Article originally posted on The Love Life Blog
I was chatting to a good friend recently who, like many people, loves sex and loves the general topic of sex. He was musing on whether he might possibly be a sex addict given that he’s so fascinated, possibly even obsessed, by the topic. My reply was: “I hope not, because that would make me one too!”
It got me thinking, because I have done on-line “Are you a Sex Addict’ type quizzes, and according to some of them I certainly would be a sex addict because thinking about sex takes up so much of my time and sex in general plays such a big part of my life.
But the problem is, the tone of the questioning, and I notice this too when talking to clients and others, is that the questioning tends to be around the quantity of sex or sex-related activity and thought, rather than the quality. Lots of sex does not a sex addict make.
I got to thinking about a food analogy. I often use food analogies when talking about sexual issues. I do this mainly to remove the extraordinary range of social stigmas, assumptions, beliefs, etc, that get in the way of assessing sexuality in a non-judgemental manner. We’re clearer about food (although there are still an awful lot of hang-ups there too!)
So if someone watched Masterchef assiduously, never missed Iron Chef, subscribed to a myriad of food magazines and poured over them for hours on end, planned elaborate meals, experimented with new ingredients, loved to talk about food as much as preparing and eating it – does that make them a food addict?
It’s essentially the difference between being a gourmet or a glutton.
A gourmet is a connoisseur of food, someone with a discerning palate. A gourmet savours food, enjoying the intensities and the subtleties. A gourmet is closely in touch with the effect of the food on their own well-being, he or she won’t overeat because that would affect their enjoyment of the food. A gourmet might enjoy the exotic and elaborate, but will equally revel in the simple. A gourmet will pay attention to what surrounds the food, the presentation and the atmosphere, understanding the experience is more than just the food itself.
A glutton is a gorger of food, all they’re interested in is the quantity. There’s no self-restraint, it’s just a matter of if they want it they’ll eat it. A glutton is not able to appreciate the finer nuances of food, is oblivious to the surroundings, doesn’t care. Food is not indulged in to add to the overall and long-term quality of life, only the immediate gratification of eating.
It’s the same with sex. Someone who’s a connoisseur of sex is interested in savouring sex, whether it’s a late night cuddle under the covers or a weekend of erotic delights. It’s the quality that counts, not the quantity. They know how much is enough because they’re in tune with the subtle aspects of sex.
A glutton of sex just wants more and more and is never satisfied, so it impacts on the quality of their life.
I was explaining this to a client recently, who was telling me how his sexual self-confidence was non-existent as his recently ex-partner insisted on hours of sex at a time and was never satisfied, no matter how many orgasms she had or what they did, she always wanted more, more, more. The thing is that they both liked lots of sex, both liked a wide range of sexual activities, the difference was that she went at it with avaricious intensity and could never get enough – your typical glutton, whereas he wanted to take it more slowly and savour the experience as they went – your typical gourmet. So he needed to find someone who was also a gourmet (which I pointed out shouldn't be too hard given his evident enjoyment of extended sexual play!)