Developing Heterosexual Desire
By Jeffrey W. Robinson, Ph.D.
Dr. Robinson graciously gave permission to transcribe this 2001 lecture which he delivered to the 2001 Evergreen Conference (the Morman faith-based ministry) and, in doing so, also allowed JONAH to adapt the talk by editing out specific references to L.D.S. theology and practice, have it reflect more universal practices and thus make it more appropriate for our web site. If you wish to order the original cassette tape or a C.D., please contact Dr. Robinson at either 801-318-7190 or through his web site: www.theguardrail.com
Developing Heterosexual Desire
It appears that developing heterosexual attraction is something that some people are interested in, and I’m going to tell you that my opinion is that we don’t know a lot about that. For that’s an area where there isn’t a lot of good information on. So far, as far as I can tell, most of what I hear people talking about in developing heterosexual attraction simply entails, “Well, when I simply get these same-sex bonding needs met, and my defensive detachment dissipates, and I get all those inner needs met, then suddenly, I’ll start getting attracted to women.”
And I’ll tell you that frankly, I don’t see that happening very often. That doesn’t seem to be the course. I don’t see it spontaneously occurring among men who say, “I really don’t experience that kind of attraction.”
And so you hear a lot of stories, and many of these stories frighten a lot of people. Everyone here has heard these stories -- about the guy who got married, and after being married for a year, or five years, or ten years, he then decided, “I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve got to admit who I am.” And he leaves his wife and the kids. He divorces. It’s just horrible and it’s a terrible tragedy. And, of course, in the background is some awful, terrible religious leader who told him to get married because that action would fix all his problems. But, by golly, that didn’t work. And so, it’s just a terrible story. And those stories just proliferate and you hear lots and lots of them.
I’ll tell you frankly, I’m a little bit suspicious because in the stories – I can write one of those stories: It’s a very standard story: “I was a great guy. I did everything right. I was so worthy. I was so wonderful -- and maybe they were-- . Then suddenly, out of the blue, these same sex attraction feelings just overwhelmed me, knocked me down, dragged me off. I had to leave my wife and kids; it was just terrible.”
But you don’t often hear the details of those stories. You don’t often hear about that person’s fantasy life. The things they were doing in private. The websites they were accessing. The behaviors they were doing before marriage. The secrecy. These other kinds of behavior never get into those stories. And, I’m curious. I’m curious about that. I’m wondering about that. Because my experience is that these events don’t often happen “suddenly out of the blue.” There are patterns, there are things that are going wrong that aren’t fixed, that occur, and that doesn’t get talked about and doesn’t get discussed. Nevertheless, those stories are sobering, and, they should be sobering.
And so my point today is to engage in a preliminary discussion about what I know about how SSA men develop heterosexual attraction, what seems to be among the clients that I work with and the men that I talk to, what seem to be the things that worked for them.
To begin with, heterosexual attraction and homosexual attraction have traditionally, or for a long time, been measured on something called the Kinsey Scale. Anybody familiar with the Kinsey Scale? Or, at least heard of the Kinsey Scale? Quite a few people. So the Kinsey Scale will be – I think it’s a seven-point scale? Six or seven points? A seven-point scale, with heterosexual on one end and homosexual on the other end. And so everybody is supposed to fit somewhere along the Kinsey Scale. Everyone has a position on the Kinsey Scale. You might not have much in life, but by golly, you’ve got a position on the Kinsey Scale.
There’s a bit of a problem with that kind of thinking. Anybody see an error or a problem with that kind of thinking? Audience Response: What about people who aren’t attracted to either gender? Okay. That’s one problem. What about people who aren’t attracted to either gender? That’s one problem because on the Kinsey Scale, if you’ve got a flat scale like Kinsey suggests, that automatically means that the more heterosexual I become, the less homosexual I become. And, conversely, the more homosexual I become, the less heterosexual I become. So there’s a certain amount of sexuality available to me, and, it gets parceled out either to heterosexuality or homosexuality. That’s what’s available. And that’s where it goes. But this scale is not realistic in my judgment.
A more realistic discussion of sexuality might be something like this. You’ve got a grid along here and then you’ve got another axis here. Let’s say that this is heterosexual and this is homosexual. And you could be anywhere in there. I know men who are very strongly attracted to both men and women. As long as it is human and it moves, they find it attractive. They’re very, very highly sexualized beings and they really respond sexually to all kinds of things.
And I’ve had clients who are way down here. They just don’t seem to be sexually attracted to much of anything. Very low sexual interest and sexual arousal. And you can be anywhere on the scale or anywhere on this grid, or anywhere on this plane. You can have a lot of both, or you can have just a little bit of both. And that’s probably a more accurate representation than the Kinsey scale or a more accurate way to talk about where people actually are.
Now, in my experience in working with SSA men, decreasing homosexual arousal is very often easier than increasing heterosexual arousal. This is where a lot of guys get stuck: “Yeah, I can start to control my fantasies; I can stay away from pornography and the resulting fantasies and similar kinds of habits that keep me inflamed. I can think differently about guys. I can develop healthier relationships with them so I’m not sexualizing them, and yeah, guess what? My arousal goes down, but I’m still not getting a lot of arousal towards girls.” This is not an uncommon scenario in my experience.
So drawing upon my experience with such men, I can think of seven reasons why they may not experience heterosexual attraction – in other words, seven blocks that stop people from developing heterosexual attraction.
Seven Blocks to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions:
Block Number 1 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions: Moral Anxiety
Number 1: Moral anxiety.
We talked a little bit about this yesterday. A young boy hears at a very young age, when he’s pre-adolescent, about chastity, about morality, about virtue. And he makes up his mind that he is NOT going to have immoral thoughts.
He is not going to think sexual thoughts about women because that would be wrong, and remember from our discussion yesterday, this is a guy who really wants to be good. He’s sensitive, introspective, and he wants to be good. He decides, “I am not going to think that way about girls. Right, I am not going to think that way about girls.” And then, again, as I heard Dan Gray explain one time, he puts all girls in a category similar to that of his mother or his sisters. “They’re too pure, too sacred, too holy. It would be simply wrong to think that way about them (in a sexual sense).” Now once he internalizes that response, it gets very, very deeply ingrained. So deeply ingrained that he’s not even aware of it. He’s not aware of the degree to which he is doing that anymore because it’s so automatic. He just doesn’t do think sexual about a woman. It’s against his belief system. “I simply don’t do that. Absolutely.” And so a moral anxiety block occurs. When he starts to think about heterosexual attraction, he develops this moral anxiety.
But, on the other hand, nobody ever said anything about being aroused or not being aroused by guys. Discussion never happened.
So, again I’ve asked clients many times, “If you were to have explicit sexual fantasies about a woman that were detailed and as real and explicit as the fantasies you might have about men, which would you feel most guilty about?”
And for a lot of my clients, they’ll think and say,
“Well, gosh, it’s the woman.”
And I’ll say, “Twice as guilty?”
“Yeah, twice as guilty.”
“Three times as guilty.”
“Four times as guilty.”
“Eh. Not sure.”
Somewhere between two and three times as guilty thinking that way or feeling that way about a woman as they do about a man. This then is the first reason why they don’t experience heterosexual attraction.
Block Number 2 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions: Performance Anxiety
Second reason: performance anxiety. “I am pathetic. I am just not going to be good at this. I am just not going to be able to do it. I don’t know how. I’m going to look stupid. I won’t know what to say. Nobody will be attracted to me. This is just – I just don’t do it.”
