To the right there were tables of sex toys (e.g. DAME) and lubricants (e.g. Uberlube), to the left there were representatives educating us about the newest sex education phone apps (e.g. MeetRosy; OMGyes), and in the center, fabulous and fun sex therapists and educators were hanging around chatting about ADHD and sex, the best way to get your AASECT certification (shout out to the Modern Sex Therapy Institute), and debating over the usefulness of sensate focus therapy. This is the AASECT conference!
In my next few blog posts I will share with you the highlights of the conference. The highlights that I share are the ways that I understood the information. What I write here is my own understanding of the workshops. As well as, I am only sharing my highlights – the things that excited me (Ye, I get geeky like that).
Let’s talk optimal sex! Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz has the research to back it up. Dr. Kleinplatz and other researchers completed multiple research studies on optimal sexual experiences. I am merely summarizing some of the work by Dr. Kleinplatz. If you are curious to learn more about what I write about, I encourage you to go to her website – learn straight from the source www.optimalsexualexperiences.com. Well, this isn’t really an encouragement, you really need to read the article to fully grasp the power and beauty of the components of optimal sex.
What Are The Components of Optimal Sexual Experiences?
The researchers interviewed couples who have been in a relationship for 30+ years. Below is the list of the most popular responses. (The researchers did a bunch of fancy statistics to determine “the most popular”; and no - “most popular” is not a scientific word). (Kleinplatz, Ménard, Paquet, Paradis, Campbell, et al., 2009).
1. Being present
Letting go of anxieties and inhibitions, being focused on the moment, and allowing yourself to be embodied/overwhelmed by the experience.
Being in sync with one another, allowing for moments of merging – where you and your partner feel intensely connected.
A deep sense of caring cultivates intense sexual and erotic intimacy.
Being hyper aware of your partners responses to touch: Noticing that one kind of touch elicits a certain response from your partner, and another kind of touch does not elicit a response.”
being genuine, relaxed, feeling safe to be yourself, and transparent; "Emotionally naked" "Un-self-conscious".
7. Vulnerability and Surrender
Allowing yourself to be swept away. A space where you can discover, take risks, push limits while knowing that you will still be loved, wanted, and cherished.
Interestingly, the participants in this study hardly used the word "love" when describing their optimal sexual experiences. They used the words "caring" and "intimacy". They described their sexual encounters as transcending, blissful, peaceful; an experience that transformed them and healed them. They saw erotic intimacy as a path to personal and interpersonal development and they were motivated to get to know their partners conscious and subconscious thoughts, wishes, and desires, for the sole purpose of connecting intimately. Many couples lose their curiosity, they stop being interested in discovering who their partner is, and they become distracted and pre-occupied with finding the formula that will get their partner to orgasm as quickly as possible. The couples in this study were in no rush. They savored their journey.
These components appear to be intuitive; of course, we need authenticity, vulnerability, communication etc. But the definitions what it is expected of us is quite unique and the challenge is to implement all of these essential ingredients.
*I only list 7 components. See the published paper for the other components. www.optimalsexualexperiences.com.
Kleinplatz, P.J., Ménard, A.D., Paquet, M.-C., Paradis, N., Campbell, M. et al. (2009). The components of optimal sexuality: A portrait of ‘great sex’. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 18, 1-13.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor in NYC, where she provides individual counseling and intimacy counseling. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC