becomes clear, you become more authentic. Your fantasies and your actions begin to match because you can now reach into the closet without fearing whatâs in it and instead use everything necessary to create a fulfilling experience.
Having achieved greater confidence in who you are takes away the fear of losing yourself in your partnerâs needs and desires. You want to satisfy their needs while taking care of your own at the same time. You no longer worry about being overwhelmed or smothered by them, or have a need to retreat because you feel secure enough in who you are to surrender to the passion of the moment.
This is what turns great sex into smart sex.