Useless

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I'm going to an anime convention in a few weeks and I fantasize about looking across a crowded panel, seeing the Hetalia:Axis Powers Germany cosplayer of my dreams and convincing him that we are meant to be karezza partners. And then I realize what a useless, stupid dream that is, and I reconcile myself to lonelieness.

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There's no harm in trying!

You will never know what happens until you tried it.
I know you might feel that it is far-fetched from reality, but hey, no one imagined Neil Armstrong to be the first man on the moon. So might as well try!
I know you can do it!
Think positive!
Stay happy
Smile smile smile!!!!

man on the moon

President Kennedy imagined an American to be first on the moon. But he gave us a decade to do it.

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon... " JFK, May 1961. Done July 1969.

So reach high, think positive -- but be realistic.

I know that

fear makes casual sex and fantasy seem like good ideas. This approach to sex requires a regular partner and a stable relationship. I'm pretty sure your odds of the latter are better closer to home.

Fear is there

Fear of failure, fear of being alone in the midst of other happy pairs and groups, fear of time running out, fear of settling for what I can get vs what I want. Fear of never getting even that. And again, feeling like I've lost the ability to meet people and strike up friendships and more unless they are work-related. And all my friends are women (married or single and not looking) or married or gay men. I even tried signing up at cuddlecomfort and my registration wasn't even going through.
I have to remind myself of this great Bruce Lee quote I found today:
“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

Here's another perspective

("Take what you can use and leave the rest," as the saying goes.)

I've grown suspicious of the "settling for what I can get vs. what I want" logic. It's good...except that you need to define who "I" is. If I is your genes, then, when you're female, they always want alpha-looking males (just as male genes always want fertile-looking females). (Alpha can be defined as any kind of dominance, BTW.)

Trouble is, the partners our genes choose are not necessarily the best for us...or for getting our life's work accomplished. Picking the right mate for the latter will always feel like "settling" to your biological urges...no matter how great a lover/partner the guy is. Your genes will tell you that "you can do better."

My closest friend was in this same trap for years. She just wanted the glory of parading her alpha male around, so she made unwise choices. Finally, after some soul searching, she decided she really wanted a loving, stable relationship. Sure enough, a new guy showed up. Certainly not a classic alpha, although very bright and good at his work. More important, he had some tantric experience and was willing to try karezza.

At first she felt the usual "restlessness," but she resisted the urge to bolt for something better, even when an old alpha flame showed up. She kept going with the bonding behaviors and karezza-ish sex.

The relationship has been really good for both. They love each other dearly, and plan to marry in November. She doesn't feel like she "settled" at all, because she now loves him for many excellent reasons. He's attentive, caring, generous, etc. And I think he's attractive as well!

But she needed to shift her thinking, or she would have remained a rolling stone in search of her prize forever. The prize she wanted (an alpha of one kind or another), by definition, was a man who would have a very hard time remaining faithful because he was a genetic prize.

So you really need to ask yourself if you want to serve your genes...or your individual wellbeing, because that choice may have a lot to do with how you evaluate potential partners.

Hmmm,

I see the wisdom in what you are saying. I also see my vanity and superficial (gene-driven) interest in attractive men fighting it every step of the way. Last night, I felt very dark and cruel; I felt that if some poor soul had come to me and pledged himself to my service, and I didn't find him up to snuff, I would have taken him anyway. But not in a spirit of open-minded and open-hearted love, but more rapacious, exploitative and cruel. I would have gladly used such a man for what I could get until I grew disgusted with him or myself or he finally gave up. It was a horrible feeling.
I tried dating nice guys in the past I didn't find much attraction towards, and I could "see" their good qualities, but things didn't pan out. They were the ones who stopped calling or arranging to see me; maybe they realized I wasn't that interested. Maybe I should have tried harder.

