Do you remember when we talked about older women being more sexually satisfied? Then last week I mentioned that my friend and I realized that in our forties and fifties we are more sexually confident. But our younger selves took greater risks. Why?? The answer is simple. Consequences. Or rather, the lack of consequences.
Actually, it’s more accurate to say, “The perceived lack of consequences.” It wasn’t that there were no consequences. We simply didn’t think that far ahead. We lived in the moment and thought the party would never end. Then throw in a little rebellion for good measure. And we weren’t even aware of the greatest consequence of them all. Adulthood.
I never even considered there could be real consequences for having sex with my boyfriend in the backseat of his car in the middle of the desert. (Oh – and don’t forget that “consequence” literally means “results.” Although we tend to give the word a negative connotation.) I honestly didn’t even think it was risky. Well, I worried about getting pregnant, but we were careful. I knew if my parents found out I would face an inquisition. That consequence I wanted to avoid. But we thought we were smart enough not to get caught. And that’s all that mattered.
We Were Smart Until We Weren’t
Sex in the backseat, in the bed of a truck, and a few other riskier scenarios went on for a little over a year. Until the police helicopter shined its spotlight right on us and followed us for a couple of miles. They must’ve known we were just kids. But if they wanted to scare us straight, they did. If memory serves me, this is when the consequences of our actions came into focus. Shortly after that we opted to take our chances having sex in his bedroom. For some reason facing the consequences from his mother seemed easier to endure.
I look back and wonder why I ever did those things! What was I thinking? How could I be so dumb? I shake my head at myself. I listen to the antics of “kids these days” and think, “they don’t even realize there are consequences.” But then I realize that they have to learn just like I did. And I did learn. But as behavioral science would have it, my youthful lust for life had less to do with “living in the moment” and more to do with brain development. It’s called “consequential thinking.” And it’s developed by observing patterns.
…one of the most essential functions young adults are still developing is that of consequential thinking. Because young adults are in the process of developing this ability, what consequences are imposed for their actions and how will determine the efficacy of interventions in the short term and will have a lasting impact on the adults they become.Source: Harvard Kennedy School
Then vs. Now
My friend and I had this conversation again the other night. My question was, “Why am I more sexually confident now, but less willing to engage in a fantasy? Why am I less willing to take sexual risks now when I know, more than ever, what I want?” I probably don’t have to tell you that she felt exactly the same way. The answer is simple. Fully developed consequential thinking.
With consequential thinking we ask ourselves to weigh the risks. We measure the delta between the experience and the consequences. But for some reason this still doesn’t answer my questions. Anything sexual I would want to do today couldn’t possibly be more risky than the things I did when I was young. There is literally less risk being a bit sexually impulsive at this point in my life than there is walking my dog. So what consequence am I avoiding?
The Consequence of Childhood
At one time I would’ve thought that my libido was stronger when I was younger. Words like “sexual prime” ring through my head. Then I read a post from the National Institute of Health. Just from the Introduction I realized that part of my reason for stifling my sexual fantasies as an adult began in my childhood.
Note that I’m not saying that I stifle my sex life. I enjoy the intimacy and the pleasure of sex. And like everyone, I have the little details to my personality. This only applies to my fantasies. Why? Because these, I perceive, as making me vulnerable. Vulnerable to what? Judgement. From who? Myself.
You see, my example for relationships was that of my parents’. And while they were steadfast, their relationship didn’t have much, if any, affection. Not the best example to set for their children. Plus, affectionless parents don’t lend much for enhancing self confidence. I was subjected to heavy criticism and harsh judgement almost daily. Vulnerability was weakness in my household.
Clearly my expectations of intimacy/affection/sex in adulthood were shaped a long time ago, by very rigid people. Their example imprinted the kind of behavior I should expect of myself at this age. And since fantasy sex is a bit of a whimsical behavior…well, I can now see why I haven’t been able to partake…yet.
The Consequence of Whimsy
It stands to reason that in addition to my perception of what kind of sex I should have at this age, I am also highly self critical. Which means the consequence of feeling regret is much greater for me. In its own weird way, being vulnerable leads to self criticism, which leads to regret. It seems that my “consequential thinking” is ridiculously overdeveloped.
When I was younger I was more willing to be vulnerable for the sake of feeling affection. Because, as I mentioned, affection and vulnerability were unfamiliar to me. Which made them feel extra special. But I learned that I was oblivious because my heart hadn’t been broken yet.
The Consequences of Sexual Freedom
Early on I found that sexual liberation yielded the approval I craved from the one I admired. It also seemed to impress my more inhibited friends. But now I don’t seek that approval. After years and years of meditation and mindfulness I have found my own approval. So perhaps the consequence I am trying to avoid is bigger than vulnerability.
Consequence of Regret
It’s true that I enjoy sex. It’s also true that I encourage sexual freedom. But while I encourage it in others, it seems there’s part of me who is actually encouraging myself. I have no shame in sex, I embrace it. I only wish I could throw caution to the wind. Forget about the consequence of regret. Indulge myself.
I find it interesting that I feel as though indulging myself would beget regret. My sex logic tells me there is no regret for pleasure. But no matter how hard I try, I still judge myself. Maybe I don’t want to put my self confidence to this big of a test just yet. But now that I’ve written this, I kind of do.
Maybe that’s why I write literotica. Perhaps Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are my alter egos. I’m willing to wager that my short stories combined with this blog and a few more years of meditation will expose a new side of me.