Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Case of the Man-Whore

Don’t you wish you knew what really went on in therapy sessions? Wouldn’t you want to know how therapists really treat their patients? Aren’t you just a wee bit curious to know what all of that advanced education, all those credentials produces in real life situations? Besides, the chances are good that insurance companies are paying for it. Think about that one.

Well, today, we get a hint from an unlikely place. From New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. Each week the magazine turns a column over to an everyday citizen who offers up an account of a week’s worth of debauchery. Because, it is mostly debauchery. People who debauch themselves are much more likely to write about it for a magazine, even anonymously. I will emphasize that these columns tend toward the obscene and the graphic. Consider yourself trigger warned.

Anyway, this week we have the sex diary of a 38 year old real estate broker who is in therapy. With a woman, he notes. The man became depressed when his wife ran off with someone she met in acting class. He had been faithful to her for ten years and was seriously crestfallen when she rejected him. So he went on anti-depressants. With the help of his therapist, he developed a plan for dealing with his post-divorce state of mind.

If one were examining the case one would want to know about whether or not, during the ten years of marriage, the unhappy couple had children or tried to have children or wanted to have children. Given that this is certainly a salient point—some might even say that it has something to do with sex— he (and apparently the therapist) ignores it entirely.

What does his therapist advise? In the man’s words:

Monday therapy! My shrink is all about embracing bad behavior, i.e., sleeping around. She says being a man-whore is helping me transition into healthy, single living. About that: I slept with both my dates this weekend.

For those of you who imagine that therapists never tell their patients what to do, it’s time to get over it. I offered something of a critique of the notion that therapists never offer advice in my book, The Last Psychoanalyst. Therein I pointed out that, as far as Freud was concerned, the truth was that when Freud offered advice he simply offered very bad advice.

One assumes that some serious level of philosophical sophistication has taught this therapist to advise her patient to go out and embrace his essentially male badness. One suspects that said therapist was taking cues from someone like Slavoj Zizek. If you want to know what Zizekianism looks like in practice, here it is.

Naturally, this leads me to be slightly moralistic and even judgmental. Are we to assume that the patient really wants to be a man-whore and that this wish exists in the depths of his Freudian unconscious? Of course, since the broker is not being paid for sex, the term is something of a misnomer, trotted out by a therapist who is trying to show how cool and how stupid she is.

And, pray tell, why is being a man-whore a natural prelude to healthy single living. Did you notice the non-sequitur in this piece of bad advice?

And, ask yourself this: what about the women who are involved in this man’s acting out what is fairly obviously, to anyone who knows how to think, a revenge fantasy. He was faithful during his marriage. His wife left him. Ergo, he can express all of his negative feelings toward his wife by taking advantage of any multiple other women. Since he is not, strictly speaking, involved with any of them, he cannot say that he is cheating. Do any of these women take it all as casually as he does? We do not know. He does not really see any of them as human beings anyway so he never asks the question.

Anyway, the female therapist, with her superior knowledge of female psychology, does not seem to consider that the women who are becoming notches on this man’s bedposts are perhaps not being treated very well. Why would a female therapist advise a man to mistreat women? Does she think that developing this habit will make him better at monogamy? If so she is dumber than I thought.

Who but a woman would imagine that this is the way for a man to be more of a man?

As for the risk of contracting an STD, our real estate broker has that under control. He explains:

I tell my partner (we do apartment sales together) that one of the women from the weekend mentioned she had an STD. It was totally taken care of and I was at no risk of catching it, especially with a condom (which I ALWAYS use). My buddy and I agree an STD handled “with class” is not a deal-breaker. We decide that most people probably have STDs and probably lie about it, which is far grosser. I wonder if HE has an STD. Speaking of, I should get a physical.

As it happens, and as any physician can tell you, a condom is not a foolproof, 100% sure barrier against STDs. I will not explain it in graphic detail, but this man is clearly living an illusion. Is his therapist a physician? Has she explained this to him? We do not know.

In a world where everyone is having sex, as our realtor mentions, the chances for contracting an STD multiply. One notes that he lives in the bubble called Brooklyn.

Strangely, this man-whore is doing what he is doing because it was prescribed by his therapist, not necessarily because it is what he wants out of his life. He finds the exercise tedious, but he thinks it is therapeutic. He has confidence that it will lead him to a relationship. With the One…. God help us!

He writes:

Catching up on all the online dating, texting, post-sex follow-ups, etc. It’s tiring. I’d trade it all in for a real relationship, but I know that will come in time. I would not trade it in to be back with my ex-wife. I really fucking hate her. We don’t speak or see each other at all.

So we get to see what happens between our man-whore and a woman he names Eva. Again note the influence of his therapist—who apparently has bewitched him:

Eva is a freelance food writer. She claims to be bisexual, but she also said she’s never had sex with a woman. Oh, Brooklyn. I remember her saying she was turned off by my line of work, which hurt my feelings. My therapist suggested bringing it up at lunch.

