Photo: Brooke Gilbert

Sex & self-worth

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By Kiki Cekota

It’s pretty common to equate self-worth with who finds you attractive and how many people find you attractive, in addition to how many people you’re actually hooking up with.

I’ve sought self-validation through attention from men for a long time. In middle school and high school, I was never the one to get attention from boys, and it hurt. When I go to the gym, I try to tell myself I’m doing it for me, but on a deeper level I know it’s because I want to be more attractive to guys. I’ll hook up with randoms simply because I feel grateful that they would want to hook up with me, and I tell myself the opportunity won’t present itself again for a long time.

So I keep doing it.

My desire for emotional and physical affection, I’m pretty convinced, ties to the fact that I grew up without my father being around.

In psychology, the notion of “daddy issues” is called the Electra complex – Carl Jung’s theory that a girl is in sexual competition with her mother for sexual possession of her father. This is a pretty extreme idea, obviously, but it makes sense in the context of competition for attention.

A girl’s relationship with her father is very different from the one with her mother, and is a bond I never got the chance to experience.

Growing up it was always my mom, brother and I. But my brother couldn’t exactly replace the missing figure of my father in my childhood. I saw my dad once a year and we talked on the phone occasionally, but that was not enough to sustain any significant bond between us.

The lack of a father figure growing up didn’t really affect me until I got older. I started to notice the good relationships some of my friends had with their dads and I would feel sad and jealous. I feel like I kind of got ripped off.

So now I turn to attention from men. I sleep with people just because I like the affection it brings; I long to have somebody interested in me and be proud of me, and think I’m attractive and successful. I have so many support systems already in place in my mum and friends – but for some reason I covet this type of support from a male.

When I hook up with guys, it’s not about bragging about the fact that I had sex with someone – it’s about the fact that someone wanted to have sex with me.

Recently, I went on a coffee date and the guy told me, somewhat shyly, “I don’t know if I already told you this, but you’re really pretty. But I bet you get that a lot.”

My mouth actually dropped open for a couple of seconds before I could manage a response, which was just to say thank you and change the subject quickly. I couldn’t believe that this guy actually thought I got complimented all the time; up until he had said anything on the date, I had been wondering if he even found me attractive at all.

I don’t know at what point I’ll stop being shocked when someone is actually interested in me in any romantic or sexual way. I would love to be the empowered woman that I aspire to be; who does things for herself and can function well with or without attention from men. But at this point, I’m still actively looking for affirmation of beauty through the male eye.

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