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Emotional Intimacy or Sexual Skillfulness?

(About a 2 minute read)

A very experienced man, Patrick, tells me that the most pleasurable sex he’s ever had in his life came about as a one-night stand with a perfect, but perfectly skilled, stranger.

Patrick has been married for at least a dozen years to the love of his life.

I myself cannot say quite the same thing as him about the best sex.  The best sex I have had came about within a committed relationship.  But I do think I can confirm that — in terms of pleasure — sexual skillfulness can go quite far towards making up for a relative lack of emotional intimacy.

Confirm that for me, if for no one else.

Put differently, the notion that emotional intimacy is absolutely key to sexual pleasure might be a myth — at least for some people.  For while intimacy certainly enhances sexual pleasure for most of us, so too does skillfulness for most of us.

Our culture does not recognize that fact.  We are so often told that almost everything depends on emotional intimacy and emotional intimacy alone.  But is our culture doing us a service there?

I recall another friend of mine, Jennifer, telling me she stayed in an abusive relationship for six or seven years because she had convinced herself that surely she must be in love with her abuser or otherwise the sex would not be as mind-blowing as it was.

Was she encouraged to think that way by our culture?  Or was that her own idea?  Or both?

Who really knows?

It would be nice to see some science on the subject.  A few surveys might give us an idea how most of us rank emotional intimacy relative to sexual skillfulness.  In the end, however, there is no substitute for figuring out your own answer to the question.

As for myself, I am greedy and want both.  Give me warm intimacy and cold ice cubes!

16 thoughts on “Emotional Intimacy or Sexual Skillfulness?”

  1. “Our culture does not recognize that fact. We are so often told that almost everything depends on emotional intimacy and emotional intimacy alone. But is our culture doing us a service there?” Paul, I think our culture sends us so many mixed messages, from so many sources, that it is enough to make our heads spin. Also, many people may not know which is better (emotional intimacy or sexual skillfulness) because they may only have experienced one or the other, OR (poor things) may have experienced neither. It’s so complicated! 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s so complicated! Oh, gods yes, Carla! That nails it! A day or so ago, I was trying to figure out if we’ve made any progress at all on sex and sexuality since the 1950s. The more I read, the more confused I became. It was like studying the Gordon Knot.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Add to the complications you’ve already noted the fact that so many folks have experienced sexual trauma, which may make emotional intimacy a challenge and sexual skillfulness moot. Imagine a world where intimate touch was only known in safety and increased ‘skillfulness’ would almost certainly follow. Because really, skill is largely a matter of being present and responsive, impossible if one is in a dissociative or emotionally detached state.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Well,I would go with both as a mix but one normally overrides the other which narrows down to emotional connection rather than sexual skill.I have had mind blowing sex and eventually due to emotional detachment and only the pleasure and instant joy derived from it a sense of emptiness always followed.Something which in essence pushed me to celibacy….Because unless you are in it emotionally and with someone you value and respect,sexual pleasure is nothing but a chase after the wind.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Out of curiosity some years ago I read the entire set of Fifty Shades of Grey. First, because I was curious to see what all the hype was about. It quickly grew ho-hum, here we go again with the same old same old. Boring soft porn. But I persisted, scanning the pages, skipping chunks, looking for an answer. Why? Because I grew increasingly curious to learn what made Christian Grey tick. (The answer, of course, was in the last chapter of the last book.) So what created him to be the way he was – a highly skilled sex expert who focused on teasing every last ounce of pleasure out of each experience whilst remaining totally emotionally detached? He was damaged goods. (SPOILER ALERT in case you haven’t read it and want to.) Learnt behaviour at the hands of a Dominatrix when he was young and vulnerable. Until, of course, he fell in love – and married. So even the Christian Greys of the world need emotional attachment to be truly happy in an intimate relationship.
    That, Paul, is what I learnt from crappy soft porn fiction. Which of course led me to wonder about the author !!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. However maybe its popularity or notoriety is a sign of craving for some really good skillful sex. We seem to equate sexual pleasure with ejaculation and not fun and wonderful sensations. Sex is about penetration? No. It can be so much more.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooops! I was trying to reply to Gristle, Riali, but hit the wrong reply button. On top of that Gristle is not the person I thought they were — not Alice but someone I haven’t met before. So I was all confused as usual.


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