Why I Won’t Date: Part 3 *[Adult content]*
You go days, weeks, months, or even years without the touch and feel of another naked body against yours. Maybe you’ve been there? I think most adults have — even those in long-term relationships, life-partnerships, or marriages.
People get into relationships for many reasons. We crave connection. We yearn to be understood. We want to savor our best moments with someone that gets us. We want to have a body to touch and hug and cuddle with every day. We want someone to share meals with, read books besides, go on long walks with, bring to social events, or just make-out with when no one else is watching. Maybe we want to raise a family with a special someone. Or maybe we just want to nurture a loving, long-term connection with a chosen person.
But there’s another reason adults with libidos choose to date and get into a relationship: sex.
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
Remember that song?
It was 8th grade and my friend’s mom was driving a few of us Catholic school girls to an event — “Let’s Talk About Sex” was playing on the radio and I innocently started singing along. I vividly remember my brash, red-headed girlfriend scolding me. “Sarah, stop singing that — that’s bad! Don’t say those words!” My, I’ve-never-kissed-a-boy self suddenly felt dirty — very dirty. A deep shame rose up from my loins, turning my white freckled face a bright shade of pink.
Sex is bad.
I learned at an early age talking about sex was bad — disrespectful — even shameful. A Catholic upbringing didn’t help. Girls in my school got reprimanded for rolling their skirts up above their knees to mimic the latest styles. We were taught that showing our body off was an unnecessary, disrespectful, and even punishable offense. Girls got detention for disobeying the below the knees skirt code (mind you, it was an all-girls school with not a boy in sight for acres).
Fast forward to my later teen years: Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. Can we say turn on? I had this habit after a week of exams in high school, of claiming the family TV for the night — getting a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (I’d only eat what I could eat, but it felt glorious to eat right out of the pint, one scrumptious scoop at a time). In between bites of sweet cream and scenes of Brad bearing his rippled hotness, it happened, I got wet — down there. It was my first experience getting turned on. I remember feeling confused and uncomfortable and yet so comfortable — perhaps more so than I had been in my young teen life. I remember wanting more. Wanting more took me to the library, seeking out novels with sex scenes. I read them alone in my room, and that tingling, warm wetness came back each time, sending a surge of desire and longing and satisfaction throughout my whole body. Somehow, in the quiet of my room, I felt satisfied — even whole. But I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I wouldn’t think of telling anyone.
Getting turned on felt shameful.
For years this was my quiet secret.
No one talked about sex with me. My mom always said she would, but the day I started menstruating, she grew really quiet, which wasn’t like her. We were in the grocery store picking out produce when I told her. Suddenly, she turned a little pink and rolled her eyes the way she did when she was uncomfortable. She quickly pushed the card to the feminine products aisle, rolling to a stop and swiftly pulling a box of pads off the shelf, tossing them in the cart without a second glance in my direction. There was no “this is what I recommend and why” conversation. Instead, we threw the pads on the conveyor belt with all the other groceries and that was that. I was let down, and yet something in me quickly bolstered me up — that something was an inner power. I felt like a new person that day — like I was bigger than my body and no one else could see. Was this the feminine secret? Was this the superpower all women felt? From that moment on, I kept my feminine power to myself.
From that moment on, I became my own sexual secret keeper.
As my sensuality swelled up, I put on an invisible cloak to the world. I knew the world didn’t understand it — even shunned it. Thus, it was mine and mine alone to get cozy with.
However, it took me years to get cozy. I never felt like it was safe to unleash her — that feminine sexual power that sang within me like a siren.
My sexual power needed a safe space to let loose.
I never felt it was safe, until the day that I fell in love with a man who joined me under my cloak and made me feel comfortable enough to remove it. I was 23 then and had never touched myself to orgasm. In fact, I never felt safe enough to touch myself at all — until I met him. We had a fireworks kind of romance. Our first kiss sent me head-spinning into a chair, unable to get up for what seemed like forever, and yet no time at all.
