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The Redundancy of Romantic Partners

June 3, 2013

WARNING: This post is totally not safe for work. It is also not safe for school, the library’s internet cafe, your favorite coffee shop where you crinkle your nose at your Macbook while sighing because this place’s coffee was like sooo much better before they got all corporate, basically any public setting, or probably even the privacy of your own home. Not because this post is that explicit, but in fact because of the mere power of suggestion involved. I, for one, would find it less uncomfortable to walk in on someone masturbating furiously to porn than to walk in, start a conversation, and slowly realize as the conversation continued that the browser window opened up on the screen showcased steamy erotica. At least you know what you’re getting into (so to speak) with the first scenario.

At this point, it should go without saying that you need to click away from this page RIGHT NOW if you are under 18.

Still here?

Very well then, Pervy McCreeperton. Here ya go.

Correlation doesn’t imply causation,” Randall Munroe of XKCD writes, “but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.” And when it comes to factors that spurred a precipitous decline in the state of my former relationship, suffice to say that there was no eyebrow waggling, at least not between the two presumptive partners involved.

The truth of my dad’s wisdom, “Good sex can sometimes save a bad relationship,” had already started to dawn on me right about the time I went from listening to everything my ex said with rapt attention to only half-listening to everything he said with rolled eyes. Sex became something we did, not because I particularly enjoyed it or he particularly wanted it (although since I didn’t know and didn’t care what he was thinking, it’s hard for me to say with certainty), but because if there was any hope of the situation improving, it would have to be forged from the physical connection that got us going in the first place because we had so very little else left to connect us.

It was around this time that I finally, for the first time in my life, figured out the particular combination of positioning, rhythm, timing, and (horrifying) fantasies that would allow me to get myself off with no external assistance, human or battery-powered. Good job, Catholic schools. I never attended one, and yet the ideals were so widespread during my confused adolescence that you still managed to convince a Jewish atheist kid that self-exploration was dirty and wrong.

But that time period marking the beginning of the end being generally murky and awful and not worth remembering, I cannot say for certain whether the self-pleasuring begat the decline in intercourse or vice versa. Chicken and egg argument; in any case, I wasn’t about to let a cock interfere with my good time.

And of course, contrary to Catholic schools’ propagations that masturbation will be the sole contributing factor to a life of loneliness, there were other elements at play outside of the bedroom that saw no hope of being overcome. But even if correlation did not indicate causation, my newfound interest in Me Time did indeed provide a long, hard, waggling wink-and-nudge that this whole relationship business wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

To be as fair to the ex as one can while reducing his involvement to a cliche, on that front, it wasn’t him, it was me. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was obsessed with sex. I read a lot about it and saw innumerable depictions of the act on film, television, and, uh, shall we say, web originals. That my curiosity about it led me into this particular relationship was an unfortunate byproduct of desiring a consistent and reliable means to hands-on learning.

What I didn’t realize then is that I wasn’t interested in sex, I was interested in orgasms. But thanks to that Catholic-school and Focus on the Family-mentality so prevalent when I was a confused adolescent, I somehow thought the only way one could achieve this earthly angelic chorus was through dating, heavy petting, and convenient placement of condoms (obviously the mentality only took hold to a certain extent).

And truthfully, becoming intimate with my own needs and desires likely wouldn’t have stopped me from winding up in a relationship. The notion that one needs to be coupled in order to be fulfilled is so prevalent (that mistaken notion I had that orgasms only happen with other people had to come from some propaganda somewhere) that I would likely have approached it with the same, “Yeah, sure, I guess” mentality even if I had come to know myself ten years earlier. Which is a more effective learning method: telling a child, “Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot,” or letting the child brush its fingertips against the stove and finding out it really fucking hurts?

But once I did discover exactly how much I could do on my own, my relationship and relationships in general degraded into pointlessness. As it turned out, I hated sex. I hated kissing, I hated bodily contact, I really hated bodily fluids, I hated cuddling, and I hated the retaliatory blanket-stealing that ensued when I gently extricated myself from being cuddled.

This negative-only view of sex encompasses the answer I can never say in public (but feel only a slight twinge of shame about putting on the internet) for the equally-unsaid-but-heavily-implied question, “But WHY are you so sure you don’t want to be in a relationship again?” If the question does arise, I smile politely and tell people that I’m much more efficient when I’m fully independent, all while waggling my eyebrows and gesturing furtively with my middle finger.

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