sex and self esteem

Submitted by looking4balance on
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well, as posted in another part of the site, i went a week and then had traditional sex with my GF. Although i still havent looked at porn in 2 weeks, the sex felt addictive, selfish, and ultimately part of a bigger problem i have surrounding sex and sense of self worth.

I have realized that I totally use sex as a measuring stick of how i feel about myself and worth as person and a man (unfortunately not that uncommon probably). This means underneath my supposed 'lovemaking', I really am just 'performing' to see if i can bring the woman to orgasm, how long can I last before i come, etc. It has nothing to do with an expression of love. It has ALWAYS beent this way for me and so, not surprisingly, performance issues and anxieties always surround sex. its not really enjoyable to me as how i do determines how i feel about it later. This is truly sad and pathetic and i dont want to base my esteem on how i perform sexually. Its been such a long exposure to porn and this kind of thinking that i a truly worried whether i can make this paradigm shift. I am sure technique based sex doesnt feel all that warm and fuzzy to her either, although she seems to physically enjoy it, and sadly thats all i seem to care about...
: (

found this on the net and is a succinct summary of this aspect of addiction ..

"Sex, for the addict, begins to be his primary value and a confirmation of his sense of self. Feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and worthlessness magically disappear while sexually preoccupied , through acting out or through spending untold hours on the internet. However, the use of sex to meet self-centered needs for approval or validation precludes using it to meet the intimacy needs of a cherished other. Characteristic of this kind of narcissism is the viewing of other human beings not as whole people who have their own feelings, wants and needs, but rather as deliverers of desperately needed satisfaction that shores up a fragile sense of self. This sets up a cycle wherein his narcissism prevents him from deriving satisfaction from mutual, reciprocal relationships in real-life. Sexualizing, once again, is returned to as a magical elixir wherein his needs are magically met without having to negotiate the very real vicissitudes of intimate relationships. "

well, at least i am aware of it...


becoming aware is the first step

hi . . .

The quote you posted in your last stream describes exactly the few men in my life I have been with who have readily admitted to being addicted to porn. It's pretty sad interacting with men who think of themselves as sex addicts but who have totally truncated themselves from the deeper joys that sex offers. I am still close with both of these ex's of mine. They are good men, but both have very low self esteem and their addiction seems to act as a substitute for meaningful relationships, which it seems they cannot sustain once they are having one, because the emotional closeness, need for openness and communication, are just too much for them to handle, especially as compared to the totally uninvolved way that they participate in viewing porn. It is a sad thing to watch otherwise wonderful men compulsively closing themselves off to the more amazing opportunities that sex has to offer.

As you said, at least you are aware.

The awareness is a hard stage. With my own addictions, I've found the stage where you are aware that what you are doing is ultimately never going to fulfill you and is actually a crutch for full living the hardest stage, because you can't fully enjoy the addictive behavior and yet you're not yet free of it either. I've found we don't just reach a point of being free. We take responsibility for our deeper yearnings for happiness again and again and again, making the same step over and over until we exhibit that the impulse doesn't have as much power over us as we thought. but it takes quite a while for the impulse to actually leave. So I think healing could be described not as the absence of a compulsive impulse (thought that would certainly be much easier), but the continued impulse and the awareness that we are more than our impulses.

Again, I think it's a matter of which voices you listen to. I myself just barely noticed at age 28 that I actually have a soul. It has a very different idea of satisfaction and fulfillment than my ego does.

If you prioritize finding a relationship that is a spiritual sexual partnership I believe you will find it (tho you might have to go through some periods of celibacy, which isn't as bad if you learn lucid dreaming and use it to have sexually fulfilling dreams - tho of course they will need to mirror your new deeper sexual goals).

I think that people manifest what they pay attention to. It makes sense that paying attention to porn would attract relationships wtih a similar quality. If you continue to pay attention to the deeper yearnings of your soul (ie, your soul wants to do more than merely perform), then your ego can still enjoy itself, but under the new management of the soul. Most people live with things arranged the other way around.

Good luck again.

Hey, thanks for that.. very

Hey, thanks for that..
very insightful :)

I agree that it's dangerous stage (albeit a step forward) to be in the awareness phase because ...

-you cant claim ignorance anymore (so its also probably the most potentially depressing since you can see exactly what you are doing but do not have the tools to stop yet).

-you can just ride that without making effort, thinking as you wrote, that compulsions/habits will evaporate in light of this new awareness (it wont). it could almost become an excuse like "well at least i am aware of it" (so I don't have to stop).

