NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Relationships: What is Good Sex? Part 1

According to Dr. Sue Johnson, who developed Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples (also known as EFT), there are three types of sex in relationships: Synchrony sex, sealed off sex, and solace sex.  I'll be exploring each of these dynamics in this article (see my articles: What's the Difference Between Sex and Intimacy?).

Relationships: What is Good Sex?

What is Good Sex?
Sexual attraction draws us to a potential partner.  During the initial stage of a relationship, sex is often exciting and passionate (see my article: The 5 Stages of a Relationship: From Attraction to Commitment).

But a relationship changes over time, which includes the sexual dynamics.  So how do you develop and maintain good sex?

Popular culture usually isn't helpful to understand what good sex is all about. Images on TV, in movies and social media often portray "good sex" as being compelling--both people are often portrayed as automatically ready to jump into bed with little or no foreplay.  

While this might work for most men, we know that many women need foreplay to get sexually aroused.  Also, there is little information about good sex being a combination of emotional connection and eroticism. 

The 3 Types of Sex in a Relationship
So let's start by defining the three types of sex:

Synchrony Sex:  
In synchrony sex, each person is open and emotionally vulnerable to their partner. They are emotionally attuned to one another.  

This is the kind of sexual dynamic between two people where the erotic and the emotional connection come together.  

Each person feels safe and secure so they can be open sexually and emotionally with one another.  

This openness allows the couple to bond with each other and opens up the possibility for sexual exploration and a tolerance for sexual differences (e.g., differences in terms of frequency, sex acts, and so on).

This is the type of sex that is associated with a healthy, committed relationship (see my article: Emotional Vulnerability as a Pathway to Emotional Intimacy).

Solace Sex:
With solace sex, one or both people feel insecure about the relationship and need a lot of reassurance.

Along with insecurity, there is anxiety and a sensitivity to rejection or perceived rejection.

As part of the need for reassurance, there is more of a focus on cuddling and being affectionate as well as sex.  All of these insecurities can lead to catastrophic thinking when a partner says, "I don't feel like having sex tonight" or "I'm tired. Can we try tomorrow morning?" To an insecure partner, this means that their partner doesn't care about them, which can lead to arguments or a breakup.

Sealed Off Sex:
With sealed off sex, the focus is primarily on having an orgasm. 

This is usually the kind of sex associated with a one-night stand or casual sex where novelty is important. 

The focus is on sensation and sexual prowess.  There is a lack of emotional attunement and connection in this type of sex.  

Sealed off sex can be fun at times in a relationship, but if this is the predominant form of sex in a committed relationship, the couple also needs to develop the emotional connection and the mutuality necessary for a committed relationship to survive (see my article: 7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love).

Also see my articles:

Getting Help in Therapy
If you and your partner are struggling in your relationship, you could benefit from getting help from an experienced psychotherapist.

Rather than struggling on your own, you and your partner can learn to change the dynamics in your relationship so you can have a healthier and happy relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during regular business hours or email me.