A few years ago, I was contacted by a couple that had decided to undergo couple’s therapy in order to solve their sexual qualms. After a handful of sessions, there was being made clear that their sexual life was affected ( undesirous wife versus appetent husband), generating a sexual incompatibility, resulting in a series of complaints and claims from both sides.
The woman said: "when he was potbellied and double chinned he couldn’t care less for sex, but now, that’s all he wants... I’ve always been that way but now he’s begun to bother me". The husband tried to justify himself by saying that he was being like that in function of his work, but since that he’d retired, things have changed. Though, he made a particular remark that called upon my attention: "every night when i go to bed she has this gooey mask on her face and smells of garlic and it is impossible to have sex with such bad breath she’s got; i want a perfumed, appetizing, pretty woman, who i can touch... ". I’m not going to examine the essence of the therapy undertaken by the couple, what i’m going to do is to employ the husband’s phrase that made me write this article to get to the point. I am talking about the "senses".
We name sense to each of the forms to perceive sensations, according to the organs through which we perceive them. Humans possess five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Thus, if the senses are the primary source of communication with the external world, in the sexual intercourse there is the predominance of auditory, olfactory, gustatory, visual and tactile sensations, basically turning the sexual intercourse into a sensorial activity. Someone might say that in the human relations there is a certain predominance of one sense or more over others, and that it differs from gender to gender as well as from culture to culture.
The auditory faculty is of paramount importance for the human communication. To know how to listen to someone is of essence in the human liaisons and sexuality. In our culture women tend to be more susceptible than their male counterparts in relation to sounds, mainly to the human voice and music as well, which influence directly in the sexuality of the couple. I’m used to women complaining of not being heard, and also they would appreciate if their partners whispered romantic words as well as they never say “I love you”.
As for the olfactory sense, it seems to exert a more affective influence in men over sexuality than audition. Havellock ellis remarked that “odors are essentially appropriated to control over our emotional life as to enslave us to them”.
The palate is the only sense, in and as itself, without direct relation in sexuality, however cross-modal.
Therefore, we may say that odors and scents whenever linked up might become either repulsive or attractive( some may enjoy the smell and taste of tobacco and/or alcoholic beverages, others may otherwise).
The sight stands out as the main port of reception and perception of the surroundings. It’s through the sight that we’re able to perceive the sexual characteristics and notions of aesthetics culturally conceived.
In the general consensus men are moved by the looks, as in excitement at the first sight.
When a man ogle an attractive woman, he is actually visualizing her figure, that is to say, he looks at what arouse him and sparks off his sexual fantasies( maybe her hair color, skin complexion, mouth, breasts, back side, eyes, height, or else).
In relation to the sense of touch, it’s said that, the sexual intercourse is in itself a touching act. The biologist conforto has defined it in biological terms “as a contact between two epidermis, and a psychological matching of two fantasies”. Hence, through the skin(erogenous zones) and the one who gets to feel it, we come to experience sensations of intense pleasure. And it then, may determine the very difference between a pleasant experience or otherwise.
The classic philosophy states that nothing reaches our intellect by pass from our senses.
Regardless of which sense predominates in men or women, all senses whether in a bigger or lesser degree come into play in the human sexuality to trigger either positive or negative sensations. Being the senses responsible of all responses of the human sexuality and its outcome.
By Kelly Cristine Barbosa Cherulli
Psychologist and Sexologist