The Seven Deadly Sex Sins: Envy
Is the Ass Greener on the Other Side? by Jon Pressick of Sex In Words
We live in a world of want. There are so many things around us, so many shiny baubles that tempt and drive us to distraction. Depending who you are and what privilege you have, these fun things we desire have overtaken the needs we used to work and strive for. For many, the lap of luxury, in terms of eating, housing, clothing and education is a pretty comfortable place.
But it is while nestled in this spot of comfort that discontent can grow. This might seem odd because if our needs are being met, why do we crave more? Those pretty things, those wants. Born out of desire, as opposed to necessity, wants are the perks of life that make it more enjoyable and fun. Wants take that comfort of fulfilled need and bedazzle them with bling.
This is not to say that wants are something bad and that they shouldn’t be pursued—though we might want to temper our definition of wants with an understanding of conspicuous consumption. Too many folks want items that are beyond their financial means, which can lead to problematic situations in terms of paying bills and other responsibilities. However, if you’re in a position to buy the latest and greatest, then go for it.
For those who aren’t in that position, it is only natural that feelings of envy creep in. It is very easy to look over the fence and desire what your neighbour has, whether that be their car, their phone, their home…or even their sex life.
In this month’s instalment of the Seven Deadly Sex Sins, we explore envy, a complex emotion most simply summed up with ‘wantin’ what other people got.’ Envy can rear its green little head in many different ways when it comes to sex and relationships, and rarely is that head poking up in a friendly way.
The most common type of sexual envy fits right in with the sentiment ‘I want what you’ve got.’. We’re all human, and it can be argued that this desire could be innate in our beings. So, it is only natural for all of us to look around and see people who have relationships with qualities you want in your own coupling. Dave and Sandy snuggle and hold hands a lot. Flo and Jimmy told you how much they love anal. Aaron and Luke completely agree that socks in bed are a no-no. Amy and Laurie have marathon sex every single weekend. Every relationship has aspects you desire and some you don’t care about. It is easy to ignore the parts that you aren’t keen on, but what about the ones that sound great? And what happens when you cannot incorporate those qualities into your own relationship?
Hopefully, as a mature person, you do one of two things: shrug your shoulders, give up and move on; or you put more effort in, do more research and continue to affect the change you want. Of course, your partner has to be on board—you can crave something all you want but consent is critical. Following this path can still make what you desire possible.
The other path is potentially more destructive, for both you and your relationships. If you spend your time stewing on what you want but can’t have, developing a deep envy, there are many scenarios that could hurt you, your partner and even the friends you hope to emulate. For you, harbouring envious thoughts can lead to the development of tremendous resentment. Along with that resentment can be feelings of entitlement and anger. The longer your thoughts of envy go on, the more intense these feelings can become. Eventually those feelings could boil over into outright, direct anger to your partner who won’t participate and even towards the friends of whom you are so envious. There is bound to be damage done.
Another way envy can manifest in a relationship, whether it be long-term or something casual, is during discussions of our pasts. Conversations about our respective past sexual experiences can be a great way of getting to know each other. You learn what has and hasn’t worked for your partner, what they’ve tried and liked and didn’t like. You learn about the people they’ve been with and what was appealing or a complete turn off. When these recollections are shared openly and honestly, without malice or an attempt to make you jealous, they can be a treasure trove of information that will greatly aid the sex you’re having that day as well as the sex you might have in the future.
However, this conversation can go sideways in a hurry. There are far too many rom-com scenes that depict an envious partner feeling somehow slighted because you had experiences in your past that did not involve them. Usually that insult is a form of envy—directed at you or your former lover. Your current feels they should be the one to have experienced that sexy situation with you.Some people get really hung up on this! And some folks have a really hard time coping with the idea that they weren’t that person. They grow envious of the partner from your past. Even discussing your ‘number’ can make somebody else cringe.
There might sound like outlandish problems, but they are real emotions that, hopefully, can be worked through. Of course, there’s no way you could predict that somebody else will come along that you really want to experience sex in car with. Or a threesome. Or dressing up like clowns and throwing pies at each other. But that doesn’t stop jealousy and envy from creeping in and potentially derailing something hot and good.
Envy is an emotion that can pervade so much of our lives. For sure, we’re always going to want things that we don’t have, sexual or otherwise. However, when want becomes whine, it is time to stop taking your cues from what you see in the world around you.
Does thinking about your partner’s past bother you?
– Jon Pressick
About the writer: Jon Pressick is a sex-related media mogul. He is also a writer, the editor of the Best Sex Writing series from Cleis Press, co-host and producer of Sex City Radio, event organizer, workshop facilitator, (very occasional) burlesque performer and general sexual gadabout. Jon Pressick also won the prestigious 2010 TNT Favourite Adult Journalist Award and has been named as one of Broken Pencil’s “50 People and Places We Love.”