How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘romantic love’

Rule Ten: Take Time to Savor Love

 

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.
—William Feather

In general, men are more achievement oriented and career conscious than are women, although the gap has narrowed significantly. Men, especially young men, spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to get ahead
and to build a secure niche for themselves. Their priorities are often in terms of work; and often, that work is an end in itself, as well as a means to money and success.

Many women don’t understand the drive that propels some people to work sixty-hour weeks. They believe there should be a balance between work and other priorities and frequently complain that their men don’t spend enough time with them. They feel they are wasting their time as they languish hour after hour, waiting for the man of the moment to stop working and pay attention to them. The best kind of lover is one who takes time to savor a love affair and who considers time with you to be a high priority.

Young Couple Sleeping

Photo credit: epSos.de

Men may be more likely to be short of time and to tend to hurry from one thing to the next than are women, but they are not the only ones who make this mistake. Women may also find their lives so full that they have little time to pause and reflect and enjoy. Career women may be workaholics, obsessed with the knowledge that, as a woman, if she is to go half as far her male counterparts, she must be twice as good. Young mothers may virtually martyr themselves to their children’s real and imagined needs. Housewives may work twelve-hour days in a futile attempt to keep everything perfect all the time.

If you want a lover and if you want a love affair, then take the time to enjoy it. Think of the importance of watching a sunset versus getting a report done or ironing the towels. You don’t have to stop and smell the roses, but you should. And if your lover doesn’t yet know this, then you should teach him to slow down as well.

Journalist David Grayson expresses this sentiment well: “Many times in my life I have repeated Rodin’s saying that ‘slowness is beauty.’ To read slowly, to feel slowly and deeply; what enrichment! In the past, I have been so often greedy. I have gobbled down books—I have gobbled down work (I have even gobbled down friends!)—and indeed had a kind of enjoyment of all of them. But rarely have I tasted the last flavor of anything, the final exquisite sense of personality of spirit that secretes itself in every work that merits attention, in every human being at all worth knowing.”

Love takes time. Make time to enjoy it.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Beware of the Great Ghost Lover

There is sanctuary in reading, sanctuary in formal society, in the company of old friends, and in the giving of officious help to strangers, but there is no sanctuary in one bed from the memory of another.
—Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave

There’s nothing quite so wondrous, quite so awesome, quite so interesting as the first time you fall in love. It may not be with the first man whom you take as a lover . . . indeed, such emotional monogamy is more likely the exception than the rule. The intensity is partly due to ignoring or refusing to accept the possibility that such a feeling can end—not only on his part but also on yours.

If, in addition, the thrill of first love is combined with the thrill of first making love and if that initiation is a satisfactory experience, then it sets up the conditions for a powerful kind of imprinting. Newly hatched goslings will imprint on any moving object they happen to see—a moving wooden cube, the heel of their keeper, a ball of wool—and they will follow that object with all the persistence and devotion that nature intended them to bestow on the mother goose that hatched them. In the same way, a woman whose first love experience coincides with her first sexual experience, or at least her
first erotic and wonderful sexual experience, may for the rest of her days be imprinted upon a certain kind of man.

The man who was your first love may provide an idealized model for masculinity in general. If the first eyes that you loved loved you back, and said so, were let’s say, slate gray, then twenty years later, slate-gray eyes across a crowded room will still seem more riveting than they actually are. If the first kisses of great passion were enclosed in a full beard, then twenty years later, a full beard is still a special male plumage of particular appeal. Whether he was tall or short, handsome or gnome-like, muscular or slender, there’s a body type, a body image, which continues to hold for your extraordinary potential appeal.

English: Man with beard sleeping.

English: Man with beard sleeping. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If, by chance, you meet someone who seems almost the same as your first great ghost lover from the past, he’ll almost win your heart just by standing there and breathing in and out. Beware. Looking the same doesn’t at all mean that he’s the same. You pick him not for what he is but for the man he reminds you of, which isn’t very flattering to him when he figures it out. You will then project on to him the other traits of the great ghost lover and will be duly disappointed when, quite naturally, he doesn’t live up to these uncanny expectations.