So, then the idea might be that the 'volume' of the 'compulsion/addiction doesn't dissipate and get softer and softer with just awareness, but rather there is a need of another kind of (soul driven) music to become louder than the ego's. In other words, action and persistence is needed, in addition to insight. addiction just doesn't go away quietly i guess...

I have to keep reminding myself of that one since I am prone to 'mental' masturbation (theories, ideologies) as much as the physical. lol

thanks again!

Yeah, as you said, "the

Yeah, as you said, "the 'volume' of the 'compulsion/addiction doesn't dissipate and get softer and softer with just awareness." Actually, the opposite is the case. I think in this stage the suffering is more acute because while you may not have actually become more addictive and compulsive, the heightened awareness of it amplifies it and the paralell feelings of low self-esteem get worse, because you know you are intentionally imprisoning yourself!

I've watched bewildered as my meditation practice has produced the opposite effects of what I hoped for; rather than a more peaceful mind, i became agitated at just how ridiculous my mind is in wanting frantically to do anything but be liberated! Yes, us mental masturbators are in for a real ride. There's no around, only through.

Humans are strange beings . . . we like to do what is easier even when we say we prefer liberation, freedom, and self-actualization. really we don't prefer the reality of what it means to live this way; why go through the real hardship when you can play lipservice to these ideas and take pride in your noble front, the whole while remaining nice and numb with your real behavior?

But the good news is that we're all really similar . . . so, just because you fell into the trap of being a typical human doesn't mean you have to beat yourself up, unless of course your self-identity relies on being unique and special and beyond the norm.

We've all trapped ourselves in various ways . . . and there are numerous wisdom traditions from countless people over the ages who confronted the same puzzling behaviour in themselves and did find a way out.

Yay! You're on the path!
(as you can tell i'm on the computer a lot so it's nice to have a little break from other work and find interestign conversations with others on definite paths - and I think that's what this site is about, finding and walking your path into your fear and excitement at the very real and very open possibility of living a more ecstatic, more connected, more energized and more compassionate life than we usually believe is even possible). Peace.

Beware the two week mark

One other quick comment. I've noticed that in every new behavior I have changed in myself, the two week point can be a dangerous point - that's when the new behavior really starts to threaten the homeostasis of the addictive pattern. After two weeks of any abstinence its easy to "reward" yourself for such good behavior. Be careful! We think the body only looks for healthy homeostasis, but this isn't really the case. If your homeostasis is to look at porn, the ego will get a big boost the first few weeks and take credit for the abstinent behavior, then when it sees you might be serious it will use any tactic to bring you back to the homeostasis (the ego can be really subtle and cunning so stay alert - it does not have your best interests in mind, its only interest is it's own survival). I'd reccomend reading "Intro to Tantra: the Transformation of Desire" and "The Bliss of Inner Fire", both by Lama Yeshe, Shambhala, as well as "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" by Trungpa Rinpoche. These are precious aids and tools in this most difficult but rewarding journey. Cheers.

More on the two-week mark

We noticed years ago that the orgasm cycle takes about two weeks to return to equilibrium after orgasm. Not only that, we sometimes experience some of the most dramatic fallout at about the two-week point. And then our cloudy perception seems to heal and we return to equilibrium.

Not sure what the neurochemical shift that correlates with this is. For a while we thought it might be prolactin surges. Then too, it may be testosterone receptors, which take a week to return to normal in sexually satiated rats. Or some combination too complex to imagine.

Anyway, this two-week mark has been observed independently by others who visited this site, so we suspect that eventually science will discover it too.

you are right

its SO easy to espouse quotes from New Age books and talk about various advanced techniques of meditation, etc..but these same people, including me, then go and have a temper tantrum at the cafe clerk since they are out of soymilk! talk is talk, that's all. I am sick of hearing my own bullshit, so i think these days I am trying to put up and shut up as best I can. One thing that is helping is my zazen practice, when i make the time to do it. Once I realized from studying/reading (here I am quoting someone else's realization) that there is no goal, no special 'state' of bliss we should expect from sitting, but rather as you wrote, the neurotic mind becomes louder. It didn't get louder actually, we were just usually drowning it out with distractions. So, no goal in sitting for me, other than just observe my mind and hope the gaps in thought get longer. Takes a long time though i think, but that's ok - what else am i doing, besides being a porn/sex addict? lol

Those books you mentioned are great. I used to go to the Philadelphia Shambhala Center when I was in the States and studied Trungpa Rinpoche's books and teachings for a while. Very akin to zazen, cutting right to the point without a lot of esoteric stuff. Speaking of someone who knew Truth while being trapped in worldly ways, eh? I think Shambhala is a great lineage. Thanks for those picks..i will check the other two out...

Great to meet you and I enjoy our dialog..