a day in the city

I’m picking up the thread of the Gawan story again, which I dropped after the last post here. I think the main reason why I left it for so long is because it took time for me to process everything that happened. But now that I’ve booked the flights for my next visit with him, I need to get this story told.


When I woke up again in the mid-afternoon, we went out into the city to locate some food. We ran across a little Mexican fast food place where we ate some amazing nachos (I may have been biased: hunger is the best sauce), and boozy margaritas dispensed from a slush machine. Whether it was objectively good or not, it was deeply satisfying and I was likely grinning the whole time.

We wandered around the city centre, mostly just to see it, but I also did a spot of shopping. We were out for some time, the overcast skies darkened from sunset and thickening clouds, and although the timing was a little awkward (not long after our last meal, but a last and necessary opportunity for food for the evening) we decided to eat again.

First choice, despite the fact that it was now raining rather heavily, was an outdoor restaurant at the water’s edge. They had an indoor space so it seemed feasible. A stylish and almost certainly gay waiter, protected incongruously by a clear plastic rain poncho that looked like a garbage bag with a hood, turned us away apologetically: the restaurant simply couldn’t operate in this weather.

Second choice was a restaurant at a nearby landmark, looking out over the water from indoors, but by this point it was dark and pissing down rain so the ordinarily charming view was barely visible, and we were seated at a prep station well away from the windows. I watched a woman delicately assemble some kind of salad with artisanal slowness. Her kit included a small multi-chambered plastic box — the sort of thing I would expect to contain beads or other jewelry findings. In it were tiny nasturtium leaves and little white flowers (possibly nasturtium too, but I didn’t recognize them), which were plucked out and carefully placed with kitchen tweezers. Kitchen. Tweezers. I would have paid even more attention to the whole process if I’d realized that this was my salad. I wasn’t expecting a sort of performance art as part of the dining experience.

It was bucketing down when we were done, so we made our way as far as we could under awnings in search of a cab.

Back at the hotel, it was getting late and I was getting tired so we dealt with the practicalities of sleep. I prefer to sleep alone and, as I discovered during our first date, Gawan much prefers to share a bed. I’d been anticipating that this issue would come up again, especially since I had the sense that on our first date (where the room was equipped with two single beds and we slept separately) we’d arrived at a standoff rather than a truce. He advocated for sharing the double bed but eventually agreed that — for tonight — we could each have our own.

The next morning when I woke, I invited him into my bed to cuddle. We weren’t early waking up, or getting up, or getting packed. The phone rang just as we were making our exit about 20 minutes after what I presume was checkout time. I figured it was the front desk calling to pester us out.

It was raining again. We dashed down the street to a little restaurant where we had a very late breakfast masquerading as lunch. Our table was outdoors behind the restaurant in a little courtyard of pale painted brick walls, and we struggled to get ourselves and our bags under the umbrella that sheltered the light metal table and chairs. As we were finishing up, so did the rain, and we thought it a good time to make a break for the train station down the block. A few minutes later as we approached our platform in the darkened station, the rain started up again, eventually pelting down impressively, like hail, on the train’s metal roof.

I took the window seat, he the aisle, with our luggage perched on the seats facing us. I watched the foreign landscape and flora move past the train’s windows, sometimes wet with rain, as we trundled companionably toward his home during our first full day together.

erotic styles

Or, “How to Turn Me On: A Duffer’s Guide”.

I recently read Jaiya’s Cuffed, Tied, and Satisfied, which I found interesting overall, despite the fact that there were a few areas that seemed to me to be a little weak.

One interesting (but underdeveloped) topic was patterns of erotic needs and wants that vary from person to person. She calls this “erotic wiring” but I don’t care for that term; the suggestion of soulless mechanism or programming is at odds with the deliciously organic nature of sex. So I’m going to refer to her concept as “erotic styles” instead.

She identifies four styles, which she calls sexual, sensual, energetic (another term I dislike), and kinky. Although I found her descriptions a little sparse, I think I learned something about myself, and that’s all to the good.

[The blocks of text below are my own synopses, while the bullet points are direct quotes from the book.]

Sexual

For a sexual person, the focus is on intercourse. You have a medium to high libido and get off on erotic visuals and films (i.e. porn, presumably). Sex is both a need and a source of relaxation; orgasm is the focus, fucking is the way to get there. You may not feel much need for creativity in bed because you’re easily warmed up and easy to please.

According to Jaiya, a sexual person needs:

  • visual or other sexual stimulation
  • a willing body — either their own or their lover’s
  • standard, direct techniques

Easy peasy!

