Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “desire

Sexual Energy and the Power of #Desire in Men and Women

I have no authority to write this post, and perhaps it will piss some people off, but I’ve been thinking a lot about sexual energy and the power of desire. Let me explain. As human animals, specifically men, we have been told we are programmed by our sexual desire to be in continuous pursuit for a sexual partner. It’s animal, we’re trying to reproduce and ensure the continuation of our genes. And this sexual pursuit is hard-wired into our brain and body. And from what I experience of my own behavior and fantasies this appears to be true. To a point.

I do love looking at women. Men, not so much. And I do enjoy seeing young, fit, attractive women as well. But they are not sexual objects to me. They are not targets for my affection, they are merely beautiful creations to be appreciative of. The same way I admire a Ferrari. I don’t want a Ferrari, and I don’t really want any of the young women sexually, but they are both amazing to look at. Is this the same thing?

What makes “people watching” so fascinating? I think it is the flow of human beauty that we enjoy looking at. Again, we might initially be more drawn to the fertile and nubile of our human tribe, but this gut reaction is not all about sex. And one thing I’ve noticed about myself, even when I’m sexually depleted, having zero sexual energy, I’m still attracted to watching the flow of women passing by. What could that be about? It’s not about passing my seed, unless this is an unconscious drive, and that’s Freud’s assumption. But it is something sexual. I’m not drawn to men in the same way. Still, I find it fascinating, that even when I have no sexual energy or passion, my mind still get’s “up” for a pretty woman.

As it stands, I’m not in the market for a lover. I have two children, so I’m not in need of procreation. And yet, women, the female form, fascinates me. Is the unconscious hard-wiring that strong? It’s as if I can’t look away without effort. And my attention is not only on the youngest and fittest. In fact, most of the young women resonated with thoughts of my daughter and are actually less interesting for that reason. And maybe that’s the crux. “For that reason” does point towards some sort of sexual tension.

And coming from a man’s perspective, I’m curious if women approach people watching from a similar perspective? I’ve read that women don’t feel sexual energy the same way men do, something about testosterone, but I’ve also read that we underestimate the sexual desire in women due to social mores. I can see how a man might be more driven, if you will forgive my pun, for release. And women might be more driven by security and power. But is that just clichéd thinking? Do women view attractive men in a less sexual manner?

I’m sure there is a difference in the chemistry of men’s and women’s bodies. And I’m sure that testosterone has a role in that “drive” towards sexual fulfillment. But I’m curious, for a population in their 40s – 50s, with “families” already established if the sexual drive is more similar in men and women? Do we both enjoy the sexual thoughts that come from people watching? Aren’t we essentially doing the same thing? Asking that tried and true question of our inexperienced, and pre-family youth, “Would ya do them?”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: frame rate, creative commons usage


in my blue bedroom

[from strange horizons poems]

there is a blue that binds us together
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.04.14 PMme an d u

a blue so blue
it hurts
my fingers
to t y p e this
just so you know

a blue that reminds me of the time without you
and beds and nights of ocean cool
and a blue so cold
so pure
it felt like i might be dying

with      without you
or any thought of you
didn’t exist yet
in my blue bedroom
before u
arrived

3-9-16


dialing back desire

spent-tennis-shoes-250

[from strange horizons poems]

let’s say the universe works in mysterious ways
and imagining that
what if a woman showed up
casually
asked to play tennis
not an ordinary woman
not just anyone
a friend

and let’s also imagine
the universe in her mystery
is also capable of delivering you
right at the moment you are ready
whether you think so or not
and just as you’ve said
pause
opt-out
the woman stands up
with a beautiful smile
and some historical knowledge
that could serve as a catalyst
a familiarity
even when whole lifetimes have happened
between your last greeting

so even before the first ball is struck
or skirt worn
there’s a flight of fantasy
a scenario of seduction
and being seduced
because
there is no waiting
no lines
and no other moment
like this one

what if
she’s showed up
because
the universe has finally spun a complete cycle
and brought you back to the restart
try again
listen, look, observe

what if there’s nothing
just an acquaintance
and some new fuzzy yellow balls

that is more than enough
just
the idea
has
potency

i am hopeful
even when letting go
this is no different
this is just a turn of events
a series of events
that hasn’t happened yet

release
there’s no hurry
even if she is the one
if she is
and
she’s here
why
rush
why
hurry through
this
magic

1-7-15

image: spent tennis shoes of the author, cc 2014, creative commons usage


Sex: Men vs. Women… Wait, That’s the Wrong Approach

OFF-fk

When the intimacy dries up completely, it’s more about the relationship than it is about the animals in the relationship.

