How strange it is to push our fingers through a partner’s mouth, feeling the walls of their moist cavern with a probe just as sensitive as our tongues. How strange it is to want someone to melt into us, like a box of crayons in a microwave. If you observe a couple going at it, all you will conceive is a sack of meat feeling up another sack of meat. A reductionist view of sex is to see holes to fill and be filled, but the compulsion is enormously more abstract. Our minds construct the sweeping emotions, profound pleasures, grand narratives and biological drives. Sex is many things, but a substantial portion of it is the craving to completely envelop one another.
Our imaginations desire the complete penetration of our flesh, to which we will never be satisfied. We can only manage a squeeze of a breast here and a stroke of a testicle there, but we cannot truly immerse ourselves inside another person. We are left searching for more, hoping one day we will slip completely inside each other and never return to our old form — instead of becoming the creatures of Plato’s Symposium, who were two humans in one. They were beings with two faces and eight limbs, who Zeus had to cut in half to make less powerful. Plato knew the greatest connection was one of a fully shared body. Perhaps we have moments of this when we are playing twister between the sheets and no one knows where one body begins and one ends.
It’s not just about wanting to be wholly inside someone. The futility of enveloping physical bodies includes the mind. We forget we will never truly know each other or ourselves. Sex is our attempt at trying, but our intimacies will always stand before a void. Our understandings of self will always be questioned. This is one of the reasons we read and write books: We want to dive deep into a character’s mind, even if they’re fictional. We write stories to give small windows into our own machines. It validates who we think we are, provides catharsis, and offers an escape. We want another person who can wholly see inside us, learning our minds in every way down to the metaphysical subconscious. The girl pounding you in the shower holds a mirror up to you, since we learn to know ourselves through other people. There’s something visceral about encountering our psyches through that mirror, while also acknowledging we will never experience it ourselves. We will never look into our own eyes, so we must ask of our partners, “Cum inside me and then tell me what you saw.”
These fleeting pleasures are all we have: Simple bits of flesh and words. The peepholes into our souls are mere glimpses. I can ram my rock hard cock into someone’s cervix, but I will never live beneath the pores of their skin or between the electricity of their secret thoughts. I can illude myself with intimacy, but sex has its limits in giving us access to minds and bodies. Nevertheless, it’s one of the few methods we have. The illusion of intimacy is still enough to drive us insane, chasing after every person who seems like they could understand our mysteries. Swiping endlessly through Tinder wondering if anyone would ever get us. We crave the flash in their eyes, balls deep, that tells us exactly what they see and feel inside us.
Accepting this fruitless urge is unbearable, but it can aid us in uncovering why we are so often left sexually dissatisfied. The emptiness is so much more empty when we don’t know its origin. Even after the best sex of your life, you will want sex again. It will never be the ultimate be-all-end-all of your desires, even if you orgasmed a hundred thousand times topping your childhood crush. In a few days, you will be laying on your back, fascinated by a crack in the ceiling, wondering why you need to do this. You are exasperated by the very nature of sex, a nature that doesn’t allow us to fully live inside each other.
Anya Neeze is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Boink! runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.