With the conclusion of every relationship, I look back, and allow my mind to openly accept the red flags that I willingly chose to ignore. We’ve all done it. And I will probably continue to do it. When you are in love with someone you might call these things compromises, or just accept them. But when you are out of love, they are easier to see. And for a person such as myself who has had two 8 plus year long relationships in a row, I am taking things a step further, and seeing the concessions I made with both men. In this lament, I am going to talk about touch, or rather the lack of it. In short, touch has power, and when I can’t have it, I should walk away, right?
I grew up in a family that hugs and kisses each other… a lot! Touch was quite natural amongst family, but, like any good teenager, I ended up rebelling in my late teens and took a hard stance against hugs of any kind. At the time, I was also with a man who hated/feared intimacy. Unless our clothes were off, there was no hugging, kissing, touching, or hand holding. Touch was just not a thing, and lead me to write about the anti-seductive power of touch.
Fast forward to my last long term relationship where I was granted about 50 percent more out of bedroom intimacy. I honestly felt like I hit the jackpot. Those first few years were ripe with PDA, and all sorts of clothed touch, well, except for one key thing, he refused to hold my hand. In fact, any sort of hand holding in or out of the bedroom would result in an almost anxiety inducing moment for him. But, the hugs, were there, and I felt my self esteem and confidence boost to the point that I started hugging my closest friends again.
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It’s weird to admit, but once I felt that tease of touch, it was like the floodgates opened. I became almost insatiable and just wanted constant touch and affection, as if I was some love starved person. Which, it turns out, I actually was but didn’t recognize it at the time. The innate desire for human touch was a symptom of something I could not admit to myself: that this man and I were not right for each other. We were out of sync for a long time, but, life is life, and it kept us together far longer than it ever should have.
Hindsight is a magical thing, that can actually throw a person like me right down a regret filled rabbit hole. Why didn’t he want to hold my hand, say I love you, hug me just because he could? Was I that unlovable? Was/am I not worthy of intimacy or a connection? These questions swirl around when I least expect them, and get almost unbearable when I meet someone new, because guess what? Covid times mean we are universally out of sync with intimacy and human touch. It is such a fun time to be dating, said absolutely no one! We have a social responsibility to keep our distance from people, and what I am finding out, is that my personality type, and issues with touch are not conducive to this.
But, I will persevere, try not to come on to strong and touchy feely with new people, and just do my best to work out my desire for intimacy alone, in my bedroom with buzzing toys??
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I have toyed with a post explaining why I believe the word friendzone is bullshit for over 5 years. I have outlines, ideas, and just random thoughts peppering my work in progress document and nothing I wrote ever could quite get past the whole “I don’t like the label and it’s implications”. Until recently, I felt writing this post would be irresponsible and give people the wrong impression about me (by that I mean, I didn’t want men who felt they were in the friendzone to start pushing boundaries). But I write this now because there is something bubbling beneath the surface of the word that I think needs to be addressed here. With a few beers in me, I wrote this in reply to a comment on my Predators blog post: I have tried numerous times to write a post on the friendzone, however I stop myself in light of this very context. Until there is a clear understanding of consent, and boundaries, there are certain men that should just stay believing in the friendzone for the sake of the women they are in essence pushing boundaries with…. OK, maybe this should turn into a post.
Any guesses where I am going with
this yet? The friendzone is a word, that
I have always felt, was a copout. We use
it to place a person who we may or make not actually like, but definitely do
not want anything physical to happen with (at that particular moment). And as we are still trying to figure out what
role they play in our lives, we relegate them into this so called “friendzone”. The implications of that zone, are that the
person will take the hint, and therefor understand that they are to stop being
flirty, or expect that the person who placed them there will ever sleep with
them. Basically, it’s code for “just
give up already”.
