Category: Slideshow

Intelligent Lust – In Defense of Casual Sex

The new movie “Shame” has everyone talking about sex addiction once again, or should I say still. If you have been following my blog you know I don’t believe in sex addiction any more than I believe in food addiction. These are necessary elements of life we can control, although sometimes people are out of control and do not want to take responsibility for their actions.

The following is an excellent article I found in the publication Psychology Today.

In Defense of Casual Sex

By Stanley Siegel, LCSW
Created Dec 12 2011 – 6:17pm
“In the new film “Shame,” an examination of the extremes of human sexuality,  Brandon Sullivan, a successful, handsome New York executive afraid of intimacy, has frequent, random sex with prostitutes and strangers. At work, he sneaks off to masturbate in the men’s room or extends his lunch hour with  trysts. 

The movie  harshly depicts casual sex as an emotionally disconnected, meaningless defilement, as reflected in the the title.  Brandon Sullivan is never permitted sexual enjoyment.  Instead, his getting off is presented as alienating and self-destructive.  The only time he he attempts to have sex with someone he knows, a co-worker,  he can not perform.

In the end, punishment awaits Brandon, the presumable fate for all who have casual sex, as punctuated by the suicide attempt of Brandon’ sister, who is similarly portrayed as sexually depraved.

In a recent interview, director Steve McQueen said the film is based on his research on sexual addiction–a condition whereby the insatiability of sexual cravings is rooted in self-hatred and the avoiding intimacy.

But “Shame” draws an inaccurate comparison between casual sex–an experience typically outside the context of a romantic relationship–and reckless sex. Under the right circumstances, casual sex can be deeply meaningful and more intimate than the sex in a long-term relationship. Those of us who have casual sex know that its not devoid of emotion, nor does it lead to the unhappiness Brandon suffers.

Society dictates that only within marriage or another long-term relationship do sex and intimacy exist and popular culture upholds this as the ultimate formula for happiness.  Despite the high divorce rate, tax laws, for example,  continue to bestow benefits on married couples, while relegating single people to second-class status.

How many times have you heard: He’s afraid of intimacy?  In arguing against casual sex, marriage advocates regularly flaunt research purportedly showing that spouses are happier than single people.  But these studies contain a damaging methodology, which cannot be readily identified by their findings.  That is, they fail to consider the guilt and shame that some single people internalize as a result of how society stigmatizes them.

The truth is,  long-term relationships or marriage do not guarantee a satisfying emotional life or sexual intimacy. Everyone knows someone stuck in a barren marriage, whose members have lost their autonomy and in which sex has disappeared. Brandon’s assertion that people do not belong together forever is correct, but too many of us fear facing that truth or consider alternatives to that permanence.

There are times when casual sex actually deepens one’s self-knowledge. With intelligence and clarity of purpose, casual sex is more than instant gratification. By openly exploring our fantasies and true desires with different partners in a way that may not possible in a committed relationship, we can transcend our inhibitions.  With each new encounter we can discover buried parts of ourselves and in time experience the totality of who we are. We can even experience profound, revelatory moments that unravel our past and show us things we never knew about ourselves. We can satisfy unmet needs by embracing those aspects of our sexuality that are deeply meaningful and we can choose to let go of those that no longer have importance.

Upon turning sixty-five, I recognize that casual sex has often been as intimate for me as were the two long-term relationships I have had. Unencumbered by a complex commitment, the freedom found in casual sex allowed me to move beyond self-consciousness and achieve a level of honesty and authenticity for myself, and my partner, in a way previously unknown to me. With each new experience, the process of discovering and sharing specific sexual interests required verbal and non-verbal communication that was intensely focused and rapidly telegraphed.  And  self-disclosure and vulnerability were as necessary a part of these exchanges as they were in a committed relationship.

In fact, my experience ran contrary to the myth that intimacy needs to be sustained to be meaningful. Even so, I have learned that not all casual sex is meaningful, even though you may get a physical “spike” from its novelty, but it is no more empty than the rote sex that typically happens in marriages.

Some casual encounters presented the unexpected, both splendid and repellent. Some led to love affairs, others to friendships. Together, these experiences offered insights into the deepest levels of my psyche that have been as rich and transforming as any epiphany I had during my long-term relationships. Over time, I refined my own sense of morality based on respect, trust, honesty and generosity.  Finally, I stand in awe of the extraordinarily creative ways that we, as human beings, express who we are through sex.

There is nothing that I have asked of a patient that I haven’t asked of myself. Like many other patients, I took Jane on the journey of Intelligent Lust that I have written about in previous columns and in detail in my book, “Your Brain on Sex” where casual sex is of central importance.

