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

Posts tagged “sex

What Is the Sexual Obligation Between a Married Couple?

OFF-happy-salsa

Okay, the blog MORE is subtitled “For Women of Style and Substance,” so I know I’m wading into deep uncharted water, being neither of those things. But the title that popped up at the bottom of a Huffington Post article caught my attention. “Marry Again, Nine Reasons Women Choose Not To.” I’m thinking, all right, let’s check this out, compare notes, see what “she” thinks.

Even the bullet pointed 9 Reasons clearly represent the author’s perspective. Here they are.

  1. As we age, women are winding up while men are winding down.
  2. Living Apart Can Be Better Than Living Together.
  3. Instead of one relationship, post-divorce dating may include many.
  4. You look better than ever and have more options.
  5. You’ve matured.
  6. Divorced women get time off from their kids – a true luxury.
  7. You may not want sex all the time.
  8. You don’t have to discuss your relationship ad nauseam.
  9. You’re a realist.

While it might be an interesting exercise to parse all of these for their fair and unbalanced perspective, but that’s not what struck me. I’m happy for a women’s magazine to champion and encourage women, post-divorce, to believe in themselves and their positive future. That is a critical part of the healing and evolution that comes with  such a huge life change. No issues there.

But the section that hit me in the gut or lower, was the section “You may not want sex all the time.”

See, even before we dig into the juicy tidbits of the sex section, we can see from the bullet point that we’re dealing with some issues right up front.

  1. Men are stereotyped as the “always pawing, always asking” sexual tyrants.
  2. The hyperbole doesn’t serve the message either, you know women can also desire sex.
  3. Recent studies suggest that women desire sex as much as men, but the cultural norms have shamed their sexual expression into something deviant. (see “slut shaming”)
  4. Sex is about much more than sex. Physical closeness and the turning away from each other if often much more damaging than any frequency issues.

Okay, so let’s see what our tour guide can illuminate about sex, from her vantage point.

There are only two four-letter words that are offensive to most men – “don’t” and “stop”—unless they’re used together. After enough sex to last a lifetime, some women are happy to put that self-imposed obligation behind them. Occasional sex—vs. the required two times a week—actually can be more heated and satisfying. Absence can make the heart grow fonder of many things. You now can have sex when you want it, whenever that is.

Wow, that’s a very loaded set of assumptions. Again, I’m all about writer’s license and using extreme perspectives to make a point, but this is much deeper. I sense in the first sentence a lot of unresolved anger in the author. And the phrase “enough sex to last a lifetime” really stuck in my head. I couldn’t not respond. I mean, WTF? (Literally.)

Is there such a thing? Do you (women or men) suddenly reach a point in their lives where they’ve simply had all they need? Really? I’m hoping that point is far off in the distance for me, but maybe I’m unique. I’m confused by the rest of the sentence, “self-imposed obligation behind them.” Seems like it’s not “self-imposed at all. It’s about a Relationship (capital r). Even the word obligation carries with it generations of shame and separation between the needs and desires of men and women.

Can I stop now?

“vs. the required two times a week.” Um, yeah, who’s requiring this exactly? I’ve heard that some women actually have sexual desires and inclinations themselves. And sure, all kinds of things go into making sex “more heated and satisfying,” but I don’t think it’s the frequency.

I would hope they are a bit more evolved about what men are like, and even more importantly, their own sexual appetites and hangups.

The coupe de grace is the final sentence. Ah the full-empowered, beautiful, sexy woman. “You now can have sex when you want it, whenever that is.” I guess that’s more true for women than men. A hot woman, in a nightclub or at a singles meet-up is likely to be the one in control of if she’s going to be having sex that night or not. The married woman should also have the same rights. But again, if you’re talking about sex with a partner, or even a close and caring long-term partner, you’re going to have to negotiate a little. I didn’t turn down my wife’s sexual advances very often, but it did happen.

Perhaps she’s thinking of pleasuring herself in this example. In that case, she’s right on. We, men and women, are both capable of having “sex” when you want it. But if it’s part of a relationship, there needs to be some balance.

This article had very little balance. Given the readership and angry writer’s perspective, I’m sorry that this same stereotype is being supported and reported by a magazine claiming “Women of Style and Substance.” I would hope they are a bit more evolved about what men are like, and even more importantly, their own sexual appetites and hangups. That’s the language of sex within a relationship. It’s sex with another person. If it’s “required two times a week” it sounds a lot more like doing the dishes or vacuuming the living room.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

Reference: Marry Again, Nine Reasons Women Choose Not To – MORE

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Unadulterated Love: What Is Joyful Sex?

OFF-joyfulsex

When you’ve felt the raw power of sexual joy there is never any going back to ‘blah.’

Sex is often a mixed up dance between two people. But sex begins with yourself. And ultimately, your sexual joy begins with your own relationship to something inside you. Sex, and sexual dysfunction, is 90% in your head. So when sex is off, either between you and yourself, or you and others, there is some examination that might need to take place. (I’m no doctor, and I have no understanding of E.D. or other medically related sexual issues.)

I can count on one hand the joyful sex partners I’ve had in my life. Some were even joyful with a side of obsession, and that’s not really good, but the sex was amazing.

You want joyful sex, you explore and ask for a joyful partner. And when the chemistry is ON you can imagine seeking ever deeper levels of connection with this partner.

If you agree with the idea that sex between committed partners is a critical part of a healthy relationship, you can begin your quest: first, to find the joyful sexual partner within yourself; second, to find another joyfully aware sexual partner to explore core sexual satisfaction.

I don’t mean to sound like a tantric sex practitioner, I’m not. (And when someone does claim to be, as Sting did a while back, I want to run the other way.) And I don’t really profess to understanding all the nuance of what goes into sexual chemistry (one of the great mysteries of life). But, what I do claim is my commitment to understanding my own sexual partnership goals and using those guidelines to frame part of my “nothing but 100%” commitment to finding my next relationship.

Ten tenants of my joyful sex hypothesis.

  • Much of what happens during sex is very personal (inside an individual’s mind)
  • There is a physical joy that comes from finding a connected and aware partner
  • Even the prospect of sex can awaken all kinds of wonderful chemical changes in the human body
  • Casual sex can contain elements of joy and bliss, but true joyful sex, in my definition, requires two committed partners
  • The discovery and unlocking of your partner’s sexual potential is a lifelong quest (otherwise monogamy would become boring and lead to infidelity)
  • Is is possible to get too interested and rapt in your partner’s sexual pleasure
  • When you are in the “flow” of sex you are experiencing a micro-nirvana
  • When sex deteriorates in a relationship it is an indication of deeper communication and commitment issues
  • The free play of joyful sex is as necessary as a good sleep, once you’ve experienced it, you crave it, and are somewhat restless and unsatisfied in life, without it
  • Sex is not everything, but it’s a lot

And I have a few ideas about how to discover your partner’s inner joy while having sex.

  • Always approach sex more as play than work or a goal-oriented task (the orgasm is cool, and fundamental, but it’s not always necessary for joyful sex).
  • Sex can be fast and furious (a quickie) or long an luxurious (afternoon delight: bath, massage, sex, nap).
  • One-sided sex is fine, and nice if you can get it. (This is one I’m still working on, how to just lay back and enjoy an event just for me.)
  • Sexual energy can be shut down or limited by stress, alcohol, drugs, hunger, exhaustion, worry about work, hyper-focus on the orgasm of either partner.
  • Every sexual encounter with another person is an opportunity to unlock some new pathways of sexual joy, both your partners’ and your own.
  • The more playful and unscripted sex can become, the more flexible and adaptable your relationship becomes.
  • Core sexual satisfaction soothes over all kinds of frustrations and disappointments in life and in your relationship. You still need to talk about any problems in your relationship, but when the sex is “worth it” you will be a better listener and be more committed to the necessary negotiations to keep the other aspects of your relationship healthy.

