Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
Meanwhile on Twitter
Loading latest tweet...
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with:

Intrinsic Goodness, Sex, Happiness, And Pleasure

By Ben Nadel on

I was chatting the other day with my friend about his relationship. Apparently, he and the missus are having some friction because he desires intimacy more than she does. Naturally, this misalignment of desires is causing some frustration on both sides. I was trying to console my friend when he asked me, "How often do you need to have sex in a relationship?" This struck me as such an interesting question. To be honest, I could not answer this at all. He could not understand my confusion on the matter and quickly offered up his desired quota in return.

This might seem to you like an everyday, run of the mill, man-to-man conversation, but it has been running through my head over and over again. I am quite stuck on the fact that I could not answer his question. As someone who is very introspective and, quite frankly, prideful about his own self-awareness, I am a little irritated that what seemed like such an easy question to someone else was, in fact, a quite difficult one for me.

Do I not know myself or my own needs and desires? Of course I do - so, what's the problem?

I have contemplated this a fair amount and I think crucial to this exploration is an understanding of what happiness is and what it means for an activity to provide pleasure. What we have to accept first is that all motivations are pleasure based. As my philosophy teacher, Professor Denby, demonstrated to class, pleasure is the only intrinsic good; that is to say, pleasure is the only true "End" where as everything else that we do is simply a means to that "End." It has been argued that Knowledge is also an intrinsic good - but this argument is usually countered by the statement that knowledge only leads to pleasure and is therefore not an intrinsic good.

Really though, when you are honest with yourself, this is not a hard concept to grasp - at the end of the day, no one does anything if it doesn't bring at least some amount of pleasure. Charity work, working out, helping others, winning sports, doing drugs, eating - while some of it might seem philanthropic, ultimately all of this is done to provide one with pleasure.

So, when it comes to deciding what activities to partake in, I think what it actually comes down to is estimating how much pleasure each activity will provide. Me, being the nerdy, geeky, programmer that I am, I immediately saw this situation and thought of Object Interfaces (I'm totally not joking, by the way). If I had to define a pleasure-based activity, what kind of interface would I give it? On my walk home last night, here's what I settled upon (pseudo code):

  • Interface Pleasurable-Activity {
  •  
  • GetImmediatePayoff() :: Int;
  •  
  • GetLongTermPayoff() :: Int;
  •  
  • GetPleasureIndex(
  • TimeSinceLastEvent : TimeSpan,
  • TimeToEventStart : TimeSpan
  • ) :: Int;
  •  
  • }

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that pleasure comes in two payloads - the immediate gratification and the long term gratification. For example, eating ice cream might have a high immediate payoff, but a very low long term payoff. Working out, on the other hand, with its health benefits, might have both a high immediate payoff as well as a high long term payoff.

Of course, more goes into pleasure than this concept of payoffs; this is where I came up with the "Pleasure Index." This function, if you will, is where the real decision making comes into play. It takes the time since the last event happened and the time until the next event will occur and returns some sort of ultimate pleasure index which would be used in decision making.

In reality, time is much more complex, but the abstracted theory here is that the pleasure of an activity is definitely contextual. For example, if you told me that I could eat ice cream in a month or I could eat ice cream in 20 seconds, the latter would seem much more of a pleasurable idea than the former simply because it was sooner. Conversely, if you told me I could have a dentist appointment tomorrow or one in a month, I would choose the latter simply because it was farther away.

As I was thinking about all of this out, I realized a few very important things. The first epiphany that I had was that the very nature of this thought exercise could be, in itself, considered part of the problem. By that, I mean that the very fact that I can even think about pleasure in terms of programming constructs and calculated payoffs might be an issue; perhaps my ability to de-romanticize life into a pragmatic guide prevents me from seeing the "magic" of any given activity.

My second epiphany builds on the first: by seeing activities as through a programming interface in a polymorphic world, I realized that activities can be easily swapped in an out. Again, this takes away any "greater than the sum of its parts" magic that an activity might hold. At the end of the day, for me, I suppose all activities are simply calculated (and sometimes miscalculated) choices. As such, the idea of swapping one activity for another as it was happening seems almost silly. Would I cut my workout short to go watch a movie? Would I walk out halfway through a movie to go work out? Would I stop in the middle of a meal to sleep? Would I wake up in the middle of the night to eat? With the rare exception, all of these seem like awkward, miscalculated choices.

