As part of a special promotion, we are giving away ebook copies of Exposed between now and March 2. It is available here on Amazon. If you decide to get a copy, PLEASE POST A REVIEW! That’s little enough to ask, don’t you think?
Jackie is vivacious, with sparkling eyes and a melody of laugh that grabs attention from across the room. She has had many lovers, some of whom she stays in close touch with, sharing their lives in ways deep and profound. When her boyfriend Mike asked who she was always on the computer with, she bristled, and defended hours spent emailing Dave, a former lover.
“Mike has no right to tell me who I should talk to, and what I talk about. I’m not having sex with Dave. He was an important part of my life long before I met Mike. That’s just how it is.”
When Genevieve smiles, a corner of the world lights up as if by magic. She loves deeply, and she even loves men she had been “in love” with years ago. Some of them still want to bask in her glow: Men from her past sometimes seek to be in her present, unable to let go.
But Genevieve doesn’t go too deeply into conversations with former lovers, because she knows there’s a hook in there, a door trying to open, but more importantly, she knows her fiancé Don would not like that, any more than she would, and thinks of that as emotional infidelity.
It’s so tempting to take sides, but I don’t think there is an absolute right or wrong, here. But I do know absolutely there are consequences to the choices made.
Genevieve has chosen to make Don the focus of her emotional universe, and he knows that, and responds in kind. That “exclusive emotional intimacy” is valuable to each of them, and each knows the other is the one rock available to which they can return in a world of too little stability.
Mike may have no ability or desire to communicate on the level Jackie needs to feel complete. It’s easy to think of a situation where Mike could be perfectly good with Jackie sharing her soul, or partaking of Dave’s, but in this case, the sharing is causing friction. Dave has access to Jackie that Mike finds hard to accept.
Jackie wants it that way. She hasn’t done anything “wrong,” that’s just how she is.
The parallels to sexual behavior are valid. Readers here know I don’t think there’s an absolute right or wrong with polyamory, or casual sex with multiple partners, sequentially or simultaneously. But I know absolutely there are consequences to the choices made. If both partners are on the same page, sharing may enhance a relationship. If one wants exclusivity and the other does not, there are going to be problems.
I agree that Jackie gets to make the call about continuing her relationship with Dave. Mike has to accept that as part of Jackie. But Mike doesn’t have to accept that as part of his life. Mike does get to decide that he wants someone who does not share herself in that way with anyone but him.
If he heads for the door, Mike hasn’t done anything “wrong,” that’s just how he is.
Sophia’s long, thick brown hair, olive skin and wide sensual mouth are set off by the most amazing light green eyes, and the effect is electric. With her tall and slim five-foot-eight frame, men and women are instantly attracted to her. We’ve been at breakfast when men stopped by our table, or phone numbers were delivered.
What a burden.
She never told me when she was first sexually abused, certainly before she was 15. She “always looked older” than her years, and barely finished high school as her beauty became the defining element of her world.
Becoming of legal age, but naive, she was offered a world that was glamourous but came with hidden agendas. In her early 30’s now, she refers to a period “about ten years ago” when she led a life on the edge, riding her beauty for cocaine, Cristal Champagne, jets, Vail and Chicago. She has the thin arms and legs of a runway model, with cheekbones to match, but also these large, grapefruit-round breasts attached to her chest, the gift of a man who liked that sort of thing.
Some of her friends from back then still live in trendy neighborhoods, rent paid. For some reason, internal compass or sobering event, Sophia moved to a small flat in the suburbs and “left that behind.” Now her worry is memorizing 30 medical terms by Wednesday in the effort to be a dental hygienist.
Somewhere during Eggs Benedict, she started to cry.
“He was such a sweet and gentle guy, really smart and I really liked him. I was doing everything to get him to cum. Every position, talking dirty. Finally I said, ‛will you please have an orgasm! I’m going to fuck you again before we go to sleep, we don’t have to do this for hours!’ He stopped, looked at me, then got up, got dressed and left!”
She didn’t know why.
Most of her sexual experience is of men who learned about sex with online porn, I suppose. Men who want her to talk dirty, to flail her hips so they could get off as if by their jack-off hand, want her on her knees or on top or backwards, frantically changing from one to the other. Sophia has been cum on and in so many times by men who didn’t care about her or what she would like, oblivious to her lack of emotional participation, that the beauty of sex is lost to her.
