I’d seen him around. He was what I would call strikingly beautiful.
He exuded a power I didn’t quite know how to handle, so I would simply watch and marvel from afar.
He seemed untouchable.
Each time I saw him, his appearance had the same effect on me—“Who is that guy?” I’d ask myself silently, my body alert to his every move. But the question remained unanswered, since I was never brave enough to speak it out loud.
Many moons passed and I almost forgot he existed. In a tourist town with a high turnover of people, there were new faces, new people, rolling into town every single day. Each new person taught me something, and whilst my long period of having no sexual partners continued, I was so utterly absorbed in my own world of learning that I barely noticed.
Then one day I walked into one of my favourite local cafés and he was there. He looked up at me… and boom—there it was, that intense presence.
With headphones on that gorgeous head of his, it felt like he was in his own little world, looking out of a window at me. I left him be, noticing that this time he didn’t appear so scary or unapproachable, though he still retained that regal beauty. I noted the difference and briefly wondered why as I sat down at my own table, quickly losing myself in land of Facebook.
The next day he was there again. And this time I was brave enough to hold his gaze. His beauty and power was so strong, I feel like he was seeing right into my soul. I smiled and broke eye contact only to look at where I was going. Wondering if his eyes were following me, I headed back to my computer and coffee, alone with my thoughts. Some time later I saw someone in my periphery. It was him, suddenly standing at my table.
“We haven’t formally met yet, have we?”, he said, with a voice as smooth as silk.
I was surprised that he had noticed me a some distant point in the past. I’d always thought I was invisible to him. He sat, and we talked, and before I knew it he was holding my hands as he looked right into my eyes. Whilst that level of eye contact and touch is common in this spiritually awakening town, the power he brought with it was a little overwhelming. With nowhere to hide, I was aware part of me really wanted to run away and yet another other part of me revelled in it.
We talked for what feels like ages and I was surprised at how much we had in common. We both had plans that afternoon, but also wanted the conversation to continue. Before I knew it, I had an invitation to breakfast, and as I said goodbye I was both excited and scared about where this might go.
Thoughts flew around my mind as I went to sleep that night. “Is he attracted to me?”… “Surely he’s just interested in talking to me more about the work we have in common.”… “Am I attracted to him?”… “He’s too old for me”… “We can just be friends. It’s fine. He’s awesome to talk to”… And then I walked into the café where we arranged to meet for breakfast, and I felt my body melt the moment he looked at me.
With breakfast ordered, then eaten, and the level of touch rising and rising, he posed a question I’ve never been asked before. “Would you like to explore intimacy with me?”, he said with a quiet confidence, looking directly into my eyes. He’d picked up on my love of exploring and learning in our conversation the day before and I couldn’t help but notice the cleverness of this approach, whilst also appreciating that he had actually listened when I spoke. And whilst it was easy to judge that I was just being asked to go home for sex on a first date, it felt so unlike that. I paused for a moment to really consider it.
His invitation was something different than I’d ever received in almost 20 years of sexual exploration with more men (and women) than I care to admit in public. I thought I’d done almost everything in that time and yet, I suddenly saw something brand new, and if I was honest, super scary, in that invitation. He really meant it. He really wanted to explore intimacy with me. It was immediately obvious that intimacy didn’t mean, “I want to kiss you for five minutes whilst I tear your clothes off as fast as I can, in order to get inside of you”, like I’d had with so many other men before him. Intimacy meant being seen, by a man who wanted me, to a deeper level than I’d ever allowed myself to be seen before.
Just the thought of it felt scary, as I looked into these beautiful brown eyes, that were already seeing me so deeply with all my clothes on that I felt squeamish. I wondered how brave I really was, and how deep two people could really go. I think I was about ready to find out.
I asked questions as we quietly sat on that café couch. I wanted to know that it would be safe and okay to say stop at any point. Having been sexually assaulted more than once in the past, sex had a way of bringing up fears I still hadn’t quite managed to clear. He said of course and that he wanted the same from me. I looked back at him. That caught me off guard, because no guy had ever said that to me. They had always just wanted to be inside of me, and saying anything they could to get there. It was clear from his tone of voice that he meant it as much as I did.
As I looked in his eyes again, I told him my biggest fear was being seen, really seen. And that if we were to play in this space I would probably cry, and I needed to know that that too was okay. He reassured me it was, and that he too needed to know that I would also hold space for him in this way. Again, I was blown away. It wasn’t a line to get me into bed. He meant it, and I suddenly realised I was on brand new territory. It was time to explore a whole new space, a whole new way of interacting that I didn’t even know existed.
Over the next week and a half we had many moments of deeper connection than I’d ever had with most of my partners in committed relationships. At different times we both cried. At different times we each pulled the other in to be physically held, in a moment of deep vulnerability. In hang out sessions that would last for hours, we’d wander between lingering hugs, luscious kisses and endless orgasms that felt safe and all encompassing. We had long conversations about travel and our work, past relationships, as well as fears we were each uncovering in our “exploring.”
I had both some of the most loving, real, respectful touch of my life, and I finally learnt how to let go and sit in pleasure to the degree that I had the longest, deepest orgasms of my entire life. A new awareness of what sex could be like had been discovered.
