“She stares deeply into your eyes, with a playful smile across her face. She races across to the far right corner of the room, and flicks off the switch with her left hand. Your eyes haven’t adjusted to the new lighting, it’s now pitch black, and you can hear her shifting around near the bed…
She’s getting undressed.
The nerves start to kick in. Your stomach starts to churn. It’s finally happening — and you’re not prepared. After what feels like an eternity, she’s completely naked, with the sheets off, lying on her back in your bed.
She rolls over to her left, makes full eye contact, slowly raises her hand, and curls her index finger.
She wants you to come into bed.
What do you do?”
The reason why I wrote this short vignette: Many men have a hard time in the bedroom. Even though we love to fantasize about what we’d do, the reality is, many guys still choke up in the bedroom. And the reason for this is sexual shame.
Sexual shame is:
- What holds us back from taking the lead role in the bedroom (essential, as research shows the majority of women don’t like submissive guys)
- What stops us from enjoying sex
- Feeling like a “creep” or “monster” for simply being attracted to women
- Guilt over having purely physical desires for sexual contact with someone
- Feeling overwhelming shame for indulging in some kind of sexual activity or self-pleasure
Obviously, sexual shame is a huge burden among men. And in today’s episode, I reveal how to overcome your sexual shame so you can enjoy healthy sexual relations.
Show highlights include:
- Why your own sexual shame is one of the biggest burdens preventing you from accessing your natural attractiveness (0:25)
- How the feelings of post-nut clarity psychologically represses you and your ability to find a girlfriend (2:21)
- The “Good Boy” coping mechanism that distracts you from overcoming your shame (which prevents you from falling in love with the “one”) (3:00)
- Enjoy flirting and banter by unburdening yourself from your sexual shame (3:34)
- How to get your girlfriend begging for more by accessing your “Inner-50-Shades-of-Grey” (4:59)
- “If you leave your sexual shame unexamined, it will sabotage your attractiveness as a man” (38:06)
Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:
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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. In this episode, we’re going to be diving into sexual shame, which is one of the biggest burdens preventing you from accessing your natural attractiveness.
I think most men aren’t even aware of their sexual shame. Instead, they’re reacting to it. It’s controlling them. If you’re listening to this, then you might be self-aware enough to notice when you’ve got these voices in your head that are polarized. They’re sort of like the stereotypical angel on one shoulder, devil on the other. You’ve got one side, and that has sexual desire, is horny, might even be aggressively so if it’s repressed a lot, and flees into daydreaming or fantasizing, and maybe indulges maybe too much in porn. [01:07.4]
After that part gets a hold of you and runs the show for a while, and then it’s finally depleted, somehow the energy is used maybe through ejaculation, the other side of you jumps out and shames you for what you’ve just done. Then this anxious energy of having to keep it down, to keep things under control, to move forward on projects or activities that are in line with the good-boy persona that you’d like to inhabit or embody, and that background anxiety builds and builds and builds, because that’s probably not that fulfilling and it’s not doing it for all of you, not all of the parts of you.
That anxiety builds and builds and builds, until it has to find a release. And, again, where does that release come from? It comes from the bad part of you coming up again and now acting out. It might act out again through fantasizing, daydreaming, or physically acting out in the world through sexual promiscuity or indulging in porn. [02:06.0]
Then that starts the cycle all over again, because it results in the shame, which leads to the anxiety, which leads to the acting out behavior or extreme reaction, and then that leads again to the shame from having that acting out, and then the cycle perpetuates, and this is what it’s like to live under psychological repression.
As you might have noticed, as I charted out this shame-anxiety acting-out cycle, you might notice that there are many components to it. There are at least three as I’ve just pointed out. In this episode, we’re going to be focusing on the sexual shame, because in many ways, it’s the linchpin of that cycle. If you can remove that element from it, the cycle stops, and in many ways, it’s the easiest one to tackle out of all of the different elements involved in that repressive cycle, because the other elements are more nuanced or multi-layered. For example, good-boy behaviors aren’t all bad and you don’t want to stop them. You just don’t want to use them as a way of distracting yourself from the deeper issues from the shame. These are coping mechanisms to deal with the toxic shame. [03:14.4]
You can also see this repressed sexual shame in the red-pill rage and incel rage, where they’re raging against the Stacy’s and Chad’s of the mating world, but that is a topic for another episode. For this one, we’re going to stay with a basic sexual shame and let’s deal with that first.