It’s become a performance for the benefit of somebody else. She no longer has the ability to be vulnerable, to trust, so that she can lose herself in the experience.
Worse, she has begun to resent sex because of what she has been through, and the demands of others. The beauty of sensuality is lost to the beauty most people would like to share it with.
What an crappy irony.
A lot women can relate. This isn’t the just the result of Sophia’s choices. Another woman I know was married for far too long to a man who humiliated her into starvation because he liked fucking skinny women. When he wanted sex, which was often several times a day, she was used so he could get off. Part of the routine, or there would be consequences, was that she had to fake a convincing orgasm.
I don’t know if Sophia will ever heal, if the right man (or woman) will fall in love with the girl within and with tremendous strength, maturity and patience, bring her back into womanhood in the right way. What a gift that would be, but how risky for Sophia, to let herself become that vulnerable.
I could blame men for this, but I’m not going to. In many ways, the price they pay for the lack of love and romance is just as great, though masked by power imbalance. That’s as far as I’m going down that road, for the moment.
You may question my morality, and the fact that I love men and sometimes enjoy more than one simultaneously, and sometimes enjoy all that in “public.” But I’m so thankful that I was empowered to own my own sexuality, regardless of what you think, and to celebrate that when and where and how I choose.
Nikki looked at me across the table. “I told him I wanted an open relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or wanted someone in particular. I just wanted more.”
Twice this week I’ve had similar conversations with really smart women. A lawyer. A business owner. Self-directed, centered, strong women.
“We were going through the motions,” said Nikki. “We’d become stale.”
“The routine wasn’t bringing what I needed,” said Ali.
We can all relate.
Selfishness? Sense of entitlement? Some of my friends would say so. I tend to think it’s Biology. A psychologist friend said once that the “in love” feeling lasts about 18 months max, then needs to become something deeper, or the relationship will fail.
Women are designed to put our heads up once in a while, and look around. There was an article in the Feb 7, 2015 issue of The Economist, pg 75 (yeah, yeah, I know. I have lots of odd habits) that referred to research indicating that about half of the female population (in the U.S.) belonged to a more promiscuous phenotype, or had a genetic predisposition to… let’s just say it: fuck around.
We are designed to want that tall, dark and handsome bad boy (substitute your own fantasy) in the corner of the coffee shop, and we want him more at certain times of the month when we are fertile. Biology wants to maximize the possible combinations of our DNA. Diversity offers protection against disease wiping out our bloodline.
Biology doesn’t care who survives, by the way. She’ll leave that to the changing conditions of natural selection. She just wants to maximize the chances.
There are competing forces, of course. Personal and social stability, for example, represented by laws, and the church using my personal favorite, guilt. To protect my brood from my sister, who’s always wanted what I have, there’s jealousy.
So what’s a girl to do? There isn’t one solution, and it’s never an easy decision. We are not all alike. Nikki and Ali chose very different paths. Nikki went to divorce, multiple partners and a busy, though seemingly happy life. Ali chose monogamy, parenthood, diapers and a bigger home, and a seemingly happy life.
The key, I think, is honesty. First and foremost with oneself, within one’s values. And with our partner(s), as early and as often as possible. It’s also necessary, according to my grandmother, to accept that we can’t have our gateau and eat it, too. Only the immature believe that’s possible, or the pathologically selfish.
An honest appreciation of who we are, what we want and what we are willing to sacrifice can lead to fulfillment. But don’t pretend a decision doesn’t have to be made, because the journey is short, and momentum can take us to dreadful destinations.
Pixie works out at the same gym I do. I go in three days a week. I think she goes in every day.
Each muscle of her body is defined, and I’d guess she has low-single-digit body fat. She works hard, she sweats, if she is there when I arrive, she is often there when I leave. She doesn’t compromise.
“Is it a sacrifice?” I asked her once when we were both between sets. I meant the time, the pain, the effort, all of it.
“It’s what I do, it’s who I am,” she replied.
I often wonder what separates those who seem to easily overcome pain, or resistance, or avoidance, to do things that others find difficult. Do they have extra dopamine? Were they given an extra dose of discipline?
