Your Sexual Map

People say they can tell a lot about a person by knowing their friends. Well, if you know your sexual fantasies and desires, you know a lot about yourself as a person. Sexual fantasies are a result of your psychological makeup. They are not separate they are a part of you—an extension of your psyche. Sexual fantasies, however mundane or bizarre, are attempts compensate for the guilt and fear or worry each of us carries over from childhood. In the book Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, author Michael Bader states, “the details of the fantasy sometimes offer clues” into that persons childhood or history. Bader is clear that he does not believe that one’s orientation is shaped by childhood. That, like temperament, is stable and unchanging. But sexual arousal is imprinted from childhood.

In other words your peak erotic experiences and fantasies have coded information about you that can be helpful in understanding yourself better. It can even help you find Mr. Right! All you have to do decode the erotica of your desires. Our sexual map is determined early on in childhood. We observe and absorb how others love or neglect or abuse us and that becomes our “love map”. This map becomes a template for what we seek out for pleasure in our adulthood.

In my work with men who suffer sexual addictions and compulsions, it has been most helpful going right to what turns them on the most sexually. Here I discovered that sexual fantasies and desires can help tell a lot about a person. As difficult as that is for clients to talk about, once they reveal their sexual fantasies and interests we find plenty of information necessary to help them stop the compulsive behavior. I’ve learned from sex addicts that if you can uncover the disguised material or story, the non-sexual parts of it, then I’ve been able to help them a lot better. Now I’m bringing this new theory and discovery to even healthy fantasies and it’s not to pathologize. It’s about knowing ourselves better as gay men.

Most people, gay and straight alike, do not know if their sexual fantasies are healthy or unhealthy. While gay men are more inclined to act out their sexual desires and fantasies more openly than their heterosexual counterparts, there still lies confusion as to what is positive and self-affirming and what is not.

I think all sexual fantasies are healthy. There are some that should never be acted on because they might be putting the person who has them or someone else at risk. For some men, they discover that regular or preferred sex with escorts is a form of “paying for love”. They were not loved as children by their caregivers. Other men are compelled to be dominated and spanked and take orders in an effort to be disciplined in ways they were not as a child. Others want to dominate and be in charge as in life they feel helpless and powerless. Some like to be humiliated by golden showers, being spit on and verbally abused. This could mean they struggle with maintaining a sense of pride in one’s self.

This does not mean one has to stop the fantasies or change their desires or behaviors. It does, however, mean that if the issue is finding more pride in one’s life, finding a way to be loved without paying, and feeling more powerful and making an impact on others in their environments and relationships. This can provide a map in how to improve your life.

There’s nothing wrong with that fantasy and there’s nothing wrong with doing it. But what I would want to help someone do is explore why they have that fantasy. Not in a negative way but in a positive way. What do your sexual fantasies and desires mean about you?

©2009 by Joe Kort

Related: Issues, Books

Psychotherapist Joe Kort, MA, MSW, has been in practice since 1985. He specializes in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy as well as IMAGO Relationship Therapy, which is a specific program involving communication exercises designed for couples to enhance their relationship and for singles to learn relationship skills. He also specializes in sexual addiction, childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, depression and anxiety. He offers workshops for couples and singles. He runs a gay men's group therapy and a men's sexuality group therapy for straight, bi and gay men who are struggling with specific sexual issues. His therapy services are for gays and lesbians as well as heterosexuals. His articles and columns have appeared in The Detroit Free Press, Between the Lines Newspaper for Gays and Lesbians, The Detroit News, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Mirror, and other publications. Besides providing therapy for individuals and couples, he conducts a number of groups and workshops for gay men. Now an adjunct professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne State University's School of Social Work, he is doing more writing and workshops on a national level. He is the author of 10 Smart Things Gay Men can do to Improve Their Lives and 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love. or E-Mail

* Gaydar (gay'.dahr, n.): (1) The ability that lets gays and lesbians identify one other. (2) This column--where non-gay readers can improve their gaydar, learning more about gay men's psychology and social lives. Also, (3) a regular feature where gay readers can discover the many questions and hassles their straight counterparts--and themselves--must face!

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