I love music. I grew up listening to Motown and plenty of oldies. I learned to sing in my room as a kid, the radio or my cassette deck blaring BoyzIIMen, Usher, or Mariah. As I got older, I branched out, being introduced to Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, along with my fair share of Blink 182, Green Day, Aerosmith, and the first (of many) Matchbox 20 albums.
Music can reach every corner of the soul. It can pump me up or wind me down. It can surface tears just as easily as it can produce smiles. Music knows no bounds and it can be created by anyone. The world has been blessed with so many wonderful artists, and thankfully, at some point in each of their lives, they decided to share their songs with others. The flip side of that is that there are may be just as many monumental songs that we’ll never hear because they never get out of someone’s head or make it past a garage or basement. But maybe it’s better than way, and it’s something for the artist to experience on their own because that’s how they needed to express themselves in that moment or at that particular point in their life.
That’s partially how I feel about sex and intimacy, the latter being the umbrella topic under which the former lies beneath (#SeeWhatIDidThere).
There are so many books and videos and articles and studies and blah blah blah about “How to [anything] the ‘right’ way” or “What s/he wants” and I get it. There are science-backed, physiological things that can provide a certain result if that’s the goal.
But that’s the thing…what is the goal? Or, when it comes to sex, anyway, is there even a goal?
For some (dare I say, many) the potential goals are straightforward: achieving orgasm, conception, hoping they call you again (or not), the list goes on.
However, allow me to come in from a different angle, here (#ThatsWhatSheSaid). (Really, it’s too easy…#TWSS.)
And even if you don’t want me to, it’s my blog party and I’ll cry if I want to.
Sex isn’t about what happens in the end (#TWSS). And even though this is a personal blog, I still feel the need to say…at least to me.
But it isn’t.
I’ve had my party/whoring/promiscuous/stereotypical sailor phase. I did it. It happened. I got through it. I got used. I used. I gave up sex for Lent (true story, 2004, during which time I met my second ex-fiancee). But in the last few years, the perspective in which I’ve regarded sex and intimacy in my romantic relationships has dramatically evolved (double entendre, double entendre).
For the sake of example, I’m referring to a two-party, monogamous relationship. If that’s hetero or homo in your head, that’s completely up to you. And I fully acknowledge the array of relationships that are out there, but, like I said, this topic is currently being addressed with the perspective of a relationship where there are two people who are mutually and consensually exclusive.
To me, and perhaps to others reading this or not, sex is not about achieving orgasm.
It isn’t about bringing my partner to orgasm. And at this point in my life, it isn’t about making a baby either. That’s like saying you listen to a song to get to the end of it. (See, the music-related intro wasn’t completely off base.)
Sex is something that is not just shared with my partner (which is not to be confused with, “sex is sharing my partner”), but it is also something created with my partner. It’s a unique, private, intimate song that is created between us at our most vulnerable and open with bodies and souls that only we have. Sex with a partner should not mirror sex with any previous partners, not should you try to emulate sex with a new partner as you had with previous ones. If it does, that implies that you are not present with you partner and run the risk of being blind to who you are actually with, which demolishes the foundation of the entire connection to begin with.
Sex is about expressing yourself to your partner and celebrating them at their barest (literally and figuratively) with everything that you are. Sex is about sharing yourself in a way that no one else gets to experience you as (hence the disclaimer for the monogamous relationship). Sex with your partner is about giving exactly what you are at the moment in your life to someone who is attempting to do the same for you, expressing themselves and celebrating you in a way that no one else gets to experience.
It ties directly to how I feel about relationships.
Which can be illustrated with cakes. Trust me on this one. I know I’m all over the place, but they all get baked in together at the end. (You’re welcome. Totally intentional.)
Relationships are like cakes.
I didn’t realize this until my last major relationship ended a few months ago when she asked if I thought if we’d ever get back together. I told her with certainty we wouldn’t, and I most definitely believe that. A friend of mine would call me a door-closer for this, but that’s a separate blog and I’m not folding that one into this mix tonight.
But, yes, cakes.
Similar to the concept of sex that shares you’re creating something with your partner, relationships are like cakes, sex is like a song.
In the dating phase, you talk, you get to know each other, you talk about what kind of cake you want to make. A casual one, a multi-tiered one, a frosted one, a filled one, you get it. As you learn more, you’re sharing your individual ingredients, literally what you’re bringing to the table. As you share your adventures together (anywhere from grocery shopping together, to date nights, road trips, what have you) you mix your ingredients and bake your cake together. As you progress in your relationship, you build additional levels, or you can even build additional sections to place adjacent to the original core cake. Only you two provide the ingredients to your shared relationship cake. Sometimes there are burnt pieces, and sometimes there are portions that weren’t fully cooked before you took them out of the oven.