If you find your first great love reincarnated, recognize the source of your attraction. Talk to him if you can’t resist the temptation to do so or if you should want to spoil your illusion with a little reality shock. Take his picture. But don’t take him to your bed in an attempt to go back in time. Even if he looks the same, he won’t be the same and you’ll both be disappointed—you, by his failure to mimic a vanished man he has never met, and he, by your failure to appreciate the fine and unique person that he, in fact, is.

And while you are thinking about your great ghost lover, remember the words of warning from the often-quoted author Bill Vaughan: “It’s never safe to be nostalgic about something until you’re absolutely certain there’s no chance of it coming back.”

Safe Conduct: Guidelines for an Affair of the Heart

It’s a wise man who profits by his experience, but it’s a good deal wiser one who lets the rattlesnake bite the other fellow.
—Josh Billings

In times of war, when it is necessary to venture into hostile territory, one is sometimes issued a “safe conduct pass” which is supposed to assure that the bearer can pass through the danger zone unmolested. Women who venture into the uncertainty of new relationships based on new social norms don’t have any more guarantees of fulfillment than their grandmothers did. There are, however, some guidelines that can serve as a kind of safe conduct pass which, if followed, will help you to actualize as fully as possible your nascent affair with the new lover you have selected.

Love Affair (1939 film)

Love Affair (1939 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logan Smith, the American epigrammatist, points out, “There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.” There is no foolproof formula for a perfect love affair. There are, however, guidelines which, like other kinds of safe conduct documents, may offer more protection. In the tradition of commandments, I’ve listed a Decalogue of rules which you would be wise to consider carefully when pursuing an affair of the heart. I will address each of them separately in future posts.

DECALOGUE: GUIDELINES FOR AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART

RULE ONE: ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE AFFAIR.
RULE TWO: ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR BIRTH CONTROL.
RULE THREE: BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR INTENTIONS.
RULE FOUR: PICK THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.
RULE FIVE: ACCEPT THE INEVITABILITY OF CHAUVINISM.
RULE SIX: DO YOUR PART TO MAKE THE AFFAIR SUCCESSFUL.
RULE SEVEN: RESPECT PRIVILEGED INFORMATION.
RULE EIGHT: MINIMIZE JEALOUSY.
RULE NINE: BEWARE THE MONSTER THAT IS HABIT.
RULE TEN: TAKE TIME TO SAVOR LOVE.

Beware of the Hard Sell

With women worth being won, the softest love ever best succeeds.
—Aaron Hill

One of the joys of life is that sexual arousal and anticipation are “green energy”.  They are both constantly renewable resources. The person who has turned you on once will very likely turn you on tomorrow and the next day. Unless his regiment really rides at dawn, or his ship really sails with the tide, a love affair is seldom really an emergency that must happen immediately. No matter what Elvis says, sex is never “now or never”: it can wait. If a man is so hot to get laid right now, one way or another, he presumably can arrange it as the “rosy-breasted pushover” isn’t yet an endangered species.

It's Now or Never (song)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The man who presents you with an ultimatum on your last chance to go to bed with him is, in effect, saying that he isn’t going to waste any more time on you unless you put out. That is unless you pay him back for his invested time and effort by putting out right now. Think about it—unless you are a working girl—do you need that kind of attitude?

And if you say no again, and he stalks away muttering, “Stupid cockteasing slut,” what have you lost? Better to know that kind of bottom line while on your feet than to hear it when you’re flat on you back. The man who does not want to spend time on you beforehand isn’t going to want to spend time on the afterglow either.

The hard sell may not be a bad strategy for doing business, but it is bad business for a friendly love affair. The now-or-never approach is dangerous and counterproductive, whether it’s for sex or for vacuum cleaners being
sold door-to-door. If the relationship is worthwhile, it will continue to be so while you think it over.

Unless, of course, his regiment really does ride at dawn.

