The Dilemmas of Desire

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The dilemmas around sexuality in our culture abound. We are confused about our desires. We compartmentalize our fantasies, detach them from relationships and objectify them.

Sometimes this can be a positive thing. We can syphon off urges that we think are damaging to our relationship and use porn as a way to express our fantasies when we are afraid that we want too much, the wrong kind, or we feel our desire are toxic to our partner.

How do we know when sex online helps or hurts? When does sex cross the ethical line? And is this just about sex or is this about integrity?

What are our rights as the partners of viewers?

As erotic people — born with a capacity to feel pleasure, to connect to others, and to attach — we are within our “sexual rights” to experience sexuality — but do we have the right to choose multiple partners, when some of those partners are technical only?

Should cyber-sex be seen as a natural result of a biological, evolutionary imperative, or is it a betrayal of a relationship?

If you are in a relationship where there is an inherent assumption of sexual fidelity, of monogamy, with an explicit and verbal commitment of exclusivity, then sex with another person is cheating, unless you have agreed that your monogamy agreement includes sex with that other person.

That seems clear.

Yet the right to cross over from exclusivity and monogamy with unique partners to sex with someone on-line, mutual masturbation, where you may never see the other person’s face, for some people, may not be seen as ‘cheating.’

For others, any kind of sexual activity, including masturbation, is a betrayal.

In your own relationship, the difference between privacy and secrecy is something that should be discussed, explicitly, openly, and often.

In a culture that battles with repressing its desires, we can become judgmental and afraid of what may lie on the other side of the control of our own sexual “id.”

When we have a society that is rampant with overactive compulsions and behaviors that could be seen as detrimental to committed, monogamous relationships, we may make up a story that is more about fear than it is about freedom.

How do you begin to have the conversation around online sex? The contemporary world of cyber-sex is only going to grow. The future of sex is going to get more life like, more sensual and more available for anyone that has access to the internet.

With virtual reality platforms, robots and high tech gadgets coming our way, the future of cyber sex is going to be an ethical dilemma for every one of us who has a partner or a laptop or a hand held phone.

For the first time in history, we are living in a time when you can cheat on your partner lying in bed next to them, without them knowing.

When will you have the conversation with your partner?

Are you a counselor, educator, activist or medical professional? Come to the April module of Sex Therapy U in Washington DC to find out more about the Challenges for Ethical Therapists. Register Here

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