Why there’s much more to sex than ‘dial-an-orgasm’
AT FIRST glance, many of us might nod along sagely to the HSE advice to young people that they should replace real sex with online sex so as to stop the spread of Covid. However, when we think about it for a few seconds, most of us realise that this advice, while well-meant, is over-reactive and places undue emphasis on our physicality over our mental health.
Sex is an intimate act; it leads us to a place where deeper connections are formed and where bonds are made through our naked vulnerability and our shared experience.
To reduce sex to a transactional event where you go online and seek your orgasm, as if you are phoning for a takeaway, is missing the entire point of the thing. To presume that young people have sex solely in the quest for an orgasm is misunderstanding why most people have sex.
The motivation to have sex goes far beyond orgasmic satisfaction; some seek sex for pleasure, some for connection, others have sex to feel a sense of love. Evolutionary theorists tell us we have sex to promote the survival of our species. No matter what our motivation, real-life sex offers a deeper experience than virtual sex. Indeed, most experiences offer more depth in real life than online.
If you are single and in desperate need for some human connection, it is advisable that you attend to this in whatever way you can – this might mean that you reach out to old friends, or perhaps you might join an outdoor activity that you would never have heretofore considered.
If you are seeking a sexual relationship you could do worse than join online dating apps – but this doesn’t mean you need to dial-an-orgasm. Rather, you can use this opportunity to build up to a sexual relationship at a slower pace than is usual these days. We can build up a connection so that we can have quality over quantity.
As a psychotherapist, I have returned to seeing some clients in real life instead of online and the difference is staggering. There is a warmth of connection when you are physically close to a person that can’t be replicated online. Although the very same information might be exchanged, the connection feels shalThe lower. Online sex, just like online counselling, has its place. If there is no other possibility open then it might be very useful but if there are other options then reallife connection will both challenge you more and offer you more nourishment.
In a world that seems to be becoming increasingly superficial, many of us are seeking more depth and connection. Online sex offers little more than the passing satisfaction of a “happy meal”; real-life sex opens doors to the possibility of a serious experience.
At the height of the Aids epidemic in the 1980s, gay men were advised to use porn instead of turning to casual sex and this advice apparently helped to reduce the spread of Aids.
problem is that Covid is not the same as Aids.
Aids was spread through the sharing of bodily fluids, be it through needles or sex. There was no lockdown for Aids. Covid, on the other hand, can be transmitted in a whole range of ways. If you really want to make sure that you are safe from Covid, you would need to lock yourself in to a room with tinned food, bottled water and some electronic media to keep you company for the next few months, even years. This is not feasible and it would ruin any vestiges of mental health that we have left. This is why we need to find more reasonable options.
The first director-general of the WHO, Dr Brock Chisholm, understood the importance of mental health as he pointed out that “without mental health there can be no true physical health”.
The lockdown is over and we are now in the more mentally difficult period that calls for endurance and forbearance. It was simple but arduous to handle the heavy lockdown – we just needed to stay home as much as possible.
It is much easier on the brain to follow strict instructions than to navigate a more complex situation, and yet this is exactly what we need to do.
We are now in a much more complicated, long-term scenario where we need to balance our physical health with our mental health and take personal responsibility for our actions; and everything feels more onerous.
Yet there are silver linings to be found; since the lockdown our frenetic pace has slowed considerably and we have been collectively forced to take more satisfaction from simple pleasures. There is real value in this and many of us could find some sustaining contentment from this new way of being. The last thing we need right now is to dive back into a superficial, consumerist world where everything is transactional and the hidden depths are left unexplored and ignored.
Some seek sex for pleasure, some for connection, others have sex to feel a sense of love
Connection: If there’s no alternative, ‘phone sex’ might have it’s place, but it’s a much more shallow experience than the real thing