Am I obsessed with sex or am I passionate about and in love with it?
Well, this depends on how you are defining the terms. The Oxford English Dictionary provides, I believe, the most flexible of dictionary definitions for the word “obsessed”:
“Originally: to beset or harass (a person, the mind) in the manner of a besieging army or evil spirit; (now) spec. to fill the mind of (a person) continually; to preoccupy; to haunt, trouble, or interest as an obsession. Frequently in passive with by, with, etc..”
–Oxford English Dictionary
In the sense that my mind is “filled” with thoughts about sex, I am obsessed. That is to say, I think about it very often throughout the day.
Do I think about sex more or less than others?
A LITTLE BIT OF SEXUAL BACKGROUND/CONTEXT
Before I proceed, let me get some contextual information, such as my demographic characteristics, out of the way: I’m a white, heterosexual, 34 year-old man, married to the love of my life, polyamorous in terms of orientation, though I’m not in any other relationships at this time. Indeed, I’ve never been in more than one relationship at a time; admittedly, I would love to, and find the concept of sustainable polyamory/open relationships/ethical-consensual non-monogamy quite fascinating! I’m college educated—I received my Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with dual concentrations in political science and history. I also was three credits shy of a second Bachelor’s in English. Currently, I’m working towards my MFA in Creative Writing and I’m a writing tutor.
I lost my virginity when I was 19 and THAT CONTEXT was actually traumatic because I was so nervous, insecure, self-loathing, negative, high, hypersensitive, paranoid, et cetera that for months I actually could not keep an erection. I’d be hard right until it was time for intercourse and then I’d soften up. This led to more self-hatred and negative psychological experiences, which perhaps to this day, I am still seeking ways to “compensate for” somehow. In addition, when I get too “into my head” the bad memories return and I get paranoid that I’ll fail to “perform” again. Last summer I went through a second bout of erectile dysfunction. Though things in life are complex and there’s often more than a single factor at play, I believe that the increased dosage of Effexor I was on caused the problem since when the dosage was decreased and I transitioned to another anti-depressant, the impotence subsided. Experiences of sexual dysfunction can really “mess with your head” as you may wonder “what’s wrong” with you…and…it’s frustrating! You want to have sex!
I have had four sexual partners. Most of my “sexual variety” has thus been a result of fastidious porn consumption. (I say “fastidious” because I am extremely picky about my porn. Indeed, currently, I only support three sources of erotic media: 1) Adult Friend Finder [this website fascinates me because people are so utterly open about their recreational sex, swinging, et cetera, and often post videos….so it’s real, and theoretically all parties involved are consenting] ; 2) Lustery.com/Ertsies.com [material produced by Paulita Pappel, and material by Erika Lust— though due to low finances currently I’ve not yet really explored the world of Erika Lust the way I would like to– I had discovered Pappel first. I do watch Erika Lust’s trailers and follow her on Instagram, however. But for Pappel and Lust, I would not have managed to think through the abundance of shame that defined most of my experiences with porn…particularly because they go out of their way to try and produce erotic content “ethically.”])
Despite the fact that I have on a few occasions utterly mortified myself and made an idiot of myself by telling a few women about my intense sexual attraction to them, in hope that there might be some reciprocation (which alas, there never really was), I am actually not the sort of guy who tries to “hit on” women or as some so-called “pick up artists” do– MANIPULATE vulnerable women such that by appealing to their insecurities in just the right away, I somehow “make” them want me.
I think that’s immoral, and of course it’s very phony.
The kind of sexual “courting,” if you want to call it that, that fascinates me, is the phenomena of real intense, visceral sexual connections/attractions—that celestial sort of experience where people feel utterly compelled (and thus, mutually consenting) to engage in sexual activity with one another. That “spark” that makes fucking…inevitable! The sort of sexual attraction that exists between SOULS, as opposed to status marking and sick manipulation. A spiritual kind of lust! (Or am I too idealistic because I’ve watched too many Hollywood and Netflix sex scenes?)
So, that’s just some relevant background.
And back to my question: do I think about sex more or less than others? (As to why I should care, that’s a different question, I believe).
A study by One Poll and Pure Romance found that “the average American thinks about sex eight times a day.” How many times a day do I think about sex? Ha.
I’ve never counted! I just sort of…think about it when I think about it!