Sensual

A sensual person focuses on environment. Both physical space and head space need to be orderly. The things that work are typically romantic: food and drink, relaxation and massage, music and dancing, candles and perfume. Mood-killers include stress, clutter, and incomplete to-do lists. You prefer cuddling, kissing and foreplay over intercourse.

A sensual person needs:

  • clarity of mind — no chaos
  • cleanliness
  • toggle activities (like massage) that help you switch from daily life to sexual life
  • stimulation of the senses (candles, oils, music, etc.)
  • clear beginnings and endings — ritual
  • lack of stress

Energetic (aka Sensitive)

This refers to being sensitive to energy — I prefer the term “sensitive”. For a sensitive person, the key is (not surprisingly) their sensitivity. Anticipation is half the fun. Picking up on your partner’s mood allows you to take great pleasure in their pleasure, but also sets you off if they’re in a bad mood. Great heights of pleasure are possible, including an aptitude for multiple orgasms or full-body orgasms — if properly warmed up. Direct touch is too much, and traditional turn-on techniques probably don’t work. You feel intensely and are often misunderstood.

For sex to be satisfying, a sensitive person needs:

  • attention and absolute presence
  • indirect, full-body stimulation
  • anticipation
  • light energetic touch
  • eye contact/emotional connection

Kinky

A kinky person focuses on sexual play that is “outside the box”, whatever that means for you. You tend to be creative and have a rich fantasy life. A partner’s acceptance is a need, and good communication is very helpful. Fear, shame and judgment cause problems. Interests may include power exchange, bondage, role play, sensation play, training.

A kinky person needs:

  • psychological turn-ons
  • playing with taboo sexual practices (BDSM)
  • creativity/fantasy in sexual play
  • acceptance

The sexual, sensual and sensitive types seem to fall on a spectrum with directness of approach or technique at one end and indirectness at the other. Kinky seems to be a separate category typified by difference or novelty — in other words, off the beaten path.

So where do I fit in all this?

I’m clearly not a sexual type. I’m not easily warmed up. Don’t go for my groin, or even my breast, thinking that will turn me on: if I’m touched sexually too soon, I get right pissed off. The standard direct techniques do not work for me. I’m quite selective about what images or stories I find hot, and my response to the good stuff tends to be mild.

I prefer cuddling, kissing and foreplay over intercourse. Stress and clutter throw me off. I can find music particularly moving. As for food, drink, and the rest of it, they’re pleasant but they’re not going to light my fire. You can skip the rose petals. So I’m somewhat sensual.

I’m very sensitive. I’d say “yes” or “hell yes” to all of this. For me, sex is deeply emotional so I’m unable and unwilling to be sexual with someone who I don’t have a good emotional connection with. If I sensed that my partner was phoning it in, I’d be inclined to pull the plug — there’s just no point.

Another big issue for me is getting — and staying — warmed up. I have to be in a decent mood, he has to be in a decent mood, the pacing has to be good. I find it very satisfying just being aroused, perhaps because it’s still something of a novelty. If I’m not warmed up, there’s absolutely no point for me to try to get off either by myself or with a partner; it’s like having a stuffed up nose and eating a fancy meal despite the fact that everything tastes like cardboard. Deeply unsatisfying, emotionally and physically.

Great heights of pleasure? Yeah, I’d say so. Before my epiphany, the orgasms I had felt nice, or maybe quite nice. Now the low end is around “mmm, that’s gooood”. I fairly often get to “oh, oh, oh” and “oh fuck”. Tears afterward are not uncommon. I sometimes shout during, and I’ve had a couple of literal screaming orgasms. But for all that, I don’t actually orgasm easily. It’s definitely a skill that I/we have been working on. There’s a spot on the nape of my neck where, when touched delicately, makes me shudder orgasmically but it will never make me actually orgasm.

(I’m curious about how well the sensitive type maps onto the definition of the highly sensitive person. Both Wolf and I are HSPs, but he identifies most closely with the sexual type and I don’t at all.)

I’m also kinky. I’m a creative person, and I appreciate creativity, including in sex. I don’t have a rich fantasy life, perhaps because I had suppressed almost all sexual thoughts for so long due to sexual shame. I know I’m interested in some of the more common BDSM activities, especially spanking, power exchange, and bondage. (Hmm, just typing those words is arousing.)

