NOTE: This column provides the third installment in The VOICE’s new sex ed feature. While the column can never take the place of talking to a medical profession about any health concerns, we hope it will provide useful information and food for thought and discussion.
Dr. Heather Jennings, professor of psychology from the Liberal Arts Division at Mercer, explains that a person who has sexual thoughts is not suffering from a sexual disorder. She tells us that the fantasies are usually a normal part of adult life, and may even have benefits, but there are some risks to be aware of as well.
“Sexual fantasy falls within the normal continuum of sexual thought. The big question you always have to ask is if sexual fantasy has become a necessity for arousal or climax” says Dr. Jennings.
Being overly reliant on fantasies and unable to achieve sexual satisfaction –even when with a partner– without resorting to fantasies may indicate a problem.
She also adds, “It only becomes a disorder when fantasies influence one’s sexual performance and an individual cannot get aroused without having an element of fantasy there. But sexual fantasy is very healthy and very normal sexual function.”
A VOICE survey of 94 Mercer students found that 70 percent of the surveyed population reported having sexual fantasies at least once a day, which is typical of the broader adult population, but what if those sexual thoughts become a distraction?
Dr. Jennings says: “When sexual fantasies spice up your love life and gets you in the mood, that is fine. It becomes a problem when sexual fantasies interfere with one’s ability to function socially, academically, and in other aspects impacting the quality of this person’s life.”
The VOICE survey revealed that five percent of the females and 18 percent males surveyed, reported that their sexual thoughts interfere somehow in their daily activities. Since this is a legitimate problem for Mercer students, here are some tips for keeping your thoughts on your work when you need to.
TIP 1. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE – Something about those “No Smoking” signs, the goofy green and gold lettering, the condescending tone, reminds you of that guy you dated in high school, the one who drove his mom’s Corolla and made jokes about dinosaurs. Geek though he was, he had it where it counted. And then, suddenly, there he is in the Mercer caf. What to do now? Extremely high levels of physical activity have been shown to deaden sexual thoughts (ask any Marine who has run in mid-day heat carrying a sixty pound pack on his back through the Iraqi desert). Stage your own mini-marathon. Sprint away from Nerdy McHotster and run from parking lot to parking lot. If you are one of the school’s few surviving smokers, have a cig at each end. Cigarettes are often associated with sex having concluded, so maybe this will help you feel satisfied.
TIP 2. BRING ME A HIGHER LOVE – So you’re that guy who took human sexuality this semester. You’re surrounded by women. Sounds like a fantasy come true already, right? You can’t stop yourself from realizing how steep the odds are in your favor, but you must resist the urge to blurt out what you’re really thinking.Quickly reach for your copy of the VOICE, put it in your lap, flip it over and voila! Problem solved: Sudoku. Higher order thinking is a sure fire way to get your mind out of the gutter.
TIP 3. THOUGHTS’ FIGHT CLUB – Professor McHottie walks into the room wearing that mink vest you wish you could get your paws on and then rip off in one swift move. Unfortunately she starts talking about sine curves and the mood is gone. What to do when you’re hot for teacher? Put that great imagination to work and visualize her reading to you from the bible. Should do the trick.
TIP 4. LOVE HURTS – You decide to skip lunch and head to the Mercer Fitness Center to get an hour of laps in the pool. Unfortunately the hot lifeguard is on duty again. She tosses her hair seductively, her red suit hugs her curves just right; but your Speedo shouldn’t be the one getting the work out right now. DIVE IN as fast as possible. If the cold water doesn’t help (cold water may actually worsen the problem), desperate times may call for desperate measures: pain frequently kills sexual thoughts in their tracks. Try pulling out a few eyelashes. As long as you still have enough to protect your eyes each day, you’ll be alright. Need to apply this tactic in an alternate location? You can bite your lip or try jabbing yourself in the thigh with a dull plastic fork. The goal isn’t self injury, it is distraction; do not cause yourself serious harm.
Don’t forget, use these tips when you need to, but let your thoughts run wild when you are able to relax. They are natural and good for you.