Jane’s younger sister got muscular dystrophy at a very young age, for which Jane’s parents felt terrible guilt. They steadfastly tended to her sister, going beyond what was necessary to accommodate her handicap.

Not only did Jane feel guilty for being the healthy child, she also suffered silently from her parent’s inattentiveness towards her and wondered what it would be like to be the center of attention. Furthermore, in high school, Jane, taller than the boys and less physically developed than the girls, was cruelly nicknamed Olive Oil.

As she matured, Jane developed sexual fantasies in which she was a beautiful enchantress who could charm and seduce even the most handsome and unavailable man.
At thirty, Jane, feeling terribly isolated, came to therapy, after suffering what she called a string of “failed relationships” with men she described as “emotionally unavailable.”
“They put their work or families ahead of me,” Jane told me.

Jane soon recognized that by choosing men who gave her so little attention she reenacted her childhood predicament. And while she was highly sexual in her relationships, she also abandoned her true sexual desires in favor of pleasing her partners whose approval she desperately sought. Sex in these relationship quickly grew empty and inauthentic, misguided by a lack of self-understanding.

During therapy, Jane learned to identify her fantasies and true desires, where they came from and what function they served in her life. She gained insight into how she had eroticized her parents’ neglect as an attempt to turn painful feelings into pleasurable ones.

At first, Jane had a variety of casual sexual encounters, some of which did not require her to please the man. Not unexpectedly, she began to honor and express her sexuality more confidently. She also approached dating with a new perspective, one that didn’t anticipate rejection.  She began to look for men who were a better sexual match, using Intelligent Lust as her guide. And she learned to replace her plain and neutral self-image with a more flirtatious and seductive one, like the enchantress she imagined herself to be.

Within a year, Jane met Bill, a man who had also been a tall and awkward adolescent with sibling issues. As a boy, Bill had been compared to his handsome and brilliant older brother. Despite his physical awkwardness, Bill was a varsity basketball player. Still, even as his star rose, he felt uncomfortable around girls and developed a reputation as a geek. In his favorite masturbatory fantasy, however, Bill imagined a harem of woman chasing him.

With my coaching, Jane got Bill to talk about his fantasies, and soon they agreed to act them out, setting up regular dates in bars. Together, they developed a script for their encounters. Pretending they didn’t know each other, Jane would flirt with the anonymous tall guy, flatter and charm him, then invite him home. At first, Bill would resist, but inevitably he would surrender to the intense seduction. In bed, he would make love to her for hours while she teased and taunted him until they both climaxed, satisfying their sexual fantasies.

The experience continued regularly over several months and as they grew more trusting of each other, Jane and Bill’s emotional and sexual exploration deepened as well as its intensity and satisfaction.

Acting out her fantasies changed Jane. She felt empowered. Not only did she feel her deepest needs had been validated and affirmed by Bill, but for the first time she felt “real.”

Although Jane ended the relationship with Bill several months later when she relocated for a job, it was a profoundly helpful experience that served to correct a lifetime of neglect. Their high level of intimacy served as a standard for her future relationships. The healing that occurred during her few months of sex in a non-committed relationship allowed Jane to vanquish her childhood hurt and feel empowered.”

Polyamory – Three in marriage bed more of a good thing

Polyamory might just be the solution to our low marriage stats and high divorce rate. Glossary at the end of this article, great reference for writers of erotica and those interested in this style of relating-ship.

“For weeks, Sydneysiders and Melburnians who believe menages-a-trois and other polyamorous relationships can be just as committed, loving and valid as marriage between a man and a woman, slaved away together to earn their place in the sun.

They drew up plans, sawed wood, hammered nails.

Finally, in early March, it was ready: the first float celebrating polyamory to join the colourful flotilla in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For psychologist Nina Melksham, it marked the moment when the poly community, like gays and lesbians a generation ago, had come out of the closet to stand up and be counted.

“The polyamory community has always been supportive of the values of equality and acceptance,” Melksham told Inquirer this week.

“Participating in the Mardi Gras was a natural way for us to affirm these values.”

Boosted by this success, Melksham and her polyamorous friends are planning an even bigger show for next year’s festival.

The polyamorous community has a further cause for celebration.

They believe last weekend’s vote by the ALP national conference to change the party platform to legalise same-sex marriage is a base on which they can build.

The agenda now is to seek recognition and the removal of prejudice against multiple-partner relationships, perhaps legislation to grant them civil unions and even legalised polyamorous marriage.

“My personal view is that any change that moves us towards a more loving, open and accepting society can only be a positive,” Melksham says.

