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Jonah Jeff Robinson Developing Heterosexual Desire

Developing Heterosexual Desire By Jeffrey W. Robinson, Ph.D. Dr. Robinson graciously gave JONAH 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/secular practices and thus make it more appropriate for the JONAH web site. If you wish to order the original cassette ta




  Developing Heterosexual Desire By Jeffrey W. Robinson, Ph.D. Dr. Robinson graciously gave JONAH 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/secular practices and thus make it more appropriate for the JONAH 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: 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 “suddently out of the blue.” There are patterns, there are things that are going wrong that 1  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 2  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.” “Yeah, probably.” “Four times as guilty.” “Eh. Not sure.” 3  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: Heterosexual Incompetence 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, 4