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The desire for sexual as well as psychological union is one of the defining characteristics of romantic love.

It is obvious that sex is important to human beings. People devote a tremendous amount of time to thinking about sex. Day-dreaming about sex. Seeing movies and reading books about sex and engaging in sex.

There is no society known to us which has not laid down rules for people’s sexual behaviour. 

It is important to us because of the intense pleasure that sex offers human beings.




Pleasure for human beings is not a luxury, it is a need. It is through the state of enjoyment, through the state of happiness, through the state of pleasure that we experience the sense that life has value. That life is worth living. Worth struggling to maintain. Joy is the emotional incentive nature offers us to live.

Pleasure contains still another important meaning. It gives us experience of our own competence to deal with reality, to be successful, to achieve. It entails a sense of personal competence a sense of being in control.

The intimacy and intensity of the pleasure and joy that sex affords are the reason for its power in our lives. Sex integrates body and mind. It integrates perceptions, emotions, values, and thought. It offers us a experience of our own being.

Such is the potential of sex. When and to the extent that the experience is not diluted and undercut by conflict, guilt, and alienation from one’s partners.




In sex, one’s own person becomes a direct immediate source, vehicle and embodiment of pleasure. Sex offers a direct, sensory confirmation of the fact that happiness is possible. In sex one experiences the fact that the purpose in life is one’s own happiness. Sex is most intense when it is an expression of love of self, of life, and of our partner.

Sex also affords us a form of self awareness. When two people project that they desire to achieve this experience by means of each other’s person, that is the highest and most intimate tribute a human being can offer and receive. It is the ultimate form of acknowledging the value of the person we desire and of having our own value acknowledged.

The factor of sex enlarges and deepens the area of desired contact between two lovers. The longed for visibility of knowing each other is all-embracing. We wish to explore and share feelings and emotions at greater length and to greater depth, and with greater regularity, than we almost ever do in any other kind of relationship.



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As sexual beings, there are certain questions that we confront, even if we rarely think about them.  These questions include:

  • To what extent am I aware of myself as a sexual entity?
  • What is my view of sex and its significance in human life?
  • Is my body a value, a source of pleasure?
  • How do I feel about sexual encounters?
  • What is the level of my ability to act and respond in this encounter?


It is answers to such questions that underlie our sexual psychology.




A healthy sexuality is the consequence or expression of an affirmative response to our sexual nature.

This entails a strong, enthusiastic awareness of our own sexuality. Positive, fearless and guiltless responses to the phenomenon of sex. Willingness to experience sex as an expression of self, rather than as something alien, incompressible, sinful, or “dirty”.

It also entails a positive and self-valuing response to one’s own body and an enthusiastic appreciation of the body of the partner.

And it entails a capacity for freedom, spontaneity, and delight in the sexual encounter.


This essay draws on the work of Nathaniel Branden and his book The Psychology Of Romantic Love: Romantic Love in an Anti-Romantic Age. To learn more click here.


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