Category Archives: War on Boredom

Is Loneliness Really THAT Bad For You?

I’d like to preface this article with what I hope is an exciting announcement. As I write this, I’m preparing to move to a new place. By nearly every measure, it’s a good thing. My living situation is set to change for the better.

Without getting into the specifics, just know that I’ve been living with roommates in a shared house for quite some time now. That has been my standard living situation since college. For a while now, I’ve been looking to upgrade that situation by buying my own condo. I’ve been working hard, selling as many sexy novels as I can, to scrap together enough money.

Finally, I had the money and I found the perfect place. In less than a month, I’ll be living on my own in a beautiful one bedroom, one bathroom condo that I won’t have to share with anyone else. I won’t just be able to sleep naked anymore. My entire living situation will be clothing optional. Just thinking about it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

I’m genuinely excited about this and not just because it will provide more opportunities for nudity. However, it does give me some pause in terms of the larger implications. Every major change in life, be it a living situation or a new lover, is bound to have unforeseen impacts. Moving to a new place certainly qualifies.

The most jarring change in this instance is that, for the first time in my adult life, I’ll be living completely alone. I won’t have to contend with roommates. I won’t have to share any ounce of my living space. Everything from the thermostat to the brand of toilet paper to the visibility of my Playboy calendar will be completely under my control.

I don’t deny that living alone has its appeal, but I’m somewhat used to always being in a place where I could just go talk to someone if I wanted. Living in this new place will mean fewer opportunities of that nature. Then, I found this distressing article from the New York Times on the potential health hazards of living alone and suddenly, the price for clothing-optional living seems a bit higher.

The hazards are not necessarily trivial. This isn’t something that can be fixed by eating an extra bowl of fruit, running a few miles, or getting a coffee enema, which is a thing. According to the article, these are some of the issues that loneliness and isolation can breed.

Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early: Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking.

While it’s important to note that the keyword in that conclusion is that it can incur these effects. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will. As I’ve noted before, human beings are frustratingly complex creatures. Anyone who claims that there’s a simple solution to a big problem is usually pursuing a bullshit agenda that makes lousy documentaries.

However, there is some relevant data behind this phenomenon of loneliness being detrimental to someone’s mental health. According to a 2013 study by the American Journal for Public Health, socially isolated men and women died earlier at a rate that was consistent with smoking and high blood pressure. Those kinds of correlations are disconcerting, even if they’re not akin to direct causation.

Smoking, Cigarette, Smoke, Unhealthy, Cigar, Addiction

Under the lens of caveman logic, that makes sense. Human beings are a very social species. Social interaction is a core need, right up there with food, water, and a regular orgasm. It’s because of our social nature that solitary confinement is rightly seen as torture.

While I do have plenty of other social outlets, primarily my friends and a very supportive family, living alone will make it easier to keep to myself more often. Granted, that could change fairly quickly if I fall in love and get into a relationship. That’s something I am actively working on. However, I’m not going to assume that’ll happen soon after I move in.

I’m taking these concerns seriously, but I’m still looking forward to the benefits. As if often the case with something as complex as human psychology, there are also potential benefits to living alone. There is some research that indicates that certain people do better when they live alone. I’m not sure that I’m one of those people, but Psychology Today summed it up nicely with the kind caveman logic that makes me smile.

For some people, living alone is not just a casual preference – it feels more like a need. What happens when you are deprived of a genuine need? You can’t stop thinking about it. You daydream about it, makes plans for when you will get to have that need fulfilled again. When living alone is a need and you finally get to do it after being deprived, you feel relief and a sense that your living situation is once again just what it should be.

So with these variations in mind, I’ve got a lot to think about as I prepare to take this big step in my life. I’m still excited about it. I’m really looking forward to actually owning my own place, having a space I can truly call my own. It goes beyond having an excuse to spend more time naked. It’s about me carving a real space for myself.

I don’t know entirely how I’m going to handle it. I like to think I know myself well enough to believe that I’ll be among those who benefit from living alone. I could very well be wrong, but I’ll finally have a chance to find out.

