What is healthy sex?


By Dr. Carol Clark

Recommended Professional: Dr. Carol Clark, Tania Paredes, Stan Hyman, Sofi Matz

Many people question what is normal, or healthy, sex and what is not, usually because something about their sex lives is not feeling quite right for them.  While I can define “normal” as within the bell curve of what most people do, that really doesn’t address what is motivating them to ask the question.

In my sex therapy practice, I focus on the concept of intimacy, which I define as complete connection and openness between people.  We hear the phrase “fear of intimacy” quite often and it resonates for many of us, but what does it truly mean?  I define it as that fear of not allowing another person to truly see us as we are, only to see as much of us as feels safe, because if they really knew us, they would reject us.  True intimacy is that trust that allows us to believe that we are loveable, good enough, important and worthy.  

People often use sex as a short cut to intimacy.  They believe that because they are wildly aroused by the other person and are sharing their bodies, they are being intimate, but it is easy to give oneself to another in passion yet withhold one’s true self.  When passion wanes, couples may be left with an emptiness that they translate into a loss of intimacy and so they seek sex therapy in order to recover that passion that makes them feel connected.

In fact, that short cut to intimacy is a dead end.  Instead, when true intimacy develops between couples, then sex can be one of many ways to express that intimacy, and how people have sex becomes secondary to the meaning.

Healthy sex is intimate sex.  It happens when people are fully open and present with each other.  It is an expression of true connection.