Could sex be the highest level of human communication?
As a basic physiological need common to us all, sex is often misconstrued as a simple physical act that releases feel good endorphins. In today’s hedonistic hookup culture, tech has reduced sex to a commodity accessible at the tickle of a touch screen. As a result, disconnectedness and isolation are rampant among those who refuse to opt into this digital meat market.
And yet, there’s never been more opportunities to connect with like-minded fellow humans on every level, provided we have the social skills to do so. Those, it seems, are disappearing along with our ability to communicate, go toward others, and keep an open mind. The litigious culture and the echo chambers many of us live in make for exchanges that are no longer based on mutual curiosity but on mistrust. Some folks even take screenshots of private messages to use as ammunition later should people wrong them. Not only does this attitude fuel paranoia but it also presents an ethical conundrum that assumes the death of accountability.
There’s no such thing as giving anyone the benefit of the doubt anymore. Instead, every word is scrutinized, susceptibility is off the charts, and the gender wars are raging. These latest developments are so disturbing to me that I’ve started approaching my online exchanges as I do my job as a journalist. What someone tells me in confidence remains off the record and I will never use this knowledge without seeking their permission. Nor will I identify them without their consent because this is morally reprehensible and a betrayal of trust. When basic human decency and mutual respect become optional, how can we even consider getting naked with anyone?
There’s never been a better time to support sex workers. When sex is transactional, you can get your needs met with no hassle and enable someone to earn a living. Few professions are as honest as prostitution and porn, both of which provide essential human services. And deserve our greatest respect because it takes a certain kind of selflessness and deep humanity to do this kind of work.
But while the sex industry can cater to our every sexual proclivity, it doesn’t do relationships, what many of us wish for but aren’t prepared to work at. While mutual attraction is the spark that brings two humans together, it often starts in the mind before engaging the heart. When nakedness follows, it is always a form of surrender.
True intimacy is hard-earned; it rests on effective communication, transparency, disclosure, and mutual trust. If all parties involved aren’t prepared to tick those boxes first, sex will be disappointing, fraught with mishaps, and may even hurt. When one party enjoys anal for example and takes it for granted their partner does too without discussing it first, disaster looms. When consent is assumed rather than explicitly given, there’s a high risk of coercion or forced compliance.
Unless agreed upon and used as an erotic device as they are in S&M, power dynamics have no place in the bedroom. None. No matter how much you may love them and them you, forcing your partner to engage in a sexual act that causes them distress or discomfort is inexcusable. Be it in the bedroom or elsewhere, love isn’t something we should ever exploit to satisfy self-serving sexual fantasies.
What to do when our partner isn’t on board with what floats our boat or vice versa? As always, being able and willing to exchange as much information as possible is key. Examining the reasons behind why we like what we like and juxtaposing those with how much we care for our partner may help us find compromises.
Two partners who hold the other’s happiness as essential to their own while keeping an open mind can navigate any difficult situation. Further, they have the necessary emotional intelligence to enlist help if need be instead of letting shame paralyze them. For many of us who come from abuse, a devoted, understanding partner willing to dissect human darkness can help us find the way back to good sex.
When thinking about or looking at your person is enough to spark off fireworks in your tummy and they make you feel safe, sex becomes a life-affirming pursuit. Not only does it happen organically, but it’s an ongoing exploration of your respective psyches, hearts, and bodies. In such a context, intercourse is neither a chore nor forced, or even an afterthought.
Instead, sex works as a reminder of mutual devotion, an expression of lust, love, and care that leads to shared pleasure and deepens your bond.
So, is sex the highest possible level of human communication?
I’m a French-American writer and journalist living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.