Friday, 29 May 2020

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

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Internet sex and sexual compulsion can feel very much like infidelity, and opinion about what constitutes an affair has changed very much in the past decade or so. Sex with someone other than a primary partner in an agreed monogamous relationship can clearly be counted as an infidelity. However, there are other behaviors, such as secret texting or online friendships, which partners often see as infidelities, some of which lie in a very grey area. The talking point on identifying infidelity below may raise some issues worth thinking about even if this isn’t something which has ever affected you. These days, more than ever, there are opportunities for contact with other people which can be hidden from partners and it may be worth discussing and negotiating what you both feel is acceptable within the relationship before one of you makes a mistake.

There are many couples who, for whatever reason, do accept that they or their partner may have occasional or regular sexual relationships with someone else; this is known as polyamory. The crucial point about polyamory is that it isn’t a secret; everyone involved knows about the others; indeed, sometimes, there may be a group sexual relationship. As a result, other liaisons don’t threaten the primary relationship and they don’t usually create problems. Some couples find that swinging, where they both have sex with someone other than their partner – but with the knowledge, agreement and even presence of the other – helps keep their relationship fresh and alive. Other couples would be horrified to think their partner had any friendships which weren’t shared by both of them. Once one partner feels betrayed, it doesn’t really matter whether you agree about what is and isn’t infidelity.

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 1
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

 

 

Arbitrary judgments are spectacularly unhelpful in a relationship crisis when you may feel your whole world has become topsy-turvy and all your certainties have disappeared. You may think you knew how you would behave if you found out your partner was seeing someone else, but that certainty often disappears too. For instance, you may have stated with certainty that you could be pragmatic and forgiving, but then you may actually find yourself feeling vindictive and crazy. Or if you were sure you would show your partner the door, you may be shocked to discover that you want them more than ever. There is no template for post-affair behavior, so there is a temptation to grasp at whatever your belief was beforehand. This can lead to precipitate behavior, with families split apart only to be reunited and split again or living through hell because a couple is so determined to make a go of a lost cause.

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 2
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

Sexual Compulsion. Sexting

‘Sexting’, or flirting by text, often with explicit content or images, has become a major problem that can seriously threaten relationships. Sometimes it is a symptom of a bigger problem with the relationship or it can just occur as a result of boredom or opportunity. Some partners find it particularly difficult to forgive the amount of time that is spent engaging with the texts or the secrecy that may be involved.

The fact that nothing sexual has occurred may even make matters worse, particularly if it seems there is an emotional rather than physical attachment involved. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize that what you’re doing could be upsetting to a partner. Moreover, everyone doesn’t have the same ideas about what should be acceptable behavior in a relationship. Some partners caught sexting or having a relationship compare their behavior with others in order to justify it. This may be no help at all unless there was a prior agreement that this behavior was acceptable.

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 3
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

 

Sexual compulsion

Behavior can be considered compulsive if it starts to become preoccupying; that is, if you think about it a great deal, it takes up a lot of your time and you would find it difficult to stop. When the activity starts to interfere with work or family life, it is probably time to consider getting some help to find alternative ways to relieve your stress, deal with anxiety or whatever it is that motivates you to spend so much time engaged with the behavior. Why some people so easily become involved to the point of compulsion is difficult to explain. Sometimes relationship problems are what start the behavior, as it seems like a great way to escape from reality.However, many people who turn to sex for comfort or relief have a history of personal trauma which has never been resolved.

Or you may be someone who, for whatever reason, just finds it very hard to calm down. For instance, you may find it difficult to regulate your feelings or comfort yourself just by self-talk or moderate use of substances or activities. You may be the sort of person who won’t stop at one glass of wine but will carry on drinking until the bottle is empty. Consequently, other compulsive behaviors may sometimes co-exist – such as eating disorders, drinking, smoking, taking drugs, shopping or gambling. You may find it difficult to build small treats into your day which would help you to get through it. For example, where someone else may enjoy anticipating their coffee break or a walk in the fresh air at lunchtime, you won’t look forward to those things.

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 4
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

 

You may even take pleasure in working through breaks and skipping meals, as though denying yourself proved something good about you. You will, however, spend all day anticipating the sexual experiences you will engage in later and probably feel resentful of work or family obligations which deny you immediate access to the experience.Whether a compulsion has included contact with others or not, and whether the person is a man or a woman, discovery often leads partners of those with sexual compulsions to start snooping in their belongings, checking their email, phone and computer for evidence of what has been happening. Some compulsive sex users actually ask their partners to monitor their behavior and internet to stop them.

Though it is understandable that either or both of you may think this is a solution, it often just creates more distrust and places more stress on the relationship. It also doesn’t allow the partner with the compulsion to develop any sense of responsibility for what is happening or any sense that they can take control themselves. In the whirlwind of emotions experienced following discovery, it may be a good idea for a partner to seek help for themselves, to try to organize their thoughts and get some support. It may be that your compulsive partner will agree to counselling with you, but they may still be adjusting to the idea that what started as a solution has become a very serious problem. It may be difficult, but try to avoid judgement and blame, as support is more likely to help a compulsive partner to recognize they have a problem.

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 5
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

 

A calm approach allows you the space to talk about what is happening and to discuss alternatives, and the serious risks of continuing. If you seem supportive, rather than angry – however justified this may be – the risks if the problem continues will be demonstrated much more clearly. Once it is accepted all round that a problem exists you can begin making plans to deal with it together or separately. Relate counselors will be able to offer support to partners. Relate psycho sexual therapists are trained to assess the level of difficulty which you may be experiencing and either work with you themselves or refer you to an appropriate alternative resource. Your GP may also be able to help.

In addition to background and personality traits, use of the internet can accelerate difficulties because of its incredibly rapid response. Indeed, there is mounting evidence that internet use changes the brain. Combined with the effect of sexual hormones, this can make internet porn powerfully attractive, more appealing ultimately than sex with a partner. This is because the ‘quick fix’ associated with internet use makes it more difficult to enjoy sex when it involves the effort of engaging with another person. Indeed, erectile problems may emerge or you may find it takes much longer to orgasm with a partner, if you can manage it at all .

 

Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex - photo 6
Sexual Compulsion. Internet Sex

 

It is also possible that, in some individuals, the body starts to rely on the pleasure associated with release of the neurochemical dopamine. Dopamine is released during pleasurable activities, including sex, and creates a kind of impulse memory which makes you want to repeat the pleasant activity. As the attachment hormone oxytocin is also released, there is a theory that you can actually start to bond with the internet activity. Just thinking about the activity – or eventually even just about your computer – can release dopamine, so you may develop a cycle which involves a great deal of time spent thinking about and planning the behavior as well as carrying it out. However, dopamine levels plummet after orgasm, which may leave you feeling irritable, ashamed and empty. You need another fix to take away that feeling.

Once this cycle has evolved, you will probably need professional help to break it and to stay away from it. Because internet use is so solitary, there is rarely anyone to intervene and help with this if you continue to go it alone. Some people are able to make a real effort to wean themselves off internet porn by filling their time with other activities and looking forward to non-porn treats, but there is no doubt this is difficult to do by yourself. Telling someone else may mean you will get some support for efforts to change and encouragement to stick at it. Finding ways to remove some of the stress from your life is an excellent start, which may be something your partner can help with.

 

The Relate Guide To Sex And Intimacy

Cate Campbell

Read more here

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