Friends with kids normalizes casual sex

I saw the film Friends With Kids about two pals who decide to have a baby together without a romantic relationship. They are inspired to the arrangement by their married friends who went from being cool Manhattanhites to hate-filled suburbanites upon becoming parents. The story was interesting and unique and the cast rendered the film highly enjoyable, especially Maya Rudolph who is a personal favourite. The intense dinner scene at the chalet was a huge turning point in the film and I’ll stop there with the synopsis as I want you to see it unspoiled.

My problem with the film is not so much in its ridiculous premise, but with a scene in the film in which the lead actress (who also happens to be the writer and director) meets a wonderful man after striking out countless times on the dating scene….AND SLEEPS WITH HIM ON THE FIRST DATE. The act of sudden intimacy was portrayed as normal and desirable and the couple went on to enjoy a mature and loving relationship. What? Films are usually terrible about glamorizing casual sex and treating sex with a virtual stranger as the norm but the characters at least know each other a little bit before diving into bed! I was astounded to see sex on the first date touted as a cause for celebration. In reality, this woman would probably never hear from this man again if she gave it away on the first date. What a terrible message and what a LIE to tell women. Casual sex is not liberating unless you are a man. For women, it is punishing. If you want a relationship with a man …MAKE HIM WAIT! He will love you for it.

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Why do people lie?

My friend called me the other night in tears because she had discovered someone she was seeing was seeing other people. She wasn’t even #1 – more like #3. A few hints revealed the betrayal: the Victoria’s Secret bag she found in his room and her excitedly awaiting her lingerie gift which never came. His refusing to let her take off his t-shirt during sex even though it was 90 degrees hot – when she put her hands under his shirt she felt the scratch marks on his back. If he wanted to be with other women, why had he told my friend the two of them were in an exclusive relationship? Why had he lied?

I had told this friend about my addiction to unavailable men and she said she thinks she is addicted to men who treat her like shit. Because in spite of his lies and disrespect, she still wants this man and it is taking everything she has not to text him. She admitted to knowing she should be feeling angry and betrayed but she still finds it tremendously difficult to stay away from him. Now, let’s take a look at the definition of addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (I’d add detrimental – ed.) to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Clearly, my friend is under the thumb of an addiction.

Over the past week or so since I discovered how serious my relationship troubles are, I’ve felt traumatized and even a little depressed. I’ve had to let go of the lie that a romance is going to rescue me from my life. It’s a subconscious lie I’ve been telling myself for a very long time and it’s caused me to live my life “in the meantime”. Yes, I’ve done a tremendous amount of work on myself since I took a vow of celibacy in August 2010 but I’ve still clung to the belief that finding the right partner was what I needed to make me feel right, that I wasn’t enough on my own. It’s a lie that is sold to us by all forms of media including movies, romance novels, love songs and the like.

That type of romance – love at first sight, can’t eat, can’t sleep – is better described as obsession rather than love.  Look at any popular media image of love: love involves great struggle and obstacles to be overcome. Love hurts. Love takes you away from your real life. Love is an escape. Real life love is actually the opposite of movie love: love is easy; love is kind; love is not a struggle; and love does not hurt. One of the few films that shows the “ever after” part of the Cinderella story (which ends at the wedding, by the way) is Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple who fall in love and then fall apart. The film captures the realism of a couple who never took the time to get to know themselves and could therefore never be any good for a partner.

I’m a person prone to extremes and it’s difficult for me to comprehend that love might feel good in an even-keel kind of way. As the daughter of an emotionally abusive mother and a distant father, feeling good does not feel like home to me. For me, the familiar is uncertain, unpredictable, unavailable, and unsupportive. Accepting that about my parents was too painful so I went into a pattern of denial which has continued to present day. It is only today, LITERALLY, that I am accepting the fact that some people lie. And sometimes they do it to me. I keep repeating the same phrase when someone lies to me: “But they said… But they said…” Guess what? They LIED. There’s no excuse for it and it’s not the end of the world. Lying happens. And sometimes it happens to me.

Jumping the Broom

love, marriage, wedding, custom, black, african, american, husband, vow, wife, film
Jumping the broom is a marriage custom among Black Americans that has it roots in slavery: slaves weren’t allowed to get married so they demonstrated their love and commitment by jumping over a broom together to signify their union. I learned this from watching the film of the same name starring Paula Patton as a woman who gives up a life of casual sex and makes a vow to God to stop having sex until she is married.

The character Sabrina’s story mirrored mine because I was also leading a life of sleeping with nearly every handsome man I met until I realized that was not the path to a fulfilling relationship. Like Sabrina, I knew that if I were to ever have a healthy relationship I would have to take sex out of the equation and put God in its place. Sabrina asked God to send her a man and give her a definite sign that he was the one. Almost immediately, she ploughed into a pedestrian with her car. He turned out to be the one, of course, and she stayed true to her vow even while they were engaged.

