Canadian sex therapist and researcher Peggy Kleinplatz, along with graduate students at the University of Ottawa, have done a ten year study on “great sex”. Their paper about this, entitled “The Components of Optimal Sexuality: A Portrait of ‘Great Sex’” explains a bit about their goals and findings.
The term “optimal sex” was chosen to indicate that while it can be a lot better, there is no one-size-fits-all “best sex”. The study was intended, in part, to explore and clearly explain what those who are really enjoying sex would call “great sex”. In other words, what makes it great, and how can others do the same?
Below are the eight things commonly identified as important by those who were having great sex:
- Being present, focused, and embodied
- Connection, alignment, merger, being in sync
- Deep sexual and erotic intimacy
- Extraordinary communication, heightened empathy
- Authenticity, being genuine, uninhibited, transparency
- Transcendence, bliss, peace, transformation, healing
- Exploration, interpersonal risk-taking, fun
- Vulnerability and surrender
A few comments on some of those:
Too often sex is done primarily as a way of dealing with a need for release. While this is understandable when one needs release, and especially if release isn’t occurring often enough, focusing on release robs both spouses of deeper pleasure. I won’t go as far as some and suggest orgasm is unimportant or minor, but when it becomes the only goal much is lost.
In the Old Testament sex was sometimes called “knowing” – for very good reason. A good sexual relationship connects us in a way not possible apart from sex.
Good sex requires trust; great sex requires total openness and absolute trust. Any fear or concern significantly limits the sex a couple can have.
Healthy sex is open ended – it grows and morphs over time, nudged, pushed, and at times driven by the passion of one or both of those involved.
You can’t have most of what is listed above in a short term relationship, or in a series of relationships. Great sex requires a commitment of from now till one of us is dead. Monogamy isn’t the enemy of great sex; monogamy is a requirement for great sex. (I do think monogamy makes it hard to hide poor sex – you can fake it when you bounce from person to person, but when you try to do something deeper and better with one person faking it won’t make it.)
Many of the things listed above get better and better with time. This means sex should get better and better, year after year. While this is not what most of us expect or experience, it is none-the-less what many experience. I think any couple who is willing to work on the things above, will experience great sex.
Great sex touches us beyond the bedroom, and beyond our marriage. Great sex leaves us feeling better, calmer, and better able to give. Those who have great sex should be better spouses, better parents, better employees, better pastors, and so on.