6 Ways To Take FULL Ownership Of Your Own Damn Sexual Choices

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6 Ways to Develop Sexual Integrity Even If You're Kinky AF
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Even if those choices are kinky AF.

The basic definition of integrity is when our behaviors coincide with our values, words, and beliefs. Sadly, today far too many people struggle with how to understand and express themselves with integrity regarding their sexuality.

The modern world offers a limitless variety of instantaneous opportunities for the sexual gratification of even those kinks, fantasies, and desires we feel most afraid and ashamed of internally. What these impulsive choices reveal is that our professed morality and words don’t necessarily match our innate, hidden, and deep-seated desires.

This conflict between our sexual desires and behaviors versus our moral beliefs and identities creates tremendous pain and struggle for many people.

Though a tiny minority (less than 1%) of people experience consequences or problems due to sexual behaviors, between 7-13% of us worry about controlling our 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, especially swingers or some gay men — but, they feel much worse about the sex they are having.

Consistently, these inner 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 about themselves afterward, whereas people who believe casual sex is immoral and slutty feel bad about themselves if they have it. This is one reason 90% of casual sex encounters involve alcohol. People use alcohol to overcome the internal barriers that keep them from acting on their desires. Then they feel bad in the morning, left with only a guilt-laden hangover.

 

Here are just 6 of the multiple ways you can address this conflict within yourself and begin to experience greater sexual satisfaction with integrity.
 
1. Examine your values. 

This is something we should all do many times throughout our lives. Do you hold the same political values as your parents? Younger people today view homosexuality as acceptable, despite the fact that most of us grew up being taught homophobic values. Many people grew up with racist beliefs and ideas which they now reject as independent-minded adults. The same process can be true when it comes to pornography and sexual behaviors such as kink and casual sex.

This doesn’t happen by accident. To examine your values, you need to consider your beliefs about casual sex, masturbation, sex toys, anal and oral sex, porn, infidelity and a great many other aspects of sexuality people don’t like to think about.

Consider Bill Clinton’s famous question, "What IS sex?" A recent study indicates that 11% of people believe anal stimulation by another person which doesn’t include orgasm isn’t actually sex. We must think about these things, especially in light of today’s technological opportunities.

Is it cheating if you have cyber-sex with someone? What if the other "person" is an artificial intelligence program

Sexual scientists and researchers examine these attitudes using tests like the Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale or the Trueblood Sexual Attitude Questionnaire. As technology and society change, sexual practices develop and change faster than these tests can keep up with. The BDSM Test is one example of measurement tools that can help you figure out which kinks you’re interested in (although it doesn’t get into the moral conflicts you might have about these desires — you'll have to feel that out for yourself).

 

2. Watch more porn. 

Some fascinating things happen when people watch pornography. They become more egalitarian, more supportive of women and men sharing roles at home and at work, and less accepting of gender-based discrimination. They also become more accepting of sexual diversity and less judgmental of homosexuality. They become less religious, and may even experience crises of faith.

Enjoying porn leads to people changing their beliefs about sex and gender, and, in some cases, rejecting dogmatically rigid sex and gender values they were taught in church.

Our society is becoming less dogmatic about sex, more egalitarian, and more accepting of sexual diversity as a whole. Our ongoing pain and struggles emerge from a conflict between these different sets of values, and watching porn can lead to people being more accepting and less judgmental of both themselves and others.

This is why sex therapists are typically required to attend SARs (Sexual Attitude Reassessment seminars) where they are exposed to porn and sexual diversity, and forced to confront and examine their own beliefs about the “right” kind of sex.


 
3. Learn about yourself by examining your own desires and fantasies.

Some people lead complicated, parallel lives. They work hard to live a life that looks just like the life they were taught to want. Then, in their secret sexual fantasies, in their heads, online or in real life, they explore aspects of sexuality they don’t feel comfortable with expressing their public life.

One man I worked with had a lifelong interest in urophilia, sexual behavior involving urine. When he was caught at work watching this porn, he had to make his interests known to his wife of 15 years. Turns out, she was GGG (Good Giving and Game) and willing to incorporate it into their sex lives, and now he doesn’t have to keep it a secret or feel such tremendous shame over it.

Some people have deep, burning attractions towards certain porn performers. I tell those people to learn from that attraction and to accept that this performer represents qualities they find sexually appealing and attractive. Your job is not to go find that porn performer, but to use that attraction to understand what kind of sexual qualities you want in a partner.


 
4. Talk about your desires. 

The overwhelming majority of people (some studies suggest well over 90%) never share their sexual desires or fantasies with ANYONE out of fear of rejection. This inevitably leads to a discrepancy between our sexual realities and our deep desires. It’s hard to have integrity living this way because we constantly feel as though our lives and desires are in conflict.

Sometimes, we don’t actually want our fantasies to come true, but, true sexual integrity often involves acceptance that the fantasy exists — acceptance of oneself and by one’s partner.

I encourage people to find ways to share their fantasies and interests with their partners and for people to accept and avoid shaming their partners when they share their fantasies.

Fantasies and sexual interests aren't always something a person HAS to have. The 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.

When we can learn to accept sexual diversity in fantasy and desires, in ourselves, and our partners, we can eradicate the shame that makes sexual integrity so much more difficult to achieve.

 

5. Develop a personal code of sexual principles that feel right for YOU. 

What are the key components that make sex feel healthy, right, and good for you? Honesty? Consent? Mutuality? The point of all this work is to lead to you deciding what your own personal principles are for sexual integrity, as opposed to using an “act-based” model of sexual health.

Religions have long taught that this kind of sex (heterosexual monogamy) is good, while other kinds (such as masturbation or homosexuality) are bad. We need to help people learn to decide for themselves how to engage in sex with integrity from the basis of their own ethical values.

"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." — Maimonides

 

6. Change your behavior.

Once they've done the work above, some people may need to change their behaviors and increase their self-control. You might be surprised to hear me say this, but if our impulsive, spontaneous, and disinhibited behaviors cause us pain, it’s important to prioritize self-awareness and mindfulness in these choices.

I tell patients that “It’s time to turn off the autopilot and take control of the wheel. This is YOUR life.”

Then, we work on ways to increase awareness around decision points, those moments when they can exert greater self-control in their choices.

Avoiding alcohol in situations where they may be tempted to engage in values-inconsistent behaviors is a key first step. If you don’t want to feel bad about having casual sex when you’re drunk, step one is to stop drinking. Step two? Figure out, while sober, why you want something that you have to be drunk to do, and the things that go into this internal conflict.

When people engage only in sexual behaviors they can experience with integrity, honesty, respect, consent, and mutuality, they resolve the conflict of living in a world of sexual opportunities for which they were unprepared by abstinence-only education and religious teachings.

These are the true steps towards developing sexual integrity and ending the deeply painful struggles many people now experience.

 

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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