If you can unburden yourself from the sexual shame, you’ll find it much easier to be able to access those parts of you that enjoy flirting and banter, and most of all, sexual arousal, and be able to play with that sexual energy a lot more adeptly and freely. [03:54.9]
This is especially important in the dating-app world, where a lot of the pre-date is doing the work that the first date or second date was doing in the pre-dating-app world, where you’re still getting to know each other. You really don’t know much more about each other than the five or 10 minutes that you spent in the bar when you exchanged numbers or on the street or whatever, or when your friends set you up and that sort of thing.
Now a lot of that is being done through texting and maybe some video-calling and exchanging of photos or something along those lines, and of course, the profile itself, so that by the time you actually meet in person on a date, there’s an expectation for it to lead to sex, maybe not that date, but maybe the date after.
If the man is too weighed down by sexual shame to lead or to be able to access a part of him that has leadership qualities and can be comfortable taking the lead in the bedroom, as well as in the date, and if he’s not comfortable taking the lead, he’s definitely not going to be comfortable in the dominant role that you see depicted in the bestselling books of women’s literature, like the Fifty Shades of Grey series, which is a kind of dominance, not just in the bedroom, but also in their dating relationship. [05:17.4]
That’s the kind of energy that draws from the warrior archetypes and warrior parts of you, as well as the lover parts of you, and any parts of you that are attracted to women sexually are going to be held back if there’s a lot of sexual shame, and the more the sexual shame there is, the more held back they’ll be. So, just addressing the sexual shame, in and of itself, to be able to at least identify that as the burden is a big step to releasing that burden.
First things first, what are the sources of the sexual shame? There’s the obvious, your parents, your greater community, including your grandparents and extended relatives, your religious community, if you’re at a church or a mosque, or a synagogue or anything along those lines, or if you’re in a country or society that has a lot of religion baked into its identity. All of these could be sources of sexual shame that get passed down uncritically and affecting you unconsciously. [06:20.1]
At the end of this, I’m going to suggest a therapeutic approach to dealing with the unconscious shame, but if you have strong intellectual parts or cognitive parts, they’re going to get in the way of any kind of work that they don’t assent to or agree with, and rightly so. One important step of dealing with unconscious burdens is to first make them conscious, and that’s what I’ve been doing since we started here in this episode and now we’ll go even further, now consciously critically examining the sources of sexual shame. [06:56.5]
Now, hopefully, you don’t believe stuff just because somebody else told you, and, hopefully, you don’t believe stuff just because your parents told you. Hopefully, you are old enough, if you’re listening to this, I assume you are, to be able to think for yourself and decide things for yourself, and realize that there were things that you were told in your childhood or in the past that the adults telling you sincerely believed, but that they were, in fact, wrong about.
You can first explain these well-meaning adults who just wanted you to have what they had, which might be passing down their own burdens, in this case, they might actually believe sincerely the religious tenets that led to the sexually-repressive attitudes. You might have once believed them as I did, and I was a pretty serious, hardcore, conservative, evangelical Christian, right up until I’m almost 30. [07:50.5]
I went to seminary for a year full time. I won the Biblical Greek Award, and I was a missionary for a period of time, and in fact, I saw my mission as a professor of Asian religions and Asian philosophies at the top doctoral program in the world at the time, setting me up for a great career as a professor, as an expert in Asian religions and philosophy, to finally turn around and say, “Aha, I have studied to become the world’s best expert in these different Asian religions, and I proclaim Christianity to be superior.”
