Written by Philippa Perry


The Meaning of… Sex

Psychotherapist Philippa Perry just can’t help mulling over the meanings of things. This week, she flirts intelligently with Sex.

Sex for some is part of a bonding process and sex for others is about conquering and/or orgasms only. It’s really good to have a think about which categories you and your potential partner fall into before entering proceedings.

I like sex but as soon as I’ve had it, it is as though Puck sprinkled magic dust on my eyelids and I go all gloopy and starry eyed. This makes me vulnerable, so I can only use sex for bonding purposes rather than the no-strings-attached purely sensual leisure activity.

It is generally thought that sex is essential to long-term partner relationships. Not always. Sex is an activity that can enhance attachment and deepen a bond but it isn’t the essential glue of togetherness.

The essential glue is the attachment itself. And the root of attachment is mutual impact. Hopefully, positive mutual impact, but oddly enough negative mutual impact seems to hold people together as well, although it doesn’t look like much fun to me.

Negative mutual impact seems to hold people together as well, although it doesn’t look like much fun to me.

We therapists call this, ‘contact through conflict’.

It may have something to do with ‘make-up sex’. Elizabeth Taylor said there was nothing more glorious for marital togetherness than a row.

Mutual impact is the process by which we continue to develop and form in relationship with one another.

Side effects are developing an exclusive language based on shared memory and private jokes and, less comfortably, challenges. Long-term partners can point out the other’s blind spots and keep each other sane.

Of course, the opposite is true too, and in dysfunctional relationships you can drive each other mad.

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Written by Philippa Perry

White middle-class-aged woman psychotherapist, author, journalist, occasional broadcaster. Likes watching telly, tweeting, eating and lying down. Great hair.