Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by LTE, Dec 4, 2012.
I know that my attitudes regarding porn, sex and women have changed vastly.
LTE, interesting post on ATG's journal about how many of us were taught at a young age that sex is evil. My adolescent years would have been much less stressful had I known it was normal for a boy to want sex.
PMO is a private escape that many of us seek. There is no fear of rejection from the screen or your hand. Sadly, we should not be trying to escape. Even though my counter does not look good, I have grown a great deal in this journey. Life can be really good and it can be really bad. It is better for me without PMO.
Thanks for being here.
I came from a religious background and they definitely tried to control sex to an alarming degree. How alarming? Well, they went so far as to suggest that intercourse between marriage partners should be an "occasional" pleasure; which could lead one to question if even the most modest sexual appetites fell beyond the boundaries of propriety. I should also mention that the religious group in which I was raised forbade oral sex. (No, I won't mention their name.) They have even been known to frown upon positions beside the missionary position, hinting that other positions might lead one into depravity.
I think that the shock of seeing people having oral sex, and that the women seem to enjoy it, was a bit overwhelming to me. Seeing people having sex freely (swingers, etc) was another thing that caused a bit of overload. I had been conditioned to think that people doing such things were out of control and powered be raw, animal lust. Porn showed another side of this; that there were people having sex that went beyond the bounds with which I was familiar, but these people were in control and, apparently, making conscious decisions that were quite different from what I had expected.
Only fairly recently, have I come to understand that sex is a very important part of a healthy life. I still believe in marriage, but I no longer look down upon people for choosing other paths. As long as no one is being harmed or coerced I have no objection to the choices others make. I feel strongly that "consenting adults" need to be sober with regards to the responsibilities of sexual activity. Unplanned pregnancies and transmission of STDs come readily to mind. No matter what degree of social freedom exists regarding sexual activity, it is important to realize that there are potential consequences and these must be faced responsibly. Another thought involves the emotional aspect of sexual involvement. If one party is giving their heart, while the other is merely "getting off" there could be emotional repercussions that could far outlast the experience. If two uncommitted people choose to have sexual intercourse, they need to be on the same page regarding the future of the relationship and the emotional significance of the act. The bottom line is this; no one has to justify their actions to me, but sex is an area with significant potential for harm if it is not practiced both carefully and with concern for the welfare of the partner. While it may not always be an emotionally significant act, no matter what, that partner is giving you the most they have to give, and that is still significant. Even a one-time quickie is significant, or at least can be.
I am trying to come to terms with my new view of sexuality. I no longer think of oral sex as a forbidden act, forever out of my reach. Perhaps more significant, I no longer believe that the things I saw in porn are necessarily selfish on the part of the men involved. Some women truly enjoy giving oral sex to their man and many men enjoy performing oral sex on their woman. Various of positions can provide variety and some of these might be exceptionally gratifying to one couple, but not to another. There's no way to know without trying.
[End trigger alert.]
And that's where I come around to, realizing that porn has little meaning unless we are shocked or surprised by it. Seeing a photo or video of someone nude, or nearly nude, is out of the ordinary to the everyday experience of many people, so it can be quite stimulating if we superimpose attitudes upon the models. But the attitudes we presume may not be realistic. At least some of the models in the nudie magazines I lusted for in my teens were probably just models that saw it as another job. Models are conditioned to be unashamed of their bodies, so a nude photo shoot could be relatively innocent on their part. I once read an interview with a famous pinup model and she came across as somewhat naive and innocent. She was pretty and unashamed of her body, but I never had the impression that she was promiscuous or anything close thereto.
Even models/actors in hardcore porn may not have the same view of their actions as I did. Some of these people see sex as being a very insignificant act and don't feel that they are doing anything outrageous. While I don't share their view, knowing this attitude on their part definitely has an effect on my perceptions of the whole matter. I have come to realize that the world of porn tends to be populated by people with a much different attitude than my own. What seems exciting and forbidden to me may be routine and meaningless to them. This also is the crux of my point; porn actors seem to have found a degree of freedom that seems incomprehensible; if you are from a sexually restrictive background.
