This is me.

 

This is The Man of Mans. I love him a whole lot.

 

The Man of Mans is a good and awesome dude, who treats me with heaps of kindness, respect, and affection. And while I am the sole recipient of his good husband lovin’, like many people (including myself), The MoMs sometimes finds himself attracted to other people. But I like to think of myself as a chill individual who isn’t prone to jealousy and can take it all in stride

I like to think of myself that way. But the reality is a little different.

In truth, I do get jealous.  I wish I was one of those super-confident people who can be all, “My person is having sexy feelings about some super-fine other lady. Whatevs. I KNOW my milkshake brings all the folks of my preferred gender to the yard, so I’m cool.”  Meanwhile, my reaction is usually something along the lines of “The MoMs is having sexy feelings about some super-fine other lady…

BUH!”

 

Intellectually, I understand that those mean, green feelings don’t do me a lot of good. However, the emotional part of my brain doesn’t always agree with what I think. While my rational side is saying, “No big deal. It’s totally normal to feel sexually attracted to multiple people,” my feelings are screaming “ME! ME! ME! DON’T LIKE OTHER PEOPLE! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! LOVE MEEEEEE!”

Fortunately, my rational side is (usually) loud enough to be heard through above the internal tantrum. In my moment of meltdown, it reminds me that indulging those feelings is a good way put cracks in the foundation of my most cherished relationship. And while I’m rarely able to rationalize my jealous feelings away, I find the following techniques can help to keep those icky feelings in check

 

Friendly Reminders

As I said, The MoMs has always been a wonderful partner. He loves me a great deal. In the seventeen years we’ve been together, he’s demonstrated that love in virtually every conceivable way. And I know this is hackneyed, but we are straight-up, legit best friends.

If The MoMs says to me, “So and so is really cute,” and I feel that little stabby pang in my stomach, I try to remind myself that he and are pals. Pals talk about stuff like this. What’s more, admiring the cuteness of another person doesn’t negate all the loving awesomeness The MoMs feels for me. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with me. or our relationship or anything except the fact that humans sometimes notice when other humans are cute.

 

 Check The Source

‘Hey, girl. What’s going on with you?’

That’s one of the first questions I try to ask myself when the green-eyed monster rears her ugly head. When I do a little digging, I usually find that knee-jerk jealousy happens because some deep-seeded insecurity has been triggered.

For example, I always have a micro-moment of panic when The MoMs tells me he has sexy feelings for a blonde. I grew up during a time when television showed us that California girls with sun-kissed locks were the undisputed queens of beauty and sex appeal. Then came sixth grade, also known as The Year I Read Sweet Valley everything. The Wakefield Twins and all of their fair-haired media cohorts left an indelible impression on my developing ideas about sex appeal – namely, that I didn’t have any since I am about as un-blonde as they come.

 

I’ve since learned that while blondes are very beautiful, they don’t have the monopoly on good looks. Still I spent my youth assuming that only people who could possibly see me as beautiful were my parents – and that was only because they had to. That’s a rough idea to live with when you’re girl living in a world that places so much importance on how women look.

 

When a blonde draws The MoMs admiration, the wounded twelve-year-old in me immediate feels threatened and sad, because how the hell are we going to compete with that. Fortunately the (slightly) more mature 37-year-old can remind her that there is no competition. Yes that blonde may be beautiful, but I can rest assured that The MoMs thinks that I am too.

 Make A Friend

Strange as it may, being friends or at least friendly with my husband’s crushes is one of the best ways I’ve found of getting past jealous feelings. I think it’s that whole thing where the unknown is usually way scarier than the reality. If The MoMs mentions having a crush on someone and I don’t know her,  I tend to imagine an Olympic-level snowboarder who speaks six languages and never farts.

But when I have had occasion to hang with The MoMs crushes, I almost always discover women who are outgoing, funny, kind of dorky and who like board games. Women that I almost always like, probably because we have stuff in common. Which I guess makes sense. Like many people, The MoMs has a “type” that he’s attracted to. And it always helps me feel better to realize that he doesn’t like these women because they aren’t like me, but rather, because they are.

 

Honesty IS The Best Policy

I keep describing scenarios wherein The MoMs tells me that he’s attracted to someone and then I feel jealous. You might be wondering, ‘Whassup with that? Why does he keep talking about other women to his wife?’

He does it because that’s what I want. I’ve been in a relationship where I’d chastise my partner if he mentioned another women or pout petulantly when I caught him gazing after someone as we walked down the street. We played the game where I insisted that he behave as though I were the only woman on earth and he indulged, albeit sometimes in a playful, patronizing way.

We played that game for our entire relationship. It was exhausting. And you know what? It didn’t make me feel better. In fact it made me feel worse. Because I knew he was lying to me and even though I’d explicitly asked for it, the dishonesty still eroded my trust. I also think that on some level I realized that it’s futile trying “keep” someone in that way.  I want a partner who wants to be with me. I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who’s there because I’ve effectively eliminated all other options so I become the choice by default.