I don’t know that it is much more complicated than that. You want joyful sex, you explore and ask for a joyful partner. And when the chemistry is ON you can imagine seeking ever deeper levels of connection with this partner.

If you can find your way to playful sex you can find your way to the inner joy of sex that just might give you a longer life.

Even after 11 years of marriage and the duties of becoming parents to two lovely kids, I never lost my joyful appetite for my wife. Somewhere, she began to pull away and shut down her joyful sexual being. It was hard for both of us. But, as bad as it got, I still remembered and sought out the joyful sex I had imprinted between us. I was not willing to compromise, even if I was willing to delay and sublimate my desire while she “worked through some stuff.” When she didn’t return to our sexual bed for weeks, sometimes months at a time, I know there was more going on than sex.

What I understood even in the end of our relationship is my connection to her had been 100% strong and pure. And it did not diminish over time, until some other aspect of the relationship was failing.

As I move forward in my quest for another joyfully connected partner, I know the sexual chemistry is also a non-negotiable. And it’s really more of an attitude than a technique or prowess. If you can find your way to playful sex you can find your way to the inner joy of sex that just might give you a longer life. And a longer life with more joyful sex… well… that may be an enlightened path right there.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Mis-Match in Online Dating: A 10-point Overview of Match.com

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I say it all the time, I’m not much into dating. I’d rather have a relationship. The idea of a new woman *is* exciting, however the steps to uncover and develop a relationship are much longer and (I won’t say laborious) tedious. Last week I was on a Match.com date and I was wondering how I ended up at the table with this woman. She was no match. And if I had looked a bit deeper into her photographs instead of wishing into them I would’ve avoided an hour of … uncomfortable conversation.

So I’m going to examine what Match.com has got going for it, and what parts of the process and site are unproductive, for me. Again, please note my current bias away from dating. And even with that bias, dating is the only way back to a relationship, if that’s what I ultimately want. So here we go.

I don’t check-in to Match.com on a regular basis. I’m in a self-seeking phase at the moment. I do still have the app on my phone and when someone signals that they are interested in me I get a little red dot on my phone and a message on the lock screen. “Someone sent you a wink.” My immediate reaction is always a sarcastic, “Oh boy!”

Let’s open up Match and look around for a minute.

match-mainscreen

I have periods of high activity on my end. I jump on, search for attractive and left leaning women and send them a “hello.” My ratio at this moment is 51 sent vs. 9 received. But that’s okay. We aspire, we connect based on very shallow preferences, and we see what happens. My profile seems to be getting plenty of views. 4 new views since the last time I checked in. And I’ve had some emails and conversations going between myself and several women. All good “activity.”

But the activity doesn’t necessarily mean matches. And my actual success ratio with actual dates via Match.com is about 51 dates to 1 relationship. Now, to be fair, that relationship is the first one post-divorce that changed my entire approach and perspective on what I was looking for, but… the numbers are not in our favor. That’s what you should understand early on. Dating is a numbers game. View a lot of profiles, put some interesting enticements in the water, and if you get a bite or two try and take it to the next step, the “hello” date. But there’s a lot of unproductive dates and wasted time spent trying to sift through the BS and uncover the winners. And if she is too much of a winner, she won’t have the time of day for you as a man. A recent date said she gets between 10 and 15 propositions a day. I get 1 or 2 a week. The ritual still falls along traditional lines: men pursue, women accept or reject our offers.

So let’s get some information about the women who “viewed me.”

match-viewedme

And while one out of seven isn’t bad, as I looked into this woman, before arranging the date, I realized I was forcing the “yes” a bit. She was attractive, but there were a number of things that didn’t jive for me. So I called it off. But this is the general window-shopping mode of match. You have one main image, their “seeking men” age range, and a brief headline. The green highlights are a paid feature you can add, but I’m not sure it does anything to dress up a marginal profile.

And maybe that’s issue number one with online dating in general. There are a lot of people just playing around. I have had an ongoing pursuit of a very attractive woman on Match who has accepted two dates and backed out both times within an hour of meeting. She let me know she’s not really ready for a relationship or even dating, but that trolling around on the site gives her some pleasure. She’s just playing. She doesn’t really want a date. Odd.

And there are certainly the profiles that begin, “My girlfriend made me put this up,” or “I’d never imagined I’d be on an online dating site, but…” that are clear indications that they are just playing around. Checking to see if Ryan Gosling shows up and professes a crush on them. Or something… I guess fielding 1o messages a night might be entertaining, if you’re bored and in need of a superficial ego boost. (That’s not a man’s experience, or this man’s experience. I don’t know, maybe Ryan is here and is having a hard time keeping his inbox from exploding.)

So let’s go deeper and open up one of the more appealing women who have viewed me. Now I guess, already I’m swimming against the current, because she didn’t leave any indication that she was interested. No like, wink, or message. But still, she thought my initial photo and profile blurb was attractive enough to check me out. Let’s see if we see any mutual connections.

match-seemore

 

And it seems the hardest part is finding a mutual interest, but that’s the same challenge with dating in general. The hope being, that somewhere in the 860 women who “match” my criteria there is a woman who is actually interested in a relationship and then interested in meeting me, in particular.

match-search

It’s a hard and long hunt, but what are the alternatives? Bars? Nah.

Match has one other special feature, but I’ve found it to be rather useless. Their expert algorithm calculates 7 matches a day. I’ve stopped even opening them. They are so far off that I find them more annoying than helpful.

So to sum up Match.com in my experience.

  1. Men are expected to reach out to the women and make the introductions
  2. Women tend to get a high volume of “hellos” from real suitors and creeps, while men tend to get very few
  3. A lot of people on Match.com are just messing around, socializing, playing with the idea of dating
  4. You have to weed through a lot of mis-matches before finding people who are in my zone
  5. The Weekly Matches feature is more of a distraction
  6. Finding my way through the 860 matches is a challenge and often feels hopeless
  7. A deep examination of the person’s photographs often says more than their words (looking for the one real photo, that captures the essence)
  8. Once a “hello” date is established there are still plenty of opportunities for the other person to back out (I just backed out of ms. checkmark)
  9. Finally, if you meet and BOTH feel some chemistry, there is a chance to “begin”
  10. If it’s a numbers game, we have to keep playing

Match is currently my favorite site. It seems the “pay” aspect weeds out a few more of the “playing around” people than OKCupid or Plenty of Fish. And while I prefer the questions on OKCupid, the profiles do a bit of the work, provided the woman answered honestly and with some depth.

It’s all a crap shoot. Photos lie. Profiles tell half-truths. And some of us, interested in actually establishing a relationship, spend time in the backwaters of the game sorting through “more like her” to find alternative sorting methods for the overwhelming number of non-matches it takes dig through to find a possible match.

Keep going, there are more people joining every day.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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What Is Casual Sex? I Have No Experience with This…

OFF-upsidedown

Okay, so let’s put EVERY SINGLE POST before this one, on hold for a second. Let’s suspend our previously assumed beliefs, desires, and road maps. And reset for just a second from the perspective of casual or recreational sex. Um… This is not a term or concept that I’m very familiar with. I think my generation was either way into it, or we weren’t. So, when a woman appeared recently, and introduced the concept (non-verbally) that we might enjoy a roll in the hay, just for the fun of it, I was a bit taken off guard.

