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Cory Silverberg

Resoluationary Thoughts for a New Sexual Year

By January 1, 2013

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It's a funny thing about our relationship to sexuality.

 

Making it to a place where your life feels stable is a frustratingly elusive goal for lots of us. And a stable life might seem to require stable sexuality, a sense that you know what lies ahead for yourself in sexual terms.

There a lot of reasons for this, but the one that usually seems like reason enough is the story we're all told about sexual development:  When you're young you are in the process of becoming a sexual being.  When you get a little older you get to "figure things out," experiment and explore your sexuality.  And then you grow up.  And it's all settled.

This idea, that there is some sexual me that I become has, of course, no basis in science or nature.  Arguably it has no basis in art or literature (where grown ups continually reinvent themselves, become things, feel things that they never imagined they would).  But nevertheless it's a cornerstone of psychology and theories of sexual development.   Lots of us manage to bend our experience to meet the expectations of this linear model of development, 'straighten' them out, as it were.  But many of us aren't able to.  We don't bend that way.  We bend other ways, of course.  But not that way.

I was thinking about this while sitting down to write something about sexual resolutions.  As I understand it, the idea of a resolution is a goal you want to set for yourself in the new year that has to do with making change, something you want more of or less of.  I like the idea of a new years resolution.  Of marking time and making an intention clear.  Just making it through the day can be hard enough and breaking out of old patterns often requires some intentional effort.

But it seems to me that implied in making a resolution is the notion that, without our intentional effort to change things, everything will be the same in the coming year as it was in the previous one.  And that just has to be wrong.  Change is constant.  We are, quite literally, changing all the time.  Our bodies change.  Our brains change.  With each day of experience our minds change.

 

Dealing with every bit of this change, acknowledging it all and responding to it all, probably isn't possible.  It would require a greater capacity for uncertainty, abstraction, and chaos then most of us have access to.  And it would take up all our time and energy, when most of us have to work for a living!

So, aided by the linear model of sexual development--with that story about a sexual beginning, middle, and end--we can use much less energy to manage all this change by essentially ignoring or dismissing it, by not really feeling it. Instead of thinking about each and every possibility that arises from the fact of ever changing sexuality, we can efficiently collapse all those possibilities together and think it in terms of just one thing: the endpoint of our sexually settled lives.

To the extent that our sexuality or our sex lives feel knowable or routine or stuck, it's possible that we're actually devoting our energy toward keeping things the same, holding things together.

This idea, of letting things go, and opening up to the possibilities that change offers, isn't one that is safe for everyone or would work for everyone.   Some of us need to keep our desires in check for our own and other people's safety or happiness.  And lots of us need to manage the flow of stimulation in order to live in the world.  But when we ignore the change that is constant we confuse limitless opportunities for discovery with a limited set of planned detours that all lead back to the same path (it's like the difference between actual travel and Epcot Center).  Though it might be an easy, comforting, or necessary thought, it leaves us with a year ahead that looks remarkably like the year that just passed, even when we know that can't be.

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Comments
January 3, 2013 at 3:07 am
(1) Anastasia says:

I really like what you’ve said here, and feel that it applies everything in life. I’ve been forced to continually make changes in my life, including my sexuality, and while it has sometimes been a tough ride, it has been worth it. And none of my years look alike. :)

January 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm
(2) sexuality says:

Thanks Anastasia, I’m glad it rang true! Happy new year.

January 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm
(3) Lud Allen says:

Hey Cory,
Love this one. I have conversations about change/static sexuality/lack of being sexual – the damn following of a linear model – constantly. I’ll pass this around.

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