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Perfection, Sex, & Intimacy

Sex can be a tricky part of relationships. Sexual hang-ups are rampant in our society and the quality of sex in a relationship often impacts people’s feelings about themselves and their relationship in a powerful way. Sex is also an important part of an intimate relationship and one of the tools that helps keep a couple connected to each other.

Ego and evaluation can easily become involved in a sexual relationship.  Rejection when approaching your partner can feel like an invalidation of your worth, or perhaps, your very personhood. A less than fireworks producing sexual experience can leave you wondering if there is something wrong with a relationship. All of the meaning that gets attributed to sex and the sexual behavior of your partner can make it easy to have very high expectations for what sex should look like and to experience bitter disappointment, or worse, when sex isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, such a perfectionist attitude can have a negative effect on the sex itself and the relationship in general.

Perfection is an elusive goal, and in our hyper busy, often disconnected lives, it can be hard for many couples to find time for a sexual relationship, much less making each sexual encounter perfect. Add to that the different ways people define perfection and you have a set up for failure. To say nothing about the fact that striving for perfection can raise anxiety which can have crippling consequences for sexual performance. A desire for perfection can then lead to very imperfect experience and even avoidance.

What is the solution? Let me suggest a lowering of expectation that sex be something in particular and more of a focus on intimacy. It is kind of a pet peeve of mine that many people refer to their sexual connection with the term “intimacy.” I think it is one of our societal hang-ups that many people are uncomfortable with using the word sex that leads to this practice, but it can be misleading. Intimacy refers to many ways of being close and encompasses more than sex. Sex can certainly contribute to intimacy, but does so much better if it is treated as more of an exploration and a sharing than as something with just one goal or that needs to go a particular way.

Have playful sex. Have serious sex. Explore new things. Enjoy perfection when (if) it happens, but don’t expect it. Most of all, if it doesn’t really go the way you want, share with each other, laugh it off, and connect some other way. I’m guessing if you do all this you will discover some new things that will ultimately improve both your sex life and your intimacy.