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Dr. Elsbeth Meuth and Freddy Zental Weaver Headshot

Don Jon: A Transformation From Sex to Intimacy

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For many people sexual and romantic education is derived a great deal from television, movies, and, particularly for men, pornography. Objectification, one-sidedness, and unrealistic expectations take hold resulting in a loss of intimacy and connection. The movie Don Jon, written, directed, and starred in by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, addresses this dilemma, shining light on these views and exploring what it actually means to be intimate and express love.

The act of making love can bring deeper experiences of joy, vulnerability, openness, trust, and connectedness within oneself and with one another. However, with the slew of overtly sexual and suggestive images that dominate the media, coupled with the secrecy and repression of sexuality in our society (as seen by the frequent associations of sex with guilt and shame), it is easy to see how a skewed perspective of what sex and love are actually about can develop.

How to unravel beliefs and stories formed in earlier life and through cultural influences that may have an undesirable impact on us -- especially as they pertain to sex, love, and intimacy -- is the question. These stories and beliefs, often driven by the sub-conscious and therefore inaccessible to the conscious mind, can run our present-day lives and behaviors and the interpretations we have of ourselves and others. We may be unaware of the extent to which they run us or even of the stories themselves.

In the movie Jon, a man in his 20s, is addicted to porn and sees women in this context just as objects. While unable to sustain any relationship of any length he perpetuates his habit. One night, while sneaking a peak at school, a much older classmate named Esther hands Jon a DVD of porn from decades ago. She explains that the actors in the porn he currently watches are just pretending to have sex. Totally confused and disturbed, Jon walks away. This is the start of Jon becoming aware of his "story."

True intimacy can only arise in the moment when we are able to drop out of our "stories" and "beliefs" and be completely present to oneself and with another. Jon begins to learn this through Esther and ends up experiencing "real sex" -- intimate and connected.

A transformation takes place where Jon moved from the experience of sex as porn and objectification to a sense of intimate connection with another human being, Esther. This in turn opened up the possibility for him to experience love for himself and his beloved as a state of being versus a fleeting moment.

To learn more about the transformation of sex, intimacy and love see Elsbeth's and Freddy Zental's book "Sexual Enlightenment."

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