That’s performance anxiety. I often illustrate performance anxiety with this story. There’s a guy on a date. He’s with a girl. He’s sitting next to the girl. They’re on a bench or in a car somewhere. And, he’s sitting next to her and he’s thinking, “Okay. I’m on the date with this girl. All right. This is good. I’m on a date. I’m dating now. Yes, I’m a datin’ machine. Okay. Am I aroused by her? If I don’t get aroused by her, I won’t be able to ask her out again. If I don’t ask her out again, we can’t kinda go steady. If we don’t go steady, I won’t be able to have her as a girlfriend. If I don’t get aroused, and do those things, I won’t be able to court her. And I won’t be able to ask her to marry me. And she won’t become my fiancé if I don’t get aroused here. And then, I won’t be able to get married, and I won’t be able to get married in the temple. Am I aroused?”
I heard a new phrase the other day: there’s not a candle’s chance in outer darkness. Performance anxiety: The situation and its consequences are just more than I can handle.
Block Number 3 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions:
Third reason: heterosexual incompetence; Incompetence; Total lack of experience. “I just don’t know how. It just means nothing to me. I can’t respond to it. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”
Now I have a personal deficit that I share with a lot of you guys here -- that is, I just don’t like sports very much. I just don’t. If you wanted to torture me, make me miserable, drag me off to the stadium on a Saturday afternoon and make me watch a whole football game. It doesn’t matter if it professional or collegiate. Oh! It would just be agony for me. And I’ve tried. It’s been about ten years since I’ve tried, but I used to try. I can stand up and cheer for about ten minutes, and then it’s just looking for programs under the seat. Looking around, trying to figure out what’s going on. Is there something I can eat? Is their something interesting going on here? It’s just killing me. These guys stand up, knock each other down, stand up, knock each other down. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.
After I did my doctoral dissertation, which I interviewed a bunch of guys about their experience in overcoming homosexuality, I got pretty good at interviewing people, and I thought, “This is kind of cool.” And I got curious about it. I got really curious about why it was I had this deficit. Some sort of childhood trauma? Some sort of deep-seated emotional bridge I hadn’t passed over? What was the problem here? And so, I was taking one of my wife’s brothers home – he had baby sat for us – and on the drive home, I started to interview him.
“Now tell me about this football thing? What do you like about football? Tell me about it.” And I started to ask more and more detailed questions, and guess what? I found out the answer--I found out the answer. When he was watching those guys down on that field, he was seeing something completely different than what I was seeing. He knew the players. He knew the history of the team, the coach, the strategies, the different kinds of plays they could make. He knew who they were playing against, he knew what their history was. He knew what their strategies were, how one strategy counters another strategy, what they were going to try to do, the specific players that were playing. He knew a tremendous amount. There was a plot for him. He could see the details of the plot. He was seeing a story unfold. It was incredible for him.
And I thought, “Well, that makes a lot of sense. I’m clueless. I just don’t see any plot at all. It just means nothing to me.” And so it is in the development of heterosexual feelings. Some guys really are just clueless. They just never have given enough thought or enough time or enough emphasis to that so that it means anything to them whatsoever. They’re really totally clueless. And so, it means nothing.
By the way, I wanted to interject here and say that many of these items overlap, obviously. These are just different dimensions. It’s not like you have one or the other. Most guys have several of these; they are intertwined.
So incompetence. “I just don’t know.”
Block Number 4 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions: Homosexual Flooding
The fourth reason why we block is homosexual flooding.
All of the time and energy, the emotional and mental energy available to me to have sexual thoughts and feelings are already occupied. Already taken up by a tremendous amount of compulsive homosexual fantasies and thoughts and feelings. So I just have no space in my life for heterosexual development. There simply is no room available. It just isn’t there--It just isn’t there.
Again, from the presentation we did yesterday, I asked a lot of clients, “If you would spend as many hours in the last ten years practicing the piano as you’ve spent thinking sexual thoughts about guys, how good a piano player would you be?” Most guys will say, “Oh, man. I would be a concert pianist. I would be playing all over Europe. I would be famous. I’d be incredible. I’m pretty talented, and it would be tremendous.”
So after my client spent hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of hours thinking homosexually, there just simply is no chronological, emotional, or mental space available in their life for the development of heterosexuality. It is as if you have a garden plot that is so choked with weeds that it doesn’t matter what else you may plant in there; it’s not going to grow—until and unless there’s a lot of weeding that goes on first.
Block Number 5 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions: Beliefs
Fifth reason. Fifth block to experiencing heterosexual attraction: beliefs.
“I believe the Kinsey scale. I simply believe that I don’t get heterosexually aroused. That’s not something I do. I just don’t do it. It’s a belief I’ve got-- that I just don’t do that. It’s not something I do. And, every time I have a homosexual feeling, it reminds me that I am not heterosexual. So, I just don’t even try to be heterosexual. I don’t put any effort into it.”
I believed all the time that I was growing up that I can’t do math. I’m just not a guy who does math. And so as soon as I could, as soon as I had all the requisites to graduate from high school, I stopped doing math. I never did math because I just don’t do math. And then I hit graduate school and I had to take a couple of high-powered statistical courses. And man, oh man, did that intimidate me. This was just terrible. But I took those courses, and I had pretty good instructors, and gosh, guess what? I found out I can do math. I really can. I did pretty good in those classes. I had simply told myself so many times over and over again that I don’t do math that I just stopped doing math.
In much the same way, some guys simply buy into the notion, “Well, I’m gay,” or “I’m homosexual.” “I am born that way.” And, every time I have a sexual feeling that reinforces my belief, I know that the belief is true, and so I just don’t get involved in heterosexual activity. I just don’t do it.”
So that’s another reason: one’s plain old belief systems.
Block Number 6 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions:
Sixth reason: heterosexual perfectionism. However, there are three forms of heterosexual perfectionism of which I am aware.
Number 1: “I’m a guy with same sex attraction and I really struggle, but I could get aroused by a girl, but only if she is a drop dead gorgeous babe. That’s the only thing that would possibly do it for me. Nothing else could possibly work for me. She has got to be absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Model material only. It’s the only type of woman I could possibly get aroused to. And guess what? There aren’t many around. And so, I don’t consider other options available to me ‘coz I’m after the babe.”
Number 2: Second form of heterosexual perfectionism: Perfectionistic image.
Image consciousness. “I can only be seen with a ‘babe’. I’m the kind of guy who wants to be right, wants to be impressive, wants to be good in every single way. People have admired me my whole life, told me what a good guy I was; I was good in school; I was good in my religious community; I was good everywhere. Only a ‘babe’ for me. I can only possible show up at home with my family with a woman they’d admire – I’d be embarrassed if I showed up and she wasn’t a ‘babe.’ What if my roommate saw me with her and she wasn’t just drop dead gorgeous? And so I am the perfectionistic man. Only an absolutely beautiful girl for me, and I just can’t seem to get ‘em. I don’t know what the problem is. …. I don’t know what the problem is.”
Guys, it’s not true, they’re out there. I didn’t get the last one!
Number 3: The third form of heterosexual perfectionism:
“I’m not going to date a girl, become interested in a girl or form a relationship with her unless ‘she’s the one.’ I’m not going to expend emotional energy or time on her unless I know she is ‘wife material.’ Unless I know that she is THE girl I want for my wife, why would I waste money taking her out to a movie this Saturday night? Why would I? I just wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t. … I just wouldn’t.”
“And so, I scan all the girls, and somehow, I have been given the ability from Heaven to be able to spot my eternal companion without dating very many people first. So I’m on the prowl for that perfect girl.”
And when a guy does this or thinks this way, guess what happens? What do you think occurs when he finally sees the girl and knows, “This is it! This is the one for me. She’s definitely the one for me. She just moved into the area. She’s absolutely perfect.”
“But guess what? I’m back to number 3: I am heterosexually incompetent. I finally found the girl that’s right for me, but now I’m clueless on how to pursue her. I don’t know what to do romantically, don’t know how to do that ‘sort of stuff.’ Moreover, I’m clueless about how to have those kinds of feelings or to express them.”