I ask her what she meant by real estate being a turnoff, and she tells me her mom did real estate and that it seems like a shady business. My reply: “Only as shady as you make it. I’m not shady. I never tell lies.” (That is the truth, by the way.)

I go on to tell her that it was kind of a rude thing to say, but that I’m past it. She halfheartedly apologizes, jokingly saying something like, “Oh, get over it!” I think I can get over it.

Notice that he has gotten in touch with his hurt feelings. We all feel very badly for his hurt feelings. So he ends up telling Eva that she was rude. This means that he has been turned into something of a whiner. Another point for therapy. Eva, who apparently does not have a dippy therapist, tells him to get over it, thus, to be a man.

Of course, once the couple engages in some kind of sexual activity, our man-whore still feels hurt by the fact that she dismissed his feelings. Yikes. It shows you where his mind is. And it is not with Eva. 

After another casual encounter with Eva, the hung over man-whore has an epiphany:

Hangovers make me depressed. I don’t really like being single. Does anybody? (Seriously, does anybody?) Again, I don’t think Eva is the one. My gut says nah. But who is? I’ll keep looking. She’s out there somewhere. 

Of course, one might ask whether sleeping around with many different women is the best way to find a suitable mate. One suspects that it is not. And yet, for allowing himself to be led around by his therapist, he is not getting any closer to finding a good wife. And he is certainly not getting any closer to knowing how to function in a relationship.

One notes, if one dares to read the text, that he is especially happy to be in the company of his brother’s family. Clearly that is what he is looking for, not to perfect the art of the man-whore.

He writes, in passing:

Taking my nephews to swim class at the Y. I love them so much. Can’t wait to have kids of my own. Hoping I meet the one soon.

Again, we do not know why he did not have children during his ten year marriage. The question will remain in limbo, because it did not seem to interest his therapist.

7 comments:

Trigger Warning said...

I checked out the Sex Diaries. The Letters to the Editor in the now-defunct "Penthouse" magazine were a lot more interesting.

New Yorkers are weird. Having said that, this poor shmendrik (PBUH) needs to get a life. Before he has kids.

Anonymous said...

http://www.city-journal.org/html/democrats-not-trump-racialize-our-politics-14871.html

Anonymous said...

Shrink now refers to the penis, not the head.

Anonymous said...

"New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries"

It's called The Cut.

I think it should be called The Cu*t.

Sam L. said...

As if I needed another reason to not read the NYT!

Anonymous said...

It's entirely possible his therapist didn't tell him to do this at all. I have a number of items which I felt my therapist "told me to do" but after discussing with her determined I had merely imputed my own assumptions of what she was saying on to what she was actually saying.

Examples:
Therapist says that my withholding of information about relationships I'd had prior to marriage, which had caused me some damage, may have worked for me over time, but that I still had the responsibility of dealing with that damage. I took it to sound like "you need to speak with your wife about those relationships." Incorrect, and while not a bad idea, it didn't yield the results I expected, which opened up a whole new range of topics to discuss with the therapist.

Therapist suggests that an ongoing conversation I am having with a friend is inappropriate since my wife is unaware of it. There is nothing sexual or otherwise 'inappropriate' taking place, aside from the fact my wife is unaware of it, and the friend is female. I take this to mean I need to inform my wife of this conversation, which I do. Again, not the results I expected. Just a funny look and "why did you feel you needed to tell me that?" At this point, I told the therapist "you told me to tell her" to which the reply was "No, I told you the conversation was potentially inappropriate. It was your choice to tell her about it. I was telling you to think more about what you were hoping to derive from the conversation itself." (nothing - she's an old friend and we were just reacquainting ourselves after a period of time apart)

I know some therapists may recommend actions and activities. I've come to realize mine doesn't, even when I think she has.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: If one were examining the case one would want to know about whether or not, during the ten years of marriage, the unhappy couple had children or tried to have children or wanted to have children. Given that this is certainly a salient point—some might even say that it has something to do with sex— he (and apparently the therapist) ignores it entirely.

I'd assume the therapist asked about that, and that there seemed to be no conflict on that issue. Of course you might imagine one or both were "unsure" about children because they were unsure about each other. And so if that biological imperative starts beeping after 10 years, a wife might not want to admit it, in case her uncertain husband says yes.

And
Stuart: As it happens, and as any physician can tell you, a condom is not a foolproof, 100% sure barrier against STDs. I will not explain it in graphic detail, but this man is clearly living an illusion.

I confess, never contemplated having casual sex at any age, but STDs would concern me the most, such an unknown. But many friends of both genders have worried less, or if not completely casual sex, at least in their 20s expecting a large fraction of dates would end in sex. My only guess was alcohol is what makes people foolish, but that's clearly not enough.

But in fact, I actually don't know anyone who has ever admitted a STD. Perhaps its just not the sort of question you ask friends or family? I'm sure I wouldn't admit it to friends or a date, so shame isn't always good, if you stay in denial, or rationalization, and risk hurt others.