So there’s that. And there’s also the part where keeping the crush stuff out in the open makes me feel better because if The MoMs is telling me about it, I know it’s no big deal. It also means that we can chat about the true nature of his feelings, which are generally pretty low-key and non-threatening.

Keeping crushes on the down-low definitely fuels my insecurity. But knowledge has the power to tame that green-eyed beast

 

Trust And Let Go

Jealousy and possessiveness tend to go together. Which makes sense. Jealousy – at least the OMG SEXUAL COMPETITION type – is basically fear that we’re going to lose our partner. That fear can compel us to hold on a little tighter.

Seeking reassurance from The MoMs can be really helpful in jealous times. The aforementioned talking, plus extra cuddles, kisses and “I love yous” go a long way towards calming my anxious heart, when a new subject of attraction enters the mix. That having been said, I try to avoid telling my husband who he can spend time with.

The MoMs and I are married, but I don’t feel that gives either of us the right to dictate who the other associates with. The MoMs and I have a set of mutually agreeable boundaries about which interactions are exclusive to our relationship. Beyond that, I really don’t like to impose sanctions on how my partner interacts with other people. After nearly a decade and half, we have a great deal of trust in each other. For me, that trust is too valuable to discard over the occasional jealous moment.

 

So that’s more or less how I deal. What about you? Do you jealous have moments? Have you found effective strategies for coping with those  lousy, green feelings?

 

The other night my pal stepc brought my attention to the following news item via Twitter. It’s a quick read but if you’re pressed for time, the gist is this:

Cathy Sanders, the mother of a 13-year-old Nanaimo boy objects to the distribution of an animated flip book in her son’s grade 8 class room. The book, produced by Catie.ca and distributed by AIDS Vancouver Island features an explicit demonstration of a woman putting a condom on her erect partner’s penis and having sex with him.  According to the article, Ms. Sanders is pissed about the graphic nature of the pamphlet and the fact that it apparently upset her kid quite a bit.

(If you’d like to see for yourself, check out Ian A Martin’s latest blog post.  He turned the flipbook in to a pretty nifty animated gif. As I said, it’s graphic, so exercise necessary discretion when clicking through.)

I have to admit that when I first read the article, my initial reaction was ‘Bah! It’s not that big a deal. Cathy Sanders is uptight, overprotective and blowing this thing WAY out of proportion!‘.  I even composed a tweet to that effect. But as I looked over my 140 characters snark, I thought, ‘Hold up there, Judgey!‘ . Sanders may be affronted by flip-book sex but I have my own set of biases…

  • I am building a career predicated on the belief that frank, open and explicit communication about sexual health and pleasure are a good thing. Not everyone shares that belief.
  • I’ve worked in the sexual health/pleasure field for several years. Graphic depictions of sexstuffs have become normal and commonplace for me. This isn’t the case for most people.
  • I’ve spent the last three years of my sex education career working with youth. I know that many teenagers are sexually aware. I’ve become extremely comfortable with the reality that teens may be sexually active and may have sexual partners. But sexual readiness comes at different times for different people. Just because many of the youth I’ve encountered have been interested in sex that doesn’t mean this woman’s son felt the same way.

I’m also biased because I’ve spent a lot of my career advocating in favour of sex education for youth that goes beyond the telling them how sex will get them pregnant or sick. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy defending against the type of inflammatory rhetoric that calls a museum exhibit pornographic or claims that comprehensive sex ed curriculum will “teach kids how to have anal sex”.

So I read the article and because of my biases, my first impulse was to get defensive. But then I thought a little more. I thought, ‘This woman probably loves her son and wants what she feels is best for him.‘ I thought about how it might feel to be confronted by your troubled child and a cartoon erection if you weren’t expecting either of those things. I thought about parents and the type of messages we’re given about the role we’re supposed to play in our children’s sexual education.

I don’t feel the pamphlet was pornographic nor would I say that it was categorically age-inappropriate for 13-year-olds. But it may have been age-inappropriate for this particular 13-year-old, or at least unsettling. And when I stop to consider his mother’s position I do feel some sympathy for her. ‘Cause in my experience, parents are primed on exactly three types of sex talks: The Birds, The Bees and The BasicsYour Body Is Going Through Some Changes; and finally Only Have Sex When You Are Ready (You Are NOT Ready!) Son, Let’s Talk About This Naked Flip Book And Why It’s Bothering You, isn’t in the parents’ sex talk playbook. For the most part, we’re told it’s our job to dissuade our kids from having sex. So while I disagree with Ms. Sanders’ characterization of the book, I can sympathize a bit too.

As I was discussing this article on Twitter and later with The MoMs, I realized that as much as I talk and teach about sex, I rarely talk about sex education as part of parenting. And I think I need to change that. Yes, I have a certain level of factual knowledge. But how to convey that information to my son? I know my role when I walk into a classroom or workshop. What is my role as a parent?

