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.

Shame, a film about sex addiction

Shame came out on DVD today. The film by director Steve McQueen stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. I used to laugh at the idea of being addicted to sex – how ridiculous! Now I realize sex can be just like any other addiction – when you use something outside of yourself to fill a hole that only God can fill. The fellow in the movie was obsessed with sex, having daily encounters with strangers and prostitutes, consuming constant pornography both at home and at work, and masturbating several times a day at home and work. Ironically, even though he was swapping fluids with strangers, he was compulsively clean: a germophope. And fittingly for a sex addict he had no real intimacy in his life. When the opportunity came to have sex with someone he cared for he couldn’t get it up! Immediately he went and had sex with a stranger in a high-risk encounter. He was hooked on illicit sex but sex with any tenderness was impossible.

Brandon’s sister who has her own issues (perhaps alcoholism) comes to stay with him and turns his perfectly ordered life upside down. she speaks my favourite line in the film when she says to him: “We’re not bad people; we just come from a bad place.” To me, that ties into childhood traumas and how they can cause pain so deep that addictions seem the only way out.

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.

The Single Woman on Twitter

the single woman, dating, relationshipI’ve discovered this amazing twitter friend called The Single Woman. She tweets inspiring quips and quotations all day long that are especially potent for women on their own but that can lift up anyone and make her feel special. Here are a few choice ones:

If it wasn’t your destination, it was preparation. Be at peace, knowing u are exactly where u are meant to be.

Every curve of your body, every line on your face, every hair on your head – God designed for a purpose.

A mistake is only a waste of time if you refuse to learn something from it. Otherwise it’s progress.

It’s better to be someone who’s single than someone who settled… 

She also has a website. Mandy Hale began writing as The Single Woman after freeing herself from a toxic relationship and looking for a role model to help her navigate her newly single life. After coming up empty, she decided to become her own role model and inspire others in the process and now has over 300,000 followers on Twitter. Check her out whenever you need a dose of inspiration!

Single and loving it

sex, celibacy, abstinence, relationship, marriage, GodI can’t believe I am almost at the end of my one-year journey of living sex free. The celibate life has been challenging and has led to more self-awareness than I ever thought possible. Surprisingly, abstinence has also led to the feeling that I’m going to stay away from sex for a while longer…even if I do meet a special someone in the near future. I’m pretty convinced I may even wait for marriage before giving it up, although my sister insists I’ll never be able to hold out.

But she can’t see how much I’ve changed inside. The internal shifts have been monumental. I actually feel completely content being single for the first time in my life. When I started the celibate journey I felt like the goal was to have a healthy relationship at the end of it. Well, guess what? I do have a healthy relationship now…with  myself! Funny how that happened. Rather than being in a state of waiting for someone to come along and “complete me” I am finally free of the feeling that I need a man in my life at all. If God decides that’s what I need, fine; if not, that’s fine, too. And the timing is up to the Big Guy as well. I’ve let go of all control over that side of my life.

I feel free, I really do. I don’t need a man. And I can say that without crossing my fingers behind my back.

Fairy Tales and Prince Charming

sex, abstinence, celibate year, singe woman, dating, men, women

My friend was lamenting the fact that maybe the fairy tale wouldn’t come true for her. We were talking about my celibate year and how it’s changed my relationship with men. Ironically so, because for the first time I’m not in a relationship with a man. What I mean is I’ve stopped living life “in the meantime”. I believed when I stopped having sex ten months ago that I was preparing myself for the relationship that would magically appear at the end of a year. I figured as soon as I was finished with my little experiment, the perfect relationship would be waiting for me.

Now I understand that staying away from men was not preparing me for another man (how did that ever make sense?) but helping me develop a relationship with myself and God and understanding that I have everything I need. Nothing is missing from my life because I don’t have a partner. Life is not about checking things off the list like Job, House, Kids, Man; it’s about embracing what you have right now and being enchanted by the beauty in every moment.

Maybe that sounds a little corny but I can’t see any reason why a boyfriend would make me happier at this point, besides sex. And I’ve vowed to hold off on sex for a good long time after meeting someone anyway, so that urge would remain unfulfilled. I’m having the best time right now enhancing my spiritual life and enriching the relationships I have already with friends and family and, of course, with myself. I’m working on loving and adoring and being grateful for everything I have right now. And knowing I need nothing else to make me happy.

“You complete me” is a bad relationship strategy

I’ve taken this year away from dating and sex because I was tired of poor and unhealthy relationships. I finally realized I was the constant in those relationships: I stopped blaming the guys and took some responsibility in the form of work on my inner self. I removed myself from the dating pool to focus on improving my inner life and finding out who I am without a man.

One reason my relationships were such failures is echoed in a book called Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson in the chapter entitled aptly “Relationships”.

We are tempted to enter into relationships on a search for the lost self we cannot find. Yet outside ourselves we cannot find what only lies within. When we look to another to complete us, we doom the relationship because we are subconsciously looking to it to be what it is not.”

A more accurate description of my past approach to relationships, there never was. I used men as a way to get out of myself. Rather than enhance my reality, they were a way for me to escape it. I wanted romance, excitement and spontaneity, and when the initial adrenaline rush ended, I became bored and disappointed, merely enduring the remainder of the union as it played itself out.

