Even if you have devoted your life to a spiritual practice in which the vow of celibacy is taken, or you are unable to have it for whatever reason - you have likely thought about it, have had it, endured it or mastered it in the past or are practicing it in the present. It has been referred to as being “known” (Bible), intercourse and reproduction (high school education classes - between those of the opposite), intimate relations (therapy), consensual insertion (Oxford Handbook of Forensic Medicine), screwing (Merriam-Webster) and “doing the nasty” (Urban dictionary). It is one of those rare things that is a verb as well as a noun; “it” is Sex. And it is profound.
Our preoccupation with sex starts at an early age with the natural exploration of our genitals, and stays with many until the day they die. Sex is such an integral part of our being, even if we don’t participate in its myriad forms directly It is all around us, and within us. Our identities – the way we view ourselves and the way others view us – are fundamentally bound to sex. Sex is everywhere in many nations, openly selling every imaginable product, or proclaimed as the ultimate tempatation that we must pray hard not to be led into its evil. Curiously, the way we each view our personal time zones has a lot to do with our feelings about sex – whether those feelings be good, bad, indifferent or a combination. How so? Let’s break it down.
Past Negative: Sex Wasn’t a Good Experience
Past negative sexual experiences can lay out a long-lasting trip on our psyche. A bad sexual experience (e.g., premature ejaculation or sexual abuse or just heavy guilt about having been done at the wrong time, with the wrong person, or the wrong way) can cause some people to believe that they will by no means be good/good enough at sex or they will never be comfortable enough with themselves for it to feel good. For many when this is the case, every time they are presented with an opportunity for sexual intimacy they retreat back into themselves and maybe beat themselves up – “How can I last longer”, “How can I get being abused out of my mind?” - because they are stuck in the past negative trauma. And when they do accept the invitation for sex, or hunker down and try, try, try, some feel like service station providers while others feel they are doing dirty. They lose hope of ever having a satisfying, mutually fulfilling sexual experience.
Present Hedonism: Let’s Do It- Now!
Sex for those who live in the moment (present hedonists) can be as exciting as it can be dangerous. Present hedonists are sensation and novelty seeking. They give fully, take fully, and make sex an all out pleasure without limits. However, when caught up in the heat of the moment, there may be little or no thought given to current safety precautions to head off future disasters. But in that moment, present hedonists are having some kind of fun! Unfortunately, there can sometimes be a hefty price to pay for that wham bam, e.g., unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. When present hedonists get carried away or allow an addictive personality trait to run rampant, the trouble starts. Think: serial adulterer. However, we believe that selected (chosen) sexual present hedonism with someone you care about can be a total joy for each lover. It can heal wounds, strengthen bonds and reintroduce them to the spice of life.
Anticipating sexual experiences can be titillating as well as angst-ridden. Both guys and gals can suffer from performance anxiety. But for guys, as their goods are readily available for all to see, performance can be a particularly hard (pun intended) problem. A myriad of worries might flood the brain (“Can I get this limp thing up?”, “Can I keep it up?”, “Will I die?”) sending blood flow in the wrong direction. For some future oriented gals, they worry about self image ("Will this one nighter turn into a long-term relationship?", "Will this guy judge me?", "Will I die?") Birth control devices and generous lubricant application are a must. For others, self-talk and getting “psyched” are necessities.
And questions remain for both: Will I experience a cosmic O (when I haven’t before)? Will I give as well as receive pleasure?
Want a Better Sex Life? Focus on the Positive
For those stuck in traumatic past negative sexual experiences, know that it is behind you. Move forward and begin creating new, positive sexual experiences. If you are a rampant sexual present hedonist, rein it in, think before you leap and be more selective and thoughtful in each sexual event. And if you are sexually future negative oriented to the point of performance anxiety, take a deep breath and relax into it. Make “new time” to embrace its pleasures fully (you have earned it now with all your previous hard work and sublimation).*
In upcoming columns, we’ll address sex and time perspectives from both women’s and men’s viewpoints, and also some of the new problems facing our youth as they become sexual beings
*Visit www.thetimeparadox.com and take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) to determine your time perspective profile.
Visit our website, www.timecure.com, to view a free 20 minute video - The River of Time; you’ll learn self-soothing techniques as well as how to let go of past negatives, work towards a brighter future, and live in a more compassionate present.
See The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword & Sword, 2012, Wiley Publishing); for strategies to reduce stress and improve communication, visit www.timecure.com andwww.lifehut.com.