Let’s now take each of the principles of love relationships – and see what they tell us about sex.Attachment is THE primary need here –even more potent than sex or aggression. Attachment realities define, shape the other two aspects of a love relationship – caretaking and sex.Emotion is a body sensation – a meaning making machine, and how you express your emotions IS how you send signals to and engage with and attach to others, in and out of bed.Emotion is the music of the dance between lovers – it organizes interactions.These labels, secure, anxious and avoidant simply describe a partner’s habitual ways of dealing with emotion and responding in intimate situations.Anxiously attached, fired up nervous systems are tuned to cues of rejection and abandonment, these partners seek ongoing intense connection for reassurance, and they also have a hard time trusting and taking in this reassurance. She pointed to me accusingly and bellowed – “I know what you do at that university. You have orgies, orgies, wild orgies all the time – that is what you do.” This was very funny, very Monty Python, not just because my mother didn’t know how to pronounce the word ORGY – but because at the university of Hull, on the edge of the North Sea, right beside the fragrant fish docks there was not one orgy to be found anywhere. When I came home at the end of my second term, we had a huge fight.
Sex naturally promotes bonding and more effective bonding promotes great sex.But even though Bowlby, the father of attachment science, told us there were three aspects to adult love – attachment, sex and caregiving, it’s really only very recently that the explicit links between bonding and sexuality have been explored.But – in our bones – we have always known that sex and attachment go together. What is really fascinating is that Doug Hines, her creator calls her not “Lady Orgasm” or some such, but the True Companion – he tells buyers “the physical part of your interactions with Roxxxy will be small – you will spend MOST of your time with her “socializing and interacting”.I bet I could even find an orgy in my small Canadian capital city of Ottawa (the city that TV show host John Oliver calls “the city without climax” as compared to NY, “the city without foreplay”). In many ways, sex seems as separate and as cordoned off from the rest of our human existence – the reality of human relationships– as it ever was. Sex therapy and relationship therapy/couple therapy have traditionally been separate. Sue Carter, the new head of the Kinsey Institute, who studies oxytocin, the bonding hormone, recently suggested to USA Today that it is time for Kinsey to study “human sexuality in the context of relationships”. One of the first studies I ever read on sex back in 1992, by Hawton, showed that the success of sexual stimulation techniques, like sensate focus, was determined largely by couple’s ratings of their communication prior to treatment. We can show one partner a technique for how to modify their sexual response, for example by slowing down and squeezing the penis to prevent premature ejaculation, but in the end its the Between – the quality of relationship interactions that powerfully shape partners responses in and out of bed.It seems that we are now taking the “shoulds” and shame out of sex, and allowing that sex can be whatever a person wants it to be. In focusing on our individual sexuality, perhaps we forget that we are, above all, social bonding animals.
When bonding scientists prime men and women for sexual arousal with subliminal cues – these folks also suddenly report feeling more willing to be emotionally close and make sacrifices for the sake of a relationship.