Integrity is when our behaviors coincide with our values, words and beliefs. Sadly, today we have a great many people struggling with integrity in their sexuality, as the modern world offers them impulsive, instantaneous opportunities to seek sexual gratification, even those desires that we are afraid and ashamed of. It’s often those impulsive choices which reveal that our professed morality and words, don’t necessarily match up to our hidden deep-seated desires. That conflict, between our sexual desires/behaviors versus our moral beliefs and identity, is creating tremendous pain and struggle for many people these days.
Though a tiny minority (less than 1%) of people experience life consequences or problems due to their sexual behaviors, between 7-13% worry about controlling their sexual behaviors. People who identify as porn addicts don’t actually watch more porn than other people – they just feel worse about it. The same is true for those who identify as sex addicts – they don’t have more sex than many other people such as swingers or some gay men – but, they feel much worse about the sex they are having. Consistently, these struggles are traced back to the beliefs that people hold about sex, masturbation and porn. These are the beliefs and values these people were taught, in school in abstinent-only education, at home, by parents scared to talk to their kids about sex, and at church, where any sex other than heterosexual monogamy has been condemned.
The same is true when it comes to casual sex. People who view casual sex in positive ways, typically feel better afterwards. But, people who believe that casual sex is immoral and slutty, feel bad about themselves if they have casual sex. This is one reason why as much as 90% of casual sex involves alcohol. People use alcohol to disinhibit themselves, to overcome the internal barriers they have towards acting on their desires. Then, they feel bad in the morning, with a guilt-laden hangover.
There are multiple ways to help people address this conflict.
Fantasies and sexual interests DON’T mean they are something a person HAS to have. A majority of men (around 75% at least) fantasize about a threesome with two women. But only a fraction of men, less than 6-10%, ever make that fantasy a reality. Many women may have fantasized about rough sex with Bigfoot, but I don’t think the American Bigfoot Society has suddenly seen a surge in female membership on expeditions to find the creature. We can learn to accept sexual diversity in fantasy and desires, in ourselves, and our partners, eradicating the secret sexual shames that make sexual integrity and congruence so much more difficult.
David's new book, Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man's Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure explores these issues in more detail, and is available now.
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