Is The Best Kind Of Sex Brainless Sex?

This week, I’m thinking about something I call “horny cognitive dissonance,” a concept I first understood in the back of a cab. All the external factors were deeply unsexual: the ripped-up seats, the driver blasting traffic reports, the Taxi TV blaring Matt Lauer with a seemingly broken mute button, the hot night reeking of garbage. I noticed these details, but I was so deeply committed to my own horniness and the horniness of A Man beside me that I just…could not care. My brain, I realized later, had simply shut off higher cognitive functions and all I could think about was getting it.

“Cognitive Dissonance” is defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” It’s like when your brain realizes that gel manicures are actually bad for you but you still pay lots of money for them, or when you know a green juice is good for your body but you can’t even put your lips around that straw because they’re so gross. Horny cognitive dissonance is when you’re trying to get it but your brain won’t stop talking to you for one goddamned minute. In that moment between me, A Man, and Matt Lauer, the dissonance stopped.

I’ve always prioritized a certain kind of reckless sexual behavior: I believed the best sex was brainless sex. If sex was good, I thought, I wouldn’t think about what I looked like, or what my partner was thinking, or if I had left my flat iron on, or what I was going to blog about on Monday, or if I even liked that thing My Partner was doing, or if they even liked the thing I was doing, or any of the billions of thoughts that I can never, ever turn off, no matter how desperately I just want some peace and quiet from myself.

Not coincidentally, this kind of sexual congress is…rare! In my entire life, I can think of maybe six instances of sex with a partner where this feeling or state was achieved. And, of course, I treasure those memories and send them sly winking emojis in my brain all the time, but here’s where more dissonance comes in: those times are not, I repeat not, on my personal list of Best Times I Did The Sex, as I, a grown woman, like to refer to my sexual history.

During the best sex I’ve had, my brain has been fully “on.” I noticed what was happening: what I looked like, what he looked like, parsing those little eyebrow twitches and open mouths. If they liked what I was doing. More importantly, if I liked what they were doing. A certain amount of horny cognitive dissonance kept me alert.

Do you have a theory of “good sex”? Is it better as id, or ego, or somewhere in between? Tell me!