We get quite a few messages about sexuality in our lives. When these messages have a predominantly warning and negative tone, it may feel like a restriction on your sexual freedom and enjoyment. In this article I describe how to free yourself from these limiting beliefs.
I vaguely remember the day I received sex education. Sitting on the edge of my parent's bed, my mother told me that sex is for procreation and therefore only for your life partner. A message that was regularly repeated in the religious environment in which I grew up.
The forbidden fruit
On my daily walk to school, I passed a small sex shop. Curious as I was, I liked to peek inside. Colorful attributes were displayed behind the two windows and photos of scantily clad ladies in latex and leather adorned the red plush back wall. A disgrace, thought the people of our church community. So they pulled out all the stops to ban the shop window. Without success.
The more my parents tried to keep sex out of the way, the more I was attracted to it. An exciting, unknown world full of temptation, in which I could find and lose myself completely. Like Eve who can't wait to take a bite out of the apple.
Limiting Parent Messages
When discovering your own sexuality, as a homosexual man you often come into a conflict of loyalty with the norms and values that you inherited from home. We don't talk about sex, sex is something between a man and a woman, sex is something exclusive, and similar beliefs. Because in our lives we get quite a few messages about sexuality. When these messages have a predominantly warning and negative tone, it feels like a restriction on your sexual freedom and pleasure.
How liberating I found it when I learned that this sexual prudishness is not of all times. Take the Greeks and Romans1. They had a relatively open and tolerant attitude towards sexuality. For the Greeks, enjoying sex was one of the important things in life. The love of two men was as common as the love between a man and a woman.
With the arrival of Christianity, attitudes towards homosexual behavior also changed. A gradual change that had far-reaching consequences from the Middle Ages onwards. In 1233, the Inquisition ruled that homosexuals could be prosecuted, tortured and executed. Something that is unfortunately still the case in almost 70 countries today.
A lasting journey of discovery
This journey of discovery can be rekindled at any stage in your life. The sneaky, fleeting encounters leading up to your coming out. Discovering and getting to know your own male body. Your first longer relationship. The moment when the jeu is out of your relationship and you invite a third party to bring back the tension. Or when you decide to make your fantasies come true by exploring one of the many fetishes. Relationships are about discovering your limits. Meeting each other on the border, where we are most vulnerable. Freud therefore referred to sexuality as the trembling area.
In this journey of discovery, it pays to free yourself from limiting parent messages. Examine your beliefs about sex and ask yourself what you actually think about this. Which beliefs are yours and which have you unconsciously adopted from others. Give yourself space for your own view on sexuality. This way you also create space for new behavior.
Examples of permissions you can give yourself:
• I am allowed to enjoy my own body
• I am allowed to enjoy sex
• I am allowed to enjoy sex
• I may indicate what I like or enjoy
• I am allowed to discover my own sexuality
• I am allowed to have my own view of sex
You crawl into bed with your partner and not with your parents. As long as restrictive parent messages have a hold on you, they slow you down in the relationship with the other person. So throw the brakes off, experiment, set your own limits, enjoy and find each other beyond the shame.
1 Source: Gay Life & Culture - A World History, Robert Aldrich
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