Hmmm, interesting

Because the majority of them actually stopped calling me before we got sexually active. There were two exceptions: one I left after a couple of sexual encounters because I didn't like him when he was drunk. The other we only had conventional intercourse once. He seemed more smitten with me than I with him, and while he was a "nice guy" and good at his work (you'd think he make a perfect candidate for karezza), he wasn't some conventionally attractive alpha male who could easily hit it and quit it. I think I said or did something that clicked in his head and made him realize I wasn't the one he thought I was. So the nice guy, "I think I could learn to find him attractive" didn't lead to lots of sex and each of us growing satiated with each other. Unless just one time was enough Mr. Nice Guy needed to get bored and leave (shrug).
Here's something: what is so bad about finding someone I like on many levels, whom I actually find attractive, starting a relationship that begins with conventional sex and then broaching the subject of karezza? Would that be such a bad move?

funny thing about those bonding behaviors....

The more you bond with someone, the more attractive they become to you. Marnia's book is all new to me, but it sure makes sense. Since Oxytocin is what bonds parents and children together, why couldn't it do the same for us? I have had parents and grandparents show me pictures of their newborn child / grandchild and have had to bite my tongue. Hope this doesn't offend anyone when I say this, but I must: not all babies are cute and precious. Some are homely. But to that parent or grandparent, that is the most beautiful baby in the whole world.

So.....I really do believe the same works for us adults, at least to a certain extent. I know it has for my wife and myself. I'm not movie star material. But I am confident that at this point my wife wouldn't trade me for anyone else. And the same goes for me. She is all I ever need or want. She looks more beautiful now than even two months ago, and because she knows I feel that way about her, she feels even better about herself. And because of that, I believe she really, truly does look more beautiful. Perception becomes reality. How cool is that?

How about those 28 years ago.

Did you find it was more the classic mix of finding someone attractive and compatible or more of the conscious practice of bonding behaviors with this person? When you first got together, did you have to tell yourself, "Okay, physically she doesn't really do anything for me, but she has a swell personality, similiar values to mine, and if I make myself perform these bonding behaviors, she'll look like a goddess to me in a few weeks." Because I'm feeling my anxiety ratchet up. I can see after "falling out of f love" the participants making the conscious choice to practice bonding behaviors like you and your wife have done. Frankly, I can see that being even harder than me walking up to a schlub at Starbucks and initiating friendly conversation and affectionate touch, because the schlub is a blank slate. He has not hurt, disappointed or frustrated me like a long term spouse to whom I have grown habituated. When I met my ex-husband, I thought he was the cutest, sexiest guy in the world and he was also smart and kind. It was not a chore to get started with him. After our son was born, that "falling out of love" occurred and neither he nor I knew about bonding behaviors or karezza as a way to change our marriage. Maybe that cuold have worked to revive our love. My point is, there had to be something that brought us together and we didn't know what would work to reunite us after drifting apart.
Shoot, I don't even go for classic manly guys. I like short, trim guys.I'm surprised I haven't turned into a jockey groupie, LOL. I like slightly gawky guys. If you're a Mad Men watcher, I know Don Draper is too handsome and bad news. The guy who plays the silver fox Roger Sterling is handsome, wonky nose and all, but probably out of my league. Pete Campbell is more my speed. I'm not asking for ridiculously handsome, just someone who doesn't make me feel like I have to close my eyes and fantasize about my imaginary boyfriend so I can bear him touching me.

Great description

of how that perception shift works.

It's not like we see clearly at the beginning of relationships either. We're "high" on temporary honeymoon neurochemistry. Balance really is best if you just want an enduring set of rosy spectacles that don't make you  blind to your partners flaws, but do make you find them more adorable than annoying...or at least good for some gentle ribbing.  I can't imagine a harmonious long-term relationship without these spectacles, but that's just me.

@ enlightenment You may be surprised what shifts if you start your relationships slowly, and stick to bonding behaviors and karezza (as best you can). Starting with hot sex and backing up never worked for me...precisely because my perception did shift for the worse. Also switching to karezza after a lot of hot sex just doesn't feel good for a while. You're dealing with extra cravings from all the hot stuff, and you get grumpy.

However, maybe it will be different for you. I think the Rev is a good example of a "blend approach." But keep in mind that even on the "craving" days he had a strong relationship with a lot of shared history. New relationships don't have that, so when that neurochemical perception shift hits and Dr. Jekyll turns to Mr. Hyde over night...if you're like me...you'll bolt and ask questions later. You may want to read our book, because it answers a lot of your questions. The kindle version is less than $10.

