Question from L:

First, I would like to say thank you for coming to the conference, I found it to be exceptionally helpful!
Second, I think you coming here to MS is a Great idea, thanks for your time.

My main question regarding sexuality is of course related to my own self, but I was wondering about something that you mentioned during one of the smaller group sessions. You mentioned that people are aroused by a template, you called it a sexual template. I am wondering if it is possible to trace what causes someone to eroticize one thing as opposed to another?
Please forgive the intentional ambiguity to the way that My question is phrased.

I will try to break it down a little bit:

What are the most formative years in which somebody will develop an arousal pattern, or become attracted to something specific, e.g., a woman that looks a very particular way or a man between very specific ages.
The second part of the question is also related to something that you stated.
You said something to the affect of "although the person may be able to change the behavior of a specific sexual impulse, the originating impulse or drive will remain." My question is, Why is it that the underlying impulse will remain? Is the mechanism for that impulse known at this time? What are some theories around this issue?
Although the behavior can change, what about the underlying fantasy, can that be diminished to some extent as well, and is there the possibility for an answer as to why the fantasy is there in the first place???
I think that is my main question and I am unsure if I can say it any more concretely than that.

Thank you for your time and thanks for posting and bringing your expertise to us here at MS.



Hi L,

There is a quote by sex therapist Esther Perel which is, “Tell me how you were loved as a child and I will tell you how you make love as an adult.” The earliest childhood experiences contribute to various sexual fantasies and preferences. The way children are cared for—or not--by their caretakers and other important people in their lives from birth to 8-years-old seem to be the most important in shaping one’s love map and sexual template. Certainly things beyond the age of 8-years-old also shape what turns us on and off and most crucial years are those which are earlier.

A sexual template are sexual behaviors and fantasies which turn us on the most. Our sexual template is an expression of our inner core, windows into another facet of who we are. Whatever gives you the greatest pleasure sexually is information about you. It’s telling a story, not necessarily on a conscious level. Regardless of what type of fantasies you enjoy, it’s helpful to translate fantasies into reality, albeit in nonsexual ways. You’ll find aspects of yourself that you've been seeking all along. If you want to understand the logic of your sexual fantasies you have to understand how you were loved as a child.

It is absolutely possible to trace back what causes you to eroticize one thing over another. Think of sexual fantasies and erotic templates as fairy tales: unconscious attempts to adapt and resolve unpleasant and unwanted childhood memories.

Some men discover, for example, that sex with escorts is a form of “paying for love.” As children, they weren’t loved or loved enough by their caregivers. Other men feel compelled to take orders, to be dominated and spanked in an effort to be disciplined in ways they never were as children. Other sexual fantasies are more obvious and easier to trace back as in another man I treated whose his first sexual experience spying on his older sister (which is very common) whom had not yet trimmed or shaven her genitals and this man was now hardwired to mostly enjoy women with very hairy genitals.

You don’t have to necessarily discontinue your fantasies or change your desires or behaviors. What can happen is to find the nonsexual meanings of the sexual desires and move your life in that direction. For example, if you are a man who primarily finds yourself with escorts, prostitutes or uses money in your attempts to get off, then I would encourage you to find a way to be loved without paying for it, and make an impact on others in your relationships. If you are a man who is primarily turned on by being ordered around, find mentors, coaches, and perhaps clergy to offer you direction in your life.

You ask if sexual templates can change. I do not know of any research which shows they can be stopped. The reason the sexual fantasies are so strong and are not able to be changed is that they come from the earliest time in our lives where are brains were imprinted most profoundly.

What is possible is to add to the sexual templates. You can learn new sexual ways to become turned on. It is also possible to prevent your sexual desires from ruling you and your behaviors. It does not have to dictate how you act on them. You may still find yourself continuing to be aroused by them and masturbating to them which, in my opinion, is fine.

Hope this is helpful to you! Good luck.

Dr. Joe Kort
Clinical Sexologist and psychotherapist

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