Articles filled with buzzy tips on how to have good sex abound. Some detail what not to do (excessive smoking and drinking can both cause issues in the bedroom); others claim bliss is all about meditation and communication. However, according to recent research, part of achieving sexual satisfaction isn’t so much what you do, but how you think—and whether you have an open mind.
Esquire.com conducted a reader study on what makes them happy, sex-wise. The findings were heartening: People who are happier with their sex life are more likely to see gender and sexuality as a spectrum. In fact, about half of respondents (47%) are happy with their sex life, and of those readers, 42% believe gender is fluid.
part of achieving sexual satisfaction isn’t so much what you do, but how you think
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Younger generations in particular are rejecting the black-and-white thinking of the past in favor of more open-minded views: In 2016, Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll found 50% of millennials believe that gender is a spectrum. These respondents considered themselves to be sometimes male and sometimes female, both male and female, or neither male or female. “They/them” is often a preferred pronoun, and there’s a flux of words to describe their identity, such as genderfluid, nonbinary, and genderqueer.
Is a black-and-white, binary view to blame for a lackluster love life? While multiple factors influence how good your last romp was, evidence is mounting that an open mind leads to more pleasure. It makes sense. After all, more acceptance in the bedroom can foster trust, which can allow both parties to express themselves in the heat of the moment without judgment. Rigid gender norms can also serve as walls that hinder communication, which Johns Hopkins’ Adena Galinsky hypothesizes is essential for sexual pleasure.
It’s becoming increasingly evident that an open mind leads to more pleasure
“…Empathetic individuals are more responsive to a partner’s needs, and thus initiate a positive feedback cycle,” Galinsky told LiveScience in 2011. “These developmental assets may be more important to young women’s sexual pleasure, since they help them break down impediments to sexual communication and exploration.” That said, the acceptance of gender fluidity is a gendered concept in itself. Esquire.com found that 47% of women believe that gender can be fluid, compared to slightly lower 33% of men.
Orientation openness also is linked to sexual satisfaction, according to Esquire’s research. Almost half (48%) of respondents who reported being happy with their sex life see sexuality as a spectrum. Though it’s difficult to determine solid statistics of the LGBT population due to complicated factors like being out, demographer Gary J. Gates reported earlier this year that as many as 10 million Americans—4% of the country’s population—identify as LGBT, while The Daily Beast reported that 7 percent of millennials identified as LGBT in 2015.
“Based on research, I think the answer is probably that, in fact, these [LGBT] numbers are just gonna get closer and closer—and maybe exceed—10 percent down the road,” Gates told The Daily Beast in January.
The acceptance of gender fluidity is a gendered concept in itself
Fostering a safe and supportive community for the LGBTQ population is a step not just toward societal sex positivity, but more acceptance and fun in the bedroom. In fact, past research has found higher sex satisfaction is also linked to body acceptance. In a small 2012 study, Texas Christian University’s Jeannine Gailey found that overweight women report better sex after [accepting bodies of all sizes], showing that embracing different shapes leads to better, more comfortable sex.
“Most felt intense body shame and had unsatisfying sex lives until they began to embody fat pride,” Gailey told The Indian Express when the study went viral. “In other words, they went through a transition from feeling awful about their body and having less than satisfactory sex to feeling better about their bodies and sex lives.”
Sure, eat some pineapple or cut down on the booze if you wish, but for personal and societal growth, focus on fostering openness and acceptance if you want to open a whole new door to pleasure. Love is love is love.