So, there are two parts that I will touch on here to explain why I think the friendzone is bullshit
The first, is why do we allow, or
even encourage people to place labels like this on other human beings. It’s often cruel. If a person likes you, man up, and have the
conversation that says you are tired of them doing such and such behaviour, and
would like it to stop for the friendship to continue. Then set a clear expectation, for example,
this is what will happen if you don’t. Off
the top of my head you could threaten that the friendship will be over if they
continue to push your boundaries. Of you
could simply state where you are at in the moment and call out the persons bad
behaviour as it happens.
Perhaps you would like an example from my colourful past? Ok, here is a little story time…Once upon a time when I was in a long term monogamous relationship, I had a friend who would constantly try to buy me drinks, text me cute pet names, and when he got drunk he would meow at me. I really appreciated all the free stuff I was getting, and when we texted it was playful, it was fun, and quite flattering being on someone’s mind like that. However, when he got drunk, he repeatedly tried to cross the line, would hold his hugs just a little too long, and the weird meowing turned into this creepy cat-like howl. To be clear I had zero attraction for him, and was in a completely monogamous relationship that he was fully aware of. He was a teddy bear in the day time with whom I always hugged when I saw him, was a great listener, and overall I loved the boost he gave my ego. So, I, without realizing it, was letting him ride in that weird friendzone territory, while I sorted out my feelings and tried to rationalize where he was in my life.
But then, I grew up. Ok, the truth was, I got sick and tired of his drunken behaviour and watched it start to spill into our sober text messages. So, I gave him a choice. Either stop crossing the line with me when you’re drunk and allow me to trust you 100% of the time, or you will not be in my life. And guess what? After two strikes, he was no longer in my life. I won’t lie, I missed the attention, but ultimately, the ego boost just wasn’t worth having someone like that in my life.
Ok, so now let’s talk about the other side of it. Why people find themselves in the friendzone. I’m not going to mince words here, if you have ever found yourself in the friendzone it is because you do not have the social skills to handle the situation that you are in and you are the problem. See what I did there? I told you what was wrong in a direct manor. Let me explain, if you’re sitting there, shell shocked, or feeling like you want to start defending yourself, take pause and hear me out. If you are attracted to someone, and the feelings are not returned in the same manor that you are wishing they would, there are a few things going on. First, you have picked a target way out of your league and you are either too shy, under confident, or socially awkward to overcome that hurdle so you tell yourself, just being close to this person is enough. Guess what? It’s not, it’s weird, and you need to start learning how to build your confidence.
Second, you have this person in
your life who keeps telling you no, but you have decided, that they are wrong,
and you are going to keep trying. Guess
what? That makes you an asshole and you
have violated the whole consent thing.
Maybe this person is just being too nice, doesn’t want to hurt your
feelings, or is just genuinely trying to figure things out. That shouldn’t matter to you though. If you
hear the word no, it’s time to back off immediately. Perhaps they will miss you, and come
around. Or more likely, they will
realize their gut was right, and they just were one of those genuinely amazing
souls who are nice to everyone, and are so relieved that they don’t have to
feel awkward around you anymore. Either
way, respect the word no, and back off!
The friendzone is not healthy, for anyone. The friendzone is a bullshit place to be, and equally to put someone in while you figure things out. I propose that we remove this silly label from our vocabulary and start actually communicating with people. You don’t have to use black and white labels. We are blessed with a whole range of words, body language, and clear methods of expressing ourselves. So, start building those skills. And did you know that you can always change your mind about a person too? If you tell a person you aren’t into them, and then realize you were wrong you can go and talk to them and share your feelings? Crazy, I know! But it’s far better than playing this whole in the friendzone, out of the friendzone charade. So take these new and improved communication skills you have learned here, and go have meaningful conversations with people you like. And always remember, if they say no, for the love of everything, respect that, and do NOT keep trying!
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Whenever my partner is away I find myself going through that same cycle over and over. It starts with me making big huge plans for everything I am going to do with all my new found free time. Then I spend a little too much time binge watching a TV show that I have been waiting to watch, that I know he hates. Soon after, I put out my little loneliness feelers, to scratch my sexual itch, especially if he is going to be gone more than a few days. Almost every time that plan falls flat and I resort to draining the charge on my toys again and again.
