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February 12, 2009 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm having pervasive sexual thoughts. How do I make them stop? (NSFW)

I'm a 30 year old male. I've only had one sexual relationship in my life. I look at porn almost everyday, and have a large selection of porn mags.

Recently, whenever I see a woman who is even a little attractive, I start having thoughts of myself and the woman having sex. I can't seem to stop these thoughts.

I've got an appointment with my therapist next week, but what can I do in the interim to make these thoughts less pervasive?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have sex, you're horny.
posted by coryinabox at 11:00 AM on February 12, 2009 [10 favorites]


I wish we could ask you follow up questions on this, because at face value, this doesn't sound that unusual. I'd like to know more on what you find concerning about this.
posted by specialfriend at 11:02 AM on February 12, 2009


Dude. That's what guys do if they're under 35 and not getting any.
posted by orthogonality at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Recently, whenever I see a woman who is even a little attractive, I start having thoughts of myself and the woman having sex. I can't seem to stop these thoughts.

Welcome to being male.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm a middle-aged woman and I have the same thoughts.
posted by Maisie Jay at 11:13 AM on February 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


Folks: Please read the title and note the use of the word pervasive - 2X. It's making the OP uncomfortable enough to post here. Yeah, I want to wisecrack that I pretty much want to have sex with all the women I see (I'm well over 35, BTW) but I don't think that is gonna help him.
posted by fixedgear at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2009


I did read the title. My answer stands.
posted by Maisie Jay at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, I have to go with everyone else here. That's about how it is to have a penis.
posted by kbanas at 11:16 AM on February 12, 2009


dude, throw out the porn mags, stop looking at stuff on the net and get busy with online dating. if you focus your attention on someone(s) who you might actually deflower it'll keep you from being distracted by the teenyboppers.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 11:18 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's making the OP uncomfortable enough to post here

Uh, sometimes the best comfort is being assured that you're completely normal.
posted by GeekAnimator at 11:19 AM on February 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


My first suggestion would be to stop looking at porn. Whatever porn you have in your house; ditch it. If you have memberships to porn sites, cancel them.

For some folks, porn can be a relief of sexual tension. For others, it makes it worse. If you're having these sorts of thoughts about every woman you see AND you're uncomfortable with it, ditching the porn is a good first step because it may help you to dial down the amount of time you spend thinking about sex.

Aside: I am not an anti-pornography crusader. Lots of folks use porn and never suffer any ill effects, and I understand this. My answer is specific to this fellow and how he has described his situation.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:20 AM on February 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cut back on the porn, masturbate when alone, and talk with your therapist.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:24 AM on February 12, 2009


Be gentle with yourself. On face value, this does not seem to warrant a visit to a therapist either, IMO.

I would suggest just *watching* this for awhile. The porn viewing, how it makes you feel when you see women out in the world, etc. It's a concern to you, and it sounds like you are heaping some judgments upon yourself that you may well not heap on anyone else.

As long as you are not *behaving* in a way that would indicate that you view any woman you see as either a potential booty call or nothing, I would go slow.

And I nth the sentiments above that this is normal.

Good luck.
posted by Danf at 11:24 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Space out the porn a little bit. If thinking about sex this much bothers you, porn isn't helping.

That being said, nothing wrong with a little porn now and again. But if it feels like it's getting in the way of your life, that's a problem.

Try to find ways in which you can be around women in non-sexual contexts, then work into relationships from there. Join a club, take a class, get into online dating.

Like the others are saying, you're pretty typical. But if it's bothering you, taking steps to channel this energy in positive ways instead of constant distraction and porn is the way to go.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:28 AM on February 12, 2009


Dude. That's what guys do if they're under 35 and not getting any.

Fixed &c.

In other words, it's not a big deal/ You're not abnormal. Don't stress about it. You might, as others have suggested, consider ditching the porn and concentrate on getting laid. The internet is more than just a source of porn-- it's also a great place to find people who are interested in having actual sex with actual people. Hell, it can also be a great place to find people who are intersted in having an actual long-term, loving relationship, if that's what you want.
posted by dersins at 11:30 AM on February 12, 2009


Look man, if I go more than 2 weeks without having sex the same thing starts happening to me, trust me I know what you are going through (no matter how kinky or pervasive the thoughts are) and it is just a case of having a high libido and not getting none.....start online dating or ever better craigslists...
posted by The1andonly at 11:39 AM on February 12, 2009


it would help to know what you find disturbing about these thoughts. i think many men find fantasies like these enjoyable and a stress relief.

