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When is Sexual Attraction NOT About Sex?

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Have you ever become sexually aroused by contemplating a new idea, or by participating in an intellectually stimulating conversation?


Or how about while watching a beautiful sunset, getting caught in a warm summer rain, or while meditating, praying or breast feeding?

What about those moments when you want to make out with the musician on stage?


Or while you’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey during a car ride – while your husband is driving.


And of course, there is the forbidden desire for someone other than your significant other or for someone who is pledged to another.


The lack of a framework to explore the symbolic nature of the experience of sexual attraction has contributed to two extreme versions of making meaning out of sexual energy. They both play out as literal and concrete beliefs and behaviors that end up degrading the relationship between sexuality and spirituality.


One version attempts to control sexual energy and shames people, especially women, who do not follow the rules established by authoritative figures who brilliantly use religion to gain women’s permission for their own sexual oppression.


The other version promises liberation through an anything goes approach. Sexual energy as a creative life force becomes reduced to quantity, techniques, and self-gratification.


Between the two extremes exists a space to explore the mixing of what C.G. Jung suggested are the two most powerful human instincts – sexuality and religion.


Sexual Attraction as Invitation from the Self/God


I ran from the oppression of religious ideas about my sexuality right into the trap of considering sexuality as a purely physical experience.


It was not until my midlife unraveling, which included ending my twenty-four-year marriage, that a deep wound reflecting a warped relationship between my sexuality and spirituality, began to make itself known. It was not until I did the work of coming into healthy relationship with my body and sexuality that I received an invitation which I could not refuse.


I write about this moment in my memoir, which is coming in the next couple of months. Stay tuned. This is from Chapter 22–You’re a Desirable Woman.


It was a sunny and warm Sunday, August seventh. Life had changed so much over the past year since I had turned fifty and met the first younger man on the beach who unleashed my hidden sexual passion. On this day, I traded in my usual seat at the tiki bar for a more private space on the sand. “I’ll take a beach chair and a Cabernet,” I told the bartender. I noticed the pleasant hum of activity of hundreds of beachgoers. I carefully lay my towel on the lounge chair and I laughed to myself at the thought someone was watching me from afar pull books out of my bag and stack them around me.


For two hours, I meandered through the caverns of my mind, feeling my way to new insights and how best to articulate them in written form.


And then, something made me look up. It was the feeling of being watched. My eyes intuitively looked to the right until . . . Is he looking at me? One glance at the attractive man caused me to quickly look down at my books. Just my imagination, I told myself. But then, I felt it again. This time I casually snuck a longer peek at the tan man with curly light brown hair. He was dressed in white shorts and a jade-colored shirt, and he looked confident leaning back onto his elbows on a picnic table. My body became excited with anticipation as my mind wondered whether our eyes had made contact. I thought I felt his stare through his aviator style sunglasses, and I nervously I hid behind my own.


Excitement competed with feelings of being exposed, naked, and I nervously looked down. But, I couldn’t help myself. I was intrigued by the uncertainty of whether the man was checking me out or not. I dared to look up again, and then my heart dropped when I saw he wasn’t there. "I guess that answers that," I told myself and looked down at my book. “Okay, one more chance.” I looked up and over to the right, and there he was! Now he was closer, standing, leaning against a pole with his arms crossed, but I still couldn’t be sure if he was looking at me.


And then, I wondered if he was just playing with me when I caught what looked like a smirk on his face. The roller coaster of anticipation and then disappointment was too much to handle. My body flooded with awkward arousal that was fueled by the energy he was beaming my way. And just like that, he was gone again. I dared look up one more time, feeling silly as if I was playing peek-a-boo with a child. I told myself to let it go and turned my attention back to my books.

My eyes returned to the document on my laptop, then over to a highlighted passage in a book, which I read aloud. I looked up to the sky, hoping to receive guidance to articulate some profound thought. Suddenly, my gaze was caught in the tractor beam of the young man’s eyes. I couldn’t look away. There he was, squatting down in front of my beach chair. I felt embarrassed as I wondered how long he had been watching me. I felt naked again.


“I just had to find out what you’re reading,” he said. Was that a line? But his smile was amazing, and I found myself noticing his muscular calves.


“I’m reading about psychological types,” I truthfully blurted out. I never hid my intellectual nature, and I loved going head-to-head with a man about any topic. My usual feisty intellect took on a shade of playfulness as I smirked back.



“Explain please,” he politely requested as he motioned to see the book. I stumbled, wondering how to translate the theory into the kind of banter that matched the moment.


“Well . . . introversion has nothing to do with being shy,” I started. But my nerdiness took over when I ended with the proclamation that, “Introverted people are energized by their inner world.” Oh boy. I felt so awkward.


His attention only grew, and after a little talk about extraversion, which described him perfectly, he introduced himself. “I’m Phillip,” he said. “Want to go get a drink?” I stood up and did my part of the introduction, and when we approached the tiki bar, I showed off that I knew the bartender. On the walk back to my lounge chair with our drinks the space between us felt electric.


