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  • Writer's pictureJessica Childs

Healing with Sex : Core Desires


Last night I participated in a panel discussion on Core Desires. It was deep and hot and really informed. I got even more clarity on my own Core Desire by ponying up to an ad hoc coaching session by the other panelists! Fresh on reaching another level of depth in my own journey, today is a good day to write about Core Desires!


If I were to ask you :

What do you want to feel during sex?

Your response might be something like :

I get so turned on when they touch me like this or when they look at me in this certain way or maybe when we do it in this sort of space.


That is all beautiful! And anything that turns you on is worthy of pause and celebration! So yay! But let's dive deeper...into the core.


How you like to be touched, how you want your partner to treat you during sex, where you like to do it, what you like to wear or any other what, when, how, where or who are all STRATEGIES that you employ to create the FEELING you want to have during sex. That feeling that your nervous system seeks and craves during sex is your CORE DESIRE.


To get going on discovering your core desire, think back to the hottest, most escalated, most erotically memorable sex you remember having. If nothing comes to mind, what is your hottest sexual fantasy? Tap in to the details of that memory or fantasy for a moment. Really bring them up. Imagine the sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, movements.... then bring awareness to what you FEEL while you are there. The one feeling that you go to over and over again during sex, the one that makes your body escalate and get higher and higher is your core desire.


Some examples of core desires, or feelings one might want to have during sex, are :

Loved, in control, submissive, spiritual, appreciated, naughty, celebrated, violated, dominant, received, pushed, creative, worshipped, probed, exposed, ravished, collaborative, generous, powerful, free, out of control, afraid, impressive, used, seen, united, dissolved....This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are literally thousands of feelings that could be your core desire.


Some of the feelings listed above are socially normative, meaning that society at large would consider them "acceptable" feelings to seek in our interactions. But some of them may seem a bit taboo, not-caring or even disempowering at first glance. Considering these feelings may generate discomfort or confusion because they are in direct conflict with what we were taught is socially acceptable. But let me assure you, these challenging feelings are also quite normal and healthy core desires. Let me explain...


Core desires are intwined with our core wounds. In essence, our core desire is our nervous system's way of resolving conflict from our youth and there are various ways this can show up. For example, some one who felt largely unseen as a child may find that they crave feeling "seen" during sex. An example of a strategy to create this feeling might be lots of eye-contact, unique words of affirmation that let this person know that their unique self is being taken in, or maybe it is receiving touches that your partner knows you want because they have taken the time to ask you or to notice how you respond. Technically, this is an example of a "reparative" experience.


Another direction that this same person may go to heal this core wound of feeling unseen is called "repetition with agency". In this example, the person may desire to repeat feeling unseen during sex. Strategies to get to this feeling might include no eye-contact at all, having their partner look at images of other people while having sex or treat them like any ol' person off the street. It may seem paradoxical at first blush, but being able to repeat the wounding feelings in a way that is safe, consensual and that you are in control of allows us to fully take ownership of those feelings and to integrate and metabolize them for ourselves. It's such a win! And can be hot hot hot for partners too, when deliberately and consensually explored because it allows intimacy, connection, vulnerability and deep care in a safe relationship. Who doesn't want that???


People can be drawn to reparative fantasies, repetition with agency, or both! And it can take on all sorts of flavors and varieties making it a process of unfolding to discover what your core desire is. Once you know your core desire, you can pursue the full potential of pleasure and healing that it affords. Knowing your core desire is a real gift, no matter what the feeling is, so long as the strategies to accomplish them are consensual and they produce pleasure in one of its many forms.


Sex is a remarkable place to go for healing. Healing feels good! It feels like pleasure and ease and joy and connection. In my experience, the non-normative forms of core desires are just as prevalent as the normative ones, if not more prevalent. So if you find yourself identifying with some of the more challenging feelings as your core desire, GREAT! Your nervous system is working perfectly to resolve some of the conflict you've experienced. And if your core desire is something that feels easy to you, GREAT! Your nervous system is also working perfectly to resolve some of the conflict you've experienced.


If you aren't sure what your core desire is, stay curious. Contemplate it when it comes up. And let it percolate for a while. Like I said, I have been at this for quite some time and I got more insight just last night into my own core desire. (And just so you know, that insight DID IN FACT lead to a pretty mind-blowing sexual experience this morning:) Sex is some seriously potent medicine.



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