Eye of the Beholder

sex, relationship, man, woman, celibate, abstinenceI read today in the excellent relationship blog Baggage Reclaim about what a mistake it is to be too focussed on appearance when choosing a sexual partner. Besides being superficial, the author warns, being too taken with your partner’s looks can make you let other things slide, and will also have you  more focussed upon your own looks, feeling as though you have to look perfect to measure up. It can also have you thinking he’s better than he is, ascribing to him other qualities he doesn’t actually possess.

It’s not that appearance/attractiveness doesn’t have a factor in attraction but when you overvalue appearance you end up in insubstantial, superficial relationships. If you’re appearance focused, you won’t see the leaves, never mind the wood for the trees, and will be blinded to far more substantial problems.

The post came at just the right time because I have noticed my own trend toward “handsome is better”. I have mainly used looks as a gage to assess a man’s quality, believing tall and handsome is most desirable. There is something about height that women respond to in a primal way. It answers our need for protection and we’re physically drawn to a taller man in a way that is completely of the body rather than the mind.

In this day and age, however, height may not be the requirement we should be seeking in a man. More relational qualities like communication skills, honesty, trustworthiness, etc., would make more sense. I still think better-looking equals better period, even though I know that is wrong. I realize that responding to someone on the basis of lust is unhelpful, since lust is objectifying and it also fades.

So, do you stop looking at handsome men as potential partners? It’s sad to say I thought you ought to find the best looking guy so you never have to look around and see what you’re missing. Of course that’s ridiculous and further proof that I have a lot more work to do when it comes to being relationship ready.

Do you value appearance over other traits?

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Boy meets girl

sex, abstinence, celibacy, relationship, boyfriend, girlfriend

Since I started this journey of sexual abstinence or celibacy, a lot of things have been coming up for me. Today, I had a flashback to a time when I was about nine years old and all the kids on the street used to play together before our parents called us in for dinner or bedtime. We were a little tribe, about a dozen of us and we would play games of tag or hide-and-seek together as a group.

A new kid moved into the house beside me and he was gorgeous. Jeff was tough but sweet, to quote a song lyric, a hockey player with sandy blond hair (my favourite) and he had eyes for me! I noticed him watching me constantly and he was exactly what I dreamed of, more perfect than any boy I’d ever seen. When our friend introduced him to me, I saw a look of longing in his eye, a definite invitation, so…I turned and walked away.

He ended up “going with” a girl who looked a lot like me and I was so jealous and mad at myself because it was my own fault for not reciprocating his interest. I did the same thing with several boys in my childhood, boys that I was intensely attracted to but didn’t feel I deserved. I would find any excuse not to give myself to them. I was so lucky, too and I didn’t even see it. The boys that everyone wanted wanted me, but I was too afraid to let them see me because I didn’t think I had anything good to offer.

I decided pretty early (and I’m only uncovering this now) that I would be all show and no tell. Since boys were attracted to my looks I would give them that and nothing else. I didn’t really feel I had anything else to give. As I got into high school, that feeling translated into me being very sexual with all my boyfriends and not allowing myself to be vulnerable or share my wants and needs with them. Result: I never got what I wanted or needed and I had a lot of unhealthy sex.

I believe having a critical and controlling mother and an emotionally absent father had something to do with me feeling I wasn’t worthy of happiness or the attention of a good man. As an adult, I can no longer blame my tendency to settle for second best on my parents. Now, it is my job to build up my self-esteem so the next “Jeff” who expresses explicit interest in me receives the same in return and gets all of me, not just the wrapper.

Can you relate to my story?

Running through my mind

sex, celibate, relationship, crush, boyfriend, man, woman, attraction

I’ve mentioned before that there’s someone taking up space in my mind. Rather than resist his residence there, I’m accepting that he often pops into my thoughts and allowing him to sit there and do whatever he does inside my brain. It’s interesting that my journey of celibacy has freed me from needing men: I don’t seek their attention for validation and I don’t lust after them anymore. I’m free in one way but newly imprisoned in another.

