Sexual Fantasies During Relations
I am not currently struggling with porn; rather, I am struggling with its after-effects and consequences. To explain: As a teenager, I occasionally would watch porn. What started out as something I was curious about, turned into a bad habit but it didn't last long. I specifically struggled with lesbian porn. I didn't feel any attraction to girls, I just wanted to watch lesbian porn, I can't explain why. Then I got married and put those days behind me without too much struggle. I have been married for a few years now and have constantly struggled with unwanted thoughts while I have sex with my husband. In order for me to enjoy sex, I have to imagine lesbian sex. I don't picture any specific faces or people, I just have to think about the act of sex with two girls or me with another female body. I feel horrible, disgusted, and extremely ashamed. I love my husband more than anything and want to be able to be with him and just think about him. I have tried not thinking about it but that just results in me not receiving pleasure from sex. To clarify, I am not thinking about any specific girls, I just feel that I can only get turned on by thinking about a female body. Is there anything you can do to help me? What are the halachic guidelines when it comes to thoughts during sex? Is there any way for me to rewire my brain and stop this?
I feel helpless. Thank you so much.
Rabbi Simcha Feuerman responds:
Here is what I believe is the best approach. Assuming the information is as was stated, that the relationship is good and therefore this does not represent any other difficulties in marriage and also there aren’t other signs of addiction or trauma, we should treat this as a localized obsessional thought and/or learned behavior arousal pattern.
The more one obsesses and feels shame, the more tension — which is not conducive toward relearning other forms of arousal and pleasure. Generally, that requires mindfulness and lack of tension, shame, and anxiety. Since this is regarding a woman, even as a woman is also forbidden to have sexual thoughts about forbidden sexual acts according to halacha, there are a number of kulos that are relevant here:
1. It is not about a real person but rather a female physical form.
2. While Lesbianism is under a general negative commandment of masse eretz mitzrayim, one might argue that a woman thinking about the feminine form is not even maase eretz mitzrayim.
3. Since even sexual fantasies for a man during permitted marital relations is ordinarily forbidden but under extreme duress may be permitted (see case in YD:157:2 that allows it if he will sin otherwise), and distress about sexuality and sexual thoughts and interference in Sholom Bayis for a woman can lead to many dangers, ALONG with the above-mentioned factors (1 & 2), I suggest the following:
For the next 3 months, do not try to fight the thoughts. Allow them to come up if they enhance your pleasure with your husband. Most of all, no tension, guilt, or shame, just being mindful of the experience. Over time, the obsession should go away and become less and less. If it continues with the same strength after 3 months, be in touch, please.