I was literally getting funding from Christian organizations and foundations to become an apologist, as they are called, defenders of the faith, and that ultimately led me to presenting papers at the Society of Christian Philosophers at multiple meetings in front of the world’s top, some of the world’s top professors of philosophy, religion and theology, and, eventually, asking enough questions and getting not the answers that I was hoping for, but, instead, “Hmm, David, that’s a really good question. We don’t know. We just have to have faith.” And as someone who specialized in Asian religions, that’s the sort of answer that they give about their problems, and so it seems like, wow, okay, Christianity isn’t on any better footing than they were, and eventually, that just kept me– I was full time questioning. [09:14.8]
I’m not like a Sunday Christian with a full-time job and only thought about the theology and the existence of God one day a week. I was talking about it all the time, 24/7 almost. Eventually, I got to the point where I believed that it was more likely that the Christian God does not exist than that he does exist, and as a result, my entire life changed, because your entire life should change if that were true, if the Christian God who left the Christian Bible did actually exist. Most of the way that the Sunday Christians live is not glorifying God and they should feel pretty bad about that.
So, when I made the intellectual choice, I just couldn’t deny it any longer. It’s probably not the case that the Christian God exists. Then I am now free to and I ought to, because I’m really missing out on a lot of fun here, go clubbing and drinking and having fun, all the fun that I missed out on as a good Christian boy, and a big part of that was hooking up with beautiful women. [10:14.7]
Then I went on a period of about several years when I went deep into hedonism, and only through experiencing the emptiness of it, did I discover this emptiness, because, theoretically, it doesn’t seem like there would be any reason for it to be empty. It’s sort of like telling someone who is starving in the desert that, eventually, they won’t want to have this Four Seasons buffet food anymore, and maybe all they’re seeing of it is what they might see on TV or in a magazine of this food, but they’ve never tasted it. And for the first few years, it’s just glorious, right? They’re just going to gorge themselves, until finally they get bored. I don’t know if you’ve ever been bored of a buffet, but if you keep going back to the same buffet, you’ve got a lot of options, but, eventually, it’s not nearly as exciting as it was on the first day, especially contrasting that to a total desert, right? [11:05.1]
After years of this buffet, you might actually become annoyed with it or frustrated with it and find it to be empty, and then want to go on a fast to find, what’s the meaning of my continued existence, if it’s not just more pleasure? Luckily, I stuck around long enough on this earth to be able to dig further there and discovered, finally, unconditional love and connection has been far more fulfilling than any significance-driven endeavors, and especially, any kind of self-centered pleasure ways of life.
I personally get nothing out of you or anyone changing religions, so I have no interest in dissuading you from whatever religious beliefs you currently have. If you have religious beliefs that lead to your sexual shame, then there’s nothing more that I can say to you. You should go to your priest or your minister or whatever and work that out. [12:02.5]
And maybe this podcast isn’t actually going to speak to you, not just this episode, but the whole podcast. That is, if you are actually one of the, I don’t know, 5 percent of religious adherents, or maybe less than 5 percent who actually practice what they preach, or, I should say, try to practice what they preach.
Okay, so now I’m going to lay aside the religion issue as separate, outside of my intended topic here, and I’m going to assume now that you don’t have any intellectual or rational grounds for that judgmental attitude towards sex, that sex is evil or sinful, or needing to be punished. In case you don’t know, and I discovered that a lot of men who struggle with women and have a lot of sexual shame, even though they are intelligent, it seems they have decent general intelligence, they don’t know much about biology, because all biology or, I don’t know, 99 percent of biology is evolutionary biology. [13:00.9]
Hopefully, you know that our species came about through sexual reproduction. So, then how could it be bad? If we stopped having sex, then we would all go extinct. Okay, so I don’t think I need to say anything further about that. The science is pretty clear. If you’re outside of North America or outside the West, you might want to read up quickly on Masters and Johnson and the Kinsey Report.
I know because I have listeners in Singapore and other Asian countries, as well as Middle-Eastern countries, that missed out on the sexual revolution in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and for economic reasons, their countries opened up for liberalization, which basically meant that they adopted, through globalization, companies like MTV, Hollywood, in general. [13:49.8]
Maybe you even have a Victoria’s Secret store in your local mall in these traditional or conservative countries that probably only sell, for the first phase anyway, only sell the cosmetics or the fragrances. But adorned along all the walls or images and photos, videos of the Victoria’s Secrets models of the last show and all that, so there’s a lot of sex, sexual images, I should say, coming out to when you visit the Victoria’s Secret store, and for people living in these more repressed, sexually-repressed countries, it was like night and day, suddenly.
So, I think it’s important that if you live in one of these more culturally-conservative, especially regarding sex, sexually-repressed countries, that you read up on the history, because it wasn’t like that in America. It didn’t suddenly just shift like that overnight or in one year. There was a process and a big part of that process were scientific reports or the most scientific they can make it.
Now, in the 21st century, we have far more scientific research on sex. There’s a whole area of research in academia called sexology, which was, when it first started, too racy even for America, and I know that for a lot of people living in culturally-conservative, socially-conservative countries, you think of America as the most liberal, but it’s not. [15:12.3]
There is a strong Puritan influence in America and there’s still a strong, relatively strong Christian influence, even though these are just mostly cultural Christians who don’t really know their theology and they don’t really practice except on Sundays. I’m aware now that by, in a way, calling out these cultural Christians, I’m now triggering a bit of that shame, which now means that they might have just been, like in The Matrix, those are really taken over by the parts of them that make sure that they go to church, and then they’re going to now shame themselves internally.
If that has happened to you just say, “Oh, hey, here are the different parts that are now speaking to each other or trying to vie for my consciousness, the one that’s trying to be the good boy, and then the one that was starting this episode. That’s an aside. [16:03.1]
Marta Meana, one of the top researchers in sexology, started out at Northwestern University near Chicago, which is a pretty liberal place, but even there, her research was banned or not welcomed, and so she fled to my home country, in my home province, actually, Ontario, instead of her research at Queen’s University, a very good university in Canada.
Okay, so the old religion vs. science dichotomy still rages here, and it’s important when it comes to sexual shame, because if you just remove the religion side of the equation, you might go back into superstition, so it’s important to recognize that there is a lot of science that tells us about sex and sexual reproduction. So, what exactly is bad or shameful about sex between two consenting adults?
As a proponent, a defender of the religion side of the equation, one of my old intellectual heroes, I memorized, basically, his books all through high school, C.S. Lewis, Clive Staples Lewis, you might know him as the top mega Best Selling Author of the Narnia series. [17:08.8]
One of, I think, probably C.S. Lewis’ bestselling nonfiction book besides the Screwtape Letters, which is sort of fictional, is the book Mere Christianity, and in Mere Christianity, he has a chapter called Sexual Morality, and I personally regard C.S. Lewis as an exemplary exponent of the conservative Christian viewpoint, and let’s just dive into his argument here.
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I’m reading from the beginning of the chapter on sexual morality.
“We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity.”
Then skipping down.
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong. [19:15.0]
“But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.” [19:58.6]
Okay, so Count Argument No. 1, but first just pausing to appreciate the lucidity and eloquence and beautiful simplicity of C.S. Lewis’s prose. Okay, so pointing out from the Christian tradition, that Solomon, the third king of Israel and one of the great ancestors of Jesus Christ Himself, is said to have had a harem that, based on 1 Kings 11:3, included 700 wives and 300 concubines. His father, King David, had at least eight wives and 10, at least 10 concubines, and had at least 18 children.
Now, of course, the Christian apologists will come back with some kind of convoluted theological argument to explain away the fact that the wisest person in history Solomon, King Solomon, was permitted by God, blessed, in a sense, to have 700 wives and 300 concubines. Later on, the only downside mentioned is that some of these women were taken from other cultures and influenced King Solomon to respect or pay respects to other gods. [21:10.3]
So, it wasn’t because there was some kind of sexual immorality here, having 700 wives and 300 concubines. It wasn’t the sexual morality issue. It was the fact that he ended up paying respects to their gods, and if you don’t care about such a thing, and it’s clearly not a biological argument that there is something wrong with the sexual instinct, in and of itself, because, clearly, the sexual instinct is alive and well in Jesus Christ’s ancestors, so speaking to C.S. Lewis’s argument or conclusion that the sexual appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excesses of its function, now we get to, I think, his best argument, and there is a really good counter argument for this one. Let’s present it from C.S. Lewis. [21:56.6]
“Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?”