I knew this was possible in the post-divorce dating apocalypse. I knew these free-thinking older women existed, but I had not had the pleasure of meeting one until now. And to her, I was an attractive, healthy, and willing younger man. She confessed to having lied on her OK Cupid profile, she wasn’t 49.

So, casual sex to me means no intentions or expectations about the future of the relationship. In all of my writing, to this point, I was *always* talking about long-term goals. What my expectations are for dating someone, and growing that into something more like a relationship. That’s all I thought about. Or thought was available to me. And this woman walked in with all the swagger of a professional athlete and she began to show me some signs that more opportunities might be possible. It wasn’t that we were talking about sleeping together, we weren’t. But the talk of sex did come up fairly early and in a playful and light way.

“Oh I get it,” I said. “The women that often approach me, the one or two times a week it happens, are usually very disappointing. So I get it. Age is just a number.”

“How old do you think I am,” she asked.

“I’m not falling for that trap,” I laughed. “You’re quite attractive and fit for whatever age you are.”

She wasn’t actually the woman who I would put as “next.” But my libido was pushing my maps to the bottom of the drawer.

That brought a smile to her face and another margarita to the table in front of her. And it wasn’t like it was immediately apparent that we were going to sleep together, because it wasn’t. But the chemistry was there from the moment she came in the restaurant, from my perspective. And sure, the signs were there. She was smiling a lot, we were exchanging casual arm touches, and the ritas started doing their magic as our topics jumped from kids, to future, the divorce, and back again.

She had some of my favorite physical characteristics: dark hair, dark skin, a winning smile, and an affinity for tennis. Perhaps it was her fitness and tennis skirt that did me in. (That was in her dating profile.) She showed up in a LBD (little black dress) that was all but explosive. The idea that she was an “older” woman never crossed my mind. She worked at being fit and flirtatious, and it was paying off. She knew what she was putting out and she found me receptive and accommodating. Again, this is more about courtship and play, than about jumping in the sack. I don’t think she’d had a relationship since her divorce. But she was sprinkling magic fairy dust all over the conversation and me. Perhaps I was bewitched.

Nothing out of the ordinary, so far. It was a first date after all. And nobody is really into sleeping with someone on the first date, right? So we carried on as any other first date would, except there was a joyousness and lightness to our conversation. And actually that’s what had drawn me in this far, she was very funny in her texts and emails. And she liked my sense of humor. This join was apparent and clear in our 2 hour lunch with tequila.

And I walked her to her car. No biggie. Not going for a first kiss, but a nice hug. And that was nice. She was an amazingly fit 5’2″ like a little fitness dynamo. I was enamored. And we talked about maybe getting together again later in the evening for some live music or something. Something…

I handed her a cd of the music that was rocking my world at the moment. Imogen Heap. And she drove off and called me moments later thanking me for showing her how to use her CD-player in her car. A nice new convertible. Wow. She was something else.

But she wasn’t actually the woman who I would put as “next.” But my libido was pushing my maps to the bottom of the drawer. Of course the tequila was talking as well. But we’d been drinking water for the last hour, so I was clear she was some different breed of woman. As joyous and playful as I thought I was. Was that a match or just a HIT.

I got back to my house and passed out on the bed. (see poetic naps) I didn’t even hear the text an hour later from her that asked what I might have in mind for later. And when I roused again my phone was ringing. It was her. What? Most people blow you off at the first sign of a near miss. We talked around options and decided on Orange is the New Black at her house. “Should I bring a bottle of wine,” I asked. She had everything we needed.

“I’m touchy feely,” I said. She laughed and said, “It’s all good.”

And from there I have to admit I was hooked in to the idea of casual, what’s this all about, sex with her. And the odd part is, I was feeling no pain, no resistance, just pure and easy desire. On both our parts! How refreshing. Even as I was showing to get ready I could feel the jump in my skin. The idea of sex was already making its way through my bloodstream.

And we watched an episode over a first glass or rosé. And I’m a red man, so I was a tiny bit disoriented. But she was all there and all present and all okay with my wandering hand. And I mean, on her neck and shoulder. “I’m touchy feely,” I said. She laughed and said, “It’s all good.” Green lights all across my internal instrument panel.

We had not spoken one word about “dating” or what was next. We weren’t really talking about our relationship, or what our expectations were. And that was refreshing. We were just being in the moment and being in touch with the chemistry that was catching fire. And when things did finally catch fire, I was even more appreciative of her physical regimen and joyous outlook on life, and sex, and whatever was next.

And I’ll end the episode here without going into details. But let’s just say I’m excited to see her again. And it really has nothing to do with “long-range planing.” Nothing. I think I’ve found a pocket of YES with the idea of casual sex. And I think she’s happy with that as well. And there’s not really any need to discuss it. We’ve made plans to get together tomorrow night. And I couldn’t be more satisfied with that.

What are our expectations as we enter into the “hello” date? What if things go really well? Are we prepared to let go if things go “off-map?” That was part of the allure. We were clearly in new territory for both of us. And the relaxed and playful way we engaged in the conversation was mirrored in the way we casually engaged in love making. Even for the first time it was great and free and easy. It might have been partly due to the freedom and skin high we were experiencing. The future wasn’t in question or in play, and something about that, let us drop the pretense and just be together. And that was surprising, magical, and refreshing all at the same time. Something about my rigid “code” was cracked.

Sure, whatever. I mean, why not enjoy ourselves, right?

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Deal Breakers, Red Flags, and Hand Grenades: Relationship Building 101

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There are a number of red flags (issues) when you’re dating relationship begins to move towards a Relationship. Here are 8 indicators and warning lights to keep you on your toes when you are evaluating a potential match. Once the dating has gone beyond the 4 – 6 dates and you are beginning to get really comfortable with each other, this is when the deeper relationship issues might begin to creep out of the closet, like old skeletons.

Walk away from the burning building slowly and without panic. You didn’t cause the fire, and you certainly can cure the fire starter.

Learn from your previous mistakes in dating or marriage. You probably have well-learned responses to some of these issues, that worked for you in the past. Listen to what this person is saying and what they are doing. And then make your own decisions about the viability of the relationship. If you want a relationship it will take work. With too many of these issues still in-play, you might not want to put in the effort and relentless bridgebuilding it takes to maintain a wobbly fit. “But it feels so good, sometimes.” I can hear myself say it. Damn. I’m sorry about that. Listen. Evaluate. And when things keep showing up for repair, consider mending your fishing gear.

1. You’ve got to figure out the collective goal. Where are you going? Not the timing or the plan to get there, but you need to make sure you are on the same page.

2. Dealing with disappointments and conflicts. So, let’s say you’ve got a “date” planned and all the preparations have been made, anticipation anticipated… And something happens, and you can’t make the date. Of course there are hurt feelings, and of course there are repairs to be made. Can you make them? Can you move on and reset for the next “date” or does this first miss become a harbinger of dramas yet to come?

3. Kids and Parenting and All That. Okay, so what if the kid eats like an animal when you are with your potential? Not bad manners, but exaggerated bad manners? Eating habits that embarrass you a bit when the waiter comes by? That could be an issue in the long run. How your friend parents can tell a lot about their level of maturity. The health of their relationship with the child, and the ex. All of these things factor into the bargain. If their parenting rules and regulations are out-of-bounds, well, consider what it indicates. (I’m not a psychologist and I don’t play one on my blog.)

