The phrase “Sex isn’t everything,” is very comparable to the infamous “stress doesn’t solve your problems”—sure it’s true, but we usually only say it to console ourselves when things are going south, not because we actually want to believe it. Haven’t had an orgasm the last few times you’ve had sex? Well, sex isn’t everything. Don’t feel physically attracted to your potential suitor, but can’t deny that you two are emotionally, spiritually, and politically compatible? Well, sex isn’t everything…right?
The ugly truth is that to many sex is everything, and if it’s not everything it means A LOT. In fact, when we’re sexually attracted to someone, even the most mundane characteristics about them become newsworthy. Surprise, the guys or gals you’ve dated in the past weren’t necessarily the smartest, or the most interesting, or even the most respectful people swimming the dating pool. It’s unfortunately likely that they were just the men and women you found most attractive, who suddenly became worthy of attention on the simple merit that you’d like to sleep with them. In fact, it’s actually amazing how much a pretty face can hide, (to name a few: bad habits, addictions, self-destructive behaviors, and the list goes on and on).
The real question, then, becomes can we correct this behavior? And sadly the answer is: probably not, simply because humans are highly visual creatures. Even if it’s not sexual attraction, a huge factor in romantic connection is, you guessed it: physical appearance. But I am certainly not saying that love and sex are reserved for the unattainable beauty of Tumblr models. To employ yet another cliché,: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (too harsh?). Despite popular belief, there is no objective standard of beauty. Whether it varies by culture, or geographic location, or even personal taste, everyone finds unique traits more attractive than others. In my own personal dating career, I’ve have always had a strong preference for thinner men, and have never been attracted to the bulky and strong man’s man. So of course it’s easier to form emotional connections with people who fit your sexual “type.”
Now, this article isn’t to erase asexual communities who already struggle getting the attention they deserve, nor is it to prioritize sex over connection, mutual respect, and common values. Most of the time, sex is what distinguishes us from our friends and our lovers. So why wouldn’t we emphasize its importance? For me, sex is so much more than just sex. It’s a form of self-expression. It’s a physical and emotional bonding moment, for anyone who identifies outside the asexual community. Arguably, it’s just as important as good conversation, or common religious/political ground. Because when we’re married or in a monogamous relationship, we won’t be having sex with our best friends, or our colleagues, or our fellow scholars. Our sexual energy will be reserved for one solitary person in this world—if you do decide to pursue a monogamous rather than polyamorous marriage. Now, I am absolutely not suggesting that you run off and marry the first person you have sexual chemistry with. What I am saying, however, is that de-emphasizing sex for whatever political reason it may be isn’t doing us any favors. You aren’t more morally upright, or in a healthier, more stable relationship, because sex is a third or fourth priority for you.
Dare I even be so bold as to claim that the phrase “sex isn’t everything” is just another example of internalized misogyny. For centuries, women have been discouraged from claiming and exploring their own sexualities, so much so that women are often coded as unsexual (or hyper-sexual depending the day). With all thanks to the Patriarchy, girls are often forced to choose between the virginal angel and the dominatrix—which little room for happy mediums. But women should be allowed to love sex, and more importantly, they should be allowed to love sex in the way that empowers them, rather than objectifying them. Prioritizing sex or loving sex is not defined by prioritizing male pleasure. Loving sex does not mean extreme kinks, or wearing your sexuality on your sleeve. Loving sex means feeling comfortable in your relationships, feeling comfortable in your sexuality, and feeling comfortable with how sex is incorporated into your relationship. Because when done right, sex can be equally as emotionally-fulfilling as it is physically-satisfying. And when we value of own sexual comfort and give sex the healthy attention it deserves, good, fulfilling, emotionally and physically safe sex DOES and CAN mean everything to us and our relationships.