The S Word
You know those single phases in your twenties, where you feel extremely vulnerable and paradoxically totally free at the same time?
Life takes on another meaning whenever I emerge from a break up, and things feel so much simpler. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m better at relationships than I am at being single, simply in that I tend to be with someone else longer than I date myself. It probably looks like I can’t handle being alone to close friends of mine who see me leaving a four-year relationship only to quickly wind up in a two year relationshit (that is not a typo).
I turned 28 a few days ago, and until very recently my approach to relationships hasn’t changed much from when I was a teenager. For so long, I’ve followed the view that if chemistry and mutual respect are there, why the hell not give it a try? I’ve learned so much from love and loss, why not give guys a chance who are really interested?
Only recently have I noticed that this ‘why-not’ approach of entering relationships leaves little time for me to be on my own; And what’s worse, I think I’ve gone against my truest instincts by starting relationships before I was really ready. If I’m completely honest with myself, the best times of my twenties have been when I’m single. For instance, this time right now.
Over the past two months, I’ve been amazed at all the people I’ve connected with, books I’ve read, trips I’ve made and dreams I’ve realized while completely on my own. It’s amazing how much I learn about myself when I’m not busy putting another person first. I want to be my #1, not my #2. Which brings me to the topic of sex.
How many women in their twenties feel ashamed when they have sex while they are single?
No matter how much I love being on my own, that doesn’t take away from the love I have for sexual connection with men. And yet, there’s this ugly pattern that happens whenever I hook up with someone; There’s that chastising voice in my head that punishes me for acting on those urges. Urges that are totally human, and, I’m learning from female friends, are very common… but no one likes to talk about their ‘secret singles sex’, as one friend calls it.
The reason I don’t like to talk about it is because I’m afraid it means I’m an S-L-youknowwhat. Instead of really being able to enjoy said hook ups, I freak out, avoid the guy to the point of sometimes never talking to him again, and hope I can keep it together until my next relationship.
It’s recently occurred to me that this is a bullshit way to approach sex and my single life.
Last month, I read a book by Nicole Daedone called Slow Sex after seeing positive reviews from another female blogger. You know how, when you become aware of something brand new, all of a sudden it’s everywhere? Sure enough, after covertly reading this book, all the sudden the unlikeliest people in my life started talking to me about it. A former coworker, who is certainly fun but always struck me as reserved, asked if I wanted to check out a monthly workshop Nicole Deadone puts on in San Francisco with her. Then, I went out for drinks with a guy I just met and found out that he lives in community-housing started by the Slow Sex author. When I asked him if he’d ever OM-ed, a practice of sexual meditation found in the book, he casually replied, “I’ve OM-ed three times today.” I almost fell out my chair and couldn’t stop laughing, as my cheeks flamed up in childish embarrassment.
When I reached out to friends about this blog post, all I got was encouragement. This stuff needs to be talked about by women of our generation.
Despite all the many reasons I can make up for why I’ve felt so weird about hooking up (my upbringing, all the times I’ve heard negative comments about women with healthy sexual appetites, the omission of women from the discussion of masturbation in sex-ed), what I care about more is that I stop feeling bad about my natural urges, stay smart and safe, and be real with my decisions.
Who knows when I’ll get into another serious relationship. I’m not too concerned with how long it takes. I am so happy that I’m taking time to be single, be ME, and be open in the last couple months with those around me. More power to all women out there struggling with their sexuality. You aren’t alone, keep doing your thing ;).
Big thanks to all the special women and men in my life who supported, inspired, and proof-read this post. Shout outs to Ben, Deepa, Therese, and other members of the Bold family (you know who you are!).
With courage, love, and intensity,