How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘great lovers’

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.

Making Love To, Making Love With

Maria's Lovers


One can know nothing of giving aught that is worthy to give unless one also knows how to take.
—Havelock Ellis

The great lover, when or if you find him, is a man who takes seriously the experience of making love to a woman.

When he is with you, you are the center of his experience and you have his complete attention. He listens to your breathing; feels your hands, your body; and—by a blend of intuition, experience, and trial and error—has the uncanny ability to somehow know what you want now and what you want next and where and how and for how long. Marvelous.

The great lover concentrates on making you feel good, on making you have an orgasm, without demanding that you spend so much effort showing passion that you are distracted from feeling it. This kind of lovemaking is a gift to you.

It is the kind of cherishing and communication that is meant in the wedding prayer when the groom pledges, “With this ring, I thee wed; with my body, I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.” Unfortunately, many husbands are more willing or able to give worldly goods than to give this special kind of lovemaking. Some never give it at all; some only give it sometimes. When you do experience it, you recognize it as a present that is better than show tickets, better than a new dishwasher, better than the proverbial dozen roses. Attentive lovemaking is the ultimate gift of caring.

Being made love to is great. The next best thing is a man who can let you make love to him. I doubt that, in this case, it is always more blessed to give than to receive; but it is also a benison, and it is different and in its own way rewarding.

Not all men are comfortable with this kind of role. They need to be taught, sometimes, to lie back and enjoy it, to be passive while they are being pleasured, and to let someone else take responsibility for the staging of lovemaking and control the timing and the sequence of events.

Maybe it is because past generations associated being passive in bed with not being masculine. Maybe it is a sense that no nice woman could possibly enjoy that; and so while they could be made love to by a hooker who was later paid, they cannot feel good about being made love to by a nice woman whom they respect. No matter the reason, most men can eventually be taught to lie back and enjoy something that has so much intrinsic appeal. But then . . .

Best of all, for the very lucky, is the level of mutuality when you and he can make love with each other. Then there are no favors, no largesse, no performer, and no audience. Instead, there is a kind of reciprocal dance in which there is not one person who leads and another who follows and, if there is a lead, it moves back and forth from one to the other. Maybe that leads to the celebrated mutual orgasm; most likely it does not, but that does not matter. Because both of you do climax eventually, the lovemaking process is, at least, as important as the achievement of orgasm. Or as John Prine says in one of his songs, “The going is as important as the getting there.”

Sometimes, it is more important. To have someone with whom you can make love is indeed to be blessed even if the relationship does not last and even if the lovemaking is a rare event.

Making love with someone does not just happen as spontaneously as is often portrayed on television and in the movies. It needs a certain kind of attitude and requires the availability of time, space, and attention—all of which must be planned for and made a priority. Amazingly, many people do not have this as a life goal, even people who have been there and should know better.

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