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

Posts tagged “sexual chemistry

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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image: kiss, pedro ribeiro simões, creative commons usage


Negativity and Isolation: Branching Out To Avoid Breaking Up

the time bombs in your marriage

Dr. Jed Diamond wrote an interesting post on The Good Men Project today that triggered this post. 5 Time Bombs Set To Go Off in Your Relationship Unless You Act Now

Here are the 5 Time Bombs according to Dr. Diamond:

  1. Our social networks are getting narrower.
  2. We’ve increasingly put all our “emotional-support eggs” in a single basket.
  3. We are expecting more and more from our spouses in meeting more of our needs.
  4. Our brain’s negativity bias causes us to over-emphasize the negatives in our partner.
  5. Our brains are Velcro for the negative, but Teflon for the positive.

Can you recognize some of these behaviors in your relationships? Let’s take them apart for a second.

Our social networks
In our personal lives and our work lives, we are becoming more isolated. Sitting in front of a computer screen or texting is not really social. You can communicate that way, but going social, getting personal with someone requires face-to-face communication. Eye contact and physical touch go a long way to unlocking our deep feelings and giving us deeper connections. Who do you share your issues with? Do you have one or several friends you can go deep with? In most cases that number is very small. And there can be problems if the only person you can reveal yourself to is your spouse. It’s hard to complain and get advice from your spouse, especially if the issues are between the two of you. Recommendation: Broaden your network of face-to-face friends who can hear your problems without reacting to them.

It’s easy to see the things your spouse is not doing right. You can point the finger at her for not wanting sex as much as you do, and she can point it back at you for not paying attention to the chores and repairs that need doing.

All of our “emotional eggs” in our spouses basket
Closely related to the first one. Your spouse can be your best friend and most trusted confidant, but you need others. And there are some things that are better worked out with someone other than your spouse. Recommendation: If you don’t have other deep friends you might consider a counselor or minister of your church. You need someone other than your spouse to get things off your chest.

Expecting our spouses to meet all of our needs
And we, of course, expect more than just the ability to talk about deep subjects and disagreements. We need to talk about things like kids, bills, chores, sex, planning, money. Sometimes the blur of hard subjects can mute the positive things. If you spend 80% of your time working things out, you’re not got going to have much energy or compassion for getting close. Even closeness requires energy. And if the hard stuff hasn’t caused you both to request a break, then you might be able to spend some time making love. But that’s a long “if.” Recommendation: Get help where you can. Put your bills on autopay. Hire a housekeeper if you can afford it. Getting some of your needs (non-sexual of course) met outside of your marriage may go along way towards bringing the good energy back into your marriage.

We have a negativity bias
It’s easy to see the things your spouse is not doing right. You can point the finger at her for not wanting sex as much as you do, and she can point it back at you for not paying attention to the chores and repairs that need doing. Recommendation: Affirmations of your spouse can go along way towards reminding you what you love about them. Giving appreciations when you first get back together is easy and a great way to restart the connection on a positive note.

It’s all about biasing towards the positive and finding ways to discharge the negative. You can release a lot of the resentment and anger away from your primary relationship.

Velcro for the negative, Teflon for the positive
Often it’s the feelings of anger and resentment that get stored up and kept deep in our secret heart. It is harder to release these kinds of feelings. (Again, this is a place where a counselor or confidant can help greatly.) So we tend to stick those hurtful feelings deep inside, trying to bury them. But this never works and they fester until they come out in some indirect way. And positive feelings often feel fleeting, especially if they are small moments within the storm of life. We can hold on to the positive with some practice, but it’s harder to store. Recommendation: Find ways to release the anger and resentment, either dealing with the issues directly or talking to a counselor. And learn to bias your responses to life in a positive light. Find the things you are happy about and bring them up more often. Give thanks and affirmations freely and to everyone you meet. (Not in a trite way. Example: “Sweetheart, I love the way you made breakfast for the kids and let me sleep an extra hour. Thank you.”)

It’s all about biasing towards the positive and finding ways to discharge the negative. You can release a lot of the resentment and anger away from your primary relationship. While your spouse may be the trigger for the anger, the depth of the feeling is probably related to events and hurts that are much older. Often our deep rage is related to our family of origin and what behaviors we learned or were hurt by as kids. And here’s a key: Our spouses cannot heal us. The healing is up to us. And often it is best to get that support and growth strategies outside our marriage.

It doesn’t always work. We fail, we get angry, we let the shit fly. And if we can’t redirect enough of the struggle away from the heart of our love, we might end up in divorce. The best we can do in this circumstance is to continue to try and forgive and move on. And even more important now, the affirmation of your ex-partner as a good parent, and accentuating the positive goes a long way towards showing your kids how relationships work. Even when you are no longer married, the issues are the same. Stay on the positive side. And if you need help, get it, from someone other than your spouse or ex.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Reference: 5 Time Bombs Set To Go Off in Your Relationship Unless You Act Now – Dr. Jed Diamond

image: love bomb, karl norling, creative commons usage


Our Sexual Brain and the Lies It Tells Us

OFF-torsoAt the base of the relationships between men and women, is the animal nature. The physiology and biology that propelled us out of the caves and into the stars is still really about hormones, chemicals in the brain, and our unquenchable desire to further our genetic lines. Even as evolved as we think we are, chemicals like testosterone and dopamine really more of our energy and motivation than we’d like to think.

