Excerpt About Eros

Distinguishing Between the Erotic and the Sexual

I am making a distinction between the erotic and the sexual that will be very useful for many of us. Most of the time, when people use the word “erotic,” they mean “sexual.” We are using the word “erotic” in this seminar to mean a heartfelt erotic in which there is love, there is sensuousness, there is enjoyment, there is desire and a desire for what is being enjoyed. The desire for enjoyment might mean a desire for intimacy, for contact, for communication, but since these ways of relating can be pleasurable and enjoyable without being sexual, they can happen even between friends. When erotic energy is present, you feel turned on, you feel alive; you really like the person and you like interacting with them. For example, you hear two friends talking about a subject they share a passion for. It feels as though they are making love, but they are actually talking about mathematics or a movie! I call that interaction “erotic” because it has a particular kind of aliveness, a pleasurable sense of a turn-on, but it doesn’t necessarily include or lead to a desire for sexual, physical consummation. When the erotic is sexual, it becomes more physical, it becomes more genitally oriented; you are interested in consummating in a physical interpenetration. The erotic involves interpenetration but not necessarily physical interpenetration; it is primarily on the soul level. “Erotic” means that the soul interaction—the communication, the looping and feedback—is very pleasurable, lively and enjoyable. That is not the same thing as sexual interaction. “Sexual” means that the erotic interaction is focused on the physical dimension, and maybe the genital, which will make the relationship explicitly sexual. This means the erotic can move into a sexual expression if it is appropriate. If two people have the type of relationship where that can happen and agree that they both want it, then their connection can become sexual.

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