Archives For Sexuality

This category includes the expression of a person in the world as a particular gender, sexual expression, infidelity, sexual ethics, etc. It also includes the domains of homosexuality, heterosexuality and alternative lifestyles.

 

For what we seek in orgies, at parties, on journeys, in movie theaters and bars is simply God, who is all the time only to be found within ourselves.

Source
Ernesto Cardenal in
Abide in Love

This is a great quote and I think it is particularly applicable to our times and contemporary society.  At the foundation of our various ways of acting out is a yearning for a divine union or transcendence of the self.  Often, we this acted out in the sexual arena, but what we really seek is intimacy with that which is most authentically self and at the same time utterly beyond what we think of as our everyday identities.

Is it Infidelity?

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

As a personal growth coach who works in the area of sexuality among other domains, I often hear the question is such and such behavior infidelity.  I have a done a lot of research in this area and I have an e-book on Amazon on this topic.  It is an intriguing one and although seemingly difficult to answer, it is actually more straightforward than one would imagine.

One leading expert in this field who I admire very much is Frank Pittman, a psychiatrist who has been specializing in this area for over 30 years.  If you have read the literature or books about infidelity, he will almost inevitably be listed as a reference.  When he is asked this question, he says something along the lines of, you must suspect it is or you wouldn’t be asking the question.

When it comes to matters of infidelity, intimate relationships are as unique as the people who make them up.  What they all have in common, however, is some sort of agreement.  On a very fundamental level, if someones behavior is in contradiction to the agreement, then a behavior is clearly infidelity.  However, what about circumstances where a particular behavior is not explicitly mentioned or part of the agreement?

In cases of the above, the person you need to be asking is your partner.  If you are asking a third-party, it implies on some level that you are feeling some sort guilt or sense a lack of alignment.  The authority on whether or not your partner thinks something is cheating is your significant other – why not ask them?

I think these borderline situations can and do cause a lot of problems.  That is why, I recommend that when you are in doubt, do your best to follow the morally safer course.  After all, you have a lot to lose if you guess wrong!

We can get clearer on defining appropriate behavior by going back to some sort of definition of infidelity and considering what exactly the nature of betrayal is.  Literally, the word means a breach of faith and implies someone was deprived of information they had a right to know.  It is the deception and the disorientation that follows it that actually does the harm.  Therefore, when in doubt it is almost always better to err on the side of caution and over communicate.

Here is a concrete example, a woman does not sleep with a colleague, but she flirts with him and occasionally goes to lunch alone with this person.  While there isn’t overt sexual activity, there is certainly some sort of erotic charge and if this is accompanied by guilt or a desire to hide the behavior from her partner, then there is an intent to deceive and it is reasonable to consider this as at least a type of emotional infidelity.  If you ask a lot of women which is worse sexual or emotional infidelity, you might be surprised by the spectrum of answers.  Usually, women are more hurt by their partner falling in love with another woman rather than say a one night stand with a virtual stranger.

These situations often get confusing, but it is helpful to ask yourself, if I were on the receiving side of it, would I want to know, how much would I want to know and would I want my partner to err on the side of over or under communicating.  This is a good starting point for an inquiry into these tricky waters.  Even better is to have a frank discussion with your partner so there are no misunderstandings in this sensitive area.  It’s one of those key things that once your relationship takes a hit because of a misunderstanding or false assumption, it can be hard to get the trust back.

Love only grows in the fertile soil of mutual trust.  Therefore, even little white lies can undermine the foundation of your relationship.  That is to say that a little bit of deception can go a long way and even withholding information is deceptive and disorienting.  If your relationship is about love and intimacy, then deception is clearly not in the best interests of a solid and secure space to be intimate and emotionally vulnerable.

You may be asking, what if I was unfaithful and I have a lot to loss by confessing it.  If so, you are not alone and the experts seem to be divided on what is best.  My own opinion is that if you withhold something, you will be living a charade and on some level you will know that.  You may or may not be caught, but you will have some level of shame and guilt and it will be more difficult to connect with your partner.  I believe in most cases, it’s better to come clean, deal with the fallout and move on.  For some couples this is impossible, but for others it often leads to a transformation from good to better.  Granted, this shift can take a lot of time and my involve a considerable level of discomfort and tears.

When people cheat, often they are unconsciously trying to bring attention to an area of the relationship that needs attention.  In fact, some theories say that the person wants to get caught and perhaps acted out with the hope some unmet need would be forced to the surface.  Certainly, this is not true in all instances, but it often is.  Chances are if the behavior is repeated it’s a sign of some unmet need or unresolved issue in the relationship.

Infidelity is a very common phenomenon.  We are all human and while we may aspire to perfect faithfulness, the statistics suggest that it is quite likely that in a long-term marriage or partnership one or the other partner will cheat.  One study, puts the actual number for one-time infidelity by either one of the two partners in a marriage as high as 80%.  When you consider the divorce rate, the infidelity rate among men (50-60%) and the doubling of the infidelity rate among women over the last five decades, these kinds of numbers are seem more reasonable.

With the use of contraceptives, people spending more time at work, women working outside the home, an increased level of business travelling and more stress in general, these trends make even more sense.  Also, the institution of marriage, which is largely social in nature vs.the more private nature of a love affair sheds even more light on the temptation.  People also live longer and undergo more change, 100 years ago until death do us part may have meant living until 60 rather than 90.  At the same time, people years ago weren’t bombarded with media and advertising riddled with perfect bodies, perfect lives and the type of anonymity and isolation we often see in cities and even suburbs.

