In this episode, I'll share 7 things that shifted my sexual fetish to become less intense, less frequent, less disruptive, and less arousing. NOTE: I believe trying to alter sexual attraction is both unethical and unhelpful. My fetish has not been removed or replaced, and that is not my goal. Rather, my fetish lost its power through a series of shifts that took place as I pursued healing and freedom from porn.
Here are the 7 things that helped me:
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Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Hey, my name is Drew. I'm the founder of Husband Material, where I help men outgrow porn. Today we are talking about fetishes. Have you ever had a sexual fetish? A sexual fetish is something very specific in particular that you find sexually irresistible. It's part of a person rather than a whole person. It could be an object, it could be a body part. In my case, I have had a sexual fetish for braces and orthodontics. This is the type of porn and sexual fantasy that always appealed to me. Sometimes men ask me can my arousal template change? Can we switch out what I'm sexually attracted to for something else? And when I hear that, my heart breaks because every sexual fetish or sexual attraction or point of arousal is a part of you that is not bad, but good. Now, what it is doing can be very damaging, but that part of you, just like an emotion, is not bad, it's good. We need to learn how to embrace our emotions and express them in healthy ways. In the same way. I really believe we need to be able to accept our sexual arousal, listen to what it's trying to tell us and ultimately use it for healing. That's what this episode is all about, and as you heal, as a byproduct, you may experience a shift in those sexual feelings which can make it so much easier to get lasting freedom. So in this episode even though I hesitate to share it because it does feel extremely vulnerable I want to tell my story. I want to be honest about what I've experienced and, at the same time, acknowledge that your experience might be different, and that's okay. From a young age, I was always attracted to girls and women with braces, and when I got braces, I was sexually attracted to myself, which felt really weird. And yet, over the last few years, this fetish has lost so much of its power, and that has made freedom from porn and unwanted sexual behavior so much easier. Now let me be clear. I would say that my sexual fetish has become less intense, less frequent, less disruptive and even less arousing, but it did not get removed, it did not get replaced. In fact, just recently, one week ago, I had a very strong experience of sexual temptation about this specific fetish, and so, although it has lost so much of its power. Sometimes I get hit by a trigger tornado or a shame storm or an extremely powerful attraction that seems to come out of nowhere, but for the most part it's not as difficult to deal with as it was before. Now, I didn't try to make this happen. I didn't intend to shift my sexual arousal template. I know many of you guys have asked can my arousal template shift? Can my sexual attractions change? Well, I believe that trying to alter sexual attraction is actually unethical and unhelpful. It's like trying to get rid of one of your emotions and if you want to heal and you want more integration, you need to get to know that part of you. You need to get to know your feelings and discover what's underneath them and, as a result, you may experience some amazing shifts. With that said, let me tell you the story of how my sexual fetish shifted over time. I believe there are seven things that really helped me, and I didn't do these seven things necessarily trying to shift my sexual fetish or my fantasies or my arousal. My goal was healing and freedom from porn and along that journey, some of these actions that I took seemed to have a really wonderful effect. The seven things that really helped me are talking about the fetish, understanding the fetish, appreciating the fetish, acknowledging the fetish, completing the action, receiving the real thing and stopping the behavior. Let's start with talking about the fetish. I remember the first time I ever told someone about my sexual fetish for braces. I was terrified. I was terrified of being condemned, and when I told him that I was really turned on by races, he didn't think that was weird at all. He didn't feel toward me how I felt toward myself, and in that moment, and so many moments over and over again since then, I have realized that my deepest, darkest secrets do not disqualify me from being loved. This has created so much space Without the burden of shame and secrecy and self-condemnation. The sexual fetish didn't have as much power, which was wonderful, and I find that the more I can talk about these things, they lose their power, and maybe you're thinking to yourself oh, I've already done that. However, he told people about my specific fetish or my specific unwanted attractions but how specific did you get? Because I find that each time I share, each time I talk about this stuff, I go a little deeper. I take a redemptive risk to share a little bit more than I did before, and each time I am met with love and acceptance, the healing sinks in and the sexual attraction gets