Which came first- the chicken or the egg?
I know … a real conundrum. And you thought I was going to talk about sex.
Actually, I am. And the big question is – which comes first? Intimacy or intercourse?
Now I know a lot of self-righteous puritans will chime right in and say, “Intimacy! You must have intimacy first for sex to be meaningful! There must be a sharing of emotions and loving discourse and true participation of souls for sex to achieve its best potential.”
I know that’s how my friend P feels. P and her hubby haven’t had sex in months because he is building a new business and working exhausting hours. P hardly ever sees him. So when she does, like when he wakes her up late at night or first thing in the morning, looking for a little ‘communion’, she pushes him away. She explains firmly that she is not a “wham-bam-thank-you-mam” kind of gal. She admonishes his lack of emotional foreplay, his utter disregard for physical foreplay and his apparent disinterest in satisfying her needs. P expects more.
P’s hubby sighs with abject frustration, staggers to the shower and then bolts to work, committed to face yet another 12-hour day with no satisfaction in his back pocket.
This goes on for weeks. And then months. P’s hubby finally stops initiating sex altogether and P figures he’s just too tired to care. She reckons when they finally take that Cuba trip he’s been promising her, they’ll figure it all out and get back to carnal knowledge.
You see, right or wrong, noble or evil, P’s hubby is now banging his colleague. As a matter of fact, P’s hubby has actually fallen in love with his colleague. No matter that they’re having quickies in the board room and “wham-bam-thank-you-mams” in the parking lot. P’s hubby and his colleague have somehow forged intimacy in the most un-intimate way and are planning a new life. Together.
P does not have a fucking clue.
So I ask again. Chicken or egg?
What if P had indulged her hubby? What if P had agreed to a morning interlude that wasn’t perfect but was maybe – necessary. Necessary for her hubby to face the grind for yet another day. And what if this unbalanced program ran for months?
P’s girlfriends would say, “You deserve more!” They would say, “This isn’t fair!” They would say, “Hold out until he understands what YOU need!”
But what if P replied, “I need intimacy with my husband. But right now, at this moment in time, I need to support my husband more than I need to get what I want. And maybe – just maybe – if I fuel his tank with the gasoline he needs, he will find the energy to bring what I need to the table. Or the bedroom.”
That is exactly what happened with N. After many months of “negotiating” (read: bargaining) with her partner, N realized that fighting for sex, romance, intimacy or all of the above was an exercise in futility. They were both frustrated with the dialogue and frustrated with the end (or lack thereof) result. So she “capitulated”. “Let’s just do it!” she exclaimed one evening after the kids were sound asleep. Not with hostility or disdain but with enthusiasm, like an adventurer stoked to attempt a new climb.
It was quick and efficient but N had fun. N’s partner had fun. After all that fun, they passed out cold. And the next morning N initiated playtime again. Her partner was incredulous – and thrilled. That night he suggested they plan a “date” for the weekend – kids to Grandma, romantic dinner a deux and some leisurely time in bed. N’s guy had gotten the message – gratefully – and was now prepared to do his bit.
I’m with them. You see, I believe sex begets sex. The less you have it the less you need it. And the less you need it the less you want it. And the less you want it the less you’re willing to give it, even when it is highly and fervently desired by your beloved.
But the more you have it, the more you realize it DOES bring intimacy to your relationship. The egg doesn’t always have to come first. Sometimes a quickie gets the job done and renews the special bond you share. Face it, in a monogamous relationship you’re only having sex with one person. It’s your special treasure. The unique and exclusive jewel in the crown of your commitment. Something to be valued, polished, cherished and yes – practiced. When you don’t, well, that tiara loses its luster pretty damn fast.
Okay, sorry, bad analogy.
But please don’t believe for a minute this is strictly a man/woman dilemma. As in “man wants frequent coitus, woman wants frequent romance and/or infrequent congress” (no, we’re not talking politics here although when I think about it, maybe we are?). On one level perhaps it is an age-old problem. My buddy D explains to me that most guys need sex to feel intimacy. His take is that most women need intimacy in order to feel sexual. This may well be a hardwired neurological basis for reproduction. Think about it – men were the pursuers. Women were the deciders. Men would test the waters with sex and if it felt right to them they would start feeling intimate. This would maintain the relationship. Now the women needed to feel the connection FIRST in order to have sex and reproduce. Kind of a neurological checks and balance system. It guaranteed good and long term mate selection. Not to mention survival of the species.
But in modern relationships, we typically get to a place where sex is more for pleasure than propagation. And that is where “appetite” comes into play. And just to be clear, it’s not always a Mars/Venus thing. As it turns out some women are way hungrier than their men.
So I ask … do you have to be starving to eat? Do you have to be famished to enjoy a fine meal? Do you have to eat only celery for dinner in order to enjoy chocolate cake for dessert?
In the formative days of a relationship (and I mean that in its truest sense … not a hookup, not a fling, not a dalliance – a liaison with legs) I do believe intimacy should come first. How I know this is irrelevant (okay, I’ll probably write a blog about it tomorrow) but I DO know it from personal experience (if you don’t believe me, read my book).
But when you’re in it and everybody (the two of you) gets complacent and lazy and smug and FORGETFUL, things screw up. Things get chippy. Things get way too BUSINESS-LIKE and the contest over who-gets-what-when ultimately turns into detente (silence – when nobody gets anything anytime), outright hostility (when argument because the new passion) or – like in P’s case – replacement.
P told me once many years ago that she had decided firmly to NEVER indulge in “duty-sex”.
And now she doesn’t have to.
I prefer to call it “loving-sex”. A physical manifestation of your affection, desire and TRUST in your beloved. An act of generosity so profound and so unselfish it transcends the minutiae of everyday life and invites just a little bit of heaven into the mundane.
There is no chicken and there is no egg. There is communion – the interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; an intimate communication.
And that is the exact thing about sex …