People always seem to be in search of “great sex.” Magazine and blogs are filled with articles about the few simple things that you can do that make it happen for you. And the way they promote these ‘sex tips’ are as if there is some secret information that can be imparted and you will magically start having “great sex.” The problem is that the idea of “great sex” is subjective and changes from person to person. In fact, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality in 2009 explains just how “great sex” is less dependent on actual physical functioning and more about your ability to let go and enjoy the moment.

Of course, the predominant messages repeated about what we need to have “great sex” focus on making us feel insecure and lacking. Pharmaceutical companies only gain to benefit if you believe that their pill can make your experience more pleasurable for you and your partner. And media can continue to sell you their ‘7 things you must know’ articles just in case you weren’t in the know.

But the study, entitled “The components of optimal sexuality: A portrait of “great sex”,” presents different ideas for us to consider. The elements of what makes “great sex,” according to their participants, is not what the pharmaceutical companies and the makers of male-enhancement formulas would like you to believe. Instead, they came up with 8 major components of one’s sex life that are crucial to the experience of “great sex.” These are experienced by way of letting go, being true to oneself, and taking risks. The 8 components are:

1. Being present, focused and embodied. This refers to having a calm mind that is not constantly analyzing what is going on, but instead, just experiencing every moment to the fullest of your ability. “You are the situation.”

2. Connection, alignment, merger, being in synch. Described in different ways, this refers to the feeling of being one with your partner – where you literally feel that there is no difference between your bodies. Some have described this as feeling “with” the other person.

3. Deep sexual and erotic intimacy. This includes a deep caring for the other person, trust, genuine acceptance and admiration and deep mutual respect. This is opening up and knowing that you will be taken care of and accepted.

4. Extraordinary communication, heightened empathy. This requires partners to be able to really listen to what the other is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. It becomes an automatic attention to detail where touch is an erotic form of communication and there is an understanding and appreciation of the other person’s experience.

5. Authenticity, being genuine, uninhibited, transparency. This is what it means to be your true self, as opposed to who you think other people expect you to be. It allows you to give yourself up to your pleasure without censoring yourself.

6. Transcendence, bliss, peace, transformation, healing. In this component, you are transported as if you have hypnotized yourself, so that everything else melts away – time, your surroundings, noises – so that all you experience is your pleasure and your partner.

7. Exploration, interpersonal risk-taking, fun. When you allow yourself to have fun and truly explore who you are sexually, your experience of sex takes on a new level that is not dependent on the physical.

8. Vulnerability and surrender. When you are able to give yourself up to your partner, there is no hesitation. One feels completely free, and what may have previously been scary is now extremely erotic.

There are many people who are enjoying these components of “great sex” but do not match with the media and pharmaceutical companies’ very physically based idea of rock-hard erections or instant lubrication. Our ability to experience intense sexual pleasure as human beings relies on things above and beyond the animal world – our ability to experience a moment, a connection, a sharing, an understanding, and fun.

Shape Up for Sex, Part One
How Anxiety Messes-Up Sex