To everyone else who may be facing this issue, take some comfort in the knowledge that the question as to whether being alone is bad for you has no clear-cut answer. It varies from person to person. Some people benefit. Some people don’t. Human beings are kinky like that. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, that’s something I can appreciate.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, War on Boredom

How Learned Helplessness Dooms Your Sex Life (Among Other Things)

When I was growing up, I considered myself lucky to be surrounded by so many loving people. I like to think my fondness of romance, as well as my desire to become an erotica/romance writer, is a direct result of seeing so much love among friends, family, and all those close to me.

It wasn’t all smiles, chocolate, and gratuitous tongue-kissing. Every now and then, I encountered certain couples that stood in stark contrast to the love I saw so much of throughout my life. They weren’t abusive or hateful. In a sense, they were their own tragedy, albeit not of the Shakespearean variety.

Picture a couple that’s about as passionate as a sick cat. There’s no fire in their romance. If there was, it burned out years ago and neither one of them cares enough to spark it again. They don’t necessarily hate each other. At best, they tolerate one another on a day-to-day basis, resigned to the fact that this is their life.

What I just described is not the kind of relationship that ends up on Jerry Springer or leads to protracted divorce hearings. They’re rarely that dramatic. If anything, they’re the antithesis to drama. That’s why those involved are so miserable. In a relationship like that, a clogged toilet counts as an adventure.

These kinds of relationships are not as easy to notice, but they do happen. You might even know a few, but I’d bet a stack of old Playboys that there are more than you think. Instead of love, passion, and heart, these relationships are fueled misery, laziness, and failure. At some point, those involved just stop trying to escape it.

In a world where people get worked up over dipping sauces and dress colors, it seems outrageous that anyone could be that callous and numb. It’s even more outrageous to think that a relationship could be built around it. However, there are powerful, unsexy forces at work and they’re not to be taken lightly.

This brings me to the concept of learned helplessness. If you’ve every taken a psychology course, you know what it is and you probably have an idea as to how it acts as kryptonite to love, romance, and passion. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a fairly easy concept. According to Wikipedia, the phenomenon is defined as follows:

[A] behavior typical of a human or an animal and occurs where the subject endures repeatedly painful or otherwise aversive stimuli which it is unable to escape or avoid. After such experience, the organism often fails to learn or accept “escape” or “avoidance” in new situations where such behavior would likely be effective. In other words, the organism learned that it is helpless in situations where there is a presence of aversive stimuli, has accepted that it has lost control, and thus gives up trying.

In terms of common behavioral traits, it’s somewhat bland. That doesn’t make it any less powerful, though. There is real, distressing science behind it, starting with experiments conducted in the 1960s. If you’re a dog lover, though, these experiments should be particularly disturbing.

If you’re also a fan of meaningful love, then you should be even more disturbed because it’s not hard to see how something like learned helplessness can creep into a relationship. For those trying to tell powerful, sexy stories, it’s important to know the signs.

The challenge, however, is that learned helplessness is one of those things that doesn’t happen all at once. Whether it’s those cruel experiments on dogs that I mentioned or continuous torture by the CIA, one painful experience is rarely enough. While love can manifest in a single moment, as is the case with “love at first sight,” learned helplessness takes a longer, more tedious road.

Sometimes it starts with boredom, a powerful feeling that I’ve discussed before. Sometimes it starts with frustration. Maybe a couple tries a few times to spice things up, but it doesn’t work. Maybe they try to shake up their routine, but that doesn’t work either. The key ingredient here is failure and frustrations, two experiences that tend to accumulate rapidly.

The couple involved may never get angry, resentful, or bitter to one another. Learned helplessness rarely inspires abuse or outright hatred. However, that’s part of what makes it so debilitating. When a relationship becomes abusive, one part of the relationship has a much stronger incentive to either escape or fight back. It’s hard to be lazy or apathetic when you feel like your well-being is at risk.

With learned helplessness, laziness and apathy are weaponized. That’s because without that incentive, neither side has the energy or desire to shake up the situation. Ending a relationship always requires some amount of upheaval, work, or effort. Someone under the influence of learned helplessness sees that as more trouble than it’s worth.

Beyond just rendering a relationship stale, the effects on your sex life can be just as debilitating. Once a couple gets to a point in their relationship where they’re just resigned to the fact that this is their normal, sex becomes less a treat and more a chore. Even if the orgasms still feel good, they’re barely distinguishable from masturbation.