Melksham runs a counselling practice in Lilyfield in Sydney’s inner west catering to polyamorous clients. She describes her own domestic arrangements as “a bit complicated at the moment”: she lives with her former husband, who she describes as her “best friend”, and is in a “vee” relationship with two boyfriends who live separately.

“I had the experience of being deeply in love with more than one person at a time. I had the choice to either deny the reality of the situation or grow and become a more accepting and tolerant person.”

The polyamorous community in Australia is a broad church, with the slogan of its very active website being “ethical non-monogamy”.

It is increasingly prominent, with organised groups in most capital cities that hold regular discussion sessions and social nights.

Polyamorists generally distinguish themselves from the monogamous gay community, and from those seeking kinky casual sex. Some also see themselves as different from heterosexual polygamists where the “hinge” member has sexual relations with the two of the opposite sex, but the two of the same sex do not have sex with each other.

Rather they may form, in polyamorist lingo, a “polyfidelist triad” in which there is an equilateral triangle of sexual activity.

Such was the argument of 46-year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, when they were formally united in 2005 in a small Dutch town with Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they’d met several years earlier.

Although Dutch law bans polygamy, because there was no actual marriage in the technical sense, just a common law civil contract, the trio’s union was allowed.

Two court cases, one in Canada last month and one in Australia earlier in the year, show that while British-based law remains resolute against multiple partner marriage, it accepts that a common law threesome is not illegal or even necessarily family-unfriendly.

In the Canadian case, British Columbia Chief Justice Robert Bauman upheld Canada’s anti-polygamy law, but left polyamorous families free from sanction if they do not commit an overt act of multiple marriage.

The Australian case involved a man whose wife had left him for another man and a woman, and taken the children. When the trio set up house together, mingled their respective offspring, and shared the same bedroom, the jilted husband applied to the court seeking an urgent order that the children be removed from the “immoral” household.

But magistrate Philip Burchardt rejected the application, saying the threesome seemed to be “thoroughly decent and honest people” and “I do not regard the relationship . . . as being damaging to the children.”

One of Melksham’s boyfriends, Stuart Dixon, believes polyamorous civil unions or marriage are set to come on to the national agenda following the ALP conference vote.

“I personally feel it would be appropriate to have some sort of legal recognition of multiple partners,” Dixon said.

For those who fought the battle last week at the ALP national conference in support of the change of the party platform, the emergence of “poly pride” is a dangerous development.

Inquirer this week contacted some of the most vocal supporters within the ALP caucus for legalising gay marriage: Finance Minister Penny Wong, Schools Minister Peter Garrett, Social Inclusion Minister Tanya Plibersek, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, left convener Doug Cameron and Stephen Jones, who plans to introduce a same-sex marriage bill.

Inquirer asked them: “Do you, given your deep commitment to the topic, believe that at the next ALP national conference the platform should be further amended to legalise marriage among polyfidelist triads?”

Not one would speak to Inquirer on the topic, and most did not reply.

After some pressure, Attorney-General Robert McClelland responded, going out of his way to make clear that while gay marriage might be on the agenda, legalised menages-a-trois were not. “Irrespective of whether the definition of marriage is extended to include same-sex couples, there has been and is no suggestion that the definition should extend to polygamous relationships,” a spokesman said.

Even the whisper of recognising polyamorous unions presents two threats for supporters of gay marriage: one from the Right, the other from the Left.

Niko Antalffy, a sociologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University who has studied polyamory and has been “actively polyamorous for about seven years”, says: “Of course they are scared.

“Having multiple partners sounds radical and they know that it won’t fly with the mainstream community,” Antalffy says.

“If you want to promote gay marriage you want to distance yourself with the slippery slope argument as much as possible, so no one will think that marrying your goat is next.”

The polyamorous marriage concept has indeed given conservatives such as NSW upper house MP Fred Nile more ammunition following the ALP national conference vote. “I warned people this would be the next stage,” Nile tells Inquirer.

“You’d get threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, wanting the same rights. Some people even say they want to marry their pet animal.”

The polyamorist threat from the Left to the gay marriage campaign is more subtle. It raises the question whether those who support gay marriage on the basis of equal rights are hypocritical in not being prepared to even discuss the possibility of committed polyamorists being eligible.

The polyamorist community includes a large component of tertiary-educated professionals and academics because, they say, they are able to assimilate the intellectual sophistication of the polyamory thesis.

“We now know that sexual monogamy is neither natural nor common and has never been,” Antalffy says.

