Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Benefits of Selfless Sexuality

Saba7o/Namaste LOVEanese! Today's post is going to be a bit more theoretical than descriptive. I say that because I want to talk about a topic that's not necessarily been researched much, but is more in the philosophical/spiritual realm of relationships.

Today's post is all about sex. But before you get too excited (pun intended), it's not exactly what you think. As I've mentioned in this post about sexuality and sexual health resources, I don't really like to talk about it for multiple reasons. One is that there is no inherent connection between love and sex--only a socially constructed one. Second, is that there are a lot of great resources out there already that address it in a much better way than I could since it's not my field of expertise (see the link above for examples). And lastly, it's not the focus of this blog. However, when I identify overlapping concepts that I think are worth mentioning, then I am happy to discuss it.

First of all, I want to present an article that is semi-connected to this post's topic. It's a very robust, yet non-judgmental analysis about how delaying intimacy can benefit your relationship. I highly recommend the read, and encourage a lively discussion! You don't necessarily have to agree with the author or agree with their points, but I suggest to at least hear them out.

Now, the main concept I want to discuss is what is mentioned in the title: selfless sexuality. So, what exactly is this? Let's define some concepts first so you understand what I mean. It is basically the idea that you are putting your own desire for pleasure aside to maximize the pleasure experienced by your partner. This article gives a broad overview of the concept, and a writer and yoga teacher provides a wonderful overview of what exactly selfless sexuality is and why it's important in this article. Let me highlight a few really important paragraphs to contextualize the definition:

"Sex is a bonding and creative function that has become a big business with an emphasis on selfish pleasure. Our society is saturated with highly charged sexual images, the media exploits and dehumanizes sex, the medical industry has all kinds of pills for women not to be fertile and for men to be fertile longer. There are societal pressures on everything from how much sex you need to be happy, to what sexual preferences are culturally acceptable."

She continued:

"Habitually, the senses grab for pleasure and satisfaction without any thought of the other person or the consequences. When someone is concerned with fulfilling his or her own needs and doesn’t consider the other person, this affects us on a deep level because of our expectations of love. We have to understand what sex is and that it cannot fulfill all of the desires and expectations that are imagined. When there are so many mixed messages, we become disconnected from who we are and want to be."

I hope that now it's a little more clear as to what it is. This isn't just a topic relegated to providers of spiritual or holistic well-being. Even this article by Ask Men (which I would normally never quote) said this:

Be selfless: "For the time being, your pleasure will come solely from giving her pleasure. Don't worry about it being no fun for you, since you're both going to get equally worked up by the end of it. For starters, the more you turn her on, the better she's going to feel, and the more eager she'll be to return the favor. But more importantly, use this opportunity to think about the importance of your own gradual arousal to great sex. Anyone can get off quickly, but the sex you'll remember for a long time is the kind where your arousal builds. You can only get turned on like that by enjoying your woman's body in a variety of ways."

It actually makes sense though (and not just about "returning favors"). Think back to this post about Thomas Merton's philosophy on loving yourself and selfish vs. selfless love, and this post about body image and it's connections to relationship well-being. First, remember that a relationship is 100/100--not 50/50. So, just like it's important to love yourself, then share that love with the other person, selfless sexuality dictates that when you mutually put the other's pleasure before your own, not only do you both benefit, but it creates better sexual experiences as well as a closer relationship. Tied to this, the more comfortable you feel with yourself, with the other person, and especially about your body, the more enjoyable a sexual experience with be. Thus, another aspect of selfless sexuality is making the other person feel as comfortable, as beautiful, and as appreciated as possible.

This concept generally works best when it's applied to a committed relationship, however, it's not solely reserved for them. I often advise against having multiple partners, but everyone is at a different stage in their sexual education and experiences. I think that the concept outlined above, even when applied outside of a committed relationship, can still lead to better sexual experiences. Of course, it is a two-way street, and works best when it is being applied by both lovers.

This isn't a magic bullet, however. You also have to take the time to figure out your partner, what they like, what works for both of you--as well as yourself, your own wants, and your own desires and preferences. That's another reason why I don't necessarily support having multiple partners. Imagine it's like a meter (or something that fills up over time). And the more you are with someone physically, the more your meter "fills up"--with understanding, comfort, love, passion, intimacy, respect. But if you jump from person-to-person, your meter just restarts. That doesn't mean that you aren't filling it (with pleasure and passion, for instance), but basically, the more you're with one person, the more you'll understand them as a lover and as a person. Now, this also depends if 1. you're both committed to making the other person feel better, and 2. if you're interested in more than just the physical pleasure (for instance, the emotional fulfillment that comes from being with someone you really love/care about).

