MC: Learning to hide sexuality 

I’ve written about how my mother really made sex into a demon, to be hated, feared, and hidden — to exterminate.  I was reading Peggy Vaughan the other day, and the following passage struck me.

“We’re all well-trained (conditioned) in deception and dishonesty about sex, starting when we’re born and continuing throughout our childhood and teenage years. Our parents are seldom honest with us about sex when we’re growing up. Very few children get good, clear facts about sex. And almost none of us gets sound information about sexuality and sexual love.I encourage you to consider the impact of the lack of solid parent-child communication about sex, leading teenagers to believe that “sex and secrecy” go hand-in hand. This situation contributes to the pattern of secrecy and deception so common among teens—and then later among married adults who have affairs.

As teenagers we’re unable to talk honesty with our parents about sex, so we present a false image to our parents when we become sexually active. By the time we get married we’ve had plenty of practice at being deceptive and dishonest about sex. When a married man or woman has an extramarital affair, they’re continuing this pattern of dishonesty about sex that began long before the extramarital affair, long before they ever married.

When I found out about the numerous affairs James had over a seven-year period, I kept thinking, “How could he have done such a thing?” I was overwhelmed by the contrast with his image of being a “faithful husband” during that time. He seemed almost like a stranger as I became aware of this new information. It seemed impossible that he could have been so deceptive. After realizing this was the kind of pretense he’d learned when we were teenagers hiding our sex lives from our parents, I could better understand how he did it.”

That passage really speaks for itself.  I’ll just add that the extreme nature of my hidden adultery strikes me as proportional to the extreme manner in which my mother demonized everything related to sexuality.  She dresses and behaves androgynously, and she basically expected me to do the same.  She shamed me if I did not.  She was afraid to be a woman and she wanted me to fear being a man. I learned that being sexual; wanting sex, even from my wife; and talking honestly about sex were all shameful.  I learned that if I did want sex, it was part of a shameful, covert aspect of my personality.

I think the answer to all of this is to work on not being afraid to share my thoughts and feelings about sex with TL.

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4 thoughts on “MC: Learning to hide sexuality 

  1. Bingo! You SHOULD talk to her about sex. All of it. Fantasies, wants, positions, etc. I used to be ashamed to a degree too. We’ve always had a great sex life, but if I had fantasies? Nope! Wouldn’t tell her. I thought she’d think I was weird or something. Turns out, she was just a sexual being too. There was nothing to be ashamed of. That new honesty led to more open and exciting sex. Once I was fully open with her about it, and saw the reaction I got wasn’t negative at all, I wondered why the hell I waited so long to do it. Hopefully you’ll get the same results. In my case, I just didn’t have a “teacher”. My mom was too busy doing her narcissist thang and my dad was absent. I simply had nobody to ask questions. Talk to TL, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it’ll become to do so.

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    1. Sonofabeach, right. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t really afraid to tell TL my fantasies. Rather, I was too prideful to tell her when I wanted sex. I felt that would put her in a position of power, and I did not want to give TL power. I was ashamed to be at her mercy with regard to my desire for sex. I was afraid to admit I wanted sex.

      The effect, however, was the same. Knowing I did not want to honestly tell TL my desires, I defaulted to taking those desires underground.

      I did make TL afraid to share her fantasies with me. I really did not mean to do that. Here’s how I think that happened. First, when TL asked if I had fantasies, I honestly could not think of any.

      Second, I reacted badly to her talk of fantasies because, as self-centered and insecure as I was, I interpreted it as criticism. I did not view her fantasies as something interesting we could explore, or at least ponder, together. Instead, I told myself she must be suggesting something new because she finds me boring or inadequate. I convinced myself that she wouldn’t need fantasies in order to be aroused or reach climax with another man, a man more attractive or adept than me. That thought made me bitter and angry, and filled me with self-pity.

      TL is also very hurt by the idea that I acted on an affair partner’s fantasy. That affair partner told me she wanted sex in the shower, and I indulged her. Why did I do it? It was pure selfishness. I wanted sex. It was not a loving or giving act. It was purely transactional logic. I wanted sex, she wanted it in the shower, and we concluded the transaction. I know, however, that it’s hurtful to TL regardless. I am sorry I did that.

      I do want very much to share fantasies with TL. I’m working on thinking of fantasies, and telling TL if I discover one. I’m also working on making it less scary for TL to tell me her fantasies.

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  2. This is a very interesting post. I am not sure that my husband was overtly shamed, but I am certain that his parents were very conservative and not at all affectionate, let alone open to expressing any sexuality.
    With him, I have had a harder time getting him to trust me with things he wants to try with me because he has this idea that I’m somehow going to be offended or that there are things that are disrespectful to do with/to your wife. So even though he wants to do them, he doesn’t want to be disrespectful and not loving with me, and this may be part of what left us vulnerable (the sex he had with the OW was aggressive and most definitely disrespectful, by intent, not just actions). I had to get him to trust me with this and I asked him to follow the thought through, and if he would be disrespecting me. He said of course not and the things he wanted to do he could do and still love me. I assured him I’m not a prude and I’m pretty open. We have had a lot more fun and I wish that he would have trusted me with that sooner…because now it’s hard to do without having his affair in the back of my mind. I would be a lot more open if I knew he hadn’t had sex with someone else.
    It’s interesting how our beliefs really do mess with us and have huge effects on us and those we love.

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    1. Fairytalefailure, thanks for your comment. There are two “disrespectful” things that I did with one affair partner and also with prostitutes, but had never explored with TL. TL has expressed fantasies that, in fact, include exploring these things with me, but finds putting those fantasies into action to be a debilitating trigger. I don’t want her to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

      I am trying to grow out of my pride, nurture my courage, and tell TL honestly when I’m thinking of sex. Moreover, I am trying to learn to not take it personally when TL says she is not in the mood. I’m also trying to learn helpful, non-threatening ways of setting the mood.

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