We humans are sexual beings. We need to be touched. We thrive and survive on being loved physically -- and obviously emotionally too. But what do you do when you've been in a relationship that sunk a long time ago, leaving you stranded without any intimacy in your life? People in bad relationships have been missing out for way too long; when they do eventually get divorced and re-engage in sex after a sabbatical, how is it for them?
After years of no sex -- or even just empty, mechanical sex -- divorced people discover a sudden renewed vigor in their post-split sex lives. Countless divorcees rave about their newfound singleton sexual freedom and after being conditioned to believing that life without it is fine; they realize just how important sex really is. You can't simply "delete" it and ignore that it exists. So once divorcees venture back into the world with open eyes and a clean slate, they can't believe what they've been missing all those years. Without all the bad relationship clutter clouding their minds, they often realize that the absence of sex was a major part of their marriages' demise.
We now have years of research data confirming what most of us already know intuitively: sex is about as basic and innate the need as food, water and oxygen. We need it to survive. Deprive someone of it for years and what do you get? You get the compounded effects that you see from years of abusing one's health. It's not too different than a situation in which a person keeps pumping bad food into their system and ends up with a life-altering disease.
People With Strong Sex Lives Live Longer
Consider this: According to Dr. Howard S. Friedman, co-author of The Longevity Project (along with Dr. Leslie R. Martin), sex is the cornerstone to living a longer, healthier life. In fact, it's not just a matter of "wham bam thank you ma'am," rather it's very much physiological. It's not merely about the sex itself; it is about the release of hormones that takes place, coinciding with an emotional connection to the intimate experience. For women, that is measured in the number of orgasms they have, something that Dr. Friedman concludes after considering eighty years of compiled psychological research. For men as well as women, the physiological benefit is a matter of oxytocin release -- something that occurs while they are in the act of giving through touch during sex. In both cases -- medically speaking -- the pleasure factor is directly linked to physical benefits of sex, which are largely connected to the release of hormones.
When we bring a new baby into the world, there is a phenomenon that occurs if the baby is not touched, physically nurtured or cuddled. The medical terminology for this is Failure to Thrive. Children suffer a number of adverse conditions as a result of abuse or neglect -- which can be linked back to the Failure to Thrive. Think about it. If we are dependent on touch from the moment we are born, it makes perfect sense that as adults we would need the same intimacy in our lives. Many couples in bad marriages are in "Failure to Thrive" situations. Though it may be voluntary on both parties' part, more often than not one person in the marriage withholds sex as a punishment. Have you ever heard of someone holding back food or water? Holding back sex for whatever reason is an act of neglect and it directly contributes to a "Failure to Thrive" existence.
Universally -- regardless of culture, religion, race or socio-economic status -- divorced men tend to die sooner than married men. In fact, when you hear about how one long-married spouse dies soon after the death of their partner, it is often because of the lack of oxytocin release. Similarly, when people stay in sexless, loveless relationships, they are on an early track to death. Even though women's mortality is not affected by divorce, the sudden parting of the clouds after a divorce can completely get both men and women back on the track to healthy living.
I am a huge advocate of good sex, for both pleasure and health reasons. Not just empty, meaningless, mundane and obligatory physical exchange -- but real, deeply engaging, wholly satisfying curl-your-toes sex. Countless times I have unabashedly talked about the need for it in our lives, and yet it remains a taboo topic that almost always creates some serious controversy. What is it with the world? When will we realize as a society that being sexually selfish is bad for health? It's okay to indulge ourselves in longevity, happiness, good health, strong companionship and lasting self-assuredness stemming from a vibrant sex life. It's essential to look beyond the age-old social mores that taught us "sex is something to be ashamed of." Sex is paramount to living healthy and whole lives and is and nothing to be ashamed of.
If you're in a bad relationship, try counseling and rehabilitating your marriage. But if you can't get anywhere and both partners are living in a "Failure to Thrive" situation, I say move on and join the ranks of countless other divorcees who are now enjoying a newfound freedom in their lives. It might be time for a little sex re-education though since you've been out of the loop so long. Who knows what you've been missing out on?
The next time a doctor records a patient's medical history and asks questions about smoking, drinking, drugs, marital status and lifestyle, he or she should also be asking about the patient's intimacy history. The reason we record this medical history is to formulate a long-term plan for our patients' health. Sex and intimacy are definitely a part of health, so it needs to be included in the plan. If we notice an area that needs attention, patients should be referred to physicians that specialize in Sexual Medicine. A prescription for great sex is part of healthy living.
An often overlooked but majorly important aspect of this sexual and medical counseling is continuous education about safe sex. I can't emphasize enough the importance of safe sex, regardless of whether you're in a monogamous relationship or not. Here's the mandatory prescription from your doctor: Safe Sex Equals Great Sex.
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