So that is number six, heterosexual perfectionism.
Question from audience: You explained three different kinds of heterosexual perfectionism, that, could you say those again?
- Arousal perfectionism – only a drop dead gorgeous woman will arouse me.
- Image perfectionism - I can only be seen with the perfect woman.
- “Wife material” – I can only date a girl or be interested in a woman if I already know in advance that she’s the kind of girl who could be my wife.
Block Number 7 to Experiencing Heterosexual Attractions: Heterosexual Disgust
And the final one – reason number seven why guys don’t experience heterosexual attraction is heterosexual disgust. Disgust.
I apologize for being a little graphic here, but many guys find female anatomy, female bodies disgusting. It’s just yucky. It’s just yucky. Sometimes it’s a cleanliness thing. Some clients have had a little of what you might call obsessive-compulsive disorder – real cleanliness issues. Overall, guys who struggle with same-sex attraction tend to be a fairly clean lot.
So if I were to ask everybody here to raise their hands who didn’t shower this morning, how many hands do you think would go up? I don’t think I’d see very many. I don’t know. But somehow, they find female anatomy disgusting. It’s just a disgusting idea.
Now I’ve been suspicious a lot of the time. I think that disgust grows out of moral anxiety. Out of, “it’s bad, it’s evil.” “Bad” and “evil” turn into dirty real fast. And sometimes guys just need to be a little more educated about that. I’ve had clients who have bring this up with more than a little embarrassment. Usually they do so only after they have been in therapy a while.
“I just think it’s dirty. It’s just yecch!”
So I’ll say to them, “You know, it’s really not very dirty. Genitals aren’t very dirty. If you go to use the bathroom, and then wash your hands afterwards, you probably you still have more germs on your hands by a hundredfold than are on your genitals, particularly if you bathe regularly and wash the genitals, whether male or female.”
And guys are kind of stunned. “Really? Wow. Because I always thought that was just like a petrie dish, an awful sort of thing.”
Again, I apologize for being graphic, but that’s a reality that some guys are dealing with; they have to just chill out and learn a little bit about the human body.
So those are the seven reasons. Any questions about those seven reasons?
Question from audience: Do you have answers about what you should do?
Let me make a few more points about these 7 blocks. First of all, as to the seven reasons I gave you, I need to point out - what they are not. They are not deeply embedded psychological constructs. They are not defensive detachments. They are not childhood traumas. Rather, they are ways of thinking and interpreting and experiencing reality. They are perceptions that occur in our hearts and in our minds, but are not part of some deep psychological construct.
They’re not stages of development, if you understand that a stage of development is a psychological construct. These blocks are overt, perceivable ways of thinking and behaving that can be modified, that can be talked about and dealt with directly. So one thing that I’m not very keen on is the idea that after I do this inner kind of healing work, suddenly all that goes away. I can move into a stage of heterosexual attraction. It just springs forth spontaneously.
So now we're going to talk in just a minute about four things, four different ways I know that guys can increase heterosexual attraction. They’re not specific. It’s not like, “This one for these two,” or something like that. They kind of just generally deal with a lot of those. But I want to demonstrate a little bit about why we are not dealing with a construct or deep psychological pattern.
I need a volunteer. Can I have a volunteer please? C’mon up.
Now, I want you to stand here and I want you to do something for me. I want you to follow my instructions exactly and precisely. Can you do that?
I want you to take this cloth from me, and I want you to unfold it. Now I want you to lay it down on the ground. Now I want you to step on it and stand right in the middle of it. Now I want you to jump up and down on it. That’s good. Now what I want you to do is wipe your feet on it. Got it? Wipe your feet on it. Okay, great. Now I want you to pick it up and give it to me. Okay. Excellent.
Now, I’m going to ask you to do this a second time. I’m going to give you another piece of cloth, and I’m going to ask you to do exactly the same thing.
Dr. Robinson: Can you remember the procedure?
Dr. Robinson: Unfold it, put it down, step on it, stand on it, jump on it, wipe your feet on it. Let me give you another cloth. Here you go. (Gives man a US flag.)
(There is a pause and then laughter.)
Dr. Robinson: You said you would repeat it.
Dr. Robinson: You’re not a man of your word?
Volunteer: If I wasn’t so stage frightened, I’d have a good comeback for you.
Dr. Robinson: All right. You may take your seat. Thank you.
Even doing that demonstration, handing him a flag and asking me to do that makes me shudder. Anyone here shudder when I handed him a flag? Yeah. I knew he wouldn’t do it, but I still shuddered just asking him to do that. That means something, doesn’t it? That means something. Why? Why does that mean something that other cloth meant?
Voice From Audience: It has a history.
Dr. Robinson: Okay, so this has a history with us. It has a history with us. Other ideas?
Voice From Audience: It has a certain meaning, which we attribute to each of those pieces of cloth.
Dr. Robinson: Ah. So there’s meaning attributed to this piece of cloth. If I ask him about it, he will say it symbolizes something. It’s valued in a certain way. So if I asked him to describe to me what it means, he could probably do that. If I gave him some time to think about what it means and why he did it, he could probably tell me, couldn’t he? Yes?
Voice from Audience: We’ve been taught as long as we can remember to respect that.
Dr. Robinson: You’ve been taught as long as you can remember to respect it, to treat it in a certain way. Okay, yes?
Voice from Audience: Even if he didn’t respect it, if he would’ve done it, I’m sure the front row would have crushed him.
Dr. Robinson: I think if he would have done it . . . I considered that when I was planning this. What if the guy does it? Whoever volunteers, y’know. I thought there’s not much chance, but if he had, I think we would have seen some reaction. Seen some reaction. Well, I would have stopped her. That means something to us.
Now look, his a reaction to this flag isn’t based on a hidden, mysterious psychological force. He learned to think of it in a certain way, to treat it in a certain way, to respond to it in a certain way, and that became deeply ingrained in him.
What if we wanted to change that? Would that be easy to change or hard to change? Probably hard to change … but certainly possible. Yeah, probably possible, but a lot of thinking would have to change with it, wouldn’t it?
Note: “A lot of thinking.” You’d have to probably learn to think differently about the country the flag represents. I mean, people do that. People did that. Remember the flag burnings during the Vietnam War?
But certainly it would be difficult to change. After all, because these meanings, these interpretations, these ways of perceiving things are very powerful to us, it is difficult to change.
So it is with a lot of guys in the aspects or blocks to heterosexual attraction; meanings can be difficult to change. And that’s why I said at the beginning, I think that between the decreasing of homosexual attraction and the increasing of heterosexual attraction, increasing the heterosexual attraction can be the more difficult task. Why? Because of the deeply ingrained meanings that we place on it and the way we think about it.
Now there’s an analogy and a metaphor that I often use when I’m talking to guys about developing their heterosexuality. And so I want you to think for just a minute about this. Let’s say that you had a flat field. This is a theoretically flat field. It’s completely flat. Totally flat. And I’ve gone through this field and I’ve plowed it four or five times, so it’s really finely plowed soil. We’ve got flat, really flat. Right in the middle of this field, there’s a water spigot that comes up and there’s a tap, points down. I turn that water spigot on full blast right in the middle of the field. Which direction is the water going to run?
It’s going to puddle, isn’t it? It’s just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and it’s going to puddle there in the middle. I’m going to have a big mud puddle. Let’s say that I walked over to that puddle with my pen, just with my pen, and I put my pen down on the ground in the water and then dragged the pen out over the field and down the hill. Which direction is the water going to run now?
It’s going to follow the pen. There’s going to be a trickle of water follow that pen mark. What’s that going to look like in an hour? A little bit wider now, it’s going to make a little bit wider path. What’s that going to look like in a day? A stream? A deeper ravine? It’s going to waft a little bit over here. What’s it going to look like in a week? What’s it going to look like in a month?