I wonder if it is true what my friend said: that a women who is in touch with her true nature only wants one man. Now that I’ve sloughed off all the casual sex and revealed the lie that I need physical contact with men to stay alive, I am becoming more the woman I want to be, closer to who I really am – my true nature.

My interest in this fellow feels different than my previous crushes which would be described more accurately as obsessions. I no longer feel the need to control or manipulate situations to get him to notice me, like me, or pay more attention. It honestly doesn’t matter if he cares about me at all. I’m simply an observer noticing this man pass through my mind and bemused as to why he runs through my head as often as he does. I admire him and enjoy his presence. Whether my feelings are reciprocated is irrelevant. I don’t force these issues anymore because that’s what I used to do and I only got hurt. Now I’ll let the universe decide who will take his place in my heart.

Because I mentioned he’s running around my head a lot but not inside my heart, yet.

Have you ever had a crush?

Put Your Head on My Shoulder

superman, sex, relationship, girlfriend, clark kent, boyfriend, celibate, abstinence

In the past when I thought about a man in a physical way it was always sexual. I did not daydream about a man caressing my cheek and kissing me tenderly or whispering in my ear. I pictured him holding me down or up against a wall and giving it to me good. Sorry, I’m being honest! I mentioned in an earlier post that since I gave up sex nine and a half months ago I have become more soft and mushy in my idea of romance.

Today for the first time when I thought about wanting a man, I felt myself putting my arms around his neck and resting my weary head on his shoulders. Because it’s tiring being by yourself and doing all the men’s work like mowing the lawn and getting yourself off. So, I surprised myself by feeling how nice it would be to just rest my head on a pair of strong shoulders and … that’s all.

Baby, you’re a firework

victoria day, fireworks, sex, abstinence, relationship, celibacy

We went to see fireworks tonight. There were no official displays close to home so we went to the park where some teenage boys were letting sparks fly. It was sweet and made me think about a conversation I had with my dad (of all people) about the fact that most of what motivates men is impressing women. Aristotle Onassis said all the money in the world would mean nothing without women.

My pre-teen daughter was unimpressed by the modest display and I felt like saying: “They’re trying so hard and it’s all for you! Show some appreciation!” But, then, perhaps that’s why my daughter will be better than I’ve been about this relationship stuff. She’s not a people pleaser like me. She tells it like it is. If they want to impress her, well, they better pull out the big guns.

Single Ladies and Lawn Mowing

sex, relationship, single woman, abstinence, celibate
Most of the time I’m quite happy to take care of my own business, but there is something about mowing the lawn that just strips me of all femininity and makes me feel terribly lonely. I know it’s not difficult (like vacuuming the lawn) but until recently it’s a job I never had to do because a man did it for me. Mowing the lawn is one of the many tasks a single woman has to learn how to do on her own, along with plunging a clogged toilet, hanging pictures, painting, assembling furniture, and unplugging drains.

Before I had to tackle all these tasks on my own I had no idea how much men actually do! As I was retrieving a dead mouse from my lawn and depositing it in the garbage while my gag reflex went off, I thought about the fact that I’d usually get a man to take care of this for me. That I’ve always had a man to do my dirty work. Well, not now. I’ve got to take care of things myself.

sex, relationship, men, abstinence, celibacy, women

All a girl wants is for one man to prove to her that they’re not all the same.” -Marilyn Monroe.

I need a male friend. I’ve never had a male friend. I’m not the kind of girl guys want to be friends with. I’m also not the kind of girl who wants to be friends with guys. On the rare occasion in the distant past when a guy professed to be my friend he would inevitably ask for something more. So I have trust issues when it comes to men saying they want to be my friend. I find myself waiting for the moment when they reveal their true motive so I can get the disappointment over with. I don’t trust men at all. This is a problem.

If I don’t trust men at all, how will I ever have a partnership with one? I’m not sure if that’s what I want any time in the near future but, chances are, sometime before I die I might like to have another boyfriend. I feel as though I need a platonic relationship with a man so I can learn how to trust one. I feel like finding a way to trust half the population of the planet even a little bit is sort of a pressing issue. Because I am walking around with very bad feelings about men and it’s eating me alive. I do not see how it’s possible to be happy when you have a low opinion of half of humanity.