Like most parents, ultimately I want my son to grow into a healthy, happy, decent human being. I know that as an adult his sexuality will most likely affect that health and happiness. But what do I say? How do I impart my ethical belief that everyone has the right to make their own choices about their own bodies, when my parental instincts are already hollering at me to MAKE HIM WEAR A CONDOM!?

If he chooses to be sexuality active, long-term I want him to enjoy those experiences without shame or fear. But if it turns out he’s straight, there’s a reasonable chance I’m going to ruin is early dating life by screaming “DON’T GET ANYONE PREGNANT!” every time he’s with a girl.

I want to tell him that he should have sex when he feels ready? But if he asks me, “Mum, how do I know when I’m ready?”, I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know if that’s my question to answer.

All of this to say, that it’s hard. Parenting means flying blind most of the time, especially when it comes to sex. I guess this blog post is my way of sending out a signal. Tell me, fellow parents, how do you feel about sex-educating your kids? Do you have fears, issues you feel ill-equipped to deal with? Do your emotions and the instinct to protect your young ever clash with your general belief system?

It’s sobering to realize how quick to judgement I can be. It can be far too easy to position myself as the enlightened sex expert in these situations. But while our boundaries may differ, Cathy Sanders is probably a loving, well-intentioned parent who found herself in a situation she probably didn’t know how to handle. I can sympathize with that, because I’ve been there…and I will be again.

 

I’m sure Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, authors of the infamous dating manual The Rules, are swell gals. If I ever have the chance to meet them, I’d love to go shopping with them. At the drugstore. For Advil. Because while their intentions are no doubt good, their philosphy about dating, marriage and relationships make my head pound with dismay and anger.

Recently, the Ottawa Citizen republished an interview with the co-authors. The original Rules sold over 2 million copies worldwide and Fein and Schneider have written an update volume, The New Rules: Dating Dos and Dont’s For The Digital Generation. I read their first book way back when and throbbing temples ensued. After reading the Citizen piece (shout out to reader Christopher for sending it my way), I think it’s best that I stay for away from the sequel, lest I suffer a stroke.

To be fair, not everything that Fein and Schneider suggest make my heart hurt. Apparently there’s a chapter called “Don’t Sext or Send a Guy Anything You Wouldn’t Want Him To Have If You Broke Up”. On the surface that seems like pretty sensible advice, though I don’t see why it needs to be gender specific.

But apparently The Rules are all about the gender specifics (and binary). The things men do. The things women do. The things women should do to get with men. According to Fein ““Women can chase apartments and jobs, but not men. It’s biology.”

The sum total of my scientific expertise is exactly zero. But I’m pretty sure that distorting your personally preferred courtship rituals into The Way That All Women Are does not biology make. It’s lazy persuasion. It’s a way of trying to convince readers that they should accept the methods proposed in The Rules without question because “Hey, biology! That’s a kind of science. No one can dispute science!”

Except it’s not science and I DO dispute it.

The interview with the authors are jammed packed with inflammtory quotes, like the following:

“We know what works with men,” says Schneider, with a shrug. “Oh, never go Dutch. Even if he has no money and you have a mansion he should take you out for pizza”.

Imma need some Extra-Strength Tylenol, stat.

“If a woman does what she wants — whether talking to a guy or eating a piece of cake — it is the antithesis of discipline,” Schneider says. “Many women are doing what they want and failing miserably, having one-night stands and so on. 

Can someone please massage my temples?

“Work can only make you so happy,” Schneider claims. “Women want to be fulfilled by a partner and children. Take that away and they’re devastated.”

Fuck extra strength. I need some maximum strength painkilling action right now, because I cannot even!

The article goes to on to descibe the new rules. Advice about how 20-year-old women should wait one hour to respond to a text. 50-year-old women should wait four hours. Unless it’s night time, in which case they shouldn’t respond at all. And never booty calls. Also, women should make it look like you have a fabulous life…because more important for a guy to think we enjoy your lives than it is for us to, you know, actually enjoy our lives.

Also this:

“We tell women a man is not your friend. Until he proposes he has the power to hurt you by never calling, by sleeping with you and never calling. Men can be cruel, not because they want to be — they just don’t love you.”

QUA?

It’s not just the outmoded approach to dating or a commodity model of sex Fein and Schneider’s rules that are breaking my brain. It’s also this bullshit assumption that at their core, men are assholes.

Maybe Fein and Scheinder have encountered a disproportionate number of mean men in their life? Because the notion that men are just hardwired for cruelty and not loving people? Is ludicrous and offensive.

And can we talk about the logic being applied here? Fein and Schneider  are basically saying to women, “Men are cruel. Men do not really love you. If you make yourself vulnerable, men will hurt you. You need to protect yourself emotionally by using our patented set of passive aggressive courtship tactics in order to maintain the upper hand. If you do it right, you will be successful in getting these men to marry you.”