What’s it going to look like in a year? What’s it going to look like in a decade? It will be a pretty deep ravine in a decade. I’m going to have a very, very deep ravine there, aren’t I?
Let’s say that one day I decide, “You know, I’ve got this water running down this ravine, but by golly, I don’t want it flowing in that direction. I just hate it when the water runs in that direction. I just don’t want to turn in that direction. I want the water to run that way, the other direction. What am I going to do? How will I handle that?
(Pauses for audience suggestions.)
I can dam the water up. I can put a dam in there. What will happen if I just put a dam in there? It’ll overflow. Probably going to wash the dam out again eventually, isn’t it? I mean, there’s this huge muddy hole. If I just dam that up, it’s going to pile up. What else could I do?
“Turn it off,” somebody said. “Turn off the water.” Great. So I go turn off the water and now the water’s not running off that direction anymore, that’s great. And then when I turn the water back on, what’s going to happen? Same place. It’s going to go to the same place. Okay.
(Inaudible Audience Suggestion.)
We’ll get to that. We’ll get to that. You’re just ahead of where I want to be is the only problem.
So I can turn it off. I have talked to guys who have turned off all sexuality. They just stop having sexual thoughts or feelings. And then they think, “Oh, great. The L-rd has blessed me. They’ve taken away this from me. Often that happens when a man goes away to the army or gets involved in a special project (either religious or social).
That occurs because his thoughts are so focused on the work, on his worthy projects, that his homosexual thoughts kind of disappear. But nothing else has really changed. He comes home from the mission and all of these things are still in place. So he’s back home or goes to school. He gets some roommates. All of a sudden, it’s okay to have sexual feelings again. So he turns the water back on again and he goes right down the same path. And he is broken-hearted, and disappointed, and frustrated. He had hoped that somehow these feelings had been taken from him and yet within a few months after his mission, the same sorts of feelings are resurging again.
So now’s the time for your answer (referring to the inaudible statement earlier). Turn the water off, dam it up, and dig a trench in a different direction. Get the water moving in a different direction by providing somewhere else where the water can go.
So there are three things that have been mentioned here: shutting the water off, putting a dam in place, and creating another path in which the water may flow.
Turn the water off. Most guys, if they have a really inflamed same sex attraction issue are going to need to just decrease the overall level of their arousal, their sexuality, in the first place before they can do any other work. They’re going to have to go to just being less aroused. I tell clients when they’re struggling with pornography, masturbation fantasies, acting out, other things, you know that overcoming this means sacrificing sexual arousal. You’re simply going to have to not be very aroused for a considerable period of time. So you need to turn that water off before you can get the work done.
Then I put a dam in place. I put certain blocks in place so that it won’t go in that direction. And that’s a whole other discussion. We could discuss all kinds of things for doing that.
And then I get a path going in the other direction, which is what we’re going to talk about now, these four things for increasing heterosexual development.
Four Ways to Increase Heterosexual Development
Increasing Heterosexual Development: Number 1: Systematic Desensitization
Number 1: A little psychological procedure called Systematic Desensitization.
Systematic Desensitization. Systematic Desensitization means what – well, let’s put it this way – let me ask you, let’s say that I was terrified of snakes. Snakes just scared me to death. I couldn’t be in the same room with a snake. If people talked about snakes, I would just scream. I’m absolutely phobic of snakes. How could you help me get over this? What would you do? (How many have watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or . . . )
Voice from Audience: At first I would talk to you about it, show you pictures of snakes, and take you in the same room as a snake in a cage, work up to touching it, holding it. Progress.
Dr. Robinson: Great. Are you a psych student? Okay. So he said, “First I would simply talk to you about snakes.” That’s what we’d do. Relax. We’d sit down and relax and I’d talk to you about snakes.
Then I would show you a picture of a snake and then help you relax while you’re looking at pictures of snakes. And then I might have a snake in the same room in a cage, and then I might have you move over towards the cage, and then I might have you look in the cage, and step by step, we would help you stay relaxed and decrease your anxiety while you’re doing that. So increasingly being exposed to snakes while you’re doing that.
How do you apply this process to those with anxiety about SSA? What form of systematic desensitization might be used for guys who exhibit the various anxieties set forth above regarding heterosexuality? Yes?
Voice from Audience: If the guy has, for example, heterosexual incompetence, you might have him start going out on group dates, and then eventually, start going out with one person at a time. . .
Dr. Robinson: All right, you might start dating. Now that’s a great thing. Just start dating, maybe group dates. That would be great. I’ve had clients who couldn’t even do that. I mean, that was just more than they could handle. Is there anything even before that we could do? What preliminary steps may he take?
Voice from Audience: Find out about their fears. Talk about girls. Say, “What do you find so scary about them?”
Dr. Robinson: Okay, great, have them talk about their fears, have them verbalize their fears. Have them talk in real specific terms about what that’s like, to be frightened, what he sees, how he thinks, all those sorts of things about girls. So discuss girls first. Then maybe, he can start to date some girls.
There are a couple of more things I sometimes have clients do. I wonder how clergy members are going to feel, but I’ve spoken to some about the following suggestion, and they say, “Great! Do it!” I have guys read books on married sexuality. There’s a new book out, a very recent book, Between Husband and Wife. The one I usually have them get is The Act of Marriage, a little paperback, and have them read the first few chapters which describe sexuality. They’re usually fairly uncomfortable with that. But all I want to do is expose them to that; just get them comfortable with talking about that. Then I’ll have them discuss romance first and later sexuality right there in my office. We will talk about sexuality.
Now I often say to these guys, “If you were 16 years old, we probably wouldn’t do that.” It wouldn’t be that important. But if it’s a guy who’s in his mid-20’s or 30’s, of marrying age, it’s okay for you to talk about these things. (There is a principle of Jewish law referred to as pekuah nefesh--saving a life--which would apply in this case).
But talk about watching guys squirm. Holy cow! I make them say the name of the female body parts. Right out loud. I get out my old graduate school textbook on human sexuality and show them diagrams. And then I leave the diagrams on the couch right next to them. They look at it, and “Uccch! Uccch!”
But that’s one step in trying to become more comfortable with that whole idea. We get real specific. Real specific and talk about those things. And over time, they become less uptight and reactive to those sorts of things.
And then, also the dating thing that we’ve talked about. Going on dates, getting used to the idea. Discussing it. Doing it one step at a time, systematic desensitization to those sorts of things.
It is not unusual in our culture for women - it’s not real common, but it’s not unusual – sometimes marriage and family therapists and other therapists will see it when somebody comes into the office with this complaint.
Here’s a girl who has recently been married. In her entire life up to her marriage, she never experienced a significant level of sexual arousal. It’s difficult for guys to understand because you know, they kind of wake up aroused, and they go to sleep aroused, and they get aroused for no reason, and there’s arousal all day long. We’re plum different. But it possible, and it happens for women to have gone all the way to marriage and never experience any significant sexual arousal.
When they get married and they go on their wedding night, and they’re supposed to like the activity that occurs – but they don’t. And they’re disturbed by it and upset by it, and people think there’s something severely wrong. And, there is something terribly wrong. Sometimes you have some of these same kinds of problems.
The most common treatment for that problem, it’s a pretty treatable problem, is called “sensate focus exercises.” I’m going to describe those to you. I’m not recommending them to you unless you’re married. But in a sensate focus exercise, and pardon me if we’re going to get a little bit graphic – not terribly, a husband and wife will simply take a piece of time, schedule some time when they can be alone together and they take turns caressing each other, but non-sexually. They take off all of their clothing and they take time caressing each other. The husband caresses the wife, the wife caresses the husband in non-sexual ways in non-sexual areas, back rub, massage, touching all over. And one person receives and the other person gives, and they are just very, very relaxed about it. And it’s completely non-sexual. It is experiencing physical intimacy in a non-sexual way. The rules say it can’t be sexual.
