Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"What has sex got to do with it"

Recently, I read an article where a female author discussed the reasons why she wouldn't walk around the house naked, just because her husband thought it would be sexy for her to do so. She discussed such things as his shallowness, his lack of imagination, how the internet is degrading our conceptions of sexuality, and the need for "one's brain to outrun one's libido". Nice phrase.

She opened humorously, saying, "I don't do naked, it's cold out there!" But then she went on to point out not only her own fears, but that of many women who feel just the same: "I'm a bit overweight, and the shallow men who say that if the wife does not walk naked around the house [then] she would [quickly] be elsewhere. Well, then they are in love with a shallow surface image and not with the real individual whom they married."

I quite frequently hear differing forms of this argument up against topics such as this. Let me just say, I simply have to disagree. Allow me to use this case as a way to help you think differently about your relationship, with your lover, or husband, or wife.

People who think that having a concept of beauty is a shallow thing, or that what one finds desirable or erotic, should be of no concern to one's partner or "significant other", I would conjecture that they are themselves being quite shallow. Not to mention selfish.

If you are one of the many who think this way, understand that this is not meant to be an attack on you. Please, for your own sake and that of the solidarity of your relationship and its own sexual identity, its own evolving character, attempt to take this as a neutral statement.

In fact, consider, just for a moment, that everyone in this argument, is being shallow in some way, shape or form.

I think the misperceptions along the lines of this argument come in the different levels of a relationship, some levels being non-sexual, and in how one reacts to these levels. There is a dynamic between the sexual and the non-sexual in a relationship that is typically given little consideration or value. We are all so wrapped up in who WE are as individuals, that we simply ignore the synergy of the third entity in the situation: that of "the couple" itself and of its own sexuality, which frequently is never allowed to evolve within itself.

People wonder why a relationship "dies". Its much like Woody Allen said in "Annie Hall", "A relationship is like a shark. If it doesn't keep moving forward, it dies." So try looking at your own relationship as if it is a living thing, as a third entity within your own relationship.

Discussing this part of one's relationship also has to do with the differences in the types of logic being used between the individuals, the different layers of sexuality involved and the self-perceptions of, as with this topic, both, (1) the subject who would be viewed (the woman as in this case) and (2) the viewer (the man). This could easily be a reversed situation, but the case in point, would usually be different, but the dynamics remain the same.

Any man saying he'd dump his woman because she won't walk around the house naked, in my opinion, certainly IS being shallow, quite shallow indeed; I would fully agree with that. However, a woman who says (and I use woman here because that was the subject of the original topic, but it does go both ways), for her to say that she wouldn't do it "out of hand", is dealing singularly with her own selfish and therefore "shallow" (if you will) desires and needs. Or more succinctly, her own fears about herself. Fears about her looks, fears about how she will be perceived, fears about how she has been perceived in her past, and not infrequently by others and not by her current partner.

There really are many more layers to this topic. More than are usually discussed, as this is a subject that is usually discussed emotionally, passionately, and therefore, rather shallowly. And too often in the heat of the moment. When these types of things pop up, its usually beneficial to later talk about them under calm and relaxed moments. But seldom does that ever happen. People generally can't get past their own blindness on topics like this and are too concerned with putting an end to the subject than in wanting to deeply examine the complete situation and therefore give their relationship the attention it needs and deserves.

The woman, typically, is afraid of how she will be perceived, naked in this case; she does not take into consideration what the actual affect will be on one of the most important people in this discussion, that of her lover; her lover being the person who she conceives may perceive her poorly.

The woman in the article was pointing out how the media was degrading our perceptions. What I believe she meant was that men have too high of expectations for what they want their women to look like. What she may actually be saying is, that a woman's expectations are too high for how they think they need to appear for their lover.

There are several levels to this alone.

For one, the man may not care that she look perfect, but that he admires that she will do what he asks, or that she will do it and he will find it arousing and therefore be more erotically bonded to her. Again, this is something that the woman may find ill conceived; that he shouldn't require such a thing for her to be erotically charged in his mind; a false perception on her part, as he will indeed require her doing "some" thing, for that bond to be initially created, regularly strengthened, and therefore, perpetuated.

For him to admire her for doing what he wants, may appear to the woman as in the nature of subservience. Yet another false perception, as that is something that exists whether you like it or not, and within both individuals, regardless. Finally, if she does not look perfect, it might be her own self perception and realistic fact, that she is out of shape, that she could be in better shape and that she should do something about it. Preferably, before she finds herself in a situation requiring her to "show some skin".

Let me mention again here, this goes both ways. A guy that is out of shape, has just as much responsibility to his partner, to entice her in all the more ways possible. Relationships are complex and difficult to maintain long term. They require all the help and enticements they can receive. To consciously or unconsciously, take away any of those possible enticements, its asking to make things more difficult on one or the other, or both people involved.

Its not only important for the man to be realistic about himself ("get in shape, dude"), but also if it is the woman who wants to walk around naked, and it is the man who doesn't WANT her to, perhaps even for the same considerations as were mentioned in the original article (because more is better left to the imagination), then for the opposite desired affect to occur. He could become turned off.

Although, if this is her erotic desire, then perhaps he needs to find his way to seeing the positive side of the situation. On the other hand, if she truly is unattractive because of being overweight or out of shape, then she should take on the responsibility to actually do something about it. A compromise is a responsibility that falls to all individuals, not just the one.

In the end it all really depends on the sexuality of the individuals involved; but also of the sexuality of "the couple" that is created by their relationship, what emerges from the dynamics of their relationship. That is, if it is even allowed to evolve. For in many relationships, it is not.

The issue here is really this: what exactly IS the sexuality of "the couple"? If the individuals involved allow it to Be, to become, to give acknowledgment to its existence of and beyond themselves as individuals, then giving themselves up to the dynamics of their relationship; along with their love for one another; and with less consideration for themselves as selfish individuals than for their partner and their dedication to the relationship; then and only then, does something quite "beyond" themselves, begin to happen.

That's a mouthful.

This is not to say that you should give up who you are, to completely lose yourself in the relationship, but you should allow yourself to become a part of the something more that can be, and allow the Gestalt that the relationship can grow and evolve into.

I realize this may all sound somewhat radical as a way of viewing relationships, certainly it will to some; but give it a moment's consideration anyway. Remember that communication is paramount in one's relationship and in building something that can be healthy and dynamic, it can free you from your fears and can also make you more healthy in the end. Not to mention, increase the health of your relationship.

There is a great power in accepting something outside of one's self in life, be it God, spirituality, or being fully involved in your relationship. Fully involved, does not mean, ignoring or discounting important parts of it.

Perhaps, this may be the one key element in keeping relationships together longer than they ever seem to last anymore. Try to imagination just what it could mean to your experience within your relationship, to set aside some of your fears and to allow yourself to be involved in who you are together with your partner, as WELL as who you are within the relationship, individually.

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