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Fulfilling Your Sexual Potential

Fulfilling Your Sexual Potential

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Published by Dorothy Hayden

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Published by: Dorothy Hayden on Jan 20, 2012
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FULFILLING YOUR SEXUAL POTENTIALIN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE
Sexual desire and pleasure is our birthright. After all, we were created naked and withdifferent genitals. There must have been a plan in mind. We are sexual beings from the daywe're born until the day we die. Sex is fundamental to our lives and seems to be the area of life that most deeply touches our most personal issues. Our sexuality is a core expression of who we are. We can hide with sex, we can hide from sex, but we cannot be
fully ourselvessexually 
and hide.Why have sex? Well, it is well known that sex enhances our lives in multiple ways, bothpsychologically and physically.Health benefits include lower blood pressure, overall stress reduction, higher levels of antibodies so fewer colds and flews, burns calories, good exercise, improves cardiovascularhealth, boosts self-esteem, releases endorphins which makes physical pain decline and helpslift depression; reduces risk of prostate cancer; promotes sleep.Interpersonally, good sex may be only 20% of a good relationship (80% when it's bad), butit's a crucial 20%. Orgasm increases the level of oxytocin, a hormone that allows us to nurtureand to bond. Hence, sex increases love and connection even on a purely biological basis. Sexis an arena that is particular and special to a couple. We let ourselves be known to our sexualpartner in a way that we don't share with anyone else.A couple who has a satisfying sex life is more able to create and sustain a long-term lovingrelationship. It is well known that people in stable relationships are thought to be moreproductive in their jobs, have better health and live longer.The most rewarding sexual experiences are much more rich, diverse, and creative than the"get it up, get it in" approach. And sexual responsiveness has absolutely nothing to do withbeing able to meet the culture's prototype of sexual attractiveness. Rather, it grows fromconnections of hearts, minds, and bodies. Truly good sex begins with a willingness to be openand vulnerable and to give and receive pleasure and nurturing freely. The psychological abilityto share intimacy, both physical and emotional, is essential for good sex, but being intimate(as we'll discuss later) is an art that confuses and even terrifies many individuals.Good sex, then, is a complex concoction of openness and secrecy, risk and control, personalsatisfaction and mutual fulfillment. Good sex requires an ability to be totally immersed in themoment (which is difficult for most people), ever-present to the sensuality of ourselves, ourpartner and our lives.Sustaining a healthy, balanced sex life requires
mindful attention
to our senses, to thephysical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of ourselves, as well as ourrelationship with our partners. We must KNOW OURSELVES ("KNOW THYSELF") to know whatwe want and need sexually. Then we need to have the courage and self-assurance to
communicate
these desires to our partner, even in the face of possible rejection. Also, we
 
need to have relinquished some of the layers of narcissistic self-consciousness that, whenyoung, may have prevented us from being truly attuned to another person's reality and needs.What I'm saying is: good sex requires PSYCHOLOGICAL MATURITY (which we all have becausewe've lived for a while now and have learned some things along the way.)Mature lovers are more likely to experience not just satisfying sex, but are more likely toexperience sexual
ecstasy 
. Certain states may occur in sex where the boundaries of self aresuspended in merger with the "other". This kind of, well, self-transcendence, can open thechannels to experiencing a sense of a broader, more universal connection.Let's see what the dictionary says about "ecstasy": rapturous delight; intense joy; mentaltransport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things; displacement; trance; a sharedsense of being taken or moved out of one's self or one's normal state, and entering a state of intensified feelings so powerful as to produce a trance-like dissociation from all but the singlepowerful emotion; this trance or rapture is associated with
mysticalexaltation
.Eastern societies routinely equate sexual ecstasy with spiritual enlightenment. Only in Westerncivilizations is there a chasm between sex and God.So, it's all good, right? Everything from lowering your blood pressure to experiencing
mystical exaltation
points to the fact that sex is a good thing.But if it's such a good thing, why are so many people
not 
having sex?..or are subject tovarious sexual dysfunctions, compulsions or perversions?The fact is that few of us will ever seize the opportunity to explore the full range of our sexualpossibilities. One writer I read referred to those who achieve the heights of sexual fulfillmentas "the blessed few".Why so few? According to a recent survey, one in five Americans is not interested in sex.According to recent estimates, more than one-third of the women in the United States haveproblems with low sexual desire. Even this statistic may be low, as people may beembarrassed to respond to the interviewer honestly. "Diminished sexual desire" in women,considered by some to be an epidemic, is the diagnosis "du jour" for many sex researchersand therapists.The loss of sexual desire can undermine a person's perception of herself, her relationship toher body and may cause an irreparable strain in her relationship. Chances are if herexcitement for sex is diminished, her excitement for life in general is somehow compromised.So why are there only the "blessed few"?
One in five
is "not interested"????
 A third to a half 
of American women has no desire for sex???? What's wrong with this picture? Why are so fewpeople actually interested in having sex, exploring it, heightening it?There are many, many reasons that people eschew sexual pleasure.
 
