Sunday, July 22, 2018

No Sex No City

 I recalled this essay for many reasons: One: the current MeToo climate; Two: The issue of Sex and the City being re-examined largely due to Cynthia Nixon's campaign for Governor of New York; Three: My evening last night with a married man and his wife.  No this was not a threesome thing so just wait.

I have long complained that I am unable to meet peers here due to my horrible but convenient job and that I have no other social outlets common to Nashville to meet said cohort and by that I mean Church.  There is little opportunity unless I join a Meetup Group which I did and that was utterly a crapshoot and failure.  In an attempt to meet people  the other choice was volunteering and it too had equally bad results.  Normally I met people doing shared activities - such as the Gym, the Coffee Shop or some other activity that puts one in contact with others.  In Nashville that is the Church or the Church so no.   I have actually gone to a few of them and that was that as it was a compromise and more of curiosity.  So to actually join would true enable me I suspect to meet people but  I was unwilling to do in which to have someone to go to the coffee or the yoga class with, you know those shared activities that usually work in normal situations.  At that point it made me question if I was normal and having done that inventory I decided to simply be satisfied with who I am and accept that my life here is normal and move forward with why I came here and work around the isolation.  I am not here long enough to vest that hard and it seems pointless when surgery and dental shit starts again next year.  So off to Iceland in two weeks and well just be me and see what that brings in the land of the white walkers.

But as life offers challenges one takes them and tries to rise above or at least come out of it unscathed and yesterday a man whom I have shared yoga space with the last year or longer.  We have had small exchanges as I am known for my snark and while we are in the back in the corner it makes it easier to do so even, especially during downward dog.  So yesterday a building across the street was imploded and class was late as we were busy watching it and in turn he was later so I told him that he missed all the good stuff and by that I meant the building going BOOM as he was not actually late for Yoga.  He laughed and later during one pose as the instructor demonstrated it I said, "I do it exactly like that during my home practice but I don't here so to not make people feel inferior."  He laughed.  He is my age,  a Doctor (I knew this as once he said will it bother you if I have my phone out I am on call and my response was "Oh you are a man prostitute and do you go by the man pro name of Doctor?" He laughed and that was that)  But today we talked after class and he said he was married but he would love to have coffee after class as he enjoyed the conversation.  I informed him that I was closed for business anyway below the waist and unless this coffee was in a hotel room I had no problem as long as his wife did not mind or worry about that as she has no reason to.  Again this is the time when we need to actually practice and preach that men and women can be friends and not worry about the pussy grabbing so I am open to at least making that effort.  Well I would be wrong but it takes little time, no alcohol and a heart wrentching movie about a message about being kind, being loving and having respect for yourself and others.  And yes his wife went with us to Won't You Be Our Neighbor and they came in separate cars which right there was a flag, then she told him to drive me home and he said to her you drive her... I said there is thing called Uber and I am good its 5 minutes away.  So he drove me home and he asked if I wanted to stop for a drink. Funny I live behind (or in front depending on where you are)  two restaurants and some new bars so sure he could drop me there, have a drink and I could walk home all 50 feet.  We had a drink, just one and shared a plate.  I was already bored and tired and the movie had me in deep decisive thinking mode and I needed to just do that.   But the convo dragged on and the bar closed and he did not want me to walk at that hour the 50 feet around the tracks.  So he walked me there and I said you are welcome to come in and use the restroom, call your wife let her know I am home safe and you are on your way.  He came in looked at my home and did an inventory of my art and possessions, commenting on the value and the style.  I thanked him and thought you really need to go.  But on and on more stories,more discussion on my teeth and my job (I had informed him why I was here, what I do and when and why I am leaving but that was done and these are subjects that bore me when I am on my own so is there a point?)  and more excuses and odd remarks about his wife who I had just met and finally I said it was clear he was either lacking sex, intimacy or both and either get a hooker or figure out how to get them with your wife. 

I left it at that and he left.  We hugged and I said I was open for friendship but closed for business for anything else given my upcoming dental work and all but anytime he and his wife or either want to have a coffee/movie/etc I would be open to that.   And with that he left.   What I found was a man bored, still vital and they had raised their daughter and she was in her groove and he his and they were not grooving to the same tune.  Been there read the book, saw the movie and have the t-shirt.

So when I read this essay it recalled my own divorce sans Tinder more Craigslist and Match and I have nothing more to say about that at this time as I did that inventory and I have packed that bag, reduced its size and threw the rest in the trash.  But this is where we are and we are not changing anytime soon.   I am going to be happy to be just me here in this vile.

What Sleeping With Married Men Taught Me About Infidelity

By Karin Jones
Modern Love
The New York Times
April 6, 2018

I’m not sure it’s possible to justify my liaisons with married men, but what I learned from having them warrants discussion. Not between the wives and me, though I would be interested to hear their side. No, this discussion should happen between wives and husbands, annually, the way we inspect the tire tread on the family car to avoid accidents.

A few years ago, while living in London, I dated married men for companionship while I processed the grief of being newly divorced. I hadn’t sought out married men specifically. When I created a profile on Tinder and OkCupid, saying I was looking for no-strings-attached encounters, plenty of single men messaged me and I got together with several of them. But many married men messaged me too.

