What is sex for you?

Alex Barrera
4 min readMar 10, 2017


Image credit: David Cohen / Unsplash

I’ve been pondering this question for a while. As I guy, I get to hear a lot of stories of people having sex. In most instances, it’s seen as a success metric for many of my peers. The thing is, I’ve always felt alienated by this.

I’ve come to believe I have a very different conception of what sex means for me. It always feels weird when I hear people talking about one-night stands. I’ve never felt comfortable with that notion. Not because I can’t do it. As a friend recently told me: “I’m a man, I can do it if I want to.” But the problem is, I don’t have any inclination to do it.

I’ve realized that the reason why I don’t feel too inclined to isolate sex, is because sex is a form of expression for me. As I’ve written many times, I’m a very emotional person. This comes with pros and cons. One of the pros is a heightened sense of empathy; the con is that untangling those emotions is very hard for me. Not getting dragged by the emotional wave, is a struggle.

For them, sex is just an activity. Something that brings temporal pleasure, and ego boost or even momentary solace.

Which means I have a very hard time separating the act of having sex with having feelings for a person. This goes both ways, if I have a connection, then sex is an option. If I don’t have a connection, even if I feel the physical attraction, sex isn’t something I desire.

Even so, I see people disassociating both on a daily basis. For them, sex is just an activity. Something that brings temporal pleasure, and ego boost or even momentary solace. It’s kind of a game they play to either feel better or because it projects a certain aura of success and achievement. It’s the pinnacle of conquest.

We could probably break sex into two elements, the actual climax, which is a purely physical response and the emotions it elicits. The physical aspect brings immediate gratification, relaxation, and pleasure. It’s intense, but short lived. The emotional aspect is different; it heightens all the other physical responses. It empowers an existing attraction, triggers the foreplay. And, in conjunction with the orgasm, provides an overwhelming sensation of joy and happiness.

In most cases, such break between our emotions and the physical part is a response to trauma.

Some say it’s ok to separate body and mind, but in my experience, such detachment is very problematic. In most cases, such break between our emotions and the physical part is a response to trauma. It might seem ok to do it in the short-term, but I think that eventually, it erodes your soul. It numbs your capacity for emotional response. It devalues the very foundation of human beings, trust and the feeling of safety.

“The natural state of mammals is to be somewhat on guard. However, in order to feel emotionally close to another human being, our defensive system must temporarily shut down. In order to play, mate, and nurture our young, the brain needs to turn off its natural vigilance.

Many traumatized individuals are too hypervigilant to enjoy the ordinary pleasures that life has to offer, while others are too numb to absorb new experiences — or to be alert to signs of real danger.” — Van der Kolk

For me, sex is not an activity; it’s an emotion. It’s actually, the highest standard I have towards someone. It represents the most intimate praise I can hand someone I deeply care about. When you have sex, you become vulnerable. You expose your body and your soul. It’s a way of saying, “Here, I trust you so much, I hand you my body, giving you control over it.”

And that’s precisely the key for me, when you merge with someone is about surrendering yourself. If there is no trust, if there is no connection, I can’t surrender. I can’t just detach what I feel from the sexual act. Well, that’s not entirely true, I can, but then I find no pleasure. It’s just muscle memory and numbness.

“Many people feel safe as long as they can limit their social contact to superficial conversations, but actual physical contact can trigger intense reactions. However … achieving any sort of deep intimacy — a close embrace, sleeping with a mate, and sex — requires allowing oneself to experience immobilization without fear. It is especially challenging for traumatized people to discern when they are actually safe and to be able to activate their defenses when they are in danger. This requires having experiences that can restore the sense of physical safety.” — Van der Kolk

Honestly, I always feel like I’m the strange one in the room. I have this sensation of being very naive about sex. For some people, sex is a transaction. I have fun, you have fun, we both get something, and we move on. I just can’t get myself to do that. It would mean shutting down my feelings and surrendering my soul to a merchant. I don’t want that; I don’t find pleasure in that. My mind and body are one, and as much as I admire people that can break them apart, all my experiences, my training, and my gut tells me that such split will break you.

What do you think? How do you feel about this? Do you feel you’re a fool for feeling like this? Or you’re ok with such detachment?



Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at Press42.com, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.