Sunday, June 27, 2004

Emotional and Physical Intimacy

I've heard many women and some men say that they must be in love before they feel comfortable with physical intimacy. In other words, when they finally have sex with someone, it is symbolic of how they feel about the other person. Such people more readily express their feelings, but are highly selective with whom they share their bodies. Physical intimacy follows emotional intimacy.

As for me, I've always freely shared my body without it necessarily being freighted with any deep emotions beyond sheer chemistry. However, I am much more reserved about whom I share my innermost thoughts and feelings. I don't expect to fall in love with everyone I have sex with, nor do I expect them to fall in love with me. Most of the time, it's simply meeting a basic need.

I'm someone who believes that talk is, indeed, cheap. I'm not going to tell someone I love them if I don't, even if I want to have sex with them. When I say the words, I mean them. The sex doesn't happen as a result of love; rather, in the rare instance that love happens, it arises independently of the sex, even though the end result may be to make the sex even better.


"Thy body is all vice, thy mind is all virtue" -- Unknown

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Questions and Answers

Today, I thought I'd respond here to some questions a reader asked me by email in regards to my last blog entry. Thanks to C for posing them.

so how does one sort this out.....i mean..there is the need to be with someone. or the desire. so is it just sex?

To be perfectly blunt, yes, sometimes it is indeed just sex. But even though love is not at all necessary for me to desire a particular person, not just anyone will do. I have my preferences, just like anyone else, but it is usually based more on a nebelous, undefinable biological "chemistry" rather than any kind of emotional attachment. I couldn't even begin to define just what the chemistry is that I respond to, but I always recognize it when I experience it.

A few times, many years ago, I did have sex with partners with whom I had no chemistry and each time, the sex was mechanical and unsatisfying. So, even though I might not have any emotional desires for a particular partner, the chemistry must be present for it to be worth pursuing.

or is companionship just as critical? how does love fit into all this?

It depends on the situation. Love doesn't always fit into it, nor is it always necessary. Love and sex are two different things and both are good, either separately or together. The desire to mate is a basic human instinct, like eating, and I've always gone about meeting this need in a matter of fact manner. I recognize and accept that I'm going to get horny quite a bit more often than I'm going to be in love, and I've acted accordingly.

And it is far easier for me to share my body with others than my innermost thoughts and feelings. I've not been "in love" but a handful of times in my life, and when it occurs, it is all the more precious simply because of its rarity.

a distinction between love and lust. but then take that relationship out into a future of getting older and more would that work with something more superficially based on sex?

Well, it wouldn't work with something which was strictly based on sex alone. But it's not always an either/or thing for me; either purely sexual encounters or a committed monogamous relationship. A few of the lovers I've had over the years have fallen somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I've had some rather satisfying "sexual friendships"; that is, relationships that include all the ordinary activities of most friendships, with sex added into the mix, but without the typical romantic exclusivity.

i dunno....does a libertine face a future of growing old alone? don't you have to make some kind of commitments to a someone to insure they will be there for you? and isn't that simpler if that is based in love?

I suppose that is always a possibility. But there are no guarantees of anything in this life, not even for those of us who have chosen to conform to the straight and narrow of monogamous marriage. Death and divorce are ever-possible realities even for those who always follow the rules.

"To thine own self be true", then let the chips fall where they may.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

In Sickness and Health?

With the death of former President Ronald Reagan today, who spent the last ten years of his life with Alzheimer's, I got to thinking of those in conventional marriages where one partner is unexpectedly incapacitated by a permanent disability, be it physical, mental, emotional, or a combination thereof. I thought of how uncomprimising expectations of physical fidelity in the context of a marriage where normal sexual relations are no longer possible and/or practical could put unreasonable and unnecessary stress on what was previously a good relationship.

Almost always, when one spouse can no longer have sex because of illness, injury, or some other form of disability, the healthy spouse is expected to give up sex as well, and, at best, be satisfied with no more than "cuddling" from then on, regardless of their age. Very little, if any, acknowledgement is given to the fact that the healthy spouse's physical needs simply do not magically vanish or are easily rechanneled into non sexual outlets. A healthy spouse who decides to get those needs met elsewhere, however discreetly, and however they may love and care for their disabled spouse otherwise, is usually soundly condemned for doing so.

The usual reason given for passing this judgement is that one should simply put their sexual needs aside indefinitely because of love. But love goes both ways. I've heard of couples where, out of love, the disabled partner gives tacit permission to their spouse to get these needs met elsewhere, secure in the fact that emotional fidelity does not necessarily require strict physical fidelity as well.

Some people might think this view as being cold, but I'd rather think that separating sex from love, especially in these circumstances, is a more workable and realistic solution. Though aware that most people are not geared for a completely unrestrained libertine lifetstyle, I also know that totally inflexible monogamy doesn't work well for many others. Surely, there should also be room along a continuum for various gradations of emotional and/or physical fidelity, depending on people's individual needs and circumstances.

Food for thought.