One of my posts on The Good Men Project got a very interesting comment from an articulate and intelligent woman. She was clearly trying to figure out the parts of her relationship (and sexual) experience in marriage. And I hear this a lot, about the fundamental differences between men and women when it comes to sex and sexual appetites. But let’s clear a few misconceptions up. There has been a lot of new science recently that shows women are just as interested in sex, and historically have not always been as repressed as they are today. I’ll get to that in a second, but here is my response to Erin’s comment. You can go read her full comment here on the GMP, but I think you’ll get the idea from my response.

Hmmm… You make a few assumptions that I don’t necessarily agree with, Erin.

1. Sex is about not disappointing your partner. Hmmm. I don’t think that’s the point. Sex should be a mutually desired part of any relationship. I don’t agree with all this stuff about monogamy becoming boring over time. After 11 years of marriage I was never bored or uninspired by my then-wife. Ever.

2. Men are just men and need sex, women can either comply or risk losing their man. Um… Well, some of that is true. But sex can come in many forms. Intercourse is not always the best option for either partner. And it’s true the male of the species has a more dominate drive, fueled by higher levels of testosterone. But both partners should want to be intimate, at least occasionally. Your milage may vary.

3. Sex is not about maintaining monogamy. And men will not necessarily go wandering sexually if they are not getting sex in their marriage. Just as not all women grow bored with sex after being married for a while. It’s simply the average story. But we’re not average, are we?

4. Men deal with the exact same thing, from the other side of the bed. Being constantly rejected for intimacy is hard to handle. I got creative with my requests. I had unspoken attempts. I had happy and playful attempts. I had lustful and passionate pleas. When nothing (and I mean nothing) worked, we were dealing with something other than a difference in libido.

+++

I could tell when she was closed down and when we were close, and some well-thought-out touches and supportive words were often all it took to get her to open up and tell me what was bugging her.

So let’s take as an assumption that men and women desire closeness and affection with the same intensity. And for men, often this affection is driven by the sexual drive inherent in our higher levels of testosterone and our natural hunter instinct. This is biological. BUT… That’s not the whole story, and it’s definitely not the answer for our differences in sexual desire, or desire for frequency of sex. It is part of the story, but in my opinion, not the most important part. Hear me out.

Sex is about hormones and release. Sure. I can agree with that, from an animal perspective. When we were beasts we conquered dinner on the hunt and we conquered women back at home, partially as reward for our prowess and success as a provider. Well, dear women and men, the modern era is much different. The concept of the hungry and sexually frustrated male is convenient, but not all that helpful in navigating or negotiating an equitable balance in touch and intimacy, both sexual and non-sexual.

If we put the imbalance idea on hold just for a second, let’s assume that both partners desire closeness and this involves cuddling, kissing, holding hands, and sexual interactions. If we start with the idea that both partners desire closeness, we can start solving for how to get that closeness, regardless of if it involves intercourse.

What started happening in my marriage to curb our intimacy (and this was just as much about casual touch and holding) was my then-wife began distancing herself physically and emotionally from me. As she got activated by something, anger, fear, frustration, overwhelm, exhaustion, she would withdraw rather than engage. Now, I do understand how any intimate interaction has the potential to become sexual, but that was not the issue. For me, I would’ve been happy with snuggling. But the threat of sex may have kept her from even asking for that simple nurturing.

When I get scared or sad I feel closer and more supported by a gentle touch. That connection, even a hand on my neck, shows me (in some animal – dog-like perhaps) that she is near, she cares, and she is available. Available not for sex but for hearing and supporting me whatever I’m going through.

Sex opens you up to another individual in a human way, that is very different from our Neanderthal ancestors. Some of us are still stuck in the model of that old hunter/conqueror vs breeding partner/reward dynamic.