With these two realizations, I can now readdress the original question and see the true absurdity in it. How much sex do I need? The real question is, "How much {pleasure} do I need?" In a polymorphic environment, how can one even attempt answer such a thing? At the end of the day, I need pleasure. Period. How can I possibly define that in more certain terms?

I love working out. I love it. It's one of the things that I would never give up. To me, working out is one of the greatest activities. And, if you asked me how often I work out, I would even tell you that I try to work out 3-4 times a week. But, I have gone for months at a time without working out. For example, I once had a girlfriend (I swear! A living, breathing one too!) and when I started seeing here, I stopped working out for about 6 months. This did not mean that working out was less important than my girlfriend at the time - it only means that I was swapping one activity out for another and finding the same amount of pleasure in my day.

A final epiphany that I had was that I definitely see a personal trend that I favor long term payoff over short term payoff. To me, long term payoff feels as though it holds more value, especially when it involves pride; an activity that will afford me greater pride over a longer period of time is definitely an activity in which I want to be involved.

When you realize that it is all about pleasure, you realize that there are many valid paths to this one goal. And when you realize that there are many valid paths to this one goal, you start to feel lucky; you understand that the number of paths you have is directly proportional to the diversity and richness of your life. The more the options and opportunities you can afford yourself, the more ways you have to make yourself happy.




Reader Comments

You still didn't answer his question :P.

Also, you do realize you're opening yourself up to some really weird search engine indexing ;)?

Seriously, though, nice way to sum it up for us geeky programmers. Now to find a place to use that interface...

Reply to this Comment

@Francois,

I am not sure that I can answer it :) But at least I am feeling more comfortable with the reasons as to why I cannot personally answer it. Of course, we all work differently - this is just how my mind happens to function.

Nothing wrong with some search engine love ;)

Reply to this Comment

And so it's with this interface that machines become self aware therefore starting the beginning of the end! Now the question is will our future resemble "The Matrix" or "The Terminator"?

Nice one Ben ;)

Reply to this Comment

You could not give an answer because you were not listening to the right question. The question your friend was asking was not "How many times do you need to have sex to be happy" but really "How many times do you need to have sex with your partner to be happy in a relationship."

If you're just talking about sex here, you're on a completely different topic. Sex is good yes, but if it's a meaningless, random act with someone that you don't care about then forget that and bring on the ice cream. Also, some sex is not pleasurable. If you're in a relationship where your partner has no idea how to pleasure you and has more trouble getting better, then again.. popcorn and movies instead of sex works for me.

When you're having sex with someone you care about and are committed (long term payoff here) you want to pleasure them. When you pleasure them then you pleasure yourself, making you both happy in the relationship. Bring back your example of when you were with a girl and you stopped working out. You didn't stop working out because spending time with her was better for you. You stopped working out because it was better for you as a couple to spend more time together.

When you're talking about having pleasure in a relationship, it doesn't matter what kind of charity work you do, how much you workout, or what you're eating. All those things are personal pleasures. What matters is what pleasures you're doing or exchanging to further the relationship. And as I see it, the more pleasure the better right?

Reply to this Comment

I am quite sure you are not the only person unable to answer that question without thought. I have been married, and if someone asked me that question I would definitely need to think about it first. Sex in a relationship should not be a task or something you schedule with the person you love. Making love to your partner should be something you do whenever you both want to. I think that if these questions are being asked there is definitely something wrong in the relationship, that to me would definitely be a red flag.

I agree with Lor, I prefer ice cream over bad sex anytime :) unfortunately for me I am unable to indulge in my favorite short term gratification on a daily basis, ice cream mmmmm yummy!

Reply to this Comment

@Lor,

Maybe I am misunderstanding, but you seem to defeat your own argument. On one hand, you say that if you are in a relationship with someone that is not good at sex, then you prefer popcorn and a movie. On the other hand, if you are in a relationship with someone that is good at sex, then the more pleasure the better.

What are you saying is that the desire to have sex is highly contextual (even within the confines of a relationship). This would lead one to believe that the question could not be answered without context.

Furthermore, I think we have to get rid of the idea of anything *but* personal pleasure. All pleasure is personal. You cannot experience pleasure for someone else. If you do things to get things back (as you would in a relationship), then it is still personal.

