Recently, after I reviewed another book on greening the fashion world, the publisher sent me a note saying that she had seen my site www.goodcleanlove.com and was going to send me another new book she thought I would be interested in: Sex Secrets of Porn Stars.
I wondered if she had actually read anything on my site.
After years of attending the big Vegas "Sex Shows," it had become increasingly clear that my corporate mission, brand identity and personal beliefs about the connection between love and sex was a universe removed from both the intent and content of the adult industry.
Giving into curiosity, however, I opened the book to the first page, where the author compares the women we emulate, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Margaret Mead, with the famous women of the silver screen, the ones who bare it all: the stars of pornography. The author suggests that if we emulated these women (instead of great women's rights leaders?) we would all enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. The plot thickens, as the author details everything from the hair, make up and costume choices of porn stars, to their borrowed positions and scripts, suggesting all of this in order to spice up one's own love life.
Ironically on the same day, I got a lengthy email from a New York literary agent with whom I had been corresponding about publishing my work in book form. Having made contact with her through an editor at a large publishing house, I was anxious to hear her thoughts on how best to position my work. She said that although she liked my work, the idea of the work involved in building and maintaining sustainable relationships just wouldn't sell nearly as well as a cute book about discovering and enjoying a more passionate life. "Couldn't you just write a book about finding more passion? After all, you have this cute company that sells sex products.... Just downplay all the hard work in relationships, people don't really want to read about that."
It occurred to me to send her Sex Secrets of the Porn Stars.
I do sometimes feel that my tag line – "Making Love Sustainable" – is a little like pushing a big rock up a steep hill. We aren't really a culture that applies the wisdom of sustainability to our most important relationships. Often when I use my tag line, there is a thoughtful pause, as though the idea were completely new. It isn't just about promoting green and healthy products (although the adult industry could certainly do with a green washing of its standard ingredients). It is also about the deeper possibility that we might be willing to give up momentary happiness or the ease we expect our relationships to provide and actually commit to the work of making our relationships sustainable and lasting - perhaps with the same effort we might put into our homes, businesses and personal health.
How far our collective reality is from this sustainable love model is evidenced in our society's demographics: from rising divorce statistics, to the trends of young people who choose to "hook up" or to be "friends with benefits" rather than engage in committed relationships, to the commonness of pornography in our lives. The percentages of people who participate in the on-line pornographic universe, for instance, are startling. One in four adults spends four or more hours per week in sexual experiences that are cut off from the relationships that define their lives. Many actually prefer these virtual relationships to the real ones that fill their homes. In a time when there has never been more opportunity and technology to connect to each other, we have never seen the incidence of this many people living alone.
That we don't choose to stay in real love relationships is not that surprising, as loving another person is one of the most challenging and elevated skills that we are demanded to develop as human beings. Most of us come from families which gave us little useful information on how to love with longevity and commitment. And if you graduated from any public institution in this country, then you know how little relationship skills are provided in the standard K-12 curriculum. Even skills as basic as conflict resolution are rarely standard for children, compared with say, geometry. Given our collective history of warring and pillaging, you would think it might occur to our society that loving each other is not an ingrained quality in the human makeup. Rather than a sideline activity, it could be that teaching the skills of loving, relationship-building and conflict resolution could be something for which we try to achieve mastery.
Still, as complicated and messy as loving relationships can be, they are also the only avenue available to us that can provide the kind of mind-blowing, wow-that-was-amazing sex that we all long for most. Making love with someone who you deeply love is a singular experience that so unites the intimates involved that it transforms them. It is the proverbial glue that keeps the rest of the mess intact and inspires people to a compassion and kindness that they may not even know they are capable of. It is the truest part of what it means to be human and the act of love that accompanies it has the power to change the world.
And change the world it does. Loving someone is the largest single predictor for health and longevity. As Dr. Dean Ornish says: "Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing...I am not aware of any other factor in medicine - not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery - that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death from all causes."
Love is the cure as well as the illness in our world, and evolving our ability to love increases not only our chances of survival but creates a depth and meaning in life that can only happen in relationship.
The healing effects of intimacy and connection extend deeply into the physical act of lovemaking. Hundreds of major medical studies have shown that an active sex life leads to a longer life, better heart health, a healthier immune response, reduction in chronic pain symptoms, lower rates of depression and even protection against some cancers. Men who have regular sex (only twice per week) have half as many heart attacks as men who only have sex once per month. In fact, a regular garden variety sex life has been shown to extend life by as much as ten years. People who enjoy a meaningful sex life are less anxious, fearful and inhibited.
So now that you are sold on the benefits of love and intimacy, let's also reveal the unspoken truth about sustaining love over time: loving someone else and allowing yourself to be deeply loved is an act of heroic patience, intention and commitment. After the honeymoon wears off (and I promise it always does) we humans are all as annoying as we are loveable. Accepting this as fact and then building the skills to undertake the daily problem-solving of loving, is not only wise, but is also a prerequisite for enjoying the kind of sex that can change your world.
Stay tuned here as we continue to explore new regions of the heart and the delights of sustainable love. Please share your stories of keeping your love vital and healthy too.
Images by Rachel Sian, used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.Tweet