I can see how in many relationships that are based on much more base, caveman-like, relationships that even a hand on the neck might signal, “hey let’s have sex” but this wasn’t how our 9 – 10 years of closeness had developed. I was as fulfilled by a hug, sometimes, as a good roll under the sheets.

But something emotional was beginning to happen in my marriage that was more fundamental. It was not about sex. It was about being seen and being honest.

If you have sex in a full and open way, you begin to see deeply into the other person’s nature. (I’m not talking woo woo here.) You begin to feel more connected and in my case, you crave that connection, that transparency. I could tell when she was closed down and when we were close, and some well-thought-out touches and supportive words were often all it took to get her to open up and tell me what was bugging her. And most of the time this was not about sex. I was sincerely opening my heart to hers to hear what was hurting her or freaking her out. And more often than not, in the earlier stages of our marriage, it was about external things, or someone else who had done something hurtful.

But… As we began to experience more stress in our marriage, due in large part to the financial collapse of everyone’s economy including ours, she began to avoid being close. If she got scared she would often withdraw. When I had energy and passion for her I would frequently seek her out and dig in my heels until she let me in and told me what was going on. This was the equivalent of a housekeeper making sure nothing was getting swept under the rug. And this type of closeness rarely evolved into sex. It was not about sex, it was about closeness and intimacy.

After a while, however, as things continued to slide, she was harder to reach. And she began to express uncontrollable anger, that would pop out from time to time as a “fuck you.” It was shocking the first time she just blurted it out. The second and third time I had the impression she was bottling up so much anger and rage (in her mind it was 100% about me) that she could no longer contain it in her isolation. But she was so withdrawn that I couldn’t talk her down either.

In some ways maybe she was avoiding sex too. But I think the sex we had was so open and opening she was avoiding sex in order to not be revealed. Whatever she was afraid of or angry about was so frightening she didn’t want me to open her up. She didn’t want to tell me what was really going on. And in the end she really didn’t want to tell me she was consulting an attorney and trying to figure out her best options in asking for a divorce.

So sure, she was withdrawn and withholding of sex at this late stage. But it wasn’t about sex. It was about the closeness that often opened us both up to each other’s deep feelings. She didn’t want to share her hurt and pain. She didn’t want to tell me she was actually considering divorce and not just randomly shouting curses as me. She was so far gone she didn’t want me to see into her at all.

Sex opens you up to another individual in a human way, that is very different from our Neanderthal ancestors. Some of us are still stuck in the model of that old hunter/conqueror vs breeding partner/reward dynamic. That no longer holds true, if you are consciously coupling and relating with all of your intelligence. I do know that some relationships are not based on honesty and sharing, and I’ve seen examples of the caveman mentality too often to count. But that’s not us. That’s no you. That should not be your default understanding of the man vs. woman equation.

And it’s not the way it should be with sex. Sure we men want sex more often. And it is the woman who is the gatekeeper to her own body and the gift of that intimacy. When the intimacy dries up completely, it’s more about the relationship than it is about the animals in the relationship.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

reference: Good Sex: Or Five Ways to Avoid Bad Sex – The Good Men Project

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image: fk, marina caprara, creative commons usage


Learning About “I Need You” vs. “I Want You”

image: take my handWe’ve all got needs. And when we were younger, and wanting children, we had needs that involved another person. And for many of us, that meant getting married so we could procreate and live happily ever after. As the story goes in this modern age, many of us find that “ever after” is not as long as we thought. As plans changed between one of the partners in the marriage, so went the change from “need” to “want.”

I believe my ex-y “wanted” something different for her life. She had gotten the need for children taken care of, and tried to remain a loving and committed wife, but much of that pretense was for the children. When the desire died for her, whatever the reason, she began to think about wants rather than needs.

And as adults restarting the world as singles, we have to make some clear distinctions between wants and needs. I think I slipped into my second marriage still needing to be healed from my first marriage. I overlooked signs that today would’ve been huge red flags. But I was in need of healing, I was in need of a child-bearing and willing partner. All of those things were instrumental in creating the rose-colored view that allowed me to fall in love with someone who was much less able to express emotions than I would’ve preferred.

