Fetish... Anxiety... Asexuality... Help?!
April 26, 2011 7:27 AM   Subscribe

A fetish is causing me a great deal of anxiety, could anyone help me figure out how to deal with this?

First of all I'd like to apologise for making my first question such a long and awkward one, but I would appreciate your responses a great deal.

I am a twenty year old guy, currently studying at university. I've only ever been in one relationship (short lived due to the issues I was dealing with at the time). Several years ago I realised that, for some inexplicable reason, I have a strong attraction to pregnant women. Knowing this has been causing me a great deal of anxiety for a long time, but despite my best efforts I haven't been able to either get rid this part of my personality, or come to terms with it. My hope is that some of the replies to this thread might help me out with either of these problems.

I understand that one of the immediate responses will probably be 'therapy!' And as it happens, I do currently see a psychologist, but I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself properly even there. Although I've promised myself several times that /this/ would be the session I'd talk about it, I haven't been able to bring myself to do so yet.

There are a number of anxieties that might be contributing to this. Simply the fact that I am extrememly aware of this problem may be exacerbating it. I'm afraid that this may become (or already has) an 'exclusive' fetish. Several of my friends have begun making comments on the fact that I just don't seem to notice 'attractiveness' in other people, and its true I do sometimes have a hard time judging these things. This has led to a few embarassing instances, like was when a few of my friends were unanimously referring to 'the cute girl' at a small event with me having no idea to whom they were referring, and when I eventually asked recieving a few funny looks. There have been instances where a girl has been flirting with me and I haven't noticed at all, but I can't say if this is true since they won't tell me who or when. This all sounds extremely superficial, but it's causing me concern nonetheless. There may even be the possibility that I'm asexual, but I've found other girls attractive in the past, although generally not until I've gotten to know them fairly well rather than off the bat.

There may be other anxieties at work here too. I'm somewhat mildly OCPD for example and constantly need to be working on something else I get extremely frustrated. I think that I may have an aversion to 'pleasure' to an extent (a leftover from several years ago now when I was diagnosed with annorexia, although mentally I've come a long way since then). This certainly manifests itself in other parts of my life - I don't like drinking for example (although I do so in moderation), which I /think/ its because I'm afraid of losing self control, although it could be for any number of reasons. Its possible that this is also having an effect elsewhere.

So far I've been unable to really talk about these issues to anyone offline, even with my therapist, but I'm hoping that this might be a starting point for me to start finally dealing with them. I know this is a lot to deal with, but some of the specific questions I'm looking to answer are how I can finally broach this subject with my therapist, how I might be able to deal with this on my own, what might be the causes and if there are any reliable resources out there for dealing with these sorts of issues. Otherwise I'd really like to hear some general responses and advice.

posted by Scrimshaw to Human Relations (18 answers total)

If you can't figure out how to express what you have expressed here to your therapist, print this question out and hand it to them.
posted by TheBones at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

This sounds like OCD to be honest.. its not the fetish itself, it's the obsessive focusing on it.
posted by empath at 7:34 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]

Firstly, this is an extremely normal fantasy (I would hesitate by your description to call it a fetish) fetish and really doesn't have very much to do with the social missed cues you describe. The OCD is more closely linked to those social missed cues than your fetish. For example what I did not see in your account was "I didn't notice the cute girl they were talking about because I was obsessively stalking the only pregnant woman in the room" Now that would be where your fetish is interfearing with life.

What gets you off, gets you off. It has nothing to do with being a good or bad person, or being slightly socially clueless. I honestly believe you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Those of us ladies who's partners showed every evidence of your fetish while pregnant smile in nostalgic reminiscence.....

There is something very powerful about pregnancy and the new life it implies. Other men are completely turned off by it. Swings and roundabouts.

Eventually when you meet someone you can share your thoughts completely with you can play around with your fantasies it will be awesome. Until then keep working with your Physchologist around the social issues I see in your post which don't look to be very bad TBH. By focussing on your fantasy as the reason behind these other issues you are not just giving it more attention than it needs you are diverting attention away from more fruitful avenues of exploration with the person who is helping you.
posted by Wilder at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

ditto to everything wilder says, scrimshaw. Seriously, pregnancy fetishism is so completely 'normal' or 'acceptable' or however you'd like to phrase it that it barely seems to qualify as a fetish imho. That you're so worked up about it seems more what you should be talking with shrink about.
posted by eggyolk at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2011

Response by poster: This is true, it wouldn't be the first time I've made a problem much more difficult than it had to be. The problem is perhaps less the fetish itself and more the anxiety that it's causing. I'll do my best to actually bring this up with my psychologist next time, but just having this out in the open finally is a weight off my chest.
posted by Scrimshaw at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2011

Just as a note, your metafilter internal mail is disabled.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:01 AM on April 26, 2011

You're not as strange as you think you are.

