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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Addicted to Love: Love Addiction

I chatted in my last post about an addiction to unavailable men. I had no idea in turning a phrase that is normally used to describe substance abuse, that I was referring to a true affliction around which many people (mostly women) have to work a 12-step program to be free. I learned that love addiction is not about true “love” but romance and attraction, that it is often characterized by an aversion to “nice” people, falling “in love” with someone you’ve met online and not in person, longing for someone who has no idea about your feelings or who will never reciprocate them (unrequited love), and other fantasy-type relationships. Basically it’s an escape from reality. I confess I have suffered in all these categories and had no idea it was a disease!

I’ve always longed for the man who will take me away from it all rather than one who will become part of my life. When people say you have to get to know someone on their home turf, meet their families, find out about their hobbies and work, that just sounded so boring. I realize that’s the fantasy aspect of the affliction. I was relieved to discover there is a name for these horrible feelings around my failed love life and a reason why I keep going back to the same types of men. It’s the insanity that Einstein talked about in doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Before I had the awareness of what I was doing, I was powerless to stop it. Now I see the reality of the situation and can learn how to change it.

I’ve already picked up new habits, like do not give more than I get hoping he will reciprocate. Actions speak louder than words (pay attention to what he does, not what he says). Stand by your boundaries (I started giving out my landline so he doesn’t have the option to text). I always laughed at the title of the book by Robin Norwood, “Women Who Love Too Much” but now it turns out I am one of them. I have to read this book to discover what is going on with me!

It also turns out that fearfully abstaining from sex as I have is a form of anorexia – withholding from yourself the thing you want out of fear that you will binge if you have even a little bit. It’s an unhealthy form of self-control. That doesn’t change my desire to remain celibate but it does give me something to consider. If you avoid something out of fear, that is markedly different than staying away while you engage in self-reflection and personal growth. I plan to get going on the latter!

Fear of intimacy

relationship, marriage, husband, wife, dating, therapy, psychology, self-helpRecently I came to the stunning realization that I have been pursuing unavailable men as a way of avoiding intimacy. The conclusion was reached with the help of a therapist, but not in some earth-shattering way. She made an offhand remark, almost under her breath, while I was describing to her yet another crush of mine over a man whom I knew was attracted to me but was unavailable for a relationship (he had a girlfriend). The words she spoke rocked me to my core but they should have been so obvious: “maybe you have a fear of intimacy,” she suggested.

And with those words the habits of a lifetime came clear to me. I have consistently sought out emotionally unavailable men, including my ex-husband, because they did not require of me to get close to them in any meaningful way. And the bonus is I got to blame it all on the them! I learned from another therapist (I”m not seeing multiple therapists – this was at a retreat) that the feeling of “longing” I subject myself to with unavailable men is a “yearning for Daddy” and is extremely common among women with emotionally distant fathers. Bingo! Talk about an empowering discovery. Now I am done with fantasy relationships or hoping for more from men who are not capable of sharing their hearts or even their time. I am learning so much from my slow return to the dating life. If a man takes three days to get back to me, that’s information, a preview of the level of attention I can expect to receive in a relationship with him. And guess what? It’s simply not enough.

Feeling your feelings

Right now I’m in this place where I’m feeling my feelings. Feeling my feelings? What? Well, I’m learning how to observe my emotions without judging them and even taking information from them that might be useful for me as I move forward on my journey. I used to do everything I could to stifle my emotions; I found them inconvenient and annoying more than anything. I didn’t understand that anger could be anything other than rage, so I was afraid of it and stifled it until it came out in inappropriate ways.

Now I know that anger is the body’s way of providing information and making it difficult not to act. Anger may be telling you that your boundaries are being violated and you need to establish them more firmly or let go of a person or situation that is repeatedly trampling on those boundaries. Anger has generally been a sign to me that I have not been treated the way I deserve, that my feelings were being minimized or invalidated, and I used to accept that and move along. Now, I insist on being treated with dignity and know that my feelings are worthy of validation. I have a right to my feelings! We all do and there are no good feelings or bad feelings…they just are.

Now, if I share my feelings and someone tries to tell me I’m overreacting or I don’t have a right to feel that way, I begin to question whether that person is a positive force in my life. Maybe they need to deal with their own problems around feeling their feelings. Me, I am seeking out others who can be honest and forthright about their emotions, who are not afraid to tell the truth about how they feel, and who will not make me feel bad for having a feeling that might be “inconvenient”.

