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Sexual Expression: Discerning Needs & Strategies

In Compassionate Communication (NVC) discerning the difference between a universal need and a strategy to meet that need can mean the difference between staying stuck or getting unstuck in a conflict.

Let's look at a simple example.  If you believe your need for peace is the same as time alone, you can only meet your need for peace if you get alone time.  Getting regular alone time is a popular strategy for meeting the need for peace, but not the only one.  Having multiple ways to meet a need for peace gives you a sense of agency and freedom.  When you're aware that your need for peace is up rather than having the idea that "You have to be alone,"  a world of options become available to you. For example; you can focus on your breath in the middle of a crowd. You can internally recite a mantra while standing in line. You can think of five things you are grateful for at a stoplight, etc.  All these things are behaviors meant to meet a need.

Peace, like all universal needs is a life giving energy.  Sexual expression is also a life giving energy and universal need.  If you believe your need for sexual expression is the same as having sex, you can only meet your need for sexual expression if you have sex.  Having multiple ways to meet a need for  sexual expression gives you a sense of agency and freedom.  When you're aware that your need for sexual expression is up rather than having the idea that "You have to have sex,"  a world of options become available to you. For example; you can dance, flirt, engage in sensual touch, dress in a particular way, express through art, etc.  All these things are behaviors meant to meet a need.

Having sex is the most obvious and, perhaps, preferred way to meet the need for sexual expression.  When you decide sex is a "have to," with a particular person, resentment, anger, desperation, and coercion can come into play.  Of course, "have to" thinking around any need, can lead to these kinds of feelings and behavior.

Relating to having sex as a strategy to meet needs you can also work backwards naming the needs.  Sex might meet needs for: sexual expression, touch, intimacy, discovery, reassurance, affection, bonding, connection, love, communion, acceptance, and creativity.  Given this list of needs, it's clear why sex is such a sought after activity.

Naming these needs also opens the door to other strategies besides sex. This becomes critical in a partnership where one partner is more interested in having sex than the other. A sense of flexibility and creativity in meeting any need, including sexual expression, supports mindful compassionate dialogue.


Practice
You can take a step towards relating to sexual energy as a basic need by just noticing it in your body. Try to feel the sensations of sexual energy in your body before you get lost in thoughts about having sex.  Alternately if you find yourself lost in thoughts about having sex you can drop your awareness into your body and look for the sensations, e.g. how the universal lives in your body. See if you can stay focused on the sensations for a few minutes, watch what happens to sexual energy as you do.

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Talking about Sex
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Control: A Universal Strategy


1 Response

  1. Jul 27, 2017
    Pam in Minnesota

    Fantastic - right on! Thank you so much for this.
    -Pam

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