Last summer a team of scientists published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. The team had interviewed both individuals having great sex and sex therapists to determine the qualities necessary for what they called “optimal sex.” They identified eight key factors: being present, connection, deep sexual and erotic intimacy, extraordinary communication, interpersonal risk taking and exploration, authenticity, vulnerability, and transcendence.
What’s so important about this paper? Most research into human sexuality focuses on dysfunction and how to resolve it. This paper was all about how to make a good thing great. What’s interesting to me is that chemistry, physical attraction, and orgasms were not in the top eight components. Those are the three things that most people think of first when they think of great sex, right? Those things are important for a hot one-night stand, but if you want outstanding sex on a regular basis, you have to go deeper.
Let’s review the eight factors necessary for truly great sex:
1. Being Present. This means that when your partner is talking to you, you are listening. You’re not planning what to say next. You’re not thinking about work, or about having sex later. You are listening to her. It means that when you are being intimate, you are focusing on your partner’s body and his reactions to your touch. You look into his eyes and really see him. Being present is unbelievably sexy.
2. Connection. We can be connected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. A sense of connection makes a person feel deeply understood. We have shared values, desires and goals when we’re connected. This doesn’t mean we do everything together and are exactly alike, but we need more points of connection than of disconnection to experience consistent great sex.
3. Deep Sexual and Erotic Intimacy. ’Nuf said. It can be tricky to maintain the erotic intimacy as you get to know someone intimately on an interpersonal level. Eroticism exists in the space between two people, so be sure to maintain your sense of self. Spend time with your own friends and have a hobby that’s just for you. It’ll make the sex better, I promise.
4. Extraordinary Communication. Open, honest, timely, and transparent communication is extraordinary in our society. How often do you really say what you mean and mean what you say while being sensitive to the person receiving your communication? If something bothers you, do you speak your truth about it as soon as possible? Something happens to couples who experience extraordinary communication regularly: they learn to deeply trust one another. When you trust that deeply, you’re willing and able to let go with abandon.
5. Interpersonal Risk Taking and Exploration. This means that someone who’s willing to take risks and explore the outer edges of their comfort zone is someone who’s capable of having extraordinary sex. Extraordinary sex shakes us out of the mundane; you have to be comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.
6. Authenticity. Who are you, really? If you’re not willing to show your partner who you really are, he will know instinctively that you’re holding something back. He may not know what it is, but he will be unwilling to trust you as a result. And if he doesn’t trust you, he won’t let go with the wild abandon necessary for truly extraordinary sex.
7. Vulnerability. This is a tough one, because our society doesn’t value vulnerability. We consider it a weakness. But trust me; it’s not a weakness when it comes to having extraordinary sex. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your man creates a deep sense of trust. It’s a prerequisite for extraordinary communication (#4) and authenticity (#6), and it’s an important component of all the six previous components
8. Transcendence. This means that great sex surpasses all expectations and goes beyond the limits of ordinary experience; it can even be beyond the limits of the universe and beyond all comprehension. This is what people who practice tantra are looking for in their sex. Essentially, if you practice the first seven components, they will lead you here.