Then he continues with a more nuanced version of the same argument.
“One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He meant, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. [23:02.7] But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before”–
An important point to emphasize, by the way, in recent times by Jordan Peterson, and rightly so, I think far too few people recognize the import of sexual contraceptives on sex psychology, and C.S. Lewis continues.
–“and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than it has been since Pagan times.” [24:01.0]
Let’s back up and get clear on the argument that C.S. Lewis is actually attacking, which is that sex is simply a biological need like food, and our instinct and desire for it is in proportion to the fact that it’s a need like it is for food, and his reply is that it can’t be like our desire for food or our need for food because the sex instinct is far out of proportion to what our food desire is, because as you can see, he says, there is no striptease for food.
Now, when I first heard this argument, in the late-80s, early-90s, when I first read it, I was convinced by it. In the early-90s, there was no Food Network yet and there was also no internet. Actually, no, that’s not right. There was AOL, and you get a disk in the mail, and you use your phone line and you have the tu-tu-tu, and you had to wait forever to load anything. There was a nascent internet, but there was no watchable Internet porn or images. I wasn’t accessing, able to access any of that. [25:05.3]
So, this was, if you were looking at porn or if you’re going to a striptease, let’s talk about that, strip clubs in where I was growing up around Toronto, Ontario, and they still might be, I haven’t checked in a while, were boarded-up affairs. If there was a strip club, you couldn’t tell from the outside, except for the fact that all the windows were boarded up. There was some signage, but no images of naked women or anything like that was allowed, and it was sort of like where you would drive to to get pornography or VHS or Beta tapes. It would be some strip mall. You go through the back and it would be a hush-hush kind of thing, and that was what was existing.
So, when I thought of striptease, that’s where my mind went. It was these dark, dingy, shameful-looking, in a way, sinister-looking, because they were all boarded up and it was all in some dark alley, that kind of thing, and of course, no one was doing anything around food in any kind of venue like that. [26:03.3]
So, of course, it looked like C.S. Lewis is right. We are simply perverted in our sexual appetites and, therefore, making the case and coming to a sort of inference that the sexual instinct is not like the food or the desire for food instinct. It is not a biological need, or if it is, it’s taken way out of proportion, because, look, no one eats food furtively in an alley, and there were no stripteases for food. He was right about that.
Okay, so now it is 2023. As of the recording of this, a lot has changed, and you also have to keep in mind when C.S. Lewis was writing this book. It was between 1942 and 1944. He was writing this during World War II. What happened shortly after I read this and was convinced by this argument was the advent of the Food Network and food television, and I started watching food shows in the late-90s, starting with Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, I think I’m getting the titles right, and you got the Emeril and all of that. That’s the actual food network stuff, but you also have it in the Travel Channel. [27:12.5]
Over the past several years, my wife and I have enjoyed watching Gordon Ramsay’s many, many shows, but also the ones that are more focused on the food itself where you’re literally like a striptease, like a show that’s beautifully shot, Chef’s Table. I highly recommend that, if you’re a foodie, and my wife and I have traveled around the world and had meals at restaurants featured in Chef’s Table.
Even earlier, in the ’90s, watching with my sisters when we were just kids, the original Iron Chef that was in Japanese and dubbed over into this kooky-sounding English that was kitschy and awesome, and the opening scene of the owner of Iron Chef and he takes a big bite out of this pepper, and even the unveiling of the chief ingredient was this big spectacle. [28:01.4]
I’ve got to tell you, I never thought and it occurred to me over the decades that I was watching these, I don’t really watch the cooking shows, but I watched the shows that are showcasing master chefs, as well as the top restaurants, and there’s a lot of food being showcased and that’s like the highlight of it, when they finally bring out the dish and they do some cinematography around it, do different angles.
Then thinking about the shows that really make your mouth water, they’re the ones that are showing off the special pizza or barbecue. They have the Chef’s Table BBQ, I think, and the Chef’s Table: Pizza, and we’re definitely watching stripteases for food.