When the relationship ends (yes, I went straight to worst-cast scenario for this), the cake breaks, is dropped, demolished, and crumbs are everywhere.
Next time you make a basic cake, drop it, or break a piece off and try and stick it back on the original cake. It doesn’t work. You can cover it with frosting, but you know it’s fractured and or crudely affixed with…wait for it…random ass frosting, or, quite literally, sugar coating.
Now, not all relationships end because a piece breaks off. But what happens in healthy growth is that there is an honest evaluation of what the pitfall was, and there is a joint effort to not repeat the misfire and create something new-ish with the ingredients that you bring at the very moment in your relationship baking process. Depending on how much broke off or was lost from the initial cake, there can still be a strong foundation there, and that can most definitely be built upon. If crumbs are picked up off the ground and brought back to the table, you may sweep up some dirt or other unwanted ingredients that are now a part of the reformed cake. In some cases, depending on the investment into the initial cake, that one can be scrapped completely and what you two have decided are the key ingredients in this next version of your cake are mixed together to create Cake 2.0.
But think about it literally in making a cake for a minute. Say you make a cake with eggs, milk, flour, butter, salt, sugar, and baking powder. You buy enough from the store to make a cake. You scrap the cake and buy more of the same type of ingredients. In principle, the ingredients are the same, but they are not exactly the same. Different everything. Even if you buy the same brands, you’re getting eggs from another chicken, milk from another cow, flour from a different part of the mill and field they were harvested from.
So apply this to your relationship cake. You’re bringing the same staple ingredients to the mixing bowl, but they’re slightly different because you’re now at a different time in your life than you were when you first met. You know things about each other. You know things you like and don’t like. And it’s up to you both to decide to continue making another one together or not.
And now take this concept of staple ingredients and apply it to the music and sex concept. You and your partner write a song together. One plays a guitar and the other a piano. Each time you play the song it’s different. Some phrases are stronger than others. Sometimes the strings are strummed harder or softer, and the keys of the piano are struck harder or get stuck. That’s how it is with sex. Same partners. Same basis of the instrument. Different state each time it happens. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you just came home from the gym, you just had sex that morning. It’s always different. Every time. And if you’re present with your partner, and you think about how it’s something you can only create with that one person in that moment, then it will be different every time.
Right now I’ve been single and unattached for as many weeks as the number of years I bounced from relationship to relationship: seven. That’s a big deal for me. But knowing how I regard sex/intimacy and relationships has been a big part of me not launching myself into a new relationship because it looks promising. What makes it a challenge is that I’ve always been a relationship guy. And for the majority of my adult life I’ve been a very sexual person. Not to be confused with “sex addict,” I’m saying that in my life, I’m not afraid to talk about sex or think about sex. Now, calm down, and hold off on the “well, you’re a guy, of course you think about sex a lot,” I’m going somewhere with this.
Sex drive is instinctual. It’s an innate force that is both involuntary and voluntary. And instead of repressing a drive that I feel, I’ve learned to acknowledge it and translate it with my rational brain into socially-acceptable, respectful actions. This past week I realized that I’m attracted to drive and passion. I like being around decision makers and those who, to put it bluntly, get shit done. I have my abstract, emotional, sensitive side, but I also have the side that is task-oriented and hard-charging. This is challenging for some people to understand. I am sometimes as free and fluid as a man made of water and wind, but I wear steel-toed boots that will charge down the path at full speed, kicking buildings out of the way.
And in my singleness and reintroduction to my current geographic area, I’m meeting a lot of people of varying levels of drive, energy, extro/introversion, and so on. Yes, there are characteristics (physically and emotionally) that I am drawn to and those that I shy away from, but what I’m most happy with right now is the fact that, regardless of how I may categorize feelings of attraction for people, I appreciate them for who and what they are, learning about them through what I know about myself and our shared environments. Everyone has staple ingredients they bring to the table. Everyone has love languages that they communicate in. Everyone has their own instruments, internal rhythms, levels of proficiency, and desire/capability to collaborate. And in recognizing that, and appreciating everyone for who and what they are, that’s where I can identify and be proud of the real growth that I’m currently experiencing. Because although I am just one man, and I know I need to take care of myself first, it isn’t about me, it’s about everyone else.
So…everybody dance now. #CrushedIt