It strikes me that a realistic view of sex is the answer. The first time I saw hardcore porn it was B&W photographs of oral sex and vaginal intercourse. My reaction, at the tender age of 14, was that normal people didn't have oral sex. I saw the people in these photos as outliers; far away from respectable society. But sex itself is healthy, and people need an outlet. Sex can, and should, be fun, playful and enjoyable by both partners. If responsibly practiced, it can be an escape; and a much better escape than PMO.
This post is in line, lte, with what you seem to be emphasizing 'lately', that one needs to change their views on porn, masturbation and women.
I've appreciated a post you did a while back, though I can't seem to find it now, how that the relationship between porn and masturbation has to be severed. And that one's views or beliefs about porn itself need to be changed in order to brake the spell, as it were, which has ensnared the mind.
Another thought that has come through your posts [in general] is that if one yet sees any kind of value to porn (as porn), or to masturbation, as if those things have any kind of salvific or redemptive or meaningful answer to either the unresolved brokenness within us, or to the stresses and anxieties of life, then such a one will continue to be shackled thereto.
Blessings. Always a benefit to read your posts, brother.
Another thought: For me, I don't think that porn would have had the hold that it did on me, were it not for hyper-morality, or religious legalism.
That's pretty much where I'm coming from. Gary Wilson has identified how addiction works with regard to porn and, IMO, that is a serious, but definable problem. For some folks, myself included, there is an underlying cause that draws someone to porn, whether addicted or not. Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I think this stems from a sense of disconnection from others. I always envied the kids in the neighborhood that seemed to be able to operate freely with regard to socialization. I was always the outside, in great part because of an oppressive religious background which kept me at arm's length from others outside my religious community. When kids got older and their social activities first began to include a sexual component I was all the more distanced for two reasons; by then the kids in the neighborhood saw me as an outsider and weren't about to involve me in their activities and secondly; I was taught to think of these kids as amoral, so even flirting would have been out of bounds for me. I must confess that I envied the relatively innocent activity that happened around the neighborhood, not so much for the sexual component as for the fact that it involved a degree of acceptance that I had never experienced in my social activities.
While I still believe in moral standards, I can see that it is unreasonable to shield an adolescent to the degree that they simply have no concept of dealing with the opposite sex. Children that are thusly over-protected are, in reality, less shielded from harm. If a child grows up seeing things in a very binary fashion they are not well equipped to deal with reality. It's no wonder that persons over-protected while growing up might be literally overloaded by porn the first time they see it and this would pave a smooth road for addiction. At least IMHO.
That's right. One just doesn't wake up one day and say, "I want to look at porn." For myself, there was a deficiency in my development, and porn links back to my discovery of masturbation as an early coping mechanism to compensate for my emotionally deprived and neglected childhood. Discovering masturbation may very well have been directly in relation to having found pages of printed porn on our elementary school playground, which I then took home.
Perhaps it was innately known that sex was for deep and intimate connection with one's significant other (significant precisely because there's a deep emotional connection to that person).
The isolation factor you mentioned also is a major driver, especially being as it is shame based. You and I have talked, and I know of the particular environment, having myself belonged to a spiritually abusive church for 9 years. There wasn't a sermon that didn't go by that didn't at some point mention the evils of fornication, lust, adultery, etc. Even though toward the end I kind of tuned them out until I felt that the Lord removed me from them, so to speak- the damage had already been done, reflected in what became a 20-plus year addiction to sexual issues.
The envy factor is something perhaps that I need to explore some: was I jealous of those who didn't have to worry about offending God, or 'church leadership'? Though I viewed folk with a judgmental eye, could it also have been an envious eye as well? I'll have to confirm whether that was so for me, or not.
Despite having overcome lust and masturbation for a short while (maybe less than a year) back in 1990-91, after a year of dating my [now] wife, when I was exposed to some provocative music videos when alone on T.V. (someone else's, as owning a T.V. was frowned on), there was a shock-factor that you mentioned. Regardless, in addition to the religious shame-factor at work in the background of my own story, it was actually a knock-out waitress (who's name I even remember), who payed me attention, that seemed to ignite this thing. This was right along with my then girlfriend rejecting me when I told her of a teenage trauma I had experienced.
