You know, it’s funny.
When I get to know a woman – really really get to know a woman, where we’ve both decided that it’s better to be real than perfect – two things happen. First, I find myself hearing the same sorts of things. Different words, different lounge rooms, but the message is the same. Second, I feel relieved. I feel a kinship. I feel less alone in the things I find really freaking hard about life.
You know what I hear when we decide to let each other all the way in? I hear these three things.
I want my partner to be less childish and more mature, more reliable, more manly.
I feel like my partner doesn’t get me the way my friends do, to the point where I feel so much more connected and intimate to the women in my life sometimes I’ve even wondered if I’m a lesbian.
I don’t like sex and I don’t feel like it often, and I’m even repulsed by the thought of it a lot of the time. If I feel like my partner doesn’t understand me, doesn’t connect with me, how am I supposed to lie there and open up to him physically? If I don’t have true intimacy in the lounge room, or the kitchen, or any other room of the house, how then, am I supposed to have it in the bedroom? I just can not tolerate going through the motions just to keep my partner happy. I get angry. I feel used. But is that what other women do? Do we just get the box ticked regularly enough to keep our men satisfied? Is it just another dot on our to-do list?
Ultimately, the question we end up asking is Do our men want us or do they just want sex?
Because here’s the thing. The act of sex is an act of vulnerability. We want to feel as though we are known and listened to and wanted for who we are and not because it’s been a week and the testosterone is jumping around like mad over there. If my stories aren’t remembered, if the special things I talk about are not paid attention to, I don’t feel known. And when I don’t feel known I feel frustrated. And when I feel frustrated and unknown, the thought of having sex is the very last thing on my mind. I don’t know about you, but if I’m irritated by Joel, if I’m feeling misunderstood, or disconnected, if I’m cursing under my breath, why for the love of all things holy can you simply not take the rubbish out/be a little more romantic/put the juice back in the fridge/hold me without wanting it to go any further/insert other annoyance, I sure as hell can’t switch on the desire to suddenly stop what I’m doing and undress when I sense an advance coming on.
Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.
I have never understood this major flaw in nature’s design. Like that brilliant quote I heard years ago – men simply need a place, yet women need a reason – it seems more and more clear to me that we are wired in completely contrasting ways. The needs of a woman and the needs of a man are two very seperate things. And which comes first? Do we connect emotionally first in order to have satisfying sex (a woman’s need) or does the act of sex ( a man’s need) even if we feel emotionally disconnected create the bond and intimacy we are longing for? HOW DO WE EVER GET PAST OUR DIFFERENCES TO HAVE A SEX LIFE WE ARE BOTH TRULY AND COMPLETELY HAPPY WITH?
You know what I think?
I think we were never supposed to live this way. I think the one house, one man, one woman scenario will forever underpin the problem.
I’m convinced we were meant to live in villages — communities alongside other women where for the majority of the time, we talked and picked berries and raised each others’ babies together and found most of our emotional intimacy with our own kind. I’m convinced that while our men left to go hunting, so many of our needs were met that the pressure was taken off our men to fulfill each and every one of them. Expectations are lowered. Day-to-day irritations are diminished because our partners are simply not around. Sex, then, is less layered with unspoken disappointment and tension and confusion, and instead becomes an act of free and relaxed desire from both sides, like it is in the very beginning.
Because after all, are we really just asking our men to love us the way women do? I know I am, and that’s a piece of the puzzle I just can’t fit anywhere.
So I sit on the couches of my girlfriends and I talk and I listen and I think I’m so relieved. We’re all the same. I’m not alone. And we laugh about how hopeless our men can be sometimes and how much they don’t get us and I inch a teeny bit closer to accepting that that’s just the way it is. It feels just like the Red Tent, and I go home feeling less disappointed. More tolerant. More open.
I don’t have all the answers, but in the meantime, before I figure them all out, you can find me in my front yard, scrounging for berries, praying my man gets called away on some bear-hunting trip, and hollering some women over to come help me make bush berry tea while we look after each other’s babies.
Just an average Wednesday, really.