What is the epidemic for which there is no vaccine?
If you have been following any of the new research and media, you know that loneliness is growing. Being locked up with COVID only accentuated the problem. With the increase in loneliness, we have fewer friends. We may have more virtual friends, but the number of friends we can confide in has decreased.
It is hard for us men to admit to ourselves — let alone to anyone else – that we are lonely. We are trained to be self-reliant and stoic; to need others is a weakness. At least, that is what I used to believe.
The more we isolate, the higher the bar is to connect with others for sex or a real conversation. When we are young, we are meant to stumble around conversations and sex. As a young man, I often felt like I made a fool of myself. I kept trying, though, whether as the result of my hormones, pride, or subtle competition with my peers. In hindsight, I realize all those awkward moments prepared me to take risks and set me on the path to being authentic.
I am sure I would have at least checked it out if I had the access to porn that the Internet avails us. Listening to our friend Connor Beaton’s book, Men’s Work: A Practical Guide to Face Your Darkness, End Self-Sabotage, and Find Freedom, and his journey out of porn, I better appreciate what men are up against.
There is no risk, intimacy, or learning with porn — only an immediate domine high and release of tension. Even in the most disconnected hook-up, there is some intimacy and risk. After a brief and impersonal sexual encounter, we often feel empty — we feel our loneliness, our desire for authentic connection. Porn will not open us to feel our human need for connection.
Slowing down to connect vulnerably to another person is becoming a rare skill, and doing it around sex is even rarer. Yet when we do, even for a few hours, we become more human. We appreciate what it is to be vulnerable and connected. Our soul takes in some light.
Magdalene J. Taylor, a young woman in New York City, wrote an excellent Op-Ed piece for The New York Times, Have More Sex, Please! She lays out how loneliness and the declining frequency of sex are linked. She finishes her piece with:
Many people — like some of the young men I have spoken to in my work — have resigned themselves to displacing their sexual desires, relying entirely on porn or other online stimuli, mirroring so many types of relationships that have been subsumed into the digital world. As a balm for loneliness, digital sex can be little better than digital friendship — a source of envy, resentfulness and spite, a driver of loneliness rather than a cure for it. It’s no match for the real thing.
So, any capable people should have sex — as much as they can, as pleasurably as they can, as often as they can.
-What is your emotional edge around sex? What is scary about that form of intimacy? How is your relationship with sex a mirror for your platonic relationships?
-What are you willing to do to trade your porn for the risk of rejection for a real connection? What are you willing to do be an authentic leader?
-What is scary for you about the vulnerability of sex?Connor BeatonEVRYMANlonelinesspornsex
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