Sex and Emotional Communication: Lessons from the Animal Kingdom


From the wisdom of the porcupine, you can learn a valuable lesson about emotional communication.


Professor John Gottman, the relationship researcher and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (New York 1999), tells a great story about what he observed watching a video about porcupines having sex. He describes the particular problem of the porcupine – quills. Of course it is important for a male porcupine to ensure that he will not get hurt in the process of courtship and mating. When the male approaches his female partner, they face each other and the male puts his paws up to her face and rubs her face for a really long time. After a while he goes to the back to check, but still keeps on attending to her until she is ready.

With humans it’s a bit more complicated. We might not have any physical protective spikes but in a partnership we can feel stressed, become hurt or experience difficult emotions. So it is important for us to be able to connect in a way in which both ourselves and our partner feel safe, we trust each other and we allow time rather than applying pressure or force.

Try to identify for yourself what it is that you have been feeling and find an opportunity to communicate it to your partner.