Another sex study was released last week. This time, I know the author (another Ottawa based sex therapist- watch out, we are taking over the world!). Peggy Kleinplatz, a professor of Psychology at The University of Ottawa has commissioned a study that shows it's those gooey feelings- not the latest gadget that makes sex outstanding. The study, titled The Components of Optimal Sexuality: A Portrait of ‘Great Sex’, suggests that sexual fulfilment has far less to do with technique and perfect bodies — elements most often ascribed great significance by popular culture — and more to do with such factors as presence, connection and erotic intimacy.
“Unfortunately, popular culture tells people that great sex is about varying your routines, trying new positions, buying new sex toys,” says Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz, lead author of the study.
For the study, Kleinplatz and colleague Dana Ménard interviewed 64 people — from all over the world but most from the U.S. — who had experienced great sex.
Twenty-five of those were 60 or older — recruited specifically for their age and experience in long-term relationships.
The Ottawa Citizen summarized her eight findings. It is keeping with the study on long tern love that suggested great relationships have elements of communication, trust, intimacy, adventure, openness, and the need to put your partner's needs ahead of your own.
Here are the Eight elements of great sex that contribute to the earth-moving, wall socket, mind-blowing let's-do-this-again sex.
1. Being present, focused and embodied
According to the study, being fully and completely present during sexual experiences was the first and most frequently mentioned factor contributing to great sex. As one woman described, ‘You are not a person in a situation. You are it. You are the situation.’
‘It’s being fully alive,’ says Kleinplatz, ‘in one’s skin, engaged with the partner — emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually — in the moment.’
2. Connection, alignment, merger, being in sync
The report, printed Thursday in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, notes that ‘the depth of the connection between partners was one of the most critical elements of the experience regardless of duration of the relationship.’
3. Deep sexual and erotic intimacy
Kleinplatz describes this as the foundation of a relationship in which optimal sexuality becomes a possibility. It involves deep mutual respect, caring, genuine acceptance and admiration. As Kleinplatz notes, ‘you can’t trust just anyone.’
4. Extraordinary communication, heightened empathy
While marital counsellors are trained in teaching communications skills to clients, Kleinplatz describes the study’s participants as having ‘black belts’ in communications.
‘These weren’t people who learned all about the other sex’s genitalia and then just applied the technique,’ she says. ‘These were people who were so engaged in and with their partners’ bodies that they could read their partners’ responses, not only touching them, but feeling them.”
5. Authenticity, being genuine, uninhibited, transparency
‘This is pretty much the opposite of self-consciousness,’ says Kleinplatz. ‘It’s allowing oneself to be emotionally naked while being seen by a partner.’ One of the study’s subjects noted ‘I don’t know that I’m capable of having great sex anymore without caring about a partner.’
6. Transcendence, bliss, peace, transformation, healing
Participants in the study often reported a sense of timelessness or the infinite during great sex. ‘There was often a moment of aliveness beyond anything they’d experienced before,’ says Kleinplatz. ‘Their experience often really was exalted, and (the subjects) would use language borrowed from religion to describe it, because there are no words in the vocabulary of sexology to describe it.’
7. Exploration, interpersonal risk-taking, fun
This, says Kleinplatz, is where participants describe sex as an adventure. She uses a line from The Who song Bargain: ‘I’m looking for a free ride to me. I’m looking for you.’
‘I’ve always thought it was one of the most erotic lines I’ve heard,’ she adds. ‘This is about being on a journey of self-discovery, with sex as the pathway.
‘And it’s also a lot of fun.’
8. Vulnerability and surrender
‘If authenticity is about what’s happening within and choosing to be emotionally naked,’ Kleinplatz explains, ‘vulnerability is more about the willingness to be seen naked. It’s an awareness that I’m letting you inside of me, penetrating one another’s souls.’