One of my (male) readers recently left this comment on one of my posts on sexual attraction. I wrote about the fact that men are taught to fear sexual attraction – how the different notions of beauty and sexual attraction are taught in a way that causes men to flee from what is sexually attractive to them, and instead go for what (their environment tells them) is ‘beautiful’.
After asking for his permission, I wish to share this as a single post with the rest of you. I think his words are very important and very precious – they need to be heard. It is unfortunate that we have so few men among us when it’s a known fact that they suffer just as much from growing up in these destructive teachings, so I did not want to miss the chance to share that men are just as much devastated by the purity and courtship culture as women are.
“This was difficult for me to read, only because it hits me so close to home. I don’t even know where to begin. How about the “self blaming and guilt”?
But first, I appreciated reading a woman describing how we men learn to avoid attractive women like the plague… We’re taught to feel so guilty about sexual attraction that we really do avoid being around you… I was touched somehow by even reading that bit.
The Courtship movement, fundamentalism, submission to pastoral authority, allowing other people with the “right answer” tell me what God’s will is, as if they knew… well… I allowed myself to go with other people’s ideas of God’s will for my life in the choice of a wife.
Long story short, I married a woman 13 years ago to whom I’m not sexually attracted, and I’ve never lusted after.
I knew it before I married her. I knew it the day I married her. I’ve known it for 13 long years in a passionless marriage.
She’s a really nice girl, and I’m devesatingly ashamed that I’ve ruined the woman she could have turned out to be… I see her as the true victim in it all… lack of passion has done that to both of us.
Warped by church teachings, I literally convinced myself that God was going to bless me with sexual attraction for her, by being obedient to marry her… like some magic wand of his would tap me on the head and “poof” …. Happily Ever After.
And, no, I’m not gay… I can sense you all wondering.
I had cold feet right up until the wedding, but had convinced myself that it was “just lack of faith.” … so I suppressed it.
The night before the wedding, I got no sleep. I had no peace of mind. I don’t remember too much about that day…. and we left the reception early during the festivities… I was too tired to continue. But the full force of what I’d done hit me during the week… like a cold chill of death running down my spine… I was married… marriage is forever, and I’m unhappy…. forever … the exact opposite of what i’m supposed to be… I can’t get a divorce… divorced people go to hell in the express lane or the handbasket, or something. There may even be a reserved section in hell for divorced people, I thought… like maybe even a VIP entrance.
I felt so ashamed of myself. In a foreign country… surrounded by my new fundamentalist in-laws (still my neighbors today after all these years)… I vowed to just stuff it… all of it… just repress it and forget and go through the motions, and to never say a word to anyone. Too ashamed to admit what I’d done. Just put on a happy face… smile…. go to Church… and pray like hell.
Within two weeks I was being confronted by the father in law… something was wrong, since i was obviously not happy, not sleeping with his daughter…. emails were being sent back home to the pastors in the states… who also flew over eventually to meet me and my wife… I was ashamed, alone, and scared … I still believed that I needed to believe in the “right answer” … so I lied to them, and told them that my marriage was God’s will (besides, who wants to go to hell for divorce.) so I tried really hard to “do the right thing…” … and just stuff the negativity and the lack I was feeling….
My married life became one of fear, obligation and guilt.
Well, I don’t have to tell you, that women aren’t stupid. It’s been hard on both of us… and I didn’t become honest until several years and several children later.
I wish I’d never stepped foot in a Church.
I wish I’d never been so easily guided by other people. As a man, there’s nothing more debilitating than that.
I wish i’d never made my wife a victim. She doesn’t deserve this kind of a non-marriage.
I wish I’d stood up for myself, and just spoke the truth to the people pressuring me … Fear, Obligation, and guilt are no way to live.
I wish I’d known that I’m not “evil” or “damned.”
I wish I’d learned to be myself, rather than another cookie-cutter religious dude, prideful of beliefs that aren’t even my own.
I wish I’d learned to have a personal Relationship with MYSELF early in life, before it was too late… to really know myself such that other people’s opinions mattered less to me.
It wasn’t a personal Relationship with Jesus i needed. I needed to know myself… intimately.
I wish I’d learned to trust my intuition rather than to doubt it or repress it… as if it were sinful somehow.
My blood boils sometime with the desire blame others for their influence over me… but I know that I can only blame myself.
Wanting to “please God” led me to not trust my own heart… I allowed myself to believe the Bible literally when it says :”The heart is desperately wicked. Who can trust it.”…
I think that must make me the ultimate people pleaser, or passive aggressive, or something horrible like that.
So I threw my heart away a long time ago. Tragic that it should be the necessary ingredient to the rest of my life… to make me a “Real Boy.”
Your post just reinforces the feeling that everything you said with regards to sex… all these points you brought up about sexual attraction… is entirely beautiful. And entirely right.
I think deep down, I just wish that I had someone in my life that I was attracted to… someone I can’t stop thinking about, someone I would like to do things with, who I get along with, someone I can mutually fantasize with, … someone who is a safe haven for my ever-expanding imagination… not to mention sexual attraction at any age.
I only hope there’s another man actually lurking on the site who reads this, and can learn something from it for his own life.”