It’s best to bless former date, wish them well, and step back into the fishing boat.

4. Flexibility. How good is this person at adapting to different situations, different levels of affection, and even the spaces in-between that are bound to happen? How is the silence between you? Do you begin to wonder what is wrong when they get quiet? Does their texting drop from 5 a day to 0? Or 10 a day to 1? If you get the sinking feeling, you might listen to that. You might be right. You know how intuition served you well in your previous marriage? Well your holy-crap-whats-wrong-now radar might still be on high alert, but that doesn’t mean you can discount the warning blips and pings.

5. Fights Fair, Stay Present, Doesn’t Generalize. I now that’s a lot. But goodness grief, we’re adults, mid-life adults, we should know how to fight fair. Disappointments and disagreements come and go, but the second the potential whips out the “I just don’t think we’re going to work out.” Or, “You’re always blowing me off. It’s always about what you want to do.” Listen for “always” that’s the word of choice for generalizations. Try and stop them when they come up. “Are you trying to say that I’m always late?” for example, if you are late for the first time and it causes a ruckus. Arguments don’t need to escalate into shouting matches. “I’m mad with you” doesn’t have to turn into “Maybe it’s just too difficult for two single parents to be in a relationship.” Wow, really. That’s pretty much an ultimatum. An ending statement. You might hear the “Get the hell out of dodge” message and move on.

The close woman, the smart and smiling woman, needs to go back to her isolation, and you, need to continue your quest for healthy and happy potential dates.

6. Stays Positive and Works Towards a Solution. Too many times we’ve been the caretaker. Listen for the needy, the wounded, the moaning. And then decide if you’re ready for another relationship where you are trying to take care of the wounded or explosive partner. “You always try to say I’m the one with the problems,” when shouted at high volume, sort of makes its own point, don’t you think?

7. The Grass on Your Side of the Fence. If you want a relationship, even in the face of signs in the first six items, you’re in fairly deep. Tread lightly. Perhaps you are one of those, “Grass is actually pretty green right here, honey–come look.” people. Be careful, you’re leaning into a dark forest if things continue to be rough. Sure you REALLY DIG this person, and sure you’re willing to go for 110% effort, but watch your overly optimistic attitude when things keep spinning into difficulties.

8. When you get really close, watch out. Often insecure people will sabotage things just when there is the time or moment for even more closeness. Say you’ve had a date planned for weeks, and you’re finally to the big evening. THEN, surprisingly (or is it?) some minor miscommunication blows the whole thing into an issue. Suddenly, and without much warning (if you’ve been ignoring the earlier steps and signs), the whole date/weekend/trip is off. And of course, you’ve screwed it all up. Just when this person is feeling the most comfortable, if they are afraid of closeness, they will toss a hand grenade into the mix just to see how you react. It’s like an acid test. “Oh you’re really digging me, well see how you handle this little love bomb.”

And sometimes you really do have to cut bait and go fishing again. The close woman, the smart and smiling woman, needs to go back to her isolation, and you, need to continue your quest for healthy and happy potential dates. All this wallowing in the issues is too hard and too soon. When the big bombs show up early, even if the chemistry and sexual heat are there, beware of the hand grenades and land mines. You can’t prepare for them or sniff them out. But sometimes, your old “husband’s in trouble” alarms will still tip you off to what’s in progress.

Walk away from the burning building slowly and without panic. You didn’t cause the fire, and you certainly can cure the fire starter. It’s best to bless former date, wish them well, and step back into the fishing boat. Sadly, sometimes, even with a ton of potential, there’s just nothing else to be done.

[Funny note: So mermaids kill men when they take them under, right? I guess some nice ones saved me as well. Interesting metaphor for relationships.]

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

see the poem of the night: dark woundings of my own

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Do You Believe In Healthy Porn? 18 Reasons Why Men Love It and [Many] Women Hate It

OFF-crazy-girls

We all watch it. It’s the biggest thing on the internet. And we watch it for different reasons. And yes, just like any other drug, addiction and abuse will occur. Porn is no different than alcohol. Either you can handle it or you can’t. And knowing that information about yourself you can make a decision, either you use it or you don’t. Porn is the same way. (Disclaimer: I know we don’t *all* watch porn, I was being dramatic. Forgive me.)

There is a lot of new information and mis-information coming out about porn. (Forgive the pun.)

Here are 18 things you’ll hear or read about porn. How many of these statements would you mark a TRUE? (Let’s check-in on the other side.)

  • Porn kills marriages or other committed relationships.
  • Men abuse porn more frequently than women.
  • All porn starlets are abused as children.
  • Sexual dysfunction is largely a factor of the rise of porn in our lives.
  • Porn creates unhealthy stereotypes about men and women, but mainly women.
  • Porn is gross, bad, sexist, repulsive.
  • Porn is awesome and a great way to spice up your ideas for sex with your partner.
  • Watching porn with your partner can be a huge turn on.
  • Men want to watch porn, women want to watch romance.
  • Men and the mafia run the porn industry, and all other sex industries.
  • That woman from Stanford that is paying for her college education by working in the porn business is not really that hot.
  • Porn is all a lie.
  • Porn is unhealthy.
  • Porn is big business.
  • Either you are for porn or against it, there is no middle ground.
  • Porn is bad for you.
  • Christians are united against the evils of porn.
  • There is no such thing as healthy porn.

Well, what do you think? Do any of these statements about porn resonate with you as TRUTH or LIES?

“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” – Alvy Singer, Annie Hall

It’s no mistake that porn is big business. And that biggness is due to our love of watching people have sex, in all it’s gory or yummy variations. And to come down on one side or the other about porn does not defend all kinds of porn. There is some porn that is abusive, sexist, misogynistic, and disgusting. And those are my opinions. I know BAD PORN when I see it.

The corollary is true. I know healthy porn when I see it.

And… to be clear… I like SOME porn. And I do believe there is such a thing as Healthy Porn. It might not be as easy to find as all the other varieties of porn. And it might not be the most profitable form of porn. The kinkier the porn, the more likely it will be that people will pay to see it. Mainstream porn is free. Kink-porn or fetish-porn costs money.

Did I say I like porn? Oh, yes, I did. And there’s a small percentage of the porn on the web that I find tastefully done, with healthy (hetero – because that’s my personal orientation) relationships, and seemingly healthy and consensual sex. And while I’m purusing porn, in search of something tasty to me, I stumble across a lot of porn that is distasteful, to me. And while this is not a frequent occurrence (neither searching for or watching porn) for me, I cannot imagine a world where the censors (ala 1984) came down and told us what porn we could watch and what porn would become illegal.

So, entering the discussion recently is the Porn Addiction movement. The idea being, that porn is harmful and should be avoided. And to carry the addiction metaphor a bit further, we need to be reprogrammed or weened off our porn habits, in order to have or recover healthy relationships again. The damage is being done to ourselves, our relationships, and indirectly to all the victims of the porn industry. If you listen to these sites. tweeters, evangelists of the Porn Recovery business you begin to hear fire and brimstone rationalizations and miraculous recovery tales that sound a bit too much like born-again Christianity for my comfort. But again, I don’t agree with 99% of this material.

