Pipeline to Pleasure
Our bodies are made, so that if healthy, sex will be pleasurable. For those who do not like sex, odds are they experience no pleasure from it. For those same people, it follows that there will be no desire for it. While the causes for discomfort with sex are many, this article will focus on what helps to make sex a pleasurable experience.
The largest single factor determining whether or not sex is pleasurable is a lover’s ability to relax, a mantra which I have repeatedly expressed. To produce sexual pleasure the need for relaxation extends to all parts of our being, and it increases in importance as we age. To be receptive and ready for very good sex, our minds, emotions, bodies and love relationships must all be aligned. Even though a lamp is plugged into the wall, that doesn’t mean that it is turned on. Flicking the switch is a deliberate choice, like being receptive.
Think of a water pipeline formed by segments of pipe. In order for the pipe to deliver water, all the segments of the pipe must be connected, aligned and open. If not, the water will not flow. From a sexual perspective, we function similarly: for sexual energy in our bodies to flow and create arousal, the “segments” of our minds, emotions and bodies must all be aligned in receptivity. If misaligned, arousal will not occur, or will only rise to a limited degree. For a person who doesn’t get turned on, he or she is likely to say, “I don’t like sex.” or “I don’t know why people think sex is such a big deal.”
Some partners complain that preparations for a sexual encounter requires getting over a difficult emotional “hump.” Once beyond this hurdle, they feel free to fully enjoy the experience. Many agree that this is like going on vacation; the preparations of packing and making arrangements are tedious, but once on vacation, most are happy they went. The analogy represents the efforts to “align” the emotional segment of the pipeline, by identifying and neutralizing the negative influence of difficult emotions. Old, deeply-held negative beliefs about sex may be emotional obstacles. Emotional pain left over from past wounds can also interfere.
The mind represents another pipeline segment. From a sexual standpoint, the mind can be a huge obstacle. An empty mind or one erotically focused with sexy thoughts promotes arousal. Stray, distracting thoughts, and worries all block arousal and represent a segment out of alignment. The mind takes it’s lead from the prevailing emotions…if negative emotions are present, the mind will stray. To align the mind, it must be made still, which may be also be accomplished by being fully present to all sensations in the moment, an effort known as mindfulness.
Of course the body, too, needs to be in a receptive state. That we tend to use our bodies as storage receptacles for our rejected, unintegrated emotions makes this difficult. A person’s body is available for pleasure and arousal if emptied of tension. Responding to touch with ticklishness, discomfort, jumpiness or by tensing up are clues that it is not receptive. A tense body is a pipe segment misaligned for the flow of sexual energy and thus arousal may not be achieved, limiting the possibility for pleasure.
The final segment of this pipeline is the emotional connection between partners. If partners are well-connected in love, relaxed and feeling safe, their openness can invite an exchange of arousal, which may energize an upward spiral of excitement, lifting both partners to great heights of pleasure. This happens when our minds, emotions and bodies are relaxed while also aligned for a single sexual purpose…to be open, to love and to feel pleasure. Andrew Aaron, LICSW