Sex Myth-ology: Sex and Spontaneity
Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Q: “Does great sex have to be spontaneous?”
A: It does not. Though certainly, when it “just happens,” sex can be fabulous.
When you ask around about what makes sex truly exciting, the most common response is “spontaneity”; most thrilling sexual experiences are thought to be “spur-of the-moment.” This ideal is likely fueled by our nostalgia for the early days of romantic love, when “hot” sex was supposedly triggered by unprompted natural impulses… effortless. What we seem to ignore are a couple important facts about those seemingly “effortless,” exhilarating sexual experiences: brain chemistry and… yes, planning!
In the initial stages of a romantic relationship powerful neurochemical processes facilitate sense of sexual abandon and lust. When we fall in love we experience a natural “high” similar to the effects of stimulants (e.g., amphetamines). Such brain chemicals as dopamine, norepinephrine, and PEA temporarily affect the way we experience the world, including our new-found object of love.
In time, however, just like with synthetic stimulants, the body develops a tolerance and the effects of these chemicals fade away; it requires more of them to sustain the original state of euphoria and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, our bodies are unable to meet that increased demand.
At this point too, another set of neurochemicals, endorphins, and hormones, vasopressin and oxytocin, flood the body and create a sense of well-being and security that is conducive to a lasting relationship. While creating an experience of tranquility, safety and stability, these natural “pain killers” … kill the passion. From the evolutionary perspective, all these changes in the brain serve one important purpose: continuation of our species through mating and bonding to raise the offspring.
While the natural stimulants flood our brain, levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin decrease, which causes preoccupying thoughts, hopes and fears of early love – the all-encompassing obsession associated with infatuation. The object of our desire becomes the single focus in our life; we think about them constantly and commit significant resources, time and effort, to planning impressive outfits, meals, events, and surprises that are meant to sweep our date of their feet. This elaborate, though “behind-the-scene,” scheming that stokes excitement and fuels anticipation proves that even in the beginning spontaneity is an illusion; the sexy sex happening “in the moment” is in fact a culmination of lengthy premeditated buildup.
In a committed relationship deprived, of the advantage of the early love’s brain chemistry, good sex needs to become intentional. The planning that in the early stages of romance generated anticipation – potent aphrodisiac, in a long-term relationship too can help create an erotic space, set the mood, and fuel longing and yearning – key ingredients of desire… and good sex.
So even though spontaneity is not crucial, having good sex means talking about it, planning for it and also taking advantage of spontaneous chances that still do occur.