Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
10 thousand years of difference
Models of sexual activity range from women having many partners like in some tribes in the Amazon, through an exclusive sexual relation between two people like in western societies, to a patriarchal dominance with one man having many women like in Islamic countries. It is important for that discussion to divide love into three systems. One is the sex drive which is craving for sexual gratification, another is the experience of early love, a romantic love which is similar to a cocaine rush, and the last one is the feeling of attachment which helps us bind together with a partner for a time long enough to raise children.
Frequency of intercourse varies between couples. The average number is around 70 per year for young people and is decreasing with age. People instinctively create relationships with partners of similar sex drive yet still the most common root of misunderstanding is the regularity of sex. Pressure on a partner is mostly attributed to men wanting more sex and not receiving it but happens with women as well. Preference of anal sex in only one partner may not cause severe conflict but is common. Disapproval often has religious background. There is much more women with that preference than was once thought, not satisfied by their male partners. A lot of women do not talk about their interest in this type of intercourse.
A potential conflict exists between two partners when one of them is not fully manifesting more complex sexual preferences. As far as a simple fantasy that is harmless and happens to most of the people, some paraphilias lead to distress in an exclusive relationship. In a popular television series Desperate Housewives one of the main female characters is having problems satisfying her husband who hides preference to sadistic and masochistic practices. In cases like this people often do not find common language and the outcomes of a compromise are very poor. Individuals often seek sexual gratification outside of a relationship. In some cases people decide to stay together because of material situation, family or simply deep attachment. One of the most extreme situations happens with dependant personality disorder which is observed most commonly in women. To some extent everyone is afraid of leaving a partner but here we have a person devoting whole life to another in any circumstances, withholding anger, being always loving and loyal. Individuals sometimes suffer injury being completely submissive to a partner during sex.
All of the above problems may lead people to look for other ways of finding sexual satisfaction. One of them is pornography. The latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not consider viewing pornography as a mental disorder. Viewing excessive amounts of pornography can be caused by sexual addiction which is a clinical term but is very broad. Many authors refer to cybersex addiction instead. Mentioned issues may be complications of hypersexuality. This term is used to describe individuals who excessively engage in sexual activity and demonstrate behaviors such as compulsive masturbation and cybersex addiction. It may be related to bipolar disorder and Kluver-Bucy syndrome. The latter is caused by damage to a part of brain due to infection, stroke and many other causes. It is interesting that recent studies indicate a strong predilection in religious people to believe they are addicted to pornography regardless of the impact it has on their lives. Internet pornography and other activities termed broadly cybersex are causing a lot of problems in a modern society.
Some women do watch porn but this activity is assigned mostly to men. It is often interchangeably used with real sex with a partner. Answer to a question how does it affect us is not simple. Everyone even without a research knows that watching a lot of porn in most cases lowers our interest in having sex with our partner. This is in case we have similar sexual preference. Otherwise viewing pornography can be the outcome of a sexual conflict where we intend not to participate in sexual activities that we do not like. As far as viewing porn leads to our pursue of new excitement and adventure with the content becoming more bizarre every next time we view It, everybody have to reach a plateau and a following drop in that excitement. It is well known that viewing porn on a regular basis can lower our libido or even lead to impotence. It is hard to imagine dying from too much porn but much easier to imagine dying from too much drugs. We stop working for a delayed gratification. Every drug addict, even the ones that continue use of drugs with alleged happiness are suffering on a conscious level. Frequently people say that they can stop using the drug at any point but they cannot relate to any other behavior that makes sense in their life. It is connected with a slow degeneration of the brain with preservation only of the parts responsible for the activities leading to an immediate gratification. It can be very easily visualized by an imaging study of the brain called functional MRI. It gives some perspective on a continuous use of porn and gives a little answer to the big question. We have a space in our mind for spikes of happiness and if it is not used properly we will find the easiest way to occupy it.
Viewing pornography can cause a real problem and studies show a growing number of young men having erectile dysfunction due to heavy porn use. Viewing pornography on a regular basis leads to changes in our reward system like in any other type of addiction. We need growing stimulation so we look for a bigger stimulus until we cannot find one. That is the point when we start having problems with sexual desire. In normal circumstances a partner that finds out about this type of behavior feels betrayed. Some couples watch pornography together or in some instances a partner accepts the other one viewing pornography, although it is often directed by a lack of choice of the individual accepting this situation. Breaking the addiction can cause a variety of symptoms similar to breaking an addiction from other drugs. It happens in true cases of addiction to pornography which in some studies occurs in only 1% of internet users. The negative effects of viewing porn are reversible when the behavior is stopped.
An erotic relationship has its ups and downs, with the sexual desire waxing and waning and coming back in phases. In order to keep our interest we need to keep being attractive to each other by many means. Although no interest in sex can be a baseline characteristic for both men and women it is rare to be completely asexual. Also challenges of parenthood and our busy schedule play a role. Other people have problems in arranging the background for a proper sexual contact. There are plenty of reasons which can be described on a psychological level such as anxiety, distrust, possessiveness as well as low self esteem and stagnation which can lead to a crisis of imagination. To build desire we need to have a sense of a journey, a bridge to cross. Being free and not losing ourselves in that freedom is a key point of our sexuality. Just as much we need to create a good sexual background for our partner. Nelson Mandela once said “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. Staying predictable and being novel, being familiar but also mysterious, having an exclusive relationship but also being opened – all of this seems to be a paradox.
In case of a partner that does not meet our sexual preferences the choices that we can make are not clear. An obvious but somewhat idyllic solution is communication, letting another person slowly take over our needs and fantasies. And giving back, learning our partners and their sexual desires. The truth is that it rarely works and people stay together unsatisfied which affects the ground of their everyday life.
All of this will never completely solve another paradox that we stand upon in an exclusive relationship. We can have a feeling of deep attachment to one person and at the same time be romantically in love with another. There is nothing wrong in being attracted to other people and sex for tens of thousands of years was a bonding device rather than a tool for procreation. Our ancestors are believed to have had many sexual relations at the same point in time and the development of agriculture about ten thousand years ago has led to a new model in which a woman promised her fidelity to a man who offered her goods like meat, shelter and protection. For only a couple of decades women are going back to the working force using their skills and intellect in the global market and changing this trend. Now both genders are free to decide who they want to spend their life with. Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills”. Everyone have to find their middle ground. Most of relationships that cannot cope with that problem do not survive.