In the next step of the process, they do the same thing maybe a week or two later as a homework assignment, and they will begin to be sexual about it. They don’t yet participate in sexual activity with each other, but they can caress sexual areas. It’s a gradual form of systematic desensitization in which the wife is exposed to that kind of physical intimacy in a situation in which there is no performance expected so she can be as relaxed as possible. And sure enough, for the majority, they would begin to experience sexual arousal. People talk about sexual arousal, and I say, when I talk to clients, I say, “Do you like to have your back rubbed? Do you like a good back rub?” “Oh, yeah. I love a good back rub.” If you are relaxed, sexuality is kind of an extension of a really good back rub. I mean, it feels good to be touched. It feels good to have that kind of physical contact. And it’s an extension of a really good back rub, a really good back rub.
Well, to do more than just talk about this, I want to actual do a little systematic desensitization with the group here today. Everyone’s going to participate. I want everybody to close their eyes: Everybody close your eyes. I want you to imagine something. I want you to imagine that you are totally relaxed. You have no anxiety whatsoever. You’re totally relaxed. Now this is what you have to imagine through this whole exercise, and it’s the hardest part, to imagine that you are totally relaxed, totally relaxed.
Now this exercise is specific to guys, so the women in the room, I apologize, but you cannot participate. You’re totally relaxed, guys, totally relaxed. No anxiety whatsoever. You’re comfortable. There’s nothing threatening you, and a beautiful girl walks into the room. I mean a really nice girl, the kind of girl that you find attractive. She’s really pretty and you’re totally relaxed and comfortable with the situation. Would you like that? Would you like that girl is there, she’s coming into the room to talk with you, and you’re totally relaxed? Would you like that? Would that be something you would enjoy? Remain totally relaxed.
Now, the next step. You’re totally relaxed and this girl walks over to you and sits down on the couch about a foot away from you. She’s a sweet girl, she’s a wonderful girl, she’s a friend, and she likes you, and you’re totally relaxed. Would you enjoy that? Would you enjoy that she’s sitting about a foot from you on the couch. Kinda nice. You’re totally, totally relaxed.
Next step, you’re totally relaxed. And now the girl is sitting on the couch right next to you. You can feel her shoulder against your shoulder. Her leg is against your leg.
And you are totally relaxed. And she’s beautiful. And she likes you. You’re relaxed. And she’s talking with you. Would you enjoy that? Would you enjoy that?
Next step, you’re totally relaxed. You’re totally relaxed, and this girl is there and she reaches over and puts her hand on your knee, just rests her hand on your knee. And remember, you’re relaxed. This is the point at which my clients don’t stay relaxed. But you are because man, you have mastered the art of relaxation. So you are totally relaxed.
And her hand is there on your knee, and you can feel her hand there, and see her hand there, and you’re totally relaxed. You’re not anxious about anything, past, present or future, you’re relaxed. Would you like that?
Next step. You’re totally relaxed and she puts her arm around you. She puts her arm around you and she’s snuggling with you now. Her head is on your shoulder. You can feel her head, you can smell her hair, and you are totally relaxed. And she’s snuggling with you. Would you like that? Totally relaxed.
Next step. She kisses you. She kisses you gently on the lips. And you’re totally, totally relaxed. You like her, she likes you. You’re friends, you’re comfortable, you’re not worried about anything. You’re totally relaxed. And now you can feel her soft lips against your lips. Would you enjoy that? Totally relaxed.
Okay. That’s the end of the exercise. Some of you are relieved, some of you are disappointed. (Laughter from the audience). Nonetheless, it’s the end of the exercise. Total relaxation is over with.
For a significant number of you, the answer to the questions I was asking would have been, “Yes.” Well, listen, let’s do a show of hands. How many of you could have said “yes” all the way to the end of the exercise, that you would have enjoyed that experience? The great majority. It looks like four-fifths at least. Would have enjoyed that experience all the way to the end, all the way to the end.
But remember, that’s not what happens, is it? You don’t stay totally relaxed. You’re that guy on the date, “Am I aroused? Am I aroused? If not, I’m going to lose my last chance. Am I aroused?” Remember? That’s the contrast. Systematic desensitization means being relaxed and experiencing more and more intimacy, closeness, thoughts about those sorts of things, letting yourself entertain thoughts about those sorts of things.
One of the better books that I have seen that addresses this – and there isn’t much out there that addresses this – is Brother Alan Medinger’s Growth into Manhood, where he talks a little bit about heterosexual development in a way that I think is pretty reasonable. One of the things that he says in the book, which I found very interesting is: how do you develop a desire for something that you never think about? It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? “I never think about that because that’s wrong. That’s bad. I wouldn’t think about that, but I really need to crave it.”
It just doesn’t make much sense, does it? You’ve got to give it some thought. And then he raises the question and has an interesting discussion about “what is lust?” Am I suggesting that you lust? Am I suggesting that somebody lust? Of course not! Why not? I’m asking people to think, even think sexual thoughts. Even think about sexuality, married sexuality. Even think about those things. Isn’t that lust?
Question from audience: In thinking about your sexuality within the confines of marriage, even though it is thinking about something sexual, I mean, if you are thinking something sexual about your wife it’s not lusting. Is that lusting? Idolatrous lusting?
Dr. Robinson: No, not if you’re thinking about your wife. Lust can be defined, whether it’s lust for a woman or lust for money or lust for anything else, lust is wanting something at a time, in a place, with a person, or in a way that God has forbidden.
Question from audience: I think you can lust a woman is in a marriage situation, and have it be all wrong, too?
Dr. Robinson: I think so, too. The point is made that you can lust after a wife. If you’re wanting something in a way that the Lord has said “don’t want it,” so yes, that’s true. Wanting something at a time and a place with a person or in a way that the Lord has said “no,” that constitutes lust. But for an adult male to be thinking about sexuality with a wife, I don’t think that’s lust. I think that is prescribed in the Scriptures. Your desires shall be toward your wife, and I think that’s it’s okay. Some guys get hung up with that, and that’s a difficulty for them and a block for them because they can’t imagine that that could possibly be okay.
The fact of the matter is, most men get married, at least in part, because they want to have sex. Most heterosexual men get married at least in part – now, not all. Did I say most? I mean well over half get married because they’d like to have sex. That’s one of the main reasons, that’s a big reason why they’d like to get married. They’ve thought about it. Believe me, they have thought about it. They’ve considered it. They really have. And that’s okay. That’s okay.
So now we’ve discussed systematic desensitization.
Increasing Heterosexual Development: Number 2: Cultural Participation
A second way for increasing heterosexual preference is cultural participation. Cultural participation. Let me ask you a question. Let’s say I wanted to learn a language. How many here speak a language besides English? (After a pause, there is laughter amongst audience).
My friends here from Spain didn’t raise their hands. Let’s say that I wanted to learn to speak a language. I wanted to learn to speak Spanish. I don’t speak any language but English, and don’t even speak that well. If I want to learn Spanish, I decide to get a manual that informs me how to speak Spanish. I read all through the manual. I read it, and I memorize. I’m a good reader. I study hard. I underline it. I take notes on it. I read the manual. I really studied the manual. Can I speak Spanish now?
Voice from Audience: No.
Dr. Robinson: Why not? I’ve read everything. I understand everything. I mean, this is a big, thick manual.
Member of Audience: But if you can’t conjugate verbs like that (snaps fingers.) You can’t do it.
Dr. Robinson: Aha! So unless I’ve practiced it, unless I’ve done it, I can’t really speak the language. Would it be a better idea for me to hang around with Spanish speakers and speak Spanish in order to learn to speak Spanish fully?
