Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sex and Guilt

 If talk of sexuality offends you please skip this post.

  A girl vows to honour her faith and remain celebate until marriage, then feels remorseful after giving in to the urge to masturbate. A woman in her mid-forties finds herself attracted to a boy more than twenty five years younger, but quickly shuts down when she realizes their difference in age. A girl fantasizes about her boyfriend's best friend while she's having sex and tries to put it out of her mind. A woman confesses a sexual fantasy about an animal and wonders if there's something wrong with her.

   Something that's become very obvious to me in these conversations is there's a tremendous amount of guilt out there. I want to talk a bit about it because I believe it's not only unfounded but potentially self-destructive.

   Sexual fantasy has a huge advantage over sexual reality because we're in complete control over everything that happens.  It's our mind's playground; we're free to imagine doing anything we want with no consequences.  None. No one's affected and nobody gets hurt because we haven't actually done anything.

   So why is there so much guilt?

   It was once believed if your sex life was adequate you wouldn't need to fantasize (in 1908 Freud wrote, "a happy person never fantasizes, only a dissatisfied one.") Today the opposite is accepted. University of Vermont psychologist Harold Leitenberg, Ph.D., and South Carolina's Kris Henning, Ph.D. reported in Psychological Bulletin that people who frequently fantasize have sex more often, engage in a wider variety of erotic activities, have more partners and masturbate more frequently than people who don't fantasize often. Other studies have reached similar conclusions.

   Sexual fantasies are normal.  If you're uneasy about what's running through your mind, it's important to realize that no matter what it might be there are other people who think and feel the same. We should explore these thoughts and try to understand them rather than be fearful.       

   A few of my female friends have told me they have erotic rape fantasies**, and a couple of them have acted them out with their partners. This is not a wish for it to actually happen.  Most often these thoughts involve an attractive man whose restraint is overwhelmed by the woman's attractiveness; it feeds a want to be desired. Not surprisingly, guilt (and uneasiness) often follow.         

  Near the top of my blog is one of my favourite quotations, "If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders."  It can also be said, ""If you want to know where your desire is, look where your mind goes when it wanders." Perhaps sometimes you close your eyes and find your mind drifting to someone else while making love with your partner. Whether an old flame, a friend or the construction worker you saw earlier come to mind it's nothing to be distressed about, it happens often and is quite normal. The danger lies when the urge to make some of these desires come true becomes overpowering, or if you prefer to live in the world of these fantasies rather than with the reality of sex with your partner. If you're able to keep this in check, in most cases there's little to worry about.

   Fantasies can be good for our sex lives and relationships. They can work as an antidepressant, a way to briefly escape reality, release aggression and satisfy curiosity. Most people don't need a reason, the arousal factor is reason enough. So indulge and let your mind run wild.    

**In an erotic rape fantasy the woman is typically approached aggressively by a dominant and attractive male who is overcome with desire for her.  She feels or expresses non-consent and puts up minimal resistance, he overpowers her and takes her sexually. Her resistance is a token "no" and she enjoys the experience. It's often a common theme in romance novels. This should never be confused with less common aversive rape fantasies where a woman is forced against her will, often violently and does not enjoy the experience. The percentage of women who have experienced rape fantasies is far higher than most people believe, most study results I've seen put it somewhere between 55%-62%.


  1. I dont comment often bc 1 I email you and 2 I am lazy, but great post B. Very true and very important. Hugs

  2. Thanks Barry, I needed this post. -hugs-

  3. Lord knows I can relate to this post. Not for myself, actually, but the last two guys I've dated experienced the guilt! A Muslim and a Catholic. Both were consumed with emotions of guilt and depression when it came to sex. And as a result, it made me so frustrated and upset with their negativity, I experience no guilt at all! Ha!

  4. I read this post the other day and let it sink in a bit before replying. You make a very good point about making the distinction between thought and action. I'm very guilty of beating myself up for my thoughts and not just in regards to sex. I hold myself to very high standards (probably too high) and so when I have either mean or 'deviant' sexual thoughts, I have wondered if there was something wrong with me.

    But I guess you're right. The proof is in the pudding. I've had plenty of thoughts I would never act on and some I'm still considering. ;)

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone, I've replied to each of you separately.

  6. Im in my teen years, and I've had fantacies about this quite often. Too often actually. I always find myself so guilty and disguisted whenever the fantacy is over. It makes me feel dirty and sinful. I know it's normal to be curious about it, especially when your in your teens, but the thought comes so often that it worries me, whether it's normal to be thinking and wondering about it so often. I've always always wondered why am I thinking those things??? It makes me feel icky. I'm too young to do anything like that, and I dont plan on to until I'm marriaged.

  7. love the post - it's a very interesting topic indeed. i can definitely relate to your very first line/example. unfortunately, although we've a supposedly evolved society, many women are still struggling with the idea of what a women is allowed to think/feel, that is socially acceptable.

    It's unfortunate, in a perfect world there would be no guilt, because we're all entitled to our thoughts/fantasies. it's true, fantasies can be helpful in many ways.

  8. Everyone has an imagination, it's just the extend to which it's used. Women feel more guilt than men I think.