Much ado was made about the fact that the man had to wait six months (!) for sex as though only men find it challenging to wait. I can tell you from experience and you know if you’ve read this blog that women find it hard to wait, too! I still doubt whether I’ll be able to wait for marriage to have sex with my future partner. That is a lot of temptation and the world accepts and encourages sex before marriage which makes it even more difficult to stay pure. I think the trick is to surround yourself with people who understand and support your commitment to save sex for your wedding day. Since I’ve put that intention out there more and more people are entering my life who “get it” and I’m grateful for that.

Knight in shining armor

relationship, boyfriend, sex, celibacy, abstinence

This past year of celibacy (coming to an end this month!) and freedom from dating has brought up a lot of issues and memories concerning my, ahem, choice in men. I keep getting odd flashbacks about things I haven’t thought about in years: incidents left unacknowledged, un-examined and shelved in the recesses of my mind.

I watched the film 13 Going on 30 the other day which stars Jennifer Garner as a pre-teen girl in the late 80s who wishes she were 30 and then sees her dream come true. Being an 80s child myself, the film’s reference to Rick Springfield as the decade’s heartthrob brought back some keen memories for me. Except it was my friend Nancy, not me, who loved Rick Springfield. Rick did nothing for me and it felt as though I were the only girl in the world for whom that were true. Why didn’t I like Rick, I wondered? I checked out his Jessie’s Girl video on Youtube and it occurred to me: he’s too clean cut, too safe, too NICE.

Ever since Grade Two I’ve been drawn to the bad boy. Yes, Grade Two. And to make matters worse, I was a year younger than everyone else in Grade Two because I skipped Grade One. I was six years old and physically attracted to the baddest boy in the class. He was in Grade Three because it was a split class. He was the boy who spoke out, swore at the teacher, got sent to the office on a daily basis and smoked cigarettes behind the school at 8 years of age. I still remember his name: Kris Knight. I was fascinated with this boy and even though I never spoke to him I spent many moments gazing at him with what I realize now was my first taste of lust for someone who would never do anything but harm me. Odds that Kris is in prison serving a life sentence as we speak are even if not good.

The point is, I have been attracted to boys, men, and anything really bad for me since I was six years old. It was the beginning of a lifelong pattern of unhealthy relationships, but I have no regrets. If it weren’t for Kris, I wouldn’t be writing this blog 🙂

Masturbation Guy

Today was a better day. I did lots of exercise and cared nothing about my appearance and I did have to masturbate this afternoon before taking a nap. Pleasuring myself is getting really boring; physically I’m dying for a man which I know is impossible. I asked my friend if masturbating is breaking the vow of celibacy and she said as long as you’re not missing work or becoming a hermit as a result of over-stimulation everything is ok.

When I first became celibate I used to masturbate every night because I was beside myself with physical craving. In just two months I’ll be finished my one year respite and I know I won’t be having sex on the anniversary…I’ve decided even when I meet someone I’ll wait for sex, possibly even until marriage. Samantha on Sex and the City once spent an entire afternoon taking care of herself which prompted the girls to ask one another who is their masturbation guy, the one they fantasize about to get things going. One of them said Russell Crowe.

If pressed to name a masturbation guy mine would be Colin Farrell. I once had sex in a movie theatre during a Colin Farrell movie because I was so turned on (we were the only ones in the place). I also had sex right after watching Good Will Hunting because the Matt Damon character made me randy. Who’s your masturbation guy?

Summer Nights

Acceptance is the key to happiness. I’ve been feeling a sense of malaise over being single lately. Maybe it’s the onset of a new summer and the reminder of all the escapades I won’t be having with men like I did last summer. Even though I’ve changed in terms of how I approach sex (abstinent now and in the future more reserved), I have no regrets about the fun I’ve had in the past.

How could I regret that beautiful Irish boy in Las Vegas or the Tom Brady lookalike I met at the bar. It was exciting to be with those gorgeous men and they were very sweet and showed me a great time. But it wasn’t based on anything real; it was only sexual attraction and that’s fleeting. I wouldn’t take back what I’ve done, though, not for a second. I’m only glad it’s behind me.

Pay it forward

I watched Pay It Forward last night, a film based on a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde starring Haley Joel Osment as a kid who comes up with an amazing social experiment. To fulfil a class assignment to change the world, he does one big favour for three other people (something they can’t do for themselves) and each of them does the same for three other people. As you can imagine, it gets big pretty quick. His teacher, who gave out the assignment, was a burn victim and ended up dating Haley Joel’s mom. That was one of Haley’s “favours” – finding his damaged teacher someone to love, namely his mom.

His mom is a recovering alcoholic who is not supposed to date in her first year of sobriety. Sounds familiar: a year without sex or dating. In the movies, however, recovering alcoholics always date right after getting sober and magically find exactly the right person and fall in love and have this healthy relationship they’ve never found before. I have the feeling in real life it doesn’t work that way.