Think about it this way, if you gave very much to your partner, and got nothing in return, would that be pleasurable? Probably not. Of course, this cannot be said for sure - if you do enhance this person's life and you see that you make it better, even if they gave nothing back, you might still get pleasure out of knowing you are making a difference.

As far as your interpretation of my workout halt, I have to disagree with you. At least, in one respect. Yes, me spending time with my girlfriend was important, but it was important because it served my benefits (having a happy relationship was definitely a benefit). However, after many months of this, I felt as though I was in serious need of a workout, so I started doing that again and spending less time with the missus. Does that mean that suddenly me spending time with my GF was less important? In a way, yes it was because it was at too great a cost (of my personal happiness). But, to extend that, it was a wise move because when I am happier, I am better at making others happy.

@Jazz,

If you prefer ice cream over bad sex, then you make the decision to have sex contextual. And, once it is contextual, you cannot answer it without context.

Reply to this Comment

An interesting post and one that struck home for me because early on in my relationship with Jay, she asked me "How do you feel about that?" (over something, I don't remember). I, the Brit who'd never really thought about my feelings, replied "Er, I don't know". Her response was "Well, they're your feelings - you'd better figure it out!"

Thus began my attempts to be more introspective and, after nine years of marriage, I've gotten pretty good at it :)

Still, the question your friend asked could not really be answered for me. You hinted at why - your choices change over time and from time to time based on mood and so on. This month you might need a lot of physical intimacy to feel X amount of pleasure. Next month, you might need a lot less because other things are contributing to your "necessary" pleasure (which also changes constantly).

In one of your comments, you say "Think about it this way, if you gave very much to your partner, and got nothing in return, would that be pleasurable? Probably not." - I know people who get pleasure out of serving / pleasing their partner and are extremely happy with a partner that essentially gives nothing back. Different things work for different people :)

Reply to this Comment

Very well written and I love the analysis but you failed to answer the question.

Am I to assume that you're avoiding it or simply do not know?

Reply to this Comment

@Sean,

Agreed - things simply change too much over time. And yes, there are people who don't mind being the "abused" one or the "neglected" one. But, as a very core level, I think this all comes back to pleasure - in a twisted way, some people find pleasure in playing that role.

@Parakeet,

I cannot answer. I would not know how.

Reply to this Comment

@Ben-

Not quite sure what you mean, but if I am in a relationship I should hope that when I do make love with my partner it's because we are going to enjoy the time we are spending together and what we are doing. Not to just do it because we only did it once this week, month or year for that matter. Spending time with someone should not be a task, or something you schedule on your calendar like (have sex on Wednesday) WTF! if it feels that way then it's better not to, because then you are obviously not going to take pleasure in that time, and as you said everything we do in the long run is for our own pleasure.

I also believe that when you love someone there is no such thing as bad sex, if you aren't comfortable with a situation in the sexual aspect of the relationship you should be able to discuss it with your partner and if two people love each other there is always a way to make things better :)

Therefore, If I know my husband, boyfriend, significant other is not feeling it at the moment and we will probably have (bad sex) I will just go grab my ice cream let him relax and then maybe have good sex :) when he's ready.

All I am saying is that you are not the only person who has these conflicts in your mind, I think most of us do :)

Reply to this Comment

@Jazz

I'd like to change my answer. I like what Jazz has to say. I'm sticking with her.

Reply to this Comment

I've been married 14 years and have found that, in my relationship and in others I learn about, it is not unusual for partners to have, for lack of a better term, different "quotas." Even worse, every living being has a different internal clock that has a great impact on his mood. Each partner might be in the mood to have sex every day, but that is worthless if he is in the mood in the early morning and she is in the mood in the early evening. I guess I just hope your friend and his mate understand that it is normal to have this, seemingly, incompatibility in even the healthiest relationship. I mean, I'm all FOR pleasuring myself, but if I had married myself, I would have definitely KILLED him by now!!

Reply to this Comment

I think what this discussion fails to confront is tangential and reactive pleasure. What I mean is that some types of pleasure require the direct sacrifice of other types of pleasure.

I was recently dating a girl whose sex drive was exponentially greater than mine. I would argue that I have a very high sex drive and definitely pursue the activity more than the grand majority of people. This girl, for whatever reason, while we were together, had a completely excessive expectation.

