Why people have sex

It is important to remember that different people have sex for different reasons, and that reasons may vary at different times during a person’s week, year or lifetime.

For example, there are many reasons that a person might rub their own genitals. It may be: a quick physical release, a relief of pain or stress, a way of being kind to their body, a highly pleasurable sensation, because they are bored or lonely, because it is taboo, to stop themselves wanting to urinate, as a threatening gesture towards someone else, or as a form of submission or humiliation. All the sexual practices mentioned previously will have just as many potential reasons behind them, and these will vary over time.

Similarly, an orgasm can be experienced as: a mechanical release, a demonstration of one’s gender expression, a loss of control, allowing someone to see you at your most vulnerable, a display of love and intimacy, the height of physical pleasure, a transcendent spiritual experience, a performance demonstrating prowess, a giving of power to another, the potential start of new life, an exerting of power over another, a form of creative self-expression, a humorous display of our ratherridiculous humanity, an unleashing of something wild and animalistic, a deeply embodied experience, an escape from bodily sensations and pain, and/or a moment of complete aliveness or freedom.

This helps to explain why people feel very differently about sex. It can be anything from terrifying, to mundane, to ecstatic, to soothing, depending on who you are, what practice it is, and the context it takes place in. Many sexual problems happen because the people involved have different understandings and experiences of sex[27]. For example, one person might be looking to sex for reassurance that they are loved from the other person, whilst the other may feel this as a stressful pressure to perform well. Communicating about these differences can be extremely helpful.

Bodies and sexuality

27. Barker, M. (2011). Existential Sex Therapy. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 26(1), 33-47.

Bodies and sexuality