And that’s what I have to be careful of – the trap of falling for the lie movies tell about the perfect person being out there waiting for you and that someone or something just needs to happen to facilitate that and you’ll live happily ever after. And that life couldn’t possibly be complete without that person. I also couldn’t help thinking that in these movies it’s always the man that’s physically deformed. We women are supposed to look past the surface but men are never asked to do that, at least not in the movies. That’s troubling to me. Is it wrong to want a handsome man? Isn’t a handsome man just as capable of being good inside as an ugly one?

The Adjustment Bureau

 

The Adjustment Bureau is that genre of movie that is troubling for single people. Like so many other Hollywood confections, the Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt puts forward the toxic notion that another person can complete your life, that even if you have nothing else, this person will be enough. I’m not even paraphrasing. Those words are actually spoken by Terence Stamp in the film when he tells Matt Damon that even if he failed miserably at all his other pursuits, Emily Blunt would be enough, he would never want for anything more. (Now I’m paraphrasing).

Spoiler alert: I won’t give away the ending but there are certain plot points mentioned here that you may want to avoid if you’re planning on seeing the movie.

Matt Damon meets a woman in the men’s washroom (don’t ask) after he loses a senatorial race and is about to give his concession speech. She’s a dancer with a perfect body who is scantily dressed and carrying an empty bottle of champagne while on the run from security because she has just crashed a wedding (woo-hoo, party girl). I only mention those attributes because I have beef with the way Hollywood treats women like two-dimensional characters who only exist to fascinate and enthrall men: this character is yet another bad example.

Of course, they fall in love at first sight (don’t they always in these movies?), but oh wait there’s a glitch (the Romeo and Juliet theme never gets old) and they can’t be together because Fate has it predetermined. If they do conquer Fate and stay together, both of them will lose any chance of achieveing their dreams and the stakes are high: for him it means giving up the Presidency of the United States; for her it means throwing away a future as the next Twyla Tharp to “teach dance to six-year-olds”.

Sanity prevails, and Matt Damon lets Emily go (at first) but when he hears she will marry the man she has been pre-destined to marry, he can’t take it and runs a la The Graduate to find her at the altar and bring her home where she belongs. Whether or not she agrees to stay with him I’ll let you find out by seeing the movie.

I rehash this dubious plotline because my celibacy trip has me understanding who I am without a man, and I would no longer be willing to give up a chance at being the best in my field in exchange for one. Before, I would do it in a heartbeat. And movies like this support the lie, told especially to women, that another person is what you need to be happy, indeed the only thing that will make you happy enough. As though another person can be God for you.

Well, I don’t worship people, and I certainly won’t give up my hopes and dreams for them. No matter how he makes me feel.

Adam and Eve

relationship, husband, wife, Bible, God, sexSomeone told me today that most people forget a crucial detail in the Adam and Eve story. Everyone remembers the part where Eve is cursed with the pain of childbirth. Apparently right after that curse she gets hit with another one: the desire for a husband. So the yearning women have to bond with one man for a lifetime is a curse. It says so in the Bible.

I feel grateful to have this time on my own without a man in my life. I certainly wouldn’t like it to be a lifelong state, however. I feel as though I’m preparing myself–body, mind and soul–for a life with a partner. Of course, if I don’t find the right person I’m not going to settle for just anybody. After what I’ve been through, I would definitely rather stay single than be with someone who doesn’t possess the qualities of a suitable mate or someone with whom I just don’t click.

It is a concern for me, however, that perhaps men don’t desire a lifelong relationship the way we women do. There is the distinct possibility that I won’t meet that special someone. I am okay with that but it almost feels as though I’ll be living in an unnatural state.

Because the desire is there: for someone to look up to, a protector, someone I can hold and with whom I can share the ebbs and flows of life. I wonder if it is just a movie fantasy. I know some people have that close contact with another, but they are rare and it’s possible my time for that has past. It’s possible that’s not for me and I have to be okay with that. I am okay with that but, like I said, it just feels weird.

Sleeping Beauty Myth

Pretty soon its going to be seven months since I had sex or any relations with a man. I’ve learned a lot in that time, most of all that I enjoy my own company and that men don’t make me happy. Not thus far, anyway.

Even though relationships with men make a lot of women miserable we continue to pursue them even though they are disappointing. The reason for that is the myth that we need a man to make us whole. Sleeping Beauty is a perfect example of the lie women are told that we are essentially dead until a man comes along and brings us to life. I heard another man describe it this way:

“Women need to stop sitting looking at the ground waiting for a man to tap them on the shoulder.”

The beautiful thing about freeing myself of the need for male attention is that I have learned who I am without it. I don’t see myself as a reflection of somebody else’s vision. I don’t look at my body as an object, I don’t care if I have hair on my legs, and I can leave the house without make-up.

These are huge steps of progress in my life and have brought me closer to myself. I am caring less and less what people think, in other words. I am building a relationship with myself.