“Tell me more,” he asked earnestly. My intellect was my comfort zone, so I went on and on about Jung’s theory about psychological type. What a nerd. Oddly, the conversation intensified his interest in me. And then, out of nowhere, came an interesting question. “Do you believe in absolutes?” The way he asked caught me off guard.


What a strange question, I thought. His posture revealed confidence in his opinion on the matter. But I was not a fan of black and white versions of anything, so I asked for clarification on what he was asking. Then I confidently said, “I don’t believe you can reduce most things to absolutes.” As I sat casually in my lounge chair, the younger man’s demeanor resembled that of a lawyer arguing his case. He paced back and forth in the sand and compared his certainty about various issues to the certainty of the existence of gravity. I giggled at his earnest conviction and was amused by his naivete. “Gravity is just a theory,” I argued back. “We don’t actually know how gravity works, we just see its effects,” I finished my thought. He seemed visibly energized by my willingness to engage in this kind of combat.


During a pause in the conversation about serious topics, my body screamed with desire as Phillip took a seat next to me on the chair. My heart beat hard and fast as we bantered about lighter topics like movies and music. I inhaled dramatically when his hand accidentally brushed my calf, and his finger ever so slightly touched my chest while he shared that his favorite movie was The Thomas Crown Affair. My brain and my body were aroused, and I felt awareness of deep connection with who this man was beneath his charismatic persona.


For two hours, I was swept up in a dramatic play initiated by a bolt of lightning absorbed by my body. It was as if the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite herself had jumped into me and she knew what she wanted. After more playful and dramatic bantering, the younger man stated, “I’d like to take you to see that movie—Suicide Squad. I had mentioned earlier that I wanted to see it, going on and on about how I loved superhero movies, especially the ones that challenged stereotypes and illustrated the complexity of good versus evil.


Suddenly, my inner lawyer broke the trance. “I have to go study,” I hurriedly said as I became aware that I had exchanged two hours of precious study time for this unexpected delight. “I’m so glad I met you; can I give you a hug?” Did I just say that? I gave him my number, turned around, and had to stop myself from skipping to my car.


I would not realize the irony of this attraction until long after the relationship began, but it was not an accident that the relationship would force the reconciliation between what felt like the opposing forces of sexuality and spirituality. In this case, intense attraction was indeed an invitation from God.


You’ll have to read my memoir to find out what happens next. My depth psychology framework did not save me from the wild ride of the most ironic relationship, but it did affirm that it was a vessel in which a complex alchemical transformation was taking place, one that would lead to my spiritual and sexual growth.


Sexual Attraction as a Bridge to the Divine


For me, the most interesting part of the movie Social Network was that the motivating force behind Mark Zuckerberg’s drive to create was sexual attraction. According to the movie anyway. I don’t know for sure, but perhaps being rejected by the woman he loved way back then contributed to his seeming insatiable desire for domination. Sexual energy is indeed a creative force.


For much of my first post-divorce relationship, literal sex was not an option. At first, I was angry about having finally come into better relationship with my body and sexuality only to find myself attracted to a man who had a conflict with having sex outside of marriage. But slowing down and spending more time appreciating each other’s body and just lying next to each other naked brought deeper and more intense experiences.


This led me to become more curious about the hidden agenda of my attraction to my partner. Stillness now brought arousal, and the deepening connection with my partner turned vulnerability into trusting receptivity of what wanted to flow through me.


Enjoy this passage from my coming memoir about one of these moments of stillness. This is from Chapter 25–I Want Sex!

We had some time to spare, and Phillip was tired, so I suggested we go relax in my bed. We removed only the clothes that covered our upper bodies, and Phillip lay face down and I lay on top of him. As he fell asleep, my breathing matched his, and in my deeply relaxed state, a spontaneous fantasy emerged of Phillip’s head between my legs pleasuring me. I smiled back when the fantasy image of Phillip looked up at me from between my legs.


As I lay still on top of the real Phillip, I enjoyed my body’s growing arousal, and then, suddenly, the image of Phillip’s head transformed into a giant red snake between my legs. Feelings of embarrassment caused my muscles to constrict, but then they relaxed as my resistance gave way to the giant serpent’s desire to enter my moist cavern. My inner mentor, depth psychology, reminded me that the image had great symbolic meaning that could be discovered only by surrendering to it. So, I allowed the snake to enter a portal into the deepest part of me, a portal to what felt like a great feminine.


As I attempted to remain still on top of Phillip, my arousal became so intense that any movement at all might have caused me to explode in orgasm. Phillip never woke up, and I didn’t tell anyone else about my odd and wonderful experience. Psychological concepts could not help me make sense of what had happened. Being on the verge of orgasm in a state of stillness brought me into contact with the source of life, and Phillip’s body had been the doorway.


I hope you enjoyed this little scene from my coming memoir. During this time in my life, I realized that sexual attraction had tricked me into this ironic relationship, only to force me to explore the deeper meaning of sexual attraction in my life.


