Tag Archives: communicating

You Asked: What Do I Consider Cheating?

There’s an old saying, “A man never introduces his wife to his mistress,” or vice versa. Last night’s episode of Boston Legal made for good breakfast fare this morning, and the closing line was that.
It reminded me of an email from a reader, to whom I’ve yet to respond (sorry about that, you), inquiring as to my opinion on what “cheating” means today. That email is excerpted here:

At what point do you consider someone to be cheating on another?
I’ve been poking a few friends with this one and been getting back some interesting answers, but outside of my older brother’s girlfriend, I’m getting generally 20-something’s answers. So I figure I should get an older woman’s view too 🙂
In case you’re curious this whole thing got started because a female friend (that’s an oxymoron when you’re a guy isn’t it?) was doing one of those Myspace surveys and the question, “Have you ever cheated on someone?” came up. And I just saw her freeze up for a second and give it some serious thought. So now I’m just randomly poking people for their opinions 🙂

Well, apart from the ass-kickin’ I wanna lay on this boy for calling me an “older woman” at the sweet age of 32, I found it an interesting question.
When this question came in nearly two weeks ago, I didn’t hesitate to bring it up with the Guy. It’s a great conversation for every couple to have, and soon. What is YOUR perception of cheating?
Does it matter only if it includes Bill Clinton’s definition of “sexual relations” or is it something more intrinsic, maybe even innocuous, than that?
Fidelity is a complicated web. Some women feel betrayed if their guy eyes an ass wiggling down the street. Some men feel betrayed if their girlfriend only watches sports and drinks beers with her best guy friend and never him. Who’s to say where the line is?
Every couple needs to set parameters. I’m in an interesting situation here, since I write this sex blog and about sexuality in general. That puts my man in a very interesting situation since he is constantly learning new things about my perspectives on relationships, sex, and everything else under the sun. It also means we’re often in the situation where we’re talking about things other new couples might be deliberately not discussing for a while, since there’s the chance of making it all seem more serious than things really are.
There’s that whole theory of push/pull when it comes to relationships. One partner becomes needier and pulls the other in closer than they should, sooner than they should, and the needed partner then becomes spooked and pulls back. Like rocking a boat, regaining balance (and FAST) is a major challenge, and if not met, the relationship will then be doomed. I did my “pulling” on this blog, and the Guy patiently let me.
In that time, we’ve talked about a great deal of “serious” issues, and nothing’s really spooked either of us, since we’ve confronted it. Cheating is just one of the many topics we’ve broached, but out of all of them, finding his stance on this topic was the thing that made me feel most comfortable about where we stood.
His response was that anything that smacked of intimacy (ie: beyond flirting) could be construed as “cheating,” with the stipulation being that you’ve declared “exclusivity” with your partner. I brought up the point that I occasionally receive sexual emails and I have been known to do semi-extreme flirting in one or two cases with correspondents, and I said that my role in those emails stopped as soon as I began seeing him, since I started to feel as though I would be betraying a trust.
I know my views on “cheating” are fairly old-fashioned; it’s anything that makes me feel like I should be saying or doing that with my Guy, not that other person. I have high standards for what I expect of friends, for what I expect of lovers, and even what I expect of myself. This time, we’re on the same page.
In this day and age of cyber worlds and information highways, “cheating” can take on a million different looks. You can engage in cybersex, have a long-distance literary love affair while still involved with a lover, you can ignore your sexual obligations in a relationship and spend all your time digesting porn and masturbating instead, or you can simply do the old-fashioned stalk-and-hunt of an extramarital lover via internet dating. It doesn’t matter. To me, if you’re in a relationship where you’ve vowed to be exclusive, there are things you unequivocally should not do – such as kissing someone else, exchanging love notes, or an afternoon rendezvous in a $49.99 motel. And you must, without a doubt, seek to have a strong and passionate sex life with your partner. It’s not called “roommates,” people.
But there are fine lines to what may or may not be construed as cheating, and the only way you’ll ever know what your lover would feel is a betrayal is if you ask.
Oh, and if you need to stop and deliberate as to whether the action could be construed as cheating? It’s cheating. I mean, use your fucking brain. Really. If you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it, baby.

But enough about me.
What do YOU think constitutes “cheating”?