I’ve been exploring my own fixation on youth and fitness and how that is largely driven by these same procreative, base needs. And how as a somewhat evolved male homosapien, I have some control over the more ape-like ancestral rushes that occasionally course through me. And today I hit on an example that might clarify a bit more of my own self-examination around these urges vs. what I really want.

Today I was playing tennis with my 11 yo daughter. I have been teaching her how to play. And today on the court I was sitting back and watching her practice serves. On the court next to us was an older woman who, though sightly more robust than my partnering preference, was doing a fine job of beating the pants off her male partner. At this same time, just outside the fence behind my daughter, a young coed, walking her dog, strolled by looking quite fit, but perhaps a bit young to be of interest other than an observation of her beauty.

Every flash of cleavage, every picture on the web, all the titillation around me would give stir to my ape-chemistry and I would derive a little motivational boost.

Seeing these three women at the same time, I got it in a flash. My animal brain and body was attracted to the coed. My love and parenting body was happily enjoying my daughter’s physical practice. And my mind, unencumbered by sexual fantasy, was also fascinated and interest in the woman playing tennis.

The sirens of sex.

I don’t have to give in to the sexual chemistry. And one thing I know about myself, when I’m getting some of my sexual needs met, my sublimated sexual energy is much less powerful. And I’ve been trying to understand some of this dynamic in myself as I’m trying to imagine and conjure up my next relationship.

Before I was paired up, as a boyfriend or a married man, I was a bit more like a wild animal. Every flash of cleavage, every picture on the web, all the titillation around me would give stir to my ape-chemistry and I would derive a little motivational boost. It wasn’t that I wanted to mate with each of the objects of desire, but there was some shortage in my life, some lack. Perhaps my ape-brain was looking for a mate. My evolved-brain was a bit more capable of parsing out the desire part from the sex part, and I was usually able to leave the potential mate unmolested.

But something cool happened when I got matted up. (And I am certain this is different for each man and woman — as we all have different histories and hoped-for futures.) When I was IN relationship, I no longer scanned the savannah for sex. While I could see an attractive young athlete and say, “Wow.” I no longer had any desire to pursue sex or children or even gawking at her.

That’s how I knew, in my evolved self, the GF#1 was not the IT girl for me. Even as I was in relationship with her, and committed to her, my ape-related drive was not satisfied. Even though I had a relationship with an attractive woman, my chemistry was not settled. I did not feel completed.

I knew when I was married that I was SET. I did not desire another woman, ever. I did not roam or roar for anyone else. But when the sexual connection was severed I roared like a wounded animal and fell into a long period of rebuilding.

I know that’s a bad metaphor. But something in my DNA likes to be mated. And when it is complete, or solid, I no longer cruise the herd looking for something fresh, new, and young. When I was married, even as things were going south, there was never a moment when I considered pursuing sex with another woman. I simply did not want anything, sexually, other than what I had. So, like an animal, when the sex when south too, I began to express my rage and sadness and loss.

It’s interesting to note, as a creature of chemistry and instinct, we are also driven by motivation, safely, and happiness. But, I am certain that part of my happiness was related to the sex and the chemicals it produced, the safety and trust it expressed, that when lost, I began to wonder for the first time about the viability of my relationship.

I never looked outside the marriage for that connection. And even after divorced, I maintained a fairly celibate life as I knew my sexual-brain could get me into a lot of trouble when it was flooded with so much sadness, anger, and appetite.

I had never been adored like I was adored by GF#1. She was fearless, close, and spoke “touch” as her love language as well. I tried to get a clue about my sexual ennui over the three months of our relationship, and in the end, agreed to release her back to the wild so she could find the roar for her that was as strong as her roar for me.

Today I connected a tiny bit more of my history and chemistry. And I identified the Sexual Sirens that are all around me, and saw for the first time how different they were to me, depending on my relationship status. If I was mated and getting regular sex. I could care less for their siren song. If I was alone, like a lone lion, I was eager to catch thrill and quick to give chase.

I knew when I was married that I was SET. I did not desire another woman, ever. I did not roam or roar for anyone else. But when the sexual connection was severed I roared like a wounded animal and fell into a long period of rebuilding.

Along those lines, then, my thinking is, when I’m sorting out and evaluating my next relationship, I will listen to the clues in my body and my brain that are either satisfied or hungry to guide a part of my understanding of the animal fit. There’s a lot more to a RELATIONSHIP than fit or chemistry, but boy, when those things go off there’s a lot of roaring to do.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: thigh high, lucy naughton, creative commons usage


Girlfriend 2.0 Startup Initialization Sequence: Step 1: Kissing

kissing a girl

kissing a girl

She showed up to our “coffee date” with a text about a bottle of wine and two glasses she had brought along, in case. We had already been taking, texting, about kissing. It was midday on a sparkling Saturday afternoon.

