The wrong type of sexual pleasure is just like junk food

Surprising as it may seem, people seem to become less interested in sexual intercourse over time, possibly because the repeated performance of the act no longer produces the pleasure that had been sought. This has been the experience in particular among couples who are at the stage in their relationship where life is at its most hectic, the stage when they have to find the right work-life balance between the raising of their children, their professional career, and their personal life. It is at this stage that the biological need for sexual intercourse may have been fulfilled, or their desire to have children has otherwise waned. In a sense, we humans seem to be able to survive on a diet of junk food and a distorted perception of pleasure, at least until the lack of real and nutritious food and the lack of pleasure induced by pleasure hormones lead to illness, fatigue, and depression.

Today, our hectic life has been brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic. Understanding what this means to us personally is a challenge, especially if we are already lost in ourselves. People today easily become anxious about anything and everything, even under normal circumstances, let alone under exceptional circumstances. We have gotten accustomed to using anxiety as an excuse for just about anything, especially in order avoid doing anything. Under normal circumstances, when we sense someone demanding sex, the usual excuses for avoiding such demands too much work, stress at work, chores around the house, money worries, the children, our hobbies, social media, and our friends.

“It used to be that people would have sex even if there were other people around”

As recently as during the Second World War, people would engage in sexual intercourse even if there were other people around, without any shame. At that time, there were no pornographic videos. Being thrown in with your buddies in dugouts at the front offered you a crash course in sex education, in which sex and stories of amorous conquests were valuable learning material. By listening to your buddies, you could learn the basics of sex as well as perhaps more advanced pointers. Armed with what they had learned in the dugouts, when the soldiers returned home, they contributed to the baby boom generations that followed soon after the war ended. Sex was a safe topic of conversation. One often repeated saying was, “let’s talk about fucking, so that there won’t be any arguments.”

Today, however, talking about sex is very likely to lead to an argument between a couple, since the expectations do not always meet the reality of what is offered by sex. We have lived in exceptional times before, but previously, agreeing to have sex had not been as big a problem as it is today. Also having children around today is a problem, if not an insurmountable obstacle to adults who want to experience sexual pleasure.

“Artificial sex is as bad as artificial food”

Today, when we see the term “sexual pleasure”, we are more likely to associate it with the images of sexual intercourse that are portrayed in pornography. However, the pleasure produced by viewing pornography is not the same as, for example, full-body ecstatic pleasure. There are many types and genres of pornography. It is readily available and provides immediate enjoyment. This quick and inexpensive substitute for sexual pleasure produced through stimulation of the brain can be compared to the ephemeral pleasure brought about for example by food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, extreme sports, viewing action and adventure movies, fast cars, or thrilling amusement park rides.

Viewing pornography triggers and controls our brains, and addicts us to the wrong kind of pleasure.

We are spending too much time on this wrong kind of pleasure. Because of the way our brains are wired, we become hooked. The neurotransmitters in our brain allow such “fake pleasures” to directly affect both the sensations we feel as well as our actions, causing us to buy and consume these cheap substitutes in ever-increasing quantities. Just as with junk food, the more we consume the more we want. We try to replace the absence of “quality” pleasure with quantity, which forces us to increase consumption.

“In pornography, women are portrayed as nymphomaniacs”

The easy and excessive availability of pornography is landing us in an emotional epidemic where women are reporting a lack of interest and men are reporting problems with premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and a lack of potency.

When you start trying to deal with these problems, you always end up at the same point. Those suffering from these problems don’t know how to live with sexual pleasure, and don’t necessarily even know what sexual pleasure is. They are not able stop to enjoy what they are doing, and instead they rush on by, focused on sexual performance in the way they learned from pornography. Women in pornographic productions are portrayed as nymphomaniacs, and the consumers of pornography want to believe that this is the case also in reality. They forget that all the action taking place in front of the camera is just an act, and that performance is usually just a faint reflection of how the producer and the actors involved in the action are themselves able to understand sex.

The way in which pornography is misunderstood is especially evident in my increased contacts during this pandemic. The persons who usually contact me are men whose problems revolve around sexual performance. Their own performance doesn’t match the image conjured by pornography, and women’s desires do not match the desires portrayed by the actresses in pornography

It is high time for us to learn that we can be close to one another, without this meaning that we have to go to bed together and have intercourse in some preconceived manner. We must learn how to be present also for ourselves. This is perhaps the most difficult thing for us to do in today’s exceptional circumstances, where rushing through the normal everyday routines no longer allows us to escape from ourselves. Masturbation is easier than intercourse because you only have to satisfy yourself, and any failure in masturbation does not feel as bad as a failure in intercourse.

But if you have a partner and you want to have sexual intercourse with him or her, things can get more complicated. Usually, we are used to meeting one another in a hurry in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and we find one another in completely different moods and emotional states. This can lead to intercourse in the form of a compromise between the two parties, and neither one’s needs are necessarily met. This kind of sex can be worse than no sex at all. After a while, most couples find that their sex lives have disappeared.

The real question is: Are you connected to your feelings, or are you more or less lost?

Now that the coronavirus has halted our lives, take the time to ask yourself, “What do I enjoy?” “Why do I engage in sex?” and “What does it give me?”

At the same time, this brings up the balance between giving and receiving. You want to have sex, but in these exceptional circumstances you may not have any particular desire to give something. In a way, you don’t really know how to give pleasure, much less how to stop and receive it. The only thing people seem to know is how to have sex, and this appears in the form of a mechanical sexual performance, the act of penetration or masturbation, and not as full-bodied pleasure.

One particular problem is that in Finland and elsewhere, sexual education is taught only in the form of a brief lesson on anatomy, venereal diseases and how children are born. Sex is taught as an act, as a performance, but its purpose remains a mystery.