All of these factors make infidelity a phenomenon that we will likely have to deal with at some point in one of our key relationships.  Interestingly, it doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t love you if they stray, especially when it’s the man doing the cheating.  It could mean many things and it’s probably in the couple’s best interest to get to the bottom of what really went wrong or caused someone to act out.  Don’t try to read the other person’s mind, you will almost certainly not get the whole picture.

I think a good way to avoid infidelity is to make your expectations known and communicate about what kind of container you are trying to create for your intimate life.  Assuming your partner knows what you expect isn’t good enough for such an important area.  Intimacy sort of defines itself — “in-to-me-you-see.”  If communication is motivated by this orientation to go deeper, you can handle problems before they occur.

What is inevitable is that in any long-term relationship there will be moments of weakness and temptation.  Deal with them proactively and you won’t be in the very uncomfortable situation of trying to piece your shared life back together again.  If you or your partner does stray, seek out professional help in a coach or therapist.  This will save both of you a lot of grief and possibly prevent your from burning bridges and hurting other innocent people on the road to recovery.

By: Patrick D. Goonan

In modern times, it seems as though many people have lost a sense of something transcendent.  In other words, organized religions and other forms of spirituality have lost their meaning or ability to connect us to something larger than ourselves.  While this isn’t true for everyone, it is certainly symptomatic of a general attitude of our times.

lovers alex gray

As a result, the closest most of us come to an actual felt experience of transcendence on a regular basis is sexual intimacy.  For many, other forms of connecting to some sort of higher power feel empty.  This partly due to the rise of modernity with the enlightenment and subsequent abandonment of ways of knowing outside of the scientific method.  In other words, we privilege science to the point of ignoring nonverbal means of connecting with reality.

Interestingly, those things that are most personal and important can’t be thoroughly explained or even looked at by the methods of science.  For example, love, a thought or our own consciousness are beyond the reach of the senses or their extensions – telescopes, microscopes and instruments of various types.  This situation leaves many of us feeling empty and some of us try to fill this void with distractions or looking for something deeper in other places.  For many, we look for that mystery, charge and deep fulfillment in sexual expression.

This situation is a double-edged sword, it could be good if it leads to deeper intimacy.  However, it could become unhealthy if it’s driven by a compulsive search for more intensity because other areas of our lives are lacking.  This can lead to sexual addiction or acting out in an attempt to fill our emptiness or need for connection in all the wrong places.

On the other hand, the bedroom is also a place where one can have an authentic transcendent experience, connect to something larger than oneself through love and deepen a significant relationship through a highly charged experience.  An interesting acronym, S.E.X. could be translated Sensual Energy Exchange or Spiritual Energy Exchange.  Often, both of these acronyms could be applied to our sexual experiences because in them we come to know ourselves and our partners in a deeper way.  We also somehow connect with life on a deeper level.

Above, I talked about sexually “acting out.”  This refers to trying to use sex for power, like a drug or to fill some void in ourselves.  However, if we do this we pollute a potential channel for love to come through us.  In this sense, our behavior becomes like a lie rather than a deep expression of who we are that we share with another human being.  When we do this, we may feel a strong physical release, but sometimes at the expense of intimacy and our ability to connect.

My hope in writing this article is to have you consider how more than ever the expression of sexuality is important and one potential way to experience oneness or be carried beyond the normal bounds of self.  It is also a indictment of a purely scientific and modern perspective that excludes phenomenon that defy the scientific method.  That is to say that we are creatures who crave meaning and science alone can’t give that to us.  Lastly, I hope what I wrote gives you some encouragement to seek out other spiritual avenues or interpretations that do have meaning for you and not stay stuck in a belief system that isn’t enriching your life.

Since sex is all around us and something we reach for when we want a transcendent experience, I hope this posting raises your awareness around the danger of hurting others by treating sex too casually or as mere recreation.  Because of the ability of sex to be so powerful and deep, there is an equal potential for doing harm through the inappropriate expression of your sexuality.  It is your own values that will determine exactly what that means.

Although we call this a modern age, there seems to be more ignorance, guilt and shame around sex than many other periods in history.  This leads to suffering for oneself and others and often makes it difficult to have a good and transcendent experience.  Therefore, if you are having issues in this area, I encourage you to reach out to a therapist, personal growth coach who does work with sexuality or other avenues to address the issues.  Life is too short not to make the most of your sex life.

Interestingly, my mother compared sex in relationship to putting oil in a car.  She said within the context of a marriage or intimate relationship, sex is like oil in that it keeps all the other parts running smoothly.  At the time she said this, I didn’t realize just how wise these words were.  However, now I realize they are true and there is also potential for so much more.

This is an excellent 1 hour video by the authors of the book by the same name. In it, you will hear an evolutionary biology perspective along with other commentary from a female clinical psychologist.

Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world. Karl Kraus

It’s always the demon you don’t know that ends up biting you in your behind.  No where is this more true than the arena of sexual expression.  The inappropriate expression of repressed sexuality causes a lot of personal and collective suffering.  The collective repression is largely due to ignorance, shame and guilt.

Sexuality poorl…

Sexual Infidelity – Overcoming Your Hurt