The passion my first boyfriend and I shared created a safe space for me to completely let go. He gave me my first orgasm in what felt like seconds. The quick, long release happened, not just because his fingers were touching the right spots on my clitoris, just the right way — the release happened with a fluid ease because of it his openness, his presence — his love. Even though the sex was fabulous in that relationship, that first orgasm was like an orchid — a rare and unique experience that couldn’t be re-birthed with intention or desire. Though the sex was passionate and consuming, there was something sacred in that first orgasmic experience that planted some kind let go and trust seed in my psyche.
Years after we broke up, I sought that kind of love and passion— almost expected it, but it didn’t come. I craved cumming the way he made me cum. But more than that, I craved that open, safe, expansive kind of sex.
When we broke up, we moved thousands of miles away from each other. I moved from the east coast to the west coast, and he moved to Europe. However, the void of distance was trumped by the physical and emotional void.
On our parting, I remember him saying to me, “I know you’ll meet someone when you get there.” Perhaps that was his insecurity talking. I didn’t meet anyone. I didn’t date for that first season we were away from each other — but he did. We still talked online and on the phone — when we could. We still ended each conversation with, I love you.
We saw each other again 6 months later — both home for Christmas break. I picked him up from the airport. When we first laid eyes on each other, the energy was kinetic — palpable. His eyes bore through my soul. His smell, when we hugged, made me wet. When we laid hands on each other on our way to the car, we couldn’t wait. We had sex in the back seat there in the airport parking lot. We couldn’t stay away from each other — at least that’s what I thought. He put up walls. “I can’t see you every day,” he said in the voice of a teacher setting boundaries with a needy student. “I have plans with friends and family. I have things to do.” Those were his words to me when I dropped him off at his parents' house.
Something in me sank. Our passion wasn’t enough. I saw him once more. We had sex again and something was missing. A piece of us had died. We were together but separate. I remember it feeling like being with a half-dead person — only it wasn’t him or me that was half-dead, it was us — checked out and inward.
“I know you’ll meet somebody when you go back,” I said to him as we parted, not out of insecurity, but from my gut. He met someone sooner than that. He met his next long-term girlfriend on the plane back to Prague just hours after he and I said our final goodbyes.
I went back to the west coast heartbroken. My body didn’t want to be touched. Instead, I wanted space to process him — my first real lover — the man that opened me the sensual pleasures of my feminine self.
It took me time to open to someone new. Something in my heart had shut down and tuned out. But my sexual, sensual self stayed open and ready and willing. She beckoned me to go on. She wanted satisfaction. She seemed to develop a voice all her own.
I let my sexual desire talk for me.
While my heart wasn’t over my first love, my body craved a lover. I missed the touch and the sex. I missed the moans and the smells of bodies taking over, of minds taking a rest. I missed him, and I knew I couldn’t have him, so my body sought other lovers. This was the first time I had sex with someone I wasn’t in love with. It was my first experience with a split life. My lover and I could let go with abandon in the bedroom. Suddenly, when fully clothed and out in the open, a timidness and reservedness emerged. It was like we were strangers to each other half the time. I spent five months dating someone I wasn’t sure if I was in love with.
I ended it, because I fooled around with someone I met at a New Year’s Eve party. I felt guilty. I realized this meant perhaps I wasn’t that into my boyfriend from the west coast. Perhaps the love I wanted to be there was just that — a wanting and a longing — like chasing after a ghost.
For years it went on like this. I had fill-in lovers; half-stranger, ghost-like boyfriends. All the while, my first love and I kept in touch. For 5 years it went on like this. We had 2 more rendezvous. Each time the sensuality and passion were overwhelming. And each ending left me with a little more of a chasm between his heart and mine.
It felt like it ended (for a heartbeat at least) when I met my daughter’s father. I got pregnant suddenly and unexpectedly. When I was pregnant I forgot about him — that first lover. Then her father and I split 18 months later. I was still nursing her. I moved in with my parents, as the house was in his dad’s name. I remember sitting in an outdoor swing in my parents’ backyard, watching my toddler play happily in the turtle sandbox. My cell phone chimed. I casually picked it up and saw that it was him — my first love. He had sent me a LinkedIn message. My profile picture had my baby in it. He must have known, but he didn’t comment on that. He asked me about my wellness practice. He said he hoped I was well.