What I do agree with is this: Porn can be a problem for certain people at certain times of their lives. AND porn can be a healthy release of sexual energy, either solo or with a partner. You can choose to disagree or agree with me. But please don’t tell me your view of the world is “truth” or “righteous.” And in that same argument, tell me that I am dirty, addicted, and a moral degenerate because I choose, on occasion, to watch people getting it on.

When you frame porn in terms of GOOD or EVIL you’re starting a religious war that has no business getting in our homes or our pants. At least not mine, thank you very much.

I don’t believe I have ever been personally scarred by porn. I also don’t have a craving for porn. And I would guess that most of us have a craving for physical closeness.

You will define healthy porn for yourself. Or your will choose to disagree with my entire argument. I’m fine either way. And I would tell you that my personal relationship to porn is rather loose and informal and doesn’t look anything like addiction. Let me be truthful and clear: my relationship to porn doesn’t look like addiction today. Maybe in the past, in various periods of my life, I might have seemed addicted to porn. I would say I was exploring my sexuality, both when I had an opportunity to be with someone and when I was alone.

I don’t believe I have ever been personally scarred by porn. I also don’t have a craving for porn. And I would guess that most of us have a craving for physical closeness. And when that closeness is not available from another person, who’s to say fantasy and closeness with ourselves is bad?

Woody Allen said it best in Annie Hall. (Please forgive my use of Mr. Allen, given all the controversial information about him and is relationship to his daughter.)

“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” – Alvy Singer, Annie Hall

That sums up my perspective of healthy porn. Exactly.

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to On Dating Again

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image: the crazy girls, richard riley, 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


Dating A Divorced Dad: We Might Be Good For Each Other

OFF-kissme

This isn’t a mating call post, but more a look at some of the ways divorced dads are cool, flexible, and likely to understand divorced moms.

FIRST: Let’s compare notes on our kids. We’ve got our priorities straight. Our kids come first, our dates come second. Got it? Good. I don’t think any single parents will ever need to debate this. Now, dates without kids, or even parents who’s kids are long out of the nest, might present a bit more of a problem. There is an imbalance of time. I do spend more time with my kids than with my date. But, that’s only while we’re getting to know each other. But let’s stop right there and not get ahead of ourselves. We are talking about dating, after all.

So if this partner has their act together, even after a divorce, they’re probably pretty flexible and understanding when it comes to compromise and negotiating wants and needs.

SECOND: Let’s compare notes on our exes. I can lend a sympathetic ear to your stories about your dickish-ex. No problem, I’ve go my ex-y who can be a handful from time to time. I’m likely to take your side in any debate. And if you just need a sounding board, I’m here to say, “Wow, he really is a dick.”

THIRD: Let’s just say sex was getting less and less frequent and a bit less fun towards the end of my marriage. So, to say I’m hungry would be a bit of an understatement. Attentive might be a better word. I am so ready to make you feel good. Sure, we can get to me in a minute, but let’s just enjoy you for the moment.

FOURTH: By this time, even with a divorce and child support, we should have the money thing dialed in. Sure, there may be some setbacks (heck, I’m in the middle of the biggest one of my adult life right now, but…) along the money trail, but a partner with some history probably has found a way to make a living.

FIFTH: A well-balanced partner with kids and an ex has learned to get rid of the drama and strife. Divorce is one of the biggest stress potentials of our adult lives. So if this partner has their act together, even after a divorce, they’re probably pretty flexible and understanding when it comes to compromise and negotiating wants and needs. An unbalanced divorced parent is pretty easy to identify as well. Listen. Are they complaining about their ex? Do they have more drama than most people? If so you can move right along. But if your divorced partner still has a healthy sense of humor, they are likely to have a positive approach to navigating the path of developing a relationship.

If we can build our alignment of priorities around our kids health and happiness, then we can both relax when we are able to find time alone as a couple.

SIXTH: We’re going to understand if you’re too tired for the dinner and dancing plans. So you want to curl up on the couch, watch a romantic comedy and order chinese food? Sure, we get it. We’ll even rub your feet during the movie.

Relationships are not easy. But a divorced dad has a lot of experience under his belt that might come in handy as you too are dealing with parenting and dickish-ex issues. I’m pretty certain my next relationship will be with a divorced mom.

If we can build our alignment of priorities around our kids health and happiness, then we can both relax when we are able to find time alone as a couple. Perhaps that scarcity of time can build and sustain some of the honeymoon phase of the courtship. There is something quite motivating about sexual hunger for someone you are getting to know. Use that energy, prioritize your parenting, and have some fun. After all, we’re still talking about dating, we’re not going to get married or anything. (see What’s This About: Marriage?)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: always kiss me goodnight, courtney carmody, creative commons usage


5 Wonderful and Unexpected Benefits of Being a Serial Monogamist

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When did monogamy become a negative term? Today a Google search of that term brings up a lot of snarky posts about things like “unable to spend any time alone” and “your friends forget exactly who you are dating.” What? It means something completely different to me and most of the people I hang out with, and when we talk about relationships, most of us are looking for some form of serial monogamy. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Perhaps the millennials are more interested in gratification and hooking up. I’m not sure where that leads them, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the right direction for me.

I’ve tried being a casual dater. Post-divorce I had ideas that I would go out and become a serial dater. I was ready to sow some unshackled seeds. But, it didn’t happen. In fact, given the opportunity to kiss a pretty woman several months ago on a first date, I didn’t. She was confused. I wasn’t.

1. Keeping Everything Honest

Sex is great, sex is important, but sex means very little when there is no relationship involved.

I tried “dating” two women at the same time in college. It didn’t end well. You see, no matter how you do it, you’re always going to be telling the other person what you’ve been doing the next time you get together. And if you’ve just had a wiz bang time with the “other” person, how are you going to reconcile that? My buddy, KP, confesses to being a casual dater with no intention of settling down, or even slowing down. He’s a model of vigor and sexual enthusiasm. But he’s also a bit sad. I saw how his life changed and his attitude lightened up when a woman nailed him down and claimed him for her own. It was good for him. I can’t keep secrets very well. I can keep quiet, I suppose, in order to get something that I want. But sex and dating is not the answer for me. I’m up for a relationship. Maybe even a Relationship.

2. All Available Time

I’ve got my kids nearly half the time. That doesn’t leave a whole heck of a lot of time for dating. And that’s okay with me. My priority is my kids and their well-being. I can’t imagine a situation where a date would get in the way of my parenting, or prevent me from responding to a text or call from them within a few minutes. I would love a relationship, but I have a great relationship with my kids. I can wait on the lover, until the right lover comes along.

3. Cutting Away the Distractions

If a woman doesn’t have long-term potential, I’m not all that interested in spending time with her. I’ve said it over and over again. It’s not that I am making long-term designs on a woman in the first months of a relationship. But if she’s not long-term material, I’m not really interested in putting a lot of energy or effort in to the relationship. I’ve passed up a lot of opportunities for sex, but that’s not really what I’m after either.

4. Focus on My Goals

I’ve got some rebuilding to do. I’m still recovering from my divorce in some ways (mainly financial) and I am taking steps to deal with my unfinished business. How could I really be 100% available for what’s next, when I’m not there myself. I am working on new financial goals. I am writing up a storm, though I know poetry and self-revelatory recovery books won’t provide a roof over my head. It’s best if I keep my focus on the aspects of my life that I am still trying to change or evolve. If I were too serious about the dating thing, or the finding the next long-term relationship, I would be taking focus and attention off the things I really need to get done.

