At the turn of the 60ies, the West believed it was finally sexually liberated. As for the rest of the world, globalisation was sure to spread the vibrations of the swinging 60ies to our doorstep. Now, it was okay think of sex as a normal and healthy part of life. Ironically, this was after everywhere else had been colonised by Europe spreading extreme conservative views championed by Judaeo-Christian ethics. India where 'Kama sutra' was born and Africa where sex was so natural that even the female body wasn’t as sexualized as it is today, both found themselves struggling to come to terms that sex wasn’t inherently sinful; an attitude that persists even today. However, slowly, advances are being made.
On a more personal level, we are all aware of our natural urge to engage in sexual activity. Even with the intensity of awareness and the message of liberation, we still live in an unhealthy sexual suppression. As most people admittedly say: most people would tell of having viewed pornography, but no one would tell what type of porn they watch. The expression of sexual honesty still remains a taboo in our modern society.
For example, in marriage or courting, fetishes like toe sucking appear as a subject of embarrassment. Moreso, we haven’t even steered into more complicated truths like the fact that being in a relationship doesn’t make us asexual to other people. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find other people more sexually attractive than our partners. Neither is it rare to find our partners less sexually attractive leading to phenomena like the sibling-syndrome and bed death.
The challenge of maintaining a healthy sexual relationship in our lives is deeply rooted in the mechanism of our sexual behaviour. While it is lovely to think that sex is a sign of love, therefore, loving someone equates to being sexually drawn to them, the reality is sometimes the opposite. Sexual attraction has been found to be stronger when the chance of rejection is higher. This is why we find ourselves insanely sexually active at the start of a relationship when the novelty of being sexually accepted it at its peak. Make-up sex is so explosive because rifts in relationships trigger the excitement of risk with rejection.
A brief look at evolution points that we haven’t evolved quite well for monogamy in the way we crave. This is worse for men with higher testosterone levels and generations of social encouragement because without having multiple partners, the species would have gone extinct.
In earlier days, there was a high mortality rate owing to the nature of food hunting; and before antibiotics even your wisdom tooth growing could kill you. That being said, if we are to maintain a healthy and emotionally balanced relationship, the topic of sexuality is not one that can be wished away by avoiding conversations or other evasive attitudes.
Firstly, we need to be aware that our partners are in no more control of what they find sexually appealing as they are in control of the weather. Through the course of our lives, we have picked up all sorts of strange fetishes— from men that want to be penetrated with strap-ons to women that wouldn’t reach orgasm if they do not feel a degree of pain. Coming to the realisation that people’s sexual preferences are not yardsticks for their morality would greatly enable a healthier sexual environment. This transparency will allow our partners feel safe to suggest experiments and preferences.
Secondly, we need to understand that sex in the context of a relationship requires a certain mindstate that is hard to come by when there are piles of dishes on the sink, bills unpaid and a thousand and two other tasks lingering in our mind. Unlike the escapist sex found in affairs and in viewing pornography, committed sex might require being oiled to get people in the right mood. Learning your partner’s stress factors and trying to reduce them can go a long way in getting them in a favourable mood when the sun goes down— not that there is a ban on afternoon delight.
Thirdly, improving our seduction game. We have mostly been trained to consider seduction as what we do to get sex when we want it. This is false. Actually, seduction is a cycle that ends once we orgasm and starts immediately again, even before the dismount. Paying attention to how we treat our partner outside the bedroom goes a long way to priming them sexually. The occasional sexually suggestive texts, the subliminal sexual advances, these things all add up. New environments; changing haircuts/hairstyles, outfits, introducing role play and investigating matters of sex as a couple also go a long way in improving our relationship with sex. This should be taken as seriously as exploring the more romantic aspects of our relationship.
Sex, or rather, the lack of it, remains a major problem in many relationships because we often translate the lack as a personal failing or attack; this makes us withdraw into ourselves which compounds the problem.
Anyone that has ever faced sexual rejection knows how much it stings and how it regulates behaviour thereby stopping us from playing the initiating role. Learning how powerless our partners can be in the face of generating sexual urges is the starting point to getting around overcoming the limitations of our mind and body. If you forget everything else, just remember that sexual discovery is a journey and not a destination. It is only over when you say it is.