“When you have sex, is it always an enjoyable experience? Be honest with yourself.
Did you answer no? Great! Because for most people, sex is dull and boring.
“Historically, romance seems to have been restricted to youth and to those who had the time and the money to indulge in it; the vast majority in any culture appear to have had a very humdrum sex life. ‘Decent’ people the world over do not spend too much energy on the task of sexual reproduction, or on the practices that have been built on it. Romance resembles sports in this respect as well: instead of doing it personally, most people are content to hear about it or watch a few experts perform it.” (102) And for those of you in relationships… you probably know where I am going with this. When you first met your partner, I’m sure it was extremely easy to obtain pleasure from sex--and truly enjoy it. But over time it gets increasingly difficult to keep enjoying sex with the same person as it is probably true that humans, like the majority of mammalian species, are not monogamous by nature.
So what can you do about this? How can you spice up your love life and keep it spiced up? Fortunately, there are many ways to make sex more enjoyable:
First off, let’s start by acknowledging that enjoyable sex depends entirely on what happens in the consciousness of those involved: “The same sexual act can be experienced as painful, revolting, frightening, neutral, pleasant, pleasurable, enjoyable, or ecstatic--depending on how it is linked to a person’s goals. A rape may not be distinguishable physically from a loving encounter, but their psychological effects are worlds apart.” (101)
Make sure you take that fact into consideration--truly think about it and remember it--before focusing on anything else in this chapter.
“To take pleasure in sex one needs only to be healthy and willing: no special skills are required, and soon after the first experiences, few new physical challenges arise again. Like all pleasures, sex will become boring with time; It can turn from a genuinely positive experience into either a meaningless ritual or an addictive dependence, unless you transform it into an enjoyable activity.
“Eroticism is one form of cultivating sexuality that focuses on the development of physical skills. In a sense, eroticism is to sex as sport is to physical activity. The Kama Sutra and The Joy of Sex are two examples of manuals that aim to foster eroticism by providing suggestions and goals to help make sexual activity more varied, more interesting and challenging. . . .
But the real cultivation of sexuality begins only when psychological dimensions are added to the purely physical. . . .Romance -- the rituals of wooing first developed in the Romance region of southern France -- provides an entire new range of challenges to lovers. For those who learn the skills necessary to meet them, it becomes not only pleasurable, but enjoyable as well. . . .
A third dimension of sexuality begins to emerge when in addition to physical pleasure and the enjoyment of a romantic relationship the lover feels genuine care for his partner. There are then new challenges one discovers: to enjoy the partner as a unique person, to understand her, and to help her fulfill her goals. With the emergence of this third dimension sexuality becomes a very complex process, one that can go on providing flow experiences all through life. . . . It is impossible for partners not to grow bored unless they work to discover new challenges in each other’s company, and learn appropriate skills for enriching the relationship. Initially physical challenges alone are enough to sustain flow, but unless romance and genuine care also develop, the relationship will grow stale.
How to keep love fresh? The answer is the same as it is for any other activity. To be enjoyable, a relationship must become more complex. To become more complex, the partners must discover new potentialities in themselves and in each other. To discover these, they must invest attention in each other -- so that they can learn what thoughts and feelings, what dreams reside in their partner’s mind. This in itself is a never-ending process, a lifetime’s task. After one begins to really know another person, then many joint adventures become possible . . .What is important is the general principle: that sexuality, like any other aspect of life, can be made enjoyable if we are willing to take control of it, and cultivate it in the direction of greater complexity.” (101-103)
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