I went to a small, rural Catholic school and our priest used to bring a portable confessional and set up in the hallway every other Tuesday. We’d line up to kneel and confess our sins through the little, latticed window, speed through our assigned penance prayers and poof, the slate would be wiped clean for another couple weeks.
The Experience Project (www.experienceproject.com) is like one big online personal confessional, but instead of confessing that you lied to your parents or took the Lord’s name in vain, participants “cyber-confess” that they’re in a sexless marriage, that they’re having an affair with a married man or that they’ve fallen hard for a guy who clearly doesn’t feel the same way.
“Some of the things we’re dealing with may be stuff we’re not particularly proud of and can’t talk about it to people close to us for fear of judgment or because they simply won’t get it,” says site founder Armen Berjikly, a 29-year-old computer science engineer in San Francisco. “We need to talk to people who’ve been there that’s often more important than even knowing who you’re confessing to.”
Unlike social networking sites like Facebook full of party photos and shiny, happy “friends,” sharing the minutiae of their daily lives, at experienceproject.com personal details are forbidden and privacy is intensely guarded. But Berjikly insists it’s not about being secretive as a way of copping out of being honest in your real life but an alternative to bottling things up or living in denial.
Cyber confessors I spoke to said they found the site helpful because it allowed them to “get certain things off your chest” or “it helped to relieve stress and release hurtful things from the conscience.”
Being in a sexless marriage was embarrassing for 42-year-old “Anne.” “Had I not stumbled upon the website, I probably would be divorced right now,” she says. “My experience set me on the right path to get counseling and work on my marriage instead of giving up and becoming another statistic.”
“There is great value if you harness technology to be helpful,” says Berjikly, who got the idea for the site when helping a friend with Muscular Dystrophy find online support. “As humans our most challenging experiences are what make us who we are as people and they are what bond us together.”
If you’re still not convinced of the power of confession, in two years, the site has grown to millions of monthly users and into a full-time job for Berjikly. And that’s the truth.
Share your best-kept secret on the Sexcetera blog at metronews.ca. The juiciest secret will win a copy of The Tantric Sex Deck: 50 Paths to Sacred Sex and Lasting Love by Don and Debra Macleod.
– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.
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