Which, okay but they haven’t answered one burning question:

Why do women want to marry these men? You know, the cruel ones who are one ill-timed text away from crushing their hearts.

For reals, yo? Why am I trying to Rules my way into a lifetime commitment with someone I don’t trust? Why on earth should women – or anyone – waste their time and energy monitoring the intervals between text messages, cultivating illusions of a fabulous life, denying themselves sexual pleasure all to wind up married to someone they can’t be real with?

Fein and Schneider are self-proclaimed feminists. And because I’m not Queen of the Feminists*, I can’t deny their claim. But if we were chillin’ and shopping for drugs, I might point out that telling women, get married is an accomplishment can be problematic. I don’t object to marriage per se. In fact, I’m in one myself. But treating a wedding as the ultimate gal goal suggests that women always have more value if they’re married. It also places a disproportionate importance of the act of getting married versus the reality of the relationship. And the reality is, that if you’re going to share your life with each other, sooner or later The Rules go out the window. True colours always shine through. And I firmly believe that in order for a long-term relationship to work the people involved have to really see and accept one another as they truly are.

So yeah, I can hang with these gals but I won’t be reading their latest without a full supply of analgesics. But I would love to hear from you. Are you familiar with The Rules? What do you think? What are some of your tried and true dating tips?

*I kind of wish I was Queen of the Feminists

 

 

Every Friday I ask you a question of the week. You can answer often, occasionally or not at all. If you have something to say but you’re feeling shy, you’re always welcome to comment anonymously.

Before we get to this week’s question, I owe you peeps an apology. I’m sorry – I’ve been way lax on the blogging the past few days. I developed a nasty sinus infection and came down with the stomach flu at the same time. I’ve basically been a walking blob of ickyness this week and the Adorkable realm has been neglected as a result.

Happily my immune system seems to have regained the upper hand. I’m on the road to restored health and a return to blogging. Because of some new developments this new year, it won’t be possible for me to sustain my Monday through Friday schedule. But I will be posting at least three entries a week from here on in. So in the spirit of getting back into the swing of things, let’s get right to our question of the week!

How Do You Feel About Sex On Special Occasions?

Special occasion sex can be a total turn on for some people. It makes for an exciting day full of anticipation.  “Hells yeah! It’s my anniversary.  Imma eat some swanky food with a fancy sauce then get ma’ bounce on!”

I tend to have the opposite reaction. I didn’t have sex on my wedding night. I have a hard time getting it up on my birthday. Valentine’s Day is also the anniversary of when The MoMs and I started dating and frankly, I can’t take the pressure.

I dig booty but as soon as I feel like I should be having sex, all my systems shut down. Special occasion sex feels like the calendar bossing me around. Don’t tell me what to do, February 14th! I’ll get busy when I darn well want to!

Also? Romance does not turn me on in the slightest. I adore romantic gestures. I’m always jazzed when The MoMs and I share squishy times. It makes me crave hugs, cuddles, kisses and lots of physical intimacy…just not in a sexy way. Also? I hate having sex by candlelight. The flickering light bothers my eyes, plus I think about the fire hazard and it distracts me from my orgasm.

I know, publishers of women’s magazines. This trods all over the conventional perspective you have on lady-folk and what makes us horny. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m just saying this gal doesn’t get hot for hearts, flowers and special occasions.

 

photo by S.3

On Acting

Once upon a time, I auditioned for a production of Shakespeare in the Park. Candidates were asked to put a new spin on a Shakespearean monologue of their choice, so decided to do Lady Anne dominatrix-style. I got myself a riding crop and some fishnets and a killer corset. I gave the audition everything I had, striding around the room, wielding my crop and showing off my skillz of iambitic pentameter. At one point I gave the crop a vigorous flourish and my corset slipped, flashing the audition panel with both beams.

Needless to say I did not get the part.

On Bedroom Eyes

In my opinion the sexiest thing a man can wear is a pair of glasses.

On Waxing

I try very hard to avoid wearing socks when I go for a brazilian wax, as they cause me undue stress.  Do I take them off or leave them on? Wearing socks but no underpants actually makes me feel *more* naked and vulnerable than being totally bare. But I also worry that if I take them off, the esthetician will wonder why I’m removing more clothes than necessary which could be weird.  Because, you know, THAT’s the part of brazilian waxing that’s awkward.

On “Back Massagers”

The Hitachi Magic Wand is marketed as a back massager but folks the world over know it as The Cadillac of Vibrators and when I worked at Venus Envy, I used my employee discount to buy one.  I remember the day I brought it home. I went to straight to my room, pulled it out of the box and plugged it in, eager to experience the Magic Wand’s good vibrations.

Yeah. Not so much. Like a Cadillac, The Magic Wand was beautiful machine but a bit too much for me to handle.  It felt like a herd of ponies trotting across my clitoris. Definitely not my vibrator.

It is great for working the kinks out of my back, though.

