Human beings have been called 'social animals'. They relate to each other in thousands of different ways, some ways that are loving and caring, some that are hateful and selfish. They can help each other and enrich life for each other, or they can exploit - use - each other and put each other down. A part of being a social animal is communica- tion. some people are much better at it than others, and probably all of us could learn to cummunicate more easily and fully than we do.
One of the ways we share our thoughts and feelings is with our bodies : through our facial expressions, our gestures, our ways of sitting, standind and moving, through the ways we touch or do not touch each other. We also communicate through words, by what we say to each other and how we say it. Unlike other animals, whose ways of communication are programmed into them by instinct, we human beings learn to communicate. We start learning almost as soon as we born, and we go right on learning throughout our lives.
Certainly, in those parts of our lives which involve sex and sexual feelings, communication is most important, but for many people, most difficult. There are many married couples who have lived together for years and yet have hardly ever talked with each other directly and openly about sex and about their sexual feelings toward each other. There is no way to separate sexual life from the other parts of life, although some people try to make such a seperation.
Indeed, this book, which talks mainly about sex, may seem to make such a separation. But sex and sexuality are a part of life, a part to accept and live with, to enjoy. Sex in not something from outside that comes in, takes over our bodies temporarily, and then flies off. Some people however, do see sex in this separate way, and they may use this as an explanation, or even an excuse, for sexual actions that are demaging. 'I really didn't want intercourse; the feelings just came and ovewhelmed me.'
True, it is possible to be over- whelmed by sexual feelings, but these feelings are a part of our other feelings. It is also possible to deny our sexual feelings, as if they were something bad and apart that should be pushed away or pushed under. We must learn to intefrate our sexual feelings and actions with all the rest of our living. One fact that enriches our social lives is that there are two sexes, male and female. In earlier articles you read about differences between men and women, how some of them are inborn and inevitable, but how in many ways we learn to be 'masculine' and 'feminine' and how in modren life it has become possible for us to be much more free to develop into the sort of people we want to be, not so limited by traditional sex roles.
We can enjoy relating to each other as women and as men, and also, even more important, as human beings who share so much in common. The sexual part of a relationship, whether it involves sexual activity or whether it involves only the expression of our human sexuality, can add a delight and pleasure that would be absent if there were only one sex. Differences - those based on sex and those based on age, background, interests, personality, work, language, culture, nationality, and a thousand other things - can be just as important to good, rich relationships as can similarities.
Sex cannot be separated from the rest of life, but there are special things to be said about the pleasures and problems of love and sex as part of life. One of the problems of sex that human beings have and animals don't have can be stated quite simply; boys and girls reach puberty (when so many of them begin to have strong sexual desires) before they are old enough to enter into a full and satisfying sexual relationship, to marry, or to establish a family and raise children. There is a period of from eight to ten years or even longer when the sex urge is strong but there is no way to satisfy it that is entirely acceptable to all parts of our society.