When Sex Isn’t Sex

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It amazes me that people are able to separate sex from emotions. I’ve tried having Friends With Benefits before with varying degrees of success, but invariably at some point my vagina convinces my brain that all of those endorphins must actually mean something, and I end up wanting more. Eventually the sex just isn’t enough. For me, this starts to occur around the third or fourth consecutive encounter with the same person. My vagina (which I like to personify with the name ‘Ophelia’) becomes increasingly despotic after each orgasm, and eventually she has me thinking things like, “Who cares if he’s a 21 year old factory worker who sells weed to pay for his Ketamine habit- I think we might actually have something special.” (NB this is an actual thought I have had when Ophelia was running the show. I legitimately considered starting a relationship with someone I would be ashamed to introduced to even my least judgemental friends.)

Of course once the spell is broken – in the case of my tranquilliser-addicted delinquent friend this was with the aid of a mutual case of “OMG, you gave me chlamydia!” – I am perfectly capable of objectively and rationally analysing the faults in Ophelia’s plans. At that point I usually want to die of embarrassment or slap myself in frustration – a classic “How the fuck did this happen again?” moment. But it does happen again. And it will happen again. Every time I sleep with someone who isn’t emotionally invested more than once.

I think part of the problem is the difference between what men and women take from intimacy. Generally speaking, I think guys commit acts of intimacy and affection because they feel nice, not because they mean something. Sometimes a dude just wants a cuddle, not a commitment. The issue is that acts of intimacy force me to lower my guard and make myself vulnerable, so a cuddle is never just a cuddle. It will always mean something to me because I’ve allowed someone in. And yes, I am aware of the irony in the fact that I find it more intimate to let someone in figuratively than to literally let them in (to my lady cave of wonders).

I see a big difference between sex and intimacy, and every time the two get mixed together I wind up in a stolen car halfway to Queensland watching my FWB dig a bullet out of his leg while Ophelia screams “Just drive, bitch!” (Okay, that one I made up. But you get my point.) Sex + intimacy = uh oh. As nice as it is, the hand holding/hair stroking/head kissing/face cupping/deep eye contact just creates way too much confusion.

The other sense of intimacy is the one that occurs naturally between platonic friends. It’s normal for a friend to rest their head on your shoulder, or text you to ask how your day was, or say something sweet to make you smile. But it stops feeling normal when the person doing all of these things is also doing all yo’ nasty bizness.

The verdict? It’s possible I could successfully maintain a FWB in the future. As long as he’s a mute with no arms who doesn’t own a phone and hates unnecessary physical contact. Bring on that guy. I’ll sex him good.

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Four Things Men Should Know

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Boys, take note. Here are four essential truths about single women that you must heed, should you want to successfully date one.

1. WE LIKE MAKING PLANS

As a general rule, women like to have an idea of how they will be spending their time. As multi-tasking creatures, we will often make tentative plans in our mental calendar while going about our daily business. We like knowing what’s coming up ahead and generally behave more methodically and less instinctively than our male counterparts. If you are interested in seeing a girl, you need to give her the heads up early in the week so she can pencil you in (so that you can, er, pencil her in). We also like to look forward to things – half the fun is in the anticipation. Take that away and you’re drastically reducing your chances of under-the-blouse action.

2. DON’T BE A STRANGER

We (women) like to communicate with other human beings on a regular basis. Maybe you’ve made plans for next Sunday and you figure there’s no point in texting between now and then – you’d be surprised at how receptive she’ll be at a little unexpected midweek text. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, just a simple “Hey, how’s your week going?” will let her know that you are thinking of her. Women get bored and frustrated when you wait too long to contact them. Play it too cool or wait too long and she will lose interest. Guaranteed.

3. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Women are intuitive and analytical by nature. We focus on body language, tone and context a lot more than men do; in fact, your lady-friend is less likely to take stock in the actual words you say than she is to focus on the way you say it. This can be a stumbling block for men who tend to do things in the moment because it feels good/right/comfortable. You told her you’re not sure you can commit to anything exclusive right now, but then you spent the night cuddling her in her sleep and kissing the curve of her neck. For her, it’s a sign of your desire for a deeper level of intimacy than your words suggest. For you, it’s probably just that sometimes it feels really nice to snuggle into a woman’s body (we’re soft and warm and curved and beautiful – who wouldn’t want to get in on that action?). I’m not saying you have to treat a woman like a drive-thru car wash, but it pays to be aware that obvious signs of intimacy (stroking, deep and sustained eye contact during sex, spooning, staying the night, sharing secrets), whether intended or not, will definitely be registered by your lady.

4. JUST BE HONEST

There seems to be a general perception out there in the dating world that women can’t handle the truth. You’d be surprised – most of us actually appreciate honesty, even if the outcome of a conversation is not what we envisaged it being. And we’re not too fragile to cop it on the chin either; the female ego is a hardy and resilient thing. So if you’re not interested, just tell her, rather than ignoring her, sending mono-syllabic responses to her texts or cancelling time and time again. We also like it when you’re up front about what you actually want. If you know that you just want a friends-with-benefits type situation, let her know; that way she won’t waste her time trying to figure out where things are headed. If you want to keep seeing each other casually and be free to go out and meet other people, make sure she knows that so she can be out getting her sexy freak on as regularly as you are – it’s only fair!

While these four ideas may not apply to every woman in the entire world, my discussions with my single-and-dating female peers have led me to believe that they are at least somewhat universal. Chances are that every instance in which you stopped dating a woman because she came across as needy, controlling or just plain old bat-shit crazy could have been avioded by following these mantras. Look, it may not be gospel, but at the very least it gives you fellas a slightly better chance of relating to – if not completely understanding – your current or future squeeze.