How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘desire for love’

Love, Oh Practically Perfect Love

Infatuation is when you think he’s as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Connors. Love is when you realize that he’s as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger, and nothing like Robert Redford—but you’ll take him anyway.
—Judith Viorst, Redbook

In the best of all possible worlds, it would be ideal to find that a lover who was just right for you in terms of emotion and affection was also just right for you in terms of erotic fulfillment. Unfortunately, in real life, that’s often not the case. The man with overtly tender and affectionate concern for you, the emotional marathoner, may not make love with you at all or may do so very seldom or may not do so very well when he does. The swordsman, who is turned on and gives of himself freely in bed, may not have much love or even much affection once dressed and out of bed.

Many a maiden is still dreaming of the perfect prince who will one day come, who will make her come, and who will love her at all levels all at once. But later, many a woman realizes that love in the many forms she desires isn’t to be found all at once in the arms of any one man. She gives up on the perfect prince and begins to look around for a make-do prince instead . . . maybe a mere duke, or maybe a mere commoner. The road to love is a series of compromises from the fantasy of girlhood to the world-weary cynicism of old age. There is Mr. Right, but there is also Mr. Right Now, Mr. Right for Me at this Moment, etc. Fortunately, in affairs of the heart, even mistakes can be glorious.

Cover of "Mr. Right Now"

Writer Suzanne Jordan is correct when she asserts that “the perfect mate, despite what Cosmopolitan magazine says, doesn’t exist no matter how many of those tests you take.” However, Merle Shain is also correct in asserting that “some men are more perfect than others.” What’s needed is a new oxymoron: things don’t have to be perfect; they only have to be perfect enough. A lover who is perfect enough is just fine. Finding him is a much easier task than finding the absolutely perfect man of your fantasies.

Our technology is so proficient that we can get quite carried away with our expectations of what we need—or think we need. With an imposed sixty-five-mile speed limit, we still delight in buying a car that can cruise at a hundred miles per hour without effort. Almost every kitchen has an eight-speed blender when most cooks only need one marked Fast and Slow. Home audio systems can be so elaborate and powerful that only your dog can hear the differences, and the speakers can never be turned up more than one-tenth of their volume capacity. A camera used for family snapshots nevertheless is selected because it is capable of shooting at one-thousandth of a second. This kind of technological overkill produces products which are far more perfect than necessary. A camera shooting at one-five-hundredth of a second produces satisfactory pictures for half the price. The man who isn’t perfect but who’s perfect enough may well be the one to love you throughout a lovely love affair.

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is widely quoted as reflecting philosophically: “If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not, you will also regret it.” The same applies to your decision of whether to picking a lover. If you take a lover, you may regret it; if you don’t take a lover, you may also regret it.

The question you need to consider is this, when you are an old lady of ninety-two, reflecting on the past decades, which will you regret the most: the sins you committed or the sins you omitted? In my conversations with old ladies, guarded as they are, they usually suggest regret for opportunities lost, for time wasted, for doors not opened, and for experiences not enjoyed.

The poet Robert Herrick gives timeless advice, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” He is speaking “to the virgins, to make much of time,” but he might well speak to other women too. It’s healthy to enjoy the men of the world while they are as eager to enjoy you. It’s healthy to experience as much as you can of what life has to offer. And the devil take the hindmost, whatever that is. The philosopher Bertrand Russell offers a sound conclusion, “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” If you must love, love bravely.

Lovers Are Not For Everyone

Women keep a special corner of their hearts for sins they have never committed.
—Cornelia Otis Skinner

There are many circumstances under which a modern woman might decide that having a lover would increase her quality of life and would bring her a great deal of joy and satisfaction. It does not follow, however, that this is a decision that would be right for all women all of the time. At least three kinds of women will not be interested in the prospect of taking a lover: the woman with homophilic tendencies, the contented celibate wife, and the (presumably contented) wife in a traditional marriage.

Women as Lovers

Women as Lovers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some women who are seeking a lover are not seeking a man at all but are instead looking for another woman. The sexual revolution and the new permissiveness have made the lesbian option an increasingly acceptable alternative to traditional marriage. Some women may be exclusively homosexual. Others who are basically heterosexual may, under special circumstances, find themselves in what amounts to a homosexual encounter. Or they may wish to have a woman lover in addition to a husband or male lovers. However, the focus of my blog happens to be on picking a lover who is a man. It may well be that many of the same principles would also apply to picking a lover who is a woman. The examples in my posts happen to be male oriented: their application is a matter of personal preference and taste.

To borrow a slogan from another context: “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.”

The Importance of Love

Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart,
’Tis woman’s whole existence.
—George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron, Don Juan

Byron’s aphorism is widely quoted, usually by men who find themselves unable or unwilling to express the emotional intensity expected by their girlfriends or wives. It is important to remember, however, that Byron was writing
in the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first, and that the men and women of his time were different in many ways from the men and women of today.

Even so, there are some people who place love and love relationships above all else in their lives. To them, it’s the most important thing in life. Some of the people who do this are women, but some men also feel this way. Philosophers are never quite sure what to do with such people. People for whom love is the raison d’etre of their lives may be either very wise or very foolish, but they are very different from ordinary people. Their emotional lives have more depth,
which increases their potential for both greater pleasure and greater pain.

For most men and most women, love relationships are important, but they are not necessarily the most important thing in life. These people value love and eroticism, but they are also concerned with more pragmatic issues: developing a career, being creative, carving a place for themselves in public life, earning a living, or having and caring for children.

Okay, so  you don’t think that a love affair is the be-all and end-all of existence. Even so, you are still likely to feel that you want to have a good love affair . . . that you would enjoy it, that you’re entitled to it, that you will be
sad if you never get to experience it.

And you will wonder: What is it that I would want in a lover? How will I know him?

The answers to these questions will be explored in future blogs.

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