the talk

Last week I speculated a bit about a conversation I was about to have with a friend about whether or not we might mutually desire to engage in the earthly pleasures afforded us by our unattached status. We met last week at a hip lounge, ordered drinks and caught up on the children, work stuff, and much, much more. And I can’t wipe the shit-eating grin off my face; it was more spectacular than I could have imagined!

I’m not certain this is a conversation that would have been possible for me had it not been for my most recent boyfriend experience, which was only beginning to develop this time a year ago. After six months of fun, love and discovery, we found we wanted different things from the relationship. And then we broke up again a few times, without ever having gotten back together. Through that relationship, I experienced that I could care for, deeply love, share intimacy with and enjoy another human without wanting to be “in a relationship” with him.

So, on to my prospective lover:

Conversation with this man is typically so good that I forget to eat. Not just because the time seems to pass so quickly, but because his presence and the depth and breadth of our discussion is so hearty and fulfilling by itself. This robust deliciousness is not something I’ve ever before experienced with anyone else — at least not someone to whom I’m also physically attracted.

As we began to delve deeper into our discussion, we learned more about each other’s relationship histories and experiences. When it came to the juicy stuff, we quickly established what disinterests us, that neither of us claims expertise in any particular kink, that role play might be fun, who has the larger toy collection, and more. There were some pretty big revelations for me. For awhile I think I’d suspected that he might be a bit of a player, but that’s not at all what I learned from our conversation.

After that, it got even more interesting. We discussed all the other delicious stuff that goes along with physical intimacy:  the emotional connection that accompanies it, sleeping together, reading in bed, cooking and eating, watching television while rubbing each other’s feet… All in all, I think we spent more time talking about all the wonderful, fun discovery that goes along with sex than we did about sex.

Four hours later, we walked to my car, enjoyed some sweet lip-smacking kisses and a world-class hug, and I went home to sleep with a smile on my face and an immense sense of anticipation and possibility.

It will be interesting to learn, experience, communicate and feel my way — our way — through whatever is to come…

to shave or not to shave?

I have a date this afternoon. I’m not at all looking forward to it. I am, in fact, stalling when I might be changing my clothes, putting on make-up and other such preparations.

So why am I going?

Because I feel it’s important to shift back in to a more open attitude about meeting new people, benefit in whatever way I can from each interaction with someone new (and by that, I don’t mean a free cocktail), learn about myself and get comfortable enjoying myself interacting with men.

Put another way:  I feel as though I am headed in to some sort of self-improvement exercise…and, today, for whatever reason, I am dreading it.

Perhaps it is because there is a question on the online dating site I’m currently using as my “matchmaker” that asks:  “Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?” and I have a differing view from the fellow I’m meeting today. I’m not sure why this particular issue has me tweaked today — surely issues of politics, religion and values are far more important — but it raises my feminist ire. How dare another say someone has an “obligation” to maintain such a thing. Fact:  hair grows. Fact:  most people I know describe their lives as “busy.” I simply think it’s fascist to proclaim that another human being should make this a higher priority than, say, …um, well, anything important.

Truth is, I tend to keep my legs shaved (about twice a week) during the summer. My hair is light and no one can tell if I haven’t shaved, unless they get close enough to feel the prickles of tiny hair sprouting. I shave regularly because it is my personal preference to do so, not because I feel “obligated.” In the winter, I sometimes let it go longer. I suspect that just about anyone who’s been married has enjoyed / endured physical closeness with a partner who may not be freshly shaven. That’s a part of what intimacy is about. And adjusting some grooming routines to meet a partner’s desires sometimes is also part of what intimacy is about. What’s more important is how such preferences, desires and behaviors are communicated and shared.

Don’t worry — I will shift my mindset in time to enjoy whatever today’s “date” brings. Curiosity alone is already putting a smile on my face…

But I won’t shave; I did that yesterday.

my own worst enemy

I have a date planned today with someone I met online. I have vowed to keep an open mind, enjoy meeting new people, focus on how I feel when I’m with a man and, ultimately, make better relationship choices. I actually met this fellow for coffee a couple of weeks ago (working around our respective parenting schedules) and we enjoyed each other enough to agree to meet again.

As I go into this date, I am trying to be open to the possibility that I might allow myself to truly enjoy getting to know someone new — no artificial barriers, no comparisons to other men. I have vowed to enjoy dating. Yet I feel the old patterns trying to work their way back. Let me elaborate:

As a Libra, I’m born to partner. I enjoy the sharing and closeness of being in a relationship. I fall quickly and easily, and I feel natural and at ease in the throes of infatuation with a mate. I love falling in love — so much so that one might say I’m in love with being in love. This astrological affectation can also cause a girl to lose herself in the role of girlfriend / wife / lover.

Thus, I’ve been on a relationship treadmill pretty much since high school, from boyfriend to boyfriend, rarely spending enough time enjoying myself to know what I really want or how to express myself authentically in a relationship. The most alone time I’ve ever had was in my marriage — that’s when I figured out who I am, grew strong and realized that the kind of relationship I desire was vastly different from what I had.

When I wasn’t in a relationship, I was crushing hard on someone. Usually someone unavailable…look at Max, for example. Max, married and miles away, was part mad crush, part obsession and probably the perfect fantasy for someone half in and half out of a marriage. He affirmed my strength and renewed my hope that I could find love again. And, not so long after I let the idea of him go, I found someone else — another unavailable man, another long-distance object of my affection — to fill the gap.

I mentioned my current “high water mark” earlier. Most days, I find myself bemused by our flirtatious friendship; it just feels good to have a crush! Other days, I find myself a bit too married to the idea of exploring the energy between us and closed to the possibility that my ultimate life mate might be someone else. Part of me wants to cling to the thought that maybe someday, we might share something truly special. Because it feels somehow safe to think that way. Yet I’ve begun to see how I’m using this hope, this fantasy, as a defensive tactic to prevent me from getting close to anyone new, anyone real, anyone who’s actually here and available and wants to get to know me. He has become an emotional surrogate, an imaginary boyfriend, to whom I unconsciously pledged my faithfulness to prevent myself from letting anyone else in. For the second time in my life, I’m seeing a part of myself that would rather hold out for a fantasy than allow me to risk finding something real, and this realization scares the shit out of me!

I keep telling myself that my high water mark embodies all those qualities I want to find in a partner, but I don’t actually know him that well. This is to say that, while he may indeed have every single characteristic on my list, I haven’t been around him enough to witness or experience those things. And I also tell myself that I’m open to the universe bringing me all those wonderful qualities and more in a partner. But is being open to [insert guy’s name here]+more the same as being open to true possibility? I think not. I’m not truly detached to the outcome. So I’m likely to compare every new man I meet or date to this other guy, rather than measuring him on his own merits and what I experience with him.

Heartbreak creates the illusion that there are two paths to choose from:  on one hand, there’s the fear of being alone; on the other, the fear of setting one’s heart free to love again, to be vulnerable, to let someone in. But I see now that this is a false choice.

My path forward will be to revel in the happiness that can only come from loving myself. And I will cultivate courage, learn to lower my defenses and allow someone entirely new to see me authentically. For perhaps the first time in my life, I’m going to open myself to genuine possibility.