“I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.”
Rita Rudner, Comedian
Dr. J’s been very busy teaching some very intensive workshops, and now I’m feeling bad for having neglected all of my faithful readers. But fear not, I’m back and hope that all is forgiven…Did you miss me?
In the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the fact that while some sexual concerns are indeed the result of physiological factors, the reality is that we all have a variety of individual concerns that are directly related to one or more aspects of our own individual sexual lives. Keep in mind that these individual concerns are quite real and deserve more than just a brief mention. So, if you’re new to this blog, this is where I remind you that we’ve been discussing nothing less than the origins of the many (and I certainly do mean many) types of sexual concerns common to each and every one of us. As I’m fond of saying: If you have a pulse, you’ve had a sexual concern!
In the last two posts, we investigated various types of sexual concerns that are the result of socio-cultural factors such as inadequate information, ignorance, fatigue, over-work, or complications brought on by relationship issues. This week, we’re going to look at various emotional or psychological factors that can affect our sexuality.
Don’t Touch Me There!
We all have SOME emotional baggage: those nagging little thoughts that pop up at the most inconvenient times and prevent us from enjoying ourselves to the fullest. Maybe you’re afraid of the dark, and that’s why you find yourself getting squeamish in theaters. So when someone asks you out to see a movie, you say you’d prefer to wait for the DVD. So much for THAT date…
Imagine how these seemingly small personality “quirks” can affect our sexuality. Here are a few examples:
- Some of us may avoid sexual encounters because we don’t trust that someone, anyone might actually care for us. For instance, if you were raised in a family environment where no one ever praised you or treated you as a good person, you may feel a sense of worthlessness. These negative feelings can seriously impact your ability to trust that you are, in fact, “love-worthy.”
- Some of us may find that our sexual pleasure may be inhibited or nonexistent due to:
1. Past experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional harm: If you spent your childhood protecting yourself from someone you thought you couldn't trust, it can be very difficult to allow yourself to let go enough to enjoy intimate physical sensations.
2. General personality problems due to attachment, rejection, cooperation, or entitlement: This is actually quite a biggee: For various reasons, many of us just can’t seem to “connect.” We either pick the wrong partners or we always seem to do something that alienates someone, and then we end up alone. Again.
3. Depression or anxiety: Anxiety is the mother of all enemies of sex. It’s difficult if not impossible to get turned on when you’re worried about, for example, paying this month’s rent. And depression has a way of wearing you down until you have absolutely no energy left at all.
- We may inhibit our sexuality due to fear of sexual acts or their possible consequences. Some people have experienced a devastating loss in their lives and fear another loss, so they isolate themselves. Others may fear that being sexual will lead to gaining a “bad reputation” in their community or with their peers. Still others may not completely trust contraception or risk reduction to protect us from either an unwanted pregnancy or an STD.
Help Is on the Way
Has this been a cheerful little litany or what? Cheer up! None of these “quirks” is a life sentence, and all of them can be successfully relieved with one or more of the following magical tools: education, counseling, really good drugs. That's right--we can learn the facts about risk reduction and contraception so we can choose the method that feels right for us. Counseling can help us resolve our fears about sexuality and intimacy. And with a little help, we can find a medication that can diminish depression or anxiety without affecting sexual response.
Taking the first step may seem like the hardest thing to do, but if you just let yourself take a little step and then another, you’ll be amazed how far you can get. Anyone feel like taking a walk?
Next week: Who knows where we’ll be going or what we’ll be exploring? Tune in to see where our next sexual journey takes us.