That, by far, is the clearest sign that learned helplessness has consumed a relationship. As soon as sex becomes a chore, then it’s safe to say that two people have crossed the point of no return. They are beyond the point of rekindling whatever flame they once had. They just accept their misery and dispassion.

In defense of those poor souls, they don’t always have the luxury of ending that relationship and starting fresh. Sometimes, it’s because of their age. Sometimes, they’re in an environment where they don’t have anywhere else to go and few resources to work with. Then, there are times when the inconvenience just doesn’t justify the cost. It’s just easier to stay miserable than deal with the stress of rebuilding.

There’s little question that misery, depression, and boredom are bad for your love life, your sex drive, and everything in between. Learned helplessness is just the catalyst. Instead of blowing up in your face, love just whithers slowly like a piece of rotting fruit, getting emptier and deader with each passing day.

In some cases, it’s difficult to avoid. Some people just find themselves in relationships where they lose control and accept their misfortune. They’re content to just accept the misery and make the best of it, however fruitless it might be.

In others, you can take steps to avoid that kind of misery. Think back to those awful experiments involving dogs. After a while, the dog just stops trying to avoid the pain. The key to avoiding that kind of misery is to keep making an effort. Don’t stop trying. Do what you can to avoid mistakes. Moreover, do what you can to improve your situation, however possible.

That might mean pushing yourself when you don’t want to. It’s like exercising, which sometimes requires extra motivation. Within a relationship, it’s even more difficult because both you and your lover have to share in that motivation. You have to want to maintain that passion, even as you get older, have less energy, and feel less sexy.

In my experience, the most successful couples I know never truly stop dating each other. Even when they’ve been married for decades, they still carry themselves as a couple that’s still dating. They still go to interesting places, try new things, and explore new activities. Some aren’t always sexy, but they have the potential to be.

Every couple is different, but nobody benefits from learned helplessness. Whether you’re a dog, a dumb-ass, or a hopeless romantic, falling into that pit of apathy will never inspire your passion or increase your sex appeal. It’ll drain it, bit by bit.

Nobody deserves that. I certainly want to avoid that if and when I ever find a steady lover. I’m not a relationship expert or a therapist, nor should anybody assume I’m one, but I hope to help in whatever way I can. Whether it’s making people aware of learned helplessness or writing sexy novels, I intend to do my part.

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Filed under gender issues, Marriage and Relationships, War on Boredom

How Some People Get Bored With Sex (But Not In The Way You Think)

I’ve talked a lot about the crippling effects of boredom, as well as its potential to become a plague in a future. Make no mistake. It is a powerful force, one that has led to at least one ghastly murder in the modern era. That means it’s more than powerful enough to effect our sex life.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to explore for a while, but I haven’t found the right context yet. I don’t want to just talk about how boredom may one day render sex as dull an affair as getting your tires rotated. Considering few, outside of those with a serious car fetish, ever achieved orgasm through general automotive care, extracting the impact of boredom on sex requires a special approach.

Unlike that toy you got sick of as a kid or that brand of cereal that just doesn’t do it for you, sex is a major biological imperative. In the same way you can’t get bored with surviving a bear attack, you can’t necessarily get bored with sex in the same way. That’s not to say boredom doesn’t find a way. It just has to be sneaky about it.

That brings me to an article out of Germany from Deutsche Welle, which explored the reason why men lose their sex drive as they age. It may seem like one of those obvious issues that doesn’t need much thought. It makes sense that men will lose their sex drive as they age. Pretty much every other bodily function declines as we age so why not our sex drive?

This is where I give credit to the Germans for something other than beer and bratwurst. They try to break down the components of this seemingly-obvious idea that our interest in sex declines as our bodies decline and we get more prone to boredom, among many other things. What they describe is somewhat revealing.

But what if you are bored of sex, bored of all the humping, grinding and groaning, the bad breath and false teeth, and the pretending you’d rather do this in that way than watch the footie, or, I don’t know, clip your toe nails?

Don’t laugh: it can happen.

A study published in 2017 by BMJ Open reported that 15 percent of men and 34 percent of women among the participants had experienced “a lacking interest in sex.” This was based on a survey of 4839 men and 6669 women, aged between 16 and 74, in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.