At this point, I realize that it may not be sex I am looking for, but just merely a little human contact. I become a little more hug prone and I set up coffee dates with someone I haven’t seen in a while at least once a week. You know, to just get out of the house and keep social. And then I throw myself into whatever job I am doing. In this case, I am working as many hours as I can, and when I get home I crack a beer and continue working my book.
And then, it hits me, and it is a surprise every single time. My life is the same with him away, or right here beside me. What I choose to do, and how I live, doesn’t change based on the distance. Sure, I might only see a friend or make new friends once a month. And perhaps I get a little distracted in the summer with camping, sunshine and adventures so the writing takes a bit of a pause. But I am supremely focused on my craft. Although it may not seem like it, I always am daydreaming, working out character arcs, and working through things that I may or may not share via blog, or social media. And there is no amount of distance that can break my connection to my partner. We have a symmetry about us, that just seems to work. Two stubborn, souls, living in a beautiful cosine arc, that peaks and falls with the passing days, in a perpetual path towards our individual goals.
And as for the dating and sexual aspect, my goodness do I miss having a couple in our lives that we can get excited for, and excite us in return. I know we will find a few “someones” at some point, and it will be the most amazing, invigorating time of our lives, but in the right now, it remains a fantasy, mixed with a few blissful moments from memories. I almost look forward to the fall, whereby things seems to settle out a little, and routines become more predictable both in our lives and in the quest to edge into someone eles’s. The variability of summer leaves too much up in the air to really get something started. A few sparks here and there, but it’s the fall that proves if those sparks will smoulder out, or ignite into a warm glow.
My imagination grows rich with fantasy, and it is time to put pen to paper in a more poetic form. Until next time my dear readers.
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Sigh, that coveted casual swing club encounter. That hot steamy night that you fantasize would just spontaneously occur. You stack the deck in your favour of course. Slow hot bath, sipping wine as you scrub yourself squeaky clean and do all the necessary personal grooming. Then you dress to the nines with your partner, or in our case, pick the most elaborate costume you can. You arrive at a packed swing club with that pre-screened and amazing looking guest list, tonight is going to be hot. You pour yourselves a drink and begin the mingling and flirting dance. And then you find a couple. The small talk begins and you find some common ground. Let’s go somewhere quieter they say. You laugh, stroke your partners thigh and discover that it is smiles all around. This night is going perfectly. That fantasy is looking very promising.
And then, you remember, your rules, and you are snapped back into reality. No full swapping the first time you meet. Why? Quite simply it’s a little matter of safety and sexual compatibility. As hot as that anonymous first time swap would be, for you it will remain nothing more than a fantasy. When it comes to sexual health and safety we never compromise.
At a club, in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to have a clear and completely honest conversation about disclosure. I don’t subscribe to the idea that everyone lies, however, in a sexually charged environment, there can be a tendency by some parties to say whatever they can to sway the cards in their sexual favor. And even if every one is telling the truth, it is an often loud environment. It is easy to not be heard, or clearly understand what someone has said. So, we err on the side of caution. Touching, soft swap, all good things. But no kissing or fluid exchange with strangers, period.
For my personal comfort and sanity, I cannot stand waking up the next morning wondering if the person we kissed was clean (I use the term loosely and for simplicity, no judgement intended). It turns a really hot memory into one of suspicion and uncertainty. I prefer guilt free fantasies. Especially with my writers over active imagination. In fact, I had situation just a few months ago, where we were soft swapping with a bunch of people, touching and getting a little intense when all of a sudden a woman stuck her tongue down my throat. No permission was obtained and while I wanted to get lost in the sexiness of the situation, as there were hands everywhere, the reality was not hot. It felt instead, obtrusive, invasive and all manor of inappropriate and all that separated her behaviour from everyone else’s, was the fluid exchange. I was angry that I didn’t even have the chance to say no, or have the safe sex talk. And as a result of how I felt the next morning and a very short conversation with my partner, we made a rule that from here on in, we tell people that we do not swap the first time we meet.