On Torch Songs

I think ELO’s “Evil Woman” is the sexiest song of all time.

On Personal Growth Experiences

The summer I was 22, I spent two weeks in France and Italy. I remember strolling the streets of Paris and eating gelato on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. I remember getting up close with famous works of art like The Venus D’Milo, Michelangelo’s David, The Birth of Venus and of course, The Mona Lisa. I remember Mediterranean beaches, The Collesium and the view from the Eiffel Tower.

But what I remember most is my breasts and how they more than doubled in size, growing from a 30A to a 34D in just thirteen days! I was a bit worried they’d charged me for excess baggage on the flight home.

On Bringing The House Down

I had my first orgasm from partnered-sex when I was in university. I was living in a house with several friends and as I was coming,  across the hall, my roommates book shelf came loose and fell the the ground with a mighty crash. I was startled by the noise and disoriented by the orgasm, so it took several moments before it occurred to me that the two events were not at all related.

Accident Prone

To date I have managed to: pull a ligament in my knee, gouge my lower back, spike a fever, have an allergic reaction, bash foreheads with my partner and pass out cold, all during sex.

Do you have an adorkable admission? Care to share a sexy blooper or blunder? Is there a special song or type of clothing that gets your mojo going? The comments are open!

 

 

Don’t you hate it when someone spoil your picnic? (image via stock.xchng.com)

 

Recently I was browsing the comment section of one of my favourite blogs. The original post was indictment of men who use creepy creeper tactics in an attempt to pick up women. Being anti-creepy creeper, I was all up on this perspective and I wanted to see what my fellow readers had to say about the matter. The majority of comments were spirited “here here”s from creeper haters, with a the occasional objection from a creeper apologist.  But in all of this one comment in particular struck me.  It wasn’t posted on my blog so I won’t copy-paste it directly, but the gist of it was this:

Telling dudes that respect is all they need to do is “have respect” when approaching women can be frustrating. Because it doesn’t always work. Sometimes dudes have sincere respect and women still see them as creepers. It’s not fair!

Now bear in mind that “I’m not creepy” is the official creeper motto. In my experience, creepers have little to no awareness of how creepy they are. Also bear in mind that being respectful is never a guarantee. You can be the most sincere person in the world, but that doesn’t mean that everyone you approach will be attracted to you or want your attention. There’s still got to be some chemistry, which is all about random luck of the draw. You can do everything “right” wooing-wise and the object of your affection may not accept your advances. Sometimes they just aren’t that into us.

But I can believe that cool awesome dudes are sometimes misunderstood and mislabeled as creepy. Because that’s the thing about creepers. They ruin it for everyone. It’s like the time in second grade when three stupid-jerk faces decided to  say the F-word during math and NONE of us got to on a class picnic. That shit is fucking unjust!  So I hear what you’re saying, respectful guys. And I’m sorry. That must sting.

It’s likely small consolation, but if you’re a good guy who’s been unfairly judged as a creeper, it’s not you. And it’s probably not her either. It’s those dang bad apples, spoiling it for the rest of us. Here’s a thing that happened to me.

Many, many years ago when I was new to Ottawa, I wanted a way to make friends and crack into the local theatre scene, so I joined an acting class. As you would expect, most people in the class were fairly outgoing but there was one guy who seemed interesting but quite shy. (For the sake of this otherwise true tale, I will pseudo-name him ‘John’). One evening the instructor assigned John to be my scene partner. After working together for a couple of hours, he began to open up a little and I realized he was actually a very nice person, albeit socially awkward.

From that point on we became friends. John was still fairly shy around the other members of our class, but he would talk and sometimes share a snack at break. Like I said, he was nice. Only a few years earlier, I had been a shy and painfully awkward teenager. I knew how difficult it could be, always hovering on the periphery of the social group, unsure of how to get yourself in. I knew how lonely it could be.

I’d given John my phone number, because that’s what friends do. One day he called me and we chatted. I noted at the time that he seemed uncharacteristically talkative and a little needy but it didn’t really bother me. He phoned me again the next day. Given the exhaustive nature of the previous day’s conversation, I didn’t expect to talk long but again it was a long chat. When he called for a third day in a row, a red flag went up. I’d like to say I was large, in charge and I shut that shit down immediately. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t know exactly what was wrong, just that I was uncomfortable. So I spent about 15 minutes trying to navigate the conversation while simultaneously trying to parse my own feelings.

And then John said something sexually explicit to me. Feelings parsed. I explained to him that he couldn’t say those things and I got off the phone.

Thankfully there was no phone call the next day. Or the next. But the following day, John called again. He immediately apologized. I let him. He began explaining himself, but again I got that icky feeling. Something was off in his voice and  the cadence of his speech. I realized he was masturbating while speaking to me. I promptly hung up.

