Why Good Sex Requires Empathy

Empathy is the key ingredient you never hear about

Updated 08/06/18


Empathy is often incorrectly considered being emotional. Anything emotional is then categorized as overly emotional. We’re a society that seems to despise the ability to feel—for men and women. You’re damaged. You’re clingy. You’re obsessive. If you’re an empathetic person, you have too many feelings. If you have no feelings, you’re “cool.”

It’s pretty ridiculous. We’re human beings with unique connections to each other. We long for that connection. And the ability to feel empathy is critical in making sex good. Even in casual encounters, empathy is key to making the experience enjoyable. No more demonizing empathy.

When we look at what empathy actually means, it makes it easier to codify its role in good sex. The definition of empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and emotions of another person.

In a long-term relationship, empathy becomes a cornerstone to good sex. Having empathy that goes both ways between you and your spouse helps you strengthen your connection. It keeps you tuned in to each other. An empathetic partner cares about your wants, needs, and desires.

Without empathy, sex can’t live up to its true potential.

Sex is highly intimate

Sex is extremely intimate. Even during quickies or intentionally rough sex, there are still a ton of emotions running around. Lean into the intimacy and process it.

When you are naked with your partner, engaging in sexual play, it’s about as open as you can be. You are vulnerable. The desire to touch, taste, and feel your partner is a human need. You crave their closeness.

Not all sex is on the same level of intimacy, but it is all intimate nonetheless. When you’re with your partner, you want to feel safe and secure, no matter the kind of sex you’re having. Even if they have you tethered to the bed for a round of spanking, you want to know you are in good hands.

This kind of connection requires empathy. You must both be able to tune into each other’s needs and read body language. This is where true passion brews. We must be able to soak up another person’s emotions to know what they want.

Good sex requires understanding and care

Good sex isn’t just about orgasms, it’s about being with a person who cares about how you’re feeling. This is important for every person. If you experience pain during sex and your partner brushes it off, that is messed up. They are not showing empathy. You need them to care about your body, health, and feelings. Your partner should ask you what you want and need. You should do the same. Sex is dance and it requires both of you paying attention to the next move.

Having really amazing sex means taking in and processing your partner’s range of emotions. We live in a self-centered world. We all focus on ourselves. If you’re having sex and only care about yourself, it will not be good. It will be empty. (Yes, this even applies to one-night stands!)

Everyone wants to feel seen. We all want that care and the knowledge that we are needed and wanted.

The best sex happens when all pleasure is important

Let’s get to the bottom line: Sex is best when your pleasure is top priority. For sex to be everything it can be, pleasure must be egalitarian. Every person has a right to pleasure and has a right to have their pleasure taken seriously by their partner.

It doesn’t matter how anonymous a sexual encounter is—if you feel like the person you’re having sex with could not give a s**t about how you feel and whether you’re having a good time is a turn off.

With your long-term partner, you should absolutely expect that your pleasure is important. If you feel like your partner cares about your pleasure, it will turn you on more. Good sex can't happen without it.

Sex thrives when both people are loving the experience and having fun. It's a self-reinforcing cycle. You need to be able to imagine what the other person is feeling to figure out if they’re enjoying themselves. Caring about whether or not someone has an orgasm or enjoys a sexual encounter takes empathy. The desire to please and be pleased takes empty.

It’s about the genuine desire to make another person happy through sexual pleasure. Humans thrive on this and we need it to feel connected to our partner. Empathy is not optional. It is what makes being human so human. And it’s what makes sex remarkable, intimate, and hot.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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