In my work as a relationship coach, I read articles related to new research on all kinds of topics, including human sexuality, and some of what I've been reading about sex lately really disturbs me. It seems that that we, as a society, are increasingly adopting a clinical view of sex that reduces it to a mere bodily urge to be satisfied ... like eating. Most of the advice out there about making sex great reads like an article on running in a sports magazine. "Do it this way, not that way;" "try this technique;" "overcome your mental resistance by doing such and such. It will be worth it."
In my work with couples, I see the effects of a culture over-saturated with these kinds of messages about sex. Instead of leading to better relationships, it's like a low-level poison. These messages are creating burnout and boredom that is sucking the life out of many couples. So, I've decided to put together a list of problematic messages being sent in the majority of articles I've read lately. I've also offered my suggested "antidote" for each problem. These are countervailing attitudes that bring vitality and joy back into sex.
Misconception #1: Sex is just a biological function.
It should be pursued for health reasons, like exercise. Within this framework, partner selection is neutral. Hook ups, masturbation, and "friends with benefits" are just another way of taking care of this need. This is seen as an updated contrast to the old, moralistic attitude that sex should be saved for marriage.
But even as we seem to be elevating sex to new heights by the attention we're giving it, I contend that we are actually devaluing it. It is losing its pleasure because we're not making it special enough. It has become common, ordinary and relatively meaningless.
The reality: Sex is best as an expression of adoration.
It's most pleasurable between two people who are deeply in love, in the context of a mutually committed relationship. A merely physical act can't even come close to the joy of intimacy in this kind of union. Casual sex is like using a beautiful, hand-crafted golden bowl to store the rock salt you use for melting ice on the front steps. It may be functional in that capacity, but the use is not in keeping with its intrinsic value and risks damaging something very precious.
Misconception #2: Sex is about gratification.
It's a goal-oriented activity focused on the almighty orgasm. The problem is that the more you pursue a physical thrill, the less thrilling it becomes over time. So you have to look for new ways to regain the old thrill. You become subject to the law of diminishing returns, and the old thrill never really comes back.