In my relationships I was looking outside of myself for fulfillment, putting far too much pressure on another person to make me feel whole. I was too afraid to look inside myself so I latched onto whichever man I was interested in at the time and soon wondered why this person wasn’t making me happy. The point is no one else can make you happy; only you can do that for yourself. Another quote from the book states:

The spirit looks to relationships as a place to share our happiness, while the ego looks to them to assuage our pain.”

All my relationships were firmly rooted in ego: I wanted someone to make me feel better, make me forget my loneliness and feelings of inadequacy. Rather than doing the work of creating happiness within myself first so I could present a potential partner with a healthy and spiritually fit woman, I brought my broken and battered self to the man and said “Fix me.” Now I understand I don’t need fixing so much as I needed to get to know myself better. It’s pretty simple but it does take a lot of work.

The Bachelor: Relationship Ready?

A few posts back I wrote that going against your “type” was the most likely way to have a successful relationship. Since our “type” is based on lust which is one of the seven deadly sins, it is a terrible reason to choose a partner if you want a relationship that lasts more than one night. In the name of research, I’ve been looking at relationship blogs and one “expert” backs up my theory. Bob from Understanding Men writes:

I’d like to believe The Bachelor and his new fiancee were going to live happily ever after. I really would like to see them succeed, but I just can’t see how. Theirs is the recipe for disaster. Intense beginnings that are based more on “chemistry” than substance make wonderful Hollywood movies, but terrible marriages. Why you ask? Because marriage is more about what you do when there is no chemistry rather than what you do when you’re full of emotion.

He’s explained here clearly and succinctly what I’ve spent many more words (and years) trying to figure out. Marriage is about shared values, companionship and camaraderie. It is about kindness, honour, respect and affection. It is about acceptance and love. It is not about mind-blowing sex, a roller coaster of emotions, “passionate” shouting matches, or how “hot” you look to each other.

Relationships are based on two things lacking in our current society: longevity and the time it takes to really know another person. Lust has no place in a healthy relationship.

What do you think?

Life without sex…so far

sex, abstinence, actress, oscar, celibate, body image, relationship

Amy Adams: "I wasn't put on this earth to look good in a swimsuit."

Feast to Famine began as a personal blog on my evolution during a year-long phase of self-imposed celibacy. By the title, you can imagine I was anything but abstinent before I began this journey on August 1, 2010. When I first started (or stopped, rather), I thought getting through the physical cravings for sex would be my battle. I was counting down the months until I could finally–yippee!–have sex again.

After a while, I stopped tossing and turning in bed and realized this journey was about much more than surviving without a man’s hands on me. It was about discovering who I am without the attention of men and realizing that I am a person and not an object of somebody else’s desire. I began to think of myself as a subject rather than an object, if that makes any sense.

It doesn’t matter to me anymore if a man looks at me. I don’t hate it and I don’t like it. I don’t feel like throwing him against a wall if I don’t like him and I don’t feel as though he validates my existence if I do. Before, if I was having a bad day, all it would take is for a man to tell me I was beautiful and I would feel better. No longer do I rely on that type of external validation.

Being sexually abstinent has opened my eyes to myself in ways I never imagined. I don’t look critically at my body anymore because it’s sole purpose is not to attract men. It’s to do things. It’s me and I love it for that.

When I began this journey I had as my goal a healthy relationship with a man. Although I’d welcome that into my life if it came, I now realize the most important relationship I have is with myself. I’ve learned to love myself without the need of anyone else’s approval. That, to me, is the definition of freedom.

Kate Middleton, Will & Royal Wedding

I must admit I’m looking forward to the royal nuptuals tomorrow and will even be setting my alarm for 5 am to catch it on TV. I’m more interested in the dress than the romance, however. And the hats and the ceremony. I could care less about the romance. The royal wedding seems to be so much bigger than two people being united as husband and wife. It belongs to the world and has little to do with a private love story between a man and a woman.

And I wonder how much of the story is love and how much practicality? Which ingredient is more important? We are sold the gigantic love story with fireworks and love at first sight and huge lustful attraction. In real life, however, I”ve heard that you’ll have a better chance at a healthy relationship if you go against your “type” and instead choose someone who doesn’t make you weak in the knees. It stands to reason that the things we love straight away (songs, for instance) don’t stay with us as long as the ones that need to grow on us.

When we have a certain “type” that attracts us, the attraction is sexual, otherwise known as lust. I wrote in an earlier post about lust being a deadly sin, yet we often base our choice of a partner on this very feeling. A feeling that, arguably, we should be trying to remove from our psyche because it’s dangerous, instead we are using to choose our partners in life. May not be the wisest decision.

So far, choosing my type has resulted in only heartache. If I am to go against type, my next mate should not be interested in sports, he should be well-educated, he should enjoy dressing up, he should be honest, he should be respectful, he should be willing to cry, he should share his feelings, he should not dismiss mine, he should have good manners, and he should not drink excessively. These are all the opposite of the qualities my “type” has possessed so far. I can’t imagine why my relationships haven’t worked out well.