We can’t change what happened, but we can learn from our past and try to evolve a bit in our next choices. And that for me has become a distinction between want and need.

“What’s important is, do we want to spend time together? Do we like being together? And then, for me, is this a possible relationship.”

As I have started dating, or spending time with, a new woman, I am more conscious of that distinction. She has some wounding to get through before she’s ready to open up to the relationship idea. That’s okay, I tell her. I’m in no hurry.

And while I mean what I say, what I really am saying is that I WANT her but I don’t NEED her. I prefer to spend time with her than pursuing many of the other goals and aspirations in my life. I want a relationship.

“And if the relationship doesn’t have the potential to be long-term, I’m not really that interested,” I said to her, yesterday.

“That sounds pretty serious. How is that casual?”

I tried to clarify, while treading love landmines and old hurts. “I am looking for a relationship. I desire to be “in-relationship.” If you were to tell me you were really only interested in friendship, that would be okay, but I’d probably start dialing back some of the time I’m spending with you. I don’t really need any more “do something together” friends.”

She seemed a bit unconvinced.

“I don’t think we need to be together. I want to be together. We are pretty good at being alone. And we already have children, so that’s not an issue. What’s important is, do we want to spend time together? Do we like being together? And then, for me, is this a possible relationship.”

Again I am trying, learning, to parse out need from want. And sometimes I am aware that my needs are getting in the way of my clarity of mind. Lust of course is a powerful driver in relationships and coupling. And both of my marriages had a good deal of lusty passion early on. BOTH of them transformed into something less connected and more business-like.

I don’t need a business partner. There may be some advantages to being a married couple, financially, but the unravelling afterwards, if things veer off course, is much too painful to repeat for tax advantages. No, what I want is a passionate partner who also wants to be with me.

I want to want her. I want her to want me. And it’s important that she can express that she wants me. And express what she wants.

We don’t need each other, we crave each other. But after the lustful beginning is burned off, there is a lot of just being together that needs to be engaging, honest, and emotional. I needed a wife, today I want a partner. I will keep trying to remember that the sexual chemistry, while critical to the survival of the relationship, has to be backed up by a genuine joy and the ability to express it.

I’m ever hopeful.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to On Dating Again index

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image: take my hand, gisela giardino, creative commons usage


aspirational

at the coffee shop[from a coffee love letter – poetry]

i’m doing it again
staked out at the back of a fancy coffee shop
“working”
but really i’m browsing
love of my life after love of my life
like a river of beautiful women
come through the glass doors
unsuspecting of my intent
and harmless intensity
i have shown myself to be a romantic
a poet rather than a player

and really this stream of loveliness
is a cut above my weight and income class
i tried
i hoped to be that earner
i aspired to have a stay at home wife
things didn’t work out as i planned
do they ever?

wave after wave enter the coffee shop
in search of enlightenment
or at least a lift
i could be that jolt
i could be just what she needs
and then…
most-likely
i would not be able to provide
the beautiful car, house, kids, yoga classes
without some contribution
beyond thigh-sculpting

i am distracted from the task at hand
the new client is late
very late
money is flowing out of my pocket with every minute
i sit here, mesmerized

and yet
i am drawn
i am designing
i am reaching for a dream
there she is
and there
and once more
even their boyfriend/husband is irrelevant
at this point
there is nothing
nothing
only the
#desire

8-26-13


calm cool purrs all around

[from Making Love To Other Women – poetry]

i will be another’s cat’s meow
stroking and petting and leisurely napping
we will know each other by instinct
it’s almost as if we had no choice
as we rub tails, whiskers, noses
the trick, as i imagine it
will be to remain aloof and adoring
while expressing and applying
a pressing desire
a nod a nudge a blink
and calm cool purrs all around
but not too her
near her
until she cannot resist
what we’ve both known
since the moment we met

