[Two Pronged] 'Momol' to prepare for potential heartbreak?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer:
I'm a 25-year-old woman, no boyfriend since birth (NBSB), virgin, but I am so open-minded about sex and I am horny.
I masturbate almost every day and night, 4-5 times a week. I've done racy things with a few men; but only until 3rd base. No penetration, vaginal or anal. Also foreplay: blowjob, fingering, clit stimulation, "momol" ("make out make out lang"). I don't have sex with them because I am reserving this for marriage or for my first serious boyfriend. Also, so my friends and other people still consider me high value.
The reason I do "momol" with different men is because I want to enjoy the pleasure while I am young and without a boyfriend yet.
I also want to practice control and prevent myself from being overly emotional and clingy to men. I do "momol" with lots of different men without commitment so that when I experience heartbreak I will not get too hurt or too affected. At least, I would have had practice with my boy toys.
Please tell me what you think of my solution.
Dear Momol Girl,
Thank you for your message.
You ask what we think of your solution so let's consider first what you tell us about the premises on which you base your current behavior.
You are reserving penetration for marriage or for your first serious boyfriend;
Non-penetration will enable your friends and other people to continue to consider you high value;
"Momol" helps you to avoid being overly emotional and clingy;
"Momol" will also help you avoid being too hurt when you suffer heartbreak in the future.
From everything you tell us, it seems reasonable to posit that your "momol" action plan is motivated not by morality but by pragmatism, a pragmatism shaped by two important beliefs: that your virginity has a certain value and that you must prepare yourself for future heartbreak by practicing emotional disengagement.
Virginity can be a fraught subject. In some cultures it is prized, in others it merits a footnote at most. Some people protect it for reasons of religion or tradition, others are only too anxious to rid themselves of it as early as possible.
You appear to view it as some sort of social asset. Protecting it means protecting your value in the circles in which you move – and by extension, perhaps, avoiding ostracism. It is a pity that you don't elaborate, but merely leave us to deduce, rightly or wrongly, how this actually works. Quite why it is "wrong" to allow penetration but "right" to masturbate and get as far as "3rd base" may be obvious to you but not so obvious to others. Perhaps it's just simply adhering to the customs of your barkada and nothing more complicated than that. In the final analysis, if it works for you that's all that matters.
Despite all this, I wonder if your current solution may fail to prepare you adequately for a real boyfriend. Indeed, it may desensitize you to the point where you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to change your behavior. While it is fine to have boy toys lined up for regular sexual calisthenics, you are after all taking every precaution to avoid the emotional attachment that is the principal ingredient of a "real" relationship. Having said that, you seem very clear sighted about the difference between your current liaisons and the type of relationship you will in due course expect to have with your first true boyfriend. You also anticipate a degree of heartbreak so you are not unduly starry eyed or overly optimistic that Mr Right is waiting for you just round the corner.
Best of luck,
Dear MG (Momol Girl):
Thank you very much for your letter. I agree with Mr Baer's observations that: "You are taking every precaution to avoid the emotional attachment that is the principal ingredient of a 'real' relationship (in that) you seem very clear sighted about the difference between your current liaisons and the type of relationship you will in due course expect to have with your first true boyfriend. You also anticipate a degree of heartbreak."
I just wonder if all these precautions will merely reduce your chances of having a relationship worth having a heartbreak about.
The latest research on our memories (stored mainly in the hippocampus) makes very clear that very seldom do we do things that are not remembered – if not in ways we can articulate and verbalize, then in ways that we act and react.
You also wrote: "I also want to practice control and prevent myself from being overly emotional and clingy to men. I do 'momol' with lots of different men without commitment so that when I experience heartbreak I will not get too hurt or too affected. At least, I would have had practice with my boy toys."
However, it sounds like so far you have divided males into two categories: men you may be able to relate to but you have no interest in sexually and boy toys to whom you do not relate but have sexual encounters, i.e. a female version of the traditional man's Madonna-prostitute dichotomy.
Mr Baer also suggests that: "Your current solution may fail to prepare you adequately for a real boyfriend. Indeed, it may desensitize you to the point where you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to change your behavior."
The latest neuroscientific research suggests that this is not possible. If all sexual encounters have been reduced merely to a means to two ends – sexual release and practice for Mr Right – this is what your body will register and what your mind will remember; and it may be difficult to shift emotionally and physically when you meet "Mr Right."
I know it sounds sort of hokey, especially since you are obviously quite a bright woman who has worked out a plan that will give you great sex now and then true love (hopefully, with great sex a part of it too) later.
But life doesn't always work out as planned. Using men as boy toys, even if they want what you want as much as you do and have no problems being "used" this way, may (only may and not definitely will, mind you) make it more difficult to treat someone else in a different way.
Practice sometimes doesn't always make perfect.
People like to say: "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger."
It doesn't always, you know.
Terrible things you survive don't always make you stronger (like it's a good thing), I mean. These we call trauma.
Something terrible may not kill you, but it can make you more bitter, more suspicious, less trusting, more unwilling to take a chance, etc etc.
True, something terrible does not necessarily kill you, but it may make you a person unable to give people the benefit of the doubt and less ready to take a chance on true love.
In addition, the latest research on neuroscience underscores that it doesn't have to be something truly terrible that makes you bitter and less capable of treating others kindly; it just has to be something you do often enough. If you constantly behave in a way that "momol lang, kasi hindi ko siya mahal kaya pang practice lang siya" (I'm just using this guy for practice) it will be difficult to change 100% when you start making out with potential Mr Rights.
Neuropsychologists like to repeat the following constantly. It is their mantra: "Neurons that fire together, wire together." Literally.
Thus, if you constantly behave as if sex is for nothing more than pleasure (even if you tell yourself that this is only until you find the right guy) this is the way all of you – brain, body, genitals – might behave. And respond. And initiate.
I firmly believe in mind over matter, and have actually seen women (admittedly, very few women, literally less than 1% ) who enjoy sex tremendously and lots-of-time-ly with as many men as they want and not end up bitter, desperate, anxious, and/or just plain sad.
It is possible you are one of these exceptional women.
However, before you decide you are, could you please read just two books for me? Beselle Van Der Kolk's 2014 book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and Dr Ecker, Ticic, and Hulley's 2012 book Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at their Roots Using Emotional Reconsolidation.
Linda Peters writes in the book she co-authored, Our Socially Awkward Marriage: Stories from An Adult Relationship on the Asperger's End of the Autism Spectrum that, "To be happy, one must learn to trust one's instincts over external messages."
All we have written here are external messages, so take them as you will and the very best of luck to you.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.