I completely agree about not over protecting one's child. I'll set boundaries for my daughter, and let her know what's right and wrong in terms of Biblical morals, but at the same time am careful to give her (relevant to her age) freedom to come to her own conclusions, which honestly don't line up with mine. But, she has a good head on her shoulders, and I have to guide and not dictate what will be her future in regards to sexuality. I think letting her know how valuable she is will be key, and that a young man ought to have self-control, at least in respect of the opposite gender.
I had been overprotected in many ways, and sex was simply so taboo in our household. It was seen as something shameful, something dirty- rather than as the beautiful and wonderful gift God intended it to be.
One problem that has developed in my consciousness is how to deal with sexuality in a badly broken world. I believe in marriage and commitment but the circumstances of the world we live in make this standard very difficult to attain. I believe that much in this world completely askew these days and I have a growing sense of compassion for the challenges faced by you people trying to navigate the complexities of modern life; made all the more challenging by he fact that safely and responsibly conducting a sex life is not so easy in contemporary society.
Poor Is a symptom of the society in which we live. The astounding volume of porn available on the Internet bears testimony to the fact that there are many, many people willing to be used as subject of sexually explicit materials. I no longer stand in judgement of such persons; I only hope that such people are not compromising their futures as a consequence of their choice.
I agree. The environment is no longer conducive to a black and white standard of expectancy. Sure, we may know what's right for ourselves, but we can no longer impose that on others, or on society in general. It's also my strong conviction that to do so was never our (the Church's) mandate to begin with. Today's society is a reflection of the Church's failure in that regard.
I for one, who himself needed so much compassion and understanding, no longer dole out judgment but rather unconditional grace.
Hey LTE! One thing I have noticed in my journey with my husband regarding acceptable and unacceptable, is that the views on sex that are drilled into a woman's head are not unlike what is being spoken of here. We are taught that only "bad girls" do certain things. And if we enjoy it then something is wrong with us. I was adventurous and had many things I enjoyed with my husband. Once I found out that he started using years into our marriage and then recovered, I wondered if during our whole marriage he thought about porn while we did those things. And then if something was wrong with me because of what I liked. So this actually works both ways. Even in the recovery, I worried that I was just replacing the porn with me. The difference is we talk about it.
However, what two people enjoy is ultimately between them and if both are consenting, have a good time.
Hey Ite, once porn is out of the picture, what's still the problem about intimacy?
I hear you describe the dangers etc. in society but how's your intimacy life these days and where's the struggles in exactly?
Take care and thanks for following up in the earlier part of my journey here. It has been very helpful.
Twenty plus years ago, a friend told me that his teenage daughter had taken a topless picture of herself to send to a boyfriend. They attended a church that strictly forbade premarital sex, as did I, but I advised him at that time to make sure she had access to birth control. It wasn't that my standards had changed, but I felt that he had to deal with the reality of the situation, not the ideal of what the situation should be. The problem is, the world in which we live is pretty crazy and things happen in the context of a flawed society. In a perfectly functioning society things might be quite different, but we do not live in a society that functions anywhere near to perfectly.
I am not trying to turn this into a Christian sermon, but I should note that I've come to see grace as very important. We simply cannot attain to the ideals perfectly in this world and forgiveness is a must.
This counts to the very heart of what I have been realizing lately. People spend a lot of emotional energy being shocked and outraged by the bedroom behavior of others, but, IMHO, they shouldn't. Up until relatively recently in my life, oral sex was all but unthinkable, because of the attitudes that had been drilled into me. Learning that not everyone sees it this way has been a shock. Somewhere along the line, I had come to the conclusion that women only received pleasure from Missionary sex and that anything else they consented to was strictly to appease their partner's lust for the perverted. I don't see it that way anymore and now realize that many women enjoy a variety of sexual acts. Much like yourself, my personal standard in this matter is that as long as the acts are not harmful, and are entered into by mutual consent, then I see no problem.
