The following in an excerpt from Mirror of Intimacy by Gentle Path at The Meadows Senior Fellow Alexandra Katehakis. It is available on Amazon.com. You can also learn more about her and her work on the Center for Healthy Sex website.
Our sexual identity matures over time, as do our political, cultural, and aesthetic selves. In all these areas, maturation demands attention and learning from mistakes. The deep consciousness and refined technique attained in any field can develop tools applicable to sexuality.
But unfortunately, the credits don’t always transfer. So we see many brilliant artists, athletes and politicians utterly undone by sex and relationships.
And many young adults who aspire to sexual maturity before their time dress to impress, assume the postures of popular culture, and mistake the playbook for the event.
Further, while age and experience are key elements of maturation, there certainly are oldsters as immature as any teen. So at no social stage can the attainment of erotic intelligence be faked.
Sexual repression or unprocessed trauma keeps many persons paralyzed in an intimacy-impaired juvenile state. Nothing stunts growth like compensating for, rather than confronting, one’s sense of sexual or psychological inadequacy.
Compensation often goes hand-in-hand with squashing awareness through denial, drama or addictions. Erotic maturity, in contrast, embraces one’s vulnerability to shine light on one’s sexual self.
Having questioned one’s sexual inclinations, prejudices, potential and limitations, some sexually mature persons conform with social mores while others may define personal sexuality against the social current. For example, polyamory or open relationships may be a valid lifestyle choice resulting from hard-won self-knowledge. But for those emotionally incapable of tolerating monogamy or intimacy, choosing it may be guided more by stunted sexuality than mature self-awareness.
The Honest Search for Intimacy
Erotic maturity arrives through the honest search for intimacy, openness to new ideas, and the integration of individual experience–all marks of being sexual in the world. Every person’s journey there is unique and no one needs to be a sex expert. Maturity needs only to create personal comfort and a relational proficiency that imbues all our connections.