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Angels and Alligators: Men’s Obsession with Youth

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Okay, there’s nothing wrong with admiring young bodies, men or women. We’re all in awe of god’s creations from time to time. Going from admiration to pursuit is another matter altogether.

In Praise of Youth

Young athletic bodies are amazing. I don’t aspire to be with them, but I do acknowledge their energy and verve. Can we separate sex from admiration? Can I be supportive and friendly to a young person without wanting to jump their taut bones?

The answer has got to be YES. The specifics are a bit harder to confirm.

Again, there is nothing wrong with admiring a beautiful young body running along the trail. There is no reason to sexualize everything, but, we tend to think in those terms. Let me unpack my perspective just a bit.

Once asked about a poem he had recently written about a young woman on the beach, Mr. D. H. Lawrence replied, “Just another of God’s amazing creations.” He was not eroticizing her youthful beauty, he was admiring and singing praises to God’s handiwork. I feel much the same, but there’s a crucial difference that leads our modern society to go dark with anything resembling affection. It’s got to be about sex.

Human Relations vs. Porn

It’s true, what my girlfriend said recently, “It’s like you have a constant pull of amazing young women who are down for anything and everything. How can I compete with that?”

“Well, my dear, the good news is that I want a relationship with you, a human.”

I can look and lust all I want over there in the metaverse, but here in the real world, I am looking to build a relationship with one significant other. Porn is interesting, but more of a distraction. I don’t aspire to be in bed with those two young lesbians. I’m actually terrified of that idea. And I don’t really want to try all the things I see online. It’s sort of like browsing the news sites. There are stories about everything, what draws your attention and your eye, that’s what you read.

I agree, porn is a bit different than headline news, but there’s a similar detachment, in my opinion. One of the byproducts, however, of the pornification of our lives, we don’t just have to imagine what that 19-year-old girl would look like naked, we can go find her doppelganger on one of the thousands of porn sites. We’ve become accustomed to seeing very young, very attractive (both men and women) naked bodies. And there’s nothing off-limits.

Back Here In the Real World

I was amused when a previous partner wanted me to read Glennon Doyle’s book about leaving her husband and kids for her soul mate, which she discovered during the Women’s World Cup, Abby Wambach. Yes, she’s amazing. Yes, she’s beautiful. And, yes, Ms. Doyle up and left her marriage and kids for her new beloved. Turns out the woman I was with had previously been in a year-long relationship with a woman from Vermont. I’m not sure if she was giving me more data than I wanted, or if she was telling me to follow my bliss (or her bliss).

I see the young women on the hike-and-bike trail and I give a sigh of appreciation. It’s not regret or lust. It’s just, “Wow, that’s a beautiful person.” And the clearer I can become, with my own thinking, the more I can distance myself from the sexual aspect of the attraction. I also linger when walking by a Ferrari. I don’t want a Ferrari. I do appreciate how well they are put together, like a work of art.

Once a man is well-attached, the wandering eye becomes more of a smoldering gaze. I don’t want a relationship with the 20-something in my cardio tennis workout, but I can appreciate her. It’s as simple as that. My sexual desire is present but well-attended by myself and my loving partner. My love and appreciation for this college student stroking yellow balls across the net from me is really more about the Ferrari than the porn. I don’t want to sleep with her. I don’t even want to see her naked. I just appreciate her total package. And if she had a strong backhand as well, I can appreciate the attention and tennis lessons her parents must’ve given her as well.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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