Jaiya defines kinky as being outside of the box, but doesn’t distinguish between novelty and taboo. Transgression is a specific kink; for many people (myself included) whether an activity is taboo does not figure into their enjoyment of it. But I do enjoy combining certain psychological and physical sensations with sex in a way that happens not to be mainstream.

So, sensitive and kinky. That makes things… interesting.

my mind is in a tangle

My mind is in a tangle. As expected.

I just got home last night after being in Gawan’s company for about two weeks, almost all of which we spent on vacation together.

We live very far apart and if we wanted to meet, significant travel would be required. Taking a trip together really did make the most sense, but it was also trial by fire. The destination we chose was challenging, advanced-level travel: different language, different culture, difficult weather, no credit cards, and cut off from the outside world. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best choice if we wanted an experience that was guaranteed to go smoothly. But dealing with challenges also reveals character, so perhaps we learned more about each other than we would have at an easier destination.

During a travel adventure, time behaves oddly and seems to pass at a different rate because it’s filled with more than the usual number of new experiences per day. The sensation of the passage of time doesn’t relate to hours but experiences, and you learn to associate a certain number of experiences with a certain length of time. When you have more experiences, it feels like more time has passed. I’d say that those 12 days felt more like 3 or 4 weeks — ages to be spending with someone I’d never even been in a room with before.

My sensitivity means that I absorb a lot more information from my surroundings and experiences than the average person does. In effect, I’ve gathered a tremendous amount of data from the trip and I’m now in the processing stage. It seems that I’m able to sort information and make connections mostly without really thinking about it — it’s like a program that runs in the background and when a pattern is detected it pops up into my conscious awareness. (To people who don’t work this way, it looks rather like ruminating, but I assure you it’s not. I keep getting new information and I’m not just going around in circles.)

From time to time, specific issues bubble up to the surface without an accompanying conclusion. I might find a raw nerve or some other puzzle, which I will think on to see if I can discover what’s happening below the surface and gain insight.

In those 12 days I learned a tremendous amount about Gawan (which I expected), and about myself (which was a bit of a surprise). I had had a persistent and unsettling feeling of having major gaps in my understanding of him, and a lot of those gaps have been filled in, which is all to the good.

There were ups and downs, but on the whole I had a good time and am glad I went. Details to follow once I’ve done some more processing.

my gut says yes

Huh. I don’t often surprise myself, but lately… wow.

This has been in the works for some time – a sort of parallel thread – and though I’ve given it a tremendous amount of consideration, I haven’t posted about it before. I’ve had a hell of a time keeping quiet about it this long.

The other day I booked a vacation with a man who is not my partner. In fact, we’ve haven’t met face-to-face yet because we live so far apart and meeting requires air travel. But that meeting is finally coming, and soon.

This all started some time ago as a very tentative connection with, perhaps, the potential to be acquaintances, maybe even friends. As it turned out, friendship developed quickly. Since then we’ve exchanged countless emails and spent hours upon hours talking (and occasionally messaging) on Skype. I’d say that we know each other very well and we get along fantastically. For quite some time there’s been something beyond friendship in the background – and quite often in the foreground too.

All of our respective cards have been on the table, more or less since the very beginning: he and Wolf know about each other; his partner and I know about each other; he knows about this blog and he reads it. (Well, he definitely looks at the pictures, and he seems to read the words too.)

He’s going to visit my city for a couple of days, I’ll show him around and, most importantly, he’ll meet Wolf. Then he and I will head off together for an adventure. The precise nature of that adventure is a bit of an unknown for now, and really can’t be known until he gets here.

Chemistry can be difficult to predict. I’ve done all the emotional groundwork that I can (mostly around the idea of sexual non-exclusivity) in order to permit a physical relationship to develop, provided things continue to go in that direction once we finally meet.

At the same time, I’m reminding myself that I’m under no obligation to get nekkid if it turns out that physical attraction isn’t there after all. While I was writing the Dark Ages series [link in the menu] a pattern became clear: I believed that I “should” have sex, without ever asking myself whether I actually wanted to. At one point while we were planning this trip, I started feeling a vague sense of anxiety and unease; I think I had started subconsciously to run on the “should” program again. So my homework is to keep reminding myself that I always, always have that choice. (He’s been good about reminding me of that too.)

If chemistry is absent, then our adventure will revolve around exploring a new and interesting place together. And if chemistry is present, well, I suppose we won’t have quite so much time for sightseeing.

