Sex and the city: I got addicted to porn, had lot of paid sex, but a health scare has made me anxious

I had a very conservative religious and moralistic upbringing with a mother who asked me to stay away from girls. When I shifted abroad for education and work I suddenly felt a sense of freedom and got addicted to porn, had a lot of paid sex and then dated for a while without anyone’s knowledge. A few months ago I had a health scare and was told that I may be infected with the herpesvirus through sexual contact. Since then I have been obsessed with health check ups and have spent so much money with doctors. I am anxious and depressed and also visited a psychiatrist. I feel compelled to rebel against my upbringing and a life of reason and rationale feels as if I am conforming to my mother and I rebel within again. How should I stabilise and make sane choices in my self interest?

You may have chosen to rebel against your upbringing but it’s a harder call to be able to rebel against the certainties of disease and the severe medical complications that follow. This requires your immediate attention if it is confirmed that you do – in fact – have Herpes. Paid sex risks exposure to STDs and STIs and herpes is one among the many commonly contracted diseases that can cause a fair share of complications in your life. You will need to regularly follow up with a licensed medical practitioner about the appropriate line of treatment and be extremely regular and sincere with that process.

It is natural and commonly observed that most people do in fact rebel against their upbringing and the many moral of cultural values that have been instilled in them as a way to find their own voice and code to live by in our busy and competitive world. You are no different. To act with clarity, you will first have to avoid blaming yourself since that will make you feel emotional about the situation. You will need to see the situation practically for newer insights to come to the surface. Understand what you were dealing with first.

Your first tryst with freedom led to a culture shock of sorts where you realised that the way you were ‘told to be’ was directly contrasted with ‘the opportunities you were presented with’ where you could be whoever you wanted to be. Your engaging in porn and paid sex were an offshoot of that desire for autonomy where you may have not taken all factors into consideration since you were pretty new at – being your own person for the first time in your life.

In many cultures, pornography is a perfectly acceptable form of adult entertainment. However, it’s addictive potential (especially when it is preferred over sex with a real-partner) cannot go undiscussed. For the record, there is nothing wrong with dating and it’s in fact an excellent way to learn more about yourself and your social, sexual, emotional and psychological compatibility with a person who could potentially turn into a long-term romantic partner.

Your anxiety and depression is due to the severe contrast between the ‘life you were groomed to live’ and the ‘life you have chosen to live’. Understand that the lessons that your mother imparted to you were based on her subjective socio-cultural renderings of the world. You need not conform to your mother if there are aspects of her ‘upbringing’ that you (as an adult) firmly disagree with. Your survival is no longer dependent on your mother. It would remiss to completely reject everything that she has taught you but if there is something that you deeply disagree with, you are well within your right to contest it internally.

The only rationale that matters is the one that keeps you on your feet and healthy, happy and on a growth path of your own choosing. There is no predetermined way to live the ‘perfect life’ but there are fool proof strategies to bring out your best self so that you don’t feel cheated out of your own destiny (which you entirely control). As adults it is important for us to analyse our own risk-appetite and our own comfort with the outcomes that follow the many decisions that we make. No decisions are universally deemed as perfect by every person around you and yet many decisions may feel ‘right for us’.

One way or the other, you need to choose.

Some of your mother’s well-meaning guidelines may be seen as archaic or irrelevant in the kind of western culture you have now been exposed to. It’s better to not classify one culture as better than the other but as they say – one could adapt to one’s changing circumstances. It is time to ask yourself – Who you really are. Being your own person means making your choices and living with whatever comes with those choices. A choice must be made irrespective of ‘whom it pleases’ and ‘who it doesn’t’ if you wish to feel in control. The ball is in your court. You are a grown man with a growing range of needs. Now it’s time to embrace your growth path irrespective of your ‘initial programming’. Know that – Porn is addictive, dating is normal and paid sex most certainly causes diseases like Herpes, Gonorrhoea, Crabs, AIDS and several others. Do your research and ask yourself what you are prepared to do in order to stay healthy and wise.