Sexy Thing: Understanding Sex and Love Addiction

The first lesson in politics is learned when a growing infant realizes that his or her behavior can exert control over that of his or her parents. The second major political lesson is years later when one experiences the power of sexual attraction and hormones. All the stuff that you learn in the students unions and in working committees of political parties is really about how to subvert things – baby stuff when compared to the power of controlling, dominating, possessing, abusing another – body, mind and often soul.

The politics of sexual attraction and sexual control is commonly unappreciated and rarely spoken about due to the guilt and shame associated with it. How many men would be willing to admit that if there were no social repercussions, they would have not been as controlled as they are? Perhaps not many. Given circumstances, perhaps not even me. But, science says that is how we are. Of course, science is wrong.


Most kids, at least in Indian societies, do not grow up seeing their parents be intimately affectionate towards each other. If they (the parents) are intimately affectionate, it is usually accompanied by a disclaimer – do you have no shame, in front of the kids? Some of us, if not most of us, learned about sex from our peers or from porn, both of which are terribly off, let me assure you. Took me years to unlearn some of the stuff I picked up there, with its due share of heartache and poor self esteem. There was no sex ed in our times, and my parents turned blue if I asked them how one could “plan” for a brother or sister. A large part of the rest of us, sadly, learned by being victims of sexual abuse, usually by close friends or family and sometimes by strangers. The pleasure associated with the act make the process of victimization even more shameful, and most of us grew up with deeply conflicting ideas about sex. Add to that the common interpretation of religious views on sex.

Is it any wonder that we are this messed up as a society about sex? While we try and figure out what a truly effective, rational and compassionate response to the present mess around us now should be, here is a look at what turns sex into a destructive and addictive force instead of a celebrant, life affirming one.

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18 comments:

  1. Point! But sex because of the way it has been twisted and modified just by the act of humans having formed a "society" is so convoluted--that I am worried even about the word "addiction."

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    1. Very true, Bhavana. If you look at the way people are hiding behind technicalities to condone inhuman behavior, it is but a matter of time before the word addiction also becomes a smokescreen. In most other traditional interpretations of the word, addiction is already a smokescreen, used by all parties to their convenience, sometime including, unfortunately, addicts themselves. We really do need a broader definition for all these behaviors, and part of what I am trying to do over at the Mean Business blog is to take baby steps towards such a definition.

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  2. Our society is so repressed in so many ways that a child is left majorly confused about sex, and the dirty connotations are always there. It is taboo, wrong, meant to be hidden all kinds of things. I think as parents we are more open compared to our parents' generation and more physically intimate in front of them. It is our own apprehensions that hold us back or transfer a feeling of discomfort and secrecy to our kids that they then tend to carry forward.

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    1. It is challenging to live in a culture that teaches us to be ashamed of our bodies, of our nakedness, of our sexual nature, but isn't it amazing how well we have learned? And we have managed to learn this and to pass it on without really talking about it. Pretty amazing.

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  3. Perhaps, it's not so much about sex as about attitudes toward human relationships. Yes, I agree that the secretive nature of Indian parents in this regard does confuse children. But if children are taught the proper attitudes toward other individuals - how each person has a dignity, a value, etc, with the necessary caution - children will grow up with healthy relationships.

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    1. I agree entirely with you, Tomichan, that the issue is really about respecting life. The sex addiction angle that I am talking about is a clinical one, where a person replaces relationships with objectification, and it tends to progress exactly how other addictive processes do. Parents, teachers, and spiritual guides have a critical role to play in preventing and repairing this.

      I am trying to write a post on the very point that you have brought up on my other blog thestoryofparth.blogspot.com. I hope you will look out for it.

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  4. As i neared the 4th para i thought-OH wow,Subho has written a small post today.I was mistaken,but yes the whole post is very valid & relevant today.
    Frankly speaking,it is difficult to pardon sex addicts.

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    1. As if my leg wasn't long enough from all the pulling!! Your comment made my day, since I so deeply respect your views on mental health. Rather than pardon, we need to do what we can to help restore them to healthy ways of relating.

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  5. I wonder if we are more messed up about sex now - now that we seem to have an information overload about "sex" in our connected world - or earlier, when information was limited and usually second-hand!

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    1. I am sure. It is probably like cancer detection too. We seem to be noticing aberrations more because we are now aware of it and are actually looking for it. I believe that sex-related deviant behaviors are a part of the history of any species, and to look for watertight definitions or fixes is to set one's self up for heartbreak.

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  6. A very relevant article. I have met people who shy away from display of affection in public, however, they display their repressed self at the slightest opportunity. There are people who haven't talked with girls till they reach college as most of the times they are brought up in boys schools. Co-education often helps in creating a balanced outlook towards the opposite sex.

    When we are killing our girls even before they are born, and skewing the sex ratio, we are creating a situation where any women is seen as rare trophy to be grabbed at any cost.

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    1. Very true, Sabyasachi. The present crisis dates back to the overt manifestation of what can be called patriarchal aggression, female infanticide, foeticide, and depriving women of rights. This itself sends out the message that men can do what they want, while women have to put up with it.

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  7. Really great article, Subho. Sensitive, courageous and honest. One thing we are all (decent men and women) aware of is - forced sex, under any pretext, is a crime punishable by law. What's really good with everyone speaking out is that such knowledge is beginning to percolate down to other individuals wanting to either rape or justify and excuse rape.

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    1. Thanks, Kay Em. The speaking about it has been good by and large. For the closed-minded, it will be a while before they realize the world around them is changing.

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  8. Well written.

    *Same feelings inside of me*

    By the way, how do you disable selection on your blog?

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    1. Thanks, ReachPromise. Saw your blog, it is very cool. The picture on your header, it reminds me of Kolkata and the Golf Green TV tower. I disabled selection on the blog by doing a google search for "how to disable right click selection" and put some code into the template. The problem is now I have forgotten what I did, and though I am comfortable with enabling selection, I need to do a google search for it all over again. :)

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  9. You know it is so strange that the country that came up with the "Kamasutra" should be so "screwed up" about sex. There is a tendency to "sweep it under the carpet". Most of us have only had a rudimentary "sex education". And ofcourse sex is linked to procreation and so it figures usually in biology lessons. It is never mentioned in any other context! As you say, porn and peers fill our heads with all kinds of misconceptions and we grow up with a niggling feeling of guilt around it!

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    1. Very true, Meera. This subject is all the more pertinent today in the context of the sex crimes we are seeing all around.

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