“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” —Martin Buber
Sex is a potent mystery that binds and transforms us in ways we cannot anticipate. Sexual connection plants the seeds of enduring ties, of love and responsibility that we need to come to terms with—whether the outer world relationship continues or not.
If we dig deeply enough, we know that in the caverns of our body soul, we carry traces that tie us to our past and present sexual partners—for better or worse. We may not even remember the name of a casual hook-up or hot date, but the imprint of the connection remains, binding us in subtle, subterranean ways to that person.
On the surface we may think it is all behind us, but whenever we drop deep enough into ourselves, the sensations and feelings associated with our past sexual partners stir. Whether they be positive—delight, joy, longing, attraction; or negative—grief, guilt, anger, indifference. Not to mention the bonds with a spouse or long-time partner that can positively haunt you for years, or even a lifetime. Most people recognize intuitively that, psychologically, there is no such thing as divorce.
A ritual of lasting consequence
Despite our current culture of casualness about sex, sexual union remains a ritual of lasting depth and consequence. Anyone who has tasted the beauty of sexual communion knows the idea that “two become one flesh” is not just a religious or romantic fantasy. Sex can lift us above and beyond our sense of separateness to taste the mysteries of Divine love that sustain our very existence.
Maybe the enduring ties that form are due physiologically to increased amounts of oxytocin released during prolonged touch, sex and, especially, through orgasm. Oxytocin is the same hormone that bonds nursing mothers to their babies! Whatever the reason, these sexual imprints bind our energies. At least that has been my experience, about which I go into more detail in “Love and the Mystery of Betrayal.”
If it is true, using the metaphor from my last post, that sex acts like superglue and we leave little bits of ourselves with each partner, doesn’t it follow that with every sexual encounter, we bind more of our soul force and have less for living our present life?
The idea that we drag around torn pieces of our former spouses or lovers is not exactly at the top of the charts in terms of popularity. In fact, outside of the evangelical Christian world, it is wildly unfashionable, even ridiculed as a throwback to less enlightened times. Yet, current freewheeling attitudes toward casual sex, serial monogamy, multiple partners and easy divorce are as extreme in the opposite direction. These views turn a blind eye to the mystery, sacredness and bonding power of sexuality.
In the end, I don’t know who is right. I do believe that with each sexual partner we beckon a potent force we barely understand, but are wise to handle with care. As one who has attempted to engage and exorcise the ghosts of my sexual past, I know how deeply these bonds can insinuate themselves into your body, heart, mind and spirit. I also know how much soul work, courage and grace it can take to reclaim yourself from these hauntings. For now, when a new love beckons, I pause with trepidation….
Adapted from “Love and the Mystery of Betrayal” —now available in print and ebook.