Reliving the Past: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Fantasies

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

After the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, child care centers across the country noted the emergence of a game called “earthquake,” where children, without provocation, acted out an earthquake scene over and over again, processing the trauma in such a way as to be powerful at the end1.  This is an example of an automatic, impulsive fantasy reenactment, an obvious response to one event that needed to be dealt with. 

But we are more complicated than that in most other areas. Sexual fantasies can run the gamut from “Hey, Baby,” to, “Oh dear, god, why the fuck am I thinking about that!?” because of their tendency to be representative as opposed to literal. For example, donkey fantasies are usually more about..ahem…size and not having to worry about a parter as opposed to wanting to fuck an actual donkey. As a general rule, fantasies may increase pleasure, or on the flip side represent certain unresolved elements of our pasts, functioning to desensitize us to traumas, or helping us to overcome guilt or shame (discussed more here in Whips Chains and Penises, OH MY! Fantasy and the Feminist Argument for Bondage).

But if you are convinced that the fantasies are literal (and sometimes if you aren’t), they can freak you out and become like intrusive thought patterns, an obsession more than a desire, the fear of the thoughts as well as their link to past pleasure driving them to continue, much like what initially happened to Hazel in the book Beyond the Break and to Jim in Famished.

So what to do if a distressing fantasy keeps coming up?...  continue reading

From "I do," to "F*ck off": The Relationship Between Depression and Divorce

Monday, August 03, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

“As a therapist, some of my most satisfying treatments have begun with the suspicion that what looks like martial discord is best   conceptualized as depression in one or the other spouse,” says Dr. Peter Kramer.1 

In other words: “Want to leave? You might be fucking depressed.” 

Okay, okay, so that’s a loaded statement. But it might not be that far off. 

In the circumstance of relationship distress, mood disorders are a common thing. It has long been known that divorce can trigger depression. Part of this is because nearly any life stressor can cause symptoms to worsen in someone who has a depressive history. In men, divorce can even trigger a first episode, though women tend to have had at least one prior to the divorce itself10. In Against Depression, Peter Kramer notes that because women tend to (but not always) have deeper feelings surrounding relationships, they may set themselves up for additional losses inadvertently, which may partially explain the higher rates of depression in women2. Women also have the added burden of economic strain, as their standard of living tends to decrease following divorce while men’s increases. Which sucks giant lion balls and not the tiny shriveled dentist variety. (Asshole poacher burn.)

With the strain of fighting over child custody, the inherent loss of the relationship as well as overall alterations in lifestyle, it is not a surprise that divorce can lead to depression or anxiety. But what if, for some people, the depression comes first and leads to the divorce itself? What if the issues inherent in the relationships were colored by this depression in such a way as to make them seem hopeless leading to separation?...  continue reading

Curiosity My A**: Josh Duggar, Signs of Abuse and How to Keep Your Children Safe

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Over the last week, my inbox has exploded with questions about the Duggar scandal. “What makes someone turn into a child abuser?” “How can I make sure my kids don’t inadvertently hurt someone when they get curious about sex?” And my personal favorite: “Isn’t everyone just being too hard on Josh Duggar? It’s unfair, he was just curious and experimenting.” 

We will get to all of these questions today, but on that last one…no, people. Just NO. I mean, I’m sure he was curious, but psychopaths are often curious about what the inside of your organs look like. It doesn’t mean we excuse their behavior when they pull out your liver. 

It’s not simple curiosity. He snuck into his sisters’ bedroom in the middle of the night so he could touch them without consent or repercussion. He’s ill. He needs help. But that doesn’t mean that he should be our focus today....  continue reading

Why Doesn't He Want Me? When Your Drive Is Higher Than His

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Anyone who has ever been turned down for sex has some feelings around it. Women who are denied feel rejected and unattractive. We get frustrated, sexually and otherwise. We may also feel anxious, as if the relationship is threatened. This is based on an evolutionarily relevant drive to have sex as a way to increase attachment and reaffirm bonds (and if you want to learn more about that, check out The Evolution of Desire, The Anatomy of Love or Mothers and Others).

In short, we don’t always want to high-tail it to the closet for some solo fun with the magic bullet or rascally rabbit (and if you don’t know what those are, you should). Sometimes, we want the connection, the closeness. We want a partner. This whole reaffirming bond thing may be why couples who have more sex have more marital satisfaction even when they have less than ideal communication skills otherwise1.

But it’s a bigger issue than immediate hurt feelings and a little argument over him not being in the mood. Conflicts over intimacy tend to be recurrent and ongoing2 which does not lead to happier relationships overall. And this issue is heightened, with more anger and aggression, when one or both partners is depressed, especially if it’s the husband2

And when it’s the wife who has a higher drive, we have a few other issues to contend with....  continue reading

The Sexiness of Sadness: Evolved and Socialized Reasons We Might Be Attracted to Depression

Monday, November 17, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Many in the therapy biz have emotional reactions to the people they treat. When left in a room with a sociopath, physical responses such as fight or flight are common. Being with anxious people may make us tense based on the evolutionarily relevant assumption that if you're nervous, I probably should be too.

"Where's the tiger, yo?"

But depression triggers therapists and others alike to respond in unexpected ways. Instead of nervousness, many feel attached or even more motivated to help, what Dr. Peter Kramer calls "being charmed" in Against Depression1

This "charming" effect may be an offshoot of a drive to provide care to the overwhelmed, or at least to save the depressed from attack in a vulnerable state. But it is more than a desire to assist. This same system may make moodiness and vulnerability sexually attractive to a higher percentage of the population than you might think....  continue reading

Secrets About Female Sexuality Every Woman Should Know: The Evolutionary Basis of Girl-on-Girl Fantasies

Monday, November 03, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

"In a recent survey of married men, 80% reported that they wouldn't be angry if their wife slept with another woman. Said the other 20%, 'That's hot.'" (Ba dum, dum, ching)

Have you ever been turned on by another chick? It's cool. It happens to a lot of us. 

We are not inherently monogamous, which makes a rich fantasy life critical when we find ourselves with the same partner year after year. While some are able to take such things in a stride, there is potential to feel guilty, as if the fantasies are a betrayal of a current partner, which is not the case (discussed more here in Can Fantasy Be Useful?). This guilt may be especially poignant when the fantasy involves something that is really taboo, like making out with the hot chick who does your nails. 

But seriously, it's normal. And it's even evolutionarily relevant....  continue reading