Do you feel it's an obsession that's taking over your life? Do you feel feel guilty about it?

Do you work out or play a sport? Get yourself tired enough and I guarantee you will stop thinking about sex, at least temporarily.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:44 AM on February 12, 2009


This is the weakness of anon posts. He's clearly desperate and embarrassed, which explains the short, tame-yet-NSFW-tagged post that was worth a week of no questions. Pervasive could mean a lot of things. Pervasive could mean that he doesn't like how the thoughts cloud up his mind, or it could mean he's actually afraid he might act out inappropriately on his urges. With what we have, the therapist will probably be a bigger help.

Anyway, it's normal if you're just forming fantasies and nothing more, but it could be something more problematic if it impairs your ability to function, either because of fear you'll act out, an actual desire to act out, or the inability to focus on other things. Anyway, you probably would be wise to try cutting back on the porn and see if that makes things better or worse, and being in a relationship might help you resolve the underlying thoughts that lead you to feel this way.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:52 AM on February 12, 2009


My intuition says that the conflict is about how you feel about these thoughts - not the thoughts themselves. I don't want to downplay the discomfort this is causing you. I do want to note that a lot of folks in this thread have said they have similar feelings though. I'm a woman and I go through periods of feeling the same way myself. Actually, I think its more common for me when I am more sexually active.

So frequent sexual fantasies and feelings are quite common. But for you they're leaving you uncomfortable and I think this discomfort IS worth exploring with your therapist and maybe through doing some reading about sexuality.

In my experience, trying to force sexual thoughts and feelings to go away has not been effective. Attempts to control even the content of my sexual thoughts tend to leave me feeling ashamed and guilty. I've found more peace and pleasure from trying to accept those fantasies and thoughts, talking to other people who share my sexual interests, and reading and learning more about sexuality.

Some authors worth checking out are Carol Queen and Susie Bright (a metafilter member!). They're both accessible, thoughtful writers and both have a web presence if you're not ready to buy any books yet.

Anyhow, good luck.
posted by serazin at 12:01 PM on February 12, 2009


Well, apparently I'm swimming against the tide on this one. I don't think that it's healthy or helpful to you to have these kind of pervasive thoughts, and I think you are right to want to curb them. Any male is going to have an occasional sexual thought, but it sounds like you are in hyper-drive, and you need to get your thoughts under control. At any rate, you want to change, and unlike the Metafilter horndog brigade that you've already heard from, I think that you can.

It seems to me that you know the problem. You look at porn every day, and you've trained yourself to directly associate seeing a woman with fantasies of sex. It's going to be an uphill climb to reprogram yourself so that the overt fantasizing gets toned down. I agree with DWRoelands that you need to get rid of the porn. Where you go from there is trickier. You may be able to replace your porn habit with exercise or some other activity, but you might need some more active help. If you can't get the results you want with will-power and replacement behaviors, working on this in therapy (as you plan to) is a good idea. I don't think sexaholics anonymous is out of the question, either. Being able to relate to women first and foremost as full human beings with their sexual attractiveness as one component of the overall picture is the goal. When the sexual thoughts are the first and loudest thoughts, getting back into balance is important.

I don't know if you have any sort of religious belief--MeFi tends atheisty--but in Christian circles the book Every Man's Battle was a big hit a while back. Here's the website, which gives info on support groups and weekend workshops for porn addiction--which is probably the primary problem. Even if it's your your kind of crowd, you may see some good ideas there.

There are other resources I know of, but they also are all faith-based. If you're interested, just MeMail me.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:05 PM on February 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you're having intrusive thoughts of any kind, it can help to stop and redirect. When I was dealing with some things like that in therapy a long time ago, I would think "STOP!" really loudly in my head when I realized I was drifting down that familiar path (if I was alone, I sometimes said it out loud), and then consciously fill my mind with something else. For me, telling myself stories actually helped--playing through the plot of a familiar book, or something. It might have to be something else for you since any kind of daydreaming might lead too closely to sex thoughts again.

I switched my brain into fantasy mode because any real-life thoughts about work or to-do list items or any such thing led too quickly to the kinds of things I was worrying and obsessing about. And even then the fantasy couldn't take place in the present day because it was, again, close enough to reality to slip into the thoughts I was trying to avoid.

So you would need to think about something to occupy your mind that won't lead you back to women or sex. Whatever it is you like to think about that isn't women or sex: sports matches, a book about cryptography you read last year, whatever you think can keep your mind busy for a couple of minutes until the reflexive "I see woman! I think about having sex with her!" urge has passed. Make a plan for what to switch to when you're not in the middle of the intrusive thought.

As soon as you notice the intrusive thought, STOP! and redirect. With practice, I found that I recognized those well-worn thought paths earlier and earlier, and it took less effort to redirect.

Good luck.
posted by not that girl at 12:08 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I did have to cut back on media that reinforced my unwanted thoughts. For me, that meant not following crisis-of-the-day news stories. For you, that might mean taking a break from porn for awhile.
posted by not that girl at 12:09 PM on February 12, 2009


Sounds completely normal to me, OP. Not something you need to see a therapist about. If you're feeling guilty about it or something that could be something to discuss, but the actual act of fantasizing? Not so much.

Welcome to being male human.
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It means you're bored with porn.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on February 12, 2009


Is that weird? Crap.

The only thing that might be bad is maybe you have a touch of OCD? If the thoughts are overpowering, like you're afraid you might touch the person, or they make you anxious or something, that can be a problem. So you might want to talk to a therapist about OCD therapies. I would imagine that you don't need drugs...I have something like this and it's fairly managable. If you google "OCD Support" online, you'll find a lot of people who are dealing with it. Just understanding that the thoughts were just thoughts and they weren't really anything to do with me has helped me pretty much make it a non-issue.

I've been in this cafe for an hour and thought about having sex with maybe 4 or 5 women but I'm kind of tired.
posted by sully75 at 12:27 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Welcome to being human. This happens (can happen) to women, too.
posted by juliplease at 12:37 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anonymous, unless there's something you're not telling us, don't worry. We all have those thoughts. I was standing in line at the bank the other day and I caught a whiff of perfume from the woman in front of me. Instantly, I wanted to run my hands along her waist and kiss her neck.

Having these thoughts is normal. It's a problem if you act inappropriately - or if those thoughts prevent you from living a normal life.

Let's face it. Women are pretty damn marvelous. They're beauty to the eye and like lightening to the touch. Ahh, but they're real people too - with real thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, wants, and desires, just like us. And that's why you should back off the porn.

Porn is fantasy, and though there's nothing wrong with fantasy, I think that some people have trouble realizing how fantastic reality can be. Porn is fucking a flawless woman. Ooh, fun! ....true... but reality can be fucking a woman whose flaws make your heart melt, and then waking up with that woman and having a spectacular day, not to mention a spectacular life.

So... how do you put the thoughts of sex in perspective and stay in control?

#1: Take a step back. Focus on becoming the best possible version of the man you are, for your own sake. In other words, don't change for others. Instead, rediscover the best of the man 'you' are. Get a haircut. Wear your favorite clothes more often. Smile more. Make time to do positive things you enjoy. Etc. This leads to #2...

#2: Take a step forward. Start dating, but not for the purpose of getting laid. Date for the purpose of making an intellectual connection with someone wonderful. Maybe you're thinking "But I don't know how to get a date!" Well, that's an entirely different problem... but thanks to #1, it's easier than you think. By rediscovering the best of who you are, you're becoming more of a catch for someone else.

When I'm not in a relationship, I miss getting laid. Of course! It's only human. Eventually, this makes me start dating again... and when I do, I quickly realize how amazing it is to just connect with someone on both a physical and intellectual level. I'm talking about conversations that last for hours and the physicality of something as simple as holding hands.

Put the porn away.
Rediscover the best of you.
Share the best of you with a date.
You'll discover that sex isn't the best of her.

Good luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 12:37 PM on February 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's somewhat odd to me that you included your porn habits in this question. Can you think of a time when you didn't use porn every day? Did you have not have constant thoughts of sex with women you meet at that time? If you feel there's a correlation between how much porn you consume and how much you think about sex, then by all means reduce the porn. But, for me, it doesn't work that way... I think "dirty thoughts" regardless of how much porn I've been watching recently.

These thoughts are only a problem if they affect the way you actually interact with women. If your sexual thoughts get in the way of treating them like people first, then yeah, that's a problem. The thoughts will always be there, but you need to learn how make them background noise that you can ignore. I don't know how you learn it though. I think most people have mastered that skill on their own by the time they are 30...maybe that's a specific question the therapist can help you with.

In the meantime, though, here's a sexy little video that might ease those thoughts.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:52 PM on February 12, 2009


Get married and have a baby. Sexy thoughts banished!
posted by tim_in_oz at 1:07 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think there's another aspect that people are missing here: "Recently." If this is something "all guys [or people] do," why did this only start recently? Why hasn't the poster been having such thoughts for the past 17 years or so?

