I’m not going to tell you how you should have spent this weekend. You’re adults, right? You know Valentine’s Day is hyper-commercialized, and you know that it’s fun to have an excuse to go all out for someone you love. You know the cards are tacky and the candy sucks, but you also know that sometimes we love trinkets and baubles that we know have no worth outside of our own mind. The human animal is complicated like that. So yeah, so long as you did what you felt good about, bully for you. Now that the weekend is over, though, and we’re back into the everyday grind, let me make a suggestion for going forward: get sexy more often.
See, we spend most of our lives trying to ignore sexual urges, and to some degree this is fine: we shouldn’t be going around rutting literally every time the urge comes up. The idea that the sex act itself is somehow shameful, however, is foolish. It’s the most basic desire of life, to create more of it. It’s not so simple as always stifling it: we do need the release. But if we approach our partner, it is frequently considered frivolity, or worse, piggishness. Other times, we feel insecure to ask for what we need, even if it would be given: perhaps the idea is one we fear would be “weird,” or maybe we are uncomfortable with ourselves, told for years what is and isn’t sexy (and that we, decidedly, are not). The point is, we are taught to hate ourselves from two sides. One end considers sexuality as the greatest evil, and any unclean thought, even in the most devoted relationship, is wrong. The other says that unless you’re some ideal specimen of sexuality, you’re not worthy of getting it. On one end, no one can have pleasure unless it’s for the sake of having children (and even then, if you could do it another way, they’d prefer it), while on the other, only a very select few deserve the luxury.
Pardon the pun, but fuck both sides. We deserve, as humans, to sacrifice less. We have limited time in the world, and spending it miserable is worth nothing. Yet the same tired lines are spit out all the time. Women who have sexual desires they’re willing to indulge are whores, and men are pigs because obviously they ALWAYS want it, amirite ladies? The most respectful advances are treated with disgust. The simplest requests to committed partners are treated with disdain. Of course, when -we- are the ones advancing, when -we- need our needs met, God, why can’t my partner just do something for me, why isn’t that guy or girl up for it. How dare people we don’t desire also have desires, but how dare those we desire not desire us back! We are selfish when we’re not shaming. We as a species currently really suck at what is arguably the most important function of life. Snails shoot love darts into each other’s faces: why are we the species that finds sex so taboo?
For the single, this should be easy to fix if we start being honest and working on our self-confidence. If we own our desires, whatever they may be, we’re more apt to be respected and desired back. If you’re stuck in a fading romance, though, here’s what I recommend (unless your lover is asexual, because that’s their prerogative and you knew what you were getting into): use the artificial romance of the weekend as a point to rekindle actual intimacy. To that end, pick up Keren Ann’s album Nolita, which is simply full of breathless chanson, heavy and wispy enough to steam up any room. There are sweet basic love songs, haunting meditations, brooding reflections, and just before the halfway point, there’s this track. Its beat slithers and throbs as Keren’s voice hovers above it all. The mix builds, but there’s always a steady simmer throughout. I would, if asked, probably cite this as my personal #1 sexiest song ever. It’s not heavy handed or obvious about it (though maybe it is: je ne parle pas français), which is where even classics like “Let’s Get it On” or “I’ll Make Love to You” fall short. Great as both songs are, they’re far too self conscious, which good lovin’ never fully is. There’s a sensuality to the music itself here, a primal aspect, that mentally hits at the desire we feel in the moment. It’s like a movie soundtrack: it evokes emotion without telling us what to feel, which means it will fill in behind any style of interlude you wish to see happen. It should do the trick.
Above all else, though, probably the most romantic thing you can do with your partner is be honest about your desires. That’s the complicated thing: we all want different things at different times. Letting them know what you need, however, will almost assuredly tilt things in your favor more often, and will not only better your side of the relationship, but will open up doors for your partner to say the same things. An open and honest relationship doesn’t need Hallmark-sanctioned weekends to get cozy: it just -is- cozy, and it’s also satisfying. If that still gets you nowhere, though, I personally recommend moving on. Being single again may feel lonely, but it’s not like not getting what is important to you is any better. Sexual incompatibility is still incompatibility. Let’s stop pretending we need to sacrifice such things because it’s “wrong” or “dirty.” A good relationship is about give and take: you can’t have just one side be flexible. So start valuing and fighting for the desires you put aside. Worst case scenario, you have a new, 5-minute-long secret weapon to test new waters.
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