Mindful Relationship Tips from an Old Married Lady
Okay, so I’m not that old, and I’ve only been married for six months, but… being married and having a child puts me in a different category than the one I used to belong to as a single woman with no children.
I must say, I am relieved not to be dating anymore. It is, as they say, a jungle out there. But keep the faith! New love happens every day.
Last week, “The Tao of Dating: 6 Sex Guidelines for Empowered Women,” an article that I wrote over three years ago on elephant was shared on Facebook, which led to its garnering over 25,000 views, apparently motivating this post on male sexual stereotypes and unleashing a cascade of appreciative messages from female friends and readers with whom it resonated.
When I wrote the post in 2010, I was single, discontent, living in a large city and surrounded by overlapping social circles but lonely and increasingly convinced that a long-term, committed relationship was never going to happen for me.
It wasn’t my intention to perpetuate any stereotypes about men and sex. To clarify, I wrote that “men (gay and straight) seem quite capable of unattached sex.”
In my experience, a fair amount of men did seem ready, willing and able to have sex at my beck and call. I don’t know what was actually going on in their minds; I can only speak from my own experience. Anyway, yes, point taken—women, just as much as men, are quite capable of detached sex.
When I wrote “there’s no such thing as casual sex,” all those moons ago, I meant that although the “hookup” may often appear to be casual, it’s actually not because sex is inherently intimate and begs for a meaningful emotional connection—love, ideally—between partners.
However, hindsight is 20/20. I now amend my official stance on the issue.
Yes, there is such a thing as casual sex. And unless both parties are aware and accepting of the fact that it’s casual, it is a harmful and mindless act.
Without further ado, here are my revised and updated guidelines (gentle suggestions, not rules) for empowered human beings when it comes to love and lovemaking.
1. Know what you need and want.
Whether you’re looking for someone or you’ve already met that intriguing new person, knowing your own needs in and wants for the relationship is the essential first step.
Are you looking for something serious? Lighthearted? How much time would you ideally like to spend with the other person, at first? What is your ultimate goal? Marriage? Life partnership? Friendship? Good sex? Be honest with yourself about your own desires and requirements.
2. Express what you need and want.
So, once you have gained an awareness of your genuine needs and desires—in a partner, as well as in the dynamic of a relationship—you need to express them clearly and openly.
If you have an online dating profile, make it known what level of commitment and intimacy you are currently looking for. When you meet someone new and start dating, be transparent about what you seek in the relationship from the beginning.
3. Be willing to compromise.
Because compromise is a fact of life and an integral part of any relationship.
4. But, also know your non-negotiables.
Be flexible but not a pushover.
Be willing to adapt to new circumstances but don’t settle.
Be patient. Keep putting yourself out there. Stay open to meeting new people. Cultivate friendships. You are worthy of loving and being loved, no matter what.
5. Be present and enjoy it!
Okay, so you’re in a relationship—whether you’ve gone out on three dates or for 11 years, whether it’s vacuous, potentially meaningful, or definitely, downright serious—be present for it.
Be there in the moment with your partner. Especially during sex. Are you enjoying it? If not, can you alter things so that you will enjoy it? If not, what’s the point?
6. Be grateful.
Don’t just stick a superficial smile on your face. Can you be radically grateful for your life, whether you are single and mingling or coupled or married or divorced or whatever? After all, these are just “status” labels society requires us to attach to our identities.
If you’re single, be grateful for independence, alone time, freedom to do as you choose without checking in with anybody.
If you’re dating, be grateful for the falling in love phase, when it happens, which it will. Be grateful for the awkward first dates, because they make the awesome ones all the better by comparison.
If you’re in a committed relationship and that’s what you wanted and you love, trust and respect your partner, be grateful, because wow!
Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go it’s pretty damn good. ~ Woody Allen
Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer. ~ Swami X
Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power. ~ Oscar Wilde
Sex is always about emotions. Good sex is about free emotions; bad sex is about blocked emotions. ~ Deepak Chopra
Kids. They’re not easy. But there has to be some penalty for sex. ~ Bill Maher
Sex is emotion in motion. ~ Mae West
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives