Dear Dr. Eve
I’m unhappy, I’m confused and lost. I love my partner so why do I want
other partners- but just for sex? I watch porn of men having sex with
each other. It arouses me a lot. But I don’t want to have sex with men.
It is making me depressed and I can feel I am withdrawing from my
partner and even the world. By the way, I am a Black 38-year-old
heterosexual cisgender male.
We live in a society that stresses and insists on compulsive monogamy,
a model of intimacy that follows heterosexual family values. So when one
deviates from this model, shame, guilt, and blame result. And the
outcome is a threat to one’s mental and ultimately, physical, well-being.
In a way, it is ironic as we currently live in a world that rightly screams
for justice- social, racial, gender, cultural, religious, class, and climate
justice – and ‘sexual’ justice.
But we have structural constraints – laws, and policies that, for example,
limit a woman’s body to reproductive rights- and we have systemic
constraints based on ignorance, fear, prejudice, telling us who can love,
who and what should arouse us, and with whom we can have sex.
To help get you out of your misery, your distress, and potential lead up to
trauma, I am presenting you with the work of a colleague, Dr. Sari van
Anders, Research Chair in Social Neuroendocrinology, Sexuality, &
Her work is titled SEXUAL CONFIGURATIONS THEORY. Her research on
gender and sexual majority individuals suggest that their attractions,
identities and experiences may not be as homogenous or easily
generalizable as is often assumed. In other words, just because you
, Anonymous, identify as “heterosexual cisgender male” does not mean
that it excludes you from wanting to express your love, sexuality,
intimacy, gender, attractions, eroticism, in a uniquely diverse manner.
Sexual configurations theory (SCT; van Anders, 2015) is a framework for
conceptualizing individuals’ partnered sexualities and gender/sexes with a
focus on gender/sex and sexual diversity.
Dr van Anders invites people to configure their own diverse sexuality
and intimacy – which is flexible and changes through one’s lifespan. Her
focus is on: number of partners and gender/sex, which includes sexual
identities, orientations, statuses.
So I invite you to begin by thinking about :
1. EROTICISM – Phenomena that are sexually tantalizing, arousing,
pleasureful, etc. For example Orgasm, genital pleasure, sexual arousal,
fantasies, having sex, phone sex, sexting, sexual chemistry, etc.
- NURTURANCE -Phenomena that are tied to warm, loving feelings and
closeness. For example Support, affection, cuddling, emotional
connection, hugs, etc.
Consider what it is you most require right now from your current partner
– eroticism or nurturance- and do you require /desire the other from one
other or many other partners?
And so I invite you to ask yourself this same question as you consider
your own sexuality erotic cues , identity, gender and sexual orientation,
number of partners you desire. And then get even more nuanced and
consider where you would like to have erotic or nurturance interactions –
at work, online, whilst travelling.
Accept that this is the human condition – we are flexible, fluid and non
binary in our desire for love, sexuality and intimacy. Configure your own
unique sexuality and invite your partner to do the same. It removes the
guilt and shame and brings in conversation , communication and
connection with a partner.