I felt super-gross. The thought of going back to class and seeing John made my skin crawl. I told The Man of Mans and a couple of other classmates what happened. They were amazing and supportive, collectively making sure that I was never alone and that John couldn’t get near me.  One of my classmates urged me to tell our instructor, which I did.  She was also amazing. Once she heard my story, she immediately expelled John from the class. She suggested that I report the incident to campus police. I was reluctant, but ultimately decided that yes, I would do that, because I was no punk and that’s what the police were for – to protect me and my fellow citizens.

Sadly, I was wrong. When I went to campus police and I told them my story, the first question I got was “Why did you give him your phone number,” followed by a long lecture about how I couldn’t just trust guys like that. “You have to be a lot more careful in the future. You’re lucky this didn’t turn out a lot worse,” the officer told me.

I received the message loud and clear. It was my fault. It was my fault for being nice. It  was my fault for giving him my phone number. It was my fault because I didn’t assume he was a creeper until he did something creepy.  I still felt super-gross and now I had a heaping serving of guilt, shame and stupidity to go with it

I no longer think what happened was my fault. But I do believe that if I’m ever unlucky enough to be harrassed or assaulted again, I will be held responsible. I think I’m reasonably open to friendship and even mild flirtation with men with whom I feel comfortable. But the moment I perceive anything odd in a man’s behaviour there is a little “proceed with caution” sign that pops up in my brain. Even though my rational mind knows it’s more likely nerves, shyness or some other normal human response I go to the creeper place first, because if I don’t and if I get hurt I will totally get the blame for it.

So, I’m not saying that every woman is afraid of every man. I’m not saying that every woman will reject you or that every woman you approach thinks you’re a weirdo. What I am saying is that if you’re a legitimately cool guy, who approaches women straight up, stay the course – even if you’re occasionally  mislabeled with the creeper title.  We live in a society that teaches women to be eternally vigilant or risk being seen as complicit in their own victimization. And I know that sucks for you.  But it really, really sucks for us.

I’m pretty sure that most people are decent and cool. But sometimes it only take a few creepers to ruin our damn picnic.


 

If someone likes you, (you know, likes you likes you) they aren’t going to stop if you say you like them.

Crushes are a tenacious phenomenon fueled by lustful romanticky happy-making hormones. They aren’t easily undone. If anything confessing your attraction to one who is already smitten will lead to much smooching.  Saying “I like you” is not a turn off. If someone likes you, they will like you even more when they learn you’re into them too.

That doesn’t mean that saying “I like you” isn’t hella scary.

The last crush I went after was The Man of Mans. You know, way back in olden tymes when the Internet was a zygote and phones were only used for phoning. Still, I remember the whole heart-racing, giggly mess of feelings that would surge every time The MoMs entered my orbit. I liked him liked him . A LOT. My thoughts (dreams, masturbatory fantasies) were consumed with the idea of what it would be like to be with him. He was one of my best friends, a person I felt I could say anything to…but not this.  I held back for weeks. If I tell him in just the right way at just the right time, I thought, everything will work out. Except that wasn’t it.

You can’t manage attraction. It kind of just happens or it doesn’t. The truth is, I avoided telling The Man of Mans how much I liked him because once I did, I’d have to find out how he felt about me. Then I would know for sure. And if he just wasn’t that in to me, I’d be heartbroken. I wouldn’t even have my hopeful fantasies to comfort me. So I didn’t tell him. Even when I was almost totally certain that my feelings were requited, I hesitated because holy scary and vulnerable!

Eventually, my desire to be with The MoMs overpowered my fear of rejection. And I recognize that it’s super easy for me to look back on that experience and espouse the benefits of  saying “I like you” knowing that when I said it, it worked out. But there were many times before that when I said “I like you” and the answer was rejection wrapped in a well-intentioned conciliatory statement like “You’re a really great person but…” or “I really like you too…as a friend”.

If someone doesn’t like you – doesn’t like you, like you – there’s nothing you can say to change that. It’s a steel-toed kick in the crotch. It’s awkward, possibly embarrassing and almost always really sad. All compelling reasons to  keep quiet and not ‘fess up to your crush. Your crush feels the way they feel, but if you don’t say anything, you don’t have to know. Ignorance is bliss and all of that.

Declaring your love (and/or lust) is risky business. Sometimes we need a moment – or eleventy hundred – to gather our courage and make our move. Sometimes we just don’t. But you if you cop to liking someone and they don’t bite, it’s not because you said “I like you” wrong. Some people just aren’t that into us. But some people are. If you have someone’s interest you aren’t going to lose it by being interested back. So if you can muster the courage – go for it!

 

 

 

1. Would you rather…

A. Have your best friend hook up with your greatest rival?

B.  Have your best friend hook up with your greatest crush?

 

2. Would you rather…

A. Have an orgasm every five years?

B. Have an orgasm every five minutes?

 

3. Would you rather…

A. Show up naked at your high school reunion?

B. Show up naked at your family reunion?

 

The comments are open!