I don't have an answer to that question, but it does seem to be abnormal (which I mean in the "statistically uncommon" sense, not necessarily a "wrong" sense) and potentially worth further exploration, and it shouldn't be dismissed with "all guys have such thoughts." Maybe so, but most guys start having such thoughts a lot younger than 30.

Also, it's hard to say just how normal such thoughts are without knowing how pervasive they are. So you pass a mildly attractive woman in the hall. Think about her for the next 15 seconds? Fine. If it's the next 15 minutes, I'd say that's quite a bit less common, and problematic if it keeps you from doing anything else during that 15 minutes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:03 PM on February 12, 2009


Yes sexual fantasies are normal and viewing of pornography can be a fun occasional distraction, if they're part of the mix in an otherwise healthy social life. Then a man either has a partner or is confident that he'll meet someone in a day or a week or a month, giving fantasy a real life balance. But when a man hasn't had many past experiences and for whatever reasons isn't hopeful of his ability to form relationships, when desire is sharp and constant but realizing the desire feels unattainable, when there is no outlet but pornography, then a sexual desire natural and healthy in others can feel like a corrupting influence, mixing with a sense of failure and inadequacy, threatening to pull him into the dark hole where the creeps and perverts live. Regular everyday sexual thoughts can be very disconcerting, in some circumstances.

I guess the solution is not to cease the thought patterns, but to change daily circumstances to become more active and provide more opportunities to meet others, so that there can be actual experience and possibility to balance and shape fantasy. But that's not easy.
posted by TimTypeZed at 2:16 PM on February 12, 2009


Nthing reducing or eliminating p0rn-viewing, for it is conditioning you to objectify women as sex partners and diminish their larger worth as individual human beings.

Consider how a man who obsessively reads Field & Stream would perceive deer in the woods: only through the sights of his rifle.

If the obsessive sexual thoughts cause you to become distracted; lose track of conversations; experience intense, unwanted emotions; fight the urge to say inappropriate things; or stare at conversation partners' breasts and genital regions, then the thoughts are interfering with your life and possibly causing others to feel uncomfortable around you.

Find immediate distractions: sip an ice cold drink; keep a rubber band on your wrist and pull it; repeatedly fix your gaze at a neutral object in the distance; and think of the most *un-sexy* images you can (e.g., a 900-lb. rotting zombie-female holding a machete). Keep doing these things until the sexual thoughts extinguish. Also, consider maintaining a journal, noting any triggers for the thoughts, successful methods of stopping the thoughts, and your day-to-day thought-cessation progress.

Best wishes to you.
posted by terranova at 2:17 PM on February 12, 2009


"I'd like to know more on what you find concerning about this"
I see no reason to go to a therapist over this. I am in a relationship and I require much more sexual activity then my partner. Orgasm for Orgasm, hands-down, I out number my partner 10 to 1.

Unless the thoughts are disturbing thoughts like rape or something....you have nothing to worry about. Besides, an Orgasm a day keeps the arthritis at bay. :c)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:46 PM on February 12, 2009


I've been having thoughts exactly like this since I was, I dunno, thirteen or whatever, and I predict I will continue having them until the day I go blind or die. What you are saying is "Sometimes I look at food and imagine what it would be like to eat it." Well, yeah. That's kinda how the human brain works.

I also refuse to believe that you are quite so stupid as to think that this is something that requires therapy. Is there perhaps something you aren't telling us? Do these fantasies take, for example, a violent or horrific turn?
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:59 PM on February 12, 2009


The way I read the question, the OP is already in therapy, and planning to bring this up there. Not starting therapy solely on account of this.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:17 PM on February 12, 2009


Maybe so, but most guys start having such thoughts a lot younger than 30.

Or possibly, the current social attitude is skewed enough toward a pro-sex position that men are less likely to admit to having lower drives, and therefore the assumption is that all men think about sex all the time, when perhaps in reality, there are men whose minds are less completely one-track than that. It's certainly clear that female sex drives cover a pretty wide range... For plenty of people, there are ebbs and flows, and it seems like this guy is in hormonal flow mode at the moment, but wants to gain some control over his fantasies and urges.

Pater Aletheias already covered what I would suggest - exercise, or some kind of project where you can focus your energy, especially a creative project if you have any hobbies like that (making music or art, e.g.). That is a classic way to work off some of the steam, and there are historically creative people who have even claimed to avoid sex in order to have more "vital energy" to commit to their work.
posted by mdn at 7:49 PM on February 12, 2009


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