Struggling with Sexuality Actually Isn’t Your Fault

March 29, 2021  

  minute rEAD

Have you spent years holding back expressing your full sexual self? 

If so, it’s not really a surprise. You’re the inheritor of generations of social and cultural baggage about sex.

A lot of the stories we’re told about sexuality originated to allow the few to exert more power and control over the many. Still works.

In the Victorian era, the medical establishment worked hard to convince people that masturbation could cause grave illness. There were illustrations of what happens to people who masturbate – they waste away, become frail and bedridden, and then die. What do you think happens if you convince people that self-pleasure is deadly? A lot of gruesome things were done in the name of “health,” in particular to children. 

Today, you might have heard that “porn is the new drug” and that people become addicted to it. Pornography is constantly vilified, even as we know (because data) that pornography is immensely popular, especially so in conservative parts of the world. There are whole industries set up around treating “porn addiction.” 

What’s the result, in both cases? People get burdened with this huge sense of shame for doing things that are totally normal and human. Their sexuality is driven into the shadows. They become pliable, less assertive, and more prone to submitting to power, lest anyone learn the dirty, awful truth.

It’s not a coincidence that every religion has prescriptive rules about sexuality. It’s not a coincidence that authoritarian regimes heap scorn on masturbation, LGBTQIA+ sexualities, and demonize pleasure as profane.

Riddle me this – why do you think there’s a connection between the concepts of purity and chastity?

Because humans who live lives full of pleasure, connection, and satisfaction feel a true sense of agency. When you feel agency, you become powerful. You’re less likely to settle for a bad deal.   

Time for some bad news: you are susceptible to messages you hear repeated over and over. The more you hear something, the more you believe it to be true.

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard some version of the following many times over:

  • Masturbation is bad, shameful, harmful, emasculating, not feminine, deviant, a sin
  • Hookups are awful and bad for society
  • Polyamory is just cheating with a fancy name
  • Homosexuals are a threat to families
  • People who are sex addicts lose control of themselves 

Even if you look at these and you vehemently disagree with them, there might be a part of you, deep down, that feels uncomfortable. 

You might cringe at the idea of standing up and saying – masturbation is AWESOME and I LOVE doing it. But, you know, it’s cool if other people do that.

Maybe you even hold back from buying some awesome toys to enhance your pleasure. You don’t need that, after all.

Things are… fine. 

The good news: as an adult, you have the ability to make choices about what you will believe going forward. Even if it feels impossible right now, the freedom to be who you are and have the experiences you want as a sexual person are so close to being within your grasp.

You can decide to discover the deeply held values, attitudes, and beliefs you have about sexuality and then check whether these are actually serving you.

You can elect to get acquainted with your desires, to know them in intimate detail, and to pursue them from a place of dignity with a focus on pleasure.

You can learn how to communicate what you want sexually from a place of reciprocity, care, and non-attachment to outcome, without putting pressure on others.

Don’t expect it to happen overnight – the forces holding you back from expressing your sexual self have been at work on you for decades.

Do expect the journey to add more joy and confidence to your whole life than you dared dream.

The first step is often the hardest – you have to decide that maybe things aren’t exactly as they seem, and choose to become more curious about who you are as a sexual person than you’ve ever been before.

If you can gather that curiosity, then you have what it takes to make the journey.


  • You are allowed to have desires
  • Desiring a lot of sex is as normal and healthy as desiring some sex, or none at all
  • No one gets to decide who you are as a sexual person other than you
  • Pleasure is your birthright

Clients who work with me expect to get more dates and feel more comfortable being sexual.

They usually don’t expect that their houses will get cleaner, they’ll have more energy, they’ll feel more confident at work, they’ll feel more focused and get in the zone more often, they’ll tell someone they love them for the first time… My clients have experienced all of this, and more, in 6 months or less. You could, too.

The choice is yours. If you’ve been spinning your wheels for months or years, ask yourself this – am I ready to get curious?

About the Author

Sarah Martin, MA, CSC is CEO of Dignified Hedonist, a sexuality support company that helps horny people get laid ethically. Sarah loves rainbows, books, and Pokemon Go.

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