The other aspect I mentioned is sexual compatibility. I don’t know about you, but history tells me that first time sex with a person is average to bad. Every sexual encounter is unique, the sights, sounds and smells of a person. So having no clue what to expect personality wise or sexually can be a bit of a hurdle. I even heard of a few swingers who stopped going to clubs in general because the anonymous sex was actually getting boring. It was constantly mediocre or bad and the thrill of newness was starting to wane. Sex really ramps up, when you get to know a person. When you can read their body language and get into the situation without having to stop every 30 seconds to ask permission (a slight exaggeration there, but you get the idea). I for one, want a much more sustainable sex life. I enjoy good to great sex. I love the butterflies and after glow, and I get that from a specific memory or touch from a person I care a bit about. Strangers just don’t have any staying power in my mental spank bank. I don’t want objects, I yearn for flesh and blood, emotional beings.
And for us the advantages of playing this way far outweigh the lost fantasy. Especially for us, as we love a little chase and the excitement of getting to know someone. Building that sexually charged suspense. We don’t always get the payoff for postponing a swap, but man, when we do! That keeps us going for weeks! So the trade-off of an amazing novelty encounter, versus more of the getting to know a couple sex is definitely up our alley.
Now you can call me a tease or a dirty vanilla or a no touchie if it makes you feel better, but the truth of the matter is I would love to play the first time. I just don’t want to waste my time hoping the sex will be good or to put myself in a situation where I do not feel safe. I’m in this for the long haul, not to just try out a few new people for curiosities sake. Maybe I’m not a true swinger in that I don’t actually engage in anonymous sex with strangers. I have written about already feeling like an outlier. I know there is an argument for your valuable time. You have the night off, a babysitter booked and you are looking for some strange. And I respect your fantasy, just as I hope you respect my reasoning for not doing a full swap when we meet. We try to disclose this information sooner rather than later, however we have screwed up few times and left it until we were already in the same room taking off our clothes. For that, I humbly ask your forgiveness and I hope that you will want to get some strange with us in the future, only, not when it’s 100 percent strange.
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I was going through my blog comment section this morning and realized that I had missed responding to someone from 2012. It was on a post entitled Sexual Compatibility: An Open Letter. So aside from feeling terrible for ignoring someone who took the time to comment, I also felt bad because of the myth that he was taking solace in. The myth is that for marriage to last for ever, you should be with your best friend, because in the end, when the sex life has fizzled out, you will still have your soul mate. Basically, put more stock in a companion than a sexual equal. I hate this myth.
Why put limits on your relationship? Why perpetuate the idea that one must settle in order to live happily ever after (which I also do not agree with). Life is whatever you make of it. Relationships can be whatever you want them to be. A lifetime together means just that, a lifetime making each other happy. And for a lot of people, myself included, sex enriches my life and relationship. Penn and Teller, did a Bullshit episode on Old People, which looked at all the myths that happen when people get old. Sex drive dying was definitely a myth according to many who were interviewed. In fact, how many times have you heard of near polyamory in old folks homes? Human nature is to experience everything you possibly can when you know the end is near. And sex is high on that list.
In my own family, I was horrified to find out that some elderly seniors thought it was funny to pick up the phone to invite the other into the shower with them… while I was on the line! I won’t put in writing who it was, but I can tell you that sex is very much still a part of that 50 plus year marriage. And it is only uncomfortable because they are family. Reading that from anyone else, I would probably say that is so sweet, but please don’t tell me anymore.
Find someone who is your equal, who always has your back and you theirs. Find a partner. But don’t limit yourself to myths. Don’t think that sex has to dry up. Don’t place more value on companionship if that is not what’s important to you. Make your own long term goals with your partners and live everyday in love and happiness. Do not allow limits to control you! Or myths that keep a person down on some potentially miserable level. Sexless marriage is not inevitable unless you want it to be.