Your fetish is not unusual. Unlike plenty of other fetishes that are on the normal spectrum (such as an attraction to amputees), it doesn't rely in any way on the suffering of others. This is not something that you should feel weird about or ashamed of. I'm sure plenty of women would find your attraction adorable or hot.

As for whether your fetish has become exclusive: You say you've only had one brief relationship (also, at your age, not unusual!), so you must be judging this mostly by solo experience. Long-term masturbation (with or without porn) will not give you a full or accurate picture of what you respond to. When you're in bed naked with another live person again, it may not require so much to get you going.

But even if it does, don't sweat it. Most people have kinks. People without fantasy lives are usually boring.

Also, there's no real consensus about what's hot. Half of the guys pretending to be attracted to the cute girl at the mall would rather be with her shoe, or her brother, or a fat woman, or her granny, or her dog. Pretending to all like the same kind of woman can be a form of bonding, but reality doesn't always match up.

I know my note addresses only some of what you brought up, but I hope it will help you feel less isolated.
posted by gentian at 8:07 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Yeah, as others say, the kink isn't a big deal, nor is not really knowing social cues. But the anxiety and thinking you have around it IS a big deal. If you could share this post with your therapist they will be far more able to help you with the anxiety and negative thinking than if you don't. If they can't help you, another therapist can.
posted by ldthomps at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2011

I would like to caution against people suggesting (even provisionally) a specific pathology and diagnosis behind the poster's anxiety with regard to his sexual interests. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is typically a fairly-to-severely debilitating condition. An illustrative vignette from the National Institutes of Mental Health:

“Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn’t follow the routine, I’d get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn’t do something, my parents were going to die. I’d have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.”

According to the DSM-IV, a person with a clinical obsession (not defining compulsion, as he mentions none):

"... has recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress.

[snipped out]

The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images or to neutralize them with some other thought or action."

In this particular post, I don't really see any evidence of recurrent, disturbing/intrusive, inescapable thoughts or thought suppression/repression as a result of having these particular thoughts. Perhaps the poster does have these experiences, but we don't know and I don't think there's anything even implying this in what they have wrote here.
posted by Keter at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is not that much info out there on asexuality but from what you describe, it doesn't scream asexuality. It sounds like possibly you are having some shame about the people you are sexually attracted to - and that is different.

I am asexual and while I can find people physically and mentally attractive, I do not have any sexual attraction to them.

That said, I am no expert and would nth talking to your therapist about this and any other thoughts you are having - he or she will be able to help you feel less stressed out about your sexuality, where ever it falls on the spectrum.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:47 AM on April 26, 2011

What I do feel is, perhaps obviously, anxiety about not being "normal," the social judgments therein if "not being normal" is realized by your peers, and your experiencing your own unique sexuality. That's a hard set of things for many people, even aside from your specific situation, and I'm sorry you're dealing with it. I favorited what gentian said about that and agree with them 100%.

I wonder if maybe talking with your therapist about this would in fact be a good first step in accepting your current sexual interests. That sort of thing, I think, is oftentimes what a therapist is best at, being a safe "other" with whom to test out hidden or new selves and ways of being. (By the by, if your therapist reacts with horror or something to what you said here, they are not a good therapist.)
posted by Keter at 8:57 AM on April 26, 2011

In this particular post, I don't really see any evidence of recurrent, disturbing/intrusive, inescapable thoughts or thought suppression/repression as a result of having these particular thoughts. Perhaps the poster does have these experiences, but we don't know and I don't think there's anything even implying this in what they have wrote here.

You know, aside from the part where he said that he was diagnosed with OCD.
posted by empath at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2011

I'm somewhat mildly OCPD for example
except he never said he was diagnosed, empath, he self-describes in vague terms. Also he says OCPD, which is not the same
posted by eggyolk at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2011

It might be helpful to be able to talk about it with other people who share your fetish. Try poking around on Fetlife. There's a group of MeFites there, as well.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:08 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

As to how to bring something up with a therapist, a friend of mine described how she brought up being an incest survivor by waiting until the hour was up and basically saying "there's something I need to talk about next time and I can't bring it up, so I need you to ask me about it and make me talk about it."

Worked for her.
posted by Pax at 11:43 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Try Voice Dialogue
posted by troubadour at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2011

You say that you've "found other girls attractive in the past, although generally not until I've gotten to know them fairly well rather than off the bat." That is a very healthy, charming, and honorable way to be. What you're saying here is that you relate to women first as individual people, not as physical objects that are attractive or not. Maybe you should be giving seminars, teaching other guys how to be like you. If you're evaluating yourself by the standards of the artificially hyper-sexualized messages that saturate popular culture, and finding that those standards do not accurately describe your personality, perhaps you should see that as a source of pride and relief, rather than anxiety.
posted by Corvid at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, these responses help a great deal. Hopefully this'll make it easier to talk about, and I'll try to take heed of your advice.
posted by Scrimshaw at 4:48 PM on April 26, 2011

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