Pretty much all I know from 45+ years of highly varied sexual activity is that sexuality is complex, varied, and impossible to explain with simplistic formulae. When I was eight years old I knew a girl of the same age called Trudy; we played games wherein she’d remove her clothes and I’d tie her hands behind her back with some string (well, we didn’t have access to much equipment back then) and it was apparent she found this very exciting. She liked it even more when, after dropping to the floor on her knees and raising her rear into the air, I spanked her. She wasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, suffering unwanted sexual abuse from adults and she hadn’t been filled with absurd notions of “original sin” that would leave her feeling the need to be punished for some existential crime. She just liked to be tied up and spanked. Who knows what her adult sex life turned out to be like — there are too many variables to make prediction possible.

As I’ve been intimate with and listened to so many different women over the years the one thing that is abundantly clear is that an enjoyable and healthy sexual life begins inside one’s own head. All arousal begins with an idea, whether that idea is a full-blown fantasy or merely an unconscious association triggered by some external act such as having one’s wrists clasped firmly behind one’s back. Discovering our core erotic impulses leaves us free to play with them as we wish.

Too many people submerge their core erotic impulses under layers of guilt in the misguided belief that their impulses are “wrong” or “wicked” or “not normal.” Some are afraid and run from their impulses because sexuality is too scary. Yet others never even come close to discovering their core erotic impulses. A few begin to explore and are then puzzled when things change over time, as if one’s erotic life should somehow be fixed in one state for all time.

Good mental and sexual health, I believe, comes from understanding that the notion of “normal” is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to sexuality; what matters is that we discover what our own core erotic impulses are and we find ways to explore and indulge them that are beneficial to us (while, of course, not inflicting harm on anyone else). When we do that, the results are amazing and delightful.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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