Yes, slow is good

I agree with that. Bonding behaviors and getting to know each other before sex? Absolutely. I agree with that. Bringing up slow sex and karezza before we actually do the deed to gauge his interest and worth? I'd do it, and I'm not talking during the speed date either. I could see hanging out, getting to know each other, developing affection and then start talking about "When will we do it?" which would lead to "How will we do it?"

Those "nice guys" who ended the relationships did so before we even did any serious petting, so it's not like the sex drove them away. Something else did, and it might even have been that they sensed that I wasn't that drawn to them. I don't know. It kind of amuses me and frustrates me that people think I'm falling into bed on the first date with hot guys and then wondering they leave. When Weird Friend and I went on the prowl, it was a dismal failure.

My problem right now is getting back into the Looking Game. It's not working on my own. I need to gather up the courage to post a profile on some of the online dating sites people recommend, and I need to start talking to my friends in "meat space" and letting them know I'm interested in dating. They might know someone. I'm going to signup for Meetup.com in my area and look for groups based on interests, so I can at least have something in common with new friends and potential partners besides loneliness.

I have to dial back on the neediness and impatience.

Well yes, but...

Yes there was a definite attraction for her back then, and the bonding keeps us together. Too bad she isn't on here, because you should probably ask her about me.

I just thought of something else. This ability to choose our own mate is rather recent in most cultures, I believe. Once upon a time our mates were chosen for us. Maybe in some cases that wasn't such a bad thing. This brings to mind a song from Fiddler on the Roof. After so many years they both realize they do love each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_y9F5St4j0

I have had a huge insight on this

When I met my last girlfriend, I didn't jump into bed and have sex with her. I was having a bout of ED and we spent a lot of time cuddling and doing everything but hot sex. Now that I look back on this it was the perfect way to begin the relationship. When we finally did have sex we had already really bonded and were in love. That was a lot of years ago now and we are together stronger than ever.

This is the perfect way to start a relationship. In my mind there are three phases (Darryl, wink wink, this is too funny!)

1. See if you really like him

2. Get physical but no sex

3. Have sex after you have really bonded

That is the ideal way if you are intent on a boyfriend rather than a fling.

In life order matters. Doing #3 before #2 isn't going to work. Most women are making this mistake today. They are giving in to their desire to have sex, their belief that sex bonds, and a buy-in of masculine ideas about sex. It's a huge mistake.

This article is pretty interesting on this point (from the man's point of view):

But still, the myth persists that men must audition a woman to ensure sexual chemistry before deciding if she is commitment material. If this myth were true, it would stand to reason that couples who do not test out sexual chemistry before commitment should have shorter, more unhappy relationships. But Dr. Busby and his colleagues at Brigham Young University were unable to make this connection in a study of more than 2,000 couples. People with good sexual chemistry early on did not stay together longer. He explained his results to me this way: “The mechanics of good sex are not particularly difficult or beyond the reach of most couples, but the emotions, the vulnerability, the meaning of sex and whether it brings couples closer together are much more complicated to figure out.”

 

And maybe

Busby's explanation still makes things overly complex and mysterious. Humans evolved with a tension betweent their "bonding" and "mating" programs. Different environmental pressures and cultures mean our evolutionary success benefitted from a lot of flexibility. However, it's likely that on the whole, the benefits of two caregivers served our wellbeing and genetic success by improving our offspring's genetic fitness. And courtship/bonding behaviors were a key part of that equation in many cultures. Hot sex first doesn't give that bonding time to flourish. There's a sort of delicate balancing act at work.

The massive confusion today is due to the fact that we've been taught (for 60 years) that orgasm is the goal of sex and will cure all ills, while bonding behaviors have been ignored and are only now being investigated (a little bit) by our "experts." I was amazed when the Kinsey Institute finally thought to ask the right questions of long-married couples in 5 countries. (Link to it in this article: Guys: Where Do You Fall on the Monogamy Spectrum?)

