After I’d first had that famous conversation with my (at the time) prospective lover, I had two interesting follow-up conversations:
One was with my therapist, with whom I thought I should probably check in. After all, it’s been many moons. Her observation: “If this is really all about sex for you, why does it already sound so much like a relationship?” Her advice: “Get clear about what you want and then be clear about what you want. If you want to get the next ’50 Shades of Gray’ out of this, tell him that.”
The second was with my ex-boyfriend who, apparently having read my blog and feeling protective, called to say: “I know you pretty well. And if you think you can do this without getting emotionally involved, you’re fooling yourself and you’re likely to get your heart hurt. I know it’s none of my business, but take care. You will get what you want; you just need to figure out what it is first.”
Now, having read these two snippets, imagine there’s a continuum between just sex and a relationship. I understand both of these; I’m not sure I understand what’s in between. In other words, I don’t know where on this continuum I am, or even if I’m on it. Or whether he is.
At one end is sex. You’ll recall this has been a bit of a driving motivation for the past few
months years. Why? Because my forty-something body is at its prime, roughly the hormonal equivalent of a 19-year-old male, always eager. Yet, had I found just a sport f**k, I would have quickly become unsatisfied with the just of it.
At the other end of the continuum is a relationship. And, as much as I’d like a life-affirming one of these sometime down the road, I don’t feel at all ready for one at present.
Thus my conundrum: Find a guy who’s a mere stud and bore of the lack of mental stimulation. Or find someone interesting and deal with the inevitable likelihood of developing feelings. I chose interesting. In other words, what I want is something in between sex and relationship…and, though I would tell you that dealing with ambiguity is a strength, it’s been more challenging for me to negotiate than I imagined it might be.
Labeling things, making judgements and categorizing are natural tricks our brains like to perform in order to move us through life efficiently. When we don’t have that sort of clarity, our brains like to fill in the gaps and will go through any amount of mental gymnastics to do so. It’s been fascinating and enlightening to observe my inner dialogue these days, the thoughts that drive my feelings. It would even be fair to say there have been some roller-coaster like emotions — enough to show me that I still have some healing to do. (That’s my stuff; I own it, and I’ve got to deal with it. That’s why I’m not ready or willing to inflict myself of another person in a relationship yet.)
And I’ve also witnessed enough of my own steadiness and resilience to see that many of my lessons — both personal and universal — have sunk in. I’m feeling pretty strong and solid (and also vulnerable) right where I’m at… Wherever that is.