The point is, I ended up grinding the broad much more than I wanted to, which would seem to contradict the notion this discussion presents of all personal agency being applied to some goal of derived pleasure.

The reason I did, however, is that the girl was an INCREDIBLE cook. When she was "satisfied", she'd wail on kitchens. I have never in my entire life eaten as well as I did when I was putting out in this relationship, and while on some level I'm sure that could be compared to prostitution, to me it was more like bartering.

Many of the times we got together I would've much rather been playing Fallout 3, or drag racing downtown, or hell, conversing with the girl, but I made the conscious translation in my mind that work = ridiculous food. So, I made a pain to pleasure investment. One that paid off in consistent dividends.

Note: This girl was very attractive and it was definitely no chore "working" with her. I hope it didn't come across that way or sound rude, it was simply two distant satisfaction quotas at play.

Reply to this Comment

@David,

> grinding the broad

Ha ha ha :) That's funny.

Thank you for sharing your insight. I don't think that is so different from what many people do. In your case, it was sex... in someone else's case, maybe it's the Ballet, the Theater, or watching made-for-tv movies on WeTV. Regardless, I think we can all relate to trading one pleasure for another to achieve a "great goal" from which we derive much pleasure.

Reply to this Comment

Interesting!!!! But let me break it down for you and him in simplest terms; since I am a younger veteran.

A women doesn't understand a guys need for sex; no more than a guy understanding a woman's need for intimacy. You can not have one with out the other.

Once he understands that, he will understand her.

LOL

Reply to this Comment

Reading your logic was an "ah-ha!" moment for me. It's been on mind mind most of the day and I found myself coming back to your post to read it a second time so I can process this concept. I see a story line for a science fiction novel based on this. Seriously!

The downside to this argument is that you and the others who have commented here are clearly limited by your own values and experiences. There are so many more variables to consider, as well as different logic for gender, age, cultural background, religious beliefs, personal standards, health, and so on.

Great stuff, though. Love the concept.

Reply to this Comment

@Jillian,

Yes, we are all limited by our own values and experiences; but not in a bad way - we are limited only in that we have a finite set of "known" pleasure producers. The more experience we are exposed to, the greater this finite set of pleasure generating activities becomes. This set changes with age, location, means, socio-economic status, etc. Each individual has their own set of pleasures.

However, regardless of the person in question, I think the overall logic does not change. The scalability here is not in the logic, which is static, but in the set of pleasure generating activities.

Of course, the "pleasure index" for each activity and the logic for deciding that will change with time and situation; but, the logic for selecting an activity at an abstract level will always be the same.

Reply to this Comment

@ Ben

Exactly!

I didn't mean to infer that limited experience was bad, just more argument to add within the equation.

Are you enjoying the Zen book? I gave it a read years ago but it bored me and I never finished it. Maybe it is a "guy thing"?

Thanks again.

Reply to this Comment

@Jillian,

Still working on the Zen book. Maybe half way through. I've been very preoccupied lately, so my mind keeps wandering a bit, but enjoying it.

Reply to this Comment

My answer to this question, if posed to me would be: before marriage, never. After marriage...all the time!

I grew up thinking that having sex before marriage wasn't a good thing. I was raised to believe this. I went to college where most of the students there believed the same, and I was still a virgin when I graduated from college.

Even though I grew up not having sex, not everyone at my high school followed the same path as I did. But not being in relationships and everything that was involved with all of this (not having sex, etc.) gave me this rich life full of experiences I wouldn't trade for anything in the world...wouldn't trade that for all the sex in the world. I know if I had gotten involved with relationships and/or sex, I would've been too distracted to have all the other experiences I had. Had that been the case, I would be looking back now at a mediocre life filled with less than satisfying experiences.

I will not pretend like I am perfect, as I am not...but I WILL say that the experiences I had beyond college only taught me how right I was all along about the no sex before marriage thing. It's really painful to discover how right you are after experiencing something that you initially knew was wrong, but decided to try anyway because you thought you might not be right in that case.