What did they find? Affectionate, sexy touch was more important to men than their orgasm. (OK, they weren't 18, but still.... Wink ) Pair-bonder brains like bonding behaviors. Our brains sense the truth that our "orgasm logic" denies: affectionate daily touch and close, trusted companionship are anti-anxiety meds that increase wellbeing and are therefore good for every aspect of our emotional and physical health. But many of us have bought the idea that it's "wussy" to focus on affection and wellbeing when we could be dazzling each other with hot foreplay...and often experiencing unnaturally high levels of relationship turnover as a consequence. This may be sexy, but it's stressful when it becomes a lifestyle.

The Kinsey Institute may have been well intentioned, but it (and its offspring) have done enormous damage for years by failing to investigate the pair-bonding side of our innate biological programming. Instead, they've chosen to condemn it as "merely a product of cultural moralizing" or, the new dirty word of the last few years, "heteronormative." As a consequence many straight commentators are hesitant to talk about straight sex. They, too, focus on oral and anal sex...because those are the only sexual behaviors that won't be called names like "heteronormative," as we share them with the 1.7% of people who identify as gay/lesbian.

I think people should do what they want, but it saddens me that our sexual experts seem more interested in sexual politics than in truly understanding human sexuality/bonding. I think we all have enormous untapped potential for greater feelings of wellbeing by understanding bonding and balance and their effects on our mood/health...instead of just assuming naively that jollies will increase overall happiness. I say that as someone who indeed assumed just that...and discovered the picture was far more complex and interesting...not to mention promising. Wink

Great stuff

I enjoy this site so much, if only because I can learn from you, Marnia. You are so right. Our attitudes on sexuality are so unhealthy today. All one has to do is read the cover of Cosmopolitan. At the same time, when we say we are living in an age with unhealthy attitudes about sex, then people will assume we are some religious zealot or fundamentalist. This message is not an easy one to get out there.

Now, where did you get the 1.7% figure?

Here's the study where I got the figure

http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-...

Note that more people are bi (1.8%) than homosexual (1.7%). This means 98+% of Americans prefer at least some sex with the opposite sex. And yet any discussion of straight sex is condemned as "heteronormative" and politically incorrect.

In general, Americans have a very exaggerated estimate of how many people are homosexual and how many are LG or BT. This skews a lot of thinking.

Very interesting

In my field of literary and cultural studies, a book called "Making Sex" by Thomas Laqueur (sp) came out several years ago that made the claim that sexual identify and sexual behavior became much more narrowed and intercourse/orgasm based in the mid-eighteenth century. Before then, certain sexual acts were illegal and punishishable, but performing those behaviors did not always brand them with a fixed sexual identity. A great contemporary illustration of this would be a man who self-identifies as heterosexual going to jail and getting involved in a homosexual relationship.

What really interests me about Laqueur's book was that he claims "sex" for people of the early modern period could range from intercourse to deep kissing and caressing. Bonding behaviors could occur not just between courting hetero couples, but same-sex couples as well.

Question

Marnia, do you think when these "what is your sexuality" studies are conducted people are forthright in their answers? I'm very doubtful it would be easy to say you are something other than what is considered the norm? (especially if you worried over where the information would go?)

Good point, Rachel

How many closeted gays/bis/transgenders would be willing to admit their orientation to an anonymous study, if they are still struggling with coming out to themselves, families and friends?

The academic listserve

I belong to is heavily queer, and they think these numbers are solid and representative. Here's another report on the data, and I think the guy writing it is queer himself. http://kinseyconfidential.org/americans-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender/ Note how he doesn't separate out homosexuals. 3.8% sounds bigger than 1.7%.

Mind you, I don't care what anyone is. But I do think epithets like "heteronormative" shouldn't be thrown around such that the 98+% of people who like some sex with the other gender have to feel apologetic about it. This has a dampening effect on discussions of the role of gentle intercourse in bonding, etc.

Interesting breakdowns by age, sex, too

18-29 yr old women rated the highest % identifying as LGBT, but at the same time, had the higher refusal to answer rate than men.  

I wonder what their reasons for refusal might be?  A militant refusal to be pigeonholed?  Fear that they're not anonymous?  