This U.S. carnival game is how I visualize what I discussed above. In this game, you shoot water at a target, and it makes the car move up towards the top. Whoever gets the car to the top first is the winner. Imagine when you're constantly exploring your sexuality with one person, you're car is always moving up. But when you go from partner-to-partner, you're always restarting the game in certain ways--specifically when it comes to understanding yourself and your wants, but more importantly, your partner and their wants/desires/needs/preferences.

Anyways, I'll stop there. I realize that--especially given the intended audience of this post--many people aren't having sex. That's fine! And, in fact, the authors of this blog (similar to mine in that they use references and research) provide a lengthy and detailed description of why delaying intimacy can actually benefit your relationship. It's definitely worth the read, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

But regardless if you are sexually active or if you aren't, or if you make out with people, engage in oral sex, but not intercourse, or a host of other sexual activities, remember that sexuality is a very natural part of life, and is biologically no different in its importance to life as is the need to eat food and drink water. But with that said, I think it's important to recognize that, without making sex into this overly sacred occurrence, there are ways to practice intimacy and sexuality that are more considerate and appreciative of the other person.

There are many reasons why is this important as well, aside from the already-stated fact that it has the potential to improve your experience with your partner and create stronger intimacy. One of these is that, according to this article citing a research study gathering data from American adults, women have about one orgasm for every three a man enjoys. According to the article, the gap between men’s and women’s frequency of orgasm is impacted by social forces that privilege male pleasure. Thus, the idea of selfless sexuality here has feminist undertones as well in that it encourages equality in the bedroom, and an emphasis on the other--especially since the desire for sex is not inherently more of a masculine trait than feminine one.

So, what are your thoughts and comments? Do you agree with this concept? It is a workable framework for an intimate relationship? Do you think it overly endorses monogamy or another concept some find problematic? Let me know! I'm eager to see your thoughts!

Spread the love,
-Ogie, MA

P.S. Be on the lookout for an exciting announcement regarding LOVEanon to come next week!

P.P.S. I saw this infographic about the female orgasm and felt compared to share it, specifically because it actually touches on some of the aforementioned points:


  1. Selfless Sexuality brought me closer to someone I often see, not just physically (intimately) but out of bed as well. We used to argue a lot about this issue, she saw it as me putting aside my desires (not loving myself enough) to please others but with time she managed to get my point. Thank you for posting about this, it is good to know that such concept does exist. Nice read.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Anon! I'm glad you liked it, and that it reverberated with you.

  2. loved the article! girls are often bombarded with messages that they have to do everything they can to please "their man", but people forget we need it just as much as men do. Anyways, I think selfless sexuality is the best way to reach intimacy in a couple when it's reciprocated.

    1. Thank you Anon! Yes, I agree with your point about reciprocity, but it's also more than just that. It's also about consciously making an effort to put someone else's sexual desires and pleasure above your own. I think many times, people think they're doing this, but they really aren't. Of course, it's somewhat subjective in the sense that it's hard to measure. But I think you know if the person is really interested in how you feel.

      And all those "please your man" articles are nothing more misogynistic bullshit. Learning how to please a partner is something I alluded to above, it takes time, takes energy, and requires communication, but is fun and enriching!

  3. sabah al noor and namaste to you too.. This article especially strikes me because it's high time people and couples especially are made aware the above... Sex is not just an Act and just so much more... there's soooo much more to enjoy than just the act.. so much to explore and soooo much to experience..and the best part is there needn't be a freakin curfew... which gives u so much time to really make ur partner happy and vice-versa.... I wish men and women would give this much thought and can only yield positives and the world could be a happier place ;)... This article should be posted in the Cosmo or Vogue etc etc..instead of "10ways to keep your man/woman from cheating" Or 10ways to make him/her feel loved " or "10ways to get her begging for more" Sheeessshhh..!!!
    Loved the article..look forward to more

    1. Thank you so much Anon! I'm glad you liked it, and although it's a bit biased of me, I definitely agree! But seriously, I wish this was more part of the sexual discourse out there (instead of the garbage in Cosmo).

      Thanks for reading! More to come :)

  4. I love this concept. Because in general being selfless in all other areas is such a great expression of love for the other person so why not also in sex? This especially helps when one of the partners isn't "in the mood" it's when he goes into the act of selfless sexuality and defines himself that's when the love really appears.

    1. That's a really good point! Thanks so much for reading. I just think it's a great concept that's applicable to many things, but especially sex.

      I'm really glad that it's such a positive message for you all!

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