Nowadays, striptease is a lot more glamorized and safe. I mean, just going to a stripclub doesn’t have to be dingy and dark and shameful, especially if you’re in Las Vegas. It’s a whole show. You could go and see a performance of dancing girls. I think this is an influence from Europe, specifically, France, and European attitudes towards nudity and sex are far more liberal than you’ll find in America, but even now, in America, which is heavily influenced still by Puritanism. [29:09.5]
For those who don’t know, puritanism is a kind of Christianity that was in ascendancy in the 1700s and 1800s, especially, and once you’re out of war-time conditions where people were on rations, there was no Food Network then and no tasting-menu dinners, and so on, so it’s very understandable, C.S. Lewis coming out of that historical context, not being able to imagine stripteases for food.
But then, you’d have to go 50 years in the future until you get the Food Network, and then another 10 years before you have a huge proliferation of different kinds of shows that are extremely popular, billions of dollars’ worth of value each year, that are depicting food, and, basically, taking you through a whole hour’s worth of story before, finally, unveiling the final product of that dish. [29:59.7]
I also want to point out the popularity of open kitchens and being able to sit at a bar, watching the cooks and chefs working in the open kitchen, and it’s like you get a show in addition to your meal, and of course, there’s sushi bars where you’re watching the sushi chef do his thing. Then, after all of that ritual and hard work and the beautiful ingredients, for sushi, you eat it all in one bite, eat one piece for one bite. So, Clive Staples, so much for that argument, but, hey, you have to wait 50 years to get the empirical evidence against it, so fair game to him.
Just to bring back C.S. Lewis at the end, at the end of this chapter, he says and it’s an important point:
“Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the center of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. [31:00.3] All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”
It’s always fun to read my old hero, C.S. Lewis, though in this argument, clearly, there’s tons of counterevidence against his main point. Maybe you are still religious, and I generally have found very little success dissuading people from their religious beliefs, so I have no skin in the game either way with that one, but I do want to personalize this a bit by sharing a story from my life of a time when a layer of sexual shame was added onto me and that I lived with for quite a while, a very strong intellectual part. [32:08.3]
Once I assented intellectually to the fact that Christianity is probably more likely not true than to be true, I had to rethink everything, my whole worldview, including sexual morality. Of course, what I was taught in school and all the way through university and everything that I know, and when I look back at biology and sciences, what I still find is evolution and evolutionary biology, and on that score, sex is a biological necessity for the continuation of our species. It can’t possibly, that act itself can’t possibly be evil or bad between two consenting adults, right?
But I grew up a very conservative Christian, and back when I was about eight years old, my parents purchased their first– I think it was a Betamax that we got first and then we switched to VHS later, and we got this Beta and then we went to the video store. [33:05.5]
I think this might have been the third or fourth trip as a family to the video store to pick a movie for family movie night on Sunday night or whatever, and I picked a movie that had the word “dirty” in it and it was about cowboys. I don’t remember the exact title, I was searching for it, couldn’t find it, but I recall, in my mind I see the cover of the video being these, I think it was seven cowboys, and it had the word “dirty” in it. I remember that.
Anyway, we all settled in that night to watch the video that I chose, put the Beta cassette into the player and then started on the TV, and it was me, my little sister, my oldest sister, and I was eight, so my little sister would have been four, and then the movie started and it was, as I recall, some cowboys riding through a kind of desert-looking scene, riding up to a small town with a saloon. They go into the saloon, cowboy style with the swinging doors. They get in there, they order some drinks, and then these women were there. I guess there was some live music of some kind there and the women started to dance with the men, and then the men started to undress the women and I saw boobs and then I saw ass. [34:18.8]
Then my mom screamed, “Turn it off, turn it off,” and then next thing you know, we were being forced to go up to our rooms and in a sort of frenzy of terror and anger, and then while the sun was still up because I think it was the summer, so it was basically far too early to be in bed already, we were in bed. I think we skipped the shower and everything.