And I relished every moment we had together before it was time for a plane ride to separate us, and for me, once again, to let go.
What I learnt in this 10-day love affair…
For this meeting of two people to happen in this way, a few things had to happen:
1. Own your power and love yourself first.
Whilst I had him on a pedestal, thinking he was untouchable, nothing was going to happen. It took me falling in love with myself and not needing a partner to feel powerful and worthwhile as a woman, before I could receive into my life a man who saw my power and beauty. In short, I had to see me and love me first. For him, this level of self-love meant he could speak his desire to be physically intimate with me, knowing I could “reject” his invitation, and so could ask without undue fear of “rejection.”
2. Both people must know their truth and speak it.
In this case, he made it clear what his truth was (wanting me as a lover, not just a friend) and he held a genuine space for me to work out what my truth was, without attachment to my answer. He shared that he was happiest single and not wanting a long term partnership. I was clear that my ideal is to be in a long term relationship with a man much closer to my own age, someone to travel through life together. We both felt we had something important to learn through meeting each other in this way and I knew that what we were about to explore would open doors to parts of myself I really wanted to access in a long term relationship. I felt that this was the man to open that door.
3. Communicate your desires and your boundaries at each step.
We quickly discovered things he wanted to do that I didn’t. I had to have to courage and strength to speak my truth, knowing it conflicted with his. And we were only able to continue playing in this space in a safe and loving way because he was prepared to both hear and honour my truth when I did speak it. He did so beautifully, with no pushing and no attachment to a pre-conceived “destination.”
And as we explored further, we also found times there were things I wanted to do that he didn’t, and so the communication of desires and boundaries continued, in a moment to moment awareness of our own truth.
4. Share fears as you discover them.
My biggest fears came up in my journalling every other day, when in quiet moments alone. I discovered, how afraid I was of diving ever deeper with him. At so many points, I could have pulled back. There is such a tendency to want to protect ourselves from being hurt, from the future fear of loss and being left behind.
I saw myself in an ocean and I dove in, deeper than I had ever been before. It was like I was being called by a mysterious, alluring voice to “go deeper, go deeper.” And in response to this a fear spoke to me, “But Caroline, what if you can’t get back to the surface again? What if you go too deep?”
I reassured that voice with what I felt it needed to hear, “We have the resources. We will be able to get back to the surface little one. It may hurt as we return, as our lungs are busting to breathe. But we’ll get back to the surface. We have the resources we need to pull ourselves back out of these depths again.”
And so I dove deeper.
And I shared with him much of what I was discovering. Having such a strong, open communication “policy,” meant that each of us could discuss what we were feeling and what fears were coming up at any step along the way. Both of us simply heard and honoured the other person, reassuring the other that they were safe to be themselves, in all their messy humanness.
5. Be deeply and fiercely present.
He was much better at this than me, and his dedication to it allowed me to practise and get better and better at this.
After the first day of playing and exploring, we both realised we wanted more of it. I was able to go so deep because I surrendered into being with him, as my lover, in each moment I was with him, with no regard for tomorrow, next week, next month. And on the few occasions my mind wandered to “after you leave,” he would help me come back to the “now moment” helping me to remember that now really is the only truth.
The more deeply I surrendered into him being my partner when I was in his space, the more deeply I was able to surrender into receiving the love he was giving me in each moment. Through that surrendering and receiving, I was able to transform so many old patterns I had around my worthiness as a partner, being seen as a woman, and finally got to experience a depth of intimacy I hadn’t even imagined was possible.
6. Practise sitting in pleasure for just a little bit longer.
Most of us as children were taught to put a cap on the level of joy, enthusiasm, excitement and pleasure we felt. Often we were “too loud” in our excitement with siblings or friends and told to “tone it down” by parents who wanted peace and quiet. Many of us spent endlessly long hours in a classroom, containing our emotions, including the positive expansive ones, in order to avoid being told off by a teacher.
So in turn, we have a collection of adults who mostly exist in this narrow strip of emotions. We avoid getting angry or sad, or other expressions of pain. The same is true of happiness and joy, and other expressions of pleasure. If you jump around in a public place all full of excitement about a recent achievement or simply something cool about life, just watch as another adult cuts you down with “So, why are you so happy?”
To experience orgasms of the length, depth and intensity I experienced in those 10 days, I had to give myself permission to break that old belief that I had to “contain myself.” And so I asked myself to “sit in this a little longer,” every time I felt my mind say “okay, that was long enough, stop now” wanting to shut down my ability to feel the pleasure my partner was happily creating.
7. Choose a partner who wants to give and receive.
Whilst I haven’t spoken much of the pleasure I gave to him during this 10-day love affair, if he hadn’t been an excellent receiver as well as giver, our time together would have been even more short-lived. And whilst he truly enjoyed giving to me, for as long as I had the physical endurance to keep going, it was in the balance of him also receiving from me, that the energy between us could easily be recycled and renewed, again and again.
It’s easy to think that my job as the woman is to receive, and his as the man is to give, but in fact all human beings are a balance of feminine and masculine. We need both to be able to give fully and receive easily, to experience the levels of health, love and pleasure that is available to us.
Author: Caroline Southwell
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: NataliaDrepina at Deviant Art