What Type of Sex Do You Have?


SEX!!! It can be so very exciting and stimulating when it goes well in your relationship. However, when it goes bad, sex problems can cause a great deal of disconnect—not only physical, but emotional as well. More and more, I see couples in my office who complain about their sex lives, wondering if they will ever feel satisfied and if they’ll sexually reconnect with their loved ones.

Sue Johnson in her book Love Sense explained that “it is emotion—the quality of our connection to another person—that defines the type of sex we have, the satisfaction we derive from it, and the impact it has on our romantic relationship.” Let’s keep that in mind as we learn more about 3 types of sex.

Before explaining the 3 different types of sex that couples can have, let me briefly explain to you the difference between a securely attached couple and an insecurely attached one. 

Securely attached couples

You know that you and your partner are securely attached to one another if you both feel that you can always count on each other, and share whatever bothers you. When you are able to turn to each other and receive and provide comfort, care, and love, you can then feel better and more confident about yourself and the world around you.

Insecurely attached couples

If you are the couple whose constant narrative is similar to this one: “I cannot talk to him/her because I will be dismissed, misunderstood, blamed, or attacked” or “He/she is never there for me so what is the point of reaching out,” that is a good indicator that you and your partner might be insecurely attached to one another. If you are anxiously attached to your partner, you might find yourself worrying a lot about whether or not your spouse truly loves you and desires you. On the other hand, if your attachment style is avoidant, you might find yourself struggling with emotional vulnerability and depending on your spouse.

What does attachment have to do with sex???

It turns out, a lot! Whether people are securely, anxiously, or avoidantly attached to their spouses influences their motives for having sex. It also affects sexual performance and satisfaction. Therefore, if couples connect securely emotionally, they can also connect sexually (unless, there are some biological problems that should be addressed with a doctor and sex therapist).

In essence, sex follows connection.



Sue Johnson, came up with these three types of sex:

  1. Sealed-off sex: “I don’t like cuddling. I just want to have sex.”
    • People who are avoidant, meaning they are uncomfortable with emotional closeness are more likely to have sealed-off sex.
    • They focus on their sexual performance. Foreplay is limited and achieving climax is a way of confirming their sexual skills.
    • The problem with sealed-off sex is that it weakens emotional connections. Also, it actually reduces arousal and results in less frequent orgasms!
  1. Solace sex: “I cannot help it. I just like to have a lot of sex.”
    • People who are anxious in their attachment style may use solace sex as a way of knowing how much they are loved.
    • Sexual partners who have solace sex are very sensitive to any signs of rejection. They often seek sex to reassure themselves that they are valued and desired.
    • The problem with solace sex is that it is hard to enjoy it because a partner is constantly worrying if they are loved and desired—especially if they pick up on a cue of rejection.
  1. Synchrony sex
    • Securely attached spouses are able to enjoy synchrony sex.
    • Partners don’t have to be worried about the other one’s commitment levels, or they don’t need to work on staying emotionally detached and avoidant. Their motive is to connect, give and receive the pleasures, and have fun with it.
    • If sexual issues occur, a securely attached couple is able to talk it through without getting flooded and overwhelmed by their fears. They can ask for their needs to be met and freely explore their sexuality.

Which type of sex do you have with your spouse? If you are counting how many times a week you have sex OR if you are over-focusing on your technique and performance, talk to your spouse today. Notice how that conversation goes for you and your partner. Do you end up feeling misunderstood, dismissed, or blamed? If so, contact me so I can help you move through your impasses and enjoy the emotional and physical relationship that you committed yourself to.


Reader Interactions


  1. Allison Rimland, LPC says

    I LOVE this, Marta!

    I think lots of people want to have better sex with their partner, but they don’t know how to get there. This is a great guide for looking within yourself as well as between you and your partner for clues on why the sex isn’t working well.


    • Marta Kem says

      I agree Allison. I just really like to think about our motivation behind having sex, and thanks to Sue Johnson, we have this clear way of seeing that sex can do so much more for us than just bring physical pleasure.

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