Written by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.
Simultaneous orgasm has plenty of cultural capital; it doesn't need my assistance. But this NYT article about "dating" culture among 20-somethings makes me want to put in a word for the culturally crowned Ultimate Sexual Experience.
This is the paragraph that did it:
Traditional courtship -- picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date -- required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of "asynchronous communication," as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it's more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.
It's the conflation of synchronous communication and intimacy, vulnerability, emotional courage that does it.
If relationships begin with asynchrony, will that change how a partnership moves toward synchrony? (Did couples who courted through letters move differently toward synchrony than couples who courted face to face?)
Texting or FB messaging is the opposite of simultaneous orgasm - minimal information, minimal connection, minimal synchrony.
Simultaneous orgasm nearly always requires that you both be fully present, attuned, and connected with your partner RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, eyes open, hearts open, lights on, clothes off, breathing and connected, locked into each other, together, now, US.
So if the Millennials' dating world minimizes and delays vulnerability, openness, and emotional risk-taking, then what prepares them for the intimacy of attuned, passionate, connected sex?
I dread that they will set up camp in relationships where the sex is half-engaged, half distant, more akin to side-by-side masturbation, using someone else's genitals as your sex toy, and not even realize what else there is.
I don't mean to say that there can't be AWESOME sex in random hookups or any other kind of sex outside an emotionally attuned partnership - by no means! There's great sex available, fun, beautiful, transformative sex. Someone I know recently decided to have their first pseudo-random hook-up as part of a long-term effort to recover from an agonizing break-up, and it was LIFE CHANGING for them.
But there is some unique and intense sex to be had in the context of a long term, emotionally attuned relationship. There is an important place we can all go, but getting there requires traveling through someone else's mind and body, while we allow them to travel through ours. There is sex that I would dare to call uniquely human, and we can only have it when all the layers of us and all the ways of knowing we have are aligned, attuned, and paying attention right now to how we feel, how our partners feel, who we are together.
It's important because of what it teaches us about ourselves. It's important because of what it builds in our partnership. It's important because, when the going gets tough (as it inevitably will), the tough can look back on a moment of profound unity, vulnerability, tenderness, and think, "We have bound ourselves together in joy."
Not the way peanut butter holds two slices of bread together, but the way four arms hold two bodies together, when all those arms are joyfully moving toward the place the other person occupies.
You don't need to STAY in synchrony, you just need moments of it. Enough moments to build muscle memory of it, a map to it, so you can get there even from the most (emotionally) distant place.
It's not necessary, by any means. Not necessary. But I say it makes a worthy goal. Even if you never achieve it, the process of aiming for it will break down the asynchrony and build the sense of us-together-yes.