To Choose, To Court, To Woo, To Win

The pleasantest part of a man’s life is generally that which passes in courtship, provided his passion be sincere and the party beloved, kind, and discreet. Love, desire, hope, all the pleasing motions of the soul, rise in the pursuit.
—Joseph Addison

Traditionally, the term “courtship” has been used to refer to something which a man does to a woman. He goes to court her, he pays court to her, he woos her; and if he is successful, he beds her and, maybe, later weds her as well. “To court” is an active verb, but traditionally, it is the man who does the acting.

Within the context of the new roles of a lover that I have been focusing on in my posts, women also have an active part to play in the formation and conduct of relationships. It follows, therefore, that courtship will become a two-way process. He will still court her sometimes. But on some occasions, she will also court him.

The new courtship may be the pleasantest part of a woman’s life as well. If, as I’ve suggested in my posts, men don’t yet have enough practice at being sex objects to do it very well, it’s also true that women don’t have enough practice at courting to do it very well. The process is, or should be, subtle. The result should be flattering and pleasant whether the courtship itself is successful or not. In addition, men need to learn to let themselves be courted; and often that means that you, as a woman, must teach the man in question this role, if it is unfamiliar to him. If you are going to presume to pick a lover, then you must do more than collect applications and sift through them: you must also be willing to pay court to him. Doing this requires essentially the same attentiveness and delicacy that one would hope to find in a lover who is courting you.

Even though we are in the 21st century, the new courtship is a revolutionary idea for many. Traditionally, women have been trained to seek out relationships by making themselves as attractive as possible and then to wait hopefully to see who might come along and take notice of them. They follow what amounts to a cupcake method of courting: they sit like cute little cupcakes, complete with icing, and wait to be gobbled up. Consider the celebrated ski bunny who wiles away her day in the ski chalet bundled in a fashionable sporting outfit, patiently waiting for the ski wolves, filled with the rush of adrenaline to return from the slopes to gobble her up.

Stop trolling !

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The new courtship isn’t so passive. Consider a metaphor from the world of fishing. One way of fishing is called trolling. When you go trolling, you move your bait slowly through the water behind a trawler, and various kinds of fish may or may not bite. In traditional courtship, women were trolling for suitors. The bait was put out there: some suitors took the bait and were hooked and reeled in; some just swam away.

The new courtship is more like fly casting. In fly casting, you are after a specific kind of trout which is found in a specific location and is tempted by a specific kind of fly. You must make just the right fly dance temptingly before just the right trout to get your fish. In trolling, you have to reel in your line to see what you have caught and then decide whether or not to keep it. In fly casting, if you do hook a fish, you know in advance it will be one you want.

It is worth remembering, while exploring metaphors, that both kinds of fishing require patience. And fishers of all kinds, like women of all kinds, are prone to exaggerate the wondrous qualities of the ones that got away.

Putting Up With Putting Out

There are two things one should never do from a sense of duty, and the other one is to read a book.
—Richard Needham

Consider this cautionary tale.  A young woman I know was on the road trying to live as cheaply as possible, but by no means interested in casual hook ups, was  offered the opportunity to spend the night on a yacht and thereby save a hotel bill. Since the man in question was a friend of a friend and was by all accounts a respectable and benevolent guy, she took the offer at face value and showed up, backpack in hand.

She was enjoying the tranquility of watching the sun go down over the harbor and listening to the gulls when she suddenly realized that the captain of the boat considered that with overnight guests, he had a kind of droit du seigneur as far as all women were concerned. She could have screamed rape, but there was no one to hear, and she could not swim very well. Besides, the captain was quite sincere in his assumption and genuinely surprised at her reluctance.

“Well,” he said, pulling down the strap of her bra, “why did you agree to come out here then?” “Because it was a place to stay.” “And so it is,” he said, pulling down her other strap.She was surprised, confused, and helpless enough that, as they expressed it in Victorian novels, he “had his way with her.” She left the next day at dawn after a sleepless night, feeling bewildered and a little soiled, but a lot wiser. [As an aside, this may be what Paul Ryan and many other misguided Republican legislators consider “non-legitimate rape.”  To be clear, any time a woman’s freedom to chose whether or not she wants to have sex is violated – for whatever reason – it is rape.] If women’s sexual inclinations were assumed to be the same as men’s, with her wanting and needing the same kind of sex to the same degree that he does, the entire structure of male-female relationships would have to be rewritten.

