Woe Is Me! “I Can’t Do Anything Because I Can’t Stop Fantasizing About Women!”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I’m a teenager. While my peers study for big exams, I waste a lot of time fantasizing about women. The way people kiss and do other sexual activities in Western TV shows influences me so much that I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about women! Recently, I went to a religious place of worship that my family visits, but all I was doing was thinking about women! This is giving me a lot of anxiety and zero concentration! Help!“
— Thirteen Going on PG-17
RD: Congratulations on your sexual awakening! Look, there’s nothing wrong with fantasizing about women, if you’re so inclined. Sexual fantasies are a healthy way to keep our sexual natures excited and functional, and since you’re a teenager, I’d say it’s even healthier, since you’re just starting out and probably haven’t had a chance to try any of those fantasies out yet. The more you try to suppress these, or think they aren’t normal, or feel shame for them, the more time you’ll find yourself spending doing exactly that. I’d say try to find a healthy balance between the rest of your life, and your fantasy time. You’re growing up, so sooner or later you’ll meet someone who shares the same fantasies as you (and when you do, make sure you’re respectful of their space and consent, while also being cognizant of your own). Don’t sweat it. The more you normalize this experience for yourself, the less you’ll feel like it’s taking over your life.
LG: Dear Distracted: It’s 100% okay to sexually fantasize about naked women! Or naked men! Seriously! It’s super fun. And I have news for you — these sexy thoughts would have happened with or without Western TV shows. Thinking about sex A LOT (and often in very inappropriate settings) is a big part of being a teenager, no matter where you’re from or what you’re watching. Your peers are definitely having these thoughts, too — probably while pretending to study for exams. So first, accept that you’re horny — embrace it even. My guess is some of what is driving the constant, unstoppable fantasizing is that the thoughts feel taboo or shameful — but the more you try to push the sex thoughts away, or deny them, or panic over them, the more they’ll crop up in your mind. So start by getting comfortable with them. They’re just thoughts, which are not the same as intents or actions. And no one can read the thoughts in your mind! (They can, however, read your glazed stare at their boobs and your little trail of drool, so don’t lose track of what your face does while you have these thoughts.)
The point is, you shouldn’t feel bad about your fantasies. That said, if these thoughts are such a distraction you can’t study or do other normal, daily activities, you do need to rein in your mind a bit. When you catch yourself slipping off into a daydream about slipping off someone’s clothes, maybe set a timer. Allow yourself a set period of time to fantasize, before concentrating on the task at hand. Giving yourself a break — and some time to enjoy your sexy thoughts (if you’re not masturbating, please try it) — might make it easier to focus on the more important things when you need to.
KB: This is the most wholesome and delightful woe we’ve ever received, without a doubt. You are a teenager — it is practically your job in life to lust and fantasize and think about people you’re attracted to. There’s nothing bad or shameful about it. In fact, this is likely the only time in your life when you’ll have the time and freedom to expend so much energy on this, so enjoy! And don’t let societal taboos make you feel guilty or anxious about it. This could not be more human, ubiquitous, and wonderful.
AS: Teenage years can be rough. There’s way too much changing about your body and mind, and the fluctuating hormones don’t make it any easier. But here’s a piece of good news to ease your anxiety — all these thoughts that you’re having are NORMAL! Trust me, everyone goes through this, and no matter how studious your peers may seem, they’re probably thinking about the same things. The more you try to repress these very natural feelings, the more they will disrupt other parts of your life. As for trips to the temple — I wouldn’t feel so guilty about it, because many religious cultures have historically actually been very open about and supportive of sexual pleasure.
Remember that you are not alone in being curious about sex, and I think there are healthy ways that you can learn more about it. To start with, don’t be ashamed of your thoughts. Instead, maybe try confiding in a trusted adult? I know some grownups aren’t comfortable with (or good at) talking to teens/kids about sex, but you could try reaching out to an older sibling, or an aunt or uncle, who may be more sympathetic. There will be a time when you feel ready to experiment with these questions practically in real life, and when that happens, things will sort themselves out.
RP: First, give yourself a break. Thinking about sex (a lot!) is completely normal. Especially as a teenager your body and emotional makeup are rapidly changing and WILL make you curious about sex. I’m sure even those peers you think are studying all the time are also thinking about sex more than they tell you. It sounds like what you want to do is make sure it’s not taking over the rest of your life. The only way to do that is to allow yourself time and space to be curious and explore what you want to know about sex. If you do that and don’t treat it as something you shouldn’t be thinking about, then it won’t crop up in your head at every wrong moment. It’s like trying to think about nothing when you meditate– really difficult to tell yourself what not to think about. Proactively giving your mind time to explore all your musings in a healthy and positive way will help you concentrate in the moment. Enjoy all the newness of being a teenager!