“The institution of marriage and cultural assumptions of monogamy arrived with agriculture and property ownership. In the last four to five decades everything has changed, though: religion has lost its grip on life, we are rich in material goods as well as opportunities, we have greater choices in lifestyles, there’s more equality and equality of opportunity, women can make do without having to be married to a man who keeps her.

“And this brings out human desire, which is multifarious to say the least. Polyamory is the sweet result of modernity.””


* * *

Compersion: The antidote to jealousy: taking joy in the knowledge that a partner is having sexual relations with someone else.

Friend-with-benefits: A relationship where friendship comes first, with occasional sexual contact and no partner-level commitment.

F..k-buddy: A relationship focused primarily on the sex.

New Relationship Energy (NRE): The excitement and energy-boost experienced in the first glow of a new relationship.

Open relationship: A general term meaning consensual non-monogamy.

Polyandry: A woman having more than one husband.

Polyfidelity: A polyamorous relationship of committed and long standing where members agree to be sexually exclusive to one another.

Polygamy: One partner of one sex having more than one spouse of the opposite sex.

Polygyny: A man having more than one wife.

Primary: The commitment relationship which may involve living together, marriage, mutual finances, and co-parenting.

Quad: A relationship between four people, each of whom is intimately connected to all the others.

Secondary: A relationship which may involve sporadic sex, but of a lower order in terms of priority, time and commitment.

Triad: A sexual equilateral triangle in which each member is romantically connected to the others.

Vee: Where one person in a threesome, known as the “hinge”, is sexually involved with two others, but those two are not sexually engaged with each other.

Evolutionary mystery of female orgasm deepens

Personally I consider the female orgasm a gift from the Gods, for subjecting us to labor pains during childbirth. What are your thoughts?

September 2011 by Aria Pearson

“Whence the female orgasm? After 40 years of debate evolutionary biologists are no closer to deciding whether it evolved to give women a reproductive boost, or whether it is simply a by-product of male orgasm evolution. The latest attempt to settle the dispute involves quizzing some 10,000 twins and pairs of siblings on their sexual habits.

Some evolutionary biologists reckon the female orgasm is adaptive and possibly influences mate choice, strengthens pair bonds or indirectly helps to suck sperm into the uterus. Others argue that women have orgasms for the same reason that men have nipples – being highly adaptive in one sex, the traits tag along for the ride in the other.

Brendan Zietsch at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Pekka Santtila at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, think they can help to settle the question. If female orgasm is a simple by-product of male orgasm, the duo argue, then similar genes would underlie orgasmic function in both men and women. As a consequence, opposite-sex twins and siblings will share more similarities in their susceptibility to orgasm – “orgasmability” as Zietsch calls it – than pairs of unrelated people.

Timing’s everything

To measure this orgasmability, the researchers used survey data from just under 5000 sets of identical and non-identical twins and pairs of regular siblings. The questionnaire asked about the time to orgasm in men and the frequency and ease of orgasm in women.

In keeping with previous findings, Zietsch and Santtila found that same-sex identical twins had more orgasmic similarity than same-sex non-identical twins and siblings, showing that genes do play a role in orgasmic function and apparently providing some evidence that the by-product scenario might be correct.

However, contrary to the expectations of the by-product scenario, the two researchers found that opposite-sex twins and siblings had virtually no correlation in orgasmability.

Premature extrapolation

“This indicates that the genes that influence orgasmic function in men are not the same as those in women,” says Zietsch. In other words, male and female orgasm evolved through different genetic routes, and the by-product hypothesis is incorrect.

Those who favour the by-product hypothesis think such a firm conclusion is premature. Kim Wallen at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, points out that the study measured different things in men and women – timing to orgasm versus likelihood of orgasm – and so a correlation would be unlikely. Zietsch counters that different measures were necessary because of the different nature of male and female orgasm.

“Of course, it’s possible that different questions would reveal different results,” says David Puts, a behavioural anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, who places himself in the adaptive camp. “But this study certainly isn’t helping the by-product theory.””

Journal reference: Animal Behaviour, DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.08.002

Internet Addiction ? – Porn, Chat rooms, Forums…

Internet addiction feeds into our brain’s wiring system. Our eyes become almost fixated on an image or we insist on linking, perhaps to be surprised by the next screen. Whether it is porn, clothing catalog, chatting, forums, fb, the latest book, we are riveted to our seats in hopes of finding friends, partake in gossip, locate the latest fashion, etc. It is a marvelous tool that demands a lot of self-control. In a society where people often indulge to the extreme, witness the obesity epidemic, ‘porn addiction’, we are talking about a control issue, not addiction. Self-control needs to be resurrected.