Or is it more dark? Are they driven by invisible needs, perhaps looking for an extra dose of dopamine that biology held back, or accolades missed in childhood that now come from having a cut and perfect body?
People come up to Pixie all the time and ask her, “What’s your secret?” after seeing the results, unaware of the effort. She is almost always gracious, though she told me once that she no longer tries to educate, because it’s time wasted.
“Most people won’t put in the work,” she said. “There are no secrets. You decide, this is who I am, this is who I will be.”
How to stick with that? How to get started? My grandmother once told me that when a task seems too large, break it down. “Decide to clean just one tile in the kitchen. You know you can clean one tile. Then, if you want, clean the next. Soon, the floor is clean.”
Don’t think of the run; put on your shoes and go outside. Don’t dread all the sets and all the reps; go to the gym and stand in the weight room. Don’t starve yourself until your brain makes up lies while you eat ice cream; eat something nutritious before you binge. Don’t fret over the novel; sit down at the keyboard and write.
Can’t wait to see him? Need to establish boundaries? Want to break it off? Want to go dancing or want to stay home?
It’s up to you. But before anything else, face honestly the decision that “…this is who I am, this is who I will be.”
Yesterday I wrote what I expect will be the last sentence of the book Crosscurrents. No, it’s not finished. There is much left to do.
But it’s very strange that this book evolved from an erotic novel into a thriller, or a mystery, and a love story. That was not what I intended at all!
At the end of Exposed, I felt so self-contained. Doing what I wanted, going where I wanted, having my adventures when I wanted. I like sex and occasionally in an erotic setting with multiple partners. I didn’t need to justify myself, nor compromise, and certainly not apologize.
In the writing of Crosscurrents, I discovered someone. I’m not going to tell you who or how, but I can say that as a result, some things have… changed. How they’ve changed, or if the changes are temporary or permanent, remains to be seen.
I think sex in many of its expressions is wonderful, if the expectations are shared. Sex doesn’t need to be about love, nor commitment, nor creation of children. I accept the gifts Biology has given us, and appreciate them to their fullest.
But still… biology is not well-contained. The mind, or heart if you will, can become deeply impacted by the biology of sex, by someone whose skin we crave to touch, whose mouth we want to merge with our own, whose fingertips cause us to ache, and oddly enough, whom we want to wake next to in the morning after a night of feeling their body next to ours.
Making love with someone who tells us to “open your eyes” as we or they are about to orgasm, and have that moment shared through the windows of the soul with a connection that goes far beyond words, is as erotic and even more fulfilling than all the random touching there is in the world. We are touched more deeply, and in places even more secret.
Crosscurrents has become a different book than I expected it to be. And I may have changed in the process of writing it.
There’s an erotic scene in the new book set in a new club in Seattle.
It’s not something you would see every day, even in those clubs where erotic play is common. It’s not violent, It’s not filthy. But it’s graphic, and the vulnerability is intense.
I’ve been thinking about whether it’s too intense.
Frankly, in this world, I’m rather conservative. Not a prude, certainly, but I am a long, long ways from the extreme edge of play. But when my publisher reads this scene, I’m afraid she is going to gasp, if not recoil. I worry about some of my readers, too. I want them to be engaged, not run from the page.
Vulnerability is an element of the erotic. Yes, yes, we all know “50 Shades.” But it’s more universal than that. Submitting to pleasure, or being with someone who has submitted, is a lot of what arouses us. The success of “50 Shades” shocked a lot of people I think who had not realized how many of us respond to vulnerability.
Of course, there are different levels of comfort with different levels of vulnerability. Some don’t think it should be shared in public, but others feel that makes one more vulnerable, and the experience even more erotic, whether that be in cars, elevators, restaurants or nightclubs.
I’ve shared some of that in “Exposed” and there is more of it in the new book, “Crosscurrents.” But where’s the line? I don’t really know, but a part of my writing is an attempt to find out. I guess we all have our own lines. Mine might be past those of my publisher, but yours might be so far out there, I can’t see them over the horizon.
How much is too much? I guess that’s for each of us to decide. But it’s a personal decision, and in my opinion, no cause for judgment.