Audience: murmurs of assent
Dr. Robinson: Some universities have language houses where you move into a house and you speak nothing but that language. Or let’s say you go to the Peace Corps, and after the first couple of days, you can’t speak anything but that language. You immerse yourself in that language, in that way of thinking, in that way of talking, in that way of being. You’re completely immersed in it, and sure enough, you begin to develop the skills of that language. You fully immerse yourself in it. So by language participation, I also mean, cultural participation.
What sometimes happens, and I’ve had clients where this was the case, maybe they’d join a SSA men’s support group. And sure enough, this has been helpful for them because these are guys who understand me, and they’re my friends, and we can talk about issues that are difficult, and so I joined this men’s group, but two years later, I’m still in the same men’s group, and almost all, if not all of my social interaction is with other guys in the group. And when we get together, what do we talk about?
Answer from Audience: Chicks.
Dr. Robinson: No-o-o-o. We’re talking about the problem. We’re popping some popcorn and watching Will and Grace again.
(Big laugh with applause.)
Dr. Robinson: We’re talking about who is really gay and hasn’t admitted it yet. We’re talking about who likes who, and who’s a big jerk. So we’re immersed in this issue instead of being immersed in the culture of heterosexuality. I’ve had a few clients who have moved in with roommates, gotten roommates, who were very, very heterosexual and sat around and talked with them about girls they were dating and arranged double dates and blind dates and other sorts of things, and immersed themselves in that way of talking and thinking. Eventually, you’re around that sort of thing, you start to think that way. Ever hang around with somebody who uses certain phrases, acts certain ways, and then you find out that you’re starting to use those phrases and act that way, too?
Voices from Audience: Yes.
Dr. Robinson: Most of us have. I had a good friend who constantly said, “Dogs.” And I wound up saying, “Dogs.” I still don’t know what it means, but I say it.
Dr. Robinson: Understand that because I immersed myself in a particular kind of culture, I pick up things from that culture. We are receptive beings. That’s what we were about. That’s what we do. So you get to be like the people you hang around with. You do it by “osmosis”-you can’t help yourself. You get to be like the people you hang around with. You pick it up, and there’s no substitute for that.
By hanging around a particular group, you learn the language; by being with guys who function a certain way, you will normally follow. But guys with this issue tend to isolate themselves into separate groups and social niches that don’t include the broader more general culture and then they really can’t learn the language. It is difficult for them because they’re not exposed to it.
I tell my clients as a rule of thumb – and some of you might not like this – but I tell my clients as a rule of thumb: no more than one-fifth of your social interaction should be with other guys who deal with this issue. That means for every hour you spend hanging around guys who deal with this, you should spend four hours hanging around with guys who don’t.
For some guys, that is very, very tough. It is very, very hard. But it’s an important step. Those who don’t, often wind up plateauing. They wind up, like I say, in a support group and with friends who really are good guys. And they’re supporting each other in not acting out, living according to Biblical principles, and being righteous, but they’re not moving ahead into heterosexuality because they have a subculture that just doesn’t move them in that direction.
So hopefully you see the importance of cultural immersion. Participating in the culture.
Increasing Heterosexual Development: Number 3: “Here and Now Focus”
The third thing that helps people move toward heterosexuality and heterosexual feelings is having a “here and now” focus. A “here and now” focus. All of these anxieties, and we could do a whole workshop on this, but all these anxieties tend to move you out of the present experience and into the past or into the future. So when I am anxious and when I am worried - and I’m a fairly anxious guy myself, I know this stuff - I’m always thinking about the past or the future.
“Oh, no, I’ve never been aroused before. This girl is not going to like me. This never works out for me. How terrible this is. This is going to be another one. Oh, I have no future, if I don’t. What’s going to happen? I’m an old guy, and I’m never going to have any friends. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no.”
And when you’re with a girl on a date or sitting across the room from her, what are they thinking about, “Oh, no, I really don’t like her again. Oh, no. Now what’s going to happen? Who will I take out next? I probably won’t take out anyone else. This is so stupid. This always happens to me. I don’t know what’s wrong here, my goodness. She doesn’t like me. The future is going to be just terrible. It’s horrible.”
They’re everywhere but with that person—the girl you are dating or sitting across from. They become spaced out.
I had a client once who gave me a story that illustrates this very well. He gave me permission to share it, so I can share this with you. He worked at Disneyworld, and one day, while he was at Disneyworld, they were filming one of the attractions at Disneyworld for promotional reasons, I think. They were going to make some sort of advertisement or video or something. So he had all the employees stand in as extras in this video to kind of populate the attraction. So he had a good friend down there, who was a girl. So they were just hanging out as pals, like a lot of guys have pals who are girls. And they’re hanging out, and they said, “Just for fun, you know what would be funny? If in this video, we were like romantic lovers, you know, boyfriend-girlfriend sort of a thing. And so they spent this time on the video holding hands, putting their arms around each other, snuggling, going arm in arm, looking into each other’s eyes, just being goofy, just on a lark, just for fun. And he said to me, “You know what? I got aroused! Why would I get aroused when I don’t want to get aroused, but when I want to, I never do!” Well, what do you think is going on there?
Voice from Audience: He’s relaxed.
Dr. Robinson: He’s relaxed, yeah. He’s relaxed. He’s in the moment. He’s actually with that girl. He can feel her hand. He can feel her waist. He can see her eyes. He can smell her hair. He can feel her body against his. He’s relaxed.
He’s not thinking all these negative messages, “Oh, no. Here’s another one. She’s not going to like me, either. I won’t know what to do. People can tell that I’m not heterosexual. I mean, it’s so stupid. This is going to be ridiculous. She’s going to spot me any time now. She’s not going to like me. People are going to know I’m an idiot. People are going to know I’m gay. She’s going to be able to tell. I’m not going to do this. Nobody will work out for me. It’s never going to work out. I’m going to be like this my whole life, and besides, it’s just going to be one more. I don’t know why I went on this date. Why am I here? This is so stupid. It happened to me five times. If all the girls rejected me because I didn’t know what to do, it’s just stupid. Besides, I’m not aroused. I never get aroused because I haven’t been aroused in the past, so in the future, it’s never going to work.
(Audience laughs and applauds.)
Dr. Robinson: Rings a bell, then?
Dr. Robinson: No, none of that mattered, did it? Because they were just goofing off, it didn’t matter. The negative messages never flooded in. I tell guys, and this is a huge irony, that in this particular process, two things have to happen. I have to want to succeed at this very badly and at the same time not care at all when I fail. Isn’t that ironic? How is it that I want to succeed very badly but not care when I fail. How do you do that? Isn’t that just counter-intuitive? If I want to succeed very badly, I would be very upset when I fail. Isn’t that right? Can you think of anything that you’ve done that you wanted to succeed at very badly but you didn’t care if you failed?
Someone in Audience: School.
Dr. Robinson: School?
(Big laugh from everybody.)
Dr. Robinson: How about learning the piano? I’ve got two kids who are taking piano lessons. What would happen if they just freaked out every time they hit a key wrong?
Someone in Audience: (Laughter) They’d never get it.
Dr. Robinson: They’d never get it. They could never learn to play piano, could they? Learning to play the piano is about making mistakes. Oh, man, some days more than others, too.
It’s about making mistakes and not caring. Go back to it again. “I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me that I made a mistake. So what?” But do I have to want to succeed pretty badly? Yeah. I have to want to succeed pretty badly. I have to do a lot of it, a lot of it if I want to succeed. And that’s true here, too.
So being in the moment. Being in the here and now is a critical part of that. I tell guys, when you’re out on a date with a girl, stay with her. Stay focused. Stay interested in her. Talk with her. Understand her. Look at her. Study her. Be with her. Don’t worry if you’re aroused, but worry about just staying in the moment and being with that person.
This is what happens with lovers. When people have a lover, they are very focused on that person.
