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Emotional Safety and Sexuality: How Do They Relate?

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I suppose the conundrum is a love versus sex riddle that ever shall intertwine until the day is night and night becomes the day (to allude to a wonderful Stevie Wonder lyric). Yet, especially for women, the pain of loving and the shocking cold-water-in-the-face realization that it can be so easy for people to have hot sex without emotional involvement continues to be a source of confusion and struggle.

While it is true that our culture promotes unwavering mixed messages with regard to "family values" and pop culture, we don't always have to buy into or reflect what we read, see or hear about. Especially true when it comes to our bodies, our partners and our life decisions, the intimate qualities we pursue must be based on something more, something deeper, something, we hope, with value and meaning.

In teaching young women to value themselves, we must teach them to veer away from a more casual and superficial approach to sex and toward a more emotionally safe context within which to explore their sexuality. The concept of "safe sex" is almost always translated to mean clean sex, i.e. no venereal or blood borne pathogens involved and no unwanted pregnancy.

However, we almost never explain, advocate for or educate about emotional safety; safe sex meaning sex with a partner who will talk to you before, during and after, with someone you genuinely like and trust, with someone who is looking out for your best interests in a caring way, with someone who really likes you and wants to know you.

It seems almost radical for a young woman to expect or look for this; as though she's looking for marriage or a long-term relationship. While that may nice, it doesn't have to be so either or, so black and white. We don't have to be women or to teach our young women to "either have electrifying hot sex OR look for a real relationship" because there are and should be, so many areas of grey.

For many women, the experience of casual sex can leave them feeling depressed, used, disconnected. This is such a shame when the best aspects of sex make us feel just the opposite. In feeling emotionally unsafe with a partner, we shut down sexually as well, we feel insecure, we feel inadequate, we feel nervous, afraid, and even angry. Sexual fantasies, new positions and being vulnerable can all fly right out of the window without this piece of the puzzle.

Determining what qualities make us feel emotionally safe without being unreasonably demanding can help us search for and find the partners we want to be vulnerable with, making for a hotter, sexier, more fulfilling sex life.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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