Stress and Relationships

Life’s hard. We’ve all come to learn this through our own experiences. Adversity finds us, and it finds us with ease. Sometimes we deal well, and sometimes we don’t.
Almost always, the ones who bear the brunt of our emotional duress are those around us. Keeping our heads straight and keeping our emotions intact are what we’re told ‘adults’ do. So, we struggle. We keep ourselves under control, or at least we delude ourselves in thinking we’re managing to do so.
But then we snap. Little things piss us off, bend us out of shape. Inconsequential things, like other people’s bad driving, meaningless comments from our lovers, or so-called disappointments like the movie we’re wanting to see being rented out already. Then we grumble, moan, erupt.
Last week, a couple things sort of sent me headed towards Tizzy Land. My lover snapped at me once, and then said something a little crass and thoughtless the next day. Two things, two days in a row, was enough to make me start thinking, “Is this worth the effort? Don’t I deserve better?”
In reality, though, each of those moments couldn’t even amount to a molehill. Considering the weeks since we started seeing each other, all the adversity thrown at each of us, the fact that we’ve managed as well as we have in the face of those, and have had as many long and good and wonderful conversations as we’ve had, and that we have only had these two itty-bitty things to grouse about, things are going pretty fucking good.
The problem I’ve found with my relationship is that, with any new relationship, you get the “honeymoon period.” How doth I love thee? Let me count the ways. It’s the period when everything is bliss and sunshine, when you feel you’ve been blessed with something wildly great. It’s that time when everything you do is interrupted with those too-frequent giddy little thoughts of, “Mm, I’m seeing him/her tonight. Boy, I can’t wait! Mm… kisses!”
This relationship didn’t really come with a honeymoon period. It began with my being sick, followed by mutual money fears, followed by his short-lived good luck of being hired on permanently to his job, and then, whammo, a couple days later, he was felled with a serious broken leg that required two operations done same-day. Now, he’s on crutches still for about another month.
Me, I’ve been playing nursemaid, and I thought I wasn’t resentful about it. I really did. I’m the kind of gal who wants to be of use, who wants to help. Even more importantly, I’m a gal who spent a total of 20 weeks on crutches over about 13 and a half months, the last instance being just over a year ago. If anyone can relate to how fucking hard life on crutches is, it’s me. So, help I have, and as much as I’ve been able.
But then I snapped last week, and all because he had a grumpy moment. It’s fine and dandy to relate to someone’s problems, but when you think they have a reason to be grateful to you for putting yourself out for an hour or two, it’s far too bloody easy to forget that their frustrations are much greater than the few you’ve encountered in the recent hours. So, I disregarded how hard his life’s been of late, and how angry he probably is at all this, and let myself feel sorry for myself as a result, and then took it out on him.
A few years ago, it’d have been enough reason for me to walk away from the relationship. “Mmf, he doesn’t appreciate me.” I’d petulantly walk away, all in a huff, and take it personally. This time, I’m an adult with a little accumulated wisdom behind my years. I started to realize my anger wasn’t at him, not really. It was because we never had a honeymoon period, and now, here we were, in a “real” relationship, with disagreements and miscommunications, and it dawned on me… we probably would never have that honeymoon period after all. We’ve gone from meeting to having a mature, measured relationship, without any of the carefree bliss in between.
Caring for a person doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always going to be able to treat them as they deserve to be treated. It’s hard to be honest with ourselves about how difficult our adversities are. It’s even more difficult to be honest with ourselves about how overwhelmed we’re feeling in the face of those adversities. And let’s face it, it’s brutal to admit our powerlessness to someone we’re hoping always sees us at our best, especially if you’re the guy and you’re supposed to be stoic and strong. But as a woman, it can also be really challenging to admit those feelings because we don’t want to be perceived as needy or overly emotional. Both sexes always have too much to lose from telling the truth, or so we seem to believe.
Admitting disappointments and anger and fear and hopelessness is akin to admitting we’re not tough enough to take life on. None of us wants to be that person, the one who’s being beaten by adversity. None of us wants to admit to embarrassment or failure. The one person we ought to be able to admit these things to is the one person we hope will never find it out. We don’t want their illusions of us to be shattered. After all, we know the truth: We’re not perfect.
Or, maybe it’s a little different from that. In my case, I didn’t want to seem petty. I didn’t want my guy to know I was angry he broke his leg, that I was hurt by the reality that we were suddenly thrust into this serious situation whereby our bliss was hurled out the third floor window of a hospital. The incisions in his legs cut into the heart of our relationship and made things complicated – when things should have seemed blissful and easy.
The thing about a new relationship is that it takes the edge off an already hard life for a little bit, and we didn’t have that. I found myself resentful about it, and as a result, I hated that I could feel such a way – feel so petty, so needy – when I really, really liked the guy regardless of the struggles he now faced.
It’s hard to tell someone you resent what’s occurring to you as a result of their adversities, and that resentment can really prove damaging to us. A great example of this is from the absolutely incredible and amazing miniseries Angels in America, when Louis leaves Prior because Prior’s been diagnosed with AIDS. Louis loves Prior as much as any person can, but he’s too fucking weak to stand around and watch his lover succumb to his horrid disease, so he walks, and in so doing, very nearly destroys himself as a result.
We hate ourselves for our inability to deal with life’s challenges, and it certainly can kill our relationships. We all know that stresses send our sexual desires plummeting sometimes, and with that, one of our healthiest forms of release takes a walk on us, and next thing you know, an already unpleasant situation escalates.
In my situation, I think we’ve overcome the worst of the Guy’s adversities. It’s not over, not by a long shot, and I hope I’m woman enough to continue admitting to him when it’s difficult for me, too, while still being there for him when he needs it. I’ve no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead for us as he begins the slow path to rehabilitation, but then, I’ve been through similar struggles myself, and I know that if anyone can provide the support and understanding he’s going to need during this time, it’s me. And, fortunately, something inside of me says it’s worth it. I hope I’m right. But therein lies another struggle, that of unknowing and that of doubt. We just never know.
But we can hope. So, I do. I know there’s one great tool we both have at our disposal, and fortunately, we both know how to use it, and that’s communication. It’s the only thing that gets us through these times, and it can never be underestimated.

