Yesterday I attended the Love, Sex and Intimacy Fair in Brighton. The first event of its kind in the area, it was a delightful smorgasbord of all things sexuality related. From workshops and talks, to stalls with everything from flavoured lube to kinky clothing to herbal tonics, there was something for everyone to enjoy. My personal highlights were the silent speed dating (body language only – lots of flirty fun!) and the evening burlesque show.
The intention of the organisers was to create a space for people to explore “the world of intimate relationships and allow a safe, non-judgemental space to look at what love, sex and intimacy mean to you”.
So that got me thinking… what do love, sex and intimacy mean to me?
The easiest and obvious place to start is with sex! But my definition of sex may surprise you. I don’t simply equate sex with the act of penetration. Rather I like to view sex as the whole spectrum of sexual experience – physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual.
Consider this… what is the sexiest part of the body? For sure it’s the mind! What turns one person on (or off!) is completely individual and unique. What we find sexy, what arouses us, and how we express that with another human being happens a lot in our heads and our hearts. Not just in our genitals.
Having an expanded view of sex allows us to move away from feeling like it has to be done a particular (the right?) way and opens us up to a world of possibilities. We move from performance to playfulness – and that’s a lot more fun!
So what about intimacy? In the most basic sense, intimacy can be thought of closeness between human beings. Often intimacy is equated with physical contact, touch and caress. Being “intimate with” someone is even a euphemism for sex.
I would like to offer another perspective on intimacy. You can share a sexual encounter with someone yet never really have connected with them on a deeper level. Intimacy comes not from rubbing our bodies together but from the courage to open our hearts. True intimacy implies a kind of vulnerability. I show myself to you, and you show yourself to me. When we each do this, it creates a powerful and beautiful connection between us.
As Thomas Moore says, “The intimacy in sex is never only physical. In a sexual relationship we may discover who we are in ways otherwise unavailable to us, and at the same time we allow our partner to see and know that individual. As we unveil our bodies, we also disclose our persons.”
Lastly, Love. How can one possibly define this word for which people have lived and died, and so many songs, poems and plays have been written? Let me try…
Love, for me, is an energy that flows when my heart is open. Love is not attraction, lust or romantic feelings, but a state of being where I am intimately connected to everything. When my heart is open, love pours through me like sunshine.
I feel deeply inspired by David Deida when he says, “Love is continuity with infinite life-force, a oneness of being with no separation. Opening sexually is opening to this flow of life-force. And love is the key to this opening.”
As I read back through my words, I can see a common thread running through them. Although love, sex and intimacy each mean something different to me, all involve bringing in one’s head and heart. What does this mean for me as a sex worker? When our heart and head are involved in sex, as well as our body, we can share love and intimacy too.