This is a question that most people have thought of at some point in their lives but how can anyone know the answer? Is it up to the partner to decide or you? Are there standards of “good” sexual performance? Is it all about counting minutes and orgasms?
There are a lot of prevailing opinions when it comes to how one’s sex life and sexual performance should be. Sex is often demonstrated by detrimental popular notions of “perfect”, “ideal”, or “great” sex. Media has a tremendous influence on how people should have sex as it is portrayed in a performance-oriented way. It is uncommon for people to chase great sex where the popular attention is on one’s physical attractiveness and sexual performance. Unfortunately, this mindset fuels perfectionism and creates performance anxiety, fears of inadequacy that might affect healthy and satisfying sex by creating sexual problems. There is an engrossing irony when the pursuit of “perfect sex” leads to dissatisfying and dysfunctional sex.
So, how can one get past this mindset and have a satisfying sex life? Metz & McCarthy (2007) have come up with the “Good-Enough Sex” model where they have challenged the public opinion about sex and encouraged people to pursue positive and realistic meaning in their sex lives. The “Good-Enough Sex” model puts intimacy as the ultimate focus where pleasure is as important as function and suggests that mutual emotional acceptance is the key.
The “Good-Enough Sex” model recognizes that even with satisfied couples, the quality of sex varies from one day to another and from very good to mediocre or dysfunctional. Thus, replacing the prevailing emphasis on sexual performance and focusing on sharing pleasure would give people the opportunity to experience sexual interactions in a personalized and enriched way. So, here are 9 essential principles of the “Good-Enough Sex” model that you might want to think about:
- Sex is a good and invaluable part of individuals’ lives
- Relationship and sexual satisfaction are intertwined
- Realistic sexual expectations are essential for sexual satisfaction
- Good physical health and healthy behavioral habits are crucial for sexual health
- Relaxation is the foundation for pleasure and function
- Pleasure is as important as function
- Variable and flexible sexual experiences are valuable and abandoning the “need” for “perfect” performance is a way of protecting oneself from sexual problems which might occur because of performance pressure and fears of failure
- The five general functions or purposes for sex are integrated into the sexual relationship for flexibility:
- Physical pleasure,
- Tension/anxiety reduction,
- Relationship intimacy,
- Sex is integrated into real life and real life is integrated into sex. Sex is not an isolated fragment of one’s life.
You should remember that accepting sexuality as a variable and flexible experience might be a challenge but developing positive, realistic expectations about the role and meaning of sexuality is a good way to ensure sexual satisfaction in the long run.
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Seray Soyman is a Psychology graduate from Turkey. Currently, she is working as an intern at Willingness and doing her master’s on Clinical Psychosexology at Sapienza University, Rome. Seray’s research interests are sex-positive behavior, sexual habits, LGBTQIA+ studies, and reproductive health.
McCarthy, B. W. & Metz, M. E. (2008). The ‘‘Good-Enough Sex’’ model: a case illustration. Sexual Relationship Therapy, 43(3), 227-234.
Metz, M. E. & McCarthy, B. W. (2007). The ‘‘Good-Enough Sex’’ model for couple sexual satisfaction. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 22(3), 351-362.
Metz, M. E., & McCarthy, B. W. (2012). The Good Enough Sex (GES) model: Perspective and clinical applications. In P. J. Kleinplatz (Ed.), New directions in sex therapy: Innovations and alternatives (pp. 213–229). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.