a little bit less charged. Now it's not like I'm trying to shift my sexual attraction, but it just happens Because it's normalized. Instead of being this forbidden, magicalized secret, it's a normal part of life that we can just talk about and man that feels so good. That was the first thing that began to shift how I felt about my fetish. The second thing was understanding the fetish. This all started for me in 2015 when I watched a video by Patrick Carnes who talked about how your sexual development can get stunted, and when he said that I realized that's what happened to me at 13 years old. That was the time of life when all the other girls who I was interested in had braces. That was a huge contributor to why that fetish was so strong. Now. I still had those attractions even before that, but even just that understanding turned on a light bulb in my head and that really helped the fetish go from being this unknown, scary monster to something a lot more manageable. And that was just the start of my journey. As I continued into 2018, I read the book Unwanted by Jay Stringer, and that also helped to put some pieces together and connect the dots between my sexuality and my story. Seeing where my sexual fetish came from was like turning on the lights inside my soul Before it was dark. I was scared. I didn't know what this thing was, where it came from, why it has so much power over me. It was like this big, scary monster. But when we flip on the lights, what I saw was a little boy who didn't get what he needed at a critical time of development, especially in puberty, and so this big, scary monster was actually more like a little mouse. If you've ever seen the Wizard of Oz, you know that when Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Tin man and the Cowardly Lion finally find the Wizard, he seems like aw, it's the great and terrible. But then they pull back the curtain and they see a little man inside, and that's how I felt about my fetish. It was this big, great and terrible powerful force keeping me trapped in porn. But when I pulled back the curtain and I saw that little boy, little Drew, oh my goodness, myself, awareness, myself, compassion grew, and it has never stopped growing. Ever since 2015, I've been continuing to learn about myself, especially by reading the book Unwanted by Jay Stringer. Going through his leadership training and now in husband material, even more layers are being uncovered. The more we can understand the connections between our sexuality and our story, you might find that things begin to shift. They feel less magical and more manageable, and I wish that understanding was enough, but unfortunately it's not. Many of you guys have begun to understand your brokenness, understand how your sexual development got hijacked by porn, by abandonment, abuse and measurement all the different layers of your story. And yet the pull of porn and the fascination of a fetish still feels really powerful. And that is often a hint that you need to take the next step, something that probably has helped me more than anything else Appreciating the fetish yes, appreciating it. And when I say appreciate the fetish, I'm specifically talking about appreciating the divine desire underneath the surface level arousal. So at the surface level I have this fetish for braces and orthodontics, but at the soul level there is a desire underneath that arousal for acceptance, for innocence, for connection, and that is what I have learned to bless. When you can bless your sexuality, you don't have to battle it anymore. When you can befriend the little boy who developed those feelings in the first place. It creates an amazing internal shift within yourself. You are no longer in fight, flight or freeze mode. You are no longer living in a cycle of fear, shame, arousal and self condemnation. Rather, you are living in love. You are living in appreciation, whether it's grief or joy, or both. My friend, when you can't appreciate what this attraction is trying to do, then you can actually work with it and lead it in a different direction. That's not destructive, that's not damaging. So I actually think if you find yourself having trouble letting go of a particular type of porn or a particular sexual fetish, maybe that part of you actually needs to be appreciated more, because there is something really good within it and it might take some digging to find what that good divine desire is. It has material. We can help you do that. And when you find that divine desire maybe multiple divine desires then you have something to embrace. Oh man, that just feels so good. You have something to say yes to. If you've been trying to say no, no, no, no to your fetish, what if you can find a way to say yes to the deeper desires underneath it? It becomes a lot easier to let go of some of the old patterns and when those fetishes and fantasies come up again. Here is another action that has really helped me Simply noticing the fetish. This is also called mindfulness. Then a really strong, seemingly irresistible sexual thought comes up. Instead of fueling it and dwelling on it, instead of fighting it or trying to ignore it or avoid it, just being with it has such a powerful effect on your brain, on your body, on your whole system. So, in other words, if I see someone with