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Main Takeaways from Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers - Part 1

Our clinical book club, composed of sex and couples therapists, recently read the incredible book, Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers, by Peggy J Kleinplatz, Ph.D., and A. Dana Menard, Ph.D. Since its release in 2020, this book has become a favorite among therapists, so we were eager to dive in. This book is special and is a phenomenological study that includes interviews with straight and LGBTQIA+ folks, kinky and “vanilla” people, chronically ill individuals, monogamous and consensually non-monogamous partners, and people into their eighties having great sex. 

Myths vs Realities

Myths about sex limit people and hold them back from magnificent sex. The media portrays great sex in specific and often damaging ways. The research in this book is crucial to debunking some of those myths. Here are some key myths and their antidotes that we wish every client knew:

  • “Sex should be natural and spontaneous versus magnificent sex involves prioritizing and being deliberate.”

  • Magnificent sex doesn’t just materialize out of nowhere. Magnificent sex comes with effort. It’s okay to prioritize sex. It’s okay if sex doesn’t feel as simple as it did in the honeymoon phase because we often forget how much effort and priority we put on sex back then. Don’t let the Hollywood notion of spontaneous sex lead to devaluing deliberate sex, planned sex, and sex that takes effort.

  • “Great sex means great orgasms versus orgasm helps but is neither necessary nor sufficient.”

  • Let’s set ourselves free from the notion that great sex has to include an orgasm, especially considering that an orgasm is often not enough to make partners feel they had magnificent sex.

  • “Great sex only happens at the beginning of the relationship versus magnificent sex in long-term relationships requires not lowering expectations over time.”

  • Research found that sex is likely to get better in long-term relationships if it is prioritized and communicated about. Within a relationship, increased trust can lead to more freedom to explore, make mistakes, and be creative. 

  • “Sex deteriorates with age versus magnificent sex benefits from experience and maturity.”

  • Magnificent sex is for everyone. Reality TV shows, movies, and sitcoms on sex, dating, and relationships would have us believe that magnificent sex is only for young able-bodied people who meet Western ideas of attractiveness. This just isn’t true. The research in this book consistently found that due to experience, maturity, and an openness to learn and grow, aging was an advantage to having magnificent sex, not a barrier. 

  • “Great sex is for beautiful, able-bodied people versus chronic illness and disability do not necessarily preclude optimal sexual experience.”

  • Again, magnificent sex is for everyone. Illness and disability can even lead to people breaking away from the myths and preconceptions about sex. Research in this book shows that sexual functioning is just one part of the sexual experience. “Sexual functioning is not necessary for magnificent sex,” might just be one of the most empowering quotes from this book.

  • “Great sex can only occur within the context of loving, long-term, monogamous relationships versus magnificent sex comes in many forms of consensually non-monogamous relationships.”

  • Magnificent sex can exist in multiple contexts and in many different relationship styles.

This research shows us that magnificent sex is not confined to a one-size-fits-all formula. Breaking down these myths invites people to let go of preconceived notions about great sex and dispel the misconceptions that have held people back from embracing the full spectrum of the sexual experience. 

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