Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Is sexual excitement not proof that one needs sex?

I don’t think that I’m going to say much news here except for the comparison I’ll make between sex and eating, which might be helpful.

Just imagine someone claims: If one feels sexual, one should have sex. The feeling isn’t there for nothing. What would you answer?

I would start by putting in a caveat: Let’s speak about men only. Most of what I want to say about sex is probably true for women too, but since there has been much denial of women’s right to sex and its value, let’s for simplicity’s sake sidestep that for now.

OK.

Feeling hungry doesn’t mean that you must eat.

How so?

It could be a day of fasting you want to honor. You could be enticed by something you do not want to eat. You might want to save your appetite for a meal that’s coming up. Animals can’t do that. They’re hungry, they’ll eat. But people can say no or not yet, and for good reasons.

Sure. But food is there for taking care of your needs for nutrition and energy, and can be pleasant on the side, but sex can be just for the fun of it. Then foregoing it is needless restraint.

Sometimes you may feel hungry because you’re nervous (while other people the other ways around can’t eat when they’re anxious), bored or lonely. These are false reasons to eat (snack) and eating just for pleasure (or for avoiding feeling bad) doesn’t satisfy. It rather addicts you. Instead, you may need a hug or a listening ear.

OK.

Same thing with sex. You may feel sexually aroused while you need something else. To go sexual is then not only not satisfying (for longer than a second after you stopped) but also rather addictive.

But after sex for not feeling loneliness you can still feel relieved.

That is true because there is yet another need there. Our bodies and minds need touch and emotional and physical closeness. Sex with a stranger might still give you those. But the sexual part may make you addicted and extra lonely. And, because you may have focused on just feeling good, instead of making each other feel good, you may get bored by sex and might need all the time newer things that will excite you anew. There is a way to understand proper sex via a food analogy.

Sex is like eating dessert. Eating dessert you can do all day but it will never satisfy you. But after a great meal, dessert can be the highlight. Same with sex. Sex instead of emotional and physical closeness leaves you feeling hung-over. And doing it on your own, it can make you more lonely than ever. And also might make you used to having pseudo-sex, sex in isolation (even when later, you’re with someone else). Till you quit solo-sexing, your ability to have a relational sexual connection will suffer. But when you’re physically and emotionally close to a loved one, sex can cement the relationship in a very deep way. Or one could explain this through a parallel with chewing gum.

Inappropriate sex can also be like chewing gum. The chewing gives a false signal to the body that food is coming. You can add sugary drinks (Cola) or other non-foods but this will never gratify. Only the real deal can leave you satisfied. Sex can crown a good relationship, making it better, deeper. Sex on your own falsely signals the body: connect. But then it connects you to a void, making you more lonely, and addicted to boot. And this we can see in the prime advice for sex addicts.

What is the first thing that sex addicts should do to stop their addiction? Making friends, breaking the isolation. That unplugs the “sex drive.” Just like the first way to stop a snacking addiction is to have good meals.

But if you say it like that it sounds like sex is bad except as the crown on a steady good relationship. That sounds petty normative and hedonistic.

I think that the truth is always worth admitting. Saying that disconnected sex is not helpful is the same as saying that coffee or alcohol do not help anybody. You can dislike the message but it’s still true that you could find better more helpful ways to deal with feeling tired or distressed. That’s not anti-hedonistic; that’s being rational. And one can be very happy just being rational. Ask anyone who stopped a major addiction.

So, no more sex until in a steady great relationship, when the time is ripe?

That’s right. Don’t overlook that possibility.

But isn’t it just natural to be sexual?

Just like eating. But as humans, different from animals, we get to choose when that is appropriate. And sometimes it is not. It doesn’t fit our morality, it hampers our long-term goals, or it is not what we really need now/first.

And what to do with sexual feelings meanwhile?

Erections come, erections go. No one has ever been hurt by not giving in to sex. But emotional and physical unity cannot be skipped. No one can live well in total isolation. Get your closeness. Later you may add sex in a special case to even “become one flesh.”

So, you’re saying that we could live well without sex?

No, I’m saying that sex is needed but only in its proper place.

So, people who don’t see it like that should feel bad about not having sex the way you recommend?

No, because feeling bad generally strengthens addictions. Feel how good it is whatever you do. But know that there is long-term pleasure that is much deeper that short-term “fun” and that that is pushed aside by the latter. We each have a free choice. As with any free will work, it will ask from us to make an effort – but it will be worth it.

And how do you know this?

Lots of therapy, man. Lots of therapy.

Still, this very much sounds like the ideas of Judaism about sex expressed in secular terms.

Just the fact that the rabbis knew this before the therapists does not make it sacred knowledge. In any case, Moses never took out a copyright on his stuff.

But most therapist do not say what they say.

I go by therapists for whom their own therapy was not a formality and really worked out their own stuff.

Much food for thought.

Good luck.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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