I’m most prone to thinking about sex after my morning writing session, exercise, and meditation. This is usually also my favorite time of the day to masturbate. The mind happy for a break but not yet fatigued. Indeed, getting off provides the perfect mix of soothing tension release and a kick of energy…like a snack, perhaps, though in my opinion, better. (I often do not snack, though I realize I should.)
…DIGRESSION: SHY AND INSECURE ABOUT DISCUSSING SEX; SO, TRYING TO BE MORE SEX POSITIVE
The fact that I feel so shy and insecure about writing on my masturbation habits and other deep, sexual thoughts and feelings actually compels me to write on.
Why do I feel this anxiety as I share this with you? Perhaps it’s a bit of paranoia. What if my mother, stepfather, siblings, other family members read this and express their disgust with my sexual openness?
Not that I assume they necessarily would. (Care, that is) More or less, I come from a “sex positive” family.
My grandmother made no secret about having a vibrator. My father filled the walls of his house with pictures he took of naked women, he wrote a book on sex and marriage—this was his specialty as psychotherapist, despite three failed marriages!!!—, and he boasted rather flamboyantly about being “trisexual” in the sense that he would “try anything” and he boasted likewise about his porn, which he had a most massive collection of, in numerous large, black garbage bags, which I admit, I did eventually explore in my adolescence. He had sex toys in his closet. He swam in the nude. He was, I think it’s fair to say, passionately sex positive, though also a bit unhealthily obsessed, in that while he had a very enthusiastic approach to sexuality, it was also quite crude, blunt, unanalyzed, not quite integrated into any expanse of thoughts on sexual HEALTH and its relationship to one’s overall holistic health.
(His self-published book on sex and marriage does tap a little into mental health, but in terms of how he spoke, as a father, about sex, he never offered any guidance on how to think about it…actually, I do not even recall him ever discussing safe sex and its importance. He didn’t express interest in my romantic relationships, insecurities, et cetera.)
In contrast, when I was 16, my mother started buying condoms and keeping them around, should I, by some miracle end up losing my virginity. (Yes, it would have seemed like a miracle. My self-esteem as a teenager was traumatically bad! I never even understood how I ended up, here and there, with girlfriends. And as soon as a relationship began I was already anticipating the end since I could not come up with any reason why a girl would want me, other than that I could at times be a “sweet talker.”] The worst two experiences in this respect: 1) when a girl who was friends with an ex-girlfriend sent me instant messages telling me she thought I was “ugly”; 2) when I told a girl I thought she was gorgeous and she responded that I had a “gorgeous personality,” which I took as implying she indeed disliked my looks, at least compared to how I had liked hers. )
The best example of my mother’s sex positivity I think was her love for Howard Stern. Whenever I was in the car with her in the morning, Howard Stern would be talking on the radio. Howard Stern, as I heard him then, actually reminds me of my father somewhat. Similarly crude. Interestingly however, I don’t remember anything in particular that Howard Stern ever said on his radio show. But I did watch his movie Private Parts when I was pretty young. The movie came out in 1997 and was playing on TV by 1999 ; I was 13. I don’t think I saw it when it aired on USA however. I do remember the uncut version on HBO or Showtime or Cinemax. (I have been trying to find documentation of when the movie first aired on the uncensored movie channels to get a clearer image of how old I was when I saw it, but I have not been able to find any).
Actually, perhaps the even more “sex positive” decision my mother made was that she never—so far as I can recall—forbade me from watching whatever cable tv broadcasted. And as it was my dream in those days to be a movie star, she was pretty liberal with letting me rent and watch R-rated movies, if she thought the movie’s acting had considerable merit. For example, I was a major John Travolta fan, and she allowed to watch Saturday Night Fever when I was in fourth grade—so 10 years old. That in itself was a mind-blowing thrust into the world of sexuality. A whole bunch of new words I had never heard before.
What does “cunt” mean? What does it mean when one of the characters in the movie said “but she didn’t cum yet”–? So that’s what it might look like when people have sex in a car? Et cetera.
But, it really was the cable tv world that gave me the fuller introduction to sex.
Thank you, HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax!
