I was watching Now is Good – a tearjerker on a young woman dying of cancer – when a poignant scene on relationship intimacy jumped out at me:
Tessa: Stay with me. Stay the nights.
Adam: What do you want from me, Tess?
Tessa: Nighttime, sleeping together or waking up together, breakfast…
Adam: What do you really want?
Tessa: I want you to be with me in the dark. To hold me, to keep loving me. To help me when I get scared. To come right to the edge and see what’s there.
Adam: And what if I get it wrong?
Tessa: It’s impossible to get wrong.
An undeniably sweet moment I very much enjoyed that’s just begging for my analytical brain’s dissection.
Because first, it is completely possible to get it wrong. If it isn’t naturally oozing out of a person then they’re going to be crap at it. Which most often occurs if the other person feels obligated, and/or doesn’t have there wherewithal to be mentally and emotionally present in the moments that matter. It also requires literally slowing down, which many people are simply unwilling to do these days.
Now, sometimes, if you love someone enough, it’s okay if they’re crap at it because you know they’re trying and they love you and that’s all that matters. It’s just a different setup than what this movie character asked for, and probably wouldn’t meet her needs.
Notice how two distinct arrangements were requested. Initially, she conservatively suggested companionship – physical proximity and shared activities. Then, when asked what she really wants (’cause in movies men always say exactly what the woman needs to hear) she shared her genuine desire: an intimate relationship of loving support and the type of emotional connection that voluntarily bares itself to the harshest of realities.
This is is where I realize the interpersonal awareness of kink and cuddle parties have forever ruined my blissfully ignorant enjoyment of chick flicks…
- She told him she wanted one thing, when she really wanted something different. COMMUNICATION, girl. Learn it. Don’t rely on a doe-eyed movie character to prompt you exactly the way you want him to before you’ll be honest. Really, now.
- Adam, if you don’t think you’re up to the task, then by God, NEGOTIATE! Doubtless there are some aspects of the suggestion you’re comfortable with, and others you’re unsure of. It’s not an all or nothing deal; you have a say in this. Share your concerns, ask for clarification, find out what aspects of the proposed arrangement you’re mutually comfortable with and move forward with that. Just because a cute girl has stupid blind faith in you isn’t going to make you perfect. Honestly assess the verity of your self-doubts because those are legitimate indicators of what you’re up to on a gut level. It’ll save you both a lot of drama.
You see, its entirely possible that companionship may end up being preferred by both parties, or some conglomeration of the two instead. Which is what makes this dance so essential for fulfilling connections.
The average vanilla society thinks relationships occur only in a few different forms. There’s boyfriend/girlfriend, there’s one (or two, or 3+) night stands, there’s friends with benefits, and there’s “just friends”. What they don’t seem to realize is how many flavors are in between.
1. I have a close friend who knows how I tick probably better than anyone else on the planet. The primary foundation of our relationship is support and companionship, sometimes more one than the other. Sometimes it’s kinky, sometimes it’s sexual, sometimes it’s both, sometimes it’s neither. We also easily slip into co-worker roles to tackle jobs together. He’s my “anything and everything” friend. A solid unassuming presence that I take special delight in bouncing off of in all sorts of directions as my life transforms.
2. Another man I know is vastly different. After the initial period of figuring out where we fit into each others’ lives, our relationship has settled into physically and emotionally intimate play partners of often voracious intensity – only to practically forget the other exists in between sessions. Sometimes kinky, sometimes vanilla, sometimes more sexual, other times more emotional, sometimes more talking, other times more activity. And no ongoing companionship. It’s simply what suits us. It’s neither better nor worse than the aforementioned relationship, just a different flavor. One that makes me grateful I have an adventurous palate instead of requiring every relationship to have the same base ingredients.
3. Yet another man I’m privileged to know has an amazingly acute awareness of emotion and energetic connection. The day we met was characterized by staring deeply into each others eyes for hours on end, completely at ease – to our mutual shock. Our relationship’s cornerpieces are absolute acceptance of one another and a quite intensely sensitive care for the other’s well being, which has distilled into ongoing companionship, casual support and free flowing experimentation when it suits. Primarily cuddle buddies with a penchant for emotional depth of connection and support, we also have weeks and months where we rarely connect, though still swap living space and occasionally catch up as “normal” friends, pausing our busy lives to cheer one another on in individual pursuits.
Each of these three men are vastly different in personality, vocation, strengths, and in their relationship with me. And I find it all beautiful. With each, I’ve experienced some degree of romantic interest at some point, and neither ran away from it nor ended up really doing much with it beyond perhaps dipping my toes into the fringes of the possibilities. Because, y’know, you can do that.
I’ve also been experimenting sexually for years now and still have yet to be completely naked with anyone or try penetration with a partner. Because you can do that, too, if it suits your fancy. And so far it happens to suit mine. It’s called freedom. You get to set up relationships how they work for you and the other party(/ies) involved. There is no template. Listen. Listen to the heartbeat of the connection within the walls of each others’ habits and preferences and realities and adapt the relationship to dance in step with that inaudible yet undeniable throbbing beat.
Once in synch, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Because although the relationship may not crystalize into what you were hoping for, it simply feels so incredibly right. It’s comfortable. It’s sustainable to your own life as an individual. It allows you to revel in a person’s beauty without being affected by their “weaknesses”, and for other person to do the same towards you. When a relationship works there’s no bending of one person to accommodate the other, you simply fit together like puzzle pieces and life continues onward as a more complete tapestry of brilliance.
And presently it happens that there’s another great guy I’ve met. And connected with. And with whom I’m currently dancing the intriguing complexities of discovering how our connection will unfold. Kinky play partners and light but constant daily contact are the main themes so far, avoiding emotional depth and attachment but flirting with the edges of intimacy during playtime. It’s thrilling and it’s comfortable and it’s totally no pressure. It might taper off in a month or it might continue for years – it might evolve into something different or it might stay more or less the same in flavor.
And you know what? All these possibilities, all these options, all the potential directions for each and every one of these relationships is okay exploration by me.
I love connecting with people. Period. It’s the people I appreciate and enjoy, not the relationships per se. Sexuality, romance, kink, vanilla, cuddles, intimacy, companionship, support, are all merely ingredients that may or may not naturally occur in a particular relationship, for various reasons that usually aren’t worth examining. It just happens, and there’s no need to ask why – just move with the flow of it and experience the glorious result. It awes me, the chemistry occurring between compatible people. To me, that’s something intrinsically worthwhile, to be respected and cultivated. The exact combination of ingredients ultimately contributing are of little importance to me compared to the joy of quality connection resulting from whatever works.
Forcing another ingredient into the mix can ruin the entire recipe. Conversely, experimenting with the ingredients on hand that practically DARE you to try them is how each relationship tends to evolve until it hits its stride…trying this or that and tasting the result to decide whether or not we prefer it. I consider this process great fun, and nothing to be afraid of or rushed through. The longer two people know each other, the more they learn which ingredients tend to make the tastiest mutual experiences, and the more nuanced their palate becomes of any additional experiments.
I absolutely love the whole thing.
And while movies may be cute and even inspiring, IMO they don’t hold a candle to the delicious complexities of real connections with real people in real life. There’s an incredible world of humanity out there, people. Don’t limit your relationships to templates – listen to the mutual heartbeat of each compatibility and just watch as beauty emerges from unforced interaction.
Trust me, you’ll never look back.