The study itself can be read here.
Eight major themes were discovered: being present, connection, deep sexual and erotic intimacy, extraordinary communication, interpersonal risk-taking and exploration, authenticity, vulnerability and transcendence. Now, I want to make it clear that in no way did the study say (or am I saying here) that these are the components you need to achieve the best sex possible. These were simply the components that were universal to the 64 participants of this study. However, all in all, there’s a good chance that if you choose to work on these 8 themes, your sex life will improve in some way or another.
It’s also important to state that most of the participants discussed having to first reject previously constricting beliefs, scripts and “rules” about sex that they had learned from their family, friends, and society in order to be able to get to the place where they could achieve the following 8 components.
Being present, focused and embodied
This theme was the most prominent of all. It is about being completely and utterly in the moment. As one participant put it, “The difference is when I can really just let go and completely focus and be in the moment and not have that, you know, running commentary going through my head about anything else.” And as another participant stated “The room can be on fire and I probably wouldn't even notice.”
Connection, alignment, merger, being in sync
Whether you only just met the person or if you’ve been with them for years, having a strong connection with your sexual partner is crucial for magnificent sex. A participant stated “One can have great sex with, for example, very little penetration or very little physical contact ... with an intense amount of energy.” It is about being in synch with one another and losing sense of where your body ends and where your partner’s begins. Clear boundaries, self-knowledge and self-acceptance are all essential for this to happen.
Authenticity, being genuine, uninhibited, transparency
This is being uncompromisingly honest with yourself and completely transparent to your sexual partner(s). It’s being completely uninhibited and unselfconscious during the sexual encounter. Leave your body issues and insecurities at the door and let yourself be free with your partner. One participant described it as “Being able to be selfish, impulsive, free of cares, unguarded, unplanned, in the moment, emotionally available, emotionally uncontrolled.” It’s being completely emotionally naked with your partner and revealing yourself completely to them, and having them completely and fully accept you in return.
Extraordinary communication, heightened empathy
The participants in this study emphasized complete and total sharing of themselves, both verbally and non-verbally, with their partners before, during and after sexual encounters. Participants believed that being "able to listen, to respond, to organize information, to recognize, what, when, even if you're not told, that one kind of touch elicits a certain response in your partner and another does not" was vital. The emphasis was on the importance of sensitivity, truly listening and paying attention to little things. Using touch and knowing their partner’s breathing, shuddering, goose bumps, and everything was used as a direct and erotic form of communicating with one another.
Deep sexual and erotic intimacy
The participants’ sexual partnerships all included genuine acceptance and admiration, deep mutual respect and caring for one another. Described by one participant; "It's part of the way you act with each other long before you're actually engaged in any kind of, you know, technical sex." During great sex, participants felt, "loved and wanted, accepted and cherished". Trust in one another was absolutely essential to achieve this level of intimacy.
Transcendence, bliss, peace, transformation, healing
Many participants experienced a high during sex that was similar to the one achieved during medication. Bliss, peace, awe, ecstasy and soulfulness were all words used to describe the state of mind they were able to achieve during the sexual encounter. When you get to this state of mind, great sex "can change you, can make you more than you are." The participants described a combination of heightened altered mental, emotional, physical, relational and spiritual states occurring in unison.
Exploration, interpersonal risk-taking, fun
Sex for these individuals was seldom completely serious. "I definitely like people who can ... be silly and can play, you know, like kids ... explore it." Many believed that you needed to be adventurous during sex, where you try to see where you can take yourself and your partner. Laughter and a sense of humour were crucial and, for many participants, completely essential for exploring and interpersonal risk taking. One woman said, "I can always tell that people are having great sex if they are laughing." A male participant discussed how he always laughed at least a little bit during great sex, "either at the beginning, at the end or in the middle." Simply put, “If you're not having fun, it's not great [sex]."
Vulnerability and surrender
Here, the focus was on, “being able to put your entire being in somebody else's hands.” Sex where you can say and be anything and still feel loved, wanted, cherished, and accepted. You always feel safe. Many participants discussed surrendering control over their bodies and just being able to go where your partner leads you. Many participants stated the willingness to surrender as a quality they sought out in a sexual partner.
Two more categories were made that were “minor” because only a minority of participants touched on it. Those that discussed them believed that these 2 elements weren’t enough, in and of, themselves to create fantastic sex. The first theme was intense physical sensation and orgasm. The majority of men and women believed that orgasm was neither necessary nor sufficient for magnificent sex, but it was just so commonly a part of it that it was difficult to separate them in their minds. As one participant stated, it’s about achieving an “utter feeling of total satisfaction.” The second theme was lust, desire, chemistry and attraction. Some participants discussed how strong these feelings were between them and their partners and how these elements were common across their greatest sexual experiences. As one participant put it, "In each of those encounters [there is] a component of, 'Oh my God! If I go another minute without my hands on you, I shall simply cease to be.'"
All in all, it was found that magnificent sex has nothing to do with sexual functioning (maintaining an erection, being able to get wet enough on your own, reaching orgasm, etc) and even the actual sexual behaviours and acts engaged in are much less important than the mindset and intent of the people involved. The researchers also found that the definition of “sex” is so much more than society’s standard definitions of it. It can include times when even no physical contact was involved. The researchers also speculated that “ perhaps much of what is currently diagnosed as sexual desire disorders can be best understood as a healthy response to dismal and disappointing sex”. If you’re not having great or even good sex, why would you really want sex in the first place?