My Love of Sex

I was thinking this morning of the difficulty some people have talking about sex – whether as a topic of news, politics, or health, or even about their own sexual life with the person they like or love and/or with whom they are being sexual. A conversation came back to me that I once had with a sort-of-partner who wasn’t one for talking about sex in the personal realm. I had said something to him about how I saw sex as a celebration and as a normal part of life, and so talking and laughing were part of all that.

When this conversation came back to me today, the part about it being a celebration nagged at me. Although I often say that sex is a celebration, today I asked myself, “a celebration of what?” These were my gut reactions: for me, being sexual with another person is a celebration of being alive and of being human – in a very basic, fundamental way – with another person. Sexual sharing is a chance to co-create something with a person one likes or loves. It’s an important part of my life even though there have been stretches of time when I’ve been without partnered sex.

Sex, for me, is also a chance to be intimate. To be naked together. To be incredibly vulnerable, at least the way I like to have it (which doesn’t necessarily mean mushy or romantic, although that can be the case; it just means being naked with each other’s bodies as well as the in-the-moment experience).

For me, something I have always, always enjoyed about sex is the opportunity to see a side of someone that most other people don’t get to see. Someone who is strong and macho can be incredibly soft, vulnerable, and sweet in bed. A person who is controlled and rigid in their public spheres can be spontaneous and unbridled when they let go in a sexual way. A soft-spoken, gentle person might push their partner roughly (and deliciously) up against the wall or be aggressive in bed in other ways. For me, this isn’t just about being surprised or facing the unexpected though perhaps there’s something nice about that too. Rather, I think I like the specialness of sex – the sense that I’m being shown a secret passageway, a door to Narnia, an entryway to a world I want to visit again and again and again.

Good sex doesn’t always happen the first or third or tenth time with a new partner (and it doesn’t happen every single time with an established partner either). We know that from scientific research. I also know this from personal experience, as you likely do too.

But good sex is, I think, worth creating with someone. It’s worth the time, energy, patience, and communication it takes to learn about each others’ bodies, physical and psychic scars, the kinds of touch each person wants, the kinds of licking or not-licking, the positions, the kisses, the vanilla parts, the kinky parts, the pace and rhythm of parts of sex and of the whole act. Having grown up playing violin in an orchestra, I think of the Saturdays we spent practicing together, sometimes perfecting a few bars in the middle of a piece and other times starting from the top and trying to get all the way through to the end. Sex is a bit like that. Sometimes you’re trying to get something as concrete as oral sex down. Other times you’re trying to improve the bigger picture.

There are other things I like about sex, too. I like knowing about sets of freckles that other people don’t know about. I like lounging in bed. I like genitals (no surprise there). I love being in like or in any degree of love. I love holding another person and being held. I like the build-up to orgasms and the orgasms themselves. I like looking over and seeing the wrinkles and the pores and eyelashes of someone great. And I like connecting and bonding with another warm, sweaty, living human being. There are also many, many other things I like, love, or crave about sex that are private. In fact, privacy is something I like about sex, too!

When I asked people on Twitter what they like about being sexual with another person, here is what some people said either via their public Tweets or private emails:

- “the union of you and that person – an aura or energy or circle that only the two of you share – in that one moment … I have had multiple partners throughout my life and the bond and connection from that moment sex starts and ends is a one time one place moment that can never be measured again… sex with the same person rarely is ever the same for me…”

- “Ive always felt it was something special shared by 2 people that only few in their lives are gifted with. In this age, gone… But with the frequency of partners people share these days, the gift becomes more like Christmas socks.”

- “Everything duh”

- “having their 100% focus & attention on both myself & their self with only one goal in mind.”

- “I feel the least self-conscious during those moments and I love knowing I made someone else feel good no matter how brief”

- “Not sure I can really pick. So let’s say : 1A having someone witness my sexual expression. 1B the physical contact…touch.”

- “the intimacy”

- “The feeling of that moment… being together, the nakedness of two (or more) people… There’s no BS, just raw being.”

What do you like about sex?

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at