Primal Fears

Don't have pictures of your past fove(s) on display, particularly in the room where you make love. That's a sure way to put a damper on your new affair.

Some sexual anxieties go deeper than the influences of culture and gender stereotypes. The physical act of sexual intercourse gives rise to primal fears that may not even register consciously, but are there to a greater or lesser degree. I'm not going to go into a discourse about the psychosexual implications of coitus; I'll leave that to the scholars. Let's just acknowledge that each sex can experience different fears related to the sex act itself.

• A man, by the act of entering a woman, is entrusting the most vulnerable part of his body to her. In a very real sense, this is a type of surrender for him. And he might, at some level, experience an irrational fear of being "consumed" or "smothered." This fear may be one reason why men sometimes experience mixed feelings toward their lovers, particularly after sex (for other reasons, see Chapter 19). A woman needs to be aware of this fear, and she needs to be careful about seeming possessive or smothering.

• A woman, during the physical act of intercourse, must literally open herself and allow a man to enter her. Even in the context of the most tender and loving relationship, this is still an "invasion" in a physical sense. In order for it to be a delightful experience, a woman must let go and be comfortable with making herself truly vulnerable to her partner. It's only natural that this might create feelings of anxiety, however subtle they might be. A man must realize this fear exists in her at some level, and he must gently encourage her to open up, but at her own pace.

Don't have pictures of your past fove(s) on display, particularly in the room where you make love. That's a sure way to put a damper on your new affair.

Heart Brakes

Heart Brakes

Alk the Love Coach

In a magazine interview a few years ago, the actress Rebecca de Mom ay beautifully expressed the primai physical bases of men's and women's sexual fears. She said that the dynamic of men and women can often he illuminated directly in the act of intercourse. Since the man hecomes hard and pushes inward, and the woman becomes soft and closes around him, the man fears suffocation, while the woman fears, aggression and, ultimately, abandonment

De Mornay was expressing an idea that has engrossed piychologists for decades (and many other thinlten for centuries). Many people today would scoff at the notion that sex can create fear on such a primitive level, but it's a point worth considering. No matter how sophisticated we become, our primitive impulses are still there below the surface, and they are jlmoit certainly rtiponjible forsorne of our ambivalent feeling> about sex. ^ : r

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