I don't know if we'll ever get to Part Two, but there's a lot on the cutting floor.
On New Years Day, National Public Radio played a Best Interview of 2009 with famous sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman, who is an inspiration, seriously. But Laura had nothing of substance to say about the L-words, as far as I can remember, so somebody should. I understand her new book has pictures, by the way.
Is it possible we’ve never discussed this, lust and love?
Let's get right to it then, start with lust.
There’s a lot to be said in favor of lust, without being facetious. Twenty-five percent of all marriages dissolve due to sexual problems. So it stands to reason that lust might be factoring in there somewhere.
Maybe it's there, but not reciprocated or appreciated. Or the object of lustfulness is someone outside the dyad, a lady, a gent. And if lust is there for someone else, and it isn't there X2 in an ostensibly committed relationship, then that dyad (two-some) could be in trouble. Heaven forbid. But it happens.
Which is why I'm thinking it needs to be bi-directional, it really does. Both partners need some luster at the same time in the same place at least some of the time. And it totally gets a bad rap, lust, and maybe it shouldn't, which had to be said, because without it, without the arousal associated with lust, sexual relations can be a real pain, as in painful. And who needs that?
And there's the idea that although sexual intimacy is only one of the five intimacies,* it facilitates the others, is a metaphor of every process, every problem in the relationship. Thus it is high on the hierarchy of couple needs. Associate lust, as we've just done, with sexual intimacy, and working the lust matters. It's a good thing, not bad.
Have I lost any subscribers yet? Oh, give me time.
Sexual intimacy, which should include lustfulness, looftness, whatever it was Woody Allen used to say when he was expressing his love/lust in one of his neurotic films, feels good, and it's free. So it has to be good for marriage, can surely be the marital glue, way up there on the list of intimacies.
That said, if a couple is not married, is not legally or emotionally committed, then good sex can be glue for that couple too, making it harder to get out when intellectually, emotionally, rationally, you know it's not a good match.
Still, it's hard to say, I have to go now, when a vibrant part of you wants to stay.
Lusting for a bad boy/bad girl, just one of those things so many people lust for, or lusting for an ex, can be easier than living with one of these 'til death (or divorce) do you part. People cut bait, are capable of rational decisions, even when the lust refuses to relocate. We get out of dysfunctional or second-rate relationships and think back, sometimes years later, with a fondness and desire. You bet.
There are clergy-people who tell us to extinguish the flame. But the brain has a mind of its own. We can fight the process, crack a mental whip, control the wandering, but it's difficult. Just like any other obsessive, ego-dystonic (annoying) thoughts, these refuse to leave home.
Sex therapists suggest distraction, focus upon the body, the senses, not thoughts, if they make us feel bad or conflicted. We're supposed to get into our five senses and how they affect our internal arousal, search inward, deep into the self, beneath the skin, although skin is good, too, touching it. We focus on the body, find a wave of arousal,** and zero in on what makes the body happy, the source of stimulation that makes it so appealing, this reaching for higher heights.
Call it meditating with a purpose.
Then, once it is located, once that certain predictable, happy-centered neurological pathway is found, we coach the main squeeze. Instruct a partner accordingly.
Except for the instructing a partner, and taking instruction part, difficult for some couples. Which is a problem, illustrates the salience of problem-solving intimacy, a topic for another day. For a partner who doesn't want to give instruction (too embarrassed) denies the other an opportunity to pleasure her (let's just say it's a her).
And a partner who doesn't want to take instruction (let's say it's a him) reduces the chance that his partner will feel pleasure.
It is like saying,
I want to give you a present, one that will make you really happy, but I don't want you to tell me what you want, how you want it delivered, or when.Without hints from the other, we're lost. This is all especially sticky for people-pleasers who go ahead and say, It's so. When it isn't.
I'm assuming that what I've got to give is what you want, because you couldn't possibly not want what I've got to give. Right? Please tell me that's so.
Ah, but if there's no issue taking instruction, then once this is accomplished, the instruction, the humbled down student is very sexy indeed and will listen, follow, and soon add individual polish. Together the couple finds that variations on a theme are infinite.
And exceedingly intimate. More intimate, surely, than wandering where the brain prefers to go, along those short-cuts, the exes, the models, the movie stars. Of course, not everyone worries about the short-cuts. Indeed millions celebrate vibrant brain circuitry, grateful that it is being put to good use. We're not judging.
But for those with too much guilt to fantasize about the mail-person, the gardener, the babysitter or the boy next door, for those who wish that extra people in the psychological bed would just go away, working the lust the natural way is a prime directive.
And in this process, lust becomes a function of love. For what we've just described above is nothing, if it is not love. You can't tell just anyone what makes you happy sexually. You just can't. Some of us have to love someone to do that. It's so embarrassing. You're only going to tell someone you love, someone who is in it with you for the long haul, someone you know will move mountains so as not to disappoint, at least furniture. Working every one of the intimacies feels like moving mountains, you realize, over time. Sex is just one of those mountains.
What's all this got to do with the Pina Colada song?
I was tired of my ladyIt's his lady who answers the ad, if you remember, and she likes pina coladas, obviously, and getting caught in the rain, just like him. But he doesn't know it, not until he meets her a second time. He's tired of his lady, he doesn't even know her, and he's stepping out on her.
We'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording
Of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping
I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns
There was this letter I read
If you like pina coladas
And getting caught in the rain
If you're not into yoga
You gotta' wonder what it is they talked about.
*Sex is only one out of the five intimacies. Tweak them and other problems disappear. Tweaking well, unfortunately, isn't always easy.
In no particular order, The Five Intimacies:
(1) emotional intimacy
(2) sexual intimacy,
(3) problems solving intimacy,
(4) work intimacy, and
(5) recreational intimacy
No particular order.
That said, I'd place sex high on the list-- emotional intimacy higher.
**This wave of arousal is what the yogis call kundalini (correct me if I'm wrong), and worth the search, the game of hide and seek. You can play it alone or with your partner. Makes it more fun. Call it a joint marital responsibility.
"Am I getting warmer?"Domeena Renshaw, world-renowned sex therapist, a psychiatrist, tells us that sexual arousal is one's own responsibility, whatever that means. This may not sound very romantic, but is the case for developing one's own appetite. She also says that sexual arousal is tucked somewhere between the belly and the brain. It isn't necessary to limit your research, is the truth.
"Yes, and a little to the left."