Question : I often feel like I crave a lot of sex, and yet at the thought of indulging in a lot of sex, I realise I do not actually crave sex in the first place. I am an artist. I have been into theatre, acting and dance for some years now. And this weird conflict seems to play out even at my work. I am not sure what is happening with me. During rehearsals sometimes we have exercises that bring our bodies close to other artists. Due to the nature of our work it is important to get comfortable with our bodies being close to others. It is important for us to build a certain trust and connection in the other.
But I find that whenever I get close to someone else, I have a very intense attraction to people. It feels like a sexual attraction, but I am not so sure about it. Sometimes I have even felt that attraction to the same sex and that confuses me further because I know I am Straight. I am confused. Am I really sex-starved?
Answer : Well, this is a very subjective topic. And I am aware what I have to say can be quite personal too. Take what I have to say as food for thought and I would invite you to start a process of exploring yourself a little more along these lines.
Over time, the process of civilisation has made our lives and our interactions quite sterile. In our daily lives, we normally don’t allow our bodies to get too close to people. We have boundaries that are considered appropriate and safe for social interactions. Therefore, we mostly interact using our words and actions with the people around, not so much through/with our bodies.
However, when we start to allow our bodies to express (sans the words and conditioned responses), we would realise soon that our body is driven by instinct. It is very unconscious and deep. It is an animal body at the end of the day. And sexuality is such a powerful force that governs the body. In fact our body is full of sexuality.
So it is very natural that when the body is close to and being held by another body, sexuality takes over and people get in touch with different aspects of their sexuality. For some it can feel like their body has a mind of its own!
In reality it is deeply cathartic and a form of primal and authentic expression. But our social conditioning says that such raw expressions of sexuality are not healthy. And there starts the conflict and the confusion in the mind.
For example, sometimes the body might tell you that it wants to be touched and held by many many people, but your conscious mind would spring to your “rescue” and say that it is not okay to be held or touched by more than one person. Marriage and commitment are the institutions that we are conditioned to belong to. Monogamy and Mono-amorous relationships are culturally prescribed.
Sometimes the body might say that it loves men and women to get intimate with it. But social conditioning says being bisexual or homosexual is “abnormal”. And then you might intellectually go into a whole other conflict with your sexual identity. I believe that’s where your thoughts around being Straight stem from.
What if we were neither heterosexual nor homosexual nor bisexual? What if we were just sexual?
I think this conflict between our psycho-social conditioning and a core physiological need is pretty common with artists who are in the field of theatre, dance and any profession that requires the body to come close to another person in a state of emotion.
The body takes over, and often the conscious mind cannot do much to stop sexuality from taking over.
However, I think if you can consciously allow your body to explore and find itself, and if you can align with your sexuality in a safe and healthy manner, it can be immensely healing and liberating. Unfortunately, most people engage with their sexuality quite unconsciously, without much awareness of what the body really craves for. And then it can get confusing.
So now, what might be some of the little things that you could start as a process of working through your sexuality and getting in touch with your body in a slightly deeper way?
One of the simplest things to do would be to consciously allow your body to hold and touch other people’s bodies. Of course you would want to be mindful of a certain safety in the touch. But again, when we start to align with the animal body, I believe that safety is innately accounted for. Sexuality doesn’t usually flow if the body feels unsafe. It would be imperative for me to mention the importance of consent as well when I talk of safety. I believe that when we are authentically in touch with our sexuality, consent is also inherently linked with safety.
Having taken consent and safety into account, allowing the body to just touch and be touched in itself is healing. And I believe it is also one of the most central needs of our sexuality, one that mostly remains suppressed. I believe many of us have an unfulfilled need to be touched and held. We nurture a deep desire to touch and hold other people, feel their bodies and just be close to their bodies…and nothing much more. We might feel our bodies craving for touch/holding but don’t know often how to fulfill it without it looking like a sexual act. Sometimes, we even confuse it for a desire for sex. When in fact very often, our body does not crave sex, it craves intimacy and tender connection with another body.
From a therapeutic lens, these unfulfilled desires of being held and touched could stem from prenatal or early formative experiences. Working with a therapist who can help you explore these unmet physiological needs can also be helpful.
Because we ourselves don’t know about this unfulfilled need for touch, we take it towards sex and ultimately the real need is not usually met. Many people do this in their relationships too. They actually want to be held and touched. But their partner wants to convert it to sex. Maybe even the partner actually wants to be held and touched but is not even aware of it. And then people have a lot of sex but their core need of being touched/held is not fulfilled.
And sometimes the body wants to be touched by different people. Different touches. Different kinds of holding. But again because we are not aware of this, it is so difficult to express this need or to even have it fulfilled. How can we start a process of exploring this side of our sexuality?
Sometimes the body wants to be seen by another. Just to be seen. And nothing more. That is also a need of the body. To be seen by another person. To be seen by many people. And to be seen as naked as possible.
I find that even this is an increasing level of comfort and intimacy. As we get more comfortable, we are okay with being seen a little more “naked” in the body as well. And maybe the ultimate desire is to be seen fully naked. But again it is not about sex. The body may not want to have sex, but just be fully naked and be seen naked. That is also healing.
In my therapeutic practice, when I work on issues pertaining to sexuality, many people tell me that they are aware that their body carries a raw sexual energy and they feel their body has a need to be seen, held, touched and maybe explored as well. (And again, none of this necessarily has to do with sex).
But then they also tell me about their fear of their own bodies going “out of control“. So they hold back very strongly. They build really huge boundaries for themselves physically. They never allow their bodies to be touched even slightly. They never allow their bodies to be seen even a little. They are terrified that if they go down that path, the unexpressed need is so huge that they might not be able to stop themselves.
And I think this is the story with many people.
When you start recognising your body’s sexuality and sexual movements, to say that you are “sex-starved” would be a very simplistic conclusion. I would rather invite you to start a process of self-discovery with respect to your sexuality and just stay with the question, “If my body and sexuality had a voice of its own, what would it be asking me to do?”
Since you are a performer, I found this quote (below) that might be an interesting way of looking at your body and the sexuality held in your senses.
NOTE : The questions and answers in this series are compilations of discussions during therapeutic sessions with my clients. These are not generic pieces of advice. I am deeply aware that these answers can seem way too simplistic for people actually going through similar situations. Please comment or connect with me if you find yourself grappling with something I have expressed.