So, when Hedonism II, an all-inclusive, adults-only, clothing-optional (read: clothing-discouraged) resort invited me to—and I quote—“leave the mundane day-to-day behind and explore yourself as you explore the sensual and liberating environment of Hedonism II Negril, Jamaica,” I didn’t hesitate before replying: “Let me ask my mom what she thinks, and then I’ll get back to you.”
Kidding. I signed up immediately for a trip to the sexually liberal locale, excited for what I was sure would be an end to my dry spell.
Welcome to Hedonism II, a real-life sex resort
In some ways, Hedonism II lived up to my expectations exactly. Picture: everyone’s everything on full display; couples copulating in hammocks (talk about redefining swinging); discreet fellating in the dining hall; a playroom of adult toys, like sex swings and a spanking bench; and an orgy or three.
But in other ways, my preconceived notions proved false. I thought constant visual access to sex and genitalia would be hot, super-sexy, and lead to sex for me, but no dice. Instead—even as I witnessed a patron hoist his travel companion atop a poolside bar for his own take on an all-you-can-eat-buffet—I remained totally disinterested in having relations of any kind. I wasn’t turned off, per se, but I was certainly apathetic. I felt like the human embodiment of the shrug emoji about sex.
Sexless or not, I objectively enjoyed myself at Hedonism II. (I snorkeled in waters bluer than Ryan Gosling’s eyes! I fed bread to a dory fish! I ate delicious gluten-free key lime pie with every meal! I made great friends!) But, rather than whetting my, ahem, appetite, the sexcation kept me oh-so dry.
Why the experience didn’t turn me on
This apathy about sex is totally uncharacteristic for me, and it was starting to make me wonder whether my preferences had changed. But according to a pro, my headspace made sense given the setting of constant exposure to sex at Hedonism II. Eric M. Garrison, clinical sex counselor and author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex, uses a food metaphor to explain: “If you’re starving, watching other people eat won’t satisfy your hunger, and watching a food-eating competition could actually make you less hungry.”
Research supports that being overloaded with sexual content may correlate with decreased sexual interest. For instance, one 2016 review published in Behavioral Sciences found that watching extensive porn may link to reduced sexual desire for some watchers. While watching porn is different in effect than my experience, the guiding principle of overexposure decreasing desire does connect to my time at Hedonism II. “The idea that having constant access to sexual ‘material’ might make the idea of sex less exciting remains,” Garrison says.
Life after Hedonism II
When I returned back home from my Jamaican getaway, I did crave human connection, but more of the cuddling variety. “Watching other people have sex may not have made you want sex,” Garrison says. “But it sounds like the trip didn’t quell the real reason you’d been wanting to have partnered sex again: skin hunger.”
Skin hunger (also known as ‘touch hunger’) measures your want, need, and yearning for touch and human contact, he adds. While sometimes, “really good partnered sex can meet our skin-hunger needs,” it’s not inherently sexual in nature. And, in fact, getting a back rub from a friend or scoring a platonic cuddle session can also meet that need.
As of the publish date on this piece, my dry spell has yet to be broken. But between my just-friends cuddle buddies and my go-to vibrating pal, my needs are getting met. Hedonism II is definitely a beautiful resort, but after visiting, I now know for sure that a new passport stamp won’t necessarily procure a libido spike.
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