Aside from the words “Love” and “Fear“, the word “Sex” is probably the most powerful in any language. That’s because it always (and I am usually very cautious to use such an absolute term) evokes deep-rooted, and almost always negative, emotions about ourselves.
From the day that our parents taught us to hide our bodies, to the images we see of “sexy people” on TV, movies, newspapers and magazines, most of us carry a huge amount of shame and guilt about our bodies. How can it be otherwise when women are constantly bombarded with images of the “ideal body”? From a clothing manufacturer who sells size “00” (how can that even be possible?) and refuses to sell to women who are above a certain (normal) size, to magazines that tout “shapely” bodies without telling you how much photoshopping went into creating this image (see, e.g., Beauty Redefined – Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds, Huffington Post – ‘Photoshopping Real Women Into Models’ Produces Some Unsettling Results, ABCNews – Time Lapse Video Shows Model’s Photoshop Transformation). To top it all off, myriad of food companies have perfected the art of making us overeat empty-calorie foods that sends the needle of the bathroom scales in a seemingly ever upward trajectory. Of course, there’s always the “diet” foods or health centers to solve those weighty problems (pun intended).
Don’t think for a second that we men are not faced with similar issues. Next time you’re in the check-out aisle at the store, take a look at the magazines marketed to men. From GQ, “teaching” us how to dress (to impress women enough so we can have “sex”) and behave, to Men’s Health, teaching us how to look buff (speaking of which, if you sign up, the publisher will send you “50 Hottest Sex Tips” … how can you lose?), without forgetting the ubiquitous Playboy, Penthouse, etc. And let’s not forget the many commercials that sell whatever product through combinations, sometimes not so subtle, of attractive looking men and women and sex (how come we never see beer bellies and red noses in beer commercials?).
Sex sells and is the source of much anxiety because we feel we are less than worthy in our own bodies as we compare ourselves to the ideal images produced by the advertising agencies. Our anxiety is further exacerbated by the moral rules that were pounded into our heads as we grew up. Never mind that morality evolves with time. After all, it is not so long that we considered gladiators fights to the death in the Roman Colosseum to be “moral.” And even today, some individuals consider bullfighting, or dog fighting, or whatever fighting to be moral. But let’s get back to moral rules surrounding the sexual act.
Let’s face it, sex is something that has been going on since the dawn of the planet. Plants do it, insects do it, mammals do it, etc. Just about the only things that don’t have sex are inert things, like rocks and for all we know they do it when we’re not looking. Sex is something that goes around us all the time. Sometimes we even get to participate. Still, it is a highly charged topic with much shame and confusion. As I wrote earlier, most of this shame and confusion stems from certain moral rules that we were taught about sex as we grew up. A lot of these “rules” came from religious “teachings.” Think about it. Moral rules were also imparted unto us by our family. Then there were the “rules” we learned on the streets, so to speak. Either way, very few of these “rules” were and are meant to make us feel good about ourselves. Rather, they are all geared to make us feel less than worthy, unless we follow this or that religious tenet, or buy this or that product. What a bunch of crock! Sex can be, and usually is, incredibly fun, stimulating and exciting. It has the ability to release powerful energies, some dark. And why would “God” give us something that feels so good and then make us feel so bad about it?
No, before you go apoplectic on me, let me state – for the record – that I believe the sexual act is a sacred act. This is regardless of whether it is between a man and a woman, two women, two men, etc. In fact, in my view (and this hasn’t always been so), it is one of the most sacred acts that you can share with someone else. That’s because whenever we have “sex” or “make love”, I believe that we expose not only our bodies and hence our possible shame, but also our soul. I also deeply believe that there is a difference between having “sex” and “making love”, a topic to be explored later on.
And why do most of us wonder what is the proper number of dates to have sex? I still hear all kinds of different rules about this. Books have even been written on this topic. Should I have sex right away (and its corollary: “will he respect me afterward?” — funny, how men don’t seem to wonder about that)? Should I wait 3 dates, 10 dates, 100 dates? Should I wait until I get married?
Sorry to tell you, if you didn’t already know, that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to the question of “when.” I recognize that, for many, the answer will be based on family, educational and environmental backgrounds, all of which have shaped our beliefs system. But if you ask me, it comes down to whether you are a man or a woman.
