Sunday, April 3, 2011

XXX

A couple of weeks ago I read an op-ed piece in the New York Times discussing recent research which concluded that it is mentally/emotionally healthier for people to be in stable, committed relationships (women in particular, but men, too). The author didn't take a moralistic, wait-until-marriage stand point- he just reported the information and suggested that perhaps we would be better off if we stopped being, well, slutty (my word, not his). It got me thinking about and reframing the way I view my own sexual history.

You know how guys sometimes inaccurately inflate their number of sexual partners? I used to do the same thing. Having gone through my later adolescence watching Sex in The City, I was embarrassed by how little experience I had. I felt like I was missing some key component of adulthood by not having a lot of partners, so I counted higher than was true. Over the handful of years between losing my virginity and my first adult relationship, I did a fair amount of fooling around, but I had neither the confidence nor the wherewithal to get laid. For some women, faltering self-esteem is the ticket to promiscuity but it didn't work that way for me. I just didn't...get it. And for a long time I was really bothered by that, so I lied about it.

Then something shifted. I gained actual sexual experience and was able to let go of all the pretend conquests. When I got into my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I got a whole new perspective on the decision that I had inadvertently made to take few partners. The tradition teaches that every sexual partner we have leaves an imprint on our aura, and that this imprint lasts for a woman's whole lifetime unless she does specific meditations to clear it. I really resented the auric imprint thing for a while- it felt like some repressive, patriarchal, control bullshit. And then I went through the painstaking process of clearing my aura and I became aware of what happens energetically in a relationship. There is an exchange, esoterically and very literally, and it can come with consequences from the mildly irritating to the very (baby!) serious (HIV!). We should probably use some discernment when picking bed mates. I like to quote Clueless' Cher in moments like these: "You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet."

Which brings me to the present. Now, with some good practice under my belt and much more self-confidence, I'm poised to get out there and rack up my numbers. In the last year I had a sort of sexy awakening, finally figuring out how to get laid after years of pretending. It's been fun and part of me would like to be able to carry on this way, however this comes into direct conflict with my spiritual self. It's a special thing to connect with someone through having sex with them, but, for me, even incredible sex is lacking without love and actual intimacy. And even if the encounter felt intimate, not being honored or taken care of later by the person you've chosen to let so close kind of sours the experience.

Now comes the embarrassing moment where I reference an episode of Glee! Kurt's dad has one of the best sex talks with him that I've ever heard in which he tells him not to throw himself around like he doesn't matter, because he does. He doesn't tell him not to have sex, he just advises him to be thoughtful. Yes! I wish my parents had approached the conversation that way. When I think about it in these terms, it means a lot more to me than auric imprints and possible accidental pregnancies. Beyond the fear, I have a growing self-love that makes it hard to feel good about being fucked. It may feel great in the moment and it certainly serves a purpose, but in my heart of hearts I want to be respected and adored. And, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know any loving, respectful couples whose relationships grew and flourished out of fucking. In my (albeit, still limited) experience, men don't respect or maintain interest in women who give it up easily...which could make for a whole other discussion.

This is a tricky thing: needing to be respected and adored, but being unwilling to be in a relationship and still wanting to be having sex. Unlike the me of years ago who felt as if I had something to prove, I would now prefer to keep my number low and avoid the heartache and effort of getting partners out of my energetic system. The last time I took a new partner, I actually stopped for a moment and thought, "Do I really want to add this person to my list?" I stand by my choice, but I'm afraid to say, gentlemen, that it's going to be that much harder now to convince me that you're worth it.

Having felt less than adored within a relationship, though, I am open to the idea that a non-boyfriend could be respectful and adoring...I just haven't experienced this as possible, so I'm not sure how willing I am to try. I think I might be too sensitive/not cool enough to gracefully pull off the whole casual sex thing. Perhaps, as the research indicates, we're not really meant to live that way. I would hate to risk losing my sensitivity by making a habit of keeping my partners at an emotional distance, trying not to get too close. The trade off seems too big. Talk to me after a couple more months of celibacy and we'll see if I still feel the same way.

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