Suddenly thoughts of him flooded my mind, his presence took over my body. My heart was on fire, my loins were like hot lava. If he came back to me that quickly then he wasn’t gone. The chasm wasn’t big enough — not yet.
His reaching out was no coincidence. It had been a year that I was single now, and I was starting to crave connection. The thoughts of him swirled through me — all parts of me, both physical and spiritual. I was enveloped in this otherworldliness. I was a goddess and human all at once.
The yearning for him pushed me to open up to an older man that asked me over for dinner — a yoga teacher and therapist that shared a community studio space with myself a few other yoga instructors. Upon first meeting, I found him sexy and charming — but also tortured and twisted up.
I thought of my first love and I reached out to this older man. I said, “Yes” to his dinner request. My yes took me on a 9-month affair. It was an almost kind of love. It was a not quite — almost there kind of passion. We had moments that felt like shadows of what my first love and I had. Those moments quickly faded.
At the end of it, I found myself alone and seeking. I was seeking a connection deeper than sex. I was single for a longer period of time again — maybe 6 months, maybe a year, but to my libido, it felt like an eternity. I remember going out with some girlfriends one night and telling them about my lustful yearnings. We talked about sex and desire in an honest way. I remember them all saying to me, glasses raised, “Sarah, you need to get laid. Find a one night stand” and cling, we toasted. We toasted to me getting some.
It sounded cute at the moment. A bunch of single women — some moms, some not, cheering on a sex-hungry friend. But something in me sank with their toast. Was I hungry or was I starved and overtired? Was a wanting or was I grieving?
Needless to say, I gave in. I succumbed to the pressure of the girlfriend toast and I found a man to satisfy what, on the surface felt like sexual longing. I quickly realized the quiet voice that hesitated to toast to lust's fulfillment was in alignment with my heart.
“One thing I’ve learned in all these years is not to make love when you really don’t feel it; there’s probably nothing worse you can do to yourself than that.”
― Norman Mailer
It’s not about sex.
I know this now. After 5 years of trying to date (which is the code word for getting my libido satisfied). It’s not about sex. At least not all of it.
It’s about connection. It’s about getting to know someone. Maybe it’s about some sort of fireworks that come quickly or come slowly, in sparks and crackles over time.
It’s about listening, not only to your body but to your heart.
In this world of sexual freedom, there seems to be a lot of suffocation. There seem to be more people than me that are fueled by unprocessed grief and undernourished longing.
There is a desire to connect and yet a gap in the connection between the doing and the being. Perhaps the gap comes from fear. Perhaps it comes from fate.
My sexual desires spurred me to date. They didn’t always leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled. They led me to some soulmate connections. The fireworks moments didn’t die with my first love, they just changed form.
Perhaps that first love connection was like an orchid — embodying its own exotic sacredness that can’t be forced back into being. Perhaps it taught me to surrender a little bit more like my first orgasm taught me.
It’s taught me to surrender the seeking eyes and opened me up to the here and now.
Instead of seeking, I savor.
I enjoy the sensual experience of feeling turned on by someone I meet or see on the screen or read about. I let my sensuality be a mindful teacher keeping me in the here and now. When I am turned on by someone, I am suddenly very, very present. My body feels alive. My vagina feels awakened. My heart beats harder in my chest.
The body speaks its own language when sexual desire is present. The heart speaks its own language when feelings of love and connection arise. I am looking forward to the day when my heart meets my body in that space of desire and trust and openness.
I’m looking forward to the day When the orchid shows its face again — without me trying to conjure her up.
I’m looking forward to the day when let go and trust shudder out of me with a moan, because the heart merged with the body and found union, within its own self.
“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.”
Sarah shares her story to inspire the sometimes lost, wounded, and weary souls yearning to remember their authentic beauty. You can stay connected with Sarah via her website.
If you liked this piece, you might also like: