Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Debby Herbenick Ph.D., M.P.H.

The Pleasures of Sex

The Sex Superpower of Forgiveness

How forgiving yourself and your partner can create better sex.

Posted Oct 11, 2010

A fun game to play with others while waiting for a bus, riding a train or sitting around after dinner is the superpower game - as in, if you could have one superpower, what would it be? Often, people say they'd like to fly, to have x-ray vision or to be invisible. These are all well and good for people who want to be super at fighting crime, but what do they do for sex and love aside from having sex in mid-air (flying), spoiling the surprise (x-ray vision) or being a voyeur in someone else's bedroom (invisibility).

This got me thinking about what superpowers might make for better sex - and what we can learn from them.

The very first sex superpower that came to mind is the superpower of forgiveness. I think many of us try to forgive. Maybe we even succeed, for a time. But often we carry our hurt around inside of and it comes out when we're feeling sad, lonely, unwanted, insecure or jealous. When our partner comes at us, angry for something we've done, we might use our hurt as a shield: "How can you be mad at me", we ask "when you did that other horrible thing to me just last year?"


If we could forgive out partner fully, maybe we could look at them with new eyes - with an innocence and a love and acceptance that made them feel entirely loved and wanted.

If we could forgive ourselves for the times we've said hurtful things or betrayed ourselves or others, maybe we would act more confident in and out of bed, in and out of love. Maybe we would say the things we wanted or felt if we didn't carry the shame around with us.

If we could look past our wrinkles, stretch marks, butt pimples, premature ejaculation, fat rolls, bony knees, difficulty with orgasm, erectile problems or the way we cry or laugh loudly or hiccup after we orgasm, maybe we could let go and have more fun during sex.

Forgiveness doesn't always come easy - nor should it  necessarily come easy. But when the time is right and you are able and/or it makes sense, forgiveness can lead to a more open heart and, yes, even better sex.

Maybe this week, you can forgive yourself or your partner for something that holds you back from sex or from love or from feeling closer in the way you want. Maybe if you can't forgive all the way just yet, you can try - when you're ready.

Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH is a research scientist at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, a widely read sex columnist and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction. Follow her on Twitter @mysexprofessor and make friends with her on Facebook. 


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