8-25-13

like two cats


she will remain beautiful and undisturbed

she will remain beautiful and undisturbed[from a coffee love letter – poetry]

out in the world of fancy coffee shops
new girlfriends walk in the door two or three times an hour
mostly they leave without acknowledging me
it’s okay
i can still see and appreciate her
even as she sits and reads a marginal book
look at those lips
and her imagination
and good choice of snack food

how much of her beautiful body contains god
how much god do i see in curves and legs and pulse
and once that fascination has run a course
where is the gateway drug
a passage into absorption and fascination
and engagement
that grows with time
as taut fights with gravity
and eyes weather with loving days
days of loving
how i could start with her
and awaking more than both of us
awakening a universal celebration
a dance of life and love and longing rewarded

she’s tapping her toes
in beautiful shoes
and smiling at her paperback
and i’m trapped here
in noise-canceling headphones
and a secret
tap tap tap
foot to words
dream to desire
to action
to ask
to

she is fine
just there
just as she is
she doesn’t need a thing
neither do i

i have it all
an instant could transform all this

this instant is not that one

she is here
she will remain beautiful and undisturbed
and i will walk out of this coffee shop
and escape my meandering mind
for the sky
and the sun
and
whatever’s next

6-28-13

image used via creative commons: woman’ feet


this potential

lovers on fire

[from a coffee love letter – poetry]

i want her to be gorgeous and a rocket scientist
or a poet
nice shoes, not gaudy shoes
brown hair would be a preference, nothing more
i’d like her to see through my bs
to know that i’m not as confident as i pretend to be
and i’d like to be safe
letting her see that truth
would be a release

i want to let go
and to relax into her arms
to nap with abandon
and share the fruits and the labor
and to enjoy the play between naps and sleep

where is fearless love born
what is the heart of trust
that never breaks
nothing is more important than this
there are many variables
i have a range of preferences
but this is non-negotiable
to have been hurt and yet soar
to know disappointment and still reach for the stars

every great journey must start from here
if the epic quest is to find love
to know how to be loved
and to fearlessly ignite
and stand beside another’s flame
in awe and joy
at seeing a reflection of your hopes
at believing again in someone else
at losing objections
and laughing at obstacles between us

i hold you here
holding my own heart
as an outstretched hand
an invitation
to dance
something cosmic and unknown
to fearlessly let go of everything
to dream and lose the dream
over and over
until we have built
a bonfire of passion and burning of vanities
a stripping of defense
even desire becomes satiated
in you
in this potential of we
in us

6-25-13


i believe, i pray, i fly

poem of desire - love poem - beach[from Making Love To Other Women – poetry]

and if i bring poems to her and she doesn’t understand
when i sing songs and she gets bored
if i offer a casual massage and she’s too busy
what then?

and if i ask and provide opportunities
when i wait and hold out hope
can i become addicted to longing
what then?

i know what missing you feels like
before we’ve even met
i can smell you, and feel your hair in my face
i know what i have lost

and if the shower after the day on the beach
and the cool dark unfamiliar room
rough and clean white sheets
the curtains billowing in the blow of the ac

and if my longing does not call you in
and my waiting proves fruitless again
i can still send out sirens songs
and use this desire as a sail

of course i hunger for her
and a near miss is a miss completely
and a word, a poem, a song, are precious
even without an ear to whisper into

in fibers deep in my soul i know
she is nearby, doing her thing
i am not finished with my baking
these ‘projects’ are just beginning

perhaps at this moment
she would be a distraction
and from afar she is muse, lover, mother
vixen, tease, goddess, everything

i know what longing feels like
i learned to do without even when she was next to me
i can thrive alone, in desirous creation
i don’t want to, but i do

sing along little bird
bring your bright feathers into my mouth
give flight to your fantasies as well
there is time, there is time, there is always time

hearts a flutter in beautiful presence
i am still becoming more loveable
my plan is drawing you in
even as I have failed to execute in the past

i can call, and write, and throw
poems and intentions and agendas at you
i can wait and be patient
to see if you will ignite

perhaps you are that one
that madonna that brings me to god, again
again, I am ready
i believe, i pray, i fly

i believe, i pray, i fly

6-19-13

 


Unavailable Women of Desire

unavailable womenWhy not lust after rockstars, movie stars, lesbians, and happily married women? My current path of ”availables” has yielded very little. WAIT! Am I getting discouraged?

