Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. It always has been, even when I was single, even when I was depressed. There is something magical about a day devoted to love. The one thing I hate about Valentine’s Day is the people who hate Valentine’s Day; people who call it “single’s awareness day.”  Yes, media advertises Valentine’s Day as a day for couples to celebrate their love, a day for proposals, a day to have a first date.

How I have always seen Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE in general. I give my mom a Valentine, I text people I care about, I make cards for people, I give people candy, I remind EVERYONE I love that I love them!

The way I see it is, Valentine’s Day is shitty and depressing if YOU make it shitty and depressing- just like any other day. If you think love is worth celebrating, celebrate it! Bake things for people, go out with a friend, send cards, and buy candy. Make a date for YOU! There is nothing depressing about loving yourself.

Life is about attitudes. If you have a shitty attitude, life sucks. You can change it in an instant. You can even choose to ignore Valentine’s Day. It is a regular day where people still have to work, after all. Just don’t shit all over everyone who DOES love Valentine’s Day. We get it, you’re single, you’re sad, and you want attention too. Either keep it to yourself or change your day by changing your attitude.

Fetishism & Exhibitionism

Continuing with my Valentine’s Day theme, I thought it would be fun to talk about sex. But what’s better than talking about plain old sex, is talking about weird sexual disorders! Fetishism & exhibitionism are some of my favorite sexual disorders. These disorders are under the category of paraphilias. A paraphilia is a “type of mental disorder characterized by a preference for or obsession with unusual sexual practices.”

Fetishism is a disorder where a person is highly aroused by a non-living object, or a highly specific non-genital body part. We have all heard of people with foot fetishes. It’s something funny that we joke about, but I’m not sure people realize the intensity of a fetish. It isn’t just a person who really likes feet. It’s a person who literally gets aroused by feet. These people fantasize about feet, have sexual urges towards feet, and actually achieve orgasm by interacting with feet in a sexual way.

Exhibitionism is my absolute favorite paraphilia. Exhibitionism is when a person experiences intense sexual arousal from exposing their genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. All disorders have a certain intensity about them that I feel needs to be emphasized. A person with exhibitionism can literally achieve orgasm at the sight of a stranger being shocked at seeing their genitals. They fantasize about exposing themselves to strangers, and they have urges that they act on. This can obviously be a very distressing disorder. They can be arrested for exposing themselves in public, and they can earn a terrible reputation for being a freak. This can affect all aspects of a person’s life. They can be fired from their job, be an outcast among friends and family, and literally go to jail. Unfortunately, since this a disorder, it is not a behavior that can just be stopped.

What I always wonder is how people come to have such strange sexual desires. Maybe in fetishism there is an association made with an object. Maybe a person with a foot fetish had some pleasurable experience with feet; maybe this person has highly sensitive feet and has associated all feet with sexual pleasure. With exhibitionism, maybe the person was walked in on while achieving orgasm and associated the element of surprise with sexual pleasure.

However it happens, sexual disorders are more serious than people take them in popular media. People suffering from a paraphilia have to seek help to stop their behaviors. I am not saying there is anything wrong or disgusting about these people. They are people with an unusual problem. They might need or want help or they might not. It doesn’t bother me if you get off on feet. If you have a foot fetish, I hope you get a pedicure for Valentine’s Day and enjoy yourself.

Theory of Love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought my blogs could have a more focused topic for a while, love! We can all relate to the topic of love, we all feel love. We love our pets, families, partners, blankets, coffee, food… I’m not talking about our love of inanimate objects…this time. I’m talking about gooey love between two people. First of all, I want to share my favorite quote by Harry Harlow:

“Our assigned mission as psychologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in their mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observation and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists.”

No one can pinpoint what love is, why we love who we love, what makes love work, etc. Psychologists have developed theories about types of love. My favorite is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. I made a cool diagram just for you:

Made by me in Excel

The corners of the triangle are different facets of love. Many people consider intimacy to be sexual. Intimacy is actually talking, sharing things about yourself, and being close with another person. Intimacy by itself is friendship. Passion is where sex comes in. Passion involves physical attraction and sex. Passion by itself is infatuation (or a one night stand). Commitment involves a decision to be together, either for the time being (a short term relationship), or for an extended period of time (til death do us part).

The sides of the triangle make up the types of love you get when you combine the corners of the triangle. We can make it into a math-like equation:

  • Intimacy + Passion = Romantic Love (Ohhhh you’re so sexy, ohhh you’re so smart, ohhh I’m so in love with you after a day and a half…)
  • Passion + Commitment = Fatuous Love (A decision to be together, based solely on attraction… this doesn’t end well, in my experience.)
  • Intimacy + Commitment = Companionate Love (I honestly see this type of love as a best-friend love rather than a relationship type of love.)
  • Passion + Commitment + Intimacy = Consummate Love… the whole package. This is the picture perfect relationship; a decision to be together and stay together, attraction/sex, and talking/knowing one another.

In marriage, commitment is a facet of the relationship that can buy time while rough patches with intimacy and passion are worked out.

Obviously making love into a math-like equation isn’t romantic. It’s a way of studying love and relationships. We can see what works and what doesn’t work so well in a long term relationship; we can know what we are looking for. When it comes to who we love and why we love them, I guess it’s up to us.