About the non-reciprocating thing: I had my very first serious relationship with a boyfriend at age 21. He and I never had sex, as he was aware of my beliefs and respected them. However, he wanted to introduce me to pleasures I had never felt before. And believe it or not, he was NOT trying to just get me to have sex or just trying to get me in bed. I also had beliefs against doing other things that were not sex at that time, as well. I just didn't think they were right. I won't get too graphic here, but I did not do them as I didn't think it was right to do them. He knew and understood this, and respected it, and he was not trying to get me to do those things. However, he did want to show me what those things were like if he were to do them. And he did. And he got SO much pleasure out of doing that for me...and I also have to admit, I also got so much pleasure out of it as well. But my point is, I did not do anything at all in return...and yet he did that for me, and got a whole lot of pleasure out of it, even though I was really not doing anything for him. So he was basically just getting pleasure out of giving me pleasure. So, although guys like that are few and far between, they do exists...those guys who want to just give, give, give, and care so much about pleasuring a woman. They are SO rare...but when you get one...WOW!!! Hold onto him! That is a very lucky woman who gets a man like that.

After he and I broke up, I found that most guys don't even care about pleasuring the woman. They only do it so they get pleasure "in return"...but they will do the bare minimum to get a woman to do what THEY want, and nothing more. This really sucks. It is the most annoying thing when a guy is going under the guise of wanting to please you, and really the whole time, he is worrying about whether he is pleasing you or not so he can get on with his pleasure. UGH. The example found in my first boyfriend is MUCH better. Boy, if I married him, he and I would never get anything done...we would NEVER leave the bedroom. lol

But once I get married...and I WILL find one of the types of guys who is not just all out for himself if I do get married...I will never leave the bedroom anyway. I will have sex with my husband all the time, or just as much as he likes. I feel it is my duty as a woman, if I am married, to have sex with my husband whenever he wants, even if he wants it all the time.

On the other hand, it does depend on the other person. Because as a married woman, I will want to have sex with my husband all the time, but if he for some reason doesn't want it but once a week, I can do that and not complain. It just isn't that big a deal to me.

OH...and by the way...one of the reasons I have found that it is better to wait until marriage to have sex is because I have known SO MANY MARRIED MEN who complain about not having sex hardly at all before marriage, and about sex dropping of dramatically from pre-marriage once they get married. I mean, with the guys I have talked to, it has nearly been enough to end the relationship! As stated, I knew many people in college who saved sex for marriage. Let me tell you...when you save sex for marriage, you are dramatically decreasing your chances that the marriage will not be filled with sex. I think a lot of women start having sex really early and have sex a lot before they are married and just run out of desire or whatever by the time they get married. It's no longer a novel thing to them, no longer all that exciting. It's just another mundane everyday task that they were already doing before marriage anyway. When you save sex for marriage, it's new and it's exciting, and it's with someone you love.

And before I get a lot of arguments, because I know I am sure to, I realize this isn't the case with EVERY woman. I know there are nymphos out there who will always want to have sex every day no matter how long they have been having it or how much they have had it, or anything. But I think for the average woman...and sorry to bust your bubble guys, but most women are average when it comes to this...I think women have a certain amount of sexual times to be used up, and once they are used up, it's just a dull boring mundane task.

And I think this number is pretty high, but think about it. If you start having sex at 16, and don't really have much of a dry spell in there, and have a few relationships where you have sex all the time, by the time you reach 32 and are settling into a marriage, probably, by that time, you have had an awful lot of sex! I would think you would get used up pretty fast like that...

Reply to this Comment

@Anna,

Thank you very much for being so open an honest about your life experiences. It is quite refreshing to see someone who is so unguarded. So, some thoughts I had when reading your comments:

>> So he was basically just getting pleasure out of giving me pleasure.

If someone gets pleasure out of doing something, then there really is no concept of you *not* giving him pleasure back - the relationship is already mutually beneficial. If, on the other hand, he was not getting pleasure out of pleasuring you, and you did not thing in return, then this would be a sacrifice on his behalf for your happiness, which is quite another story and is clearly not something that is sustainable over the long term.

That's not to say that he wasn't a caring, understanding person; but, as long as he was getting pleasure out of his activities whether from you or via your reaction, don't think he was somehow sacrificing himself.

>> I know if I had gotten involved with relationships and/or sex, I would've been too distracted to have all the other experiences I had. Had that been the case, I would be looking back now at a mediocre life filled with less than satisfying experiences.

