All behavior has a purpose, at least in the mind of the person engaging in the behavior.
So, what was your purpose for having sex last night?
Research suggests that the biggest obstacle to having a good sex life is a lack of communication, specifically not having an open and honest dialogue.
Back in the 40s and 50s, men and women knew better than to even try to have a meaningful talk about sex. Women expected that men knew how to please them. Men assumed they knew how to please a woman (after all, they had pleased themselves for years with great success). And because women “knew,” men were not open to feedback. Women feared hurting their man’s ego, so they never said anything. As a result, many women learned to fake their sexual experiences.
Having a good conversation about sex does not mean asking the other person, “Was it good for you?” Many better questions can open the door to a great relationship. Since all behaviors have a purpose, one crucial question that we need to ask each other is:
What is the purpose of us having sex?
One answer could be: To have children.
Yes, that is true, but don’t stop there. (We seem to have a lot more sex than we have children!) The problem is that one person’s sexual behavior may have a vastly different purpose than it does for the other person.
Since very few couples sit down before they start having sex and ask each other that question, problems can develop. If one person is having sex for a physical release while the other believes they are doing it “to celebrate our love,” the resulting conflict can undoubtedly lead to hurt feelings and resentments.
All behaviors have a purpose for the person doing the behavior. All behaviors do not necessarily have the same meaning for other individuals, and herein lay the seeds of conflict.
For couples to develop their communication skills, it is essential to know that the purpose of having sex may vary from person to person or even vary daily with the same person. There is no right purpose for having sex. Nor do you both have to have the same purpose for having sex.
There won’t be an issue if you both understand that tonight you may be doing it for different reasons—and you’re both okay with that.
Over the years, I have listened to my clients and developed a list of reasons why we have sex:
1. Sex as a way to celebrate our love.
2. Sex for the physical release, to relieve tension.
3. Sex because she wants to give him something he wants.
4. Sex to get pregnant and establish independence from parents or to get welfare.
5. Sex to avoid intimacy.
6. Sex to avoid loneliness.
7. Sex to safeguard fidelity and keep him in the relationship (If I don’t give it to him, he will get it somewhere else).
8. Sex because it feels good. Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing out loud.
9. Sex as a way of avoiding conflict.
10. Sex to get affection.
11. Sex to get physical (skin-to-skin) contact.
12. Sex to prove/confirm one’s sexuality.
13. Sex to increase self-esteem.
14. Sex to mask anger.
15. Sex for revenge.
16. Sex motivated by boredom.
17. Sex for dominance and control.
18. Sex because of social or peer pressure.
19. Sex as a distraction from depression.
20. Sex as rebellion.
21. Sex for atonement.
22. Sex because of guilt.
23. Sex because you are feeling sorry for the other person.
24. Sex as a way of establishing ownership and that you are mine.
25. Sex as a way of getting reassurance of your sexual virility (ex. Women who have had a hysterectomy or mastectomy. Older men whose sex drive is waning.)
26. Sex as a form of exercise.
27. Sex after a big fight as reassurance that the relationship is still okay.
There is no correct answer when it comes to the purpose of sex, just good communication. The better the communication is the better the sex.
Tonight, the questions to ask each other are: “What is your purpose for wanting to have sex?” and “What is my purpose for wanting to have sex?”
The dare is, are you willing to risk being open and honest in your communications with your partner? Do you both have to have the same purpose for having sex? Are you ready to accept that your differences do not make either of you wrong? (They just make life interesting.)
And are you willing to risk rejection?
When we hear the word risk, many people think about loss, abandonment, and pain. But without risk, there is no gain. And if you or your partner find that honesty is too painful and results in fights, find a therapist who can help you listen to each other.