Getting What You Ask For

Words hurt. What we say can hurt others. It can traumatize them. It can lead to unthinkable acts. Without a doubt, words can hurt.
But what we don’t say can often hurt us every bit as much. Unfortunately, as you read this, lovers all over the world are having unnecessarily bad sex all because of words they’re not saying.
Words like, “Honey, not so hard.” Or perhaps, “Can you move a little to the left?” Or quite possibly the worst phrase of all to overlook, “I think we could use a little lube.”
I’m making light of it, to be sure, but honestly, I still feel the best way to dial up a sex life is through talk. I’m not suggesting getting into a discourse on the pros and cons of ratifying Kyoto or anything, but rather, an interactive discussion on whether things are working or not. But let’s come back to that.
I recently received a happy package in the mail from my Secret Santa. In it was a copy of the Better Sex Series on DVD. This was Volume One: Advanced Sexual techniques and Positions.
Now, personally, I didn’t find there was anything really new in the DVD, but I really was glad to watch it. I’ll be keeping it around. It may come in handy with a future lover. It’s a “how to” video that explains a whole lot about sex, and I think it’d probably be useful for any new or even intermediate couple. It echoes a lot of things I’ve always believed.
There was a lot of great information included, everything from how every person’s body will respond differently to stimulation, to the uniqueness of different cocks and vaginas, and a myriad of useful position and technique advice. Great stuff.
It also highlighted the necessity of communication. The program’s participants appear to be real couples who occasionally suck at acting (in that they’re just trying too hard to say the lines right) but they sure as hell have it going on in bed. The couples talk on-screen about aspects of their sex lives correlating to whatever topic might be showing at any given time, from cunnilingus to come, and then you see snippets of them getting it on in rather elegant, if sparse, and nicely lit surroundings, illustrating how hot their sex really is.
(An assumption one might draw if they excelled in naivety would be along the lines of, “Dude, they talked about it and then, whammo! They had frickin’ hot sex! Talking is HOT, dude!”)
There are scenes, though, that illustrate beautifully what kind of dialogue can be used to really spice up your relationship. How? It’ll give you a roadmap for your partner’s pleasure zones. Here’s some questions I think ought to be asked in these scenarios, and some are variations of ones asked in the DVD:
“How do you like having your clit rubbed?”
“What part of your cock is the most sensitive?”
“Is there something I don’t do that you wish I did?”
“What part of your body do you think needs more attention?”
“What do I do that you like the most?”
“What do you like the least?”
“When’s your favourite time to have sex?”
“Please tell me when I’m doing something that doesn’t feel right.”
“I wish we could keep doing this longer…”
You obviously can surmise that having information on any of the above questions would give you a little more insight into your lover. I mean, haven’t you ever had that experience where, when you were younger, you had certain beliefs (political, ethical, spiritual, philosophical, whatever) and you happened upon a book that somehow encapsulated everything you ever believed, and you suddenly just had this totally invigorated worldview?
Not everyone knows that feeling, but I do, and those that do, I bet they know what I’m saying here. If, say, you have an inkling that the way you tickle your lover’s anus when you’re making out, playing naked in bed, but it’s one of those sorta odd taboos you’ve never really spoken about, so it’s almost like a guilty little pleasure when you sneak a little tweak for kicks, right?
But let’s say it finally comes up in conversation. They somehow look up at you, all abashed, and guiltily confess, “I gotta say, I get so, so, so hot whenever you do that thing to my ass, but I’ve been too embarrassed to admit it… and I’d like a little more.”
One little statement, that’s all it takes. I couldn’t care less if assplay is a notion that gets you off or not, but you see my point. Confess your desires, inquire as to theirs, and start fulfilling them. What part of this is so hard to understand?
Not much, I gather. It’s just hard to do. At first. One day, you just come to realize that being vulnerable may get you a little more hurt more often, but wow, the dividends it pays in most of your life is frickin’ killer — especially when it comes to sex. You’ll find that the more you open up, the more you will be rewarded in kind. When that happens, a synergy starts to build between you. There’s something there, more tangible, more open, more adventurous. It’s like you’re finally receiving permission to act.
What’s more, it’ll start spilling out into other areas of your life. You’ll feel more comfortable being open. It takes a while to find the right people who are receptive to it, but once you do, then you need to find a way to get them talking.
And if you can’t get them talking, then at least try to get them to watch something like the Better Sex series. There is help out there, kids. It’s a matter of finding it.