While the erotic scenario is all about you and him, and a little emotional distance, the committed couple understands that the sexual play inside the erotic scenario lives in the moment. And while the sexual play is not intimate, the act of revealing your most private erotic thoughts and imagination to your committed partner is extremely emotionally intimate. It takes a great deal of trust in your man that he is not going to reject, humiliate or shame you when your erotic self is revealed — and this applies to your man as well. It takes a great deal of trust in yourself that if a sexual proposal is rejected, it won’t crush your sense of self. When the trust between a couple is too fragile to expose their sexual urges, they become disconnected from each other, weakening their emotional bond.
Couples who enjoy both intimate and erotic sex are sexually versatile, enjoying the security of intimacy and the satisfaction of eroticism. Couples with desire problems often fight about which kind of sex to have, either intimate or erotic sex. Their low sexual versatility driven by a fear of either intimacy or eroticism is rooted in early sexual experiences, family dynamics, cultural messages or any other number of influences. Opening up and becoming more sexually versatile can help to heal emotional injuries between you and your man.
Most couples oscillate between intimate and erotic scenarios, sometimes in a single night of passion (back to taking turns). Not everything your partner wants to do is going to be as exciting for you to do, but being receptive and generous goes a long way in a relationship.
And yes, there are times that the reality of an erotic scenario doesn’t stand up to the erotic imagination. Being able to laugh together goes a long way. Sometimes, one person wants to do something that makes the other person uncomfortable. Making the best of what is available between you and not fixating on what is out-of-bounds goes a long way in a commitment. Each relationship is distinctive in how they balance intimate scenarios versus erotic scenarios, but the ratio doesn’t really matter as much as the willingness of each partner to honor the other.
Julie Elledge, Ph.D., LMFT is the co-author of the Lovers Exploration Guide, Developing an Intimate-Erotic Connection that is part of the Videos for Lovers series. She and Dr. Hicks teach their theory and treatment model through Academic Alley, a APA and CA BBS approved provider of continuing education units for mental health professionals.