First, there are societal/cultural/religious influences. We live in a sex-negative culture. Forinstance, most Western societies do not support sexual education and development. Parentsare still battling to eliminate whatever beleaguered sex education courses are offered in theschools (which, by the way, focus on procreation exclusively), stating that educating childrenabout sex is the purview of the home. Yet, in the homes, silence is the order of the day andkids are still left to figure it out for themselves.When children are left to their own devices, they are subjected to misinformation from peersand their own fantasies about what sex is. If they become fixated at these levels, there's moreof a chance that they'll grow up with certain sexual problems. (perversions, dysfunctions andcompulsions)Western culture has historically done much to harm sexuality. Vestiges of the Victorian andPuritan eras, with their emphasis on exclusively procreative sex and discomfort with the ideaof sexual pleasure, still resonate with many people, at least on an unconscious level. Sex isevil; sex is sin and eternal damnation.Today, we have the "free love" of the 70's behind us, a growing understanding of sexuality inthe mental health field, the significance of the women's movement and the impact of thecommunications industry which have combined to break down some barriers to sexualunderstanding. But we STILL live in a sex-negative culture. The sexual terrain of our times,especially after AIDS, is filled with fear, uncertainty and reactivity – for "normal" people, nevermind neurotics, homosexuals, alternative sexualities (BDSM), cross-dressers, people whoembrace polyamory rather than monogamy,-- AND for the baby-boomers who are trying toforge a new paradigm for sexy aging.We still get mixed messages from the culture about sex. We're still confused. "Sex is dirty,save it for someone you love." Does sex have to be illicit for it to be good? Sex belongs as partof a committed relationship, which connotes high values but low passion. Honor and virtue donot seem to combine well with hot, trembling, lusty sex. Men in this culture still suffer fromthe "Madonna/Whore Complex". Some men choose both but will have to be dishonest about it,thus making a tear in the fabric of the integrity of their primary relationship.Then there's the societal influence of new technology. The permeating influence of cybersex/pornography on men's ability to attach and bond to a real, vital woman is asignificant barrier to sexual intimacy. Divorce attorneys from the American Bar Associationreport that a whopping 50% of all divorces are the result of the husband's addiction tocybersex – that is -- pornography, chat rooms, webcam sex, ads for prostitutes, dominatrixes,female bondage and humiliation, the fetish of your choice.Women, for their part, are encouraged to adorn themselves to be sexually desirable, but notto be sexual. In their historical roles as the guardians of morality, they fail as women if they"succumb" to their (base) sexual natures and allow for the experience of sexual pleasure.Religious traditions have, in fact, been part of this split way of understanding sexuality. Theidea of sex as sin
outside
of marriage and sex as duty
inside
of marriage is still alive in thecollective unconscious and has gone far to undermine the acceptance of sexual pleasure asnormal and healthy. These antiquated ideas that there is something morally perverse about a

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