It can be uncomfortable to talk honestly about our own relationship with sex. It can be uncomfortable to even think honestly about our own relationship with sex.
As result, while many of us have developed into healthy adults in our careers and in our roles as parents or friends, we are stuck when it comes to sex.
Contemplating the idea of entering into our own sexual minds can cause fear and anxiety. There is religious, cultural, and familial judgment and persecution for being direct and honest about sex. There can be fear of facing parts of ourselves that we don’t understand and fear of exposing things about ourselves that feel wrong or shameful. There is understandable reluctance about going back into painful or upsetting sexual experiences from our past.
There is also a natural aversion to looking directly at our own sex lives.
So how can you be more grownup when thinking about your sexuality?
Sex may be a realm where we want to stay somewhat unconscious. We might not want to give up the escape and release from our adult responsibilities. We might believe in the idea that sex should just flow, be natural, and not require thought or work. We might think that there is nothing less sexy than talking honestly about sex.
But if you are interested in a lifetime of healthy sexual energy, thinking and talking about your relationship with sex is enormously fruitful. Like any other aspect of our healthy human development, from physical to intellectual to emotional to spiritual, sexual growth requires attention and work. And, as with the other areas of our development, moving forward sexually means becoming more conscious.
We become more sexually conscious by taking an honest and compassionate look at the full range of our sexual thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and fears. This process often goes slowly as we work to move beyond walls of shame or judgment. We might need professional support to face traumatic past experiences, or to support us to make changes that reflect our increased sexual honesty.
There is a price for becoming sexually conscious, just as there is moving from childhood to adulthood: It can involve a sense of a loss of freedom. As we progress into greater honesty and awareness, we lose the freedom to use sex as a way to escape from ourselves and act out our unconscious issues.
What we get in return is another kind of freedom. We get the freedom from being controlled by psychological patterns that operate largely under the radar of our consciousness and lead us into sexual experiences that don’t fit with the rest of our adult selves. Instead of repeating the same old behaviors, we gain the power to make conscious choices about how to fulfill our needs and desires and the capacity to find satisfaction in sexual experiences that feel whole and right.
So, whether you are in your 20’s or 80’s, single or married, consider the path of sexual growth. Get the support you need to safely look back into your sexual history and to look deeply into your current sexual self. Explore who you are as a sexual being. Try to be objective about the role of alcohol or drugs in your sex life. Be honest with yourself about your relationship with your body.
If you are in a relationship, reflect on what you communicate to your partner through sex, and what you communicate through NOT having sex. Look at how issues around control, self-esteem, and fears of inadequacy play out in your sex life. Begin to talk directly to your partner about your own sexual self, and gently ask questions about your partner’s thoughts and feelings about sex.
These difficult and often awkward steps toward sexual consciousness take great courage, but the payoff can be profound. By freeing ourselves from the prison of our old patterns, we liberate the creativity and intensity of our sexual energy and harness our adult sexual power.