Myth-busting Monday: sex should be spontaneous (false)
What is spontaneous sex? Likely for most, it is desiring the interactions experienced in new relationships when sex appeared or felt effortless. But were those early, fall-into-bed interactions really spontaneous? No, they often involved planning – where you would meet your partner(s), environmental set up, what you’d wear, grooming, staying in touch with your partner(s), etc.
Marty Klein, sex therapist, suggests that people just want sex to be “natural” “spontaneous” “to just happen”…. “Many reject the idea of putting effort into creating adult sex, so they just retreat into adolescent sex – affairs, romance novels, internet chat, constant pornography, low desire”1
The myth that sex should be natural and spontaneous: “is a contender for most damaging myth, encouraging individuals to devalue any sexual reactions that took effort”2
Instead when people say they want sex to be spontaneous, Klein suggests that people actually mean things like:
- “I don’t want to think about what I’m doing
- I don’t want to think about the consequences of what I’m doing
- I don’t want to be that close to the person I’m doing this with
- I’m concerned that if either of us thinks about this, we won’t do it
- I’m concerned that talking about what we’re doing will make it less interesting
- I’m concerned that if I think too much about it my body won’t function”
Big picture, nonthinking and noncommunicative.
(And “Sexual intelligence”, what Klein’s book is all about, “is what moves you from adolescent sex to adult sex”)
Planning includes things like creating time, tending to your relationship, self care (including self-love practices that make you feel at home in your body), prepping the environment, and communication. And planning creates sex that is intentional, deliberate. Planning for sex contributes to “magnificent” sex, across all lifestyles and orientations. “Wanting sex to happen, prioritizing it, planning and setting aside time all helped to build both the relationship and future sexual encounters. In many ways, this may be one of the more fundamental contributors to magnificent sex because as extraordinary lovers repeatedly emphasized, optimal sexual experiences were predicted to a much greater degree on good management than on good luck” 2
In fact, some suggest that “Foreplay and seduction should begin twenty-four hours in advance of sex, so that the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with processing emotions, is prepared to set worries and stress aside in favor of pleasure and arousal……our bodies and our brains need to be primed for sexual activity in advance”3
Planning lets you discuss the encounter with your partner(s), pick what to wear and/or toys, and builds anticipation. And, bonus, the communication and effort of planning can nurture and grow your relationships.
“’Oh, planned sex sounds horrible, it should be spontaneous.’ Really? That’s weird, because you plan exotic beach vacations months in advance, yet those tend to be amazing!”4
If it is important to you, you will give it the planning, time, and devotion to reflect its importance, instead of assuming it will all just happen.
How do you feel about spontaneous sex vs planning for sex? And if you plan, what has worked for you?
I do believe two additional but related concepts play into the idealization of spontaneous sex. 1) That is the assumption that spontaneous desire is the “normal” or “typical” type of desire (and spontaneous desire may make spontaneous sex more likely) and 2) the challenge people have with communication around sexuality. We weren’t taught how to in sex ed, it isn’t and wasn’t modeled well for us, and figuring it out as an adult feels challenging, intimidating, or not a priority (because sex should be effortless, and talking isn’t effortless but kills the vibe, right? ……wrong again).
Planning for sex requires communication – how comfortable do you feel communicating with your partner(s)?
I hope you find this content helpful. If you would like to explore topics like this more, please join us for a Pleasure Café or our Let’s Talk About Sex Book Club, see our events page. Also, check out the references listed below – these are some of my favorite books on sexuality.
Happy Myth-Busting Monday, community.
- Klein M. Sexual Intelligence. Harper Collins; 2012.
- Kleinplatz PJ & Menard AD. Magnificent Sex: Lessons From Extraordinary Lovers. Routledge; 2020.
- O’Reilly J & Stewart MR. The Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay. Cleis Press; 2020.
- Donaghue C. Rebel Love. Running Press; 2018.
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), sexuality counselor and educator (under supervision); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. For questions or to work with me, email firstname.lastname@example.org Image is from Pexels.
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