That’s why it’s an exciting, wonderful experience. Because time flies. “Is it that late? We’ve been talking for that long? It seems like we’ve just been here for a minute because I’ve been studying you. I’ve been looking at the way you talk and the way you smile and the way you think, and listening to your voice, and looking at your hair. I’ve been with you here and now, in the moment.”
That’s what happens with heterosexual lovers and that’s why they like it. Most of the great experiences that you have in life are experiences in which you are in the here and now. That’s why people like to ride a roller coaster. I took my kids down to Magic Mountain and went riding roller coasters a couple of years ago. Man, it was a blast. You get on top of Goliath and go down, and I’m not thinking about how I’m going to pay for groceries.
I’m in the moment. I’m right there on the roller coaster. I’m not thinking, “Boy, how is that ride going to take because we need to meet over there to get back here. I need to call my wife to make sure we get that car gassed tomorrow, get that repair done.” I’m in the moment on the roller coaster. If I watch a good movie, I know it was a good movie because when it’s over, I’ve been so immersed in the experience that when the lights come on in the theater, I go, “Oh, that was a movie! Okay, well let’s see, I’m in a theater. My name’s Jeff and where do I go now?”
I was totally captivated by the experience and living in the moment; but for a lot of guys, simply learning to be in the moment and not to let their anxiety carry into worries and frustrations, either from the past or anticipating the future is very difficult.
Increasing Heterosexual Development: Number 4: Learning to Be a Loving Person
The fourth way of developing heterosexual attraction is learning to be a loving person. Learning to be a loving person.
My kids are at an age where they’re starting to like movies. And I’m trying to get them to like good movies. That means liking the kind of movies that I like. Several years ago, Star Wars, Episode I came out. I used to be a big Star Wars fan, and so, I was excited. Star Wars were the movies of my youth. (Deep voice) “I want to learn the ways of the force and become Jedi like my father.” I loved that show, and so this new movie came out – Star Wars, the Phantom Menace.
They wanted to go so badly, they were just itching to go. They’d seen the other movies and so I went and waited in the line in the theater and I checked them out of school, this was going to be so cool. And they said, “What are we doing, Dad?” And I said, “We’re going to see Star Wars.” “Oh, you’re kidding. This is just like I died and went to Heaven, Dad. This is the best thing that could possibly happen. This is incredible. We’re going to go see Star Wars! Dad got tickets!”
And so went and saw Star Wars, and we came out of the theater, and they said, “That was so cool! That was so neat!” And I said, “I think it was a stupid movie.” “But Dad, why? Why was it a stupid movie?” “Well, because it lacked character development.” “Well, Dad, what’s character development?”
I said, “Well, let me illustrate. Take Darth Mall. What do we know about this guy, except that he’s got a really bad Halloween costume. I mean, he’s this evil guy who just chops up Jedi’s.
What do we know about him? How did he get into this line of work? Did he go to school for this? Does he make good money? Does he ever complain about the pay? What does he do in his off hours? Who does he hang around with? Does he have other evil friends? Do they get together and swap stories about how many jedi’s we killed today? Who are his parents? Do they know the work that he’s in -- Does he keep in touch? Does he call his mom on her birthday? Does he have a relationship with them? What was his childhood like? What about his private life? What does he like to eat? What’s his favorite food? On his birthday, does he get to eat it? Who fixes it for him? I want to know all of this stuff about characters.”
This guy is a totally one-dimensional character. There is nothing there, nothing to him at all. Nothing. Do you understand what a totally one-dimensional character is? Note that the only thing more one-dimensional than Darth Mall is pornography. That involves totally one-dimensional characters. Somebody’s looking at pornography, do they think, “I wonder if this guy had a good day on the day of the photo shoot.”
Does he go to church or synagogue on weekends?
Does he have hopes and fears? Does he have bad days? No. He’s just a body that I borrow to fantasize about.
This is why I think that lust is wrong. It’s one-dimensional. It is loving only one narrow aspect of a person while simultaneously denying the reality of all the other aspects of the person. Now what a lot of OSA men do with women is just about the same thing. Just as they SSA men may objectify men, OSA men objectify women. SSA men view men as just a body to lust after, and women as just a body that they don’t. They’re just an anxiety.
Let me put women in a romantic sense. They might like girls a lot as pals, as friends, but in a romantic sense, all she is, is only an object of anxiety and frustration; she is proof that I’m not what I’m supposed to be. She is only an object to me.
To develop heterosexual attraction means to develop the ability to love people wholly and completely, including loving a woman in a romantic way. That includes being able to look at a girl and say, “She’s wonderful, and not just because she’s my pal.” Often when my clients have these pals who are girls, they feel like they are neutered. They have no sexuality for the girls that they love, that is, the girls that they’re friends with. They will say, “But I love them completely. I love them wholly and completely.” But do you love them as a real person with all the dimensions of a real person, including sexuality, the potential for wifehood, for motherhood, and for physical intimacy? Do you really “love them completely and wholly,” and not just as an objectified object of anxiety?
So learn to become a true, loving person, someone who can really love another person. For most men who have struggled with same sex attraction, the road to healthy heterosexuality is going to be different. I’ve talked about this before. The first mistake many guys make is that they compare their level of heterosexual attraction to their level of homosexual attraction. And, further, they compare the legitimacy of their heterosexual attraction by measuring it against some level of their previous homosexual attraction. When they do so, they think that heterosexuality is supposed to be the flip side of homosexuality. They tell themselves I should be lusting like crazy, I should want her, I should be this and that -- about girls. And it’s probably not going to happen, and it probably shouldn’t happen. It’s kind of like an alcoholic saying, “You know, I just don’t think orange juice is the drink for me because it doesn’t give me the same buzz that vodka used to.” (Laugh from audience.) So I go looking for the drink that’s going to buzz me like vodka.
Well, it was never meant to be that way. There’s a quote that I love from C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis said, “Sex will cease to be a demon only when it ceases to be a god.” And for a lot of guys, they have worshiped the god of sexuality, of homosexuality, found out it was a false god (an idol, if you will) and wanted to substitute a worship of the god of heterosexuality. And that creates a lot of anxiety because they need that heterosexual experience to be the same as the homosexual experience.
For the majority of men who struggle with this, it’s not going to be. And neither should it be! I have counseled young men who when dealing with this issue describe their heterosexual attraction to me. As they described it, I thought, “Well, you’re about where I’d want my son to be at your age with heterosexuality. Your heterosexuality would be very healthy, very normal, IF it wasn’t overwhelmed by the huge problem of homosexual compulsion you previously developed to medicate all of this pain.”
So for most guys, it’s not going to be a matter of, “Girls, girls. I just can’t have enough girls. Lust, lust, lust. I’m going to do this. I’m going to finally find one who’s going to marry me so that I can have sex with her and all this is going to be great.” It’s not going to be that way at all. And, neither should it be!
It’s going to be more like, “I have decreased my anxieties about this. I’ve developed an ability to experience some arousal, allowed myself to be in the here and now moment. I have prayed for and practiced chastity. I have become a loving person. And now there’s a girl I’m dating, and I love her as a whole complete person. And guess what? Because we love each other, we show affection. And sometimes that affection is physical. And sometimes she puts her arm around me and I put my arm around her. And we hug, and I like that. I’m not anxious because I’ve decreased this anxiety. And guess what, sometimes we kiss, and sometimes because we do that and because I’m so relaxed, I find it very pleasant, and it arouses me. It’s not this burning, yearning thing that I used to have when I had experienced all these compulsive sexual behaviors, but it does arouse me. And I love her. And, we express this intimacy and closeness with one another in appropriate ways before marriage; and then we move into marriage.”
