We asked psychologists why we’re obsessed with watching people have sex on TV
Turns out we’re not actually that dirty minded
Remember back in the day when people used to have sex on Love Island? That scene in series two where they were all going at it under the sheets? Iconic. In the later series they’ve lost all the shagging and just focus on soppy relationship proposals with stuffed animals and people forming a large human heart. Cute, but give the people what they want – sex on TV.
What Love Island lacks, Too Hot To Handle has gone back to the old ways of reality TV and people are loving it. Francesca and Harry under the sheets? We haven’t seen TV like that in ages. And we’re all losing our minds over it.
But why are we so obsessed with watching influencers in the making have average sex on TV? Is it because it’s essentially free porn or is it about reminding us of what we may be missing out on? And most importantly is it super weird for us all to be loving it so much?
We spoke to two psychologists about why we’re all invested in watching strangers have sex on the internet and it turns out there’s a lot going on with our fascination for other watching other peoples sex lives.
We’re obsessed with watching it because of our basic human curiosity into other people’s lives
According to psychologist and relationship expert Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari the reality show element is what makes seeing other people’s sex lives so interesting. She said shows like Too Hot To Handle and Love Island are a socially accepted form of “voyeurism” and tap into our basic human feeling of curiosity.
She said: “Reality shows are fun and convenient entertainment. Because the ‘characters’ are real, viewers can really identify with them – comparatively, judging their behaviour and so on. These types of reality shows tap into basic human curiosity and voyeurism in a socially accepted way.”
Dr Kalanit also said the way a reality show is constructed with people who are relatable, allows us to feel connected with them and watching all their intense high and low moments is something we wouldn’t be able to access anywhere else.
She said: “We watch the most intimate moments, both happy and sad, in a way that it is basically impossible to sit and watch anywhere else. On Too Hot To Handle, we see people falling in love, breaking up, we see their moments of pain and suffering and others of joy.
“We end up feeling connected to these ‘characters’ as we follow them on their journeys and become hooked to see what will happen next.”
Reality TV offers us a more realistic view of sex
Psychosexual and relationship therapist and psycho-sexologist Kate Moyle said our interest is a lot to do with our fascination of what actually happens behind closed doors. She said sex is still a taboo topic in a lot of contexts, so reality shows are a way to interact with conversations about sex.
She said: “The reality is we are all interested in what happens behind the closed doors of everyone else’s bedrooms. Sex is not just something that is private for most people, but we still don’t have normalising or mainstream conversations about our sex lives, and in so many ways sex is still a taboo subject, which makes these shows more enticing.”
Kate also commented reality shows offer a more realistic view of sex rather than the fabricated and unattainable one we’re offered in porn or films.
She said: “What these shows offer is a view into the sex lives of others who are real on reality tv, rather than curated representations of sex that are more commonly seen in movies, series’ and pornography.”
Watching sex on reality TV is a very different to how we experience porn
Speaking of porn, whilst you may watch reality TV sex to get you in the mood, a lot of the time our interest in other people having sex isn’t anything anything to do with erotic feelings and more to do with our curiosity into other people’s relationships according to Dr. Kalanit.
She said: “People watch porn with the aim to be erotically stimulated and probably to reach climax. But not everyone likes porn due to the lack of emotion or the kind of intimate closeness you get with another person. Watching reality shows where sex is frequently hinted at is tapping into a curiosity about other people’s intimate relationships, in both an emotional physical aspect.”
Turns out we don’t like reality TV leaving out sex because it’s not relatable to real relationships
A lot of us feel like Love Island has lost its touch after people stopped having sex and according to Kate this is because we want to know the full story when it comes to relationships. She said sex is part of a lot intimate relationships and to leave that out feels less relatable.
She said: “We want to know the full story, how things end up and work out. Sexual experiences are part of most intimate and couple relationships, and to leave out sex is much less relatable. The reality is there is just something interesting and exciting about a window into the sex lives of others.”
The Ready for Love courses by Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari are available at www.readyforlove.today
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