LOVE LIVES

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The Faces of Love and Sex

The Love World

The Sexual Stage

Sex and The senses

Common Sex Positions

Variations - Standard and Exotic

Other Entry Ports

Rhythm and Release

Love Songs

Love Machines and Love Potions

Fantastics

Sexual insight and Destiny:  Finding New Fulfillment Afterword

The Love World

From Birth on, Human Being have an absolute need to touch and be touched. The infantile-dependency research studies of the American psychoanalyst Rene Spitz demonstrate that when infants do not have considerable affectionate touching and holding as part of their early developmental sexual stages, a characteristic depression sets in that can lead to marasmus - a state of extreme malnutrition. In some cases the untouched, unheld child simply gives up and dies. To be held and touched is the only way that the infant can gain the knowledge that it is loved. As the child grows, it will begin to try to express its own love in return, reaching out to touch others.

The eroticism of the skin, therefore, is not merely a matter of physical arousal but is fundamentally connected with our need to love and be loved. All of us seek the touch of love. We all seek to hold and be held by another human being, not just because it "feels good" and is pleasurable but because to engage in sexual intercourse expresses and satisfies our need for physical love and sex in the most concrete way possible.

It is my belief that being human means to have the need for love and that the need for love is primary and is then expressed in a physical way in the need for sex. When a human being engages in sexual activity, that individual is attempting to fulfill the need for love-regardless of what the person's sexual preferences or fantastics may be. There are, of course, individuals whose particular emotional history and personal makeup hinder them in attaining the state of love. It may be, for instance, that their fear of intimacy makes it difficult for them to open themselves fully to another person, so that in these cases sexuality becomes the only means of obtaining love and thus gives the appearance of being an end in itself. Or, as in a few primitive societies, the expression of love may be at odds with the harsh necessities of mere survival and therefore be prohibited or proscribed. But as we shall see, these exceptions involve a short-circuiting or displacement of the need for love that serves only to accentuate is central importance to being human.

Love, though, particularly reveals its presence in orgasm. No matter how bizarre or even antisocial the circumstances leading up to orgasm may be, the love world is entered at the instant of orgasm. There is always a sense -however momentary -of elevation and extension, of going beyond oneself, of achieving unity with something greater than oneself. What happens to the body during orgasm gives a graphic demonstration of the ultimate nature of the love world.

From day to day, differences in an individual's orgasmic pattern may be caused by such factors as bodily or emotional fatigue, the length of time since orgasm last occurred, or even the temperature of the room. But it is evident that each person has a fairly characteristic set of responses in an active sexual life. These responses are conditioned by the individual's particular ways of being, including standards of behaviour and the degree to which the person is able to demonstrate feelings or tries to control them. Yet in spite of all these varying elements, there remain certain overall orgasmic patterns of genital and body response that are basic to all these varying elements, there remain certain overall orgasmic patterns of genital and body response; that are basic to all human beings and that show how this peak moment of sexual experience reflects and defines the nature of the love world.

Typically, in reaching an intense orgasm, the entire body becomes rigid. Phenomenologically the person is reaching, extending him or herself to encompass the totality of existence. Legs and feet are extended, the toes either curled in or flared out in a stiff carpopedal spasm. The shoulders and arms are rigid, grasping, holding. The abdomen becomes hard and spastic. The eyes bulge and stare vacantly or are tightly closed, looking into eternity in either case. The mouth is open as the lungs gasp for additional air, taking in the world in great gulps. Physically we extend ourselves at orgasm to encompass everything. And we feel that we are one with the universe. We no longer stand outside ourselves, reviewing our actions. We have a sex and sense of unity.


Every sexual act is an attempt to achieve that sense of unity. Even to masturbate is to make such an attempt, although the achievement will be limited and transitory. One socially isolated young man who came to me for treatment when in his early twenties a had a sexual pattern that consisted of rocking himself in a chair in his locked bedroom while he day-dreamed and masturbated compulsively. As a very young child he had been rocked excessively by his parents. A pediatrician advised them that this was unhealthy for the child. But instead of merely cutting down gradually on the amount of rocking, the parents suddenly and totally deprived their young son of this gratifying and security-including activity. The child valiantly fought back by consistently rocking himself for a day and a half, until he was exhausted. Yet he was unable to induce his parents to resume the habit. From the child's point of view, to be deprived of the rocking was to be deprived of love. As an adult he was still trying to regain the sense of love by rocking, now accompanied by overt masturbation .

Masturbation is not, of course, necessarily or even usually a neurotic act.During adolescence it can play a significant part in this important developmental phase of human sexuality. For adults, it is a form of pleasurable release that is practiced by a great many men and women as an occasional adjunct to regular sexual intercourse with a loved one. Or it may be used as a substitute for intercourse during periods of separation or when the partner is ill. But it should be understood that masturbation is not merely a matter of physical rhythm and release; it is a way of entering into the love world, even if only in a solitary, transient manner.

Those who prefer brief transitory sexual encounters with pickups are also seeking a way to enter the love world. I will ever forget a patient who was dying of syphilis. In the tertiary stage of syphilis the spirochetes lodge in the aorta, destroying its working and preventing the proper flow of blood from the heart and diffusion of oxygen through the body. This man's face and body had taken on a swollen, venous cast, and he gasped for breath. The knew that his increasing cardiovascular failure was caused by the syphilis and was aware that he would probably soon die of his illness. Yet when I discussed his condition with him, he justified the waste of his mature life by smiling and saying. "Ah, the girls, the girls." The girls were prostitutes, and it was from them that he had contracted his disease. Yet for my patient, the encounters with these prostitutes had been precious love experiences, however unilateral or limited.