We were just so shocked by this and we were just in bed, and I’m under the covers. My dad comes up and says to me, “You know, next time, don’t pick a movie with the word ‘dirty’ in it.” That was his takeaway, and I do remember that so I do remember that it had the word “dirty” in the title, and that was it from my dad. He never explained to us about my mom and why she acted that way. [35:03.8]
It was the first time I ever saw bare boobs and women’s ass on screen, so this was my first exposure to kind of adult sexual images, and it was accompanied by fear, anger, a kind of shaming, and I felt bad that I chose that video and I didn’t understand it. Of course, confusion, too, because like, “What’s wrong with this?” per se. I just knew it was somehow wrong, and maybe some of you have had the same experience. I think this is a relatively-common type of thing, where you, as a child, accidentally come upon some kind of sexual images and your parents freak out, and that’s your first, and they don’t explain why it’s bad, because it’s going to be hard to explain why it’s bad.
For my parents, it was for religious reasons, so that was a lot more straightforward and I kind of just got that, I understood that. But if you’re not religious, it’s going to be hard for your parents to explain why that’s bad, so very likely, they didn’t explain it to you at all, and so you’ve just linked, you grew up linking this emotion of fear and anger and shame to sex. [36:06.2]
Then you didn’t get to criticize it or critically examine it, and now you’re an adult and you’ve carried these unconscious associations with you all the way up through now into your 20s, 30s, 40s, into your dating life, and maybe you’re married and you still have this, and you pass it on to your kids and then the generational cycle of sexual shame and the burden of it continues.
Now, I got out of this because I actually have strong intellectual parts that could easily let go of these beliefs and understand, so I immediately understood why my parents were reacting that way out of their sexual shame that comes from religion, and that was pretty straightforward. It was one of those spontaneous unburdenings, I guess you could call it, from just having intellectual parts that were driving things.
But I know that a lot of guys, and a lot of people, women as well, don’t, and their sexual shame might be rooted in much more traumatic events, like child abuse, childhood sexual abuse, or stronger reactions more frequently from their caregivers, their parent figures, or their community. [37:12.8]
If that’s the case for you, if it’s not just now that you see it rationally or intellectually, then it just sloughs off. If it’s still sticking with you, then that’s a sign that this is an unconscious burden that’s attached to probably an exiled part of you and the best way to go about treating this is IFS therapy to access those parts that have been protecting this one through various means, and it might be through sexual shaming, and then, eventually, discovering the exiled one that’s carrying the bulk of the sexual shame and being lovingly with those parts and watching, observing, witnessing what they have to share, and then helping them to let go of the emotions and beliefs that they took on from those shaming times and those traumatic times back then. [38:05.8]
If you leave your sexual shame unexamined, it will sabotage your attractiveness, especially, as a man, where the general roles are taking more of a leadership role in the dating, relationship, dating interactions, it’s going to be hard to lead, if you’ve got a lot of sexual shame. It’s going to be hard to lead in the bedroom, obviously, but even just in terms of attraction and attractiveness, and not let it veer into purely platonic friend-zone type of relationships.
Even if the woman really likes you and wants to get sexual, she’ll be quite frustrated and might even take it personally, it’s very common, the fact that her inference, because of her insecurities, is that you’re not turned on enough by her and she takes that as a knock against herself and not seeing that you’re struggling with sexual shame, especially if you’re not even aware that you’re struggling with sexual shame. [38:59.1]
Then, if you haven’t dealt with it and somehow you get into a relationship or marriage, it’s going to be even worse. Of course, before this time, before the modern time, most people were living with sexual shame and yet they still got married, still had kids and passed down their burdens of sexual shame to the next generation, and so forth. So, you can definitely get married. But what will happen is, in the marriage context, you probably won’t have a thriving sex life, and generally speaking, the sex in your marriage will dwindle to nothing after a certain number of years, especially when you start having kids.
Wherever you are in your relationship life, whether you’re single or you’re with a girlfriend or married, the best time to address sexual shame is now, or as Tony Robbins may put it, when is now a good time to address your sexual shame?
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Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out. [40:08.8]
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