As Matt and I near the day of our second date, we’ve begin to explore the layers of our relationship, particularly the onset of a sexual relationship. You might think that the time between dates number one and two is too early to bring up sex. Like many things, I’m of two minds about this. Matt and I have a very strong attraction for each other and agree that we anticipate a strong sexual compatibility. Also, we’ve both been with numerous partners, he’s divorced and I got out of a serious relationship at about the same time his marriage ended. Essentially, we’re grown and we can do whatever we want, with whomever we want, whenever we want. But in spite of my sexual freedom and desire, pursuing a more intimate relationship has as much of an effect on my mind as my body.
My previous, and first, hospitalization was due to a manic episode that plummeted me into a deep, unsettled depression. My mania had been undiagnosed until that point, and characterized by the typical periods of euphoria and risky behavior. Sex was my risky behavior of choice. I was in my mid-30s and I felt the increase in sexual appetite and empowerment that women typically experience at that age. I was a feminist, and I knew that I didn’t need to be in a relationship to have sex. I’d also dated a series of men who were unsatisfying in bed and I felt like I needed to go ahead and get mine! In search carnal satisfaction I went to Craigslist, which was all we had to arrange a rendezvous in the dark days before Tinder and mobile apps. I picked up a few guys in bars. And I went to a few sex clubs, none of which were as appealing as I’d hoped. I don’t quite remember how many men I slept with in those days, but I do remember feeling simultaneously out of control and woefully unsatisfied.
Once the bottom fell out of my own personal orgy and I got healthier, I decided to abstain from sex. I knew that during my manic episode, I’d engaged in the kind of sex that wouldn’t have interested me if I’d been healthy: mostly anonymous, fairly indiscriminate and outside of any sort of relationship. I learned that I also sought emotional fulfillment from those manic dalliances, even though I set them up specifically to avoid any kind of connection. Avoiding sex during my recovery was my way to eliminate that tension and to possibly avoid a damaging relapse.
Now, I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. I’m recovering from a hospitalized episode, and a breakup, and in need of some physical attention. Matt and I have discussed what we want from our relationship and even though my brain and my body have given the go-ahead, my heart still sorta thinks one step into a non-committed sexual relationship will send me into relapse. If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that I do become attached after becoming intimate, at least I have in the past. If I’m rational, I can admit that my heart has a fair amount of fear. It also holds the hurt of past relationships in which I got rejected after making love. But events in my past don’t have to predict my present.
The fact that I’ve both lived and blogged through my undesirable sexual past – and the unfortunate emotional consequences – puts me ahead of where I was a few years ago, or at least I think it does. There’s a possibility that I can enjoy a sexual relationship with Matt absent a commitment. And doing so can be enjoyable for me rather than traumatic, mainly because I’m aware of both my practical and emotional expectations. But also because I’m considering a physical endeavor with someone with whom I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings. And at the end of the day, sharing my thoughts and feelings will yield a healthy relationship of any nature.
I guess I’ll let you all know if the sex is any good.