I find it very curious that your attitude has changed. To me, it sounds like you feel that you have reached a peak in your ability to have new and wonderful experiences; so much so that now, the concept of never leaving the bedroom is not even a concern. Do you think that after you get married, your ability to seek out and experience new things has somehow ended? I am wondering why before marriage sex is a harmful distraction and yet after marriage, you might never leave the bedroom? Am I missing something?

>> I think women have a certain amount of sexual times to be used up, and once they are used up, it's just a dull boring mundane task.

I think anything that is truly enjoyable will never be used up. I love working out and if someone told me that I have a fixed amount of times that I can enter the gym, I would laugh in their face. Why would I ever want to stop something I enjoy.

To me, this makes no sense. The idea that one would stop something they enjoy is not logical. And, when an outcome is not logical, how do we reconcile it? We have to check our premises and the premises in this situation would be what? That sex is enjoyable? That is becomes a mundane task? These two premises seem to be contradictory so one of them must be wrong.

Reply to this Comment

@Ben:

Thank you for you responses. I always enjoy your well-thought-out replies. :-)

My comments on the first thing. If it had been only a month or two or three, or even just a year, I could've accepted that maybe he was giving up the idea of having pleasure for himself for my happiness; however, that wonderful relationship lasted longer than a year, and I know for a fact that he got pleasure out of my pleasure. I have no idea why he was so different from MOST guys, but I am glad I had the pleasure (:-D) of knowing him and having been involved with him. And that I had the privilege of knowing a guy who was so different from most guys and so different from anything that some girls never get to experience.

The second part, about the sex and experiences. I was mainly commenting about the people who have sex way too earlier, and especially those who are sexually active...and ESPECIALLY highly sexually active in high school. I'm sorry if I did not communicate that point across effectively enough. I think once you reach a certain age, you have had all of these years to have experienced some of the things I have experienced. And once you have experienced them, they are no longer left to be experienced. You don't have that many more experiences to have, not of new things, if you are fortunate enough to get to experience them when you are young.

Also, age has a lot to do with it in that once you reach a certain age, certain things get much harder to do, and also other things keep you busy and get in the way. I'll give you some examples. I ran a marathon when I was still a teenager. I have known people who have never run much in their entire life, and then got turned onto it when they were older. A guy I knew ran his first marathon when he was 40 years old, and I applaud him for that. However, not long after that, he suffered a heart attack. When you are young, your body is resilient and can do things that it is harder and sometimes even dangerous if trying them for the first time when you are older. His doctor told him it most likely had something to do with this sudden increase in exercise and the wear and tear training for and running a marathon puts on your body, in addition to his age. Also, I sang and acted all over the southeast when I was younger. And I also did some modeling for some photographers and their books as well. Models usually have a VERY short life span in terms of how many years they can do that. I also recorded a song, and the songwriter sent it to Australia and sent me the playlist, which had my name and the title of my song on it...meaning, my song was on the regular playlist for a radio station in Australia. That was just so very cool.

But if you get to experience all of those things when you are younger, then by the time you are older and get married, you have already experienced all of these wonderful things and are ready to settle down. You don't have that much more to experience, and you have these memories you can share with your mate. And if he DOESN'T want to have sex all the time, then you can still have some experiences, but you've already had so many that you don't feel like your life is lacking in anything. And if he does, then at least you have already experienced these things and don't have to miss out on them over your lifetime.

The thing about being used up. Well, the physical body can wear down. It can tear up, it can stop functioning as well as it once did.

I'll give you a prime example: I am a runner. I love running. However, because of the fact I have run so much in my lifetime, and the natural wear and tear on your knees, I simply can not do it anymore.

Also, there are a lot of things that are fun and exciting at first, mainly because they are novel or new. But after awhile...after doing them 100 times, then they can get boring. You may be the kind of person who can honestly say he can do or see or whatever something 100 times and never get bored with it, but I think most people can think of at least 1 example of more of this.

Here's an example: You go see a movie. It is AWESOME!!! You buy it. You watch it 5 more times. It's still good. After the 6th time, it starts to wear off on you. It's good the first 10 times, but then your friend comes over and wants to see this "awesome" move you've been raving about. You've already seen it 15 times, but what the hey...you put it in for the 16th time, so your friend can see it. It's just not the same as the first 10 times. You actually get kind of bored sitting through it again.

This can be applied to just about anything. Just about anything can get boring after you've seen/done it a zillion times. Plays, musicals (if you like that sort of thing), books, etc., etc., etc. I could go on. But he point is...things can get boring after awhile if it's just a repeat.

Reply to this Comment

@Anna,

You touched on a lot of topics here, so I'm not sure how many I will get to; but, you certainly said a few things that really touched on a chord in me.

>> I could've accepted that maybe he was giving up the idea of having pleasure for himself for my happiness;

I don't think you understood what I was saying - I was not saying that he was giving up pleasure; what I was saying that he found pleasure in your pleasure. This is still pleasure - this is NOT sacrifice. If he got PAIN out of giving you pleasure, or perhaps just indifference, then yes, this would have been a sacrifice. But, if he truly got pleasure from your pleasure, then at the end of the day, he received pleasure, so he was not sacrificing.

>> But if you get to experience all of those things when you are younger, then by the time you are older and get married, you have already experienced all of these wonderful things and are ready to settle down.

It sounds like you've had a really rich, well experienced life. But, do you think that is the norm? I would say that it is not. Most people I know went to school then they went to college then they went to work without much experience. As such, by the time they get married, they probably have had LESS experience than you; meaning, they have many things left to experience even after they get married. It would make sense, I think, that when a person is at the age where they can settle down, the person is also at the age where they are mentally prepared for more experiences that they did not get earlier.

>> Just about anything can get boring after you've seen/done it a zillion times.

This is true when that experience is static, just as a movie is or a book is. As such, it cannot change or evolve over time. However, I am sure that every now and then you can re-read a book or re-watch a movie and it feels new or you get something new out of it. Most likely this is because your context / frame of mind has changed so you are seeing the movie in a new light making it no longer a static experience.

Most things in life, however, are more experienced based and therefore are constantly being changed and evolved in experience. Even something like going to the gym which is still do every week is always new - always a new challenge, a new weight to lift, a new exercise to try, a new rep scheme, a new angle, a new speed. While it might seem that the gym is quite monotonous, it is actually as dynamic as you wish it to be.

That said, I don't think you can look at the world as having a fixed number of experiences that can be tallied up. Even if you only did 3 activities, they can contain an infinite number of variations that keep it new and exciting.

As a final note, I just wanted to make a soap-box statement that your happiness should never be subservient to anyone else's. No one's life should be lived in sacrifice to another. In this life, we only have one chance to go around; even if you believe in re-incarnation, we still only have one consciousness to carry with us; you have to make the most of it. When you get married, you partner should do what they can to raise you up to a higher happiness rather than make you subservient to his / hers.

Reply to this Comment

@Ben:

about the experiences, yes, I have been so very lucky. I still think that has a lot to do with the fact that I did not have sex during that time and was able to accomplish more because of it. A lot of people are having sex at the ripe old age of 16, and they are doing it often at that age. Doing all of that, and especially if it is paired with a serious relationship, which takes time as well just in itself, that can really limit your other experiences of the world.

Also, there are some things you can not do when you get older, such as modeling. Those things have a younger lifespan and run-out time. Anything related to looks, and some things related to physical fitness would be better done when younger than older. So you couldn't really go to high school, college, get a job, get married, and THEN do the things that require youth and/or the beauty that comes with it. There are some things I accomplished when younger that I could not do these days if I tried!

One other example is the marathon. I ran that when still a teenager, and you COULD do it when older, but if you are out of shape your whole life, and then all of a sudden decide to run a marathon at 40, that carries health risks. I know someone who basically did that...trained hard for it and everything, ran his first marathon at 40, then had a heart attack. I have known other guys who have been out of shape most of their lives, got geared up and started working out pretty hard in the older ages, 40's and such, and ended up having a heart attack and/or some other problems.

about the static experiences thing. First, working out in the gym is so different from sex. Quite frankly, there millions of things to do in the gym with weights alone, much more when you separate cardio from strength training and the other types of training you can do. With sex, yeah, there are different positions, but there still ain't too much variety...sex is just sex, and there are really only so many ways to do it.