Quizure

My thought is that

a portion of those who don't answer...really don't know. Kinda like our HOCD guys. But it's also fashionable to choose labels like "omnisexual," or "asexual," which weren't options. And it's definitely fashionable to refuse all labels.Aggressive

Out of 149 people in my office

8 are known to me as bi or gay. It has been as high as 14. That's between 5 and 9 percent. Maybe where I live is a Mecca. Biggrin

I know someone who is married, has children, and has never had sex with anyone but his wife, but is gay, and devoutly Mormon. I wonder how he would be counted?

Quizure

Who knows?

However, it's likely there's a migration to liberal areas to a degree. In any case, the stats I cited from that review were based on a number of different surveys, and a gay demographer on the academic listserve felt they were reliable. He said it was amazing to him how widespread the belief in large percentages of LGBT Americans...given the reality.

Again, I'm getting this straight from the gay academics. Of course, you should believe whatever you choose.

Mecca, probably.

At least three of the people are from small towns, and left their families because of being shunned and abused.

I do live in Portlandia, after all.

Quizure

Very interesting

How about bonding behaviors for same sex couples? I know a gay couple who have been together 20+ years and I see more affection and sweetness and respect between them than my heterosexual students.

I also believe that the "promiscuity = empowerment" has really screwed up young women. It seems our culture teaches girls that they are Disney princesses but when they hit puberty, they better switch over to acting like video ho's and porn stars if they want to be seen as attractive. That disgusts me, and I'd like to see young women value themselves more highly and carry themselves like proud, beautiful goddesses whom men should serve and worship. But try talking about more modest behavior and clothing among women's studies professors, and everyone thinks I'm some repressive conservative with a far right religious agenda. I'm actually more of a neo-pagan socialist XD.

To be fair

The blog post does bring up some Disney heroines who don't fit the mold, but of course, it also mentions that they are the ones who are underrepresented in merchandise. And that pic of Maid Marian as one of the missing Disney Princesses from the 1970s Robin Hood makes me so happy. That was one of my favorite cartoons.

I never heard of the term heteronormative before now,

but that's because I live in a part of the country that is not quite as progressive as other parts of the globe.

Concerning the percentages,
I won't argue the 1.7% number at all. I do know that we as a U.S. society have a long way to go in accepting and embracing them as being normative in their own way. Those I know certainly didn't choose to be the way they are.

I'm sure you understand

that acceptance of diversity is not the issue here. The issue is spin that chills and disparages discussions that pertain more or less exclusively to those who like some of their sex (at least) with those of the opposite gender.

vaguely related

I write fanfiction about an anime that uses the concept of nations of the world personified as really cute young men and women. In the original comic and animated series, a lot of the relationships are based on historical alliances and current events, so you will have male-male relationships, as well as male-female. But in the fan fiction and fan art, there is a lot of emphasis and celebration of yaoi (boy-boy love) and very little male-female. That irks me because the works often become gay male porn written by young women for other young women, and if you are like me and that doesn't appeal, then you get labeled as repressed and/or anti-gay. I have gay friends, I support marriage equality and anti-discrimination policies, so I get really angry when some 15 year old girl calls me a homophobe or hates on the heterosexual pairings I support. I just scratch my head and wonder what is going on with these young women who love yaoi and actively reject male-female pairings. So in a vague, self-absorbed way, I can see in my own experience how this "spin" you mention affects another of my communities.

No, I just find it oddly encouraging, or perhaps even amusing,

that there are persons in other parts of the country who disparage discussions of hetero sex. I live in an extremely sheltered and conservative town, mind you. By the way, I do feel very much out of place here, but at the same time I get this feeling that I'm here for some reason. Not that I could have the power to change a town, but perhaps I could just be a thorn in the flesh of the ultra conservative clergy at the ministerial association. ;-P

That reminds me

of a phrase I once heard someone use: "My job here is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Does that resonate with you, Rev?

Yes, I've related to that job description!

My voice can be very confusing to the many who seem to have a completely different take on the work of Christ than what I see in the Scriptures. I've considered dropping out of the clergy association, but I decided this is my opportunity to challenge those assumptions. It's not like I'm a total jerk or pain in the ____. I often go along, and only occasionally throw them a zinger.

Incidentally, I'm really learning a lot here in this new world. I've never heard of anime either, until you brought it up.