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It Gets Better and Better

Continuum of Sexual Experience | David Yarian PhD |

Sometimes in my conversations with clients I refer to something I call the Continuum of Sexual Experience. This is a graphical representation of the range of possible experiences in a sexual relationship.

I usually don’t draw it, but if I did, it would look like this:

No Sex – – Bad Sex – – Good Sex – – Great Sex – – Ecstatic Sex

Sex Is Learned Behavior

My point in presenting this is to begin to create a vision for what is possible. Sex is learned behavior in humans, and, like any other human behavior, that means that it is possible to get better at it. We get better at something by learning the theory, but mostly by practicing.

In the beginning there may appear to be roadblocks, in that one partner may be hesitant. There may be fears and disappointments, perhaps even painful experiences to process before it feels possible to commit to a process of increasing your competence. It’s vital to take the time that is necessary to work through any issues or experiences that are frightening or even overwhelming. What look like roadblocks in the beginning often turn out to be tremendous opportunities for personal growth and development, provided they are approached in a safe environment and at a manageable pace.

Teamwork Is Essential in Creating an Optimal Relationship

The essence of making love is the pleasure of giving and receiving love. For love to be vital and believable and erotically charged, it has to be freely given, coming from a place of relaxation, self-assurance and freedom. It’s worth taking the time needed to work through any pain and woundedness that may be getting in the way of feeling safe and relaxed.

No Sex

The state of “no sex” may represent the reality that one or both partners are struggling with sexual or emotional wounding or pain and the best solution appears to be avoidance of the intensity of sexual intimacy: it just doesn’t feel safe or possible to go there.

Bad Sex

“Bad sex” may mean a lack of communication between partners, or sexual ignorance of what is possible in terms of sexual enjoyment and erotic pleasure.

Good Sex

“Good sex” can signify a good relationship with an initial erotic component that has perhaps grown stale, or routine. The partners have busy lives, and exploring the frontiers of their erotic relationship has perhaps not been a priority.

Great Sex

“Great sex” is, well, great! But the participants may not fully understand what makes it great, and what can make it even greater, and more consistently so.

Ecstatic Sex

“Ecstatic sex” is the sexual equivalent of Yo-Yo Ma playing his Stradivarius; the partners are deeply attuned with themselves and with each other. They are creative sexual adventurers who aren’t afraid to seek new experiences together; they are sexual gourmands who create opportunities to share profound and delightful erotic time. They aren’t trying to be like anyone else or live up to anyone’s sexual expectations, but are comfortable being themselves.

What Kind of Sex Do You Want?

This Continuum of Sexual Experience is not a curriculum or a grading scheme. It’s simply outlining what is possible. Not everyone will experience “Ecstatic sex”, just as not everyone eats all their meals at five-star restaurants. Sometimes you have fast food, sometimes solid healthful meals, and there are special occasions where you may splurge the time, energy and money to dress up and go out for a really terrific meal.

True gourmands think about what they want; they pay attention to flavors and the sensual experience of food. They talk about food, memorable meals, that great sauce they enjoyed last week.  They may plan together with their spouse or partner the next outing for a delightful meal; or they may work together in their kitchen to create just what they want to eat.

The Continuum is a way of orienting ourselves in terms of sexual self development. It’s possible to think in terms of reaching one’s “sexual potential” – just as we think of reaching our personal potential in other areas of life, such as career, educational, athletic or musical endeavors.

Think about your sexual potential, where you are and where you’d like to be! The Continuum of Sexual Experience can be your guide for personal growth.


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