Unilateral sex will always limit the degree to which the individual enters the love world. For the most essential quality of the love world is its duality. To be in love is to establish a world of two. Significantly, every human being begins life in a world of two. The child in the mother's womb gives the pregnant woman the emotional strength of two. Suicides among pregnant women are extremely rare exactly because of the mother's awareness that her world is a dual one. In the womb the child draws its strength and its sense of security from the fact that it too inhabits a world of two. Once the child is born, it must continue to have a sense of being loved; as we have seen, if the child cannot derive that sex and sense from being touched and held, it cannot develop in a healthy way.

As adults we seek love not just to satisfy our sexual needs but to establish emotional and physical unity with another human being. It is no accident that the creation myths in so many of the world's cultures involve the splitting of one into two. Plato's concept that we constantly seek to reunite ourselves with the "lost" half of our being can be viewed, for instance, in a phenomenological way. It is as though we carried about with ourselves, as a part of body image, a sense of what is necessary to make us complete, to make us one. The joining of penis and vagina creates a physical unity. At orgasm, the sense of a transcending unity will emerge into momentary existence even for casual partners who will never see one another again. But for two people who love one another, there is an added dimension, perduring sense of enlargement. For loving couples, the love world does not end with orgasm; it is not completed by sexual satisfaction but rather extended by it.

Two individuals joined together in the love world not only have their own personal experience, perceptions, imagination and intelligence to draw on, but also partake of the partner's perceptions, experiences, and intelligence. Thus there is an increase in the magnitude of one's existence that fosters a new view of being and of the world. Automatically one is strengthened, and the two ness that is created is no mere summation of the two individuals but a multiplication of the sense of life's possibilities for both of them.

The duality of the love world changes our perception of both time standard clock time to what might be called experiential time. We are in "another world", and we lose track of the passage of time in our ordinary daily world. At the moment of orgasm time- for an instant -seems unending. This is true no matter how orgasm is achieved, even through masturbation. After orgasm, as we return to the ordinary world, it is often necessary to check to see what the clock time is. We may be surprised to see that only ten minutes have passed; we have, after all, been in a world in which we have experienced a sense of eternity. We maybe equally astonished to discover that an entire hour has passed in what seemed "no time at all." For the period of their lovemaking, partners exist beyond time. This alteration of the sense of time occurs only during the sex act itself for the person who achieves orgasm through masturbation or with a temporary partner. But for partners immersed in a love relationship, the sense of time continues to be altered in the mundane daily world as well.

Once a person enters extensively into the love world -that is, begins to exist as a lover -the duality of that world, its two ness, is always present in the life of the individual, even if the partner is physically absent. In the love world all things are seen as having a future. This "looking forward" is physically manifested in the eyes. Whether one is in love or not, the pupils of the eyes become dilated at orgasm, as though looking beyond the moment into eternity. For lovers, however, the dilation of the pupils does not occur only at orgasm; it has been found to carry over into ordinary daily life as well. Couples who love one another have a lot more eye contact in general than nonlovers, "drinking" one another in and at the same time seeing beyond the self. Thus lovers exist in the three dimensions of time, simultaneously encompassing their past together, their present together , and the future they look to together.

The sense of infinity that we experience at orgasm, of being at one with the basic pulse of the universe, continues to be felt to some extent in the ordinary world by lovers. That is why it seems so romantic, for example, for lovers to stand on a beach at night, watching the endless roll of the ocean beneath the stars. The poetry of love throughout the ages has made use of imagery involving the ocean, the heavens, and the infinite exactly because of the sense of enduring amplitude that we experience in the love world. The suicides and love death that occur in the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and the Mayerling tragedy are accepted by these mythic and literary characters with a kind of equanimity because they feel themselves to be living in an infinite universe in which they will always be together.

The sense of space is also changed in the love world. Between lovers there is no great sense of distance -everything is in reach. Two lovers who find themselves physically separated by a continent are still closer together than two strangers squeezed up against one another in a subway car at rush hour. In the love world, as in the Einsteinian universe, space is curved; there are no sharp, rough edges that might induce a sundering. This sense of infinitude, however, is experienced in a very personal way; the universe seems to belong to the lovers alone, extensive but also private. The exclusivity of the love world is evident in the special feeling that a woman experienced when she was walking along a crowded street with her lover, a feeling of being enclosed in a large shining bubble as they moved together through the throngs. Without the presence of her lover, she said, she was always aware of people pushing and bumping as they hurried along, breaking into the world she was trying to occupy. But with her lover she always had the sense of that giant bubble's enclosing and protecting them.

When two partners fall out of love, that bubble bursts. It is a wrenching experience that is felt not only emotionally but physically. The lightness has gone out of the world, and a cardinal symptom of the depression that follows the loss of a loved one is the feeling of a ball in the chest, a leaden weight at the emotional center of our being, the heart area. That weight can be so heavy that one feels one is falling - out of the love world. People who have lost a lover tend to carry themselves with a certain tightness, as though trying to hold themselves together in a bodily way, to prevent themselves from falling. The head is held more stiffly; movement is slowed and is more rigid. Even in sleep the bereaved over will demonstrate the feeling of loss, moving restlessly in an attempt to contact the missing partner, flailing in empty space, or drawing the body in upon itself, seeking security in the sheltering corners of the bed.