This post is part of the series called The Spiritual Side of Sex.
Let’s start with a bold admission: Sex is not about you.
Reading that might cause some shockwaves in your body, so let me welcome all your reactions. Whether you feel cheated out of the birthright of your pleasure, angry about how few times it hasn’t been about you, confusion about what sex is about, eye rolling annoyance, or something I haven’t named, place it right here.
And then keep reading. Because I’m going somewhere with this.
The first place I’ll go is to restate my opening statement, because admittedly it was a way to capture your mind (damn Internet-shortened attention spans). Here’s the real truth: sex, at least very good sex, is not only about you. It’s bigger than you. And bigger than your partner. In fact, it’s bigger than the sum of all your parts.
Maybe that one hits a little different. Maybe it’s easier to agree with, because it’s obvious that there is more than one person involved in a sexual encounter. But a simple acknowledgment of the others in your bed won’t necessarily lead to that bigger-than-you kind of sex.
So let’s take it one step forward, toward the kind of sex that can change not only your experience in the bedroom, but your whole life.
More than Common
Common sex, middling sex, is everywhere. It’s an experience that starts and ends with the genitals. At its best, it’s fine sex, but really only that – fine. At its worst though, it can be depleting or even traumatic.
If the erotic is a tool for healing, self-expression, and a portal to the divine (a view shared not just by me but by thousands of spiritual teachers over the centuries), common sex is a kind of robbery. It is a beautiful peacock left starving, a lush garden unwatered and unpruned.
There’s an incredible banquet here waiting to be created.
The common factor in common sex is a fixation on oneself. In other words, common sex is selfish.
This selfishness can look like self-consciousness, where one is afraid of how they look, sound, or feel. It can focus entirely on one’s own pleasure without regard for the other. Or, it can center on performance over connection – turning the act into a kind of sexual Olympics.
And then there is generous sex. This is sex that can change a person’s life. Sex that heals. Sex that reaffirms who we know ourselves to be and introduces us to new parts of ourselves.
This is a magic brew whose power is generative, creative, and giving.
Give It to Me
If you’ve ever experienced the kind of sex that leaves you dancing the next day, you’ve had generous sex. (Conversely, if you’re cringing the next day, you’ve had the selfish type.)
Generosity, in the bedroom and out, is an act of listening. But before you lend your ear to your partner, you must spend time listening to yourself. What are your limits? What are your desires? What kind of lover are you? What kind of lover do you want? Knowing the (often fluctuating) answers to these questions is the path to giving willingly and freely.
When we know what we want, we are more capable of asking for it, and therefore more likely to have our needs met. And when our needs are met, we feel safer to open more deeply, thus becoming far more willing to hold generous space for our partner’s needs and desires.
Imagine the power of two people meeting who are brave enough to listen to what they want – however kinky, strange, or sweet – and aware of what they will give. Imagine if this process of self-discovery leaves them so satisfied with themselves that they don’t need another to complete their sentences, yet they remain eager to discover what the other has to say.
This might result in the kind of sex that is like a spring fed by ample rainfall, nourished and drawn upon freely.
What Gives, Gets
So now you know where the opening line from this piece comes from – good sex isn’t only about you; it’s you plus the rich, generative possibility of two electric sparks meeting.
But it’s important to note that sparks are flying around everywhere. If you want to harness this as a renewable power source, you must be ready to do the work.
Begin by generously asking yourself what turns you on and off, both in and out of the bedroom. Make a list if that helps. Then, practice asking someone to help you meet a few very small desires. Listen to how they respond – it’s a sign of whether they lean toward generosity or commonness.
And when you find someone who is ready to lean into listening, get ready. Because once you’ve made love generously, you will never want sex to only be about you ever again.