Now, the numbers are not all as straight forward as that. There are various reasons why people lose or lack interest in sex, and not all of them are about age, but they are similar for men and women.

For instance, if you’ve experienced what the researchers call “non-volitional sex” or if you’ve had a sexually transmitted infection, you may lose interest. Being unemployed is downer too. Interestingly, though, retired women were “less likely to lack desire.” Also, and this is odd, having sex will actually lower your interest in it. Who said sex gets better with practice, hey? Instead it sounds like laying off and getting some kip will do you wonders.

The bold parts are my doing. I wanted to single those out because they highlight some variation among certain individuals and not just in terms of how much blood they can direct into their genitals. Life experiences, for better and for worse, can very much affect how we view the world, which includes sex, romance, and boredom. Certain experiences are more influential than others, to say the least.

This is where the article gets a little coy, mentioning both the late Hugh Hefner and societies with more uptight attitudes towards sex. On one end, you have Hugh Hefner, who lived well into his golden years having sex with beautiful women a third his age. On the other, you have people who have been taught about sex through scare tactics and conditioned to see it as some crippling addiction to be overcome.

Hugh Hefner Gründer Playboy Magazin Bunnies (picture alliance / Globe-ZUMA)

Needless to say, those wildly varied experiences are going to produce equally varied results, if not more so. Hefner, whether by natural endowment or just being surrounded by so many beautiful women, didn’t get bored with sex. Age didn’t slow him down as much as it required him to get creative. Given how great a motivator sex can be, that makes sense.

It makes just as much sense that someone who has had negative experiences with sex will also be likely to avoid it or get bored with it quicker. To them, sex isn’t just this fun activity you can do in a hot dub with a bunch of Playboy Playmates. It’s this big, stressful ordeal that everybody tells them should be stressful. As a result, we tend to get bored more readily, if only to avoid the stress.

This is the key in understanding how certain people get bored with sex and lose their desire. That’s not to say that if we all lived Hugh Hefner’s life, as though our imaginations aren’t lurid enough, we would never lose our sexual prowess. It’s more a matter of how we condition ourselves.

Some of it is physical. Hefner was in great shape for a man his age. Being surrounded by beautiful women and working so hard to become the epitome of the Playboy lifestyle has a way of keeping a man motivated to be healthy.

Some of it is mental, as well. Attitudes go a long way towards influencing how we see ourselves, how we act, and how others react to us. When our thoughts and attitudes about sex are shaped by the prudish proclivities of the FCC and the Vatican, they’re going to shape how we approach those ideas, even if they are hard-wired into us.

When we see something as stressful and daunting, it’s going to require more of our energy, even if we need it to survive and propagate. Eventually, we’ll get tired of that stress and output, more so than the act itself. In a sense, it’s not so much that people get tired of orgasms. They get tired of what they have to do to get them and how they have push themselves to do it.

There are cases, such as those with serious health problems, that can’t avoid that kind of stress. Those cases are tragic, but it’s the mental cases, which are more directly influenced by boredom, that are their own tragedy. The sheer variation of how people conduct themselves sexually as they age is proof of that. The article even touched on it.

Men don’t experience a menopause, as women do in the 40s or 50s, but the lower testosterone levels are cited as a reason why older men have fewer orgasms – from an average of three per week in a man’s 20s to less than one a week in his 60s.

But this is no “hard and fast” rule. Plenty of men and women continue to enjoy sex well into their 70s and sometimes into their 80s. And we haven’t even touched on masturbation. You may find that comforting.

Again, the bold parts are my doing. I apologize if they evoke mental images that you could’ve done without, but those images of wrinkly bodies and sweaty liver spots should help emphasize the point I’m trying to make here.

It is possible for people to sustain their interest in sex over a long period of time. It’s also possible for people to get bored with it, but that boredom often has a larger context with larger implications.

It’s sure to become more obvious as we live longer lives and are better able to overcome the physical limitations that keep us from having sex in our 90s, as the pharmaceutical industry has shown. It will likely become a larger issue for couples and individuals alike. Whatever happens in the battle against boredom, I intend to continue fighting it with this website and my sexy novels.

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Filed under gender issues, Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships, War on Boredom