Sexual Attraction as Creative Force



Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes sexual attraction is most definitely about sex. We come into relationship with ourselves and with God through embodied pleasurable experiences with others. In fact, in Riane Eisler’s book, Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body, you can learn about the latest theories about how the emergence of romantic love and sexual pleasure are evolutionary urges that contribute to the consciousness of humanity.


Leaving my hometown in my fifties and moving to a beach town was not an easy task. I had left behind one persona, and all I had to replace it with was a newly acquired PhD, a desire to publish a memoir and my research, and a tiny coaching business. That’s it. And this all coincided with the beginning of the COVID pandemic. I had no idea what I was going to do.


Once I got down to my beach town, for two weeks I never deviated from the path I walked to the beach and back to my new home. My life felt too uncertain. Finally, one day, I ventured a little further, and came upon a historic hotel located right on the beach. A sign boasted of happy hour martinis served at the rooftop bar. I decided to come back for a super cold Cosmo.

And I did. Earlier that week, I had signed up for an online writing program. I was a little freaked out because I didn’t realize I’d have to write my first short story. Yikes! Interestingly, at the same time, I was being tortured by the fantasy of reconnecting with a man I had met six months prior named Jason. I saw his likeness everywhere. I couldn’t make the fantasy go away.


I had thought of my brief encounter with Jason as a sign that there was still something new to be experienced in the realm of love after my first post-divorce relationship with Phillip had ended. I figured it just hadn’t been the right time or maybe it wasn’t about Jason.


But now, as I was starting my new life in Jacksonville Beach, I started to wonder about the deeper meaning of the fantasy that wouldn’t leave me alone. What did it want from me?


One night when I went back to the historic hotel bar, something was different. There was a singer who apparently was back after the brief COVID lockdown. I could hear the background noise as he set up his small stage, and then he started singing. The sound of his voice made me look up and check him out.


My mouth dropped open. Is that him? I wondered. Is that Phillip? No, it can’t be. Was it possible that Phillip up and moved down here and became a singer? No way, my ego rationally scolded me. But I rubbed my eyes. The singer looked exactly like Phillip, the man I was swept up in romance with that had ended just as dramatically as it had started.


I couldn’t help but just stare at the singer and I was embarrassed wondering whether he could feel my possessive energy that was mistaking him for my former lover. I wondered if there was another alchemical thing going on in my life. Had his body been overtaken by Hermes, the Greek god known to be a Trickster? I felt such arousal for the singer, this music man, who was channeling another man, the man who had caused my soul to grow.

Sexual energy flowed out of the music man’s body and into mine and then out my fingers as I typed feverishly on my laptop. My body had been overtaken again, by some other god or goddess. Words poured onto the page. Was I attracted to the music man? Yes, but I didn’t know the meaning yet. In the coming weeks, we chatted some, I would buy him shots during his break. We talked music. I kept my desire secret though. Thankfully, one evening, I overheard him say that he had a girlfriend. I snapped out of it. How embarrassing. But what was the meaning of my irrational sexual attraction to the music man who was channeling my former lover?


It turns, out all that was to get me to write my first short story. As I became more receptive to what wanted to flow through me, the sexual desire for my music man waned. Thank goodness.

I realized that once I had embraced the awkwardness I felt about my body and sexuality, a door had been opened to connecting with a romantic partner–Phillip–and with my inner being, which then led to a whole new awkwardness for my budding creative urge to come out of me.


Today, as I continue to surrender to the mysterious forces that are seeking expression through me, I have a new awareness that romantic attraction is rarely about what we think it’s about. That person we’re attracted to is a vessel through which creative intelligence flows for its own purpose.


When we surrender to the attraction, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is literal sex we’re desiring. Wondering about the deeper meaning of the attraction and what is being projected onto each other is like being on an exciting adventure.


New heights of ecstasy and new depth of meaning is the reward for relating in a deeper way to sexual energy.


Where Do You Start?


The insight that my sexuality and spirituality were intertwined came suddenly, but only after spending about ten hours journaling about my most intense attractions to men. The first one was with a boy in fifth grade at a Catholic elementary school.


There’s no right way to do this. Journaling is a great way to release what’s stored in your body. Your ego is very clever at keeping things from you, especially things that when explored, grow your capacity to be vulnerable, which is required for deep connection with your Self and other humans.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you’re curious about the deeper meaning and hidden agenda of sexual energy in your life, there are more blog posts and episodes on Dose of Depth to check out.


Oh, and I’m still looking for launch team members for my coming memoir. It’s called When Sex Meets God: a midlife story. Send an email to dlukovich@gmail.com or visit this post to learn more about my memoir and what it means to be on my launch team, which is a great experience if publishing a book is in your future. To learn


I Would Love to be Your Reflection Partner


If you're looking for a framework to explore the hidden meaning of sexual attraction in your life, click here to check out my services page and book a 30 min. free exploratory chat.


Thank you!


Photo of woman laying on rock by Maria Lupan on Unsplash

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alettabeewrites
alettabeewrites
28 giu 2021

You're on a fascinating journey! Go, girl!

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