 

 

 

 

Wayne Current is one of my closest confidants. He’s also a fantastic writer and keen observer of human relationships. Although he was unsure about tackling the subject of relationships in a blog post, I knew if he gave it a go he would nail it. True to form, Wayne came through with flying colours!

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I have to admit that writing a post for Nadine’s blog has been a really intimidating adventure. This all began with an email where she wrote to her guest bloggers saying,

“Thank you all SO much for agreeing to guest post on the blog while I’m away next week! Feel free to post about anything related to the subjects of sex, relationships, dating, body image, gender and the like. It can be any format you like – long, short, a list, an essay, whatever. It can definitely tie in to the stuff your writing on your blogs as well.”

Sex? Relationships? And dating? I was confused. These are all topics that are very far away from my area of expertise. When had I ever written about any of these themes? Certainly not on my little arts blog! Furthermore, I didn’t actually recall ever making a firm commitment to be a guest blogger at all. We did have a conversation at the Oak where I said I would consider it. At best I gave a definite maybe. I totally intended to bail on writing this post, but for those of you who know Nadine well, you will recognize that Ms. Thornhill has a way of getting what she wants so here is my first post on dating and romance:

Here’s something I’ve noticed as a single, heterosexual man, living in Ottawa: in most contemporary heterosexual courtships the expectation is still on the male to take the more active role in selecting mates, while many females wait passively with the desire to be chosen rather than be the one taking the initiative.

Now I have no scientific evidence to back up this observation (I warned you I wasn’t an expert!) but based on my own experiences, and those in my social circle, I think it’s fairly safe to say that this is a general trend. I became keenly aware of this phenomenon late last summer after I created an online profile at OKcupid (an online dating site.)

Most of my time on this site, was spent searching profiles, looking at photos, and then writing small well crafted messages to those who interested me (admittedly a small sample). At the time, I kind of assumed women were doing the same thing, but a week went by and I had yet to receive a message from someone I hadn’t contacted directly. In the meantime, I had acquired a pen pal (someone I contacted, who was seeing someone else, but who still wanted to chat). I asked her about this phenomena and she said this was totally normal. In her view, the online dating world mirrors society at large and this is the way that power is exchanged generally between men and women.

I conferred with a few friends, and while not true in all cases, this was again confirmed as a general behaviour particularly in the online world. Men would bombard women with messages and women would hope that one of them would be interesting enough to write back. To me this is a bit odd. In a world where a liberal society recommends women take control, over their career path, their reproductive choices, and well pretty much everything else, why are women not encouraged to take the initiative with their potential mates? Or are they encouraged to do so but just not acting on this recommendation?

After a few months I did receive a small handful of messages from women who obviously had decided to play a very different game. This was refreshing because it was such a rarity. I was much more likely to engage with these women in conversation because of this. If grades were awarded I would grant a half to full grade for those who weren’t afraid to reach out in a friendly fashion. In short, by going against the grain you stand out. It’s definitely more interesting and often more exciting (at least in the beginning).

Since I’m being honest, many of these conversations started by women went exactly the same way as those I initiated myself. I would lose interest or not be that attracted, they would lose interest or not be that attracted, or both of us would mutually lose interest. I’ve actually only ever met two women in person from this site and only dated one of those.

So why do you think this lack of initiative exists? Is it a problem? Do you have online or in person experiences of your own to share?

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Wayne Current blogs about arts, culture and livin’ the good life in Ottawa at his blog, The Many Faces of Wayne.

Kevin Reid is arguably the best theatre blogger in Ottawa. He’s also a comic-book conoisseur, a kindred disco spirit and all-around excellent guy. When I asked him to contribute a guest entry, I knew my niche was outside of his comfort zone but he’s risen to the challenge and then some. Kevin’s writing always makes me laugh but this piece moved me to tears.

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I may have bitten off more than I could chew when I accepted this mad assignment, guest-blogging for a much prettier and far more popular blogger than myself, Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill.  It sounded like a goof, a lark, a HOOT even…then I got the e-mail from her, listing the topics that I should try and write about:

Sex.  Relationships.  Dating.  Body Image.  Gender.

Wow.   That’s…that’s a touch meatier than my usual fare, which is strictly theatrical review (and now the occasional interview…branching out, yo!).  Well, I’m game!  Let’s tackle those topics in reverse order, shall we?  The Visitor is nothing if not thorough in his lack of knowledge.  Here goes:

GENDER.  I’m a dude.  So, there’s gender taken care of!  Wait, wait, I should pad this out a little…girls are pretty, I should mention that too. And not just Nadine (although she totally is)…most of them!  Not the Nazi girls or child molester girls, of course, but that goes without saying.  God, why would you even bring them up?  You’re weird.

