We all hunger for sex in some form or another. That’s natural and all fine and dandy. But how’s your appetite doing?

Let me name drop for you. Two years ago, Dr. Drew Pinsky told me something I continue to think back on:

Arousal, he said, is seeing a hamburger and liking it for how it looks. Appetite is wanting to eat it.

When appetite goes unchecked, romantic and sexual relationships suffer.For him, the problem in the appetite/arousal divide was the gender difference. Men have to eat that juicy burger whereas women can admire it from afar (they’re probably thinking of all those calories, right?). Looking back on this idea, I reach a different conclusion.

When appetite goes unchecked, romantic and sexual relationships suffer. You know, you probably shouldn’t sit down and eat that entire dozen of Krispy Kremes in one go. It’s going to taste good–that’s for sure–but you’re just going to feel physically ill and bad about yourself afterward. Also, your probably fed your hunger two or three glazed ones in. (Yes, I just switched metaphors.)

That’s not to say you shouldn’t whet your appetite, but sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Bone however many people you want. Run wild with your sexy self, but make sure it’s because you’re jonesing for a slab of meat and not because that slab has beautiful marbling (sorry, vegetarians). That’s your arousal calling. And it wants to take last night back.

Letting arousal take the better of you leads to poor judgment and leaves out forethought. Do you really want to sleep with this person or does their undeniable hotness fog up your mind and other recourses for your attraction? A strong arousal and appetite are nothing to be ashamed about as long as you know which feeling leads your figurative boner.

And then there’s that other person. Mismatched feelings don’t bode well here. If you both find the other appetizing, why then, lap up that love sauce! But one aroused and one appetized partner? You’re not going to get too far into your feast.

Sometimes, you just need some ol’ fashioned self-reflection. Friends work great for this part, especially the kind who like to know everything about your love life and lovers. So you’re aroused by this person. Should you allow yourself to become consumed? It comes down to an exercise in willpower, and with that there are no easy steps. Some people are better than others in holding themselves back and keeping their emotions and hormones in check. Others even enjoy withholding what they desire from themselves…at least for a little bit. It’s a self-imposed kink.

But the point in separating appetite arousal isn’t to shame the self-identified sluts out there. By all means, be slutty! Drawing a line between appetite and arousal, however, allows for a moment of clarity and realization. Indeed, it’s exhilarating to dive straight into sex with someone new…especially when your eyes are open and your mind clear.

Your mind is a powerful and under-appreciated erogenous zone. Don’t forget to use it in your romantic endeavors. Tap into the lessons of kindergarten: think before you put that thing in your mouth. Oh, and bon appetit!

Image by roboppy.

The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at christine@sfappeal.com.

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