After being married for 23 years, I wanted sex but not a relationship. This is dicey because you can’t always control emotional attachments when body chemicals mix, but with the married men I guessed that the fact that they had wives, children and mortgages would keep them from going overboard with their affections. And I was right. They didn’t get overly attached, and neither did I. We were safe bets for each other.

I was careful about the men I met. I wanted to make sure they had no interest in leaving their wives or otherwise threatening all they had built together. In a couple of cases, the men I met were married to women who had become disabled and could no longer be sexual, but the husbands remained devoted to them.

All told I communicated with maybe a dozen men during that time in my life, and had sex with fewer than half. Others I texted or talked with, which sometimes felt nearly as intimate.

Before I met each man I would ask: “Why are you doing this?” I wanted assurance that all he desired was sex.

What surprised me was that these husbands weren’t looking to have more sex. They were looking to have any sex.

I met one man whose wife had implicitly consented to her husband having a lover because she was no longer interested in sex, at all. They both, to some degree, got what they needed without having to give up what they wanted. But the other husbands I met would have preferred to be having sex with their wives. For whatever reason, that wasn’t happening.

I know what it feels like to go off sex, and I know what it’s like to want more than my partner. It’s also a tall order to have sex with the same person for more years than our ancestors ever hoped to live. Then, at menopause, a woman’s hormones suddenly drop and her desire can wane.

At 49, I was just about there myself, and terrified of losing my desire for sex. Men don’t have this drastic change. So we have an imbalance, an elephant-size problem, so burdensome and shameful we can scarcely muster the strength to talk about it.

Maybe the reason some wives aren’t having sex with their husbands is because, as women age, we long for a different kind of sex. I know I did, which is what led me down this path of illicit encounters. After all, nearly as many women are initiating affairs as men.

If you read the work of Esther Perel, the author of the recently published book “State of Affairs,” you’ll learn that, for many wives, sex outside of marriage is their way of breaking free from being the responsible spouses and mothers they have to be at home. Married sex, for them, often feels obligatory. An affair is adventure.

Meanwhile, the husbands I spent time with would have been fine with obligatory sex. For them, adventure wasn’t the main reason for their adultery.

The first time I saw my favorite married man pick up his pint of beer, the sleeve of his well-tailored suit pulled back from his wrist to reveal a geometric kaleidoscope of tattoos. He was cleanshaven and well mannered with a little rebel yell underneath. The night I saw the full canvas of his tattoo masterpiece, we drank prosecco, listened to ’80s music and, yes, had sex. We also talked.

I asked him: “What if you said to your wife, ‘Look, I love you and the kids but I need sex in my life. Can I just have the occasional fling or a casual affair?’”

He sighed. “I don’t want to hurt her,” he said. “She’s been out of the work force for 10 years, raising our kids and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. If I asked her that kind of question, it would kill her.”

“So you don’t want to hurt her, but you lie to her instead. Personally, I’d rather know.”

Well, maybe I would rather know. My own marriage had not broken up over an affair so I couldn’t easily put myself in her position.

“It’s not necessarily a lie if you don’t confess the truth,” he said. “It’s kinder to stay silent.”

“I’m just saying I couldn’t do that. I don’t want to be afraid of talking honestly about my sex life with the man I’m married to, and that includes being able to at least raise the subject of sex outside of marriage.”

“Good luck with that!” he said.

“We go into marriage assuming we’ll be monogamous,” I said, “but then we get restless. We don’t want to split up, but we need to feel more sexually alive. Why break up the family if we could just accept the occasional affair?”

He laughed. “How about we stop talking about it before this affair stops being fun?”

I never convinced any husband that he could be honest about what he was doing. But they were mostly good-natured about it, like a patient father responding to a child who keeps asking, “Why, why, why?”

Maybe I was being too pragmatic about issues that are loaded with guilt, resentment and fear. After all, it’s far easier to talk theoretically about marriage than to navigate it. But my attitude is that if my spouse were to need something I couldn’t give him, I wouldn’t keep him from getting it elsewhere, as long as he did so in a way that didn’t endanger our family.

I suppose I would hope his needs would involve fishing trips or beers with friends. But sex is basic. Physical intimacy with other human beings is essential to our health and well-being. So how do we deny such a need to the one we care about most? If our primary relationship nourishes and stabilizes us but lacks intimacy, we shouldn’t have to destroy our marriage to get that intimacy somewhere else. Should we?

I didn’t have a full-on affair with the tattooed husband. We slept together maybe four times over a few years. More often we talked on the phone. I never felt possessive, just curious and happy to be in his company.

After our second night together, though, I could tell this was about more than sex for him; he was desperate for affection. He said he wanted to be close to his wife but couldn’t because they were unable to get past their fundamental disconnect: lack of sex, which led to a lack of closeness, which made sex even less likely and then turned into resentment and blame.

We all go through phases of wanting it and not wanting it. I doubt most women avoid having sex with their husbands because they lack physical desire in general; we are simply more complex sexual animals. Which is why men can get an erection from a pill but there’s no way to medically induce arousal and desire in women.

I am not saying the answer is non-monogamy, which can be rife with risks and unintended entanglements. I believe the answer is honesty and dialogue, no matter how frightening. Lack of sex in marriage is common, and it shouldn’t lead to shame and silence. By the same token, an affair doesn’t have to lead to the end of a marriage. What if an affair — or, ideally, simply the urge to have one — can be the beginning of a necessary conversation about sex and intimacy?

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