I hate to get graphic, but then you have girls like me, who are very limited in what they like/are willing to do when it comes to sex. For instance, I hate being on top. So that limits it even more, and in addition all the variations of being on top. I hate a woman perfoming on a man (going down). nasty! So that takes that too out of the equation. I like it a lot when the man goes down, but ONLY if he is good. Which is a rare occurance. So if you are not one of the few who is good, that takes THAT out of the equation too. Also, I am not up for 3-somes or anything kinky like that. AND...certain things are meant for EXIT ONLY if you get my drift...further limiting the variation of th experience.So, then, there are even less variations than if you were open to everything.

Sorry to get too graphic here. :-\ just trying to show the lack of variation, esp. if you were not too fond of certain things.

Reply to this Comment

@Anna,

You've mentioned the running / heart attack thing a few times, so I just wanted to jump in and say that your conclusions about it do not reflect the majority of situations. Yes, every winter, out of shape people try to shovel snow and die of heart attacks. I am sure people try to run marathons and then die. But, this is not the norm. There are also people in great shape that suddenly die of heart attacks.

Study after study shows that not only is it NEVER too late to start being physically fit, but that in fact, elder people get tremendous benefits from getting fit.

It used to be that this was not advised - they thought people would hurt them selves, bulge discs, have heart attacks. But that was decades ago. Now, every doctor will tell you that older people *should* be getting in shape, should be working out, should be more active.

Also, the concept of knees not being able to last a life time is also a myth. The human body is the most amazing machine you can image - it was designed to last. Knee pain is generally caused by some other underlying problem - posture, tightness, joint alignment, foot problems, etc. I've had knee pain for years and understand that it has nothing to do with my actual knee joint. And in fact, I've recently taken steps to clear that pain (Active Release Technique) and much of knee pain *has* gone away.

Not to say that no joint paint isn't actually related to joints. If you do damage - tear miniscus, tendons, arthritis, etc. - then you actually have pain from the joint.

And, Im not saying that your knee pain isn't really your knees - I don't know your situation.

But, I just wanted to get the message clear that the body doesn't have an expiration date on it. Yes, we get older and our hormones change and our body works differently. But, there's nothing about it that prevents us from doing things.

I know the point of your post wasn't health related, but you had just mentioned it a few times, so I wanted to jump in.

Reply to this Comment

@Ben:

That's ok. Yeah, I know it's good for elderly people to get fit, and it's never too late to *start* an exercise program. My point was you can't go your whole life sitting on the couch being a couch potato and then one day decide to get up and run a marathon. If you're older, it's likely going to take more time to get into that level of shape, and if you go to the extremes, it is more likely to develop serious problems than if you had started when you were younger and got some of that stuff done when you were younger.

And don't forget ultra-marathons: 50 mile races and 100 mile races. or iron man competitions. These are some things I would've considered when I was younger, but would probably not do now. One of the reasons is because I have gotten so old that it would take a long time to get myself into that kind of shape. When you're younger, you have nothing but time. The older you get, the longer you have to spend trying to GET into that type of shape to do something like that.

When I was still a teen, sure, I ran regularly, but because of sickness and injury, I did not get to *train* for my marathon like a lot of people do. I just went out and ran it. No way I could do that today. lol These days, if I decided to run a marathon, I would have to go out and start running LONG runs regularly. As a teen, I kind of just winged it. I had run 10 mile runs before, on occasion, but I wasn't at the time I ran the marathon doing it on a regular basis. No way I'd try that now. lol. I probably really WOULD have a heart attack if I just got up right now, went outside, and ran 26.2 miles. lol. And getting in shape for the 50 mile race, the 100 mile race or the ironman? no way. Not now.

And your body can wear out. It's very often the case that athletes of certain sports develop chronic sport-related injuries. I use the word "injury" pretty broadly. I studied athletic training in college some, and one of our chapters was on the danger of certain athletes developing certain problems over time related to their sports.

Reply to this Comment

Can't read this without commenting that I just adore you, Ben. You are just an awesome human. :). (btw, came across this old blog when I googled your name + supplements + sex because another body building friend asked if your use of supplements had had any sexual side effects, and I was too shy to just ask. Yes, I do get shy. :-p)

Reply to this Comment

Post A Comment

You — Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Comments
Live in the Now
Oops!
Comment Etiquette: Please do not post spam. Please keep the comments on-topic. Please do not post unrelated questions or large chunks of code. And, above all, please be nice to each other - we're trying to have a good conversation here.