5. My Kids Are Growing Up

At 11 and 13 I don’t have a huge amount of time left before both my kids are heading out into the world without me. And as a single parent, I already don’t get enough time with them. While I’m happy to explore relationships with other women, my real priority is my kids. Plain and simple: my dad duties come before my dick duties. And I put a significant amount of energy into doing Dad right. That’s my priority.

Being a happy dad is the most important role in my present life. If that’s ultimately attractive to another woman, awesome.

All that being said, I crave a relationship with another woman. I’d relish the moment that I find that connection again. I am happy moseying along, in the current mode. I’m okay with dating and keeping things simple, if that’s what it takes to keep the other person around. I’m really okay with that. And I’m not going out to try to find my next hookup. Sex is great, sex is important, but sex means very little when there is no relationship involved.

So yes, I’m a serial monogamist, but it’s not because I always have to be in a relationship. It is not because I cannot stand being alone. Nope, I’m a serial monogamist because I’m hoping to find the next relationship at some point. And that point in the future is very flexible in terms of time, and even in terms of what the person or the relationship looks and feels like. We know love when we feel it. I want love again from another woman. Until then I’ve got more than enough love for and from my kids.

Being a happy dad is the most important role in my present life. If that’s ultimately attractive to another woman, awesome. Until then, if you’re interested in checking things out, let’s go have a cup of coffee and see if anything sparks.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

related posts:

image: l-system, exey panteleeve, creative commons usage


Divorce Recovery: Loving Yourself Better, So You Can Eventually Love Again

OFF-lovehandles

Getting right with yourself after divorce is the biggest challenge you’re going to face. All the mechanics of divorce, will eventually take care of themselves. But the emotional fallout might be a bit tougher. I often rely on the language and support of the 12-steps to recover my balance when I’m under the rock of depression or sadness.

And for me, the biggest part of that recovery was regaining some self-confidence and self-love. I felt defeated and broken when I walked out of my marital home and into the world of single dads everywhere. I knew the loss that was coming, now and for the rest of my life I would not have unlimited access to my kids and their hopes and dreams. That loss is still the hardest part for me. I used to love going in late at night and appreciate (give thanks) for their beating and healthy little hearts. Now I can’t to that on most of the nights.

But the areas in me that needed healing were much more personal.

  • I didn’t feel sexy or desirable
  • My extra weight felt like a fat-sumo-wrestling-suit
  • The sadness made it hard to exercise at all
  • My initial attempts at dating felt desperate and disconnected
  • Loss of all touch and closeness (except from friends and my kids)
  • Loss of the hope that I would ever be with another woman
  • My mental processes were so wrapped up in ruminating the past, that I felt slow and unintelligent most of the time

And at the deepest core of my pain, I wasn’t sure my body, my soul, was worth all the effort it was going to take to resurface and regain my position as a strong father. A strong single father. At a few dark moments, it just didn’t seem worth it. But then I remembered my dad, and what the loss of him in my early twenties did to me, and I soldiered on.

I go from moments of feeling fit and healthy to feeling fat and uninspired, often in the course of one day. And it’s not that I’m fat one day and not-fat the next. It’s more about how I see and talk to myself.

Today, four-ish years after I walked out on my kids and married life (not my idea) there are still points of pain and sadness, but overall I’d have to say I’ve recovered most of my energy and enthusiasm. I still miss my kids on the nights they are not here with me, but we’re managing. All of us are managing.

Today I read a piece about how the human body ages over time, written from a very healthy and zen perspective. And while I don’t do all these things, I wanted to share them, and the source post, in hopes that you might find some inspiration for your own journey. You are worth it. Whatever you have to go through to get back on top of your game, whatever it is, DO IT.

Here are the  8 Things I Learned from 50 Naked People – published in The Elephant Journal.

breath in - the off parent

click for larger version

So let’s spend a brief moment together, breathing *that* in. I could spend a long time trying to absorb these wonderful affirmations into my own self-image.

The physical body needs love: Your body doesn’t lie.

What are the things that need healing around your body image? I’ll share mine.

The thing your most embarrassed about: my size. Notice I didn’t say weight. I go from moments of feeling fit and healthy to feeling fat and uninspired, often in the course of one day. And it’s not that I’m fat one day and not-fat the next. It’s more about how I see and talk to myself. And I’m working on it, on just loving whatever I am at the moment. Today those emotions are more tripped up by something I ate, or bloating, rather than some massive increase in my girth.

And what I can do about it:

  1. A better diet (not dieting)
  2. Fewer rich indulgences (the tend to breed next indulgences: frappacinos, ice creams)
  3. More activity (doing what I love)
  4. More energy from healthy activities; 4
  5. Emotional boost and joy from being in a relationship (when that happens).

I’ve got a gentler way of talking to my 50+ year-old self. I’m still easily influenced and sometimes angered by fat obsession. And I’ve never really felt fit enough since I left high school hyper athletics: I lettered in three sports and was always driving myself to win.

Now, of course, the matches are less important, and it’s the game that makes me happy. Even losing, I can appreciate the skill and performance of the other players. (Tennis is my passion.) But I love playing. I love seeing a player who has it all and disassembles my game with several well placed shots at critical moments during the match. It’s a chance to watch my own emotions and my own reaction to winning (when I win) and losing (when I get creamed). And that too is about balance.

So I lost at marriage. And here on out I have to learn to be a single dad to my two kids. So what. Sometimes the game doesn’t go the way you want it to, so you move on, try something different, and give up only after the last point is played.

Perhaps a partner who’s on the same trajectory of self-love and healing from fat-shaming. We’re not fat. We’re where we are. And we’re here to love ourselves, and with luck, others.

So my embarrassment about my fatness is really left over shit. I’m not *that* fat. I’ve been much fatter. And healthy, for me, is not obsessing about fit or fat, but focusing on eating better and playing more tennis. And knowing that we’re not getting any younger, when I look back at some college photos of me, when I was (at that time) feeling quite fat, and noticing how great I looked.

I’m guessing if we could look back on our “now” selves from our “much older” selves, we’d admire our energy and vigor. We would probably not say how fat we were. We might, but those are the tapes I am eliminating from my vocabulary, both inner and outer. So much of what we say to ourselves is mean. If you say it out loud, you might hear how to be more supportive of your process, as you would be supportive of a friend.

I’m not trying to become a model. I’m not really trying to call in some much younger women who are super-fit and perhaps more focused on super-fit guys. I’m not going to be that guy. But I am aware of things more tangible, like my energy, my optimism and creativity, my blood pressure. All those signs are GREAT. What more can I ask for?

Perhaps a partner who’s on the same trajectory of self-love and healing from fat-shaming. We’re not fat. We’re where we are. And we’re here to love ourselves, and with luck, others.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

 other posts of interest:

sources:

image: love handles are whorey handles, laura g, creative commons usage


Little Ecstasies In the Afternoon

divorce and the little ecstasiesI’m coming upon a realisation about why naps are so powerful. They are a bit like orgasm. There is a moment when your body feels like breaking and then you give in, clear the schedule, open the flood gates and let yourself go. Even in the middle of the day. There aren’t too many things like a nap that you can do for yourself to create this little ecstasy. (chocolate, masturbation, maybe a great shot of liquor)

Of course we long for the big ecstasies, when possible. Making love is often the most accessible of those. I remember when the ex-y and I knew that we’d cleared an hour out of the day for love-making, how excited I would be. Showering for the event. Anticipating in a Pavlovian way, in an almost tastable way.