That having been said, I think that people should make informed choices and realize that not everything portrayed in porn is necessarily a good idea. Just a degree of common sense regarding sanitary practices can go a long way. I remember reading, years ago, that simply showering before and after sex, or using a washcloth on the genitals (bother before and after), can go a long way in preventing disease. It's not just STDs I'm thinking about either; even colds and flu can be transmitted sexually. Likewise, HSV-1, the virus that causes cold sores, can infect genitals, and be every bit as much of a problem as HSV-2, classic genital herpes. Avoiding oral sex when you have a cold or canker sore is only considerate.
My intimacy picture is cloudy at best right now. There is someone in my life, but we are separated by many miles. She has faced some serious challenges and at one point we were barely on speaking terms, but she has sought me out recently and we are communicating much more effectively than before. I love this person, so it's not simply a question of moving on. I need to see this thing through to its final conclusion before I am emotionally free to move on.
Your reply to Gracie shares a bit of your journey Ite.
I too was allowed to see how much more casual, free, sexual intercourse may be with my new gf. I thank the universe and her for that. It is a beautiful journey, and so beautiful to share with someone instead of discovering alone.
I hear you in your reply to me. One thing standing out is that you are not free to move on. You are always free. Maybe you meant you wish to first walk the path a bit more with this woman. I invite you to monitor yourself there to make sure you choose this. And that you don't somehow tell yourself you must. You're to old to waste time on conventions and fears to do wrong.
Intimacy with others never reaches levels deeper then where you dare to tred within yourself.
You've guided many people here. This likely strengthened you as well. Hope this helps you on your journey in this area of intimacy with others and yourself.
What I mean by this is that I am in love with someone and until that plays out completely, for better or for worse, I will not feel free to move on. The last thing I want, at this stage in life, is to enter into a new relationship while I have unresolved feelings about someone else.
Smart move, LTE. Take the time to find out what's what and time to heal so that you can go into a new relationship fully (if need be). Kudos.
Wow.. I vividly remember the first time reading your journal and you were around 100 days free and now you are 950 odd that's amazing LTE. I haven't checked in your journal for a long long time, hope you're doing well mate.
Hi LTE, and all you other 40+ guys.
I am very pleased to have found this journal section. There is a gold mine of experience and success all around here. Hats off to you deep rebooters, life changers.
I am at a tough point in my recovery, I made it this far, but the relationship with my wife has reached a point where we are going to separate. I will be alone for two months as a trial. There are many positives that I can see about this, but it also means loneliness, self pity, regret, sadness, all that stuff that I used to be incapable of dealing with and currently have a learners permit to deal with.
Do you have advice for someone who has made great strides but feels the presence of the addiction under the surface preparing itself for its opportunity to strike?
I like your tag line.
FWIW, physical addiction explains much about the process but once those chains are broken there is still the matter of behavioral aspects of the problem. In simple terms; external forces don't have to dictate your choices. You have the power of decision.
Having been divorced, I can tell you that separation is not easy, but it has ZERO to do with whether or not you view porn. Self-medicating, whether with porn, alcohol, drugs or what have you, will not solve anything in your life. You have to keep this in mind; porn will not solve any problems. So, the harsh reality is this; your choice (and it is a choice) is whether you want to face life with all of its ups and downs, or to temporarily brush reality aside with porn? It's that simple.
The only other thing I can offer is to keep in mind that the models/actors in porn are people; with feelings, aspirations and dreams of their own. Humanizing porn actors (as opposed to objectifying them) is a key step in all of this. I mention a book in my signature line and it helps greatly with this problem.
Thank you for the wise words.
I totally agree. When I first started the reboot, just an argument with my wife was a greenlight to relapse.
I am going to stay focussed on the decision. If I decide, and it is all my decision, to relapse, I will be doing so to run, and when I finally stop running, these feelings will be right there waiting to be processed.
The sooner I pass through it, the sooner I can feel the belonging, peace, satisfaction, connection that I actually long for and that p is such a base and unsophisticated synthesis of.
