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Myth: spontaneous sex is a thing

By Maya Khamala

For many of us, the first depiction of sex we ever witnessed was onscreen. For me, it was the movies of the 1980s and 90s. Steamily spontaneous sex was a pillar, for goddess’ sake. It seemed you couldn’t have a movie without at least one such scene. And I don’t know about your parents, but mine never really policed what we watched, even at a young age. Those movies instilled passion, to say the least; they helped fuel my notion of romance, of what could reasonably be expected from a relationship—and they showed me what good sex was supposed to look like. Big surprise, it took real life to set me straight. Interestingly, though movies have changed a lot in the last couple of decades, the depiction of hot sex as inherently spontaneous has not.

Today, as a full fledged adult who also happens to be a big fan of mind-blowing sex, I nonetheless take issue with the enduring idea that non-spontaneous sex is somehow less-than. Because it’s ideas like this that put undue pressure on relationships, create unrealistic expectations, and ultimately reduce us to enjoying sex (and life) a little bit less.

Here we go. Spontaneous sex, after all, doesn’t really exist. While organic spontaneity is one thing, and may sorta occur naturally from time to time in longterm relationships (i.e., upon waking, in spite of morning breath), even the freshest of flings are characterized by more planning and anticipation than some would admit (elaborate grooming habits, anyone?). The fear so many of us in less-than-new relationships have when it comes to getting tired, falling into a routine, or worse, having to plan sex, comes from those Hollywood narratives just as much as those hot AF spontaneous sex scenes do: we’ve all watched the archetypal not-even-old couple whose sex appeal and joie de vivre have long since flown the coop. They eat frozen dinners and haven’t touched one another in years. Or they cheat on one another with people who deliver the “spontaneity” they so crave, am I right?

But here’s the thing: life doesn’t actually have to imitate TV.  So-called spontaneity versus stagnancy and betrayal are not the only options. After all, the attachment so many of us have to creating the illusion of spontaneity can suck the heart right out of sex. Not to mention, creating illusions takes a lot of planning and is hardly spontaneous, now is it? Get my drift?

In an effort to unpack some of the sub-myths propping up the overarching myth, “Hot sex is spontaneous sex,” I hereby gift you with the following untruths about quality sex:

It’s effortless.

The belief that sex happens spontaneously is a highly a seductive one. Not only does it remove the impetus to work at workin’ it; by extension it allows for both partners to assume a passive role. In some couples, this belief can actually act as a massive ‘cockblock,’ since it lessens the likelihood that either partner will actively initiate sex.

Communication isn’t necessary.

At least not the relatively more straightforward verbal kind. I too, used to sorta kinda believe that sex was “hotter without the need to talk.” After all, what could be hotter than “just knowing you’re both ready,” right? The problem is, sex in the proverbial dark means skipping over some crucial stuff, like expressing what turns you on and off, boundaries, consent—or any emotion that requires a bit of specificity to get across. If it helps, you might do well to meditate on the fact that dirty talk is totally a thing, and there are many ways to do it. 

It’s magic.

We choose to saddle sex with traits like “magic,” because the idea that sex and sexual compatibility arise from something as mysterious and ethereal as sexual “chemistry” goes hand-in-hand with the concept of “love at first sight”: you know right away whether you’ve got it or not, and if you do, it’s gonna stay that way (high myth alert). No, word on the street is that real magic can be attained by building something lasting—by choosing someone over and over again every moment, and by committing to exploring a range of possibilities (sexual and otherwise) with that person.

The truth: intention & attention are integral to hot sex

Can you handle the truth?

The anticipation of pleasure is what creates that famed feeling of “spontaneity.” As psychotherapist Esther Perel puts it, the secret to sustainable desire in a longterm relationship is to not expect spontaneous sex. In other words, any lasting sexual relationship requires effort, even work. To commit to someone is to explore sexual uncertainty, and uncertainty is a kind of magic which requires you to drop the old myth that sex should be spontaneous. Many in-love-and-lust couples spend their downtime cooking, cleaning, raising kids, and catching their breath. Intentionally making time and space for your sex life and giving it the attention it deserves are both necessary and very worthwhile endeavors.

Fact: your planned sex date doesn’t have be yet another to-do item to cross off your list. Look at this way: anticipation, or looking forward to something, is an integral element of building desire. In other words, scheduling sex can actually help to create desire through anticipation. 

Bottom line: allowing yourself to be vulnerable to the ebb and flow of desire, creativity, mood, and circumstance is part of what makes you such an exciting and excitable vessel of potential pleasure. And that’s pretty hot.

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