If we believe the messages about sex we get from media (not just pornography) we'd think that sexual activity is always perfect.
The people are perfect, no-one ever falls off the bed, or is too tired, or is bloated from all-you-can-eat pasta night. In fact, media would have us believe that sex is always spontaneous and follows a perfect script. However the reality is that life isn't perfect and neither are our sexual experiences.
Metz and McCarthy (2007) came up with a great way to set more realistic expectations and ensure that we were enjoying our sexual experiences even if they werent always perfect. They called it the Good Enough Sex model.
I recently spoke with Chantal Brodrick at MIND123 about the good enough approach to sexual activity and the importance of being present and enjoying the here and now.
Chantal: Tell us is it a myth that sex has to always be amazing?
Kerrin: Sex isn't win or lose it's about having a great time and those two people having a good time and communicating and connecting. If we only ever had sex when it was mind-blowing and amazing we are either going to be disappointed a lot of the time or we aren't going to have sex a lot of the time.
What we really want to aim for is about 85% of our sexual experiences being good enough. There can be great ones in that but sometimes it's about just meeting the needs of those people. There are so many reasons why we have sex. We have sex to have babies, we have sex because we're stressed, because we're bored, because we need to relax, because we want to just feel connected to the other person, because we just want an orgasm.
So there's all these different reasons and it can meet different needs at different times. Being good enough to meet the need is ok. It's unrealistic, particularly in long term relationships where people are working; they're busy; they're in and out of the house; off to work; to expect there to be those opportunities for those long hot steamy sessions every time.
Chantal: And where does the mindfulness side of things come into it, because that, of course, must play a major role in our sex lives?
Kerrin: Yes it does. Our brain really is our most powerful sexual organ and then the next part of that is the mindfulness of just being in the here and now. If you're constantly thinking ahead to whether or not you're going to orgasm or if you're constantly thinking back to the worries of the day it really takes away from the pleasure and enjoyment of the here and now.
That's the key to mindfulness, stripping away the other stuff and focussing on the present, and also connecting your mind and genitals. Giving your mind the freedom to wander and really feel and listen to the feeling and experience of pleasure in your body.
Chantal: If someone comes to you because they feel as though their sex isn't amazing, what would you talk to them about and how would you actually help them understand that it doesn't always have to be?
Kerrin: Definitely. Firstly setting realistic expectations. What is it you hope to get out of sex? Do you hope to have amazing multiple orgasms every time or do you just hope to feel connected to your partner and destress from the day. So contextualising sex, because its amazing sex if it helps you destress even if it only lasts 2 minutes and you don't orgasm. It can just be about that context and what it achieves in the present.
Chantal: So it's important just to remember that the main message is it doesn't have to be amazing every single time and you need to have that connection with someone. Any last messages to leave with the viewers today?
Kerrin: Really that it just does have to be good enough in most instances.
Of course it's great to have amazing mind-blowing sex as well :)