“Aliveness”, “being alive” is necessary for a comfortable and maturing adult. I use aliveness here in its broadest sense – energy, excitement, arousal, direction, sensuousness, personal awareness, intimacy. This is an inner experience. Sigmund Freud used the word “sexualization” to mean “aliveness”. He theorized that one’s sexual development drives development and maturation. I see aliveness as all-encompassing, including genitalization. I use the word sexualization interchangeably with aliveness.
The infant is born with generalized, nonspecific, unfocused, amorphous “aliveness”. Simply put, she/he is sensitive and excitable all over, even the genitals. Anyone who has delivered newborns is aware of their unabashed excitement. This general arousal is at least neurologically/physiologically mediated. With appropriate nurture, nourishment, care and stimulation, the energy of life fuels development. The eyes see, the ears hear, the mouth tastes, the skin responds to touch, pressure, stroking, pin pricks and temperature. The various internal organs, muscles, bones and joints acquire greater mass. Personal awareness and intimacy awakens.
In our culture, in socialization, interest in gender is encouraged by adults, parents, peers. Genital awakening occurs in adolescence along with other sexual characteristics, hormones, breasts, pubic and axillary hair. In the western world gender different dynamics complicate the picture. With increased openness, freedom, and improved technology, children at a much younger age are being awakened to the genitalization aspect of sexualization further complicating the picture. This complicates the emergence of the experience of intimacy.
As we develop we experience intimacy, awareness of ourself, of loving our self and others. We have a greater self-appreciation and awareness of our aliveness, of our feelings, thoughts, sights, smells, sounds, tastes, our heartbeat is more apparent, the skin tingles. Polymorphous replacing amorphous excitement as in infancy. Exploration of sexual activity is an extension of exploration of emotional/personal intimacy. Loving ourselves enhances reawakening and owning all our physical being. Loving is expressed as sharing, promoting integration and mutually creative experience.
This all happens through the interconnection and interaction of our genetic (inherited), chemical (physiologic/hormonal), structural (physical), cognitive (thoughtful), affective (feeling/emotional), behavioral (active) and spiritual (faith and beliefs). The management, awareness and appreciation of our own feelings, knowledge, values, beliefs and thoughts make it possible that we value these in others. Engagement in an interpersonal relationship is proactive, purposeful and generative.
Aliveness provides energy channeled lovingly in our work and our play.
In relationships, sexual arousal may be the initial attraction, however emotional arousal is vital to developing the full self and in development of the full relationship. This sharing needs to be mutual, desired by both, at a pace and in ways comfortable to both to support full development of self as a mature adult. Physical/genital sharing generally means significant emotional commitment, and clarity of the nature of the commitment.
Whether single or in a partnership aliveness is necessary for development of a mature adult.