If it rocks in the moment, it should rock forever.
The Lifetime Movie with Mr. Perfect Timing was my first real romance post Pocket Call, the discovery of my former spouse’s affair and the necessary divorce that followed that little morsel of knowledge. I waited a long time before saying to the Universe, I am ready to fall in love.
She was ready to give me a test.
In came Mr. Perfect Timing, me, margaritas with those big square ice cubes that melt slowly, love letters, cross-country flights…goodness, he even bought steel cut oats so I’d have something to eat in the morning.
We had three dates before things got spicy. The third being a wonderfully romantic dinner at Cavallo Point in Sausalito. We didn’t sit on the porch, where they give you wool blankets to snuggle under as you gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge arching its way to the city. Instead, we had a cocktail in the bar with its dark wood and high ceilings, where people watching is a sport. And then dinner in the dining room where we sat next to each other and the rest of the room got all blurry and fell away.
We shared an east coast sense of humor, a similar collegiate and family background, an absolute passion for the written word, a romance with the world’s tallest mountain and an appreciation of each other’s, um, physical attributes.
After that wonderful dinner we went to his home.
And then we had sex.
(Aunt Awesome, you can get up now. I’m pretty certain Mom figured this out. I never told her, she never asked. But feel free to call me and channel her, “Now honey…there’s no need to rush” talk. Which would have replaced her, “You’re not married!” talk, because she strongly encouraged me to never marry again. I’m all ears. XO)
I was left with my mouth hanging open. I should probably rephrase that. I was duly, hugely, remarkably impressed. Wow! This is sex? We really need to come up with a new word for what just happened. Mr. Perfect Timing and I laughed. He looked at me and said, I can’t say making love. It sounds so, so not what that was. Or words to that effect.
I wasn’t offended.
He was right. It was fun, playful, good old-fashioned sex. Which fell right in line with the commonalities we shared and the sort of fun we were having together.
Making love is for Disney, if Disney ever came clean about what happens while the credits are rolling. Besides, we weren’t in love. We were just having a really good time together, so why not have it and call it what it is?
On our first date we had a conversation about how women and men have different views on sex and dating, which can complicate those early days when two people don’t really have a good read on each other. He used a phrase that I’ve pondered since:
Women use sex as currency. (For the record he also had a Men use statement: Men use their toys to attract women.)
Meaning, it’s used in exchange for something. And that something is not an orgasm. Sex during dating is often used to ‘seal the deal’, ‘reel him in’ and then ‘land the man’. My Mom had a saying that I always butchered, pun intended because that’s how ultra creative I am pre-caffeine. Something about giving away the cow when the milk is on sale. Or using a cow to get some milk. I don’t know. All I know is she thought it was a very bad idea to have sex before marriage.
Well, I waited to have sex with my former spouse until after we were married. It was a very, very bad idea. And then I had fifteen years of barely any terrible sex.
Which I suppose can be seen as a good thing.
Sure didn’t plan on having sex with Mr. Perfect Timing. I didn’t have a plan.
I had visions of watching football games in the fall (I cannot find a guy to watch football with me!), and spoiling him with thoughtful acts and ridiculously delicious baked goods and all the love I could bring forth. He talked of finishing the lower floor of his house, putting in another bedroom…so there would be room for kids. Hint. Hint. My kids…
I didn’t speak of the future, but truth be told, I had stars in my eyes when he did. I felt like he was the reward for all the work I did on myself since The Pocket Call. Well, we all know how it ended. Press Pause, Press Stop. And then me Pressing On.
Having sex on the third date is not what torpedoed that relationship. Mr. Perfect Timing came, saw and did what he was asked to do. By me. The relationship didn’t end because I went left and he wanted me to go right, or because I didn’t wait for him to call me, or I wasn’t this or that or didn’t do this right or that right. The relationship ended because it was a success!
It never existed for the purpose of seeing if I could ‘win the man’. We came together to learn from each other. We had specific things we needed to accomplish and agreed to help each other out. He helped me and I helped him. Done.
At one point Mr. Perfect Timing, during another deep conversation about the dynamics between men and women, said, “If we end up together, I’m not going to think back and say, among other reasons, I love you because you had sex with me on the third date. I’m also not going to blame having sex on the third date for the demise of our relationship, should it end.
We agreed that people move into monogamy too soon. And the move is often preceded by a conversation about monogamy. A conversation that can feel stilted, egg-shellish. Choosing to be monogamous should precede a conversation about monogamy.
As I thought about dating and sex and my issues with trust, I came upon this post written by Lizzie Smilez for DivorcedMoms.com. She references her friend falling hard for a man, having sex on the third date and being all glowy and buzzy and dancing on air. He could be the one. He’s wonderful, the sex was wonderful; they couldn’t get enough of each other when they were together.
I don’t know Lizzie or her friend, so this is just me guessing. She might have thought twice about having sex, but did it anyway because it felt right in the moment. She probably didn’t say to him, If we are going to have sex I will need for you to call me tomorrow so I feel secure about my decision.
But if that’s what it took to feel secure about her decision then she ought to have raised the point.
Which would have been tres awkward, right? Yes. Very.
There’s nothing wrong with having sex. Sex is not wrong. Preconceived notions about when to have sex, why to have sex, and what it means to have sex are wrong. Using sex as currency is wrong. 100% of the time. Why?
Because having sex means nothing more than two human beings just had sex. The act itself doesn’t say anything about where a relationship is or where it’s headed. The choice to have sex with Mr. Perfect Timing hinged on nothing other than we are adults, we were having a fantastic time and our clothes came off.
If I never heard from him again, I (after three years of thoughtful work on myself) would have looked back on that night as one delicious experience. And I have NO regrets having sex with Mr. Perfect Timing. In fact, it was one of the very best parts of our time together.
Sex is one of the best reasons to be alive. It’s a blast. But it is not a bellwether of anything, except whether or not there is physical compatibility between two people. The decision to have sex says nothing about where a relationship is or is headed unless the two involved give it that meaning, consciously. It’s dangerous to use it as currency; to give the impression that conditions are attached to having sex and that there are expectations. Especially if those expectations aren’t discussed in an emotionally mature fashion. And even if they are, all we can really rely upon is that which is happening in the moment.
Have sex. Safe sex. And use it as a way to learn about yourself. Is your self-esteem tied up in the response from a man after sex? That’s attaching stuff to the bump and grind that really has no place being there. Does having sex mean he should then take down his online dating profile and commit to monogamy?
For your OWN sake, please don’t make that a condition.
I’m not sure that there’s ever a too soon time for sex at our stage in life.
But there is definitely a too soon move toward monogamy. There should be contraception for that!
Maybe this is a novel concept coming from a woman. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Picasso showed his shock when I suggested he take condoms with him to Burning Man.