Three times last week I fell in love with unavailable women. It’s almost like the early days, of hanging around with “the most beautiful girl in the world.” All the longing and desire are unrequited and unrequitable. But that doesn’t keep the desire from being sparked when in the presence of attractive and powerful women.

But what is it about my mating call that is not working?

1. Perhaps I’m still not looking in the right places

  • More church, yoga, hiking groups, meetups

2. Perhaps I’m not the star that I want to be

  • Fitness
  • Confidence
  • Spiritual mojo

3. I’m still too focused on the external desire

  • Rather than connecting with my own internal feelings of fulfilled desire
  • When I lose 20 pounds, I’ll simply be 20 pounds lighter
  • What needs to change?
  • How am I not loving myself enough?

4. My productive time is sacred, but I still waste it on Facebook

  • Facebook IS procrastination
  • Facebook IS NOT creative
  • Facebook IS TV

5. Time Spent at Craft

  • Butt in seat and writing (screenplay, poetry, blog, music)
  • Get the live music show on the road – singer songwriter path to performances (2 weeks – before end of June)

6. Time With Others

  • She will not find me sitting here in my house
  • How can I get introduced to more people unless I’m with more people
  • What ways do I want to spend time with others?

Update from this weekend. Had a nice long walk and movie with the remaining woman with potential. Time together. Still no kissing. What’s up with that? What does she want? When does she want it? Maybe it’s not me that she wants it from.

Today’s quote from Alan Watts struck me as particularly enlightening with regards to my way forward. I’m always so concerned with not pushing the river. In this quote he gives us permission to push the river if that’s where we feel the connection. The push is happening either way. Our job is to connect with the WOW of everything, rather than focusing on the striving we consider so important.

When I can no longer identify myself with the little man inside, there is nothing left to identify with — except everything! There is no longer the slightest contradiction between feeling like a leaf on a stream and throwing one’s whole energy into responsible action, for the push is the pull. And thus, in using intelligence to change what has hitherto been the course of nature, one has the realization that this is a new bend in the course and that the whole flood of the stream is behind it. — Alan Watts – This Is It

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Death of Desire

I have to be clear here, there was never any loss of desire on my part. But I wonder how it must’ve seeped away from my ex-y’s side.

desiring my wifeIs there some point at which the longing for connection is killed? Can it be killed on purpose, or through weeks and months of anger? There was never a time when I didn’t long to connect and join with my former wife. In fact, there was a moment six weeks ago, when I seemingly asked her to reconsider her decision.

I understood at that moment that I was really not asking her for a reconciliation. What I was telling her, and confirming for myself, was how much I still loved her and wanted our separation to end. Of course the separation I was hoping to fuse back into a relationship had been gaping for quite some time. And the request was more about setting the record straight, even one last time, that I was not in favor of the divorce. The tearing of our family fabric was the worst cost I could imagine.

People have been saying in response to my revelation about the completion of my divorce, “Well, at least it’s over. I mean, you may not have wanted it to happen, but if it had to happen, at least you guys didn’t drag it out.”

But that was not when the desire was extinguished. I cannot put my finger on it for her because I was not aware of it’s departure. For me, I can still feel a longing for her beauty and for her strong soul.

No we didn’t drag it out. After a week or so of furious negation, I agreed to give my wife a divorce. Just when we were in a position to leap forward in our relationship she was bailing out. Just when we had refinanced the house for 23,000 cash out, she was deciding to go for a divorce. Just when she was preparing a path for a new full-time job for herself, she was convinced she had given it her all and was done.

But that was not when the desire was extinguished. I cannot put my finger on it for her because I was not aware of it’s departure. For me, I can still feel a longing for her beauty and for her strong soul. And I guess I will continue to recognize this desire in myself until I have found a new person to join with.

Love is a celebration. Sex is an affirmation. Closeness and touch in and of itself is enough. When desire dies perhaps the soul of a relationship dies with it. And if the death is one-sided, perhaps it takes a very strong will to convince the other person that it is over. I know I am not convinced as much as resigned. After all, I now have a copy of the registered decree. Everything between the moment she asked for the divorce and this time was more about mechanics than passion or pleasure. And through the mechanics of the divorce I have accepted the need to refocus my desire on things I can influence.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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