BODY IMAGE.  I honestly haven’t had much in the way of ‘issues’ with my body, in my years of abusing it, and forcing it to take me places I want to go.   I AM what could be considered a touch overtall by societal standards, which while I don’t feel distressed by it, does lead to me hitting my head more than the statistical norm.  But hey, being tall can be fun!  Like, I’m the one people go to when they need something from the top shelf, which is one of the rare times I feel needed, so THAT’S nice.  Overall, I’m cool with my body image (I’m told I even look much younger than my actual age of 41 years, not that there’s been any particular benefit to that thus far.  We shall see.).  You should be too, by the way…Ashley Judd is, and she’s FAMOUS.

DATING / RELATIONSHIPS.  Rrrrright, I’ve…no, no, I’ve done BOTH of those, I swear! Not a LOT, mind…I’m a little embarrassed and saddened to tell you just how little of my life I’ve actually spent in, you know, a close human relationship (but it’s less than 10%…have fun figuring out how lonely I am, math geeks!).  Actually, when Nadine originally pitched this guest-spot thing to me, she suggested that I do a bit about good ‘date theatre’, which I’ve since decided against…who am I to advise actual functioning couples on things like that?  But, uh, you might want to stay away from Titus Andronicus.

Unless she's into that sort of thing

But seriously, me and dating have kind of devolved over the years.  When I was a bit of a young thing, I was still reckless enough to be given to the occasional grand romantic gesture to win me a date…picture the scene: It’s the late ‘80’s, I’m in High School and working at a famous restaurant chain owned by a Scottish gentleman of some repute, trying to woo me a young gal I worked/went to school with. One day off I called her at home to see if she cared to join me for lunch.  Her glum reply was no, as her Mom was forcing her to stay home and clean house all day by herself.  She was particularly annoyed by this as there was no food in the house, and she was ravenous.  I hung up and formed a crafty plan…Heading out on my trusty 2-speed, I headed to the restaurant and picked up a couple of lunches to go (but not before stopping at a store and purchasing a single red rose…romantic, I said), then rode over to her place to surprise her. The lunches only barely survived the trip intact (paper bags maybe NOT the best method of bike transportation I could have imagined), but still edible.  I rang her doorbell and waited, eager.  And waited.  And…you see where this is going, right?

I ended up sitting at a nearby park with a view of her house while I slowly ate both lunches in a mope, as it turns out she had gotten called away to somewhere else at the last minute.  I forget where now…but as I left, I secured the red rose in the mail slot of her door.  Later on, she admitted that it was the rose that convinced her to go out with me.

AWWWW, am I right?  Okay, okay, we weren’t exactly a storybook couple…more like nerdy friends who occasionally kissed, and then we broke up after a few months.  Whatever!  I made the gesture is the point.  It was a positive action (provided you ignore the in-retrospect stalkerish image of me sitting on a public swing, staking out her house and eating big macs).

But nowadays, I seem to have lost that Romantic nerve.  Hell, even asking a lady friend out on a PLATONIC date fills me with dread lately.  That’s the problem with being alone for too long, gang…it becomes your default mode, whether you like it or not.  I AM rereading my Robert Anton Wilson in the hopes of acquiring the tools to rewire these canalized pathways, but it’ll take time, if it’s not already too late.  So for goodness’ sake, folks, get out there and socialize!    Let me be your cautionary tale.

Whew.  That was a little emo, but I got through it.  That’s it, right?  The post is…

LOVE.  Oh. Shit.  Okay, fine…Love.  Well, as you may have inferred from the above paragraphs, me and Love…well, we’re not exactly on the best of terms.  Like the gents from Foreigner, I seem quite unclear as to what Love even IS, and wish someone would explain the particulars to me.  To be perfectly honest, in recent months I have been practicing a break-up letter in my head.  It seems drastic, but I was all set to do it…I was going to break up with Falling In Love.  Because in 41 years I still haven’t done it right.  The times I fall in love with the wrong girl (always) just leads me down grimmer and grimmer mental pathways, and while I TRY and take comfort in Doctor Banzai’s claim that unrequited love is the greatest happiness, I fear I have yet to unearth the wisdom to properly understand his words. And the time I didn’t fall in love with the girl I should have, I just inflicted that pain on someone else.  And nope…never again.
But then I reconsidered.  This is, after all, Adorkable Undies.  This is a HAPPY place, a source of joy, solace, comfort…I can’t get all goth on these hallowed pages!  Something’s gotta be done!

So Love…I’m giving it another go.  I won’t give up on you, if you don’t give up on me, deal?  Hell, maybe I’ll even buy another girl a rose one of these days.  Do people still do that?  Grand Romantic Gestures?  I like to think so.  Lordy knows the world could use a few more of’em.  And in my tentative baby-steps back towards the land of the loving, this one goes out to all the girls I’ve loved before (and currently, and yet to come…and heck, guys too!  Anything’s possible, right?).  Peace, Love and soul, and more Love,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGXVjcleNog

The Visitor (and Winston, whom I love quite dearly, thank you very much)

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Kevin Reid shares his passion for theatre and Winston The Cat on his blog The Visitorium