July 29, 2005

Oblique strategies of sex?

(From April. Apparently I forgot to post this.)

The other day I got an email from a reader, asking for advice about making sex more exciting for his girlfriend. This happens a lot, but this particular email reminded me of my own situation. This reader’s girlfriend would express a lot of interest in sex, but usually end up backing out and being bored. Who knows why the girlfriend in question was acting like that, but I’d been having a distrustful spell myself and had been acting much the same way.

I replied with the mature, reasonable, intuitive solution that I usually suggest: communicate about what each partner likes, and be creative with that knowledge. Try these books for ideas on communication, and these to help with the creative ideas. This is pretty common advice: communicate, the brain is the biggest sex organ, good sex isn’t about technical performance and positions, yadda yadda.

But sending this reply was bothering me, because the whole communication route had not been working in my own life. Loverman knew what was going on with me, I knew what was going on with him, we were reaching new and insightful levels of understanding and creativity, but I still didn’t trust sex to be fun or fulfilling.

Then last night, unrelatedly, loverman and I were trying to sort out a disagreement about some tedious household thing. This particular argument was interrupted at random by watching a video, and as soon as it was over, loverman and I each spit out a sentence or two and completely agreed with each other about a solution. This is the most efficient argument we have ever had— by a long way— and it owed almost nothing to the mature communication, intuitive empathy, or reasoned analysis I usually try to apply.

This non-argument reminded me of the anger management example I’ve used here before: sometimes totally intuitive and straightforward explanations just don’t play out in real life. “Letting your feelings out” can seem like a healthy way to deal with anger, but in real life, expressing anger makes everybody angrier. You can come up with a believable argument to prove practically anything, but that doesn’t make it true.

This has been a theme for me since I was about 16. As reasonable as it seems to communicate your way out of a disagreement, maybe taking a movie break really is more productive. Humans are notoriously easy to hack.

I want to write that reader back and suggest he just go get a Cosmo and try some dumb “new” position called The Raging Butterfly or The Two Headed Unicorn to see what happens. Leave the mature, balanced ways for another day.

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