My wise friend said this man-wariness is part of my process, growing pains that I have to ride out. I didn’t expect to give up sex for a year and not have anything come up, did I? My irrational fear is that my mistrust of men is never going to end and I’ll feel like this for the rest of my life. My friend, of course, sees it is a phase, a necessary part of my personal development. She assures me there are lots of good guys out there and I will discover them soon enough.

A new approach to sex

sex, relationship, celibate, abstinence

I used to think I needed men. Not for an emotional or intellectual connection (I could get that from women) but for sex. I thought if it weren’t for my desire for sex (which I misinterpreted as a need) I would have no use for men at all. When I first embarked upon this journey of living sex-free for one year, I did a lot of tossing and turning and almost daily masturbating just to get through the urges I felt and couldn’t fulfil.

Pretty soon I found out that my issues with men weren’t sexual so much as related to self-esteem. My ego felt a small and short-lived lift when a man paid attention to me and since I was scared of men, getting them into bed was the only way I could feel like I had any power. They were less threatening to me that way.

After a few months of learning how to enjoy my own company and find my validation within rather than from the opposite sex, I began to see that I don’t need sex the way I thought I did, and that I was using it for the wrong reasons. Sex isn’t something you “use” at all; it’s the ultimate connection with the one you love. “The One”, not whoever you picked up at the bar that night.

I’ve decided I won’t be having sex until I’m in a committed and solid relationship and it’s possible I might hold out for marriage. Having sex too soon never did me any good, never helped me get close to anybody, and made me feel cheap and dirty even though I didn’t admit it then. Most of the time I did it because the other person wanted to and I was a people pleaser. I promise you I’ll never do that again. Having sex with someone when you don’t really want to has to be the most soul-destroying thing a woman can do and I’ve done it more than once. Granted, I’ve done it lots of times when I wanted to as well but my reasons were flawed.

Having sex for attention, approval, inflated ego, power, are all the wrong reasons because they have nothing to do with the person you’re with: they are all about you. Sex is something that’s shared between two people. It should be beautiful and sacred and bring you closer together; it should be tender and caring and filled with love. I have no idea what that kind of sex is like. I’m going to have to wait to find out.

Dating and relationship

sex, relationship, men, women, marriage, God

I read about a book today called I Kissed Dating Goodbye, written by a man named Joshua Harris on why he stopped dating until he was ready for marriage. I have not yet read the book and I’d love to hear from anyone who has in the comments below. A Wikipedia search revealed that Harris holds the view that singleness need not be a burden nor characterized by selfishness. Sounds like a book I want to pick up!

He explains in the book (apparently) that dating has become a selfish act in which each person is trying to find their perfect match and in so doing they put up a front or a facade in order to be what the other person wants. I can profess to having done this on dates and having it done to me, too. In fact, I’m not sure I ever went on a date in which the man was not trying to impress me or show that he agreed with everything I said.

I have to admit a lifelong discomfort with dating because it seems so cold and detached, too much like shopping around, which many experts unabashedly say that it is. That’s what they think is good about it! If you’re a person who feels deeply, however, or is introverted and shy, serial dating is probably not the best course to take if you want the real you to shine through.

In an interview, author Joshua Harris explains the spirit of the book this way:

Don’t pursue romance until you’re ready for commitment. Enjoy the single years and don’t have the mindset that you have to have a girlfriend or boyfriend.” That’s what I say!

What do you think?

Buddha’s 4 noble truths

crush, sex, abstinence, celibacy, dating, relationship, boyfriend, girlfriend

I read an article today about Buddha’s teachings and the 4 Noble Truths. They are:

1. Suffering exists.

2. Suffering is a result of our attachment to desires.

3. Suffering stops when our attachment to desire stops. 

4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the eightfold path.

I have the feeling Buddha was talking about material desires when he came up with these teachings, although it’s possible he was also referring to desires of the flesh. I realized when reading about Buddha that desire is simply a lack of acceptance of what is, or wanting something you don’t already have. Of course, that makes us unhappy! That’s why my unrequited crush has been driving me crazy, and why I’ve decided to let him go, wish him all the love in the world–even though it’s not with me.