5 things I learned about sex from being single for 10 years
This is a companion piece to the last post I wrote about the 10 Things I Learned From Being Single For 10 Years.
Because you can’t talk about being single without discussing sex…
Table of Contents
1. The desire for sex is always there…
Sex—reproductive urges aside—is a basic human need, just like shelter, food, safety. Maslow was onto something with his hierarchy thing. Humans are sexual beings. There’s no getting away from that, even when you are single. Coupled up people will tell you that they don’t really get that much sex… well, at least not as much as when they first coupled up. But my argument is that at least they can more or less have it they want it. For us single people, it’s not that easy. You’ve really only got a couple of options when you have an itch you need scratched. And let me tell you that itch never goes away. Sure, it lessens with each passing month that you don’t have sex, but if sex presents itself, you rarely knock it back. Especially as you age and you think that it might be the last opportunity you ever have to get naked with someone…
But I digress. Back to options. As far as I can see it there are only three free, legal ones:
Option 1) Sex with a random stranger.
Option 2) Sex with a friend.
Option 3) Sex with yourself (which may or may not include Mr Buzzy).
Regarding Option 1) I personally find sex with random strangers sad and desperate. I’m not saying that I don’t do it. I just don’t like how it makes me feel afterward. Sad and lonely. Regarding Option 2) I wish, but I have no friends I can have sexy times with. Regarding Option 3) There are worse things. It scratches an itch without doing any physical or emotional damage.
2. Sex is not intimacy…
Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of casual encounters, as well as encounters that I didn’t think were casual, but turned out to be that way. One recently, in fact, but we won’t go into that. Oh, fuck it. Let’s. After my holiday fling with Made, I realised how much I had missed male company and, not to put too fine a point on it… sex. And to get both regularly was just lovely. So when it didn’t work out with Made, I decided to reactivate my Oasis profile. How else can I meet men, given the demographics are working against me?
Within a week, more or less, I’d met someone and started chatting to him. He seemed interested in me (to the point that he searched out my website and even downloaded and read one of my books. I know! Unheard of!). He seemed trustworthy (seemed being the operative word). He even called me a few times to chat and we texted often. Regular readers know that I’m not a fan of texting, but it seemed to be fair enough in the circumstances. The circumstances being that I didn’t know him, had never met him.
He organised to meet with me very quickly, and we hit it off straight away. We spent the day together and before you could say Keep your knickers on, I had had sexy times with him. The next day, I wanted to return his “kindness” (which, I discovered, turned out to be self-serving), so I texted him to invite him around to my place for dinner… and that’s when the communication dried up. Texts came through as one word responses, except for the excuse as to why he couldn’t have dinner with me, which was akin to War and Peace. (As an aside, why do men always think a dinner invitation means I want to marry them? Can I state categorically and for the record that just because I feed you, or want to feed you, does not mean I want to you to move in with me!).
My mistake in this case (and if I’m honest, in every other case) was sleeping with someone before they had earned my trust, before I had gotten to know them properly, before I figured out if I actually wanted to be with them, before I’d worked out what sort of person they are. For some bizarre, twisted reason, I view sex as a gateway to intimacy, rather than a beautiful by-product of a deep and respectful connection. Gah! I’ve learned my lesson this time. I promise!
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>> 10 things I learned about being single for 10 years
>> 5 things I learned about sex from being single for 10 years
>> What no one tells you about online dating
>> My five simple rules for dating
>> Making sense of nonsense
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3. Sex is not a connection
I am blessed—and I use that term rather loosely and with complete irony—with an anxious attachment style. This means that I get romantically attached to people very quickly. Before I have gotten to know them properly. It’s a symptom of this particular attachment style, and one that I constantly have to fight. Given that I get attached too quickly, jump into bed with men too quickly, and want to move things into relationship territory too quickly, sex forges a superficial connection with a man I wouldn’t probably (if I’d actually thought through things properly) want to have a long-term thing with. And ironically for me, sex is never superficial, even though—sometimes—I behave like it is.
There is some part of my brain that overrides logical thought where sex is concerned. I go all primal. Even to the point where I can hear myself saying (while my I’m being disrobed): Your libido is a terrible judge of character! and You know you can never upgrade from being booty, right? Of course, I completely disregard my wise self because… sex! And in that complete disregard of the wisdom of sensible self is a subtext that acknowledges (with a feeling of hopelessness and dread) that this time might be the last time ever! No more hungry lips on lips on mine, no more tearing at each other’s clothes aching to feel the skin beneath…
(As an aside, I’ve been having This Is The Last Time I’ll Probably Ever Have Sex Again sex since my early forties…)
The connection that I do get through this kind of sex is tenuous and short-lived because what I’m really seeking is a deep connection with someone that goes beyond the mere physical. But in order to have that—or a chance at having that—I have to disconnect and distance myself from the physical, at least at the beginning…
4. Sexual attraction has a mind of its own
I remember having coffee with a man I’d met, thinking: I could never sleep with you. He was probably about 10kgs overweight, and his teeth were a funny colour. Not dirty or decayed, but an odd, greyish colour.
Two years later—after a chance encounter at a karaoke bar, preceded by copious amounts of vodka—I slept with him…
After tequila shots at Christmas, I slept with an Indian man (I met him through work), who smoked heavily and had a pot gut.
Made was a heavy smoker and he had a mouthful of teeth that were simultaneously fascinatingly awful (because they were so big) and fascinatingly attractive (because they were so clean and white)…
My point is that my libido has a mind of its own, which completely overrides the logical, rational part of my brain.
Of course, because I recognise this pattern and I’m self-aware enough to want to counter it, I put together a set of rules to guide my dating…
…which I’ve more or less ignored.
Well, it was a couple of years ago, and I haven’t dated in ages…
5. Casual sex is never casual
I’ve written before how casual sex for me is anything but casual, given my anxious attachment style. Of course, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of meeting someone with whom you have a spark (that may or may not be vodka induced), doing the will-we-won’t-we dance, that first hungry kiss (which may or may not be awkward), the cab ride home (where aforementioned kissing continues, that may or may not be accompanied by groping), the urgent disrobing, sexy times in various ways until early in the morning (if you’re lucky)until you both fall asleep exhausted and spent…
…and then there’s the morning after.
And that’s where the casual sex is never casual for me thing comes into it. I can’t simply disconnect myself from the person I just had sex with. They may be able to (and in all probability do), but I can’t. Sex and closeness and intimacy and connection (as discussed above and in the absence of the context of a relationship) are one and the same for me. So if I’ve had sex times with someone who isn’t that way inclined (which is nine men out of ten that I sleep with because they invariably have an avoidant attachment style), my attachment system goes haywire, wanting to re-establish closeness and intimacy and connection, which isn’t actually there in the first place! Aaarrrggghhhh!
Because of this, I made a pact with myself a year or so ago that I wouldn’t sleep with anyone for at least two months after meeting them, even if I know them or think that I know them.
Unfortunately I have found this pact incredibly difficult to keep because… sex!
At 52 years of age, I find that I still have to work on my boundaries.
This post makes me sound like I am incredibly promiscuous. I can categorically state that nothing is further from the truth. In the last 10 years, I’ve probably had five or six sexual encounters and years—yes, years!—where I haven’t had sexy times at all.
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