I had chosen the Starbucks near a small park to give us a place to go walk, should the initial greeting prove promising. I think she had brought up kissing first. We’d already had two phone dates: calls lasting in excess of 30 minutes accented with many laughs and touch points. “Kissing is another way to get to know somebody.” I was ready for a really good kisser.

There’s a lot to kissing. How you give and receive. What pressure and forcefulness you exhibit. Can you change the pace to be soft and hesitant and then reverse into a crushing hug-fueled kiss?

“You are tall,” I said, right on cue as we were leaving Starbucks, there were no seats anyway. It was on her dating profile that people often commented on how tall she was. She was exactly my height. I guess, she still is, exactly my height.

(Jumpcut ahead to now: 7 hours after seeing her for a second kissing date, I can still smell her perfume/lotion on me. It’s as if she’s still with me. It’s an odd sensation. Perhaps like a pheromone cat-like thing. I’m marked. And I can imagine what it might be like if she was lying in the bed with me instead of halfway across town.)

This time around, I’ve added the little bit in my online dating profile, that I want them to be awesome. That average and mediocre won’t cut it. This woman, GF 2.0, is all that. She’s confident and eloquent  irreverent in just the right places, she does a great job at being funny and laughing at my subtle and not so subtle humor. And her college and career have set us up to have a myriad of things to talk about. And she’s a great talker.

She’s also a great kisser. I have to say I was unsure at our first date, with the wine. I was perhaps too hurried, too surprised, to anticipatory. But we made plans about 5 hours later to meet again. And this time, with time and the early Spring night unfolding above us, we kissed. And kissed.

I’m trying to organize my thoughts around what this depth of kissing means. Of what signals our brains and bodies are giving and receiving during prolonged lip lock. I ventured to say something about it while we were taking a conversational pause. “I’m guessing this kind of kissing tells a lot about how a person makes love.”

Given the right startup sequence, I’m pretty sure GF 2.0 is nearby, and maybe already kissing the life back into my belief in sensuousness as a core driver for connection.

The anticipation and yearning for that event is now filled with this pre-dating information of kissing. Even before we’re able to really fathom the potential of the “relationship” we are well versed in the other’s kissing style. And kissing, with someone who likes to kiss… Well, it’s an amazing thing.

There’s a lot to kissing. How you give and receive. What pressure and forcefulness you exhibit. Can you change the pace to be soft and hesitant and then reverse into a crushing hug-fueled kiss? And if it paints any picture of future connective activities, I can say, we kiss really well. And I’m not sure I’ve started with that.

Well, I’m pretty sure when we I was pre-coitus with the ex-y we just about broke our lips off kissing. But it had less intention than this. It was more hunger and passion fueled. This kissing, yesterday’s kissing, seems more about getting to learn about the other person. I texted to her, tonight, after I was trying to come down from the high, “Kissing you is like a gateway drug.”

If it’s possible to bottle up this early enthusiasm, and joy at being together, and hold on to some of it for the duration of the relationship, well, there might be no end. And I said, midway into our second kissing date, “Let’s always remember how important kissing is.”

Now the rest of the initialization sequence is being mapped out in my head. 1. more kissing; 2. more time looking and conversing; 3. navigating the details of how we will have our first “in-home” encounter; 4. luxuriating in the pre-during-post experience of love making; 5. setting plans for the next time; 6. trying to modulate how quickly you allow yourself to entwine your lives, now completely you let yourself submerge.

Of course, there is still girl #3, who returns to town in a few days, with some pre-wiring from our history together pre-marriage, pre-kids. And she is a rockstar woman. Holding out a pause, and allowing for that potential to remain, is a nice place to be. In the flow. In my own power. With a bit of my farming and hard work paying off.

Spring is here. And perhaps there is some giddiness in all of us. We want to be blooming too.

Given the right startup sequence, I’m pretty sure GF 2.0 is nearby, and maybe already kissing the life back into my belief in sensuousness as a core driver for connection.

If I were to assess my current requirements for GF 2.0 they would be: 1. ability to express affection through touch (love language: touch); 2. ability to feel and express deep emotion; 3. the spark of sexual chemistry that turns up the fire in my heart.

One thing is for sure, the girl I am kissing at the moment, is very much in my constellation for becoming my next “relationship.” Dating seems to denote, temporary, casual, without intention. And while that has its place, and the “field” of women seems to be opening slightly for me, I’m not really looking to DATE. I keep telling myself that.

But I have never had the experience of being able to go deep with someone while having another person in the wings. And depth is absolutely what I crave. Ah, and the last requirement: 4. adoration. It seems to me this is the part that grows and is discovered over time. While my first girlfriend adored me like I’ve never been adored before, there was the tiny spark missing. Something. And the experience of missing that, was the experience of not being able to reflect and resonate with that same adoration.

So maybe that’s what LOVE is for me. Finding the person I can adore. The sexual chemistry either happens or doesn’t happen upon meeting. But the adoration is what builds over time to become mutual, exclusive, and intoxicating.

I’m plotting my next kissing session for today.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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kissing, the gateway drug