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Replacing Sexual Fear with Sexual Freedom

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” -Thucydides


Fear is the driver for many people’s sexual and erotic lives. One of Freud’s students, Otto Rank, was quoted as saying, “People vacillate between the fear of living and the fear of dying.” In some ways, our fears about our sexuality encompass both. We are equally terrified of what might happen if we gave into our erotic fantasy life and that we might never experience the pleasure we know that we hold in us. Worse still, these invisible and unnamed fears not only strangle our own capacity for intimacy but also are the source of the harshest judgments we hold about the sexuality of others; often, the people we love the most. Whether rooted in religious teachings or our first family structures, our sexual fears are instilled in us early and, as we mature, often translate into the invisible inhibitions which prevent us from developing a deeply pleasurable erotic life.  

As cultural norms and values about sexuality have expanded, so too has our freedom to explore a wide range of new sexual behaviors within many types of relationships. Treating this freedom with the respect of both understanding and being able to give voice to our sexual fears helps to keep new sexual experiences both safe and pleasurable. While the act of consent is a crucial beginning to any positive sexual encounter, it is only the beginning. Choosing who we want to be intimate with and how is a bold act that requires that we know what we want and can name what feels like pleasure.   

Conversely, when our drive towards freedom brings us into sexual situations that are frightening or worse, harmful, the sex we have only further binds us to our fears. It feeds the very inhibitions that we believe we are breaking out of. When sex is harmful, rather than moving us towards what we really want, which is the basis of true sexual freedom, it keeps us bound to what we fear.

True freedom, sexual or otherwise, emanates from our hearts, and reflects back to us as the courage to be ourselves. Another way to think about freedom is as a form of authenticity, with both the clarity of mind and strength of action to back it up. And when it comes to sex, moving consciously from a resonant place of truth allows us to gently expand our boundaries of what’s possible and makes us more courageous with each act.

Courageously stepping into and exploring the meaning of sexual freedom is how we expand past our inhibitions and redefine our boundaries on our own terms.  Encouraging and allowing our innate sexuality is driven by the curiosity to wake up, and has nothing to do with proving something or being forced. The more we tap into and act from this courage, the less we have to be afraid of. In the process, we discover not only an erotic capacity that we didn’t know we had, but a new relationship to pleasure.

Living a courageous sexual life doesn’t erase our fears. Rather, it creates a powerfully conscious relationship to our fears that heightens the reality of the sexual encounter. Moving willingly into unknown spaces, whether through expanding into erotic fantasies or just deepening our capacity for sexual communication, makes us truly available to feel and participate with our partners fully. Growing up and evolving sexually is about standing in our own strength and courage.  And it empowers us to have the freedom to make conscious choices about who, when, where and how we make love.