Being There: The Number One Component of Great Sex

In an earlier blog post we reported on a study published last year in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality called “The Components of Optimal Sexuality: A Portrait of ‘Great Sex.’” Analyzing interviews with 20 sex therapists and 44 people who reported having experienced “great sex,” the researchers identified eight major components of “optimal sexuality”sex that is “beyond functional, beyond positive and satisfactory, beyond good.”

It didn’t surprise me at all to read that the number-one component, the one that was brought up most frequently by both experts and “practitioners,” was “being present.”

We’re not talking, of course, about being literally, physically present (although that’s fairly essential), but about being mentally and emotionally there in your body, in the moment. Here’s how one woman who was interviewed for the study put it:

“The difference is when I can really just let go and completely focus and be in the moment and not have that, you know, running commentary going through my head about anything else.”

For women our age, that running commentary is likely to include not only the long to-do lists of our everyday lives (what am I going to fix for dinner? how can I convince Mom that she really does need that hearing aid? I hope Sally’s midterms aren’t stressing her out too much), but the new and nagging concerns that come with middle-age sex (does my face look more wrinkly when I’m on top? is he going to be able to keep his erection this time? I’ve really got to get back into a regular routine at the gym).

There’s plenty of evidence that the practice of mindfulnessnon-judgmental, present-moment awarenesshelps people manage things like stress and depression. It only makes sense that intensely focused attention, the ability to be fully aware of sensations experienced moment by moment, would be a central feature of sex at its best.

If you feel sometimes that you are not totally “there” during sex, that you’re distracted or just going through the motions, consider learning more about meditation and mindfulness. Being more present in all aspects of your life will help you more fully experience the pleasures and sensations your body is designed to feel.

Watch for more “components of great sex” in future posts, and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear what makes it “better than good” for you!

2 Responses


July 06, 2015

How do we learn more on mindfulness. When you haven’t dated in over forty years many questions pop up in your mind. Your not as young or as active. Your not in the shape you were then.
Am I as attractive to my new companion as he is to me? Your mind wanders to all the things done in past plus all the wild things you have read and imagined. Can I live up to all this imagination I have brought up. How do I get my libdo to work as good as my mind has been working? How do I get the senses to act as the ind is thinking they should?


July 06, 2015

All great questions that are common to many women, especially those who are launching a new relationship after many years of being ‘on the sidelines’. The good news is that in a new, emotionally fulfilling relationship the libido and mindfulness usually take a lot less energy, they seem to be present with less effort. It’s the longer term relationship that the issue of mindfulness usually becomes more important to focus one. That being said, today I saw a patient that entered a new relationship with ‘a great guy’ in July (2010) and already feels that the initial flurry of interest is already waning and needs to understand more about mindfulness. My website of offers more discussion on mindfulness (under the recipe element of emotional intimacy and then practice mindfulness), and books and CDs that help you learn the skill.

Women are usually their own biggest critic when it comes to being ‘attractive’ and for some women that is a distraction. Having an emotionally safe partner goes a long way in enhancing self-iimage and seeing yourself as attractive.

Please visit our site, read more and see if that can help answer some of the issues you raise. It is complicated at times for women, and needs to be approached at multiple levels. Most women are successful in staying vibrant sexually….reminds me another woman I saw today, age 77, her husband died when she was in her early 50s, and she is in a new relationship with an 81 year old and having a great time. Sex is comfortable after 25 years of no sex (with some vaginal estrogen and a good lube), her plan is to ‘live a while longer and die healthy’! She sees herself as strong, healthy and sexy!

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