“I am a 31-year-old male with a fetish for very hairy women.” Isadora Altman talks troublesome turn-ons.
* I am a 31-year-old male with a fetish for very hairy women.
* I have a humiliating problem. I am a 28-year-old woman who still sucks her thumb. What’s worse, is I fantasize about being babied by a lactating woman.
* Of all the guys in the world I am attracted to exceptionally tall and sometimes unattractive (by society’s standards) men. If the Jolly Green Giant were available I’d go for him.
* I am obsessed with women’s knees. As long as the knees are to my liking her other features don’t concern me too much.
These were chosen almost at random from letters I have received to my former sex and relationship column, Ask Isadora. Over the years I have also addressed the concerns of a reader whose partner preferred having sex in cold places like frozen food lockers and snow drifts, one whose lover liked to be tapped on the skull with a small hammer at the moment of orgasm, a woman who was turned on by having her expensive designer lingerie set afire with a cigarette lighter and doused by her partner’s urinating on it, and a man who masturbated to images of barnyard geese.
This fabulous array of troublesome turn-ons hasn’t even touched upon an entirely different subset of people whose fantasies or behavior challenge who they think they are… (e.g. “I am the straightest of guys but my best buddy and I got drunk last weekend and…” or “I am a woman of strong feminist principles troubled by my dreams of being overpowered and dominated by a man”.)
As you can see, the possibilities of what turns a person on is limited only by the individual’s imagination. It is women as well as men, young as well as mature, gay, bi and straight, who have imagined some doozies with which to bedevil themselves. I am sure that out there are individuals visualizing mud wrestling with dainty-footed kangaroos in pajamas or even more esoteric phenomena. However, if a person’s fantasies are enjoyable and fun to play with they are not going to consult an Agony Aunt about them.
The biggest, often unspoken, worry when one is surprised at the paths of her or his erotic meanderings is “Am I normal?” My reassurance is that all of us fantasize to some degree and to rejoice in the creativity that conjures up something more to get excited about than T & A. The offshoot of Worry #1 is “If I think about such things what does that make me?” Again, not to worry. One swallow does not a summer make nor does a random daydream about one’s pet create a confirmed bestialist.
As for everyday turn-ons, a preference for big theses or softly rounded thoses is relatively easy to accommodate. You find a partner who has them and enjoy, or you find a partner who has much of everything else that’s important to you and you covertly or overtly ogle that coveted body part when you catch sight of it or them on someone else.
But what of those who really are stuck with something less easily satisfied as the only way to their heart or groin? Or those who are so disturbed at the twists and turns of their own eroticism that what sexually arouses them equally horrifies them?
The choices here are relatively simple, though not easy. One changes one’s beliefs to concur with the fantasies ( i.e. “I am not a horrible person or less of a woman if every so often I want to be the one who dominates in the bedroom.”) or, and this one is much more difficult, one changes one’s fantasies to concur with one’s beliefs. That usually takes the help of a sensitive therapist. The aim here, I must emphasize, is not to rid oneself of troublesome thoughts (as helpful as trying not to think of a pink elephant), but to take the sting out of the fantasy, to desensitize it and yourself so that the troublesome turn-on is no more nor no less than a random fantasy to be enacted or not at your choice.
Some sexual fantasies are patently unactable, so no real dilemma is present. (You both might enjoy your partner’s growing an extra penis or two, but that’s not going to happen). Those desires that are possible pose the problem of “Do I want to do anything about this and, if so, how?”
For most, the real poser comes down to how best to disclose to a partner a fantasy you would like to enact. I personally have no problem with “I have a fantasy I would like to try. Would you be willing to…?” But if your worse nightmare entails your sweetie screaming in horror or derision more subtle ways exist.
You might introduce an elaborate fantasy via a structured game where the winner gets his or her desire. The more bizarre the situation the more your partner might take it for play and be willing to go along. Your own high arousal might be such a surprising bonus that it encourages this type of play in the future.
More oblique than that? Find an erotic magazine or video featuring your particular turn-on. If you haven’t looked before you might be amazed at how specific these can be. Let your partner see it with no big preamble or explanation. Note any reaction. “Yuck” might not be encouraging, but at least it can begin a dialog. Or try “Honey, I had the oddest dream last night…and what’s even odder, I was really turned on by it.” Should this lead to a pleasant outcome you may find yourself humming a tune from an old Disney movie A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.
In any case, if any possible thing that turns you on also creates a problem you do not have to suffer in silence. There are people who will offer support or methods of coping or even, encouragement. If it’s simply a matter of taking a risk to achieve your heart’s desire, I am in favor of taking that risk. It’s often well worth it.
This article was written by Isadora Altman, MFT and has been kindly reprinted from Psychology Today. Isadora Alman, M.F.T., is a California licensed marriage and relationship therapist, a Board-certified sexologist, author and lecturer. Her syndicated sex and relationship column “Ask Isadora” ran in alternative weekly papers worldwide for 25+ years. Web surfers can find her columns on her online free interactive Sexuality Forum www.askisadora.com.