Is it risk-free? Nope. My number one priority is not to fuck up my relationship with Wolf, and if it turns out that this goes the non-exclusivity route (which seems quite likely), it will test us. But I think we’re up to it, and I’ve done all I can to identify and reduce risks. Wolf may not be precisely delighted by the whole idea, but I’m confident that he’s legitimately comfortable with it and that he’s not just agreeing because he feels obliged or because he’s being self-sacrificing. And it’s possible that there may be some benefits to our relationship too.

Is it reckless? Definitely not. I’m incapable of being reckless – I’m much too cautious for that, and my gut lets me know when I’m moving too fast. If anything, I err on the side of slow. (I am an HSP after all.) I’m confident that Wolf and I are solid. We’ve discussed this a lot, I’ve been working on the emotional issues that have come up for me so far, and I’ve pretty much figured out as much as I can for now. I’m in a good place. I’m nervous, sure, but I’m looking forward with anticipation. I’ve been checking in with my gut every step of the way and I haven’t come across a single red flag. Not one. If there was one to find, I would have found it.

Wolf and I have not decided to open our relationship generally. He has no interest in getting involved with anyone else. And I have no interest in getting involved with anyone else except my new friend.

I didn’t start out with a plan (which is probably obvious), just a strong sense of connection and curiosity. Although I have some vague preferences of where I’d like this to go, I have no specific destination in mind. And besides, our situation is so unusual that there’s no script to follow. I’m simply following my heart. So far, it has led to a more rewarding emotional connection than I would have thought possible – which is utterly delightful.

Few things in life are certain, and insisting on certainty before even starting to explore a path might be a “no” in disguise. Sometimes you have to step out into the unknown in order to see what’s there.

So no, I don’t know where this is going, but my gut still says yes. Wholeheartedly.

Dark Ages 19: insights

After I started this series, I soon realized that not everyone finds thinking about their dating history as “a depressing trudge down memory lane”. When I looked back, I saw lots of treading water in aimless and dissatisfying relationships, painful breakups, and few memories actually worth savoring. So I didn’t think about it. But sifting through these old layers in a methodical way has revealed patterns that I hadn’t previously been aware of.

First, some background. When I was little, I knew that you were supposed to get married and have kids. Yet by age 5, I already knew that I didn’t want kids, and I soon concluded that this wouldn’t actually be a problem because no one would want to marry me anyway. So self-esteem was clearly an issue from a young age. (I never dreamt about having a wedding either, but I’m grateful for that.) My parents weren’t physically demonstrative so I grew up essentially without touch.

Most of the childcare was done by my dad. My mom was present, but I’m inclined to blame her emotional distance on the sexual abuse she suffered at her father’s hands. My dad recently told me that after they split, he (my dad) wanted to take me camping (I would have been 11 or 12) and my mom was worried that he was going to abuse me; nothing of the sort ever happened. Interestingly, around that time it occurred to me to be afraid of being abused by him. Did I come to that thought independently, or did I somehow pick up on what was unsaid?

By the time I was about 12 or 13, I tended to feel more comfortable with boys than girls. It seemed like there must be some manual about how to be a girl and I was the only one who hadn’t gotten my copy. My mom never taught me to be “feminine”. There seemed to be all kinds of rules about being a girl that didn’t make sense and I didn’t know the rules so I didn’t play. I didn’t like shopping or makeup, I didn’t dress to be attractive, I didn’t like skirts and dresses, I didn’t travel to the school bathroom in packs with the other girls. I wore jeans and T-shirts, read a lot, rode my bike, kept to myself, and took martial arts classes.

I don’t know why I started dating precisely when I did, but it feels like a switch was flipped — suddenly it was possible and I needed to have a boyfriend. (I never worried about “being alone” in an existential way, and besides, the majority of my dating took place while I was still living with my parents.) I was seeking external validation: being able to attract male interest of a specific sort was a way to prove to myself that I had some worth. My relationship with my dad is generally OK, but the most hurtful thing I’ve ever heard was something he said to me. Prompted by some complaint from his girlfriend (now wife), he told me, “I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Feeling the need for a boyfriend made me somewhat opportunistic by necessity. I didn’t give a lot of thought to my preferences about appearance and personality, which were generally vague and unarticulated. Still, personality was vastly more important than looks, and I think my sexual shame contributed heavily to downplaying the role of physical attraction. I preferred intelligence but compromised easily. The most important quality in a guy was that he was interested in me: I found that very attractive indeed, but very occasionally it wasn’t enough (Buddy, Dude). After Bad Boy, I bounced from one guy to the next for months without the slightest sense of direction. I figured that this demonstrated I must be attractive, at least, though I didn’t find that conclusion entirely reassuring.

