Blog 21: Sex and Love

Written by Jim Sheehy

Hi.  My name is Jim Sheehy.  This is and this blog is about

‘Sex and Love’.

Catchy title! Sex immediately has the effect of a zone that attracts or repels. It is 'in your face' on media platforms and simultaneously a deeply private domestic chamber of passion or distrust.  Each generation has a totally different take on sex. My generation was prudish and awkward; the current generation focuses on extending sex to its limits re orientation and function. 

Sex on-screen through film and online and sex in-reality are very different! So how much today has sex to do with love?  Sex as a physical experience in terms of experiencing raw pleasure for a brief period has leaped to the top of the ratings. After that it gets confusing.  Nowadays, sex is part of courtship, not the crowning or final act: you meet with a stranger, chemistry happens, we finish the night in bed. No harm there as long as consent is mutual.

When we feel we meet the right partner and long-term companionship beckons, love comes on stage and a conversation with sex takes place.  It goes like this:

LOVE: how are you going to reflect this new reality of partnership?

SEX responds: I suppose it's the same but different - has to be pleasurable but, let's face it, committing to one person means COMPLICATED! 

LOVE: Why complicated?

SEX: So much happening all at once - us 2 busy with living, kids, finance, in-laws ... So many reasons I get left last, an afterthought late at night. 

LOVE: So you just give up like a 5 year old fed up with the effort of figuring out a puzzle! 

SEX: That's harsh.  Okay, Grandad, what's your suggestion? 

LOVE:  First of all, you have to, like the brilliant artist you are, learn how to work with a different medium each time you create.  So, oils when both of you are up for amazing sex; acrylics when tenderness and affection means more sensual touching, stroking, cuddling; water colours after an exhausting day and you both desperately want to say in a kiss and hold embrace that "we are so bloody proud of who we are as partners and our impact on the  world'.

SEX: Steep learning curve. One-night-stands suddenly seem so attractive! 

So, this imaginary conversation gets played out as partners try to match the reality of their lives with physical expression. 


Much of the sexual is around touch.   Touch is a primary sense that has lost its way in today’s world.  In Western society, we are either ultra-sensitive as to a touch being ‘appropriate or not’ in the social context of school, church and workplace while being okay with full sexual expression on the first encounter with a stranger in a bar and club.    Why are we clumsy and awkward around touch? When we are touched, we awaken to that part of the body that is being touched.  Touch is meant to allow the body become freer - breathing freer, being in flow with another person.  Touch makes it possible to live in a body that can move in response to another’s reaching out.  Touch lets us know that we are safe.  Think of times when words are redundant.  For example, at a wake when the tragic death of a young person has happened.  You approach the Mum or Dad and haven’t a clue what to say or do.  If you yourself have experienced severe loss you will be more natural and in the gentle holding of hands or clasping of bodies in a knowing hug, the bereaved just lets you in to their ripped hearts and shocked world.  The only avenue of expression beyond words is touch.

Skin on skin.  If a newborn is traumatised, the baby’s entire naked body is placed completely on the mother’s exposed skin in order to regulate its system- the nearest to being safe and comfortable back in the womb.  An old person with Alzheimers who can no longer communicates rationally will still grasp and hold the hand of their favourite care assistant because the sensitive and knowing touch doesn’t need a working brain to sense when s/he is being loved and cared for, that s/he still belongs and makes a difference in their final days. 

When as adults are we exposed, vulnerable and fragile, hoping for a sense of being loved. When do we leave aside the public mask of responsibility and roles and allow ourselves to be seen as just who we are.  Yes, sexual expression!  What a risk to take1 You put yourself out there and allow the person full rein to either positively help you feel amazingly special or be disappointed if the other negatively uses and dispenses with your body, leaving a sense of failure and rejection, feeling labelled as ordinary and replaceable.  That’s a lot of vulnerability. 

We enter as 2 people into silence and darkness.  The mystery and challenge of ‘touch beyond words’, the illuminating of a common language of love through mutual curiousity and discovery.  Unique to us.

I am not speaking of sex as a ‘pleasure fix as part of a night out’.  I am referring to authentic sexual expression when two adults take the time, interest and energy to explore how sex for them is part of a relationship of journeying as anamchairde, soul-mates, in a tough world.  Is this rare? Probably, but the gift is there to be opened.  Personally, I believe that sexual expression has to be discussed freely and positive in an educational context.  Similar to parenting skills, this whole world of ‘love and sex’ is woefully left to chance, the hope being that people will pick it up naturally as they go along.  We deserve and can do better than this.  Young adults are left with a minimalist approach: mutual consent. This is like being told that you’re only going to get the ‘Christmas stocking’ while the real gift is lying there at the base of the tree, never to be opened, explored, enjoyed, shared and celebrated. 


Presentations on the 4 zones are also available on video and podcast through the website – see

If you enjoy the material, please get the word out there among those you care for.  You can contact me with comment or suggestion via Facebook at Jim Sheehy Therapy and on Twitter @jimsheehy2017

Take care,

Clarifying Disclaimer:  While the material I am presenting is well-researched and suitable for the general population, I believe each person’s issues and needs are unique.  I encourage you to seek medical and/or therapeutic support if you struggle with an issue or condition that negatively and seriously impacts your life.



Contact me:

Jim Sheehy M.Ed. MIACP
Co Donegal 
F94 WV99

087 2137922


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