The sexual revolution has led to many changes, but it has not yet altered this fundamental premise. Both men and women recognize, on a fundamental although implicit level, that for most people most of the time, she is not as sexually driven as he is. Even if she does enjoy having sex (and often she doesn’t) and even if she does have orgasms and cries out with delight (and often she doesn’t), she still doesn’t ordinarily enjoy it as much as he does. More importantly, even if she enjoys it as much, she doesn’t seem to need it as much.

We now classify women not so much in terms of whether or not they are sexually active but in terms of why they are sexually active. Good girls, and good women, are compensated for their sexuality by love and affection, by dances and dinners, and eventually, by marriage and children. Bad girls, and bad women, are compensated more directly by presents or favors or cold cash.

The New Courtship

The pleasure of love is in loving. We are happier with the passion we feel than in that we arouse.
—François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

For decades, for centuries, for a millennium, men have had the right and privilege of choosing as sex partners women who turned them on. If they wanted a partner who was young or mature, short or tall, blonde or dark, quiet or bold, curved or slender, they could pursue the women most pleasing to them.

Of course, not all men were successful in winning the kind of women they most preferred. And of course, some men didn’t allow themselves such indulgences but made pragmatic choices of wives who were heiresses or the daughters of bosses or women who were otherwise useful for disparate ends. Such marriages did not necessarily preclude their simultaneous quest for other women who would be mistresses. In most instances, the women selected as sex objects or as love objects were selected because they were judged to be sexy or lovable.

In contrast to this pattern, women for a millennium have selected men for practical considerations. A woman needed a provider for herself and a provider and father for her children. In most instances, the most valuable commodity a woman had, to negotiate with in the world, was her body. She used this marketable asset to her best advantage, offering virginity and then fidelity in exchange for protection and security.

It wasn’t so much that men had to be attractive as that they had to have attractive compensating features, such as money or power. For the good wife, sex was business, and sexual intercourse was work. Many good wives were happy in their work, but it was work all the same. If she refused her husband, she could be out of a job. In fact, she couldn’t refuse him. He provided for her, so he had a right to her body. She had been, in effect, sold to him and couldn’t be used by anyone else without his permission.

Supposedly, North America has experienced a social and sexual revolution over the past thirty years. Supposedly, there are now different options for women – compared to our grandmothers and mothers –  who are liberated in many new ways and who have given up old stereotypes. If this is indeed the case, then, shouldn’t we now think about sexual encounters from a new perspective.

sexual revolution

Photo credit: cdrummbks

Let’s assume for a start that the new woman is enough in tune with her body and its erotic potential to really like sex. Touching feels good, arousal feels good, and orgasms are nonproblematic. Sex for her is or can be joyous. Fun. Wonderful. At a minimum, nice.

Let’s further assume that the “new woman” is enough in charge of her life and destiny that she can make her own way. If she has enough resources to support herself and her children at a level she considers to be adequate, she can then afford the indulgence of evaluating men as sex objects in the same way that women have been evaluated over the centuries. Whether she works as an executive secretary or is herself an executive, she has a living wage which comes to her in some other way than trading her body for favors or protection.

Such a woman can afford to pick a lover because he’s sexy or lovable, not because he owns three apartment buildings in prime locations. She can try to find the kind of man most to her liking, using intrinsic rather than extrinsic criteria. She’ll have to pay her own bills, but in return, she has control of her own body and a wide range of opportunity for personal and erotic development.

The woman who is not physically or psychologically forced to have sex when she doesn’t want to has a new kind of freedom. She can opt for celibacy if she wants, but she can also opt to have sex for purely sexual reasons. For many that is a revolutionary idea. It’s an idea that is long overdue. It’s an idea whose time has come. It’s an idea that needs to be openly acknowledged.

I will explore this paradigm shift in female sexuality in future posts in greater detail.

Tag Cloud