For a lot of men I’ve spoken with in my sex addiction counseling practice, the Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit Edition is just a socially sanctioned way of looking at softcore porn. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, whether you’re a sex addict or not, what could be a problem is if you think that these fantasy women are real, just as your wife or girlfriend is real, except that your wife or girlfriend doesn’t look like a supermodel. No. You’re in a delusion. You are objectifying women. And your head (maybe one, or both) is buried so far up your SI Swimsuit Edition that you’ve lost your sense of reality and, whether you realize it or not, it’s impacting your most important relationship in the real world.
For example, do you think your significant other is oblivious to the fact that you’re taking even longer in the bathroom “reading” your Sports Illustrated than usual? How do you think she feels if she knows you’re a bit less interested in the “sports” and a bit more interested in the “illustrations”? Well, then let’s turn the tables and put a slightly different magazine into the manicured hands of someone you know very well. What if she was reading Women’s Health or O Magazine or Allure and you knew there were 10 or 15 of what she would think are the most gorgeous, perfect men in the world. And she took the magazine into the bathroom, for a long leisurely bath, during which you heard some distinct pulsating throbbing buzzing sounds?
I think you get the point. But what do you do? I mean, if you value your relationship, and you want to increase rather than decrease intimacy with your most special loved one, even if she has had two kids and gained a few pounds, or even if she—unlike you, of course—is not exactly perfect, what can you do? What choices does the typical red-blooded American male have when faced with the pull of sexual fantasies involving the most beautiful women in the world?
One technique I’ve successfully used in my practice, and discussed in my book, Breaking the Cycle, is called “First Thought Wrong,” which I learned from the comedian Mark Lundholm and adapted for my counseling practice. For example, I’m going out to dinner with my wife and a waitress half my age with more cleavage than a farmer’s market pumpkin display, leans over the table and asks me what I want. In such a situation, I could have a thought that originated in what I call my addict’s mind. That first thought could be the first step in a fantasy about the waitress. You might say that I could just enjoy the thought and let it go as a fantasy. That is a possibility. But what if my wife—or yours—notices the “thought”? Or maybe, not so subtly, my eyes are glued to the pumpkin display? In “First Thought Wrong,” I know what’s going on, and I quickly move onto the next thought which is from my rational mind and reminds me where I am and who I’m with. At that point, I might take action, which would be to reach across the table and gently touch my wife’s hand. Now, if I was on a first date, or on a date with my wife of many years, which thought—first or second—do you think would more likely result in a stronger relationship, a more intimate relationship, and possibly even a more sexual relationship.
This same technique of First Thought Wrong can also be applied to the Sports Illustrated Soft-Porn Edition. Just notice your first thought while looking at the magazine. Maybe it’s that you’re on a business trip, waiting to board a flight to Dallas, and you recognize supermodel Bar Refaeli or Alyssa Miller, who smiles at you, and you start a conversation, and your both free that night, and come on dude, the only place your head is going is up your butt!
So you quickly move on to “Second Thought,” which might be that the hot, wet women in the bikinis are very nice to look at, but have no bearing on your real life, your real wife, your real kids. Except that if you stayed with First Thought Wrong, you’d be, even in some small way, jeopardizing what’s real in your life for a fantasy that, assuming you’re not an NFL quarterback, you are never ever going to have. And even if you were an NFL quarterback, these women in real life are not that different from your wife or girlfriend. Supermodels also have personalities, quirks, moods, and periods. Remember that. And remember First Thought Wrong.
George Collins practices in Walnut Creek, California and via phone with men and women all over the world. His website is http://www.CompulsionSolutions.com and his new book is Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame.
—Photo The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas/Flickr