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Three Ways to Think Differently About Your ‘Erotic Conflicts’

By Rob Peach

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three ays to think differently about your erotic conflictsAn ‘erotic conflict’ exists when an individual’s sexual desires, fantasies and behaviours are, or feel, inconsistent with their personal values, belief systems or the commitments they have made to others.

An erotic conflict might be specific to a single behaviour. For example, someone may have the desire to, or actively, view porn despite the fact that their partner may have strong objections against them doing so.

Or, an erotic conflict might be more related to an individual’s personal or sexual identity. For example, someone might have an attraction to a same sex partner, but may have religious beliefs that might see this attraction as sinful or unacceptable.

Erotic conflicts can be internal, meaning that people struggle in their own minds to make sense of seemingly inconsistent desires or emotions. At other times, erotic conflicts can be external, meaning that they cause strain or conflict in interpersonal or intimate relationships.

Erotic conflicts can feel complicated and impossible to resolve. Though, while sexual attractions and erotic desires can’t be changed, but we can change our minds about how we see both them and ourselves.

Here are three ways to try to think differently about your erotic conflict:

Practice Acceptance: Stop fighting what you find erotic… it doesn’t change what you find arousing and only reinforces frustration, guilt and anxiety. I’ve worked with many men who identify as heterosexual and who find being feminized as erotic. Many of these men have bought and purged women’s clothing time and time again, only to find that their desires don’t change despite their best efforts to eliminate them. By practicing acceptance, you can change ineffective and emotionally draining cycles of behaviour like these.

Avoid ‘Either/Or Thinking’: Two seemingly inconsistent truths can exist in an individual despite the fact they, theoretically, are at odds with one another. The way to resolve this conflict is not to simply ‘eliminate’ one, but to find room in our minds for both truths to peacefully coexist. Avoid ‘buts’ in your thinking and try to use ‘ands’ as a way to reduce anxiety and distress about aspects of yourself that cannot be changed.

For example, one can be observant of a conservative religion and be gay even if it is the opinion of others that this isn’t the case. This takes practice and finding examples of others who have already done so can help.

Shift your focus from what you find shameful about yourself to the choices you already make about that give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Some men find the idea of exposing themselves in public both sexually arousing yet dangerous because of the potential negative consequences of acting on their urges. Instead of making judgments about yourself for having the desire, try and focus on all of the times that you avoiding acting on the urge. Allow yourself to feel proud of the skills that you have developed to avoiding acting on thoughts. Avoid focusing on exceptions, or times when you struggled, rather focus on all the healthy decisions you routinely make to regulate these urges.

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