I may have sucked at choosing boyfriends, but I was really good at commitment. That’s not a good combination, as it turns out. I’d start dating someone and then feel like I should stay with him for some reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

While my parents were together, their relationship was generally civil but not warm and there was the occasional fight (shouting). This would be my model for relationships: duty and commitment without warm feelings or physical affection. My dad confessed to me recently that he was frustrated with the lack of affection and emotional connection, but I have no doubt that my mom felt too vulnerable to let him in. My mom told me recently that while they were together, my dad cheated serially. I’d wager that he was looking for the emotional and physical intimacy he couldn’t get at home.

Is “commitment” even the right word for what I learned from them? I think commitment should involve mutual promises to be good to each other. What I saw in my parents’ marriage wasn’t commitment but perseverance. The notion that a relationship is something to be enjoyed and not merely endured completely escaped me for a long time.

It took a long time before I learned to identify a bad relationship. I’m not sure I really did learn that lesson until I fell into a good one and had that as a point of reference. After Bad Boy, I was spooked for a long time but at least I eventually learned to check in with myself from time to time to see if things were still good or if they had taken a turn.

I wasn’t good at knowing when a relationship should end or actually ending it. I dislike confrontation and I dislike hurting people. I took too much responsibility for the pain of others because their pain hurt me too: that’s a boundary issue due to sensitivity and things I learned at home. I ended two relationships because I thought it was the right thing to do (Small Town, Badger). On two occasions, I broke up with a guy to date someone else (A/V, Gamer). I was dumped once and I found it embarrassingly excruciating (Guitarist). With the rest, things failed to get off the ground, weren’t going anywhere because of distance issues, fizzled out and/or ended mutually.

I wasn’t good at knowing when to start a relationship either. Regrettable things happened when I made snap decisions. I took it slow with Gamer and it went OK; we’re sort of in touch but have little in common these days (for one thing, he goes to sports bars now). Things went better when I actively put the brakes on. Although the split with A/V didn’t go well, we rebuilt our friendship and I still consider him a good friend. And then there’s Wolf, my partner for lo these many years.

I had/have a thing for creative types, which I suppose I knew at the time. A few of my boyfriends and most of my crushes have been musicians. There were artists, writers and actors too. I was into art and singing, so it’s not impossible that I was attracted to what these guys were doing (more than who they were) because they were doing the things I wanted to do, more or less. My preference for creative guys didn’t prevent me from trying sporty guys (Tall had the redeeming feature of also being creative, Small Town didn’t), but I’d call it an unsuccessful experiment.

So my challenges were: low self-esteem; the necessity of being in a relationship; commitment, in the form of perseverance; external validation; not knowing what I wanted other than wanting to be wanted; lack of physicality; and the thread of sexual shame throughout. Self-esteem still pops up as an issue sometimes, but I’ve experienced a lot of healing in all of these areas – from increased maturity, my relationship with Wolf, and now through self-awareness and personal growth.

As it happens, I also learned a lot about Bad Boy – not so much during this process specifically, but in recent years. He’s a special case, and he’ll get his own post soon.

simplicity and complexity

It’s an interesting process how this blog is helping me to develop my eye, despite the fact that I post much more text than imagery.

I tend to err on the side of minimalism rather than excess, in all things. I prefer my schedule a little empty rather than a little full. I enjoy music but I spend more of my time in quiet. In my home, I’m surrounded mostly with wood and other natural tones. My clothing tends to be simple, and I wear the same small earrings 98% of the time.

My dance costume is anything but minimalist. I don’t have a lot of textile pieces to choose from, but I do have more jewelry than I can wear at once. I create my look anew every time (within certain parameters), such that merely getting dressed and made-up is itself an artistic process. With the sheer quantity of pieces and choices, it could easily become chaotic. What I’m going for is lushness, the body as artistic project, sensuality even in stillness.

costume

Dark Ages 3a: digging up buried emotion?

For the last few days I’ve noticed tension in my neck and jaw, and sometimes even in the root of my tongue. This is a familiar pattern of tension: in recent months I’ve realized that it’s the way I tend to physically experience stress and difficult emotions. And yet I’ve otherwise been feeling fairly relaxed lately: the holidays were a net win with less than the usual amount of work stress, and minimal holiday/family stress. So where is the tension coming from?

I went looking for other possible stressors and the only thing I can find is my “Dark Ages” posts (posted, drafted or merely outlined). I originally dismissed this as an unlikely stressor, but now I’m not so sure.