braces, rather than just being aroused by that, I can be with the arousal. Here's what noticing the fetish sounds like Hmm, I'm feeling very aroused right now. Hmm, that person is really attractive, isn't that fascinating? Wow, I'm feeling a really strong pull toward that. That's interesting. Non-judgmental observation has a way of defusing and draining the power out of some of our strongest sexual feelings, and this is a skill that you can use to manage any emotion. Instead of being angry, be with the anger. Instead of being anxious, be with your anxiety. This is a skill that you can develop and it works wonders. At this point, I've shared four out of the seven things that I believe shifted my sexual fetish over time. Again, my goal has been healing, not removing or replacing the fetish, but talking about it, understanding it, appreciating it and noticing it has given me a lot more love, joy, peace, health. Wholeness Like this is good stuff. Now there are three more things that I want to share that have created some very important shifts that are a little bit more difficult to talk about. The first one is completing the action. What do I mean by completing the action? Completing the action means releasing intense emotions and trauma that is stored in your body when extremely important events are interrupted, developmental milestones never get met. Remember when I said Patrick Carnes taught me that your sexual development can get stunted. Well, on the flip side, your sexual development can resume when you complete the interrupted action. For example, when I was a teenager, I had a series of almost girlfriends and it seemed like every time I got kind of close to getting into a relationship, I moved away, or they moved away, or something would happen and it would get cut off. Over the years, I've discovered that my sexual fetish for braces was actually calling me to complete the action. These relationships with these middle school girls were so good at the beginning but they got interrupted and that fetish was a way of saying, hey, there's this thing that you really need to do. And at the husband material leaders retreat in March, I finally did it. The very first girl who I ever had a crush on and really liked and she liked me back was a huge part of my origin story and why I had a thing for girls with braces. She had braces. And in March, at the husband material leaders retreat, I got to complete the action through a psychodrama process where I sat across from a man who was role-playing her. Her name was Katie and I got to tell her all of the things that I felt toward her that I never got to tell her. And I got to hold her hands and I looked into her eyes just through role-playing, but it felt so real and I said goodbye and I broke up with her and I just wept and sobbed and I got to say thank you. I got to say thank you for what you gave to me and the beauty and the connection that I felt with you. Oh, my goodness, I got to complete the action. I got to say what I never got to say. I got to do what I never got to do. How about you? Where did your development get stunted? Where did trauma leave you stuck, needing to complete a certain action, like connecting with your dad or standing up to the bullies or separating from your mom or escaping from an abuser that you never took, that you never had the opportunity to take. When you can pinpoint the parts of your story where you got stuck or where something very important was incomplete, that gives you a clue about what actions you can take to bring completion. And, man, that has really affected my sexual fetish. It doesn't feel the same way as it did before. I think part of that is because a fetish is inherently incomplete. It's partial, it's just a piece of a real person or a piece of a real relationship, not the full thing. And in full, beautiful, God-designed sexuality we are designed to be aroused by a complete experience, not just part of it, and a fetish is often times just a symbol or a representation of the real thing that we truly desire, that we truly need. So the next thing that has had a really big influence on the strength and power of my sexual fetish is receiving the real thing. I see this happening every year at the husband material retreat, especially for guys who experience same-sex attraction. They come to this retreat and they experience the connection and the brotherhood with men that they have desired. It's their divine desire and they're actually getting it in real life. It's amazing. It's like, wow, I sexualized this, but now I'm getting the non-sexual version of it and it's even better. Sometimes it's really triggering. It's like there's somebody who you are attracted to, yet through a real, authentic human connection that is safe and appropriate, you get the real thing, not just the symbolic sexual fetish version of it. This actually happened for me recently. I did not try to make this happen, it just happened and it was very healing. I was on an airplane coming back from that husband material leaders retreat where I finally broke up with that eighth grade girl I had loved all those years ago, feeling a tremendous release, feeling so much more complete On this airplane. I go to my seat, I sit down it's a middle seat and I'm very tall, so it's cramped and I get a tap on the