Today I have little ecstasies. It’s okay. And on the days I don’t find the time, make the time, to nap, I’m a bit more dependent on coffee and type-a drive. But why wouldn’t you want a nap? Maybe it keeps you up late at night.

And in your relationship why wouldn’t you want a big or little ecstasy? What things would prevent you from wanting unlimited amounts of chocolate, if they could some how make it non-fattening and good for you?

I guess routine can set in, even boredom. Noticing for the first time that your lover is bored is quite a wakeup call. Noticing it with your wife is a much deeper transgression. Maybe it’s different for men and women. Maybe there are things a woman would like even more than to be made love to. Maybe there are things that sound better than a nap on a sunny afternoon wrapped around your lover.

But I can’t think of any.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:

ecstasy defined


I Think I’ll Take a Lover: Or What’s In It For Me?

On Becoming a LoverHer long legs and high high heels looked much smaller in person. She was as beautiful undressed as I had imagined she would be. It’s amazing what a good camera can do to mask the imperfections. She had plenty, they did not matter.

I was not looking for her. And I even said so a few days ago. “I’m not interested in a relationship with a married woman,” I said. And we left it at that.

But she’d hinted at a romantic streak that matched mine. She accepted lunch easily. “Yes I’m married,” she texted. “Long story.”

Of course, at lunch the story was rather short. “I married him for security.”

She had dangerous looks. She asked pointed questions. She seemed very nervous. I wondered at first if there was something wrong with her. Or a drug habit. Or anxiety pills that weren’t working. She laughed easily. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her shaking hands. Thin, small, clean, smelling of soap.

What if she was awesome and I wanted to be with her? Somehow I already knew, or had convinced myself, that this was different. She would be a lover, I would be a lover, nothing more. She was married. For whatever reason, she was married.

I walked away. But my erotic mind did not. I said goodbye, but my sexual imagination was just beginning. I don’t think that I will sleep with her again, reflecting at this point, several hours later. It was good, the sex. She was beautiful and smooth and small. She fluttered like a bird for 15 minutes after we’d finished. She seemed like she might blow away. Something was missing.

So I took a lover. I had to ask myself a few questions. Why would I do it? What did I have to gain from being with her? What if she was awesome and I wanted to be with her? Somehow I already knew, or had convinced myself, that this was different. She would be a lover, I would be a lover, nothing more. She was married. For whatever reason, she was married. And I wasn’t going to be in a “relationship” with a married woman. Would I have an affair? I guess that’s what I did. But I preferred to think of it as a fling.

What did I have to gain? What was the soul of the matter for me? I went to Thomas Moore’s The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love to figure some of it out. And he talked about the mystery of sex, the erotic imagination of sex that is as close to the mysteries of the divine as we get in the modern world. But that’s not what it was.

Here’s what I came up with.

1. I am happy. 2. My life is pretty simple right now, and I do not want any major drama or complications confusing my plans. 3. By accepting the terms of “lover” we could jump straight into bed without concerns about “next steps” or “dreams.” 4. I had one experience, since divorce, that has a similar tone, and all went well there.

Why not?

A friend made me examine it from a slightly different angle. “What’s in it for me, is the wrong question.” he said. “It’s more about how does this serve me, at this time.”

Here’s what I got from the deal. Here is what served me well about this afternoon with a fragile goddess.

1. I cleaned the house a bit more rigorously  2. My energy and enthusiasm have been elevated for the last few days. 3. I felt wanted. 4. I performed with great satisfaction for both of us. (she let me know) 5. I felt the sex for sex right in the moment, and knew that it was not what I was after.

So I took a lover for a day. She was as fragile as she was beautiful. And I was reminded, when answering her question, “What are you looking for?” that I was looking for something else. There is nothing wrong with taking a lover. Having an affair might not be my choice, but she was clear about her marriage and she expressed earlier that it was a mutually understood convenience. So we explored the passion. We applied the pressure and scratched the itch.

I don’t think a lover is what I want to be.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Trying to Talk About Sex: Texting In Bed

trying to communicate about sex - before the divorce

this conversation happened in bed in the form of a poem we wrote back and fourth between us

+++

i’m having sex, 90% of the time alone
so financial crisis moments appear and go away
and I too feel fatigue when my trustworthiness is raised again and again
not a crisis
more of a chronic situation of the relationship
weariness of wanting to go in to it

now you have to put some stuff in.

also weary of the dialogue around sex – frequency
my time is so spoken for
i don’t see that changing
if we could actually put every moment spent on considering the vectors of the situation of not that much (together) sex
in to crafting a situation where it could happen
we would create actual sexual encounters.
i get weary of focus on my not meeting your needs for sex
pretty much feel like your framing of the issue is you want more sex
so what can we do to get me available for more sex
and that this framing is in your mind
not expressed so much by action

In my (quite open to possibility of distortion on my part) world, I am a)working, b)sleeping, c)doing a mission-critical thing for kids, d) doing some other mission-critical thing (house, etc). Not really spending any bandwidth researching the dynamics of things you are doing or not doing that don’t meet my needs. I do speak up with clear asks, but that’s all I can muster.

so it is frustrating and feels wierd that you have this thing going on where I continue not to meet your needs

at the same time I have no bandwidth left to meet any other needs period.

so do YOU have sexual desire?

yes.

and are you happy with your sex life?

in the context of reality – other real, now dynamics of time etc – sure

then we have a mismatch in desire, wouldn’t you say?

And that is a critical path issue for me. As much as money or housekeeping or kidkeeping is for the WE.

Yes. It is a critical path issue for you to __________________?

Discuss with you what’s missing. What’s wrong with this situation. Evaluate what’s going on. Is it desire? Trust? Money? Work? Housekeeping?

My TXT last Sunday saying, “I’m thinking about masterbating… but I’d rather have sex with you was a good opening.” and we were successful in connecting.

We need more casual wins.

What I am curious about is… how things have changed for you from what I imagine our SEX life was like 3 years ago.

I do not buy the house, work, sleepy idea. Something else perhaps?

What has changed for me is… The “connection” that you were speaking about say 2 months ago
to me the miss or lack is due to lack of contact and intimacy.

Sex doesn’t seem to be a part of that equation for you. Now, of course I am telling you it is. (grin)

Definitely it is a critical path issue for both of us, because you are materially unhappy (altho not in a crisis way) with the frequency and ____________ (connection?) of our sex (intimate?) life and therefore it makes the WE.

The txt was notable to me. so direct.

The not buying about sleepy and house…it’s like the conversation we had where you were asking me: what do you need? And I told you. “To see the numbers.” and that that was really what I needed was so out of range of believeable to you – you didn’t buy it – that it never occured to you to do the numbers, or engage with me to say OK, lets do the numbers now.

But it was true. I needed to see the numbers. YOU never actually need to see the numbers for that particular kind of situation. But I do.

So you ask what would help….per sex….and I nearly always come around to: house (a visually peaceful – that sensuality for me), sleep or workout (that’s body – a key to my sensuality). But you CANT BUY it. Because it’s not your experience of the world, I guess.

I’m empathetic with NOT BUYING another person’s experience. Certainly I miss on this more than rarely.

On the mismatch of desire. Maybe we have a mismatch in the desire for genital rubbing and intercourse v other sensuality. I feel like I live in a world of visual sensuality, and touch, and working out – exertion, and some kinds of foods – beautiful, fresh foods. And then there is sex, like, in bed sex.