I removed my counter today. I believe that porn is behind me at this point. It's not a matter of white-knuckle abstinence, my relationship with porn is forever altered. Yesterday I watched the movie "Witness", with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. For those of you that aren't familiar with the movie. it's about an Amish widow, whose son is a witness to murder. Harrison Ford is a police officer that lives among the Amish, in part to protect her and her son. There was a noise outside my house and I paused the movie so that I could investigate. When I came back inside I realized that I had paused the movie at the very moment when Kelly McGillis was topless and facing the camera. My reaction was . . . nothing. I was no more affected by this sight than I would have been if it had been a picture of a bird or a tree. I felt no sexual intrigue, no lust, nothing. I saw her as a person, not as an object of sexual interest.
My point here is simply this; something has fundamentally changed in my thought process, as regards sexually explicit materials. I no longer feel a twinge of excitement if I drive past a porn shop or a strip joint. I no longer seek a shortcut to sex. What I mean by a shortcut it that I now see sex as being something that can happen in the absence of an intimate relationship. Seeing Kelly McGillis topless doesn't suggest a sexual relationship between her and I, or even the possibility thereof. The scene served a purpose regarding the plot of the movie and nothing else.
This is a key step that has happened gradually over the last few years. Whatever it was that made the thought of sexually oriented material exciting no longer excites me at all. I see this as stemming from a change in my perspective regarding how I see others. I used to idealize others and dislike myself. It followed that I would view the subjects portrayed in porn unrealistically. Somehow, they seemed immune from the harsh realities of my existence. But the facts do not agree.
Persons acting porn are at risk. They have serious risk of disease, in spite of testing. (I've heard that many of the disease-test results are forgeries.) They tend to have short careers and, in most cases, do not retire from these careers with wealth. Former porn actresses are known to have lost jobs once their porn background became known to their current employers. They are seen as a liability by employers, because their porn background might offend customers, clients, or even co-workers. I assure you, no matter how carefree the actors in a porn video may seem, they do not have any exemption from the potential consequences of their actions, short or long term.
I used to have a degree of envy for people in porn. They seemed to have overcome the realities of life. I didn't agree with the morality of their choices, but I envied their apparent freedom. In essence, it came down to an escape from reality. I knew the realities of my own life, but the people in porn seemed to have found a reality that was less harsh than the reality I faced on a daily basis. In other words, porn was escapist entertainment for me.
The problem is, there is no escape from reality. Life operates on a cause & effect basis. Sleep around promiscuously, and you are at risk for disease, unwanted pregnancy, and a host of other potential problems. Porn actors have no exemption from reality in this regard, and even with industry safeguards, HIV transmission has occurred among porn actors. Superman may be able to fly in the movies, but the actor that portrays Superman on screen had better not fling himself out of any windows when he is out in the real world.
So, I'd like to offer the following opinion regarding compulsive sexual behaviors, addictions and other habitual behaviors that are potentially detrimental. It's very tempting to look around ourselves and conclude that there exists a world free from the mundane cares that all of us deal with. Advertisers know this and some advertisers try to create an impression that users of their products are somehow immune from the mundane reality, at least with regard to some aspect of their life. Various popular movements have used this approach as well, suggesting, or even insisting, that adherence to their precepts gives one a distinct advantage in facing life's challenges.
Experience, however, shows that life is neither so simple, or so compliant. Wealthy people still succumb to disease and die. Famous celebrities often have tumultuous love lives and more than a few of these have ended up alone. Porn implies a world of carefree pleasure, but the lives of porn actors would suggest that this is a myth. There's nothing to envy about the people portrayed in porn.
Once you accept the fact that these are just people, no unlike yourself, then you can begin to see them as fully human, and not just as objects for sexual entertainment. Once you have mentally placed these people at your level, as fellow humans and not demigods, you can feel true compassion for them. Once you do that, it becomes a lot less enjoyable to see them in a sexual situation.
Sex is part of life. It's not the province of only the rich or beautiful. At its very essence, it is common and ordinary. Porn seeks to make sex into something it can never truly be. Once one realizes these things, the power of sexual imagery vanishes into thin air. I thank George Collins' book for helping me to realize this.
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