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Tantra vs “normal” sex: What is the difference?

One of the most common questions I have been asked about Tantra is if it isn’t just a very drawn out and long sexual encounter, which is a common misconception. In fact, Tantra is a completely different idea than “normal” sex, largely because the “focus” and “objective” is different, which makes it a very different experience altogether.

It is true that both forms of sex have some similarities – and in fact, start in very similar ways: e.g. by some sort of mutual attraction and stimulation. However, from the departure point onward, things get quite different. For “normal” sex, the idea is to have a slow (or sometimes fast) rise of sexual energy, leading to an eventual climax in the form of an orgasm. In other words, the focus is largely on achieving orgasm, and while it could take longer or be more quickly done, there is only a fairly limited attention to how you get there.

In Tantric sex, the focus isn’t on the orgasm at all. In fact, some people (though by no means everyone!) suggest that any form of orgasm should be avoided – as it releases all the sexual energy, and that could lead to an abrupt end of the intercourse.
Instead, the focus is shifted towards the “now”: during tantric sex, the participants don’t try to focus on orgasm or work towards a climax, but focus on the feelings they have at this very moment. I.e. how does it feel to be touched in a particular area, how the feeling changes with repeated touching etc. As you are not working towards orgasm, tantric sex can sometimes feel a bit more like (intimate forms of) massage – although clearly the focus during a massage is again very different. For two males, this can mean that erection is lost at times, which is perfectly fine during tantric sex, as the focus is not the climax itself. In fact, much more, tantric sex in an ideal form can be playing out in waves of higher excitement and lower stimulation. The trick here is that each time the next wave is coming, the wave can often be a little “higher” in terms of sensation than the previous one. This sometimes gets described as “endless orgasms” – although generally it isn’t about achieving several orgasm during one particular session, but rather coming fairly close to climax, relaxing again, before again coming close etc..

Because there is no identifiable climax (or release) in tantric sex, sessions can take a very long time: moving from wave to wave. Some tantrists will even almost stop… relax, chant, drink, eat etc.. between waves. While the latter may be extreme, the main point is to remember that the focus is not on any form of climax – but simply on enjoying the very moment of “now”, focusing on the togetherness, connectedness and intimacy at this moment. Simply put: a sort of “mindfullness” idea of the sexual experience.

Both forms of sex are therefore completely different in the outcome: the main outcome of tantric sex is a series of (prolongued) moments of intimacy. Climax is not directly relevant to the tantric mindset. For normal sex, on the other hand, generally the orgasm is in focus, i.e. it is much more goal oriented and focused on achieving a specific outcome. Of course, you can combine the two: for example, through an extended period of tantric experiences first, with the ultimate wave directed towards achieving orgasm. In that case, it wouldn’t be a true form of either – but possibly a very enjoyable experience for everyone.