shoulder. It turns out that somebody noticed me in my discomfort and offered for me to switch seats with somebody else in an exit row so I could have more space for my six foot seven inch body. Do you know who it was? Can you guess what type of person noticed me in my uncomfortable state and invited me to sit next to her in the exit row where there was more space. It was a 15 year old girl who was riding on the airplane with her mother coming back from a volleyball tournament and, of course, she had braces. So here I am, sandwiched between this 15 year old girl and her mother on this airplane. I was speechless, I didn't know what to do. I was like this is so triggering and yet also somehow healing. And on this airplane ride I had a real time, real life conversation with a 15 year old girl with braces that was vulnerable. We both opened up in a very safe, appropriate way. Her mom was right there. I don't feel the need to include all the details of what happened here, but actually having a real conversation with the type of person who I had formerly objectified seemed to shift something. It was very strange to feel like I was living out something I had fantasized about. Yet there wasn't a sexual charge to it, it was normal, it was real life. And receiving the real thing in terms of having a safe, appropriate, healthy interaction with the type of person who I had formerly objectified affected me in a way that I still don't understand. Yet this is what I see often happening with husband, material men. Sometimes they find themselves interacting with somebody who historically, would have been the kind of person they would have pursued, and porn, and yet, through a redemptive risk and a healing experience and a safe environment, they get the real version, not the fake version. It's important to note that trying to force these experiences to happen is a bad idea. We can't do that. I don't think we should. What we can do is create space. For me, actually talking to this person on the airplane was an incredibly healing experience. I think God gave it to me. If I had tried to orchestrate that experience, it probably would have been part of some kind of addictive cycle. I actually don't think it would have been healthy for me to try to make that happen, but in the God-Orchestrated series of events it was perfectly safe, it was perfectly appropriate and it brought my healing that much deeper. It allowed me to encounter not just the part of a person that I had sexualized, it was humanizing and that's so beautiful. That has also created a shift in my sexual fetish. The last point I need to mention is deceptively simple stopping the behavior. What you feed grows and what you starve dies, the more fuel you give to a sexual fetish, either by indulging it or resisting it, the more it will grow. On the other hand, the more you talk about it, understand it, appreciate it, notice it and move on from it and let it go, then the less space it will take up, the less pain in your body, your heart, your mind. As simple as it may sound, the less time I've spent either indulging the fetish or trying really hard to avoid the fetish, the less space it has taken up in my life. Let me be clear it's not gone. It could return. Yet for the most part, my sexual fetish is less intense, less frequent, less disruptive and even less arousing. It has not been removed, it has not been replaced. It's not gone and sometimes it comes back very strongly. Let's pretend for a moment that my sexual fetish is a dog. I'm not saying the dog died. I'm not saying the dog became a cat. Rather, I'm saying that the fetish used to be like this big, scary guard dog and now it's like a small, friendly dog. Or you could say it used to be like a dog that was wounded and now it's been getting healthier. Or this is my favorite comparison you could say the fetish was like a little puppy that is finally now growing up into a mature adult dog. That's my favorite comparison. So the fetish did not get removed, it did not get replaced. It is not gone and sometimes it returns forcefully. And it has shifted. It's not like it used to be, and that's a beautiful thing. Again, here's what made the difference for me Talking about it, understanding it, appreciating it, noticing it and being mindful of it, completing the interrupted actions, receiving the real thing instead of the fake sexual symbol and finally stopping the behavior. So if you want greater healing and freedom from porn, here's my best advice Be radically honest and vulnerable. Learn more about your sexual story, differentiate your sexual desire from your sexual arousal, practice mindfulness, non-judgmental observation, release intense emotions and trauma that you may be carrying. Receive the real thing of what you desire rather than the partial version of it represented or symbolized by a sexual fetish, and finally stop the unwanted behavior. Outgrow porn. Husband material is here to help. As a result, along this journey, you may experience a shift in what arouses you. Along the way, you may find that your sexual fetishes become less magical and more manageable, but that's not the goal. These things have really helped me and I believe they can help you too. Thank you for listening and always remember you are God's beloved Son, and in you he is well pleased.