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Author Archive: "Alain de Botton"

The Obstacles to Sex

It is rare to get through this life without feeling — generally with a degree of secret agony, perhaps at the end of a relationship or as we lie in bed frustrated next to our partner, unable to go to sleep — that we are somehow a bit odd about sex. It is an area in which most of us have a painful impression, in our heart of hearts, that we are quite unusual. Despite being one of the most private of activities, sex is nonetheless surrounded by ideas about how normal people are meant to feel about and deal with the matter.

In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful, sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant — but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality. So it's time to accept the strangeness of sex with good ...

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