Men are from Mars

relationship, sex, celibacy, marriage, men, women, dating

Like many people, I used to scoff at that famous book by self-help guru Dr. John Gray called Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. The title was embarrassing and the whole concept seemed so cheesy, I would never read such pablum. Well, guess what I just uploaded to my Kindle?

Over the past year and a bit of celibacy I have been studying relationships in an effort to discover how I’ve gone so wrong in my past entanglements and to gain an increasing level of self-awareness. I’ve always looked at what I could get out of relationship without wondering what I could put into it. I realize now that *gasp* men and women are different and we have different needs and styles of communicating. I highly recommend Dr. Gray’s book for anyone woman or man who has scratched her head trying to figure out the opposite sex.

One of the most important lessons I gleaned from the text is that men don’t need to talk about their problems to feel better. As shocking as this may seem, the book says men mainly talk to give or receive information. It sounds sensible but for me (and all the women I know) talking has very little to do with exchanging information. We talk to feel close to other people and we talk because it lessens our stress. If I had a problem and didn’t talk about it immediately, I would explode! Apparently, men prefer to work out their problems on their own silently and will only ask for help if they’ve exhausted all options.

The author also addressed the fact that when you tell a man your problem he will try to solve it. That’s how he shows he cares. If he can’t solve it he feels like a failure and will not want to listen anymore. Sound familiar? He might also feel as though you are blaming him for your problem even when that’s the furthest thing from your mind. What men don’t realize is that we women just want someone to listen to us go on about our problem and usually in the talking we will see the solution ourselves. Or we will simply feel better for having said it out loud.

There are so many other gems in this book that have not only increased my self-awareness as a woman but have shed some light on those mysteries of men that I never understood and always took so personally. I hope you will check it out if you are feeling confused about your partner or the opposite sex. It might clarify a few things and improve your relationship or any unions you may have in the future.

Guest Post: 6 years celibate and finally happy

abstinence, sex, men, women, relationship, single woman, dating, one night standToday’s post comes courtesy of Madi, a reader who has been celibate for over 5 years now. I can relate to the experience of having casual sex with men and then becoming afraid of them when you stop. I can also relate to feelings of inadequacy and people pleasing. Here is her story:

My celibacy journey started with a break-up six years ago.  Back then, I thought I was in love with the man but now I know I wasn’t. Now, I know something I didn’t:  Love mustn’t hurt. I only loved the fact that he took care of me. I thought he did, but I wasn’t good enough for him to take me out. He destroyed my self-esteem which wasn’t very strong and made me think I was good for nothing except being his sex-toy.

I let him use me as a tool and for almost 5 years of my celibacy journey, I still acted like one: never saying no, always smiling, forgetting what I love, what I don’t.  The worst of it is I wasn’t aware I was erasing myself.
I was with another man that I thought would take care of me, but I didn’t love him: I only held the hope that he could make me happy and love me.
After that I remained alone; in fact, I was lonely because at that time I lost myself. I slept with a friend who only wanted a one-night stand. I was crying but he didn’t notice.  I felt very bad. I don’t like that.

At that time, instead of treasuring myself, I wore a suit of armor.  I built it and polished it:  nobody would find the real me. I was smiling here and there, saying exactly what people wanted to hear. I survived three years like that. Then, I discovered “The Secret” and things slightly changed. It was the year before. I started to go out with friends again but I was still in my “love me” role. And I was thinking the more I go out the more chance I would have to meet my soul mate. So with “The Secret”, I was only imaging the future and still being haunted by my past.

I started salsa. I always wanted to dance but I always needed someone do things with for everything. I wouldn’t do things by myself.  I discovered that I fear men; I didn’t want them to touch me. It’s quite annoying when you are dancing!!
But, God sent me last month all the answers I wanted to destroy this armor. I have freed myself and I can dance now.
These are the rules that I apply:

1.       I must treasure myself and take good care of me.
2.       I must love myself as I’m a part of God.
3.       I must live now and enjoy every moment: appreciate food, books, and flowers; there’s nothing extraordinary but it’s life.
4.       I don’t have to pretend to be perfect
5.       I don’t care if people don’t love me as long as I do.
6.       I don’t need to change
7.       I stop with the “when I‘ll have that, I’ll be happy”
I know I’m not ready to be this someone although I’m nearly 30 and everybody puts pressure on me. But it doesn’t affect me. I’m well with myself. I take my time to appreciate all the things I do in life and I can say: I’m truly happy.

