Beating the Psychology of Doing Bad Things to Feel Good
I just read an article that doesn’t surprise me at all, but for some reason it hit me in a profound way today.
The article I read was basically about a study that concluded overweight girls are at a greater risk of engaging in risky sexual behavior– such as not using birth control, or not having their partners wear condoms, to even being forced to have sex when they didn’t want to.
Keep in mind the stats were even more unsettling because the survey of almost 4,000 girls ranged from around age 13-18.
Sex wasn’t on my mind as a young girl, until I hit 18, surrounded by beautiful young men in college (who were smarter and better looking than the guys from my small town) and a roommate with an active social life that kept her out of our room… I had a boyfriend. We kissed and we touched and fondled and groped in that room until, I couldn’t take kissing and touching and fondling and groping anymore.
He asked me if I was sure, I nodded and took a deep breath.
I took the plunge.
It’s been a battle of discipline, self-esteem, love, rationality, irrationality ever since. I do see the reason why people should wait until they get married, even though I didn’t. Once you dive down that rabbit hole, it opens up a lot of emotions and challenges and human complexities that even people with multiple partners who claim they are cool with casual sex choose to acknowledge or ignore. Regardless of the choice there’s a Pandora’s box of feelings, of reasons why you are choosing to engage in sex, with whom and why.
I can’t imagine what these young ladies are going through having to think about these things as early as 6th and 7th grade. It hurts my heart, really.
But as a 30-year-old woman, I look back at the times I thought sex would make me feel better, and to my shock and dismay, it didn’t.
The bad news for these young, overweight girls is, self-esteem and the complexities of sex and why they are having sex will continue in their 20s, 30s and beyond.
They will find they’ll still struggle if they lose the weight. They’ll struggle if they are a runway model in Milan. They’ll still struggle if they got a degree, or a master’s or a doctorate. They’ll still struggle if they manage to rise in the ranks of a major corporation. They’ll struggle when they meet the perfect guy and he’s bad at sex, or the guy they can’t stand and he’s awesome.
For me, there’s no greater time for emotionally risky sexual behavior than my infamous “ho” phases post breakups.
Speaking of risky sexual behavior, other studies have shown that drugs and alcohol use are usually the culprits behind people having unprotected sex and making bad decisions.
Looking back, I’d say 99 percent of the time that I had self-pity sex, or spiteful sex, or bored sex, I was drunk. And even then I was drunk because I was feeling crappy about myself or I was stressed, or my job was making me nuts. If I was sober and made the date, I was getting drunk by the time my booty call showed up.
Getting drunk was to muffle the voice saying, you need to be doing this for love and not to escape. This is not real. This is a waste of your time and energy.
I’m older now and although there are times I’m ridiculously horny, I’ve decided I’m willing to wait for the real thing. I owe it to myself. I know what it feels like to be madly in love with someone and be in a committed situation. Truth be told, when I was engaged, during the act, I’d look at him and I’d look at that ring on my hand and my head and heart would synchronize swim in delight. I’ve had no higher sexual experience than that. I’ve always joked that I couldn’t wait until the day I had married, God-approved sex. I still feel that way. I believe it will be highly intense, especially knowing all of the things I know now about love and committing fully to someone and trusting them completely with everything.
Once you have that high, anything outside of that kind of sex sucks, even if it’s great sex with a casual person who you think is cool. You find yourself reconfiguring your emotions afterwards whether you have feelings for the casual person or not.
You find yourself feeling like you wasted your time even if you briefly blacked out in ecstasy moments before. No sooner than you’re putting on your robe, to see them out the door, the euphoria has already come and gone…literally.
It’s not enough for me anymore.
Real great sex lasts longer after that release. Great sex carries over into sleeping late in that person’s arms, and making breakfast together, drinking out of the same glass. It’s watching that person getting dressed and heading out to work. It’s singing along with the radio while you are cleaning the house and sniffing his shirts and it’s coming right back home to that person when the day is done, and knowing that person is going to be there the day after, and the day after and the day after that day.
Sure there are guys I could call.
There are hot guys I could call. Hot guys with good jobs, who are smart.
I do not love these hot, smart, guys. They do not love me. There is mutual respect. There is honesty about what we are and what we’re not, but no love.
I can’t see myself with them, and I’m not sure if they can see themselves with me in a real relationship.
I’m appreciating the discipline it takes to take control of my mind and my body.
That makes me feel good about myself. (When I don’t feel good about myself and I feel I’m going to crack, it’s time to break out the list of things that make me feel sexy and do the non-sexual things, lol.)
Feeling good about myself, keeps me from making that phone call.
Or in some cases, maybe I did make the phone call. But the good feeling I have about staying true to myself and having the understanding about what it is I really want, gives me the strength to change my mind, call back and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
Love this song and the lyrics by the delightful Elle Varner “Refill”: