Vanilla flavoured or not, the choice is yours
While everything from popular culture to porn makes a case for more suppleness and acrobatics in the bedroom, is there still a place for those who don’t go kinky?
Nailantei Norari @artnorari
Films and books such as Fifty Shades of Grey and the more recent Netflix erotic and kidnapping saga 365 Days, promote adventurous and kinky sex.
With these comes a culture, which promotes sexual expression with sex toys, contraptions, sex manuals and handcuffs being readily available both online and in numerous physical stores in the city.
While everything from popular culture to porn makes a case for more suppleness and acrobatics in the bedroom, is there still a place for vanilla sex or is it completely outmoded?
“Vanilla sex is used to refer to conventional sex that conforms to the very basic expectations and sexual descriptions found within a culture.
Vanilla sex in Europe might not be vanilla sex in an African context and vice versa.
Though almost everyone agrees that missionary sex is definitely vanilla sex.
The word vanilla is often used to denote something bland, boring or normal,” explains Piet Evert Van Altena, a renowned counselling psychologist and sexologist.
He adds: “But it would be remiss of us to delve into the conventional versus unconventional sex debate without first acknowledging the integral role that sex plays in relationships.”
Piet explains how the frequency of sex is a reliable barometer of how a relationship is going, especially in the context of a middle aged couple with normal libidos.
He says sex brings intimacy, knitting the sexual partners closer together.
Moreover, the hormones released during sex such as oxytocin make the sexual partners feel close and can strengthen the bond the partners already had.
When pairs are impaired
It is also important to note that people come into relationships with different expectations and from different cultures.
It is, therefore, common to find a sexually adventurous person paired with a vanilla sex everyday kind of person.
“In most relationships, vanilla sex is common. Haraka haraka then he falls fast asleep.
Lack of communication also contributes to this as both parties maybe unwilling to communicate their needs.
Outside the relationship, both parties may be more adventurous, with men being more adventurous compared to women.
More often than not, he will watch porn and find a partner to do it with who won’t question where he learnt that or why he wants to do it,” Piet explains.
He says it is important to have both vanilla and adventurous sex, but both partners should work to find a middle ground.
The more adventurous partner who is probably more knowledgeable and experimental should gradually introduce the more adventurous sex positions and sex play without making the other partner feel gauche, undesirable or as if there is something wrong with them.
They should be careful to pique the other partner’s curiosity and gradually guide them from vanilla sex to more advanced sexual flavours, of course ensuring everything is consensual and not coaxed.
Piet explains that having great vanilla sex means that one can also have great adventurous sex and vice versa; the likelihood of this is directly proportional to the level of communication among the sexual partners.
The pros and cons
“Adventurous sex is great for keeping the spark alive and knitting the partners together.
There are multiple sex positions from beginner to advanced that couples can check out and incorporate into their sex lives through solid and reciprocal two-way communication.
Being open communicators and willing to experiment might also make the relationship stronger as the partners can express themselves fully in the relationship without having to find new partners to be their true sexual selves with.
While it is true that having vanilla sex for 40 years can easily kill the flame, one can go missionary every other time for variety,” Piet says.
Vanilla sex, he says, is great as it gives the partners a chance to reconnect just the two of them as the partners can concentrate more on their feelings rather than whether the clamping on nipples is too much or the buzz is on too high and trying to remember what exactly the safe word was.
Paired down sex can also give you a much needed break from contraptions, making it more enjoyable.
Vanilla sex can also be there to communicate urgency between partners as there is no time to get out the feathers and ice cubes.
Through all this, experts advise people to avoid pressure tactics. Blackmailing (“I’ll leave if you don’t”), name calling (“You are inhibited/weird”), nagging (“You know I can’t enjoy it unless we do it my way”) are at the least disrespectful, and at the worst abusive.
While your partner may give in to keep the peace, ultimately the relationship will likely end in tears.
The dangers of exploration lie in making it into a fetish, another theatrical replacement for anxiety.
To truly overcome this anxiety, the opportunity to explore beyond vanilla would be most flavourful if the driving force for excitement is love.
“Good sex does not have to be kinky. Neither does it have to be vanilla. Every couple should find a way of balancing the two, so that all partners are happy, none is bored and the sexual spark remains fully flaming,” Piet sagely concludes.