I like to say that we are living in The Golden Age of Rationalization. It seems that there isn’t anything that we can’t deny or fool ourselves about. And sex is no exception. After all former President Bill Clinton did it on national television! “I did not have sex with that woman.”
Let’s get something straight here. You don’t want to think that you’re ‘not really having sex’, or you want to pretend to yourself that you haven’t ‘really’ cheated on your partner, but the truth is – there is a lot more to sex that just a penis in a vagina. (Just ask anyone having homosexual sex!) Sex starts with fantasies and desire. As soon as you start to share those fantasies and desires with another person, you are inviting them to engage in sex. Sex involves a multitude of activities that jump-starts a person’s desire and arousal. And there are so many ways to reach orgasm – oral sex, masturbation, stimulation of the breasts, telephone conversations to name a few. You can even come in your sleep!
I consider that all sexual activity falls under the category of sex because I think that it’s part of the erotic and intimate relationship that one shares with their partner. To have a long, healthy sex life that is satisfying through the years, a person needs to have some variation to keep it interesting and fresh, as well as some flexibility to allow for adjustment to life changes. If our sexual repertoire is very limited, it increases the chance that we will become bored or frustrated. Psychologically, the more activities we consider to fall under the realm of sex, the more we can happily share with our partners in a sexual way to enhance that sexual relationship. After a woman gives birth for example, it may be several weeks before she may be ready to have any penetration. But she can receive enjoyment from giving her husband oral sex or a hand job, or she can get stimulated on other areas of her body. Similarly, if a man has prostate surgery, he may have transient or permanent erectile difficulties, but can still find ways of giving his partner sexual satisfaction with manual or oral stimulation, or even in combination with sex toys such as a dildo or a vibrator.
But if we have a very rigid idea about what sex is, we limit ourselves and create for ourselves dissatisfaction and frustration. We would then create the reality that we could not be happy unless we had penile-vaginal intercourse just so. For your health and happiness, leave that definition to the religious texts and reproductive biologists. Instead, consider that you can have happiness and sexual pleasure with a multitude of variations of activities. Just remember, if the world ran out of pumpkins, we could still have pecan pie on Thanksgiving. (I just love nuts!)