And ? for you the sensuality of life stacks up differently. Sex straight UP gets more brain cells – loving the clean curves and surfaces gets fewer. Fresh pinapple, not so much. Ice cream – a lot!!

More pragmatically, there is a cycle we are in that at least does not help. I can’t sleep next to you. When we are spooned, the snoring is so loud – some just because of what spooning does, put your mouth in my ear, I wake up. Then, if I am awake, I have to go to another room. This was not the case 3 years ago.

I don’t have a point of entry in to that situation. Not sure.

You have not told me recently about the snoring and that is the reason you are leaving the bedroom so frequently. I am always happy to apply a breathrite strip. They seem to help. And I need to lose weight. I am actively working on that.

Back a the discussion about what you needed, it was not that I didn’t buy your experience. In fact, we agreed that restarting money discussions was probably critical path.

We didn’t DO the financial plans again until we were reminded by Rick of the critical WE in everything.

+++

I used to say “It wasn’t my idea,” about the divorce. And in my divorce recovery group I was definitely self-identified as the dumpee. But what was different is I was beginning to express my dissatisfaction with the status quo. Her money-house-tired story had reached the end of my accepting it. I was tired of having sex alone 90% of the time. I was demanding we talk about it.

What didn’t know was she was already in the process of figuring out her options. Probably, in terms of her critical path issues, house and money she was beginning the process of trying to figure out what she would get if she decided to go for a divorce.

When she admitted in therapy that she had already consulted with a lawyer, I was stunned. “Well,” I said. “I guess you are a lot further down the road than I am about this.” And she got motivated to find full-time work and basically created a job within a few months. And then, I suppose she saw the potential for escape from her private hell.

I remember saying to her, once the “divorce” was agreed to, “So you think it’s me that’s making you so mad all the time? And you think I’m going to walk out that door and you are some how going to transform into a happy person? Wow. I think you are wrong.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Sex in the Marriage: Condition Grounded But Determined to Try

creative commons usage

I am guessing this is going to sound cliché. But clichés are there because they are based on repeatedly being shown as truths. What do you think about this statement?

After the heat wore off. After the kids were born. After the work of keeping up a house and mortgage payment became real. Sex became more and more infrequent.

We went through some interesting therapy sessions and ideas about how to reconnect sexually.

  • I wasn’t asking the right way
  • I was asking too much
  • I always asked at the wrong time
  • There was always something that needed to be done, before we could have sex
  • I didn’t help around the house enough
  • I needed to try seducing rather than asking, touch rather than request

Ultimately, once the sexual shift had happened there was only one period of relief.

I had just gotten a vasectomy. (A good sign, anyway, that we were doing it at all, so we would even want to keep having sex. It was kind of a right of passage from fathering to fucking.

She was already contemplating her departure, and those thoughts were crowding out the passion and love for me.

And the weeks following the surgery, after the swelling and pain had gone away, we had a sexual renaissance. You see, when you have a vaz there is a period afterwards where you are required to have 30 ejaculations before you can get tested for viable sperm. And if it’s all clear after that, you can begin nekkid sex without risk.

The ex-y even admitted to having an achievement complex, and we joked about her wanting the 30 gold stars in 45 days. And sure enough, the wind would blow and she was into getting me off. Perhaps it relieved the pressure on her to participate if it was about my orgasm and not making love.

We did it in the shower. She did me orally, manually, and seemingly with ease and enjoyment. Later we would look back on these weeks as “when it was good again.” At least, that’s what I remember saying about it. I certainly see it as the last hurrah of our marriage.

And then the goal was achieved. I was certified sperm free. And the sexual fire fizzled and went out. Almost as if a switch had been thrown. I couldn’t ask right, or provide enough house support (me or a maid) or money in the bank. There was ALWAYS something preventing us from doing it. I wanted to figure out how to have another vasectomy, or something. But nothing I tried worked.

Then, right at the end, when I had my moment of truth, I asked her. Well, it came out kind of sideways. I had bought a book “Your Sex-Starved Marriage” and she found it under the bed. It was as if she had found porn or something. She was angry. Of course I was accusing her of being the problem, that’s why I got the book. But she had plenty of ammo as to why it wasn’t all her.

She blamed it on stress, overwork, chores, things. But in reality she was no longer IN the marriage with me. She was already contemplating her departure, and those thoughts were crowding out the passion and love for me. Rather than demand closeness and touch, I withdrew into my own self-care miasma. But I sublimated my anger and desire. I compromised and let her slip further away from me. She was too far gone. And when I was finally angry it was a bit too late.

How does that phrase go? “You cannot prepare for love and war at the same time.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: creative commons usage: nude and captured


Folding Her Clothes and Folding My Desire

the buddha in me killed the marriageI loved folding her clothes in the laundry. There was something cool about the jeans that were on such a different scale than mine. I could only imagine her beautiful legs and feet and toes as I origami-ed them into a warm fortune cookie.

The first time I remember looking into her eyes during love making and finding her bored was a year or so after my vasectomy. I was astonished. It was like looking back into my high school or college years and seeing the ho hum partner in a ho hum state of repose. I was flattened. I stopped. I didn’t want to continue in that relationship.

“Where’d you go? I wanted to ask. But I didn’t. And thus began my own folding. The more I desired her, and the more she desired less, the more I folded inward, and sublimated my physical desire for her with mental desires, masterbation, and fantasy.

I learned, I think I learned, I am learning, that it was a fatal flaw of my own, to cloak my own disappointment and unmet desire in a Buddhist repose. Yeah, I was above it all. Above the fray of the mundane arguments, above the loss of all sexual openings from the woman I was still madly and passionately in love with. I learned to go into my head. To believe that this was okay, this situation was temporary, things would eventually get better if I meditated, masterbated, and remained consistant in my love and presence.

I was wrong. I, in some ways, let her off the hook. When she was bored, and she had already had her orgasm, I should’ve asked. I probed a little, but was content to “wait” and “see” and be the master of my own desires. FUCK. What I was doing was removing the PASSION from myself as well.

I’m a bit stuck in that mode at this very moment. I talk about sex not being the goal. And while I believe that’s true, I also believe I deserve a willing and excitable sex partner. I am willing to be honest and open with my feelings, and in order to not lose sight of what those are again, I have to be willing to express my needs and also my disappointments.

So my wife was bored. My drive for my own passion, in that moment, evaporated in a flash. We’d had the “I guess I’m not going to orgasm” moments. And we’d laughed and talked through many awkward requests and challenges.

And she was B O R E D.

What I won’t settle for next is complacence. My hand is a happy host, but my heart has bigger needs. I won’t let those go unspoken ever again.

Honestly, I don’t think that moment, or my confrontation of the situation would’ve changed our trajectory. But the gradual acceptance and detachment from that loss that became more and more pronounced, that is what killed my marriage. She happened to check out a lot earlier than I did. But in some ways, I let her go, thinking that I would pick up the connection when things settled down a bit, when there was a little more money in the bank, when the kids were both in school.

NOW is it. I won’t become the fat buddha again. The belly that I work off is the isolation that I had agreed to. Do I have to be perfectly fit to find another relationship. No. But I do need to love and understand my own body, so that I can tune into the desires I have. And I have to express them so that I can learn and explore the fit with any relationship I attempt in the future.

The bored girl sophomore year in college was no big deal. Neither of us knew what to expect. My bored wife should’ve been real cause for alarm and awakening. Instead I slept and stayed up late cuddling with the internet. Computers and videos make terrible lovers.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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