It’s a gentle, different, but perfectly legitimate wonderful path, but it’s not what a lot of guys expect. They expect, “I’ve got to take care of this homosexual problem, then I’m going to have this raging lust after women just like I had after men, and that’s the direction it’s going to go. Let me be very clear:-- that’s a completely unrealistic expectation! It’s not what will happen, and … neither is it what should happen.
That concludes the discussion of how to develop increased heterosexual feelings.
Five Qualifications For A Former SSA Guy to Marry My Daughter
Now, there is one last thing I want to talk about. Sometimes, when I’m dealing with a client, I want to get a “gut check” about him. I want to know how I feel about this person and his progress. I want to determine how they’re doing and what they’re doing. To respond appropriately, I personalize the issue. I think, “What if this were my son?” There are some terrible dilemmas associated with this problem. You know that. And I’ll sit down after wrestling with a guy about some particular dilemma and think, “What if this were my son? How would I feel about this? What would I want him to do?” And that perception provides me with a deep, honest reality check. Sometimes I’ll share that view with a client.
Another way to get that deep reality check and personalize it is by saying, “What if this guy wanted to marry my daughter?”
(Big laugh from audience.)
By the way, she’s too young. Forget it. But what if this guy did want to marry my daughter? Let me provide to you a bit of blunt, straightforward talk from your future father-in-law. If you wanted to marry my daughter, what would I need to see? What would I need to know if someone was going to marry my daughter?
Number 1: Having a Track Record
Number 1 – He would have to have track record. When I talk to people in premarital counseling on mate selection, what I tell them is: don’t marry somebody who has recently gone through a huge reformation in their life or who promises that they are going to go through a huge reformation, or who you’re sure you can get them to go through a huge reformation. Marry someone who has a track record. They have already had (1) a substantial period of time without having acted out homosexually, (2) with having curbed homosexual urges and desires, and (3) with having a righteous sex life for a substantial period of time.
Anybody here ever see somebody join a church or synagogue because the guy was in love with a girl who was a member? How often does that type of motivation for a conversion stick? Most don’t stay observant. Most guys who change simply for the girl will have a tough time evidencing some sort of a track record or internally have enough motivation to stay with it.
Number 2: Decreased Homosexual Arousal
A second thing, I want to know is whether they have decreased their homosexual arousal. I don’t want them to be fantasizing regularly about guys while they are with my daughter. I want them to have overcome their problems with masturbation and pornography. That doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. That doesn’t mean they might not have a feeling or an urge, but they do not dwell upon it. They have proved to themselves that they can control those things in a substantial way over a substantial period of time. They’re not currently struggling with homosexual pornography or homosexual acting out for a substantial period of time. They also have all other kinds of compulsive sexual behaviors under control. That’s important.
Number 3: Significant Heterosexual Arousal
I want them to have a significant level of heterosexual arousal towards my daughter. What does that mean? It means I want them, before they got engaged, to have done some kissing. I don’t want them to have anything to confess, but I want them to have done some kissing, some making out, and I want him to have had an erection when he was doing it. I want him to have gained enough - to have decreased his anxiety enough - to have experienced enough, to have overcome that incompetence enough so that he knows how to get aroused by my daughter. I really don’t want him to go into the marriage thinking, “It’s going to be okay.” Unless he has had some significant arousal towards her, it won’t be okay.
Number 4: Ability to Make and Keep A Commitment
The fourth thing is that I want him to have demonstrated that he has the ability to make and keep a commitment … make and keep a commitment. When my wife and I were engaged, we were just kind of head over heels, ga-ga in love with each other, just silly, goofy in love. We would stare into each other’s eyes, and giggle in love. Just madly in love. When we were engaged, we used to ride up to the homestead to go swimming in the pool up there, or go in the Jacuzzi and soak and do some kissing.
One day, as we drove up there, I realized that I had absolutely no feelings towards her whatsoever. Every inkling of love and romance and attraction that I had towards my then fiancé was gone. Gone. And, I was just stunned. To this day, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know whether we were talking about biological cycles and I was just in a sling. I don’t know whether it was a spiritual test that my Father in Heaven was giving me. I simply don’t know why that happened, but clearly there was no feeling.
As we were driving up there, I said, “Let’s not go swimming today.” And she said, “Okay.” And we drove up through the mountains, and I said – it was very quiet, and that made her nervous. It still does when I do that. She said, “What’s wrong? I responded, “I don’t feel anything about us today at all. There’s no feeling.” She said, “Neither do I.” And, we continued to drive. We were just devastated, just devastated. And as we drove, I said, “I want you to know that I’m still committed to you. I’m still absolutely committed to you.” She said, “Me, too.”
Within a couple of days, all those feelings came roaring back again, roaring back again. We were deeply, madly, silly in love. And to this day, we’re chaotically enmeshed. We’re just really in love with each other.
What lesson am I trying to illustrate? I would far rather have somebody marry my daughter who knows how to make and keep a commitment than someone who’s head over heels in love with her because in truth the love can grow out of the commitment. But if it’s just emotion, if it’s just feeling, I don’t care how positive it is, without a commitment, there will come a time when that feeling is gone for some reason. Maybe there’s been a tough day, or there’s been fighting, or somebody’s depressed, or there’s been a setback in life. The feeling will be gone. Particularly if somebody is struggling with same sex attraction, I want him to know how to make and keep a commitment, no matter what. Always and forever! He should not be thinking, “Should I stay? Should I go? Hmmm. Do I have enough attraction to stay? Is it a real need? Or, do I have to find myself? Or, am I lying to myself?” I want him to make and keep a commitment. That’s the fourth thing.
Number 5: Commitment to God
The fifth thing I want him to have if this guy’s going to marry my daughter is to have a deep, significant commitment to God. I want him to love the L-rd more than he loves my daughter. I want that to be the grounding, the root, the center, the core of his life, and I want it to show by his every day actions. This will show me that his spiritual life is in order.
That means he is praying regularly, fasting regularly, and studying scriptures regularly. Loving the Lord is the number one commitment in his life. And, it’s not the commitment that is a conditional commitment, where he says, “I read the Bible and I love the Lord as long as He’ll make me have the right kind of feelings, or as long as my prayers get answered.”
I tell guys all the time: The L-rd won’t be had on the cheap. He’s not going to be there just to help you overcome this issue. He will not simply take your SSA away from you nor give you OSA (Opposite-Sex Attraction). The problem occurred because of actions and inactions in this world and thus needs to be solved in this world. However, if you believe in Him and follow His laws, you will then see homosexuality as something that doesn’t help you reach the goal of living a good life, one that complies with God’s plan of creation.
Understand the difference? We cannot simply pick up religious observance as a tool to help me reach the goal of overcoming homosexuality. Rather, what I need to do first and foremost is to commit myself to the Lord and to follow His ways. And when I do -- because of my commitment to follow the ways of the Lord -- I set homosexuality aside as something that doesn’t help me reach that goal. And, for the guy who wants to marry my daughter, if he has struggled with this issue, I want him to be very clear as to what his primary focus and goal is: Living life in accordance with God’s will, living life as God intends us to!
Those are the five qualifications that I want from somebody who struggles with homosexuality if he’s going to marry my daughter.
We’re out of time. But before closing, I want to emphasize that I have seen many men who felt they had no attraction to women learn how to develop that attraction. This is the way I’ve seen them do it – by doing the kinds of things set forth in this talk and by overcoming the kinds of roadblocks I’ve talked about.
I want to leave you with two important messages: one of hope that all things are possible, and two, with the cognitive knowledge that you can succeed to develop heterosexual desire. Proper motivation to succeed is a key factor and one needs to learn to need not panic when they appear to stumble along the way. As long as they work at unblocking the roadblocks and focus on increasing heterosexual development while maintaining a total commitment to the L-rd as the center, driving force in their life, there is little doubt in my mind, that they those who seek to marry and have a family with an internal value congruity will ultimately succeed.
Thank you for your time.