The Rules Girl

dating, relationship, men, women, ugly truth, dance of intimacyEven throughout all my horrible relationships, which resulted in me retreating into a year of self-imposed celibacy, I knew a few universal truths, namely: 1) never call a guy first and 2) never ask a guy out first. No one taught me these rules and I didn’t read them in any book. In fact, the world around me and everyone in it were professing the exact opposite: that men and women are equals and should act as such.

But my internal feminine compass knew better. When girlfriends would tell me to ask the guy out because he’s too “intimidated” to ask me, I’d think to myself: ‘what do I want with a guy who’s intimidated by me?’. Really, why do I want a guy who doesn’t even have the courage to ask me out? If I want a strong, brave man (which I do) then the fact that he doesn’t have the guts to even approach me should be a sign that he’s not the right one for me. Maybe he needs more of a take-charge kind of girl…and that’s not me.

The idea of asking a guy out or even calling him before he calls me is like asking me to remove my femininity and I’m not willing to do that. I can’t help feeling as though I’m depriving him of his masculinity at the same time. You know the moment right before a guy asks you out: and no matter how confident, cocky or arrogant he may appear to be, that split second before he asks you for a date, he is always nervous and humbled. He may even blush. Why would I want to miss out on that moment? I love that moment! It’s when you see how vulnerable he really is even though he’d rather die than let you know.

dating, relationships, marriage, mr. right, men, women, sex, celibacyThere’s a book called The Rules that’s been around since the 90s and draws on values women have been nurturing since dating began. I didn’t know about it until this week, and from what I’ve read so far, I have been a Rules Girl all along. I’ve always believed men should be the aggressors, do the asking, planning and paying for the date. I cringe when I hear younger women say they always offer to pay on dates. When that bill comes I wouldn’t think of moving toward my purse. It’s not a ploy, it simply feels natural and right.

So now that my celibate year is up and I’m ready to start dating again, I get to do what I’ve always felt but without feeling like a freak. I don’t ask guys out and I don’t call them first. Period.

What’s your take on the subject?

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 🙂

Fargo’s Marge Gunderson

Fargo was on TV tonight with that legendary character Marge Gunderson played by Frances McDormand (who won an Academy Award for her trouble). I began watching at the scene in which Margie utters my favourite line in the film to her police partner:

“I’m not sure I agree with you 100% on your police work there, Lou.”

It’s one of the many moments of nuanced feminism in the film as Marge has to navigate around the delicate male ego while also doing her job well. In another scene, a high school classmate arranges to meet Margie who is married and pregnant. When he makes an advance at her she deftly but firmly puts him in his place, again tiptoeing around his ego, assuring him everything is fine, and never losing the sweet smile from her face. She’s a fine example of a strong, feminine woman and it’s one of the few movies that shows how hard it is to be a woman, how much better we have to be just to be considered equal or even in the same league as men.

Frances McDormand’s portrayal of Marge Gunderson in Fargo reminded me why it’s cool to be a woman and not to base the way I feel about myself on what men may think of me or treat me, but to hold my head high in spite of it. And to know I have the right to stand up to them in no uncertain terms without fear of retribution.

A Course in Miracles

marianne, a course in miracles

Have you heard of A Course in Miracles? If you’ve read Marianne Williamson, you know she took the Course and writes about it a lot. Basically it is a re-programming of everything you thought you knew. It tells you in a nutshell that everything you know is false. The Course consists of one lesson every day for a year, it is FREE online, and I’m only on Day 8 and already I’ve been brought to my knees by its earth-shattering-ness.

Day 8 says “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.” That means every thought you have is filtered through your past experience. You give it meaning based on what has happened to you in the past. For example when I think of men I think “predators”. Yes, I know that’s scary and it’s based on my past experience with certain among them. If I can look at every man as though he’s the first one I’m seeing and without my thoughts about the past I can have a whole new relationship with them. That’s exciting. I was wondering if I would ever overcome my distrust of men and this program might help.

The past ten and a half months without sex has been an ego-shrinking experience. It’s helped me look at my motivations (mostly fear) and learn how to tell the absolute truth about everything especially to myself. I’m working hard to free myself of these bad feelings about men and stop thinking of them as the enemy. I have some hope that this Course can help because its basis so far, that everything we think is based on past ideas, is true for me about men. If I can learn to let go of those old experiences and just be in the present I might have a chance of seeing men in a new light.

If you want to take the Course, too, click HERE.