New Relationship Energy and Slut Shaming

41sTg4o1+7L._SY300_Elated, ashamed, ecstatic, depressed, blissful, afraid… I felt all of those emotions almost simultaneously when I woke up in another man’s arms yesterday morning.

Yes, it happened. The deed is done. I had sex with another man. It was so much more than that, but that seems to be all our culture cares about – the physical act of sex. Let the slut shaming begin. I’ve already shamed myself and faced Brad’s look of pain and betrayal, and I’m sure many of my secret readers – hiding in dark rooms behind the glow of their computer screens – are shaking their heads in disapproval.

“That’s disgusting,” my sister texted me when I told her I was on my way out of town to meet my “internet boyfriend” – as she calls him – and that I was planning on staying overnight in a hotel with him after our date.

“You’re driving all that way just to have sex with him?”

“You don’t even know him.”

“What if he murders you?”

“You are insane.”

The text messages continued popping up as I drove, smiling and laughing through the mountains. I’d never cared what my sister thought before, why would I start now? I was on cloud nine. I had good music, an open road, an amazing boyfriend and daughter at home, and an exciting new romance in the works that made me more in love with everything and everyone in the world – especially Brad, but he has yet to understand that.

I’d told Clark, the morning before I left to meet him, I was walking through the grocery store smiling and laughing to myself, imagining the other customers thought I was insane, but I loved all of them. That person who cut me off in the parking lot? Didn’t even bother me. That lady playing her guitar in front of the store? Her voice sounded sweeter than ever before. The cashier in the kilt? Adorable. The stuffy old lady who wanted the cashier to page her husband as – Doctor Tom Howe – over the intercom? Hilarious!

Why? It’s called new relationship energy – something monogamous people only get to experience once – or maybe a handful of times if they practice serial monogamy. It’s the opposite of old relationship energy, which I’m witnessing right now sitting on a café patio typing this post:

2be-old-bored-couple-pixA middle-aged balding man and his middle-aged out-of-shape wife sitting in their running shorts with bottled water and Gatorade, staring off into the distance in silence. I don’t see any signs – like sweat – that they’ve actually been running. I’m guessing they just wanted to simulate the feeling that they’ve exerted some energy. They are both reclined in their chairs, occasionally tapping their feet to the music and watching the traffic. A few disinterested words are exchanged here and there. Now the man is flipping through a real estate magazine. Maybe if he can just get that raise, they can get their dream home and their passion for life will be reignited. Not.

I’m not saying that old relationship energy doesn’t have benefits – it provides a calmness, a contentedness, a stillness, a rest from all the excitement of new relationship energy. All I’m saying is if that stillness is not occasionally interrupted by new relationship energy, it becomes complacency and stagnation.

Sorry for that interruption in my train of thought. I’m just trying to explain my desire to have both the familiarity, security and stability of an old lover and the adrenaline rush of a new one.

Notice that all this adrenaline was rushing before I’d even met Clark in the flesh. I’d built him up into some kind of Gilbert to my Anne in my imagination. I was reveling in the thought of him alone. I was eating up our two-week relationship as pen pals. Meeting him in person was just a bonus, a manifestation of my fantasy.

He is a lot of the things Brad is not and a lot of the things Brad is. I could have conversations with him that – by the nature of mine and Brad’s relationship – I could not have with Brad. Clark and I had a lot of the same unmet needs – like the need for physical touch and affection, cuddling and long hugs… or the need to dig deeply into why things are the way they are – like why are we monogamous and why do we want intimacy with other people when we still love our existing partners? It helped me to feel less like a freak for needing those things.

On the other hand, it helped me to hear some of things Clark needed from his wife that I hadn’t given to Brad, like patience, gentleness, warmness, understanding and a willingness to listen.

Aside from all that, Clark gave me a reason to buy a new dress, put on some make up, blow dry my hair, put on some earrings and some sandals with heels. Why can’t I do that for Brad, you’re all dying to know. I should do it more often. But I am less motivated because it wouldn’t have the same effect. Brad’s seen me dressed up before. It’s kind of old news for him. And what would be the occasion? A dinner date? Why? Brad cooks better food than any restaurant and we have conversations ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY as we work and live together. Maybe I should get dressed up before doing the dishes someday? So that Brad can sweep me off my feet and throw me down on the bed only to have our 3-year-old daughter come pounding on the door as soon as we close it?

I know children severely diminish the quality of romantic relationships, especially for the first few years, but even if we didn’t have a child, we’d get tired of each other after spending all of our time together. Sure I could have more platonic friends, but that’s not what I need. I need more sex – more passionate sex, more often. And not just sex. I also need more romance – more flirting, more courting, more suspense, more surprise, more novelty – I need to be discovered again and again, and I need to discover myself through new mirrors, new angles.

Brad’s had a hard time processing not only the fact that I just had sex with another man and liked it, but the fact that he can’t meet all of my needs and be everything to me. Maybe he’s afraid I’ll find another man who can, but I’m trying to get him to see that is impossible. No man can meet all of my needs and desires, because – as I told Brad recently – I want it all. I want to experience all the universe has to offer, and, as Osho says – the more intimate connections I have, the closer I can get to that… and the closer I can get to discovering who I am – a fragment of the universal puzzle.

Clark is just one more piece of that puzzle, no more or less important than Brad. The only difference is I found Brad’s puzzle piece five years ago. I’ve had time to stare at it from a lot of different angles. It was time for me to find a new puzzle piece, and since the find is so fresh, I am really excited to plug it in.

All this to say – don’t shame me. I had to struggle not to shame myself lying alone in a hotel room yesterday morning, after Clark left for work. Not because I didn’t enjoy myself thoroughly the night before, but because our fucked-up, backwards culture celebrates the exclusive, co-dependent, misery-causing bonding of two people for life, and condemns people for acting on their natural, healthy desires.

I didn’t betray Brad, I didn’t betray you, I didn’t betray myself. I freed myself from society’s expectations and experienced nearly ecstatic joy because of it. I hope all the people who are ready to criticize and judge can eventually find it in their hearts to be happy for me, as I am learning to be happy for myself.

Comments

  1. […] Probably not. Because you’re a human with human emotions. Even if you have a variety of silk robes and a cocaine habit, which my inner libertarian is totally cool with, you’re still going to be human. Don’t try to pretend you’re just a rutting terrestrial organism. Even if you aren’t shackled by God or the Man and his laws, just stop it. Sex carries an emotional component. But don’t take my word for it, listen to Sara Burrows. […]

  2. […] a week ago, I made a second out-of-town trip to see Clark. Also coming from a place of near sexual starvation, he and I made love six ways from Sunday. In […]