What Makes for Good Sex?

"Hormones that pour through the body help promote health and healing."

Sex is a much broader concept that genital connecting or having an orgasm. Psychologist and author Gina Ogden, Ph.D. notes in her book, "Women Who Love Sex", that sex has everything to do with openness, connection to and bonding with a partner, feelings about what is happening to us, and memories. For those who love it, sex permeates their lives and is not merely a specialized, time-intensive, physical activity that takes place under the covers--as quickly as possible.

As a result of interviewing many women, Dr. Ogden learned that sexual desire, or lust, was produced by much more than physical stimulation. For women, according to Dr.Ogden, it has more to do with feelings of connectedness in their relationships: "Heart to heart, soul to soul, even mind to mind."

"For women, it has to do with feelings of connectedness in their relationships."

When discussing sexual connecting, Dr. Ogden's interviewees spoke of a FLOWING CONTINUUM OF PLEASURE, ORGASM, AND ECSTASY, rather than a one-time experience. They also described peak sexual experiences as coming from stimulation all over their bodies--not just from their genitals--including fingers, toes, hips, lips, neck, and earlobes.

Obviously, arousal and satisfaction evolve not only from receiving sexual energy but also from the joy of stimulating one's partner. Sex, then, is a commitment to give and take.

Finally, the women Dr. Ogden studied have their own concepts of safe sex, essential to experiencing sexual pleasure and ecstasy. This kind of safe sex does NOT relate to preventing STDs or pregnancy; it relates, instead, to emotional and spiritual safety. Such safety is CRUCIAL for sexual closeness. Most of the women insisted that warm, loving connections with themselves and with their partners were essential to and inseparable from the experience of sexual ecstasy.

When people feel deeply close while merely holding hands, they are having sex. When people display caring for each other through hugs, caresses, and kissing, they are also having sex. When connecting people in a crowded room wink at each other in their own secret way, they are communicating sex to each other; such non-contact sex can be excitedly arousing and emotionally fulfilling. And, of course, during sexual union when the sky seems to open so a lightning bolt can strike the couple--while fireworks ignite and the earth stops spinning-- this is sex, too.

But wait. Do men also need this almost spiritual connection to enjoy sex and achieve good health? Well, yes and no. Men need sex and men need emotional connection, but many men don't necessarily need to put the two together!

According to Dr. Bernie Zilbergelt, who wrote The New Male Sexuality, sex for women is intertwined with personal connection. For some men, sex is unto itself--an act to be engaged in with or without love, with or without commitment, with or without connection.

Presently, younger boys are being socialized in a more enlightened manner; consequently, male attitudes toward sexual union are changing. But, unfortunately, the socialization of many men born in or before the '60s provided very little information of value to the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships. These men were taught, as youths, that males showed love by doing, not by talking or "connecting" with girls.

"Fortunately, anyone can...restore closeness, intimacy, and sexual flow."

Older men were usually also socialized to be strong and self-reliant, which usually means one doesn't easily talk about or admit personal problems. Many such men do not acknowledge worries and fears to their partners; they simply try to handle everything on their own.

A consequence of such reticence is (1) lack of intimacy in the relationship, with the wife feeling "left out" of her husband's life; and (2) men often don't get what they need because they don't know how to ask for it, so they feel distanced and frustrated when they really want closeness and intimacy as much as their partner does.

Sex under these conditions creates distance in the relationship or creates sexual dysfunction which drives an even deeper wedge into the relationship. This is especially true if a man is married to a woman must be wanted by her husband to have her sexuality validated.

Consequently, sex routinely becomes mechanical, unfeeling, and unfulfilling. Fortunately, anyone can break this vicious cycle and restore closeness, intimacy, and sexual flow in the relationship.

Author Anthony Fiore, Ph.D. , is in private practice, teaches sex therapy, and owns September Products, a multimedia resource center to enhance relationships and improve sexuality.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 22). What Makes for Good Sex?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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