Sometimes when I’m reading (something on personal growth, for instance), I read a passage and — before any specific thought coalesces — I experience an emotional reaction in the form of sudden feeling of tension (usually the jaw), or being choked up (throat), or even full-blown tears. It’s like a tiny emotional landmine. Then I have to stop and think about it if I want to figure out what I’m feeling and what provoked it. It usually only takes a few moments: I usually have good idea of what it might be, so I just think on that for a moment to see if the thought stings or not. If it stings, that’s the issue. Sometimes the feeling might be uncomfortable but a bit hazy, as though this is part of it but not the biggest part, in which case I work through the other possibilities until I locate the sting.

My theory is that my recent neck and jaw tension may be a similar physical experience of emotion, but more vague and spread over a longer period of time — perhaps because the emotion is complex and/or deeply buried. I’ve had a few ideas about the possible underlying issues, but none of them give that sting when I’ve thought on them.

The fact that this exercise in revisiting the past seems to be unearthing some kind of emotion suggests that there is still some emotional work to be done here, as opposed to just pointless bitching about exes. I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to figure it out eventually and that I’ll feel better when I do.

I had an epiphany

Before

My partner1 and I have had an excellent relationship for almost 20 years (we married almost 10 years ago). But not even a year in, the sex declined rapidly and remained minimal. Like once-every-two-months-ish or less.2

Because of me.

I wanted to want to. But — for some reason I couldn’t figure out — I didn’t actually want to. The result: I was on my guard at all times and simultaneously felt guilty that I didn’t want it. Completely torn. I was grateful (and occasionally a little surprised) that my partner stayed with me through it all. Top all of that off with another helping of guilt.

Then

For the last couple of years, my partner has been studying overseas and thus has been away for 2 to 6 months at a time, and home for up to 3 months at a time. I hoped that my anxiety about sex would decline while we were apart, and that my defences would drop on their own. Maybe then I could make some kind of improvement.

About a year ago, I started to have serious challenges with work/family (it’s a family business — so complicated). I started seeing a counsellor occasionally and doing lots of reading on anything remotely relevant to the situation: toxic workplace; body language; passive aggression; my personality and the personalities of others at work; anger; boundaries; sensitivity and the highly sensitive person (HSP).

It took a while, but my sexuality began to thaw this past summer as hoped, and I started doing some reading in that area as well. I had always felt uncomfortable with sexuality generally. I had never experienced anything particularly negative — it just seemed to be an attitude or belief that I couldn’t shake, no matter what sex-positive stuff I read or how I tried to correct my thinking.

Somehow, the phrase ‘sexual shame’ came to mind, and now I had a search term. I was able to confirm that, yes indeed, sexual shame was what I was experiencing. Now, where the hell did it come from?

Suddenly

A throwaway line in a book about HSPs changed everything for me: the sensitivity of HSPs makes it possible for them to be deeply affected by the hurts of others, for instance a sensitive child picking up on the past sexual trauma of a parent.3

Whoa.

My mother was sexually abused by her father.

This is all I know about it. The fact that I know at all is, in itself, highly improbable.

What if my negative attitude about sex is actually hers, not mine?

Sex is shameful and bad. Being married doesn’t make sex OK. Sex is not enjoyable. Always protect yourself — merely saying ‘no’ is probably not sufficient. If sex can’t be avoided, it is to be merely survived. Men are dangerous and can’t be trusted about sex. Sex is absolutely private and should never be discussed with anyone. Displays of affection, sensuality or sexuality are always inappropriate. All of these incorrect beliefs are consistent with an unhealthy attitude created by abuse.

Finally — finally — things started to fall into place for me. I don’t think I spent much time pondering: the realization alone seems to have thrown the door wide open. Perhaps the other personal growth work that I had done (getting to know myself better in general terms, learning about sex positivity) had established the necessary groundwork. I’m not sure. But now I’m off to the races.

So here I am, in a long-term committed and deeply loving relationship, finally enjoying my sex life (thank fuck!) and wanting to express it, but oh god not to anyone I actually know!


1   For the purposes of this blog, he prefers the term ‘partner’ rather than ‘husband’ because the latter has a lot of connotations that he doesn’t care for.

2   I haven’t found any reliable definitions in my brief research on the point, but in accordance with this article, I accept the term ‘sex-starved relationship’ as meaning sex less than 10 times per year. A ‘sexless relationship (marriage)’ would then mean no sex at all.

3   I didn’t make note of the book at the time, but I think it was either The Highly Sensitive Person, or The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, both by Elaine Aron.