Men and women instinctively understand the difference between having “sex” and “making love.” Men tends to want to have “sex.” It is in our DNA. It is part of the evolution of the masculine energy. And it is how the media teaches us how to be “manly men.” Women tend to want to “make love.” It is part of the DNA of the feminine energy and still mostly espoused by the general media. While it is the same act, it has different energies and very different significance. In the words of Dr. Patricia Allen: “Making love” is based on the feminine principle of a relationship; the relationship is built on friendship and expressed through sex. “Getting laid” [having sex] is based on the masculine principle of sharing sexual gratification with a friendly partner.”
Now I recognize that women have been changing and evolving. Along with the women’s lib movement (long overdue), came the right to work and make money. So women no longer need to depend on a man to provide shelter, food, etc. As a result, many women today are seeking to have “sex” rather than to “make love.” Still, I dare to think that deep within most, if not all women, they seek to “make love.” I’d like to hear from our women readers if I am mistaken.
From a man’s point of view, I would advise women to have “sex” only if you feel safe and secure with the man you’re with. I leave up to you to define the word “safe” which, again will be defined by your upbringing and may be once you are married, after 3 or 4 dates, etc.
Now, if we are here to love and be loved by our soul mate (for the record, I believe that there are many soul mates in our lives and that a loving relationship, even with a soul mate, requires dedication and commitment), I would also posit that, when a woman is looking to “make love”, then it should be with a masculine energy that commits to you and you only (referred to as a “monogamous” relationship). I recognize that some women may be afraid of this concept thinking that they’ll never find “the one” or that such a demand might drive away any potential mate. Seriously? You want to make love to a man who can’t commit? Or who is afraid to have this conversation? Then how can you possibly discuss a mutual future together? A long-term, and potential lifetime, relationship requires open and honest communication. If you limit these to surface conversations (i.e., what’s your favorite color), how can you build the relationship you crave?
By the way, science tells us that, when women have “sex”, their body releases the chemical oxytocin (see, Psychology Today – Oxytocin: The Love and Sex Hormone Can Be Deceptive). Science also tells us that, much like any addictive drug (and what is more addictive than “love”?), it can take your body much time (sometime even years) to detox from this “love” hormone. So, be careful, because even if “he” is not the “right” partner for you, oxytocin may fool you into believing he is. It’s not your fault. It’s a simple biochemical reaction.
Of course, partners being partners, sometimes promises are made and then broken. I have been cheated on, as many of us have. Without discussing the root cause or causes (cheating, and the reasons for it, is the subject of another post), if you have ever been cheated on, you know that you sensed it before it ever happened. The signs were there even if you refused to see and acknowledge them. When it happens you either need to truly forgive and never bring it up again, or walk away. The latter is usually easier though I believe everyone deserves a second chance.
Ultimately, we need to recognize that relationships are not about the other person, but about the relationship you have with ourself. Your partner acts as a mirror to your strengths and weaknesses and reminds you that you must love yourself before you can love someone else, A partner also reminds you that only you are solely responsible for your joy and happiness. Relying on someone else for this only sets you up for tremendous heart ache when the relationship ends. And, please, never get into a relationship (particularly marriage) just to have sex. That is a very, very bad idea. Marriage should be limited to people who are best friends, that have learned that they are solely responsible for their own happiness, that can love unconditionally (though not necessarily condone or accept every action of the partner), that accept each other as they are and support each other to become what each wants to be. People who know that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.
So, what do you think? When should you have “sex” or “make love” with someone? Is it better to have “sex” or “make love”? Is it possible to have a long-term, even lifetime, monogamous relationship? When do you, as a woman, feel “safe”? When do you, as a man, commit to “making love” instead of “having sex”? I look forward to your comments.
In the end, whether we’re having “sex” or “making love”, we all seek to love and be loved. We all do it because we believe it will make us feel better about ourselves, it will make us feel worthy, even if only for one night. And, remember: you deserve to love and be loved. You deserve a soul mate whom you love and who loves you. You deserve a relationship where there’s passion, trust and open communication. May the “right” partner cross your path, and may you be open to recognize him/her.
As always, in love, Jean-Pierre
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