Article Thumbnail

What If You Went Back in Time and Fucked Yourself?

A handful of surprisingly willing astrophysicists and psychotherapists weigh in on this extremely pressing thought experiment

Despite the fact that sex is a basic instinct and a near-universal experience, we know remarkably little about it. And so, this week, we’re teaming up with our friends at Futurism, oracles of all things science, technology and medicine, to look at the past, present and future of pleasure from a completely scientific perspective.

If Marty’s mom had her way in Back to the Future, there’s a good chance she would have ended up fucking her own son. In Season Four of Futurama, this scenario was taken to the next level when Fry fucked his own grandma in 1947, thus becoming his own grandfather. So, when I heard MEL was teaming up with Futurism for a scientific look at sex, I decided I wanted to take this time-travel-incest scenario to its next logical conclusion: What if someone went back in time and fucked themselves?

Now, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but what if, one day, you just happened to crack the code for time travel? To celebrate your discovery, you may very well have a drink or two. Then, let’s say that you catch yourself just right in the mirror. From there, it would only make sense that you’d want to celebrate your scientific breakthrough with the one person who would truly appreciate it.

Of course, this would all be age-appropriate. I’m not saying that you’d go way back in time to fuck yourself, but what if you went back to last week? Or went back to when you had a little bit more hair on your head? It’d have to be consensual too, as your past self would have to be okay with fucking a slightly older, balder version of themselves — but hey, this older, fatter, balder you just discovered time travel! So they’re going to look pretty damn good, I think. 

On the one hand, things might be amazing — you know what you like, of course — but what would the consequences be from this time-altering night of self pleasure? Since no other parties are involved, would it be a guilt-free romp, or might your sexual self-exploration tear open the very fabric of space? Also, if you happen to be in a relationship, would this constitute cheating? And would it count as incest, or simply masturbation?

That’s the scenario I worked out, and eventually proposed to a couple of surprisingly willing astrophysicists and psychotherapists. First, we sorted out the whole time-travel thing — by what mode might we accomplish this? Unfortunately, as astrophysicist Heloise Stevance tells me, there are absolutely no viable prospects for time travel at this time — it’s purely the stuff of science fiction. To go forward in time, one would have to go faster than the speed of light, which is literally impossible. Also, going backward in time is equally impossible because, according to Stevance, time only goes in one direction. “To time travel, you have to break physics,” she tells me. “But that’s no fun, so let’s ignore this and break physics anyway.”

Okay, so, assume you’ve broken physics and traveled back to last week, had your way with yourself and cleaned up afterwards — the obvious question is, “Would that cause a paradox that would rip apart all of reality?” To this, Stevance replies that there are two main paradoxes you’d want to worry about. The first is the “causal loop.” “This is where you go back in time and cause an event that will itself be the cause of the thing you just did,” she says. “For example, say you go back in time to give yourself the blueprint for the time machine — which event happened first?” According to Stevance, this would complicate the timeline so much that it would result in a paradox. 

What does a paradox look like, though? “Since we’re in the realm of broken physics, your guess is as good as mine,” Stevance says. “Giant glitter explosion? Let’s go with that.”

The second paradox-inducing scenario you’d have to worry about is the “grandfather paradox,” and that’s not what happened in Futurama. Basically, this is the opposite of the first paradox — you go back in time and change something that will change your future so that you don’t go back in time to do the thing you just did. As an example, killing your grandfather before your father is born. “Then,” Stevance says, “you’ve got yourself a paradox.”

Now that you’ve been schooled on paradoxes, let’s get back to the good stuff: Would a good roll in the hay with past-you result in any of the above scenarios? The answer is somewhere in the “maybe” to “probably” range. Stevance explains that if, in the heat of passion, you spilled the beans on how time travel works, you’ll probably create a causal loop paradox. Or, if you went back in time and future-you fucked past-you to death, that would result in the grandfather paradox. 

If you don’t kill yourself or reveal too much about the future, you might safe, but there’s a catch — or two catches, actually. For one, when past-you invents the time machine in the future, they’ll have to go back and fuck themselves to maintain continuity. This applies even if the self-fuck sucked on the first go-around. It would now be your duty, for the sake of all reality, to go back and fuck yourself. But, even then, your commitment to maintaining the timeline might not be enough. In that case, Stevance asks, “Which event caused the other?” You’re going back in time to fuck yourself because you went back in time to fuck yourself because you went back in time to fuck yourself. “That’s a paradox waiting to happen,” she warns.

While that covers the basics, astrophysicist Joseph Lorenzo Hall offers a few biological matters that could complicate things further. For one, you could run the risk of bringing a pathogen back to a time before it first appeared. So, say you invented the time machine in lockdown last year, then celebrated back when you were still in decent shape in college and you didn’t know that you had COVID. This could result in you introducing COVID decades before it originally appeared. The lesson here is, before you go back in time and fuck yourself, get a COVID test.

Hall notes one other biological concern: Would it matter if you had gender reassignment surgery between the time you invented the time machine and whatever year you go back to, thereby making it possible to not only fuck, but impregnate yourself? He says that the answer there is “maybe” once again, but that would depend upon modern science (and by that I mean actual science, not broken-physics time-travel science). 

On that note, modern science would have to figure out a way to bestow new reproductive capabilities during surgery. For example, if you were born with a penis and testes, but you wanted to reproduce with your past self, your future self would need functional ovaries and a uterus to do so. But current surgical methods mostly deal with altering external genitalia only, meaning that if you wanted a bun in the oven, you’d first have to travel to the future when surgery becomes more advanced, then go back in time to fuck yourself as the opposite gender. 

Whenever that happens, Hall says, “One might have a reasonable shot of impregnating their past self. I’m no geneticist, but there are probably very serious consequences in terms of dominant and recessive genetic traits that would unfortunately make many of these offspring nonviable.” 

However, there are more potential consequences than just the biological and the astrophysical — there are also ethical and even semi-philosophical concerns. For those, I turned to  Chris Donaghue, sex therapist, author of Sex Outside the Lines and co-host of Loveline

The first ethical consideration here would be if one of the two versions of yourself was presently in a relationship. In that case, would getting it on with another you constitute infidelity? To this, Donaghue says, “If you’re in a relationship with another person, they have a right to weigh in on partnered sex that you might have with others. However, no one has the right to weigh in on your solo-sexuality — that’s where you have to practice physical and psychological autonomy. Some couples think they can weigh in on their partner’s porn usage or things like that, but I remind them that solo-sexuality is about our relationship to ourselves, and it’s important that we have that. So, in this situation, I’d say that’s totally in the domain of self because it’s not with another person.”

Not only would he not consider it cheating, but Donaghue even says it’s a “really beautiful concept because there could be some therapeutic value to having sex with yourself and learning more about yourself in that way.” 

Another practical question is, “Is this incest?” And not, Pornhub-style “My stepmom caught me masturbating” incest. I mean like, actual incest. After all, your past and future self would share the same parents. To that, Donaghue says “no” again — it’s not a family member, it’s yourself. In fact, he says, it’s really just masturbation. “This would fall under the umbrella of ‘sex with self’ because it’s literally with yourself,” he explains. 

So, then, if going back in time to fuck yourself isn’t cheating or incest, your only real concerns are astrophysical and biological. Now, I figured that if you refrained from getting yourself pregnant, giving yourself COVID, revealing the secrets of time travel or fucking yourself to death, you’d be scot-free, but, unfortunately, Stevance assures me that, because all the risk involved, “You’re still going to definitely cause a paradox.

But, I don’t know, maybe it’s still worth a shot?