HBO- PART 1: MY GATEWAY TO THE MYSTICISM AND FUN OF SEX
HBO’s greatest gift to my young, sexually curious mind, was the TV show Real Sex. It’s interesting to me how my memories of that show, though extremely vague and abstract over all, nonetheless are loaded with really pleasant FEELINGS—not just bodily! I mean, psychologically and spiritually. Watching people talk about sex and have sex “soothed my soul” for reasons I absolutely did not understand. There are however, two examples from 20th century literature that sort of describe it.
YES! The universe of sex that was opening to my mind seemed like a mix of a universe of play, and something referred to as “naughty,” but which is not quite so “naughty” that you close your mind to it.
Then there’s the brilliant passage in Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
YES, again! (Yes! Yes! Oh fuck baby, yes!!! – ha ha, just had to have fun there)
Sexuality struck me as one of the most mystical aspects of the perceivable universe! Comparable to the beach and beautiful song melodies and cinema. That was probably it! Not only did sex appear to invite me into more of a woman’s soul, but a most fascinating dimension of her soul, as each woman expresses herself sexually, and the pleasure of sex, so uniquely. In essence/most fundamentally, this is how the show Real Sex struck me.
HBO PART 2
Real Sex presented sex as a fascinating socio-cultural…thing. It wasn’t like conventional porn or softcore porn or a Hollywood sex scene. Most of the segments in the documentary featured groups of people engaged in some sort of unique spin on how to experience sex. Some segments explored strip clubs or other exotic dancing type events. Some covered orgies. Some orgies were very tantric. Sometimes food was involved. On other occasions, people were filming their sexual fantasies by dressing up in a special outfit and having sex with a unique set design in the background—like maybe a king and queen in the royal bed. Most amazingly, the show often included clips of people orgasming.
The discovery of the female orgasm… I think it was probably the first time I ever found some nuanced aspect of sex most exceptionally exciting—I mean, like as opposed to other aspects, other fetishes, et cetera. Since then, I’ve almost always required that my porn include female orgasms.
Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe my immense love for this wonderful thing, except to say that very little in life makes me feel closer to god…or if not a god, then…the miraculousness of the universe and of the human capacity to experience the miraculousness of the universe. Perhaps it is the fact that there’s very little that drives women to more intense pleasure than a great orgasm and this thus has a most encouraging and positive quality.
There’s probably something to the intimacy and depth of it as well. Unless you are a Don Juan, so to speak, or a heavy porn consumer, a person’s orgasm is not the most common thing she or he or xi shares with you. It has more novelty. It’s more “personal,” also. And it’s a deep share. Not like “hello, how are you?” or a smile or shaking a hand, et cetera.
It’s also a person in one of their more vulnerable situations. Unless you’re immune to some feeling of awkwardness as a result of the stigma surrounding sexual openness, you’re “putting yourself out there” and you are in fact taking a risk! Some people will think you are and refer to you as a pervert, a slut, a deviant, a hedonist, NSFW, dirty, for mature/adult audiences only, associated with that which should not be discussed at the dinner table, et cetera.
…TO BE CONTINUED…
- “erotophilia” which should not be confused with “nymphomania” or “sex addiction” or even necessarily “hypersexuality.” These concepts may bear some relation to one another in certain circumstances as of course certain factors may lead to certain other determinant factors and indeed I have wondered if I was sometimes all of the above and consumed to a point of unwellness in lust, fascination, and obsessive-compulsive sexual stimulation seeking but that is wider question regarding the difference between a virtuous and healthy passion for sexuality versus an unhealthy addiction to it. I just want the term “erotophilia” in its distinctiveness to be clear/
Foundational work in sex research working with the term—”Erotophobia-Erotophilia as a Dimension of Personality” by William A. Fisher, Leonard A. White, Donn Byrne and Kathryn Kelley, published in the Journal of Sex Research volume 25, No. 1 (February 1988, pp. 123-151)—says this:
“According to our theoretical model, erotophohic persons have negative affective and evaluative responses to sex and should therefore show generalized avoidance responses to sexual cues. Erotophilic persons, who have positive affective and evaluative responses to sex, should experience generalized approach tendencies to sex.
…According to our conceptualization erotophobic persons should find sexual activity to be relatively aversive and should avoid it, whereas erotophilic individuals should find sex more pleasant and should seek out sexual experience. (p. 137).
Among their concluding remarks: “Erotophobia-erotophilia appears to be a determinant of avoidance versus approach responses toward a constellation of sex-related behaviors…” (p. 147).