Fast or slow sex?
Our whole culture tells us that we should do more, do it faster, do it now – not just in sex but also in everything we do. All these messages may lead us to feel that we should speed up and that packing in more experiences, more work, more play is good. In sex the opposite is more often true.
Instead of speeding up we would suggest that you would benefit much more from slowing down. Fast sex has a certain type of energy that can feel delicious on some occasions but overall we have found that slowing things down leads to much deeper and more authentic sex.
If we focus on speeding up sex we are in effect getting it over with as fast as possible. It is a strange contradiction about sex that whilst many people spend a huge amount of their time thinking about sex, when they are in a sexual experience most rush towards orgasm, which is actually the discharge of that sexual energy. It is as though they cannot wait to get rid of the sexual energy and stop feeling it in their system. The impulse of sexual desire seems for many people to move as fast as possible and therefore have sex end as soon as possible. This does not arise from the fact that these people are not enjoying sex, but rather because they feel unable to hold greater amounts of sexual energy.
The Build-up of Sexual Tension
You might imagine this as though a person’s sexual energy is like water. Imagine that the person has a container to hold their sexual energy. The container can only hold so much energy. Once it is full any extra energy would spill over and could not be contained. Most people only have a very small container for their sexual energy. If the energy they hold becomes more than they are used to, they may feel that it is “too much” and start to edit it or discharge it by having fast sex or by releasing the energy through orgasm and ejaculation, usually in the case of men.
Part of the process of learning to have more meaningful and authentic sex is to increase the size of your container. Size matters – but not the way portrayed in pornography. Do you know how you feel as you begin to allow more sexual energy into your system without rushing to discharge it? Again by being present with what is there in each moment you can become aware of more subtle sensations.
The tendency for most people is to chase orgasm and to get to that place as fast as possible. When we do this we feel the euphoric release of orgasm or ejaculation but if we have rushed to get there, the amount of pleasure we can feel will typically be small compared to what is possible. Imagine a balloon being filled with air. If we burst the balloon after a few breaths into it, when it bursts there will be a small pop. However if we fill the balloon to capacity before bursting it, there will be a satisfyingly large explosion since more pressure and tension has built up in the balloon.
The same is true of orgasm. The faster we reach orgasm, the less intense and satisfying it will be. By slowing down we give ourselves the possibility to increase the erotic tension and this will feel even more pleasurable when it is released. Building sexual energy slowly over time not only gives us more intense pleasure but also creates a heightened sense of anticipation.
The longer gratification is delayed the better it feels when we finally let ourselves go there. Long slow periods of bodily caress and foreplay build erotic tension. Focusing on the whole body and its pleasure moves the energy away from the genitals and incorporates the whole body into the experience of pleasure. Slowing down touch on the genitals themselves allows us to increase the erotic energy there before we let ourselves discharge it.
Slowing down not only increases the amount of erotic energy we are holding in our system but also gives us awareness of new and subtler levels of sexual feelings.
What is sex?
Sex is such a variety of activities, and the only thing they have in common is the energy that arises in us; the felt experience. As suggested, this energy can move from not being felt at all to a highly charged state. How does this happen? How do we create the flow of desire that allows us to experience sex as a process, happening over time? The clue is to look at the difference between sensual and sexual energy.
Sensual energy refers to the experience arising from our senses; from smell, touch, taste, sound and a felt sense. Sensuality is a whole body experience in the sense that all body parts and all senses are able to experience pleasure, and a sensual experience is defined by creating a general sense of well-being. Because sensuality arises from the senses it is experienced in the moment, and it is an experience with no urge to ‘go anywhere’. This is why we can be sensual, ‘cuddly’ with our friends, pets and children, where sexual energy would be inappropriate. In relation to others, sensual energy is therefore first and foremost a connective energy. It brings us into embodied presence with the other, which creates a sense of well-being. Neurologically, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which makes us feel relaxed, loving and open.
Sexual energy is different. Although sexual energy can be felt in the whole body, it has a specific focal point that gives it a particular quality. This focal point is mainly felt and experienced in the genitals, and even though other body parts can be stimulated, the main focus keeps returning to the genitals. Also, it is innately charged with an increasing intensity. Sexual energy gives us the feeling that it wants to “go somewhere”; it wants to peak in the orgasm and discharge the energy. Compared to sensual energy as embodied presence, sexual energy therefore feels much more goal oriented. In essence it is a drive. It is the life force energy that wants to express itself. Connection and pleasure of the moment becomes secondary to this urge for the ultimate pleasure. It can feel like the energy itself is taking over. We surrender, ultimately, to the orgasm; and in that we surrender to something greater than ourselves.
Fulfilling sex consists of an interplay between sensual and sexual energies. It is embodied presence with the other as well as life force energy wanting to express itself in the ultimate surrender. If we think that sex is about genital contact until we orgasm, we get trapped in a reductive idea of sex. This is very much the reductive focus of pornography. Ultimately this deprives us from the pleasure and energetic connection that is authentically experienced in the moment. By consisting of sensual and sexual energies, sex can be a full body, connective experience of flow. For this to happen we need to allow both sensual and sexual energies to arise and be expressed. Sensuality gives us the connectivity, and sexuality gives us the urge to surrender.