Ashley Madison Take 2

Posted on August 29, 2015


The purchase of the island of Manhattan.  The commonly understood history is that in 1626 Dutch colonists purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans for trade goods valued at about 60 Dutch guilders.[1]  That amount would have purchased about 1 ½ pounds of silver at the time.  Though the natives’ understanding of the transaction is in some dispute, for our illustrative and allegorical purposes, let’s assume this history is accurate.

Which is more valuable, the island of Manhattan or a quantity of duffel cloth, iron kettles, axe heads, and the like?  Which end of the deal would you choose?

I hate to be the one to tell you, but you chose the 60 guilders worth of junk.

I am speaking here to the Ashley Madison clients.  Even had your information not been hacked, you traded something of great value for something of substantially less worth.  I am not moralizing here, but telling you how you got snookered.[2]

Sex is amazing, exciting, wonderful, and satisfying, but not in quite the way you have been told.  Following the sexual revolution, the cultural belief about sex is that it is about physical perfection, technique, novelty, and generally trying to achieve a higher high.  Sex gets used for self-soothing and for propping up a poor self-image.  The problem is that you are missing the best part.

The best part of sex is about intimacy, connection, and mutual pleasure.  At the risk of sounding unromantic, our brains are designed for sex to be an attachment behavior.  During sex, your brain gets an increase in dopamine and endorphins that generally make you feel better.  Your brain also receives a boost of the hormone oxytocin.  This hormone causes you to bond with your partner.  After an orgasm, your brain is saying, “ah, here is my partner.”  Having multiple partners hijacks the system.  In a committed relationship, oxytocin is euphemistically called “the cuddle hormone.”  In a casual sexual relationship, it becomes the hormone of bad decisions.  In other words, if you have sex with someone before you know if they are a viable partner for you, the hormone is causing you to bond with someone who may not be a good person with whom to bond.

What about this thing we call “intimacy?”  We sometime use intimacy interchangeably with sex.  They are not inherently one and the same.  Intimacy is about knowing and being fully known.  It is about being able to experience vulnerability in an emotionally safe relationship.  Great sex flows naturally from such a relationship.  It is natural to be physically naked with someone with whom you are already emotionally naked.[3]

Here’s the thing.  If sex is all about performance, physical perfection, and a higher high, you probably peak around age 19 or 20 and it is all downhill from there.  You can work hard to slow the decline, but the decline is still inevitable.  If sex is about intimacy, connection, and mutual pleasure, it can continue to get better over a lifetime.  The experience of sexual satisfaction can continue to grow.

True intimacy is one of the greatest experiences human being can have.  It is of tremendous value.  Do you really want to trade it for a temporary fix that not only does not have lasting value, but actually turns out to be harmful to you?

If what I am talking about is way outside of your experience, but it sounds like there might be some truth to it, you might want to find a therapist who can help you change your paradigm here.  Your life really will be better for it.  Take Manhattan, not the cloth and the kettles.

[1] Historians dispute whether the natives understood that they were selling the land or if they were merely agreeing to share the land as the natives viewed land as something to use rather than something to own.

[2] I am also not talking about the fact that so many of the female profiles were fake.  That is another story.

[3] Intimacy also often eliminates the need for Viagra (assuming there is no medical cause for the erectile dysfunction).